Saturday, February 8, 2014

E-51: The Downfall of Blackjack

Casinos like to operate with an average of a 3% edge on each game. Blackjack however is one of the best games you can play, because by playing basic strategy you can lower the house edge to 0.5% to 1%. Clearly way below what the house like to run at.

When the NeywYork best seller "Beat the Dealer" was released in 1963, casinos increased the number of decks used in an attempt to detour counters. This had no real effect and blackjack remained the most profitable game for a solid player.

All this considered the average blackjack player doesn't bother to learn basic strategy and plays at a 2% disadvantage. While you might think this is more than acceptable for the casino, you'd be wrong. In recent years casinos have begun making blackjack a much tougher game.

Initially casino operators started introducing the automatic shuffle machine. This eliminates the possibility of card counting, but just to clarify, these don't increase the house edge. They simply increase the amount of hands per hour and therefor expose your bankroll to the existing house edge.

Following the introduction of shuffle machines, properties begun changing the house rules. The first was not allowing players to double down after splitting and later the dealer hitting on soft 17.

But the most profitable change that the casino industry made was the introduction of 6/5 blackjack. This means that when you receive a blackjack with lets say $10, with the old 3 to 2 rules, you would be paid out $15. But with 6 to 5 you would only be paid $12.

This single rule change increased the house edge by another 1.4%, meaning that a basic strategy player is now at a 2% disadvantage as opposed to about 0.5%. And the non-basic strategy player is now at about a 3.2% disadvantage.

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