Blackjack Rule Changes and What They Mean For You

Added: May 23, 2013

Blackjack is one of the top casino card games because it's easy to learn while maintaining a lot of depth and strategy. People learn basic strategy, card counting and other methods to try to minimize the house advantage and maximize their chances of winning. There are also a lot of different variations of blackjack out there with slightly different rules that can spice things up. However, a lot of these changes in rules can give a player a disadvantage compared to the average game. We're going to show you how to tell what's what.

We're going to assume a few things about a standard blackjack game. We're going to assume that the dealer stands on a soft 17, that the cards are dealt from an eight-deck shoe, that you can double with any two starting cards, that you can double after you split and that you can split to a total of up to four hands. From this basic starting point, any change in the rules will change the player's payout rate. For example, adding the five card Charlie rule adds 1.46 percent to the player's advantage, and changing to a single-deck game gives the player an additional 0.48 percent advantage. However, many changes hurt your payout rate.

For example, one of the worst rules you can have is that a dealer who busts with a total of 22 acts as a push instead of a win for you. This drops your payout rate by 6.91 percent, a change that's virtually impossible to overcome. If blackjacks just pay out at 1-to-1, then your payout rate drops by 2.27 percent. At 6-to-5 it drops by 1.39 percent, and that's one of the reasons why blackjack experts advise you to only play in games that offer 2-to-1.

If you can't split aces, then that drops 0.18 percent from your payout rate. Being able to only double on totals of 10 or 11 also reduces your payout rate by 0.18 percent, but not being able to double after you split gives it a hit of 0.14 percent. The European blackjack rule of the dealer not having a hole card or not peeking for blackjack gives you a 0.11 decrease from your overall advantage. What's important to realize is that even though some of these percentage changes are pretty small, if your original payout rate was 99 percent, a decrease of one percent effectively doubles the house advantage.

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