Short Pays on Blackjack

Traditionally, casino blackjack tables pay 3 to 2 on a blackjack, which means that if you have a blackjack, the casino pays you \$3 for every \$2 you bet. However, over the years the casinos have started offering different payouts, with the most common being 6 to 5. In rare cases, tables may pay 7 to 5 or even money on a blackjack.

As a general rule, anything but 3 to 2 is a bad deal. It is hard to get a blackjack and when you do, you should be compensated for it. A 6 to 5 payout or less simply isn’t that good. Some people don’t even consider those games “real blackjack,” and instead simply consider them other 21 games.

When casinos started offering 6 to 5 blackjack tables, they were usually for a single-deck game. The 3 to 2 tables, in comparison, can have up to 8 decks, which makes it a lot more difficult to predict the outcome of the game, even if you count cards. However, some casinos have started offering 6 to 5 blackjack tables that use multiple decks, which is certainly not a good deal.

Now, getting \$6 for a \$5 bet rather than \$7.50 for a \$5 bet (which is 3 to 2) may seem like a minor difference, but it’s not. Sure, when betting \$5 the difference is small, but as betting increases, both in frequency and denomination, the difference becomes much greater.

Don’t believe me? Let’s look at an example where a player uses perfect blackjack strategy and bets \$10 per hand, playing 100 hands per hour. At a single-deck game that pays 3 to 2, the player would lose an average of \$1.80 in an hour. In a 6-deck game that pays 3 to 2, the player would lose an average of \$2.60. In a single-deck game that pays 6 to 5 for blackjacks, the odds estimate that the player would lose \$14 in an hour. Now that’s a big difference.

The 6 to 5, 7 to 5 and even money payouts tip the odds farther in the casino’s favor, and with so many tables out there that pay 3 to 2, there is no reason to play anything else. To find out what the table pays for a blackjack, check the table itself. The table usually has the payout written on the felt tabletop. If not, there is usually a placard that lists it. If it is not printed anywhere, you should ask the dealer. You don’t want to be stuck with a 6 to 5 game or, worse yet, an even money game.