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Blackjack Rule Variations Affect House Edges
Blackjack has one of the lowest house edges of all online casino games. And indicative figure for the house edge would be 0.5%. However in order to exploit this house edge players need to make optimal moves all the time. There are a large number of blackjack variants on offer in online casinos. Players must keep in mind that the house edges differ in the different variants of blackjack. This is because there are different rules involved in the different blackjack games. Players who want to concentrate on blackjack games should learn how these rules increase or decrease the house edge. Though the changes may appear to be small, in the long run or with high wagering they can make a difference.
Blackjack players will have noticed that the different blackjack games offered at online casinos usually specify the number of decks. This is because the number of decks used in the game has a bearing on the house edge. Playing with eight decks instead of one deck can increase the house edge by 0.6%. Therefore most variants of online blackjack use larger number of decks. It would be difficult to find many games that are played with single decks.
Another significant variation is whether the dealer has to stand on a total of soft 17 or whether he has to hit. If the dealer has to stand then it is advantageous to the player, because if the dealer hits it gives him an opportunity to reach a higher total. Games, in which the dealer hits on a total of soft 17, have higher house edges by 0.2%.
Many blackjack variants impose restrictions on the players being allowed to double their wagers. The restrictions have an affect of raising the house edge. For example in some games players cannot double if they have split their hand. This restriction raises the house edge by about 0.15%. Another restriction that is commonly imposed in some online blackjack games is that players can double only on totals of 10 and 11. This restriction raises the house edge by about 0.2%.
Similarly there are restrictions imposed on when a player can split his hand. Some games allow players to split the hand only once and do not allow them to re-split the hand again. In such games the house edges higher by about 0.05%. Some online blackjack games do not allow players to split aces. In such games the house edges are higher by about 0.06%.
Under the most favorable set of rules blackjack has a negative house edge. That implies players who can make the optimal moves will in the long run always make money. No online casino can survive under such conditions. There some restrictions are always imposed, the most common one being increasing the number of decks. Players should be able to compute the cumulative effect on the house edge of all the rule restrictions and thereby choose the blackjack variant with the least house edge.
Some rule variants have not been discussed above because they raise the house edge so drastically that those games are not worth playing under any circumstances. Blackjack paying even money instead of the usual 3 to 2 raises the house edge by over 2%. The dealer reaching a total of 22 resulting in a push, instead of the dealer losing, raises the house edge almost 7%. Tied totals going in favor of the dealer, instead of pushing, raise the house edge almost 9%. No matter how these games are sweetened they are simply avoidable.
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