It is often said that the dealer always wins in blackjack in spite of the fact that the blackjack dealer's edge is quite low. Certain situations and actions from novice and seasoned players lead to the casino making huge profits off of blackjack tables.
Let's look into why blackjack dealers seem to always win!
Not Using Basic Blackjack Strategies
The reason why casinos offer the game even with such a low house edge is that this 0.5% is applicable only for players who are using the basic blackjack strategy in the desired way.
Using the basic blackjack strategy involves taking the right decisions of when to hit, stand, double down, split or surrender based on the player's and the dealer's hand. Sometimes, players are unable to use this blackjack strategy and at other times, they simply don't bother to follow a strategy perhaps because they are playing a small hand. In such situations, the house edge increases by a significant percentage, turning the odds in favor of the dealer.
Following a Betting System
One major reason behind why players often lose and the house wins in blackjack is because of the players following certain betting systems that they apply to blackjack.
Now, each betting system has its pros and cons but some end up increasing the house edge and posing a greater risk of a loss for the player. One such system is the Martingale system of betting in blackjack. This is a negative progression betting system in which players double the bet upon a loss. The idea is to prevent the player from staying behind for long and ensure the odds of winning at least 1 hand to stay at the table.
However, this betting system often works against the players, especially for those who are playing for too long. If a player is somehow not doing well, maybe because of his bad luck, he will quickly run out of money or at least, run up against the table max. And once this happens, the player is unable to double his next bet even if that would seem the suitable option. The bottom line is that the Martingale system should be avoided if you are trying to avoid games where the dealer always wins.
Whilst it is possible to win at blackjack without counting cards, implementing a solid card counting strategy is the best and safest way to win at blackjack consistently. However, it requires incredible determination and practice.
Not in the Best Condition
Playing blackjack needs one to have a clear head. A player must be well-rested and his brain must be functioning properly enough to let him take the smartest playing decisions with each hand.
Often, players are tired from a long journey or they have already consumed too many drinks to be playing strategically. It is hard to find a bleary-eyed player win at a blackjack table. When the players are not in the best of their physical and mental health, the casino is bound to be making more profits.
Taking Insurance or Side Bets
Side bets in blackjack apparently seem to be profitable but most end up increasing the house edge. And when the player loses these side bets, the losses are higher for him.
Let's take the Insurance side bet as an instance. This side bet, in spite of its 2:1 payout, should be avoided by blackjack players. This is because while playing this bet, the player is practically playing alone against the dealer in a usually one-deck game.
According to Telegraph, on average, a $10 insurance bet wins 16 times and loses 33 times. This calculation implies that a player winning remains impossible in the very long run.
Playing More Than 300 Hands
When playing head to head with the dealer, a blackjack player can go through as many hands as 200 per hour. The trick is that the more hands you play per hour, the greater are the chances of the house winning. This is because the strategy of the house is a long game and the game itself is designed to pay less than what true probabilities should allow.
So, if you are playing more than 300 hands per hour by just following the basic strategy, chances are that the house will win some of your money away from you.
Dealer Using CSM
It is assumed that blackjack players who are experts in card counting can still hold the odds of winning in their favor. However, the use of Continuous Shuffling Machines (CSM) in casinos makes it hardly possible to count cards. Plus, the game goes very fast and this increases the number of hands being played per hour. CSMs combine both automatic shuffler and a dealing shoe. When a round of betting is done, the dealer scoops out the cards played and inserts them back into the machine for getting them reshuffled along with the other cards.
So, the dealer's use of CSM exposes more of the player's bankroll to the house edge. This leads to a substantial increase in the player's theoretical hourly loss. Average players including card counters, therefore, have to slow down and if given the option, avoid a dealer who uses CSMs.
So, these are some of the reasons and instances when the house edge goes completely in favor of the dealer. By following the basic blackjack strategy and avoiding the negative progression betting systems such as Martingale and side bets such as insurance, players can improve their odds of winning to a significant extent.
This article was published on September 4, 2021, and last updated on February 25, 2022.