Blackjack House Advantage – Expected Value

Now that you have learned basic strategy, what are your likely losses over the long-term from playing blackjack?

All casino games have a built-in house advantage (or expected value).  This house advantage pays for the enormous hotels and casinos in Las Vegas and the free entertainment and comps that are available.  With games like blackjack, craps, roulette, and video poker it is relatively easy to calculate the house advantage when playing with optimum strategy.  Other games such as slots have no way for the player to calculate the house advantage.

The following table lists typical blackjack games and the associated expected values (EV):

  • Decks is the number of decks used in the game, generally games with fewer decks are better.
  • S17 indicates whether the dealer will hit soft 17 (H17) or not (S17). Playing a game where the dealer stands on soft 17 (S17) will save you about 0.20% in expected value.
  • DAS indicates whether you can double down after splitting. This rule will increase your expected value by about 0.14%.
  • LS indicates whether late surrender is allowed. This rule will increase your expected value by about 0.07%. Typically this rule is only found on 6 or 8 deck games.
  • EV is the expected value (house advantage) of the blackjack game. Note that all games have a negative EV, indicating that you will lose money over the long-term.
  • For simplicity, you can assume 8 deck games are 0.02% worse in expected value than 6 deck games.
Decks S17 DAS LS EV
1D H17 NO NO -0.30%
2D S17 DAS NO -0.25%
2D S17 NO NO -0.40%
2D H17 DAS NO -0.46%
2D H17 NO NO -0.60%
6D S17 DAS LS -0.35%
6D S17 DAS NO -0.43%
6D S17 NO LS -0.50%
6D S17 NO NO -0.57%
6D H17 DAS LS -0.55%
6D H17 DAS NO -0.64%
6D H17 NO LS -0.70%
6D H17 NO NO -0.78%

You can use the above chart to help decide where you should play blackjack and to estimate how much you should expect to lose. The above chart assumes you are playing blackjack with perfect basic strategy.

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