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Blackjack: What are the Odds?

The reason blackjack is one of, if not the most popular card games around, is the sheer simplicity of the game. While, of course, there are a million and one different strategies to apply, the aim is still the same, and that’s what makes it so attractive to players, both novice and expert alike.

The rules are straightforward. Simply secure a score as close to 21 as possible and in excess of what the dealer has dealt himself. 

Flying cards

You are dealt two cards, and you need to decide whether to stick with what you have or turn over another card or more. A blackjack table is played at a table of between 2-7 players and uses one to eight decks of cards. Face cards are worth ten, and all other cards are worth the value indicated, with aces being either 1 or 11.

Below is a breakdown, based on what you might have, in terms of the probability of going bust (scoring more than 21).

 

Bust Probability Based On Hand Value

 

  • 11 or lower 0%
  • 12 31%
  • 13 39%
  • 14 56%
  • 15 58%
  • 16 62%
  • 17 69%
  • 18 77%
  • 19 85%
  • 20 92%
  • 21 100%

 

Obviously, it’s very unlikely you’d risk drawing another card on a score of 18 or above, but it has been known to happen.

The dealer has the edge over you as he’s going second and knows what your hand is. There are other factors in play, such as house rules, where in some instances, a dealer must stand on 17 or has to hit; below is a list of probabilities based on his first card (which is all you’ll see before you’ve completed your hand). 

cards at blackjack table

Dealer’s Probability of Going Bust

 

  • Ace 17%
  • 2 35%
  • 3 37%
  • 4 40%
  • 5 42%
  • 6 42%
  • 7 26%
  • 8 24%
  • 9 23%
  • 10 23%

 

Generally speaking, the odds of winning at blackjack are around 42%, and the odds of the house (dealer) winning is around 49%. Around 9% of the time, a hand will end in a push; that’s when you tie with the dealer’s hand, or the dealer draws 22, then it’s usually deemed a push, and bets are returned to players.

There are some golden rules to consider when playing blackjack, tips that most players adopt based on the law of probability. 

These include the following;

Always double down on 11, as this is a very good opening hand; that’s because a face card or a ten gives you 21. Therefore it’s worth you doubling your bet. Failing to do so may well be a missed opportunity. 

Always split aces and eights; splitting gives you two shots at getting blackjack, and these particular cards are well worth pushing on in this fashion.

Never split tens. 

Ignore your fellow players. You are playing the dealer; he’s all that matters. 

Don’t chase a streak. Playing blackjack is fast, and if you push onwards in the hope of either continuing a hot streak or because you have lost on a few occasions, you are likely to end up costing yourself a small fortune.

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