How Not to Look Silly at the Blackjack Table

I heard tell of a guy who is planning a vacation to Vegas. He’s a slots player but for some reason feels compelled to play blackjack. He’s wondering how he can avoid looking silly while at the blackjack tables and just how different blackjack is from slot machines.

My first piece of advice to this man is to play at a low stakes blackjack table. If you’re new to the game or are learning you don’t want to put yourself in the position to lose a large chunk of money by playing a game you aren’t familiar with for high stakes.

Piece of advice number two: find a basic strategy chart. This is the easiest way to play blackjack without having to know any complex strategies and still have a decent shot at winning some money.

As to how blackjack differs from slots, well, there’s the obvious. Slots are played on a machine that you insert a player card in, push a button and wait to see what the outcome is. Whereas blackjack is a card game played at a table in which the player chooses how to play out his hand.

At the center of the difference is that slots are games of chance while blackjack is a game of skill. This means that in blackjack you can have an effect on the outcome of a round. This is why I recommend a basic strategy chart for a new blackjack player or for someone who just wants to give blackjack a shot.

Another difference: for the most part, slots are a losing game. Depending on the machine, it may take longer, but overall you will lose more money on a slot machine than what you win. In blackjack, because the player can choose how to play out his hand, he can apply strategy—even if it’s as simple as using a basic strategy chart—to lower the house edge and actually win some money.

If this man is looking to come home with more money than he started with, I’d recommend sticking to blackjack while on his Vegas vacation. Even playing with only basic strategy he will have better odds than what he will find at a slot machine.

Casinos Taking 6-5 Games Too Far

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.