Three to Two Blackjack gives house advantage

Jul 2, 2013 3:00 AM

1.5 percent.

The difference in a blackjack game that pays 3:2 compared to one at 6:5 is about 1.5%. When blackjack pays 6:5 the casino has a 3x greater advantage on the player. No gambler likes that.

You can gain a small edge when playing 3:2 blackjack but it’s virtually impossible at 6:5. There will be some positive runs but over time the casino will always have the edge. It’s important to realize that only the most skilled blackjack player ever has an advantage over the casino. That advantage is only 1% but adds up over time.

So, does a 1.5% difference matter? Yes and no.

That 1.5% depends on the player. Some people visit the casino to try and make money. They should, and probably will, always avoid 6:5 blackjack. The people who look at gambling as entertainment don’t care as much about that 1.5%. No two people in the casino are alike. That’s part of the fun visiting a casino.

If you add up that 1.5% extra advantage for the casino over thousands of players over a weekend you can see why casinos have more 6:5 blackjack. Gaming only makes up about 40% of revenue for many Vegas Strip resorts so they’re looking for any way to increase revenue to keep up with shrinking gaming revenue.

SLS Las Vegas will open in 2014 with a goal of gaming only being 30% of their revenue. Las Vegas Strip resorts aren’t just for gamblers and haven’t been for a while.

It takes time and money to be a smart gambler. I want to be a smart gambler but I also want to be a fun one. When it comes to blackjack, that means I’ll play with a simplified strategy minimizing the casinos edge as much as possible. I always try to play a 3:2 blackjack game, which isn’t always available at limits my friends and I want.

This week I learned all blackjack at the Hard Rock Casino in Vegas under $100 pays 6:5. Lame. I never play $100 hands of blackjack so I’ll never see 3:2 blackjack at the Hard Rock. But if someone wants to hang out there I’ll play some paying 6:5.

I know when I play 6:5 blackjack I’m giving away 1.5% of my money or about $1.50 advantage for every $100. If I buy in for $200 and play 60 hands at $15 in an hour I’m theoretically giving away $13.50. That stinks but it’s not a deal breaker for me. That’s just the cost of hanging out with my friends for the night.

When possible I try to steer my blackjack playing friends to casinos that pay 3:2, but that doesn’t always happen.

Nobody likes giving away their hard earned money but in today’s casinos we have two choices – deal with it or play elsewhere.

If I can’t play elsewhere then knowing the casino has this 1.5% extra advantage when I play 6:5 blackjack allows me to adjust my bankroll so I can still have a good time with friends and keep my losses to a minimum over time.

Marc Meltzer covers Las Vegas, gambling and men’s lifestyle for various outlets. Follow Marc on twitter @eastcoastgamblr. Check out his blog at Contact Marc at [email protected].

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