Blackjack Odds and Strategy

Blackjack is a game of odds and strategy. Prominent mathematicians John Scarne and Julian Braun were among the first to observe and study the game’s odds and probabilities. They discovered that certain moves led the game in an entirely new direction and that its odds can be determined to a large extent by following particular patterns.

Game rules

Blackjack is a simple game in the short run, but learning how to play it well requires careful attention. Basic strategy gives the player a statistical advantage, but the house edge is not zero. This is because the dealer must always draw cards to his or her hand.

The rules of blackjack vary from one casino to another. Some games allow splitting and doubling down, while others do not. Some games also have different rules for aces and different payouts for a Blackjack.

Other rule variations include early surrender and resplitting aces. The latter allows players to hit hands resulting from split aces, which decreases the house edge by about 0.13%. Some casinos also offer side wagers on the number of aces and tens dealt in a hand.


Blackjack is a game of chance, but there are a few types of bets that can increase your payouts and odds. For example, doubling down allows you to add one card to your initial two, and if you win the hand, you’ll double your original bet. This bet is often a good choice for players who want to play more hands or who are on a losing streak. However, players should be careful not to use progressive betting increases such as the Martingale System, which can get expensive very quickly. A more prudent strategy is to increase your bet only after winning hands.


If you’ve ever played blackjack at a casino, whether at an online casino or in Las Vegas, you might have noticed that some of the tables offer insurance. While this might seem like a good option, it actually increases the house edge and will cost you money in the long run. Insurance is a side bet placed on the dealer’s up card that pays 2 to 1 if the dealer has a face-up ace.

Whether or not players should take insurance depends on their basic strategy and card counting techniques. If the dealer has a blackjack, players who took insurance will win their insurance bets, but lose their original bets. The house advantage in this situation is 0.5%, which can add up quickly. Taking the insurance bet is therefore not recommended.

Tie hands

A player wins blackjack when they have a hand value that is higher than the dealer’s. A blackjack is a two-card hand that contains an ace and a ten-value card. This hand is known as a “blackjack” and pays 3:2 on the player’s wager. Some casinos allow players to split their two-card hands, which increases the size of the wager.

Tie hands are unfavorable for a player and can quickly turn into a loss. It is important to learn basic strategy to minimize your losses at the table.

Tie hands occur 8% of the time and can greatly affect a blackjack game. Tie hands can be avoided with a variety of strategies, including shuffle tracking and other methods for gaining information about the remaining cards in the deck or shoe.

Dealer’s face-down card

After shuffling the cards, the dealer will deal each player one card face up and another card face down. The dealer’s face-down card is called a “hole card”. Players may make a side bet of up to half their original bet that the dealer’s hole card is a ten, thereby resulting in a blackjack for the house.

When the dealer checks their hole card, they will expose it if it is a ten or an ace. Any player with a hand value of 21 or higher will win the round. If the dealer also has a blackjack, all bets will push and insurance bets will pay out at 2:1. Colin is a blackjack expert and founder of Blackjack Apprenticeship. He has over 15 years of experience counting cards and running a multi-million dollar blackjack team.