Blackjack

Blackjack is probably one of the best (house banked) games to play in a casino. The reason for this is that the skilled player can reduce the house edge to almost nothing. Consider the rather standard rules at most casinos these days (for true 3:2 blackjack): 6 Decks, dealer hits soft 17, ~75% penetration, Double after split is allowed, resplit aces is allowed, and you get one card only on split aces. Using basic strategy (see wizardofodds.com) the house only has about a 0.55% house edge. The standard deviation is about 1.15 units per round due to the doubling / splitting.

This is not bad at all. You probably know that card counting can reverse this, and give the player an edge. However, if you are a recreational player, this is probably not worth the effort, and you risk getting trespassed by the casino. However, if you do learn card counting, you can reduce the house edge to zero (or very slightly even in your favor) by just judiciously leaving the game (wonging out) whenever the count gets ‘too’ negative.

For example, if you are basic strategy player, but also use a Hi-Lo count and wong out at true counts of -1, you will find the player edge is +.02% ! (i.e. ~ zero). You are unlikely to get any heat for just leaving, however you will find this happening more then probably you would like. Another possibility is to wong out true counts of -2, but doubling your bet when you reach TC of +2. Again, no real counter uses this small of a ‘spread’ so you will likely not get any heat. The player edge in this case is +0.08% . However, the standard deviation is higher, about 1.5 per lower unit bet.

If you add minimal indexes (Insurance at +3, Stand on 16 v T 0, 15 v T +4) you can improve this a smidge:
– If you double your bet at +2, but wong out at TC<=-2, you get +0.15% but play 70% - You can back off and not use indexes (and no insurance) but stand on 16 v T always, and you still get +0.11%, not bad! (Average bet $12, sd $14.5 per round) If this is all too hard, consider OPP counting.

The truly casual gambler would likely be better off just playing basic strategy. However, if you enjoy learning new skills and testing them, and would like to use them with reduced risk of getting backed off at your favorite toilet, this might be interesting.