There’s a real crisis developing for fans of casino blackjack. Many casinos in the US have begun introducing a rule change that dramatically increases the house advantage in the game. If you’ve been to Las Vegas lately, you may have seen signs advertising “Single Deck Blackjack” at many of the casinos on the Las Vegas Strip.
But, there’s a catch. Look out for a sign on the table that says “Blackjack Pays 6:5”. In a normal blackjack game, a “natural” or blackjack pays 3:2. If you bet $10 and draw a blackjack, you’ll be paid $15. However, at these new 6:5 games, a $10 blackjack wins only $12.
The casinos have so far been successful in marketing this game, because many occasional players have been told over the years that single deck blackjack is a better game than the more common 6 or 8-deck games on the casino floor.
Using that single marketing angle, the casinos have drawn lots of players to the new 6:5 version, despite the fact that these single-deck games are worse for the player than the worst 8-deck game on the casino floor. Much worse.
Changing that one rule, reducing blackjack payouts from 3:2 to 6:5 adds a substantial 1.39% to the casino’s advantage.
Consider this example from the Flamingo on the Las Vegas Strip:
They offer a single deck 6:5 game, where the house edge for a basic strategy player is 1.45%. (Like most of these 6:5 games, they allow double after split, which doesn’t nearly compensate for the poor 6:5 rule.) They also offer an 8-deck game where the house edge for a basic strategy player is 0.56%. So, a player who chooses their single-deck offering has almost triple the expected loss of a player at their 8-deck game!.
What’s the difference in actual dollars? For a $25 player, assuming 80 hands per hour, the expected loss at the Flamingo’s 8-deck is $11.20 per hour. The expected loss for the same player at the 6:5 single deck game is $29.00 instead. And, remember, this is compared to the game that was previously the worst blackjack in the house!
If players don’t stop supporting these games, it’s just a matter of time before the casinos remove all the real blackjack games. Don’t let it happen.
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Here is one solution. I usually carry around $1500 with me when I play blackjack. If I go into a casino and they only pay 6:5 I go to the table and buy in for my total $1500 in black chips. The dealer announces to the pit boss that he is changing $1500 which will always prompt the pit boss to wander over to the table. Just before the dealer starts to deal I ask the dealer what they pay on blackjack. When he says 6:5 I say I’m sorry and ask to color up. This sends a message to the pit boss and if enough people do this the message may make it to management. Plus, you may get to educate other players at the table.
I have a solution. At a $25 table I usually buy in for $500 and get all green chips. If I know the table only pays 6:5 I buy in for $2000 and ask for black chips. The dealer will announce that he is changing $2000, and the pit boss will usually walk over to check me out. After I get my chips and right before the dealer starts to deal, I ask the dealer what they pay on blackjack. When he says 6:5 I apologize and say I only play 3:2 blackjack and ask to color up. If enough of us do this the pit bosses will eventually get the message and hopefully pass it on to management. You may also get the chance to educate the other people playing at the table.
The Cromwell has made a big push going the opposite direction. Almost entire retail floor is 3/2 shoe and pitch double deck. $10-$15mins normally from what I’ve seen. Maybe up to $25 on the pitch at times but that’s still better than the rest of the strip. Should check it out.
But isn’t it worth it if you’re counting cards? If it means playing in a one deck game doesn’t that mean that you will recoup the difference and then some? It depends on the cut card’s location and the number of others at the table, and the min bet and max bet of course, but I was just at a casino that had a min bet of 10 and max of 200 on a game like that. I didn’t play that because I wasn’t prepared for it and I thought even if I pulled it off, it was a quick way to get das booten out of the place, to either bet 10 or 200 every hand, the 2 deck game looked more appealing.
Just came back from MGM Grand. Now blackjack at multi deck games with a show is paying only 6:5. Onl games with $50 or higher minimum pays 3:2.
If you don’t want to play the $50 minimum, play elsewhere.
You’re really kind of a nasty person, aren’t you?
Sorry you feel that way. I believe I provided the correct answer. Perhaps your annoyance would be more directed towards the casinos like MGM that offer the garbage games.
But not dumb….
and your stupid to bet more than 50 dollars of hard earned money too. Blackjack should be fun,not ruined by high stake gamblers like you.6 to 5 blackjack is unacceptable,and anybody that plays blackjack that has a clue would make a stand against these casinos ruing players odds by making 6 to 6 blackjack.whether its 1 dollar minimum,or 1000 dollar minimum,blackjack should allways payout 3 to 2.
I’m staying at NYNY and went across the street to MGM because NYNY had nothing but 6:5 games while mgm had 3:2. Ended up doubling my money before calling it quits.
I wish my dum as wouldve ask and learn alil more about the game before wasting 3,000 up there cause how u bet against the dealer hand and lose then somebody elae step in and win all kinda ways…
I just left MGM. Many of the games were $10 min with 3:2 payout.
/I have a question about another rule change….dealer must hit soft 17. How bad is this for the player? Appreciate any comments
The easiest way to answer this kind of question is to plug in the rules at the strategy engine here and see how much a particular change affects the house edge. In the case of dealer hits soft 17, it costs the player about 0.22%.
Just to update the thread. Golden Nugget in the Rush Lounge had several $15 minimum 3:2 blackjack tables. Unfortunately almost every other blackjack game I have seen in Vegas is 6:5 🙁
Headed to Vegas next week. Staying at the Monte Carlo. Where can I find a list of the best casinos to play at? 3:2 BJ Payout, Re-Split Aces, DS S17, Deep Deck Penetration, etc?
It’s been a while now since I have been to Vegas, but TI consistently gets the best reviews for low limit blackjack games with decent rules. Anywhere on the strip, it’s getting hard to find 3:2 BJ at low limits. Many places just don’t offer it at all until you get to $25+ limits. You also will find most games are now H17. Even downtown is no longer immune. Depending on how serious you are, it may be worth buying a subscription or single issue of Current Blackjack News at bj21.com. They show all the current conditions, updated monthly.
Thank you for the reply, I typically play $25/$50 tables to get the better parameters and no Mid-Shoe Entry. Hopefully with those minimum bets I can get a good game out there. I found this website while searching online, any idea if it is pretty accurate or up to date? http://wizardofvegas.com/guides/blackjack-survey//
I would imagine that the list is mostly accurate. These conditions change over time, but this is a fairly recent effort it appears. It certainly should give you an idea where to start looking once you are in Vegas.
Are you better off playing a single deck game with a 6:5 payout where you can count and increase your bet depending on the count or a six deck game with a 3:2 payout playing only basic strategy (not counting)? I can count a single deck perfectly but not a six deck shoe.
Because the starting house advantage is so much higher in single deck 6:5, it’s tough to spread enough to overcome the house edge. It takes a true count of around +5 just to break even. You’ll spend most of your time minimum-betting as a result, and those bets get expensive when blackjack pays only 6:5. Yes, you can beat this game with a big enough spread, but there are always easier games to beat.
Instead of just settling for basic strategy six-deck play, have you considered learning KO instead of Hi-Lo? It eliminates the need to convert to a true count.
Thanks for the advice, much appreciated. I am currently using KO. I’m fairly new to counting. With a single deck game, I can count, have two different conversations, and watch the casino TV. without losing the count. I guess I just need to practice more at home with a six deck shoe to be able to do the same. Thanks again.
As you probably know, this battle has been lost on the strip since both MGM and Caeser’s properties now just pay 6/5 (although I did see a single table in the Margaritaville section of the Flamingo still paying 3/2.
Yes, 6:5 has taken over most of Vegas now. You may be interesting in this take on it: The State of Blackjack
A suggestion, after playing at a number of 6:5 tables on the Strip. Depending on the dealer’s up card, if you have a blackjack, do seriously consider doubling down instead of accepting the 6:5 payout. It’s completely appropriate, and I was successful a good 80% of the times I did it.
Ack! No! This is a horrible idea. Read this:
Double Down on a 6:5 Blackjack? Read This First…
Staying at Wynn there are still tables in both casinos with 3:2 and sh17 but you have to hunt them out they are typically higher min bet tables.
What about if you count? Can the deep penetration in a single deck games make up for it?
With a large enough spread you can beat virtually any game. So yes, you could beat a 6:5 single deck game with counting. Just remember that you won’t have the edge at a 6:5 game until the true count reaches approximately +4. There are easier games to beat.
I have another question: My local casino has deep shoe penetration, and often the games are $3-$1000.
The Single deck game is usually 10-300, with BJ paying 6:5. I don’t have a large roll and would rather be aggressive in my betting, rather than grind a game for 7 dollars an hour. Does it make any sense to play the single deck and wait for larger counts and bet big, (wouldn’t the single deck count have much less variance for aggressive betting?)
I have not run any numbers on counting 6:5 games, as I can always find something much better. But off the top of my head, I can’t imagine that the 6:5 single deck would compare well at all with the deeply dealt shoe game. You dismiss a $7/hr grind, but with a small bankroll you’re going to be facing that kind of a situation regardless. Building a bank from a small start is a slow process, and not a smooth one at all.
As for the variance, it will not be much lower in the single deck, despite 6:5 cutting it a bit. (Probably from 1.15 to 1.13 or so)
Your information is invaluable, and I am deeply grateful. And I might bug you for years to come 🙂
Not so sure that’s so devastating as you make it out to be. A loss of 1.4% to the house could be worth it to play a 1-deck game. That’s only the same difference in player/house edge as 2.8 in the truecount. And that can happen prettttty easily in a 1-deck game, if you’re halfway through the deck, that’s a count of only 1.4! The standard deviation of the truecount halfway through a n-deck shoe is sqrt(40/n), which means if n is 1, that’s straight-up the square root of 40 or 6.5. Which means a full 16% of the time, the truecount will be over 6.5 halfway through a single deck. I’ve seen the truecount get up to 15 in a 6-deck game near the cutcard and I’ve seen it go to 12 in a 2-deck game, both of which with the cutcards 1 deck before the end. It depends on where that cutcard is. Is it with 26 cards left? 22? 30? That 16% of the time when it’s over 6.5, that’s when you’d be betting big, 6:5 blackjack or 3:2. The 1.4% house edge or 2.8 in the truecount is only 0.4 standard deviation of the truecount with 26 cards left and it’s no obstacle at all if the count is 10 and the player gets a 5% advantage from it. Though I guess it wouldn’t quite be the same 0.5% per truecount since it’s the increased probability of blackjack that accounts for much of the advantage you get from the count being high, so it’s probably more like 0.4% then. The question is, how serious are they about catching people trying to count their 1 deck game with the 6:5 blackjack, and what is the min and max bet at the table? If it’s a 50 dollar min and 300 max or if there’s serious heat then I’d say screw it. But if that’s what they do in atlantic city where they’re not allowed to prohibit card counting players, I could very well go there and make them very very sorry they offered a 1-deck game myself, with or without a 6:5 blackjack payoff. Hell I’d go there and count cards out loud just to mess with them, that would be funny, 6:5 blackjack payout on a 1-deck game is hardly an obstacle in a 1-deck game it seems to me!
Well I guess more like 6.33 since 6.5 squared is 42.25. But still.
Finally a rational voice…All true…6 5 is a great game to practice counting with low limit bets…One important thing not mentioned…When the count goes hot, which casinos order dealers to shuffle up the second run of cards at a full table…THAT can change everything!!!
Was in vegas all week, haven’t been here in ten years. I can’t believe how these strip casinos have changed this to 6:5 so quickly. I ended up going to the Boulder highway casinos a little east of the strip and found they have the old 3:2 games in all of them. I don’t recommend the strip for blackjack at all anymore ….what a joke.
This is how long it has been since I played BlackJack in a casino. Am just about 50, and in the 1990’s, if you bet 100.00 and won that hand, you had 200.00
in your pocket! Have times changed. Went to Vegas a year ago but did not pay any attention to BlackJack or the payouts. Used to go there several times a year. Good Luck everyone
The Monte Carlo had one DD table that was 3:2. Unfortunately it was $25 min 🙁
Is 3:2 on the verge of extinction?
The Vegas Strip is becoming a tough place for lower limit players to play. 3:2 is alive and well, but you will likely need to either increase your bankroll for the higher limits, or look downtown instead.
Late June: Tropicana and Excalibur each have at least ONE table with 3:2 with $15 min. Was wondering for people who insist on playing at a 6:5 game, is it better to double down a BJ against a dealer 4 or 5 with a positive count rather than taking the 6:5 payout?
No. Taking the 6:5 is still far better than doubling the blackjack. See this article:
Double Down on a 6:5 Blackjack? Read This First…
Thanks for letting us know about the 3:2 games at Trop and Excalibur.
Was in Vegas May 20-23. Bally’s has 3-2, 8 deck shoe, DH soft 17 & surrender. Started at $10 and progressively increased to $25 before I left. No grandfathering of bets though.