Blackjack seems to be everyone’s favorite game to learn strategy for. And why not? Using correct blackjack strategy allows you to take the house edge from the 2-5% range in the casino’s favor and make it almost nonexistent or even in your favor.
I’ve written a few articles detailing different types of blackjack strategy from simple to super simple and all the way to advanced strategy. I’ve also started to dig into the theory behind the strategy, discussing popular blackjack myths you’ll often hear at the table.
Now I want to look at bust rates for both the player and dealer. Knowing proper strategy may be enough for some people but I think it’s important to understand why the strategy exists.
Knowing dealer and player bust rates are both important so we know the theory and the math that give us correct playing strategy. Not knowing why the strategy exists is like trying to make a great pasta sauce without knowing what the ingredients are.
First, let’s look at how often a dealer will bust based on the card he has showing. Remember, players and dealers don’t play under the same rules, and assuming the dealer has a 10 in the hole card is just a myth. There’s only a 3 in 7 chance the dealer has a 10.
Here are the Bust Rates for the dealer based on his show card, as found at BlackjackAge.com: 2, 35.30%; 3, 37.56%; 4, 40.28%; 5, 42.89%; 6, 42.08%; 7, 25.99%; 8, 23.86%; 9, 23.34%; 10, 21.43%; Ace, 11.65%.
The myth you’ll often hear at the blackjack table is that when the dealer has a 2 showing it’s as if he has an ace. Not quite. The only “dealer’s Ace” is a dealer showing an Ace.
When the dealer has an ace showing he only busts 11.65% of the time, whereas the dealer busts almost three times as often (35.30%) when he has a 2 showing. The cards commonly known as “dealer bust cards” are just that. When the dealer has 2-6 showing his bust rate is much greater than when he has high cards (7-Ace) showing.
While there may be a difference in common opinion about dealers busting, there shouldn’t be any surprise about a blackjack player’s bust rate. As the first two player’s cards get higher so do the bust rates.
The player’s Bust Rate, based on the total of his first two cards, also from BlackjackAge.com, are: 12, 31%; 13, 39%; 14, 56%; 15, 58%; 16, 62%; 17, 69%; 18, 77%; 19, 85%; 20, 92%.
The player’s bust rates are in line with everything you’ll hear at a blackjack table. The lower the cards you have, the less likely you are to bust. I’m not a math guy and I don’t have a photographic memory so I try to break down the information and reasoning behind the actual strategy for each game in small, easy to understand, morsels.
Like cutting up a steak into bite size pieces, I find it easier to learn the information behind gaming strategy when it’s broken up into small bits. Learning the math behind blackjack strategy allows me, and hopefully you, the ability to understand it says to hit or stay on a given hand.