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The Probabilities of Winning in Blackjack

Probability, in blackjack, is the one element that can tip Lady Luck in your favor. Forget card-counting and progressions; the pure odds of flat-betting are what most people depend on when they sit at a blackjack table. The whole purpose of becoming proficient in the game is to increase the probability of winning and decrease the probability of losing. This is where the concept of house edge is important to understand.

The House Edge

This is a little-understood term that is calculated as the difference between what you actually make on winning bets and what you lose on all other bets. In commercial gambling, the house edge is always a positive number, which means that, on average, a player will never make back the money he bets. For American Roulette, the house edge is 5.3%, which means that for every $100 bet, the loss is $5.30. In other words, the house always wins. Of course, this is oversimplification of an extremely volatile situation where the player also occasionally wins; however, because players usually reinvest their winnings into bets, the average is allowed to play out naturally.

Blackjack, however, is a game of skill as well as luck, so the odds are a little different here. The house edge in a game of blackjack is usually between 0.5% and 6%. The higher house edge applies to gamblers who do not follow a system and rely on pure ‘gut’ feel to tell them when to hit, stand, split or double. For card-counters, the scenario changes drastically: the house edge for this category of gamblers starts at -5% and goes up to 1%. That means if you are an expert card counter, then you will end up making 5 cents on every dollar that you bet.

Is the Winning Edge Guaranteed for Card-Counters?

Not all card-counters make money, but doing this will increase the probability of winning each time the cards are dealt. Conversely, those with no system don’t always lose. The game itself is too dynamic to make generalizations, but the fact remains that these statistics do play out in the course of an average day at the casino.


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