The game of blackjack traditionally pays 3:2 for a two-card blackjack (an ace and a 10 card). Any other payout adds to the house edge. In fact, some purists say the game shouldn’t even be called blackjack if it doesn’t pay 3:2. I agree.
The most common other payout that you will see at a “blackjack” table is 6:5, though they can get as bad as even money. A 6:5 blackjack table should be avoided because that severely increases the house edge. Sometimes the 6:5 games are played with fewer decks than the 3:2 games, which could help a card counter, but even then it’s a good idea to steer clear of 6:5 games. And if you don’t count cards there is definitely no reason to join one of those tables. Sometimes the casinos don’t even reduce the number of decks for their 6:5 games, in which case they’re just hoping suckers will join the table and throw their money away. The good news is that online almost all blackjack tables pay 3:2 for a blackjack.
But does it really make that much of a difference? Yes, it does in the long run. When it comes to blackjack, you should always think about the long run. Blackjack basic strategy, payout charts and everything else is based on the idea that you will play a lot of hands. If you’re only going to play a few hands and then walk away, that changes everything. Because the game is so fast, however, most people will stay at a blackjack table for hours and play hundreds of hands. Even if you don’t, you have to think about how many hands you will play in your lifetime.
Ratios are meaningless to a lot of people, so it helps to look at the payout ratios in terms of real money. Let’s assume that you’re betting $10 on each hand. If you get a blackjack and the table pays 3:2, then you win $15. If it pays 6:5 then you only win $12. That doesn’t sound like much, but think about it long term. How many hands are you going to play? How many times are you going to get a blackjack?
By paying out 6:5 on a blackjack instead of 3:2, the casino raises the house edge by 1.39%. To put that in perspective, if you play perfect blackjack strategy on a 3:2 game, the house edge can be lowered to 0.5%. That’s a pretty big difference. Which game would you rather play, one with a house edge of 0.5% or one with a house edge of $1.89%?
But again, that’s percentages. Let’s look at it in terms of cold, hard cash. Blackjack is a game of odds. Going by the odds, you should be dealt a blackjack once per 21 hands. At a full blackjack table, you should play approximately 441 hands in an 8-hour period. During that time, getting paid $12 per blackjack instead of $15 would cost you $60. For every $100 you wager, the 6:5 payout would cost you $1.39. Again, that seems like a small number, but thinking long term it really adds up. Also remember that this example concerned $10 bets. At higher-stake tables, the difference is even clearer. If you bet $20 per hand, you would lose $120 in 8 hours; betting $30 per hand would cost you $180 in 8 hours, and so forth.
Blackjack is a game of odds and every little bit, every cent, counts. That’s why you need to play perfect strategy on every hand and think long term. If you lose $60 at a blackjack table in one sitting due to getting a 6:5 payout on blackjack, that’s the equivalent of forfeiting 6 hands. Who in their right mind would forfeit six hands? No one. Playing blackjack tables that pay 6:5 is throwing money away, and you’re already giving plenty of money to the casino. Don’t help them out any more.