Blackjack is, by far, the most popular table game on the casino floor. A history of favorable odds and a lustrous resume of movies centered on players taking down the house at the blackjack tables combine to make this seemingly simple two-card game a can’t-miss attraction for resident gamblers and tourists alike. Back in the 1980s, blackjack accounted for a massive 80 percent of the games in the average Las Vegas casino. Over the past three decades, however, that statistic has changed. Currently, blackjack only occupies about 50 percent of the table games in casinos throughout Nevada. So, why the change? It’s all about the bottom line.
In the past, a small house edge was adequate for casino operators. Those days are now over. The majority of casino owners, particularly in global destinations like Sin City, are major corporations that need to report financial growth with each passing quarter. Settling for a 0.20 percent edge on a blackjack table just doesn’t cut the mustard when you’ve got a cash-hungry board of directors breathing down your neck. That’s why games like three-card poker, pai gow poker, Mississippi stud poker and mini baccarat have become increasingly common sights in Vegas casinos. These games offer a higher house edge than traditional blackjack, which means more cash for casino investors.
While blackjack has a much more limited presence, you still won’t have any trouble locating a blackjack table or ten at any casino on the Vegas Strip. However, the game that’s being played at the majority of these tables is very different than it was years ago. These days, casinos regularly change the rules and payouts of blackjack games in order to improve the house edge, making it almost impossible for players with modest bankrolls to establish an advantage. That said, you’ll still be able to find favorable odds from time to time, if you know where to look.
Casinos are generally counting on players that don’t pay too much attention to rules when sitting down at a table. For this reason, two tables on the same floor may have a house edge of 0.20 percent and 2 percent, respectively. Assuming you understand basic strategy and consistently make the correct plays, the difference in these two tables can be astronomical. So, how do you determine which tables are winners and which are better skipped? While it can definitely be a bit annoying, you can find good tables if you adhere to the following tips.
Scout the Field
If you’re hoping to take advantage of favorable odds, you’re going to need to explore the options before taking a seat. Start your visit to the casino by walking the floor and checking the rules and the limits of each table before deciding where to play. In many cases, there will be a few good blackjack games hidden amongst the sea of less desirable options. They may have higher table minimums, and they may feature less players than some other tables. Remember, most casino-goers would rather play a game with bad rules and a $5 minimum than a game with favorable rules and a $10 minimum. Do your homework, and find the table that gives you the best chances of success.
Sort your Priorities
Just because a game features slightly worse odds doesn’t mean it doesn’t have its own merits. Take, for example, blackjack games held in party pits. These tables feature scantily clad dealers and attractive dancers to take your mind off the game. Sure, they usually feature a higher house edge than tables outside of the party zone, but it may be worth it. If you’re visiting the casino to have a good time and go-go dancers are your thing, don’t be afraid to settle for worse rules. Sometimes, it’s more important to enjoy yourself than to try to take down the house. Determine what’s important to you.
Up the Ante
Casino-goers are likely familiar with the discrepancy between the payout percentages of penny slots and dollar slots. To put it simply, betting five dollars on five lines at a penny slot puts you at a serious disadvantage, as compared to the same bet at a dollar machine. Blackjack tables usually follow the same mantra. While not a hard and fast rule, it’s a generally accepted guideline that the blackjack games with the smallest house edges are typically green chip ($25) or black chip ($100) games. You may be able to find favorable odds on a lower minimum table, but if you plan on visiting a Vegas casino on the weekend, don’t be surprised if increasing the stakes is the only way to decrease the house edge.
Know the Rules
By now, you probably understand that not all blackjack games are created equal, but you may still be hazy on what constitutes a favorable table. Let’s take a closer look. Some rules that typically indicate a game with great returns include: 3:2 returns on blackjacks, fewer decks in play (with one being ideal), double after split, surrender, option to re-split aces and dealer stands on soft 17. The more of these rules you find at a particular table, the smaller the house edge will be. If you can find a table featuring all of these rules, grab a seat and get ready for a great night.
The days of universally favorable blackjack odds are, regrettably, in the past. Today’s blackjack players need to be smarter in order to locate tables that offer the best chances of success. Even if you find a great table, though, it won’t help you unless you’re able to play with accurate basic strategy. If you’re not already comfortable with basic strategy, it’s probably a worthwhile venture to find a strategy card and hone your skills before hitting the casino. Luckily, Slots of Vegas offers a free play option on our blackjack games that will allow you to practice from the comfort of your own home. When you feel confident, you can make a deposit and take advantage of some of the most generous promotions on the web. Winner, winner, chicken dinner!