Blackjack Payout

At 2 to 1, the payout of a natural blackjack is hig. This article will show how card counting and payout rate changes the natural blackjack odds.

Blackjack payout is basically the payout that the player is promised when they get blackjack in a session of the game. It is important for players to understand the odds of a natural blackjack and related details to be able to improve their odds of winning.

In blackjack, the payout varies depending upon the game being played and the variations can be 3:2 or 6:5.

Blackjack Payout Explained

Natural Blackjack Payout Icon

For a natural blackjack that the player has and the dealer does not have, the payout is 3:2.

This implies that the dealer immediately pays the player one and a half times the amount of their original bet. On the other hand, if the dealer gets a natural blackjack, he collects the bets of all the players who do not have natural.

In blackjack, a player is considered to have a natural blackjack when the first two cards dealt are an ace and a "ten-card", which can either be a picture card or a 10. This gives a count of 21 and is called a natural blackjack.

Natural Blackjack Odds

The odds of a natural blackjack depend on certain factors, out of which, the number of decks is an important factor. Let's first consider a scenario with a single deck of cards. Out of the 52 cards in the deck, there are 4 aces, 16 face cards, and 10. A natural blackjack can occur in the first two cards only, which comes down to about a 4.83% probability of getting a blackjack. This is because C (52, 2) = (52 * 51) / 2 = 1326 and 4 (aces) *16 = 64 and 64 / 1326 = .0483. Interestingly, 4.83% is equivalent to 1 in 21 blackjack hands.

The scenario changes a bit when it comes to two decks of cards, say, 2 decks consisting of 104 cards. The calculation would go like C (104, 2) = 5356 (4.04 times larger than total combinations for one deck.) 8 (Aces) * 32 (Tens) = 256. So, this implies that the probability of a natural blackjack for 2 decks of cards would be 4.78%, which is slightly lower than the blackjack probability with a one-deck scenario with 4.83%.

However, in most casinos around the world and especially, in the US, blackjack is played with 6-8 decks of cards, with 8 decks being the standard. The odds of getting a natural blackjack with 8 decks is 4096 / 86320 = 4.75%, which is the lowest among one deck or two-deck games. Rounding up, the odds remain steady at about 4.8% throughout with minor differences depending on the exact number of decks.

6 to 5 Blackjack Payout Rule

While the original blackjack payout is 3:2, most casinos these days are changing it to 6:5, and this impacts a lot on the house edge and the odds of the player. The difference is that in the 3:2 payout, the player gets paid $3 for every $2 that he bets on a winning blackjack hand whereas, in the 6:5 payout, the payment is $6 for every $5 bet, which makes the odds 1.2:1. Although it appears to be a minor difference, it has a significant effect on the expected outcome for the player.

With a blackjack game that pays out 6:5, the house edge increases roughly by 400%. So, while in the 3:2 payout game, the house edge remains about 0.5% for a player using the basic blackjack strategy, the same shoots up to almost 2% in a 6:5 payout game.

The 6:5 payout is considered highly unfavorable for the players because a house edge of 2% means that on average, for every $100 that the player bets on any game, the house or the casino keeps $2 even on a winning hand.

The following table shows a rough comparison between 

Factor3:2 Payout6:5 Payout
Odds1.5:11.2:1
House Edge (with Blackjack Basic Strategy)0.5%2%
Payout (average)$3 for every $2 bet$5 for every $6 bet
Blackjack Payout Comparison Chart

Using Card Counting to Maximize Blackjack Payout

Card counting is a technique using which blackjack players can improve their odds of winning thereby, maximizing the blackjack payout. As a quick brief on how the card counting system works, let's consider the Hi-Low count. In this system, cards 2 to 6 are assigned +1, 10 and an ace are considered -1, and 7, 8, and 9 are 0. As the cards are being played, the players keep adding or subtracting from the count, thereby, keeping a running count.

The rule is that when the true count blackjack number is positive, the player supposedly has a proportionally higher number of favorable cards in the deck, when the count is 0 or negative; there are lower numbers of favorable or advantageous cards in the deck. This counting helps the player in deciding the playing action as well as the bet amount.

Now, card counting helps a player predict a natural blackjack. The decks are shuffled and randomized, which is why; the aces and the 10 might be disproportional. The probability of getting a blackjack at all decreases when a lot of the aces and 10 have already been dealt. However, by card counting, players can get an idea of the proportion of 10 and aces remaining in the deck. Accordingly, if this proportion is higher than usual, players can bet higher. As a result, when the players have a better probability of getting a 3:2 payout and increasing their bet, they end up with a higher mathematical edge over the casino. Card counting precisely helps players track this ratio.

Insurance Against Natural Dealer Blackjacks

Insurance is a side bet that is offered to the player if the blackjack dealer's up-card is an ace and a 10 card. The insurance is basically against the dealer getting a natural blackjack. Blackjack insurance odds payout at 2:1 and the maximum bet that the player can place is usually half of the player's primary bet. Insurance comes with the purpose of offering the player a chance to break even on a hand in case the dealer gets a blackjack and ends up losing the main bet.

Now, insurance is worth taking only when the player is a very capable card counter who is able to get an idea of the 10-value cards left in the deck. Card counters can take the chance and avoid losing in the event of the dealer getting a natural blackjack and the odds of this are 1:5:1, which is the same as that of the player getting a natural blackjack.

That being said, if the player is not using the technique of card counting, he should avoid taking insurance as it will turn out to be a losing strategy in the long run. Also, blackjack insurance should not be taken because it is like playing against the dealer alone for the player. Even with card counting, it is hard to consistently predict the times a dealer has a 10 card when their hole is an ace.

Blackjack Payouts: FAQ

What is the standard blackjack payout?

The standard blackjack payout is 3:2 though some casinos offer a 6:5 payout as well. You can see on the table felt the natural blackjack payout of the casino or you can ask the croupier.

What are the odds of getting a natural blackjack?

Your odds of getting a natural blackjack are 1.20%. These odds also apply to the croupier as well since they are drawing from the same shoe.

How is the 6 to 5 blackjack payout rule different from the standard 3 to 2 rule? 

The house edge in blackjack with a standard 3:2 payout is 0.5% while the same for a game with a 6:5 payout is 2%. The odds in favor of the player are also higher in games following the standard 3:2 rule.

Can card counting help you increase your blackjack payout?

Card counting can help players increase their overall returns by making an informed decision based on the count derived from the number of cards remaining in the deck.

Should I take the blackjack insurance bet even if I am not counting cards? 

Taking an insurance bet should be avoided in all situations because the player cannot predict whether the dealer will have a face-down 10 card for a natural blackjack. While card counting can help you predict when a natural blackjack can occur, the value of this bet is much lower when taking into account the risks.

Thus, blackjack payouts do vary depending on several factors such as the casino, number of decks, whether the player is counting cards, and so on.