If you have any other game choices available, you should not be playing a game that pays only 6:5 on blackjack.

Yet some players do play these games. Don’t worry, I’m not going to chastise you if you sometimes play these games. But I do want to make sure that you are not making a bad game even worse…

How to Give Away Money

Several players have told me that when they are playing a 6:5 game and are dealt a blackjack, they choose to double down on the blackjack as an eleven instead. Ack! No. No. No. Let me explain just how bad an idea this is.

Let’s say you are a $10 player, and are dealt a blackjack at a 6:5 game. Assuming that the dealer doesn’t also have a blackjack, you’ll win $12 on the hand. Guaranteed, with no chance of losing money. This hand is worth $12. Period.

If you decide to double down on the blackjack instead, you’re risking another bet with the hope of winning $20 instead of $12. But you’re giving up the guarantee of a win. Let’s see how that works:

A Bird in the Hand

Let’s take the best possible scenario, a single deck game where the dealer stands on all 17s. We are dealt a blackjack against a dealer upcard of 5. If we let the dealer pay the blackjack, we collect our 6:5 guaranteed win of $12. That’s our “bird in the hand”. For doubling to be a better strategy, our yield on the double down needs to average more than $12. And it’s not even close. Let’s look at what happens when we double.

Two in the Bush

Now we are doubling our bet to $20 and drawing one more card. Remember, I chose the best possible hand for this… (Ace,Ten) vs a dealer 5.

This is a very strong double down hand, but even so, it will win only 63% of the time. 7% of the time we will push, and 30% of the time we will lose. (Here’s how to calculate the value if you are interested: (63% – 30%) X $20 = $6.60. Actually, I rounded off the percentages a bit so the exact answer is slightly different…)

The value of this doubled bet of $20 works out to just $6.82. That’s only a little over HALF the value of the 6:5 blackjack.

In this case, A Bird in the Hand is definitely worth more than Two in the Bush. Every time a $10 bettor chooses to double down on his blackjack, he’s giving the casino an extra five bucks and change. Don’t do it!

6:5 Blackjack sucks. Don’t make it even worse. Do Not Double Down on Blackjack!

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Kairo

Palace Station has many 6-5 tables now and the 3:2 tables are sometimes full. So I played their 6:5 game for the first time with the tie side bet (half of main bet, pays 10:1 on push). Unless my math is horrible, one should actually double on blackjack for some dealer up cards (if not all?). So using your math, with a dealer up card of 5, the $50 pay out on a tie 7% of the time would add $3.50 to the $6.82. If you take the 6:5 blackjack you only get $7 because you lose the tie side… Read more »

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Anonymous

I am a dealer on a strip casino and of you have a blackjack or …soft 11….and the dealer has a 5 or 6 showing you ALWAYS DOUBLE DOWN

I’ve been playing blackjack for a while and counting for about 5 years. I recently (about a year ago) decided to up my game a bit and learn how and when to deviate from basic strategy as dictated by the count. I believe it’s Stanford Wong’s book that said that although there are about 50 variations from basic strategy the only 3 of any importance and significance in winning are: (1) taking insurance when the count is +3 or more; (2) stay on 16 vs. dealer 10 when the count is 0 or higher and (3) stay on 15 vs.… Read more »

First, relax! It’s not as bad as you think. But there is both good news and bad news. I’ll start with this 0.38% thing… It comes from the GameMaster’s Blackjack School lesson 8, located here: http://www.blackjackinfo.com/blackjack-school/blackjack-lesson-08.php The GameMaster School is an excellent resource (that’s why I host it here with his permission!), but I do have my quibbles with it. And in my opinion, the approach he uses to teach how to size your bets is confusing and intimidating. His “exact” table of how to figure an optimal bet goes into too much detail for someone just learning to count.… Read more »

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Ploppy Mcplopperson

Ken is this bet ramp ok? +1 $10 +2 $50 +3 2X$50=$100 +4 2X$75=$150 +5 or higher im maxing at 2X$100. Played at this particular casino for 2-3 months; been doing well with no pit critter sweat.

There’s nothing wrong with that bet ramp if you’re getting away with it. 20:1 will definitely win the money! I like big spreads. Especially if you have the flexibility to travel a bit. And some out-of-the-way casinos are just clueless.

Guest

Jimbo

Whoa here. I understand that varying one’s bet raises a red flag that you are probably a card counter. How does one camouflage bet variations to avoid being caught?

Guest

Jewell Ledwell

I just started blackjack in casinos last week. Thanks for all the tips.

Palace Station has many 6-5 tables now and the 3:2 tables are sometimes full. So I played their 6:5 game for the first time with the tie side bet (half of main bet, pays 10:1 on push). Unless my math is horrible, one should actually double on blackjack for some dealer up cards (if not all?). So using your math, with a dealer up card of 5, the $50 pay out on a tie 7% of the time would add $3.50 to the $6.82. If you take the 6:5 blackjack you only get $7 because you lose the tie side… Read more »

I am a dealer on a strip casino and of you have a blackjack or …soft 11….and the dealer has a 5 or 6 showing you ALWAYS DOUBLE DOWN

I guess math wasn’t your best subject in school.

I’ve been playing blackjack for a while and counting for about 5 years. I recently (about a year ago) decided to up my game a bit and learn how and when to deviate from basic strategy as dictated by the count. I believe it’s Stanford Wong’s book that said that although there are about 50 variations from basic strategy the only 3 of any importance and significance in winning are: (1) taking insurance when the count is +3 or more; (2) stay on 16 vs. dealer 10 when the count is 0 or higher and (3) stay on 15 vs.… Read more »

First, relax! It’s not as bad as you think. But there is both good news and bad news. I’ll start with this 0.38% thing… It comes from the GameMaster’s Blackjack School lesson 8, located here: http://www.blackjackinfo.com/blackjack-school/blackjack-lesson-08.php The GameMaster School is an excellent resource (that’s why I host it here with his permission!), but I do have my quibbles with it. And in my opinion, the approach he uses to teach how to size your bets is confusing and intimidating. His “exact” table of how to figure an optimal bet goes into too much detail for someone just learning to count.… Read more »

Ken is this bet ramp ok? +1 $10 +2 $50 +3 2X$50=$100 +4 2X$75=$150 +5 or higher im maxing at 2X$100. Played at this particular casino for 2-3 months; been doing well with no pit critter sweat.

There’s nothing wrong with that bet ramp if you’re getting away with it. 20:1 will definitely win the money! I like big spreads. Especially if you have the flexibility to travel a bit. And some out-of-the-way casinos are just clueless.

Whoa here. I understand that varying one’s bet raises a red flag that you are probably a card counter. How does one camouflage bet variations to avoid being caught?

I just started blackjack in casinos last week. Thanks for all the tips.