6 to 5 Blackjack? Just Say No!

No 6 to 5

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!

What can you do to help?

  • Don’t play any blackjack game that pays less than 3:2 for a blackjack.
  • Warn your friends and family if they’re headed to the casino. Tell them to play the multi-deck “shoe” games instead.
  • Let the casino floorperson at your favorite casino know that you hate to see the casino floor filled with misleading games instead of real blackjack.
  • If you have a casino host, let them know your displeasure as well.

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.

Other webmasters are invited to use this article and the “No 6 to 5” graphic on their own sites. If you use the article, please leave the author line intact, including the link to the author at BlackjackInfo.com.

Alternatively, feel free to link to the article here. Either way, help spread the word. Thanks!


56 comments on “6 to 5 Blackjack? Just Say No!

  • Dale Thomas said:

    Went to vegas first time. Slots left me ho hum. Thought I might like blackjack as you actually have to use your brain. So im reading up on all the basic stratigy. Will memorize that and not deviate from the rules. In a nutshell , please advise me. Like which tables. Where to sit. importance of SP and Dh. Im okay with moderate minimums.

    • Starting out, you are likely better off playing at a “shoe game”, where all the cards are dealt face up. Just make sure blackjack pays 3:2.

      After you gain some experience, look for good rules in a 2-deck game, which will usually be dealt face down.
      Where you sit at the table matters very little.

    • Anonymous replied:

      I totally agree about the casino’s black jack house rules 6:5 cast out.

    • Tomi replied:

      I disagree, i think where u sit DOES matter. I think, it helps to either play 1st or last chair. 1st base is preferable, mainly cuz ur not victim to stupid moves by other players. It us irritating when other players take the dealers’ bust cards… for example, if the dealer has a 6 up, and you have 17 or better, chances are u will win unless some goof takes a card, the bust card from the deck, which would have gone to the dealer. Good “1st & 3rd base” players can make a difference 4 the rest of the table. And please, don’t split 10s… if you have Aces, yes, split them.

        • Anonymous replied:

          I agree with the person before you , I’ve seen many times when a player takes a card while the dealer has a bust card out and screws the whole table

          • Anonymous #2 replied:

            Just as much odds of bad play ending in a positive outcome (Take the 5, leave a bust card)

          • Joey B replied:

            Thank yoy for contributing to my bonus with that thinking. Here have a comp for $3 worth of food for your $500.

        • Jeff Mazur replied:

          Thank you, Ken. People who think that the bad play of others can somehow affect their outcomes in the long run deserve to lose their shirts. They don’t understand the game and therefore should just stay away, for their own good.

      • Anonymous replied:

        I agree partially. I agree that no one should split tens, only because I feel bad for them on a personal level because they obviously don’t know how to play blackjack.

        But I don’t agree with the notion that the 3rd baseman who plays “non-conventionally” screws up every other player. I’ve been playing blackjack for decades and have sat with these “bad” 3rd basemen. A lot of times other players would immediately leave the table because hey don’t want to play with that “idiot.”

        I think that most players have selective memory. They tend to focus and remember the instances where the 3rd baseman’s stupid play cost them the hand. In reality, that “stupid” play oftens sets up the next “good” round (blackjack, winning splits, etc.). In other words, what goes around, comes around.

        In closing, I feel that the everyday player should just stick with his best blackjack strategy and disregard other player’s deficiencies. If it is too intolerable, by all means, just move on.

        • Jeff Mazur replied:

          Splitting tens can be an appropriate play, but only if you know that the deck is rich (by counting cards.) You need something like a +6 adjusted count for this to be the case, and this doesn’t happen that often. So in general, splitting tens is not a good move.

      • Sonny replied:

        People like Tomi will always blame others for his poor decisions. If the person is to blame for the losses you earn, do yo thai them each time you hit a blackjack or you win? I doubt it. If he caused you to lose, then defacto he changed the card order and caused you to win as well!!

      • Anonymous replied:

        This is silly. the same stupid moves those players make can easily benefit you. You just pay more attention to when these players hurt you then when they help you.

        I hate people who complain about them.

      • Anonymous replied:

        Aces are auto split. And it really matter’s where u sit when another players decides to bank. Good luck

      • Jessie replied:

        Not true, Black Jack is a game of 2 no more no less. It’s you and the dealer. Whatever anyone else does, shouldn’t affect you. Unless you were counting.

      • Greg replied:

        Ever consider the times you may be HELPED by someone’s bonehead play?
        tends to even out over time, I’d think.

      • Oscar replied:

        Although it might be irritating, it could just as easily work in your favour. The guy before you inappropriately takes a card which happens to be a 3. The next card is a 10 and causes the dealer to bust. You can’t let emotions rule you. Once you know the basic strategy and follow it, everything else relies on luck.

      • Jimbo replied:

        Not true. Your only true statement is embodied in the last sentence regarding splitting of Aces and tens. It does not matter one iota where one sits. Since the cards are not marked one has no way of knowing the value of the next card being dealt. It is true that the dealer has to take a hit with a 6 face up, but one never knows if the next card dealer takes is a bust card or a card that helps the dealers holding.

        I’ve played 3rd base for many, many years. Have always used the standard basic strategy that improves one’s chances of winning. Many times I’ve agonized that the player to my right takes a hit and gets the card that would have been a perfect fit for my hand. But that’s just part of the game.

        It is a good feeling to be sitting at a table where everyone knows how to play using proper strategy – – – everyone feels comfortable in this knowledge. Even if a newbie who doesn’t know how to play joins the table his presence has no effect on everyone else’s chances of winning; but it is exasperating.

  • James Farley said:

    Went to Vegas and spent a little time at the Blackjack table for the first time in years. Used your site to bone up on my basic strategy. Thank you! I had no clue arriving on January 1 this year that this payout change had happened. I didn’t notice it until after I laid out $100 on a $5.00 table at the Monte Carlo where we were staying. I asked what was up with the change when I realized the payout was less and nobody at the table seemed concerned. I continued to play and eventually left a net $65 behind. When I got home I researched this, including your article Ken, and am now really miffed about this. I checked every table in the casino. The 6/5 payout was the same at every table in the casino, even multi-deck $20 minimum tables. Walking to other casinos I believe this change has become universal, at least on the Strip. I hope I’m wrong. I vow I will never play at a 6/5 payout table again, anywhere. I’ll be going to the Morongo Indian casino in CA on the way back from AZ this year. It will be interesting to see if they still have the 3/2 payout. Thanks again Ken.

  • manny said:

    I just arrived in Vegas yesterday!!! The 6-5 totally took over the strip. I finally found 3-2 blackjack at the SLS hotel and casino.

      • Eric replied:

        I just came back from Vegas and I could not find a game on the strip that paid 3:2 for less than a $25 minimum.
        However, found plenty downtown with $5-15 buy-ins that pay 3:2.
        El cortez has a double-deck game that’s face up with about a 75% deck penetration that pays 3:2.

        • Anonymous replied:

          I work at the El Cortez and can confirm that as of today we are still a 3:2 payout (and I don’t think it’s going to change any time soon). The mentality at the LV strip seems to be that you aren’t here for winning, you are here to spend.

  • Brad said:

    The 6:5 was very sneaky by the casinos. Slowly but surely, it is catching on like wildfire and why not, it is saving casinos thousands. Sure for the average gambler it doesn’t sound like a lot, but it adds up…quickly. Also if the dealer has an Ace up and you have a natural blackjack, no more even money. Even the dealers hate the rules as it normally decreases their odds of a better tip. This is just another attempt to water down and make a circus game of Blackjack. Spanish BJ, dealer cards delt face up, single deck with multiple rules. I agree…talk to the pitboss or floor manager and at a minimum, the dealer. Bottom line…have fun, but don’t give the money back to the casino because they have decided to manipulate the rules in their favor!

    • Anonymous replied:

      WOW! Vegas is absolute shit now! And I keep dreaming about going there and trying out their blackjack tables. I currently reside in Hong Kong so I go to Macau to play and they have some, what I feel, pretty awesome rules namely: 50% surrender (unless dealer shows ace), black jack even pay (if you choose 1 to 1 surrender), Push on dealer and player blackjack, BJ pay out is 3-2, doubling after splitting is allowed, can double on any hand (some casinos only allows you to double at 11). And no tipping (house rules); if you tip, it goes directly to the casino.

      I also went to Singapore Universal Studios and they have a casino there. They play Pontoon which is pretty awesome as well. All rules are the same except no “50% surrender of hands” but they have a nice perk of any 21 or black jack is an auto-win. So, for example, if dealer is showing an “A” and you have 10 and 2 and draw a 9 to reach a total of “21”, then you collect right away. How awesome is that!?

      Anyway, I’ve only started playing recently. Good luck guys!

  • Frank A said:

    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.

  • SD Ted said:

    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?

  • Artieboy said:

    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.

  • 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

  • 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.

  • observer said:

    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!

  • 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.

      • Jesse replied:

        Thanks….

        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)

          • Jesse replied:

            Your information is invaluable, and I am deeply grateful. And I might bug you for years to come 🙂

  • Anonymous said:

    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.

  • Michael said:

    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.

  • J S Cooper said:

    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.

  • Anonymous said:

    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.

      • Anonymous replied:

        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.

  • 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.

      • JB replied:

        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.

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