# Blackjack Odds

Even though Blackjack is a so-called “even money” game, paying 1-to-1 on most wagers, the odds of winning are definitely not 50:50. Because the dealer’s hand is always played last, the house enjoys a slight advantage, also known as the “edge,” “vigorish,” “vig,” or “juice.” No matter how slight this margin may seem, it is the source of the table’s profits and the reason most Blackjack players lose over the long term, unless they do something to put the odds more in their favor, such as advantage play or card counting.

### Understanding the House Edge

To demonstrate how the house edge works, consider the novice who plays by the House Rules for the dealer when making decisions about his/her hand. Such a player would never double or split and never take insurance or surrender. No matter what card the dealer shows, this player would hit until reaching seventeen or higher, just like the dealer must do.

At first glance, an observer might think that the dealer and player would win an equal number of times over the long term. After all, they play their cards the same way. In fact, it might appear that the player has the edge, getting paid 3-to-2 for every natural blackjack, while the dealer only gets 1-to-1 for such a hand.

But consider what happens when the two both go bust by exceeding twenty-one. In every instance, the dealer wins, because the player is out of the action before the hand ends. This makes a huge difference in the odds. Playing by the House Rules, the dealer and player can each be expected break once every 3.57 hands, or 28% of all deals. Calculated as 0.28 x 0.28, the dealer and player should both bust on the same hand 7.84% of the time.

By contrast, a natural blackjack occurs much less frequently—just 4.8% of the time—and some of those hands will result in a push. Even when paid at 3-to-2 on the rest, the effect of the higher payout is negligible. The true house advantage reduces to 5.9%, which means the player can expect a net loss about once every 17 hands, again assuming that all hands are played exactly the way the dealer would play them.