Effects of Blackjack Payout on House Edge

Posted By: Date: 10/18/2012 at 12:00 am Leave a comment

Blackjack is played all throughout the world. It’s one of the most popular games in any land-based or online casino. Having been around for so many years now, it’s no surprise that more than 50 rule variations have been devised by casino operators to change up the gameplay and, of course, provide for a better house edge. With myriad rule variations, it can be incredibly confusing trying to figure out what rules a player should be looking for.

The absolute most important rule variant relates to the payout for a natural blackjack. The most common payout is 3 to 2. This means that a player’s bet of $10 would receive winnings of $15 for beating the dealer with a natural blackjack. As you should all know, a natural blackjack is achieved by being dealt an Ace and a 10-valued card (10 or Face Card) within the first two cards. Rules allowing a natural blackjack after splitting are virtually unheard of.

It is becoming increasingly more frequent to find blackjack games that do not pay the traditional 3 to 2 reward for a natural blackjack. In many land-based casinos, the payout has dropped to 6 to 5. This means a player’s $10 bet would only receive a payout of $12, not $15. Other games have gotten even worse, paying merely even money (1 to 1) for a natural blackjack. A 7 to 5 payout ($14 win for a $10 bet) is the most rare, but it does exist.

Every blackjack strategy relies on the player’s occasional winning of extended payouts for a solid blackjack hand in order to bring the odds as close as possible to the player’s favor. By cutting back the payout for a natural blackjack, the house edge rises substantially, making it the worst rule change in the book. Ostensibly, the best rule variation would be a blackjack game that pays 2 to 1 for a player blackjack, but don’t expect to find this on a pay table very often, and if you do, the other rules are likely to favor the house heavily.

Effects of Blackjack Payout on house edge

Blackjack Pays 7 to 5: -0.45%
Blackjack Pays 6 to 5: -1.39%
Blackjack Pays 1 to 1: -2.27%

Let’s say you have a blackjack game with a set of rules that create for a house edge of 0.17% where a natural blackjack pays the standard 3 to 2. If you change that single rule to paying 7 to 5 for a natural, the house edge increases to 0.62%. Where blackjack pays 6 to 5, the house edge jumps to a detrimental -1.56%. With an even money payout, you get one of the worst payout percentages in the entire game; a house edge of -2.44%.

There is no reason any blackjack player who incorporates a basic strategy should be subject to such terrible odds. The only time a blackjack game paying even money is worth accepting is when the other rules benefit the player enough to drop the percentage back down below 0.20%. Blackjack Switch is a good example. So long as the rules are set properly, the house edge can be as low as 0.14%.

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