Blackjack might look like a simple game, but don’t let that fool you. Whether you’ve played it for years or you’re just a dabbler, your goal shouldn’t be just to survive, you want to dominate. We’re not talking about whips, restraints and safe words here, we’re talking about understanding the probabilities. You know – the math.

Relax, we’ve done the hard work for you. You can focus on playing well, cutting down the house edge, and increasing your winnings, by following our tips.

Back to basics. A deck of playing cards has 52 cards. The odds of pulling a specific card, like the ace of spades, are 1 in 52, or 1.9%. Now, the odds of pulling a card of a specific rank, like any ace, are four times higher: 4 in 52, or 7.7%.

When the MIT Blackjack Team counts cards, they focus on how many ten-value cards are left in the deck. That’s 16 cards: four tens, four jacks, four queens, and four kings. Your chance of drawing one of those cards is about 30%, decreasing as each card comes out. This matters a lot when you’re playing single-deck blackjack. Not so much with six decks.

What are the most common hands?

Let’s explore the probabilities for each hand. Here come the numbers.

A pair of tens are dealt just over 9% of the time. And a blackjack comes about 4.8% of the time. About 30% are hands you should usually stand with: 17 to 20. Your decision hands, from 12 to 16, come in at 38.7%. That’s the no-bust zone, where you’re under pressure to make a decision that could lead to your termination… or a win.

The rest are going to be no-bust hands. When you get a no-bust hand, you should stay in and hope the dealer busts. You will win the hand, mainly because you’re still in the game.

No-bust players will not hit even if the dealer has a strong hand, like 7 through ace. These players understand that the odds are against them if they hit. So, while no-bust hands seem discouraging, it’s a good position in blackjack.

What are the chances of busting?

Look, there’s always a chance of busting, but at 11 or under, you’re safe. At 12, you’ve got a 31% chance of busting if you hit. Still improbable, though.

When you get to 13, your chance of busting rises to 39%, and at 14 it rises to 56%, meaning busting is the most likely outcome. So what are you going to do? Stand in every situation? No. Your online blackjack strategy demands a hit with some of these problematic hands. You came to win, didn’t you?

At 15, your chances of busting increase to 58%. 

After that, you’re in an explosive situation: the diabolical 16 sits there challenging you, mocking you. There’s a 62% chance of busting if you take a hit. What are you going to do? 

Checkout this blackjack video to learn how to handle 16 and get blackjack tips for piles of frequently misplayed hands.

When is the dealer in danger of busting? 

Watch out for aces. The dealer only busts 11% of the time with an ace upcard. And 10-value cards are troublesome as well, a 21% chance of busting. You want the dealer to show a 4, 5, or 6, because the odds of busting are over 40%. That’s when you could use an online blackjack strategy where you stand on a total, even if you don’t have the best hand.

The house edge, or the casino’s advantage over you, has the biggest effect on blackjack probabilities. A 1% edge means that, on average and over the long run, for every $100 you bet, you will lose a dollar.

You need to bring this edge down as low as possible. One way to do this is to focus on games with the most player-favorable rules.

You want the dealer to be required to stand at soft 17, so you get about a 0.2% decrease in house edge over games where the dealer will hit on soft 17. 

Another important rule is about splitting aces, during most Blackjack games, you only get one more card and that’s the end. If you can hit split aces, you get a 0.13% reduction in house edge. Split those aces again and you get a 0.03% decrease on top of that. 

A lot of players ask about the natural blackjack payout. Sometimes, you’ll see it at 6 to 5 instead of the more standard 3 to 2. That’s when the house edge jumps a full 1.5%. If the casino only pays even money for your best blackjack hand, the edge increase is 2.3%. The house accountants love it; but you, not so much. Protect your stacks by playing blackjack games with a healthy 3 to 2 payout.

Fewer decks, more decks, insurance? 

A rule of thumb in blackjack: the fewer decks the better. The probabilities tend to favor the player during games with fewer decks. This makes single deck games your best choice, giving you the full power of card counting, if you know how. The house advantage grows with more decks.

At the same time, you get better odds if you can double down on any card ranks, and also when surrender is available. Then, if you face the European no-hole card rule, you need to adjust your strategy by considering that you don’t yet know if the dealer has a blackjack.

Often, you get a blackjack check from the dealer or an insurance offer when you see that ace. Don’t do it! The probability is against you, even if it sometimes feels safe. Online blackjack strategy is very kind to players with the grit to play through tough situations the right way.

At Ignition Casino, single deck blackjack has the lowest house edge as long as you play with optimal strategy.

Double Deck, European, Zappit, and Perfect Pairs have slightly higher house edges, but they offer you the chance to win in different ways. If you hate playing 15s and 16s, Zappit lets you eliminate them.

Wanna get paid for your pairs? Perfect Pairs lets you open up that possibility. So when you’re tired of applying math wizardry on the odds, simply switch things up and have some fun.

Play with your head

Like we said at the start, online blackjack is a simple game with complicated possibilities. Your strategy doesn’t demand a lot of memorization, but applying some research will have you playing like Dustin Hoffman’s savant in Rainman. When you come for some blackjack fun at Ignition, just remember the key stats we outlined and you’ll be sharper, happier, and a little richer.