Posts Tagged ‘blackjack payouts’

Value of a Natural Blackjack

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

Blackjack is not just the name of the game, but also the name of a hand of cards you can receive. As you might imagine, the hand that the game is named after is a pretty important one. A “natural blackjack” is the most powerful hand in the game, and it plays the biggest role in the house edge.

A natural blackjack is when you draw a hand of 21 in your first two cards. That means you drew an ace and a ten-value card. The hand is so powerful because it can’t lose. At worst, you tie. But it gets better. A natural blackjack has an added payout as well.

Aside from some side bets that might be in the game, winning any hand of blackjack pays out 1 to 1. That means if you wager $10 on the hand and win, you win $10 (in addition to keeping your original bet). A natural blackjack pays 3 to 2. That means if you wager $10, you win $15. At least, that is the case with the standard rules.

The problem is that some casinos, both online and on land, have decided that the game of blackjack has rules too friendly to the player. To tilt the scale more toward the house, they change some of the rules. One of the common changes is to make a natural blackjack pay only 6 to 5. With that payout, a $10 bet wins you only $12. That may not sound like a big deal, but in the long run it makes a big difference in your winnings. For that reason, just say “no” to blackjack games with a 6 to 5 payout.

Should I play single deck blackjack games?

Friday, May 6th, 2011

If you’re relatively new to blackjack, you might be overwhelmed by the different options that are available in casinos. There are different rule variations, different payouts and a different number of decks. Most Vegas casinos use six or eight decks, but you will sometimes find blackjack tables with a single deck. So should you play at those tables?

Probably not. You see, fewer decks tilts the odds slightly toward the player. The tilt is greater if you are counting cards, because it makes it easier to keep track of the cards that have been played. If a casino offers a rule variation, it’s usually not out of the kindness of their heart so they can give you more money. It’s simply a way to get more people playing. Therefore, if they have a variation that lowers their house edge, they usually change some other rule to compensate for that.

When it comes to single-deck games, the casino usually changes the payout for a natural blackjack. In normal games, a natural blackjack – an ace and ten in your first two cards – pays out 3:2. For single-deck games, the payout for a natural blackjack is usually 6:5. That’s a big difference.

To show how much of a change it is, let’s use an example of betting $10 per hand for an hour. On average, if you played blackjack continuously for one hour, you would play 100 hands. Statistically speaking, if you play a single-deck game that pays 3:2 for a blackjack, you will lose $1.80 in one hour of play. Not bad. However, if the single-deck game pays 6:5 for a blackjack, you will lose $14 in an hour. Big difference, right?

That is why it’s so important to know the odds of the different blackjack games and know how the number of decks and the payouts affect the odds. Playing at a casino has bad enough odds as it is; don’t help the casino out by playing games that don’t have the best odds for you.

Avoid 6:5 Blackjack Tables

Monday, February 8th, 2010

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.

Short Pays on Blackjack

Tuesday, January 5th, 2010

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.