What are the odds of winning at blackjack?

October 22, 2019

Blackjack originated from France & Spain, and has remained one of the most popular gambling card games. The game is also colloquially known as 21 or Twenty-one. The main goal of the game is for players to acquire a total card value equal or close to 21 without going over (bust). Blackjack is commonly played in casinos or casually within home-based events or gatherings. 

Although Blackjack is ultimately a game of chance, there are mathematical elements involved in the betting process. Additionally, dealers may include optional stipulations that will affect the probabilities of winning.  

Casual Blackjack

Players score “Blackjacks” when they are dealt a combination of an ace and a 10 or face card (jacks, queens & kings). Blackjacks are multipliers that will either double (or even triple) wins or losses (when drawn by dealer).

There are 60 possible permutations (4 Aces X 4 Tens + 13 Face Cards) of a Blackjack with a single playing card deck.

A standard deck contains 52 playing cards (excluding jokers), which means that the total number of possible double card permutations is 52 X 51 (since there are no duplicates) , which gives a staggering 2652 possibilities.

This means that players only have a 0.023% (60/2652) chance of receiving a Blackjack – if they drew only for themselves.

These odds are halved with every participant added to the game, while a session of Blackjack involves a minimum of 2 participants – player and dealer.  

Other Game Factors

Casinos often use 3 or more decks for their Blackjack games, which makes it difficult to assess the exact probabilities of receiving a Blackjack, or of beating the dealer.  

Card experts have employed a reliable tactic known as basic strategy. This involves players planning their moves based on the upcard (exposed card) of the dealer.

Through basic strategy, players can gauge the probability of beating the dealer.  

Aces,7,8,9 or 10-value cards are generally considered strong upcards, which means players should draw until they have a value of 17 or more without busting. Whereas 4,5,and 6 are poor upcards where players should prevent drawing beyond a value of 12 or more (this is with hopes that the dealer goes bust). 
 Additionally, soft hands involve an ace plus a non-10 value card, where players may interpret aces as either a 1 or 11. This provides players with a greater flexibility of play and better odds of winning the game.  

Blackjack is a celebrated game due to its simple yet engaging concept. With the right strategy, it provides a thrilling, yet rewarding experience.