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House Edge and How to Reduce It

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Lisa Dawson

My name is Lisa Dawson. I'm a passionate card game player with many years of expertise in the field. Enjoy my guides and articles!

Blackjack, often referred to as 21, is a popular card game known for its simple rules and strategic depth. One of the crucial aspects players must comprehend is the “house edge” – a statistical advantage that ensures casinos profit over time. Understanding this concept and learning how to reduce it can significantly enhance your chances of winning. This guide will delve into the house edge in blackjack and reveal effective strategies to minimize it.

Understanding the House Edge

The house edge is the percentage of each bet that the casino expects to keep over the long run. In blackjack, this edge arises primarily from the fact that the player acts before the dealer, thus the player may bust first, losing their bet regardless of the dealer’s subsequent outcome.

Typically, the house edge in blackjack ranges between 0.5% to 2%, depending on the rules of the game and the player’s skill level. While this edge might seem negligible, it can accumulate into significant losses over extended playing periods.

Basic Blackjack Rules That Impact the House Edge

  • Number of Decks: Casinos use different numbers of decks in blackjack. More decks increase the house edge.
  • Dealer Rules: Whether the dealer hits or stands on a soft 17 affects the house edge.
  • Player Options: Availability of options like doubling down, splitting, and surrendering can influence the house edge.

Table: Influence of Rules on the House Edge

Rule Effect on House Edge
Single Deck -0.5%
Dealer Stands on Soft 17 -0.2%
Double Down Allowed -0.25%
Surrender Rules -0.1% to -0.2%

Strategies to Reduce the House Edge

Now that you understand the house edge, let’s explore some proven strategies to reduce it:

1. Learn Basic Strategy

Basic strategy involves making mathematically optimal decisions for every hand based on the player’s cards and the dealer’s upcard. By adhering to basic strategy, players can lower the house edge to around 0.5%. Here are some key points:

  • Hit or Stand: Hit when your hand totals 8 or less, stand on 17 or higher.
  • Double Down: Double down when you have a total of 10 or 11 and the dealer shows a low card (2-6).
  • Splitting Pairs: Always split Aces and 8s, never split 5s and 10s.

2. Avoid Insurance Bets

Insurance bets may seem like a good idea, but they typically increase the house edge. Statistically, insurance is not beneficial to the player in the long run.

3. Select Games with Favorable Rules

As mentioned, different table rules impact the house edge. Look for tables with player-friendly rules, such as fewer decks, the dealer standing on soft 17, and generous doubling down options.

4. Use Card Counting Techniques

Card counting is a more advanced strategy that involves keeping track of the ratio of high to low cards left in the deck. This technique can help players make more informed betting and playing decisions, potentially swinging the edge in their favor.


Mastering the intricacies of the house edge and employing strategies to reduce it are vital for successful blackjack play. By understanding the basic rules, adhering to optimal strategies, avoiding poor bets, and choosing favorable game variations, you can diminish the casino’s advantage and increase your chances of coming out ahead. Remember, while the house edge ensures the casino’s long-term profitability, smart play can turn the odds closer to your favor.

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