If you’ve ever had a bad run of luck playing online blackjack, the natural question to ask is the following. Is online blackjack rigged?
Most online blackjack games are fair. But a few online blackjack games might not be fair. Online casinos don’t need to rig blackjack games to make money. And if the authorities catch them cheating, they risk losing their license and customers.
In this post, you’re going to learn what rigged blackjack is, why most online blackjack games are fair, how to tell if a blackjack game is rigged, and how to find fair online blackjack games.
You might also be interested in my analysis of poker vs blackjack.
What Does “Rigged” Blackjack Mean?
So, what exactly is a rigged online blackjack game?
You can’t beat a rigged blackjack game. But it’s also hard to beat fair blackjack games. Fair blackjack games make casino money too. So, what’s the difference between a fair and rigged blackjack game?
A fair blackjack game uses the rules the casino sets for the game. And the game uses a deck of 52 cards, or many decks, each including the standard 52 cards.
Fair blackjack games use a random shuffle of the deck or decks. Online blackjack game software works like this:
Online blackjack games assign each card in the deck a number. A random number generator then puts the cards in random order. This is basically the same thing as shuffling a deck or decks of cards. But the power of computers actually makes the order more random than a person shuffling the cards.
With a random order of cards and the house rules, a blackjack game is fair. And the casino makes an overall profit on fair blackjack games. In other words, online casinos don’t have to cheat to make money with their blackjack games.
A rigged online blackjack game tilts the favor to the house more. In a fair online blackjack game, the house edge runs between .5% and 2% in most games. But a rigged blackjack game can push the edge to 5% or higher.
Online casinos can rig blackjack games in a couple of different ways. And it can be hard to identify a rigged blackjack game. I cover the main ways online blackjack games might be rigged in the next section.
How to Rig an Online Blackjack Game
I know it’s a little bit scary thinking an online casino can rig a blackjack game. And sadly, I can’t guarantee that no online blackjack games are rigged. Here’s how an online casino might rig a blackjack game:
Online casinos use software and computers or servers for their blackjack games. The easiest way to rig an online blackjack game is changing the software to change the order of cards in a way that makes you lose more often.
Here’s an example:
They can design the software so that every time you hit with a total of 14 or higher you bust. But this would become obvious, so a smarter way to do this is to change your next card to a bust card 10% of the time you would hit and not bust.
A small change like this is hard to recognize because you often bust when you hit with 14 or higher. And changing 1 out of 10 times you don’t bust to a bust doesn’t look strange. But it increases the house edge.
Now consider other specific plays the casino can rig. What if the casino programmed the software so 1 out of 10 times you normally get a blackjack you don’t get a blackjack? Instead of paying you 3 to 2 for blackjack, they only pay even money. Again, this increases the house edge.
It doesn’t take many small changes to add an extra 1% or more to the house edge.
Another way to rig a blackjack game is by removing one or more aces or 10 point cards from the deck. Every ace or 10 point card removed from the deck increases the house edge. Notice that a land-based casino can rig a blackjack game the same way.
How to Tell If You’re Playing a Rigged Blackjack Game
How do you tell if an online blackjack game is rigged? Sadly, it’s hard to know for sure if the casino is cheating. But here are a few ways to see if an online blackjack game is rigged.
Tracking your play and results is the best way to see if you’re playing a rigged online blackjack game. The downside to this method is you have to play and track results for a long time.
The correct way to track your play is to record every hand you play, including the amount bet, and your results. At the end of each playing session, total the amount you bet and the amount you lose or win overall.
Here’s an example:
You play 100 hands and bet $20 on each hand. Of the 100 hands, you split four times ad doubled down four times. The total amount you bet is $2,160.
You started with $300 and you have $240. Now, determine the house edge for the session by dividing the amount lost by the total amount bet.
$60 divided by $2,160 is .02777. Convert this to a percentage of 2.78%. This is a little higher than the expected house edge in blackjack games, but it’s within the accepted range for 100 hands.
The bad thing is you need to track 1,000s of hands to learn if the actual house edge is in line with the expected house edge.
Track every card you see. That’s a great way to know if the blackjack game is crooked. In the long run, all 13 cards in a standard deck appear an equal number of times.
Of course, to play blackjack with the lowest house edge you need to learn blackjack strategy, like if you should split 7’s.
Why Online Casinos Don’t Need to Rig Their Blackjack Games
The main reason most online blackjack games aren’t rigged is that the casinos make money offering fair games. The rules guarantee a long-term profit, so there’s never a reason to cheat.
Does this mean an online casino never cheats? I think it’s naive to assume it can’t happen. But most online casinos would rather stay in business and crank out consistent profit. They don’t need scandals.
What happens if an online casino cheats? The casino closes in most cases. And even if it doesn’t close, word spreads quickly and online gamblers stop playing at the casino.
Cheating is short-sighted. It’s a lot like killing the golden goose. Why take the chance of losing long-term profits when all you need to do is run a fair blackjack game?
How to Find Fair Online Blackjack Games
The best advice I can give you is to avoid new online casinos. And the second piece of advice is don’t play anywhere that has a bad reputation. You have plenty of options, so you don’t need to take any chances.
Finding fair online blackjack games is easy. Find online casinos that have good customer service, good reputations, and who use trusted software. A third party tests good online casino software for randomness..
Many trusted land-based casinos, like Borgata, also have online casinos. The odds of a licensed and trusted casino rigging blackjack games are almost zero.
Rigged Online Blackjack, Real or Not?
It’s impossible to claim that 100% of online blackjack games are fair. But when you play in trusted online casinos, the games are almost always fair.
I only play blackjack in online casinos I trust. And every online casino I play in uses a third party to test their random number generating software. While I don’t know for a fact that I’ve never played a rigged blackjack game, I’ve never seen evidence that I’ve been cheated.
The most popular online casinos use well known software. And the games using the same software at different online casinos should always be the same.
Follow the advice in the previous section and you don’t have to worry about rigged online blackjack games. Worried about cheating? Can’t get over that? Stick with playing live blackjack. But as you learned earlier, even a land-based casino can rig a blackjack game.
At the end of the day, it comes down to trusting the casino where you play blackjack. If you don’t trust the casino, play somewhere else. And if you trust the casino, you shouldn’t have anything to worry about.
Anything is possible in online casinos. But most online casinos run fair blackjack games. The penalty for cheating is a complete loss of profits. And online casinos make plenty of profit by offering fair blackjack games.
The best way to find fair online blackjack games is by playing with trusted brands and casinos. Look for online casinos that have been in business a long time. And look for casinos with good track records of taking care of gamblers.
Do you think the online casino is cheating? Play elsewhere. Plenty of trusted casinos have online blackjack games.