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Battle of the Classics - Roulette vs. Blackjack

Roulette vs Blackjack

On the surface, blackjack and roulette don't seem to have much in common. One involves cards and facing off against a dealer. The other involves placing bets on a spinning wheel. On this page, we'll discuss what each 'game of chance' has to offer, so you can decide which best fits your style.

It's worth pointing out that the type of blackjack we'll be discussing is standard blackjack. Most top casinos now offer a wide range of blackjack variations which feature different side bets, use different rules and have a different house edge than the standard game. We will be comparing the standard version to the standard variations of roulette including American, European, and French.

Standard Blackjack Explained

The object of this card game is to beat the dealer by getting as close to 21 as possible without actually going over. Aces can be 1 or 11 points, face cards are 10 points and the rest are counted at face value. The highest ranking hand is 'blackjack' which consists of an ace with a 10 point card. It pays 3/2. So, if you bet two chips worth $5 each and get blackjack, you would win three additional chips and get your original bet back for a profit of $15. All other wins are awarded a payout of 1/1

At the start of each round, players must make a starting bet that meets the minimum requirement. Then everyone, including the dealer, gets 2 cards. One of the dealer's cards will be placed face-up and the other will be facedown. A few bet options may be available to you at this point:

Hit Ask for another card.
Stand Keep your hand as is.
Double Double your bet, but only get one more card for the rest of the round.
Split If you were dealt a pair at the start of the game, you can split them and play 2 hands at once.
Surrender If you don't like your initial cards, then you can choose this option to keep half your bet and end the round.
Insurance Players have the option to take this bet when the dealer gets an Ace. If the dealer does have blackjack, this bet pays 2/1.

Comparing the Odds

Roulette relies on fixed odds. This is due to the random chance a ball will land on a number. A straight-up bet on a single number will always have a 2.63% chance to win on an American wheel with a house edge of 5.26%.

In blackjack, the house edge goes up with the number of decks used. The dealer draws cards from a shoe which shuffles up to 8 decks. Typically, casinos use 4 to 8 decks at each table giving a house edge of around 0.5%. The odds of receiving certain cards changes as cards are dealt. Advantage play, such as counting cards, isn't easy, but it can be used to get some insight into what the future holds. There's no way of doing that in roulette.

Even at tables using 8 decks, the house edge for blackjack is still much lower than roulette. The lowest house edge for roulette is 1.35% on even-money bets at French roulette tables. This is still well above the 0.5% offered by blackjack.

Strategy v. Chance

Unlike roulette, blackjack's odds can be affected by player strategy and the number of decks used at the table. If you know the number of decks being used, you can estimate the probability of which card in the deck will be drawn next based on what has already been dealt out. If this knowledge is used correctly, your chance to win is higher. If you play blindly without strategizing, then the odds to win go down.

Roulette strategies rely more on knowledge of fixed odds. Betting on red has the same chance to win as the spin that came before or the spin that will come after. Getting the most out of each session comes down to luck and betting combos that make the most of your wagers.

Card games like blackjack and poker are more difficult to master, but if you like having a little more control of whether or not you win or lose, then it's well worth your time to practice before heading to the casino. Of course, if you prefer a game with fixed odds and multiple bet options, then roulette is more your speed.

Assessing Your Potential Winnings

Roulette can award payouts of 1/1 to 35/1 per bet each round, whereas, blackjack's highest payout per bet is 3/2. While blackjack may have a lower house edge, the payouts are going to be consistently low per round. Most wins will likely be 1/1. Occasionally, you will get a blackjack paying 3/2. So, the most you could profit from a $2 bet would be $3 which is 1.5x your base bet.

Roulette allows players to wager on multiple bet spaces on the layout. So long as the minimum and maximum bet limits are met, there's a great deal of flexibility in the amount to be wagered and won. Combined bets can take potential profits past 35/1. For example, a bet unit on '2 black' with a bet unit on the 'second column' could potentially payout 35/1 + 2/1. That's a total of 37x your base unit bet. If you use $5 chips, then that could amount to a big win of $185.

Roulette Blackjack
Lowest payout per bet 1/1 1/1
Highest payout per bet 35/1 3/2
House edge 1.35%, 2.70% or 5.26% 0.5% for experienced strategists

In terms of potential payouts for the same number of rounds, roulette obviously has the numbers to put it above blackjack in terms of awarding big wins. However, blackjack still has better odds to win for a player that knows how to play the cards right.

Which is Better?

In order to decide which game of chance suits you best, you must consider the bets, payouts and odds. Roulette has many more different bets available than blackjack. In the latter all you can do is win even money or lose your initial stake–unless you split, double or receive a natural blackjack. In roulette, however, you can make even money bets , place bets on 2 to 1 odds and make some serious cash placing inside bets on individual numbers. This variety keeps the game from getting boring.

Playing blackjack effectively relies on players understanding basic strategy and knowing what to do with each hand they receive based on the dealer's face-up card(s). If you don't know all of this information off by heart, or keep it within reach when playing online or you'll probably find yourself losing more hands than you should. Unless you're prepared to learn and practice blackjack, roulette might be a better choice.

"Roulette is complex to master, but simple to learn. It's a game of many bet options and plenty of different strategies to use to your advantage."

Roulette is a true game of chance. Once you've placed your bets, everything depends on the way the wheel spins. At least in blackjack you have some control over your own destiny, as you can choose to hit, stand, split etc. Some players find the loss of that control when playing roulette a little unsettling.

Both are extremely popular casino games, so you can't really go wrong with either. Choose which suits you best, and remember that you can always play both! Free play options give the opportunity to practice until perfect.