Blackjack or roulette? Which offers the better odds?
Heading into the casino, you will be surrounded by a vast array of games, some more tempting than others. While there are players out there who swear by roulette, others profess that blackjack presents the best odds for success. But, how do you know? Are some games luckier than other? What does it all come down to? Don’t panic, we’ll take you through it all.
The independent events of roulette
The odds in roulette quite simply never change. Once the ball travels around the wheel and lands on a number, it will have no recollection of what it did the next time the croupier flings it around the wheel. This is because every spin of the roulette wheel is an independent event, where future results are not impacted by previous events. Regardless of whether the ball has landed on the number 7 the last three times, it’s just as likely the ball will land on the number 7 again, and again, and again. The odds of landing black will always be 18/37 (or 38 if playing American roulette), and likewise landing on red. Furthermore, the odds will always be 1/37 for landing a straight.
Understandably this sounds insane, as much so as the fact that the sequence 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 is just as likely to come up when playing the lottery as any other sequence, but it is all true. There are some people that will not be told though, and insist on using systems such as the Martingale system; lowering their wagers based on previous results. Anybody who adopts this system is quite frankly throwing their money down the drain. For a moment though, imagine that a brand new roulette wheel was released, which removed numbers once they’d been hit. This would change the odds of every spin. Removing the number ‘7’ for example would mean the new odds for landing the number ‘8’ are 1/36, instead of 1/37. And while this isn’t particularly useful for roulette players, it certainly is for those who play blackjack.
Deck composition strategies (or card counting) in blackjack
In the above example we determined that reducing the amount of numbers on a roulette wheel increased the odds of landing on any remaining numbers. And whilst this cannot occur in roulette, it certainly can in blackjack. Once a card has been dealt, (before the cards are re-shuffled once every 25 hands or so), there is no chance you will receive that card again. As such, the odds of receiving other cards have been increased. This is essentially what card counters do. They measure how many high cards and how many low cards are in the deck and change their bets accordingly. Known as a heuristic system, they estimate how favourable the deck is at any given time.
To help you get your head around this, look at it this way. Hitting natural blackjack is the best way to hit the big money, and so it’s beneficial to have aces and 10s in the deck. Say you land an ace, the amount of aces in the deck has been reduced and so, you now have less chance of landing a natural blackjack. With no aces in the deck, the odds of landing a blackjack is zero, and the house edge increases considerably. The same holds true for 10s, but not in exactly the same way. The amount of 10s is much higher than aces, so finding a happy medium between the two works. With an even amount of 10s and aces in the deck, the odds of landing blackjack increase and as such, the card counter increases their bet.
Pure chance over strategy
One crucial thing that makes blackjack different to roulette is how the house edge can be manipulated in the card game. In roulette, the house edge will always be fixed at 5.26 percent (American roulette), or 2.70 percent (European roulette). Nothing whatsoever can change this. Nothing. On the other hand though, there are multiple decisions you can make in blackjack that affect the house edge. We explore a few of these elements in our other tips articles, but it generally comes down to specific play in situations. This is also known as ‘basic play’, or ‘basic strategy’, which provides the mathematically optimal way to play in any situation that comes up. We’ve covered that here, so make sure you check it out. By using our strategy guide, you can play with a house edge between 0.5 – 1%. If you want to play with these kinds of odds, stick to blackjack. These odds are not possible with roulette.
Of course, roulette can be a lot of fun, so if you don’t want the hassle of playing with a strategy then opt for roulette.
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