How the Casino's House Edge works in Blackjack

Blackjack at Casumo Casino

In most varieties of casino blackjack, the dealer will adhere to a simple set of rules which govern the game. Generally, they will stand once they draw cards totalling 17 or more and will not double, split or make any other play that will enhance the position of their hand or the expected value thereof. In spite of this, however, the house still retains the long-term advantage over the player, unless of course he/she can successfully count cards.

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Many people cannot understand how the constant house edge is possible, but the answer is a simple one and lies in the potent advantage of position within the game. While many players believe that their position at a blackjack table can affect their odds of winning, that is, in fact, a blackjack myth because each player plays against the house and their position has absolutely no effect on winning or losing. The fact that the dealer plays last however does. Here we take a look at just how that works.

Have you ever wondered why the dealer is able to gain the advantage when a player can double and split his/her cards advantageously and the house does not? This is because the dealer has the advantage of play from the outset and the fact that players are able to split and double offsets what would be a crushing edge in games where the dealer pays even money for a natural blackjack.

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Let's look at a blackjack example that occurs often at both land-based and online casinos. In the event that the dealer busts, the player has already done the same in a particular hand. Even though the dealer busts he will still win the hand because he acts last. If you look at a scenario where the dealer shows a 10 value card and the player has wagered $100 on two boxes where the cards total 18 and 13 respectively, sound blackjack strategy dictates that the player should stand on 18 and hit on 13.

For the sake of example, if the player hits at 13 and ends up with a 9 card and busts the dealer will take the entire wager but if the dealer draws a five value card to bring his/her total to 15, he/she is required to draw again. If for example they then draw an 8 value card and bust their hand, the player's 18 card will win and the $100 is his/hers which means the player will break even for that round.

In essence, the player won a single hand by having 18 in one box and a busted hand against a busted dealer hand in the other. However, a busted hand against a dealer's busted hand is not a tie but a win for the house and that is where the dealer due to his/her position, gains the edge in the game of blackjack at casinos.

As you can see, the dealer does not do anything complicated in order to be difficult to defeat and that is why you should only play blackjack if you are able to do so according to sound basic blackjack strategy that minimises this advantage as far as possible.

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