How Different Rule Changes Drastically Change Your Value in Blackjack

Published on: October 22, 2014 

Suppose we have a standard game of blackjack with the following rules. First, you use eight decks in your shoe with the dealer standing on a soft 17. You can double after splitting and on any two cards, and you can resplit to up to four total hands. You can't resplit aces or hit split aces, the dealer peeks for blackjack, you can't surrender and blackjack pays at a rate of 3:2. This is a lot like most standard blackjack games, and we want to show you what happens when some of these rules change. The house advantage here is 0.431 percent to begin with.

What if you switch things out so that you're playing with two decks. Fewer decks will favor the player even if they're being shuffled after every hand because of the ability to use composition-style strategies that depend on the actual cards in your hands. This will drop the house advantage down to a very low 0.178 percent for a difference of 0.253 percent which is more than half of the difference. This is a pretty big deal, and it's a great example of why looking at rule changes can drastically change your payout rate.

Back with eight decks, what if the dealer hits on a soft 17. That's actually bad for the player and increases your house advantage to 0.645 percent for a change of 0.214 percent which is pretty significant. This is a rule that a lot of players take for granted, but there are plenty of games out there, especially online, that have the dealer hitting on soft 17 hands. Because so many players ignore this rule change, they don't realize how big of a difference it can make in your bottom line.

If you start from our original rules and add the ability to have a late surrender, then you're going to drop the house advantage down to 0.355 percent. This is a change of 0.076 percent which is a little more than one-sixth of the original house edge. It's important to note that many casinos allow this rule in their games because it's very easy for players to make mistakes with this rule that will push their payout rate well below the 99 percent range. This is why it's so critical to learn exactly when you should be surrendering and to ignore the option otherwise.

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