Casino slowdown brings down table games

Nov 18, 2008 5:10 PM

Winning Strategies by Elliot Frome |

Anyone who has been keeping up with the world of casinos knows that Las Vegas has continued to report diminished gaming profits this past year.

There are a variety of reasons given for this, ranging from the general economic conditions to the proliferation of casinos all over the country people have been staying closer to home with their gambling dollars. From my vantage point, this slowdown seems to have created a table game slowdown as well.

This is not to say that the inventors are not trying as hard. Rather, the casinos seem to be a bit more hesitant to spend money on new games. After all, why pay $1,000 a month for a new game when you can keep that blackjack table for free?

 To me, this seems like a backwards approach to the problem. Blackjack is still the most common table game in every casino. If Las Vegas wants to convince people to travel further from home, it needs to offer something that isn’t offered everywhere else.

Yes, some people are very interested in that whole "What happens in Las Vegas stays in Las Vegas" idea. But, this might be people more interested in the Playboy bunnies than the tables.

If people want to play blackjack they can frequently just go to the local racino. Why travel halfway across the country for that? Through no fault of its own, Las Vegas no longer has sole control of the video poker market as many other locales now offer up full-pay machines of a variety of types and denominations.

When the economy is bad and the competition is rough, the goal should be to offer to players more options and more choices, not less. Not to mention, that people are bored silly with blackjack. While the poker craze may have peaked (or maybe hasn’t yet), people are just dying to play poker-based table games with a little more excitement – which also means a better chance to win a lot of money in a little bit of time.

Blackjack’s top payout (barring sidebets) is 3-2. Compare that to the top payout of any table game. Even three card poker offers up 40-1 for a Straight Flush. Games based on five cards offer considerably higher top payouts. This is what the players want.

From the casino’s perspective, they should want to rip out their blackjack tables in favor of these new games. Blackjack when played perfectly yields only a 0.5 percent house edge and the average wager is about 1.1 times the base wager (when you account for splits and double downs).

I realize that most players don’t play perfectly, but the hold on blackjack has supposedly been reduced to single digits in the past few years. This compares to the mid-20 percent for the newer table games. Casinos make more money while giving the players what they want by offering up the new generation of games. Sounds like a win-win situation to me.

In the past few years, games like Ultimate Texas Hold’em and Texas Hold’em Bonus Poker have made the biggest inroads into the casino. When they were first shown to casinos, many opted to pass on them. Money was flowing in from all sides so why rock the boat?

Unfortunately, with this no longer being the case, the casino that chooses to be the leader instead of the follower may just find itself with a competitive advantage. Nothing says you value your customers more than giving them what they want.