The House Advantage of Various Blackjack Rules

When you sit down to play any game, especially table games, you need to know the exact rules for what you’re playing. Knowing which online blackjack rules you’re playing by is a good example of this because it not only changes what your overall strategies should look like, but it also creates a situation where the best payout rate that you can achieve is affected. A higher payout rate is better, obviously, so knowing how individual rule changes will affect your overall bottom line is critical for players who take these things seriously.

Some Basic Blackjack Rule Variations

Generally speaking, the rules and their relative house edges that we’re going to discuss here are based on a multi-deck game where dealers stand on a soft 17 total, you can double any two starting cards and after splitting, and you can split up to a total of four hands for each individual hand that you’re playing. With that base rule set, you get a change to the total payout rate based on each additional rule that you add or each existing rule that you change.

For example, if blackjacks pay 2:1, then the payout rate increases by 2.27 percent. However, if a blackjack will only give you 3:2, which is particularly common, then that only increases your pay rate by 0.32 percent (a difference of a whooping 1.95 percent). This is a significant difference, and once you realize this, it’ll really make you sit back and look at the rules of the games you play in a different way.

The five-card Charlie rule is another popular one that adds some significant advantage for the player with a 1.46 percent increase. It’s not the most popular rule out there, but when you see it, you should take notice. Likewise, if players getting 21 in any way is an automatic win (at 1:1 if it’s not a natural 21/blackjack), then you’ll add 0.57 percent to the payout rate.

The Rule Changes to Avoid

Not all rule changes increase how much you’re getting paid. In fact, several will lower your payout rate and increase the house advantage. If the dealer hits on a soft 17, then you’ll lose 0.22 percent of your edge, and you should pay attention to that because it’s an incredibly common rule change that most players don’t even think matters that much. Likewise, only being able to double on a 10 or 11 will do the same thing to the tune of 0.18 percent of your payout rate being lost. The dealer never peeking for blackjack is another sneaky rule change, also called the European hole card rule, and it’ll drop things down by 0.11 percent.

How to Use This Information

Whenever you’re looking at the available games for this genre at a casino, you can take a particularly close look at the rule sets that they have. This will give you a general idea of whether they are favorable for the player or not, and if you see multiple rules available that lower the payout rate for the player, then you’ll generally know that you should stay away. Splitting, surrendering and doubling in blackjack are all important parts of the game, and if those options aren’t freely available to you, then you’re going to get a worse payout rate along these lines.

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