Respectable Hold With Blackjack
Blackjack’s tiny house edge can be deceptive. So, let me explain how the casino maintains a respectable hold with a very small house edge.
The drop on a blackjack games is the cash that players trade for chips. The hold is the total gross revenue made at the same table. Sometimes the total represents a loss, not a win. But over the course of days, weeks and months, that total averages about 15%.
So, how does a game where gamblers play at about a 2% disadvantage manage to win so much? And, how can the casino do so well when many players use Basic Strategy to play at an even lower .6% disadvantage?
Don’t worry; nobody’s cheating. It’s a mixture of bankroll size and time. The bankroll issue comes into play twice. Remember, the casinos’ bankroll is unlimited, so they can afford to take any size wagers over and over again, win or lose. They also have many tables to even-out the bumps. Players have limited bankrolls and often play until they are out of cash and unable to continue playing (and in those cases, losing).
The time issue also favors the casino because the casino can take wagers all day and all night on multiple tables full of players. An individual player can only get so many hands in before they have to leave. The more tables and the more players, the more the casino wins.
The casino wins with that tiny .6% edge because they have that edge hand after hand after hand. If every player were limited to just a single hand each day, the hold would be much smaller for the casino. Since players make multiple wagers, each at a disadvantage, the hold increases as a function of time.
The Art of Illusion If you are wondering why it seems like the dealer makes more hands than you do, it’s because they do. One “expert” blackjack author said it’s like a jar filled with 1000 marbles where you win if you pick a green marble and lose on red marbles.
With 497 green marbles and 503 red marbles, you will lose six more than you win after 1000 hands. That equals a .6% house edge. But that’s a percentage example, so don’t lose your marbles.
The reality is that over the course of 100 hands you’ll win 43 times, push 8 times, and lose 49 times. After 1000 hands you will lose 60 more hands than the dealer! That’s the bad news.
The good news is that you make up for most of that loss by getting paid 3 for 2 on each Blackjack (you’ll get about 48 blackjacks in 1000 hands). The rest you’ll get by splitting pairs and by doubling down at the correct time with the correct cards.
So, the lesson today is, don’t be afraid to aggressively double down and split pairs. In fact, what you should be afraid of is not splitting and doubling down enough. You have to do those things correctly every time, or you are doomed to failure at blackjack, and it won’t be because the house has an unfair advantage.
Taking advantage of every possible option at any table game is always good policy. Splits and double downs are mandatory for Blackjack survival.