In addition to single deck games, you blackjack players also want to keep an eye out for blackjack games that allow you to double down after splitting a pair.
You have a pair when the first two cards you are dealt are worth the same amount. This would be being dealt two 6s. It is also a pair when you are dealt a 10 and, say, a Queen. These cards make a pair because they’re both worth ten, but no real blackjack player would split a pair of 10s when it could be played as a hard 20—nice strong hand there.
Doubling down is when you double your original bet and receive only one more card before standing.
Not all casinos will allow you to double down after you split a pair. But when you can it lowers the house edge by about 0.14%. And it also the payout potential is pretty outstanding.
Let’s say that you are playing at a $10 minimum table. You place a $10 bet and are dealt a pair of nines against a dealer up card of three. Basic strategy for this situation is to split. So you put out another $10 and split your cards.
But let’s say that you want to double down on one of your newly split pairs. You put forth another $10—your total bet that’s on the line is now$30—and receive a 10. One of your hands is now worth 19, which is pretty strong. Let’s keep going and say that the dealer busts and you win. You just won $60!
You can see how some casinos might frown on doubling down after splitting pairs—it might cost them too much when they add up the lowered house edge and the payouts they would have to make.
But if you can find a blackjack game that will allow to double down after splitting play there. If you play there and use perfect basic strategy, you can look at a house edge that is a little lower than the 0.5% you would have at a regular blackjack game.
Keep an eye open for Player Favorable Blackjack Rules—Part III
I’ve said it before. Any blackjack game that pays a 6-5 payout should be avoided.
Now I’m going to say it absolutely must be avoided.
Casinos are getting greedy and desperate it seems down in Vegas. Overall, the gaming revenue at Vegas casinos is declining. And like any smart business, owners and managers are looking for ways to try to boost revenue. And while I can understand this and condone the need to do something to increase a business’s revenue, I do not condone players being taken advantage of.
Several years ago the 6-5 payout blackjack game was introduced. Yes, the payout is terrible. It still is. And the same applies to the house edge. But the carrot that casinos dangled in front of us was that these 6-5 payout games were single deck games.
Now with the need for revenue, casinos are seeing how much more they can squeeze out of players. What have they done? They are now ‘offering’ 6-5 payouts on multi-deck games.
Why is this worse than a single deck 6-5 payout blackjack game?
For one thing the payout is still terrible, and you won’t make the money you could playing in a 3-2 payout game. For every $10 bet you would only win $12 instead of $15.
But the biggie is what changing the payout on a multi-deck game from 3-2 to 6-5 does to the house edge. Just by changing the payout to 6-5, the house edge just jumped by around 2%. Now, before basic strategy and card counting, most 3-2 blackjack games carry a house edge of 2% to 5%. A 6-5 blackjack game will carry a house edge ranging from 4% to 7%, making it worse than some slots games. This throws of the skill play for blackjack. Basic strategy will not be as effective here and it will take longer to play for the house edge to be lowered because you’re starting with a higher house edge.
Casinos will be watching to see if players take to these 6-5 multi-deck games. And if they see that players are still playing them, then we can expect that the 6-5 games will be sticking around, if not growing in number. Do yourself and all your fellow blackjack players a favor and avoid these games.
If there is one thing that will make me turn my back on blackjack game, it’s a bad payout. This goes back to the idea of playing blackjack for money. Of course I want to win. But since you can’t win every single blackjack game, I don’t want to lose any more money than I have to. And you don’t either. That’s why regardless of rules, there are some tables or online blackjack games I will not play. A table or online blackjack game could have they best combination or rules possible and I will still walk away. The reason behind this? The pay out.
Most blackjack games have a payout of 3-2, which is fine. I’ll take that if I’m dealt a natural. I’ll even take double my bet if I win. But that’s with a 3-2 payout. The payout I’ll walk away from is the 6-5 payout. That alone costs a player 1.4%. And I’m not willing to pay that.
Unfortunately for all of us blackjack players, it’s becoming more popular in Las Vegas for casinos to have single deck games…but they come with a 6-5 payout. You might find it here and there online, but if you are a land-based casino player, beware.
Here’s what the breakdown is;
Let’s say you’re at a $20 table with 3-2 payout. If you win with a blackjack you’ll be paid $30. That’s fine. That’s a $10 gain every time you win with a blackjack.
Now let’s say you’re at one of these new games. It’s another $20 table but the payout is 6-5 this time. If you win with a blackjack you’re only going to be paid $24 instead of $30. And that’s only a gain of $4.
Perhaps that doesn’t seem like a lot. Let’s do some more math. Let’s say you play sixty hands in an hour. This particular night you are exceedingly lucky and are dealt blackjack every single hand. Yes, I know, that will never happen. You’ll get kicked out of the casino before the hour half way over. But for this scenario, you’ve just won sixty hands of blackjack in an hour. If you were playing at a $20 table with a 3-2 payout, you’ve been paid $1800 over the course of the hour; that’s a gain of $600. If you made the mistake of playing at 6-5 table, you will have received $1440 in payouts, which is a gain of $240. Which is the better payout?
Splitting is fantastic. We like splitting pairs. And we love resplitting. For one thing is increases our chance at winning. But it also reduces the house’s edge, and who doesn’t love that? Unfortunately for us not all casinos, both land-based and online, don’t feel the same way that we do about splitting pairs in blackjack.
Whenever you aren’t allowed to double down on a split a pair it hurts you by a tenth of a percent. It also hurts you when you can’t resplit by another tenth of a percent. Add that to the normal half of a percent house edge in blackjack. Not a good number is it?
If you draw a pair you want to be able to split it and increase your chances of winning. And if you can find a blackjack game that will let you resplit pairs, pull up a seat, especially if they will let you double down when splitting. I’d sit at that table or play that table online. If you’re a game that will allow you to resplit aces, you just gained 0.08 on the house. So if you find a game of blackjack that allows for resplitting aces, that’s a game you want.
Don’t allow the house to prevent you from increasing your chance to win at blackjack. Avoid games that won’t let you resplit or double down after splitting. You want to look at for blackjack games that will give you a chance at increasing your odds if you’re a skilled enough player to do so.
Keep an Eye Out For: House Rules to Avoid Part IV: The Payout That Really Isn’t Much of a Payout
We all know to keep an eye out for blackjack games that allow us to double down on any pair. This is a player friendly rule, allowing you to double your bet when it looks like you just might beat the dealer. So why would you avoid a table that still allows you to double down even if you can’t double down on any two cards?
The answer comes down to the math on the odds. In a typical blackjack game, the house odds are around .5%. You might think that even being allowed to double down only on cards totaling 10 or 11 is still a pretty good deal. But really it’s not. In the blackjack games that only allow you to double on 10 and 11 totals is a game that is increasing the house edge. The edge will jump from around .5 to around .75. Defiantly not in your favor.
The reason this favors the house more is because you have more of a chance of busting on those hands. Imagine doubling on a total of 11. There are only twenty four cards out of fifty two that won’t bust you—and all twenty four cards may not be available for play either having already been played or are in other players hands. So you double down on your total of 11 and are dealt an 8. You just gave the dealer, ergo the casino, more money than is necessary!
If the point of blackjack is for you to make money, don’t give it away by playing games in which you can not double down on any two cards. You do not want to give the house an even bigger edge, and increase your chances of losing money. Follow basic strategy when playing blackjack including its rules for doubling down. Avoid blackjack games that restrict your doubling down despite the illusion they are doing you a favor by allowing you to still double on totals of 10 or 11.
Keep an Eye Out for: House Rules to Look Out for Part III: Restrictions on Splitting
Whether you’re playing blackjack online or are out there in a casino, there are some house rules that are not player friendly. Yes, I know you expect that when playing blackjack. But there are some, especially if you’re just starting out, that you will want to keep an eye out for—and avoid.
When learning to play blackjack the first strategy you learn is basic strategy. These are the ‘moves’ for blackjack players. This is how we choose how to play our hands—to hit or stand, or split, or double. And the casinos—both online and off—know this. So if a half of a percent house edge wasn’t enough, the casinos will try to take any advantage from us that they can. And in some places blackjack’s basic strategy can be used against you.
Take for example that the dealer has an Ace-6. Dealers always stand on a soft seventeen—they stand on all seventeens, hard or soft. However. There are some casinos who’s house rules allow for the dealer to hit on a soft seventeen. That’s a two-tenths of a percent increase in favor of the house.
Doesn’t sound like much right? Think again. Add that two-tenths of a percent to the regular half of a percent. See the difference now? Yeah, a blackjack game in which a dealer can hit on a soft seventeen is not your friend. You do not want to give the house anymore favor over you.
You like your money, yes? And you want to win more money, yes? Bearing in mind that you won’t win every single time, why lower your odds of winning even more? Avoid blackjack games in which the dealer can hit on a soft seventeen. Look for blackjack games in which the dealer has to stand on all seventeens.
Keep an Eye Out for: House Rules to Look Out for Part II: Restrictions on Doubling Down