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Blackjack oddsEver wonder why blackjack is so popular with the masses? Perhaps you are just here to find out a bit more about blackjack odds. Well, to kill two birds with one stone, lets discuss that topic; after all it is probability that blackjack is so popular. I know you're all thinking, you can't fool me, blackjack is a negative expectation game just like the rest of the casinos offer. I won't lie to you, you are completely correct.
A negative expectation game is a negative expectation game (oh, all that means is that the house edge is against you, which we'll get into a bit more in a second). What sets blackjack apart from the compadres of it however is the player-controlled variability of that expectation. This page will provide you with a good overview of what odds you are really gambling on, how they are described and what these terms mean. Only at this point is it worth quoting numbers to you that relate directly to blackjack. For example, in roulette the odds against you are pretty standard for every bet on the board, at a rather unpleasant 5.26% house edge. This means that the house will win 5.26% more of the bets on the table that are lost. Of course, if you have been paying attention in the casino you will get more than this. Say you bet on two columns on the same spin on the roulette table, the odds are that you can win 24-14. How come the casinos don't go broke like this? There is another factor that has to be considered, and it's called the payoff.
The house edge comes from the fact that a payoff from a winning bet is slightly below the odds. Reading that sentence again, it makes sense, its just not poetry. Basically, if you bet on two columns in roulette for $12 each (total of $24) and win, you get paid $12. But at odds of 24 to 14 the casino must return $14, even on one field of play. The casino knows that it can properly profit even against the odds if it matches its payouts properly. The casino profits by taking $24 when you lose, but only paying $12 when you win.
I know this roulette example seems out of place on a blackjack odds page, but trust me, math is math and things apply across the board in the game. If things don't make sense after the last paragraph though, don't stop, as it will become a bit clearer soon enough. Perhaps in an effort to confuse the masses, casinos often evaluate house edge in three or four different styles, each of which corresponds to a term that may be more familiar. There is, of course, the house edge and also the return percentage, the vigorish (or vig), and the suspension. While they all essentially refer to the same thing, understanding the perspective that each phrase is spoken from is helpful. Lets talk about each of them and you can easily see how they relate to blackjack odds. The house edge is what we call a theoretical number and is never calculated on empirical real-world experiences. It is the theoretical fraction of the lump sum bet that the casinos would keep if each set of decisions that were to fall into exactly one statistical row. This is where the roulette example can be clear.
As per our two column roulette table example, in 38 spins, the house expects to win 14 rounds at a $24 profit each for a profit of $336 in all; at the same time they expect to lose 24 rounds at $12 a pop, for a total loss of $288. The total bet is 38 multiplied by 24 dollars: $912, while the jack is $48 (the difference between the profit of $336 and the loss of $288). The border is $48 divided by $912, which equals 5.26%. Bearing in mind that I used the "expected" qualifier for the house, and although 38 rounds may not land 24 wins for the casino, it nets 38 million rounds to a number that is statistically slightly different from 24 million. And of course, there are millions of spins, so the house does, in fact, rake in its 5.26% edge.