Guide to Blackjack Odds and Probabilities

Blackjack provides one of the best chances for players to win in the casino. It can offer a return to player rate, or RTP, of over 99.5% with the right rules and strategy. While player-friendly rules and expert strategy help, you can also improve your fortunes by understanding blackjack odds of winning.

This page covers the blackjack house edge and improving your odds through basic strategy. It also discusses what strategies to avoid, important rules and the best Michigan online casinos for playing this popular casino table game.

What is the house edge in blackjack?

The blackjack house edge depends on two main factors:

  1. Your skill level.
  2. The rules.

As we’ll cover later, you stand to win more money when you know proper strategy. However, you can only do so much to influence the house advantage. Your table’s rules can have a major impact on your odds. Common blackjack rules that can differ from table to table and casino to casino are as follows:

  • Natural blackjack payouts (3:2 vs. 6:5).
  • Dealer hitting or standing on soft 17.
  • Doubling down after splitting (DAS).
  • Resplitting up to two, three or four hands.
  • Number of decks (one, two, four, six or eight).
  • Whether you can resplit aces.
  • Surrendering (giving up your hand to receive half your bet back).

How does each blackjack rule impact the house edge?

Some rules are more important than others regarding the house advantage. Nevertheless, each rule change can impact your odds positively or negatively. Below, you can see how much each rule alters the house edge:

  • 3:2 natural blackjack payout (vs. 6:5 payout): -1.39%
  • Dealer stands on soft 17: -0.20%
  • DAS: -0.25%
  • Single deck (vs. eight decks): -0.59%
  • Late surrender allowed: -0.08%
  • Resplitting aces allowed: -0.07%
  • Resplitting to four hands (vs. resplitting to two hands): -0.06%

Which casinos offer the lowest blackjack house edge?

Legal casinos in Michigan, both online and land-based, offer fair blackjack games. Generally, though, you’ll find the most favorable games at internet casinos.

Michigan casino sites face fewer expenses because they don’t need to pay dealers. Most online blackjack games offer a house edge of between 0.5% and 1%. Land-based casinos must cover dealer salaries and pay more in utilities than casino sites. As a result, their blackjack games typically feature a house advantage of between 1% and 2%.

Blackjack odds and probability explained

Blackjack strategy involves having a basic understanding of odds. By knowing the following odds and situations, you stand a better chance of making correct decisions.

Chances of going bust when drawing an extra card

As you may know, you go bust and lose when your cards total more than 21. Here are the probabilities of going bust based on your total when you draw another card:

  • 11 or less — 0% chance to bust
  • 12 — 31%
  • 13 — 39%
  • 14 — 56%
  • 15 — 58%
  • 16 — 62%
  • 17 — 69%
  • 18 — 77%
  • 19 — 85%
  • 20 — 92%
  • 21 — 100%

Dealer’s odds of going bust

The dealer receives one face-up card and one face-down card to begin a round. The face-up card (aka upcard) provides the only indication of the dealer’s hand strength before you act. Here are the probabilities of the dealer busting, based on upcard:

Dealer stands on soft 17

  • Ace — 17% chance to bust
  • 2 — 35%
  • 3 — 37%
  • 4 — 40%
  • 5 — 42%
  • 6 — 42%
  •  7 — 26%
  • 8 — 24%
  • 9 — 23%
  • 10 — 23%

Dealer hits on soft 17

  • Ace — 20% chance to bust
  • 2 — 36%
  • 3 — 38%
  • 4 — 40%
  • 5 — 42%
  • 6 — 44%
  • 7 — 26%
  • 8 — 24%
  • 9 — 23%
  • 10 — 23%

House edge based on the number of decks

Fewer decks give you a better chance to win. Here’s how the number of decks in the shoe influences the house advantage:

  • Single deck = -0.03%
  • Double deck = +0.30%
  • Four decks = +0.40%
  • Six decks = +0.48%
  • Eight decks = +0.56%

Other notable blackjack probabilities

Here are some other notable probabilities that you’ll want to know:

  • Receiving a natural blackjack (ace + 10 on first two cards) = 4.80%
  • Receiving a 21 through drawing = 7.36%
  • Receiving a 20 through drawing = 17.58%
  • Receiving a 19 through drawing = 13.48%
  • Winning an insurance bet = 30.7%
  • Not busting after drawing = 71.62%
  • Busting after drawing = 28.39%

Best real money blackjack sites in Michigan

Michigan features plenty of online casinos with blackjack selections, promos and bonuses. You can read about three of the most popular casino app options below.

BetMGM online casino

BetMGM Casino features a solid variety of blackjack games. Its selection includes first-person, multi-hand, Pro and Xchange versions. This site also provides live-dealer blackjack tables. Its “Unlimited” version lets an infinite number of players bet at each live table.

FanDuel online casino

FanDuel Casino sets itself apart with its low-limit blackjack offerings. You can enjoy games here for as little as $0.10 per hand. The casino features other blackjack games, as well. You can expect classic, live-dealer, multi-hand and Pro versions.

DraftKings online casino

DraftKings Casino  excels at offering themed blackjack games. At the time of this writing, it featured Christmas, Thanksgiving, retro and soccer variations. Of course, it also has common variants, such as classic blackjack, single deck and Zappit. You can enjoy live-dealer blackjack here, as well.

Basic blackjack strategy

Blackjack is filled with strategy. Every decision you make affects the house edge and, subsequently, your chances of winning. Without the proper knowledge, you’ll only be guessing the correct plays. Therefore, you stand to benefit by understanding and utilizing proper blackjack strategy.

1. Implementing strategy

Blackjack strategy begins with examining your current total and the dealer’s upcard. You judge the dealer’s upcard versus your score to determine whether to hit, stand, split, double down or surrender (if possible). Here’s an example:

  • Your score is 16.
  • The dealer’s upcard is 7.
  • The optimal move is to hit.

The reason why you hit in this situation is that the dealer must hit to a 17. Given that the dealer only stands a 26% chance of going bust, the odds favor the dealer if you stand. Here’s another example:

  • Your score is a soft 15 (A-4).
  • The dealer’s upcard is 6.
  • The optimal play is to double down.

You stand an excellent chance of winning in this scenario with a hard or soft 15. Given that you hold the latter, though, your odds of success are even better.

2. Best ways to learn blackjack strategy

The examples above only cover a couple of situations. You’ll come across many other scenarios while playing. Therefore, you’ll want resources to learn comprehensive basic strategy. The two best resources are strategy charts and training programs.

A strategy chart shows what decisions you should make in each instance. For example, if you hold 7-7, and the dealer’s upcard is 4, then the chart says you should hit.

A training program involves playing free online blackjack. The software points out when you make correct and incorrect decisions while playing.

Of course, you can read strategy articles and books, too. However, charts and training programs offer the most return for your time.

3. Should you try card counting in Michigan?

Card counting is a viable way to beat land-based casinos in Michigan. It can result in long-term profits with the right approach. However, you’ll face many challenges when implementing card counting. These obstacles include:

  • Learning a counting system (we recommend the Hi-Lo system for beginners).
  • Successfully using the card-counting system in a casino.
  • Having a large enough bankroll to increase bets (you raise bets during positive counts).
  • Not getting kicked out when raising wagers.
  • Not getting put on a Michigan blacklist if you do get kicked out.
  • Dealing with extreme volatility (most good counters enjoy only a 1% advantage).

You need practice and time to become a card-counting master. Still, you’ll experience plenty of ups and downs due to a relatively small long-term advantage.

You might still consider counting if you often dream of earning big gambling profits. However, given that Michigan internet blackjack features just a 0.5% to 1% house edge, you might just take your chances online.

When to double down and split in blackjack

Again, you can learn blackjack strategy quickly through trainers and charts. Even when you go these routes, though, you may struggle with doubling down and splitting.

Both actions can boost your profits in favorable situations. However, they’re also difficult to master compared to hitting and standing. Here are some sample scenarios:

  • Example No. 1
    • Your score is 11.
    • The dealer is showing a 7.
    • You should double down.
  • Example No. 2
    • Your hand is a pair of 2s.
    • The dealer is showing a 6.
    • You should split.
  • Example No. 3
    • Your hand is a soft 16 (A-5).
    • The dealer is showing a 4.
    • You should double down.
  • Example No. 4
    • Your hand is a pair of 9s.
    • The dealer is showing an 8.
    • You should split.
  • Example No. 5
    • Your hand is a pair of 5s.
    • The dealer is showing an 8.
    • You should double down.

Bad blackjack strategies

Basic strategy provides the easiest path for amateurs to win in blackjack. Unfortunately, some players take the road less traveled and develop weaker strategies. These strategies only serve to confuse gamblers and cause more losses. Here are three bad blackjack strategies that fit this category.

1. Mimic the dealer

Some players believe that the best way to win in blackjack is by emulating the dealer. They base this logic on the fact that the dealer holds an advantage. Players that follow this strategy hit to 17+ every time and never double, split or surrender hands.

While mimicking the dealer may sound good in theory, this strategy fails to account for the fact that dealers act second. This means they automatically win when players bust. The players, meanwhile, simply give up their advantages (e.g., doubling, splitting, standing on 16). Mimicking the dealer results in a 5.5% house edge.

2. Never bust

You’ll bust a fair percentage of the time when drawing for larger scores. But what if you could avoid busting completely? The never bust strategy calls on you to avoid going over 21 under any circumstances. This means you never hit with a 12 or higher.

The problem with never bust as a strategy is that it results in many low scores. You’ll be out-pointed by the dealer frequently. While you may stay in every hand with this strategy, you’ll be facing a 3.9% house advantage.

3. Play like the dealer’s hole card is a 10

This strategy requires you to make every decision like the dealer’s face-down card is a 10. It involves chasing higher point totals more frequently.

This strategy also involves a modification when the dealer’s upcard is an ace. Given that dealers only keep playing when they don’t have a 10 hole card, you move to basic strategy. Even with this modification, assuming the dealer’s hole card is a 10 is disastrous. It results in you busting frequently and leads to a 10% house edge.