11 Dec

Relationship between House Rules and House Edge

Living On the Edge: Evaluating the impact of all common (and some uncommon) house rules on blackjack RTP.

Living On the Edge: How House Rules Impact Blackjack RTP

On the surface, most blackjack games look the same. So how is it so few of them offer the same theoretical return to player, or RTP? The answer is simple. Every single rule invoked by the house (the casino) changes the RTP in some way. It might go up a hundredth of a percentile, or plummet by a full percent. Each rule impacts the game in its own way.

Casinos (or rather, the makers of the games they supply) are well aware of this effect. They’ve spent years trying to find ways to give players the most entertaining experience – the most player-friendly rules – without denying the casinos their guaranteed profit. They’ve become so good at it, there are some rules most players don’t even know exist, even when they’re playing the games that enforce them.

Impact of House Rules on Blackjack RTP

There are more than three dozen rules that can be invoked by a casino when setting up a blackjack table. They include things like single, double or four+ deck games; dealer hits or stands on soft 17; blackjack pays 3 to 2, 6 to 5, 7 to 5, or worse, 1 to 1.

Generally speaking, the fewer decks in play, the higher the RTP will be. The dealer standing on soft 17 is better for the player than when he hits – by a not-so-negligible 0.22%, in fact. And obviously, the higher the payout for a natural blackjack, the better.

In the chart below, we’ll detail exactly how each blackjack house rule impacts the player’s long terms odds. With this information, you should be able to see just how variant games creators combine different rule sets to ensure the house always has the advantage, no matter how big or small it may be.

Relationship Between RTP and House Edge

Before a go on – a quick word about RTP versus house edge. The RTP of a game is how much a player can expect to win back from his total bets over the long term. The house edge is how much the casino expects to win from players over the long term. They are, quite literally, the opposite of one another. When you combine them, you should get exactly 100%.

For example, a house edge of 0.46% is equivalent to an RTP of 99.54%. (99.54 + 0.46 = 100). The strategic blackjack player’s goal is to find a blackjack game with the highest RTP and, therefore, the lowest house edge.

Common Rules & Their Effect on RTP

The following chart is listed in order of positive to negative, or greatest to least, with greatest being the most player-friendly rules, and least being the worst rules for players. The rules with a positive integer (+) benefit the player, while those with a negative integer (-) benefit the house.

Common House Rules with a…
Positive Impact on RTP
Blackjack Pays 2 to 1 +2.27%
5-Card Charlie (5 cards w/o Busting) +1.46%
Suited Blackjack Pays 2 to 1 +0.57%
Single (1) Deck Game +0.48%
Early Surrender against Dealer’s Ace +0.39%
Player Wins Blackjack Tie, Pays 3 to 2 +0.32%
6-Card Charlie (6 cards w/o Busting) Pays 3 to 2 +0.31%
5+ Card 21 Auto-Wins, Pays 2 to 1 +0.24%
Early Surrender against Dealer’s 10 +0.24%
Double Down on Any Number or Total Value of Cards +0.23%
Ace+10 after Split is Blackjack +0.19%
Double (2) Deck Game +0.19%
Draw to Split Aces Allowed +0.19%
6-Card Charlie (6 cards w/o Busting) Pays 1 to 1 +0.16%
Double Down after Split Allowed +0.15%
Double Down Rescue Allowed +0.10%
Late Surrender Allowed +0.08%
Resplit Aces Allowed +0.08%
Late Surrender against 10 Allowed +0.07%
Four (4) Deck Games +0.06%
Five (5) Deck Games +0.03%
Six (6) Deck Game +0.02%
Common House Rules with a…
Negative Impact on RTP
Split up to 2 Times (3 Hands) -0.01%
Double Down on Total of 9, 10 or 11 Only -0.09%
Split only 1 Time (2 Hands) -0.10%
Dealer Doesn’t Peek for Blackjack (No Hole Card) -0.11%
No Double Down After Split -0.14%
Cannot Split Aces -0.18%
Double Down on Total of 10 or 11 Only -0.18%
Dealer Hits Soft 17 -0.22%
Blackjack Pays 7 to 5 -0.45%
No Splitting Allowed -0.57%
Blackjack Pays 6 to 5 -1.39%
No Doubling Allowed -1.48%
Blackjack Pays 1 to 1 -2.27%
Dealer 22 Pushes except against Blackjack
(found in Blackjack Switch only)

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