This past week, I was saddened to hear Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods are taking the plunge into lowering BlackJack pay-tables from 3:2 to 6:5 for a blackjack. With increased competition in table games from Twin Rivers & Tiverton Casinos, MGM Springfield and the upcoming Encore Boston Harbor, I thought keeping all of their blackjack tables with a 3:2 payout would be wise – setting them apart for recreational blackjack players and AP’s (Advantage Players) alike. I guess that assumption was wrong. I guess they believe that lowering the bar to all the other casinos will save them money and the gaming public is too stupid to think it matters. Maybe their right.
Other important considerations in blackjack such as penetration, the number of decks in the shoe, and dealer rules will be in future posts. If you are new to the intricacies of blackjack rules, try our related posts below:
Competition among casinos has always been thought to be good for the consumer. According to the FTC (Federal Trade Commission), “Competition in America is about price, selection, and service. It benefits consumers by keeping prices low and the quality and choice of goods and services high.”
Translated to casino terms, competition should:
- keep prices low – such as dining, hotel expenses, show prices, amenities, parking
- keep the quality and choice of goods and services high – good gambling rules, great casino service on casino floor, good hotel service and rooms that are well kept and enjoyable to stay, dining and drink quality high
But what if EVERYBODY raises prices and cuts back on the quality of the casino experience? Then, there IS NO competition – just a joint greed to rake their patrons over the coals – nickel and diming them much like the airlines have done over the years.
Sure, there are cost of living and inflation changes that come along that are expected. Casinos do compete with little pockets of offers such as rewards clubs tier matching, kiosk swipes and promotions to get you through their casino door. But compared to the negatives – paid parking, resort fees, raising the house edge on gaming rules and payout tables – competition doesn’t seem to be a friend of the gambling consumer.
Black Jack Changes
Which brings me to today’s post – good gaming rules continue to be compromised. It seems casino bean-counters don’t believe the mantra from the gambling masses – “Give us good rules and we will gamble.” So, to my dismay, when I started to hear the erosion of blackjack rules locally, I just couldn’t understand it….. but alas, it’s true.
Foxwoods recently added more tables in their Fox Casino, only to offer $10 black jack exclusively with 6:5 BJ payout, to accompany another terrible payout with it’s $1 6:5 BJ, with $.25 commission per hand. Cedars and Grand Pequot casino offers both. $25 is the cutoff to get 3:2 Blackjack. The Stadium Blackjack is 6:5 also. Rumors of even money coming to electronic blackjack has already showed its ugly face in New England on many video poker machines.
Mohegan Sun raised the minimum limit tables to $10 some time ago – no $5 BJ tables anymore. Much like Foxwoods, they have taken out slots to add more table games and especially blackjack tables with 6:5 payout.
MGM Springfield opened with the same 6:5 Blackjack tables at lower denominations of $10 & $15, with the $25 tables offering 3:2. On the Vegas Strip, MGM is one of many casinos that have put good table games rules on the endangered species list, along with casino “fun books,” free parking and keno.
6:5 Black Jack and House Edge
You get a BlackJack around 1 in 21 hands. So does the dealer. So around 5% of the time, you will be paid $3 less on a $10 bet. So around 15 cents per hand, or 1.5%. Under the proposed changes to 6:5 payouts, the House Edge will be 2.019% vs. the current 0.35% – a pretty big jump in edge from 3:2 to 6:5.
1.5%-2% is still pretty decent odds for a table game, considering the house edge in roulette and carnival games the likes of Caribbean Stud & Let It Ride. For a non-counting average player it’s probably not noticeable. But it certainly screws over Advantage Player’s, especially with other poor rules as mid penetration, no surrender, and dealer hitting on soft 17. Obviously these differences get magnified over the long term, as serious bettors make thousands of wagers over time.
Is this what casinos are counting on to weed out the counters, and keep the recreational gambler and newbie.? The thing that casinos don’t get is that they will not make more money! The same amount of people will lose the same amount of money, just faster. And AP’s won’t bother with anything below $25 games anyway.
Here’s an very simplistic example. Newbie Norm knows basic strategy and plays for recreation. His usual bankroll is $200 which usually lasts 3 hours. With the simple change to 6:5 games, his bankroll now only lasts 2.5 hours. Eventually, he finds his money doesn’t last as long and stops visiting all together. How can changing to 6:5 at lower denominations make a difference at the $5, $10, and $15 level?
No Judgement here – play what you want But Vote with Your Wallet
If you want to maximize your odds of having a good turn at the blackjack table, be on the lookout for 3:2 tables. Spread the word to friends and family, educate them on the difference. Let them know they have a voice and a vote with every dollar they wager. Let casino staff and dealers know why you play less at that particular casino. Better yet, switch your loyalty to a casino that has preferable rules to you . It’s your choice – no judgement here. Just be an informed consumer before you decide to spend your money wherever you want. You might be surprised how much longer your session will last and how much more fun playing blackjack can be as a recreational gambler.