Much has been made of casinos tightening up their blackjack offerings, switching most lower limit tables from the standard 3:2 payout to the much loathed 6:5. Under common rules, this alters the house edge from a favorable 0.5%, plus or minus depending on player competency, to just under 2%, again dependent on said competency and other rule variations.
The change is nothing more than a money grab for operators, desperately trying to increase revenue from a dwindling gambling market. Should we blame them though? If you ran a company selling soda and found that you could make as much or even more money by offering 10oz cans instead of 12oz, would you do it?
To me, the casinos aren’t the problem. We are. Well, not us specifically. If you frequently read Vegas related publications or enjoy any of the great Vegas or gambling podcasts, you’re well aware of these unfortunate changes. However, Vegas saw an inflow of over 40 million visitors in 2014 and most of them are not perusing the great Vegas media being put out by my peers. Simply put, many Vegas visitors are uneducated when it comes to gambling. There’s a social cost to general ignorance and we, educated low rollers, pay the price. If you’re a green chipper, the term I’m now using to distinguish $25 + players, you can still find 3:2 blackjack with relative ease. That’s unfortunately not the case for those of us betting below that threshold.
The only way to really solve this is to no longer play at tables with the 6:5 payouts and educate the ignorant. The latter is a daunting, unimaginable task. The easiest way to start is to explain to anyone you may travel with the misfortune of 6:5. I thought about walking up to a 6:5 table and simply slapping the chips out of everyone’s hands. That probably wouldn’t have been too well received. Perhaps I’ll pay “porn slappers” to hand out brochures detailing the tribulations of 6:5 payouts. In the meantime, I’ll just steer clear of those tables.
I’ll admit that I am, at times, somewhat ambivalent to the change. A 2% house edge is still pretty small comparatively speaking. It’s still under the inexplicably popular double zero roulette games I still see packed with participants. It’s also still below my beloved hardway bets in craps, of which I know have terrible odds.
I don’t really blame the casinos for making the change. Going to back to my soda company example though, a change in can size would probably merit a notice from general consumers. My main problem with 6:5 blackjack is that the change was seemingly made under the guise that most consumers would simply acquiesce. Quite a brouhaha is being made from a small group of seasoned gamblers and Vegas aficionados. Lamentably, the rest don’t seem to notice.
For more information on odds and the like, head over to the information laden Wizard of Odds. If you have a comment, question, or correction, please feel free to leave a comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
feature photo credit: Ben Stanfield