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# A rule for 6:5 blackjack games

10 January 2019

QUESTION: Knowing that we must avoid 6:5 blackjack payoffs should be rule No. 1 for players, but let's assume we have a need to play (whatever the reason) and that's the only game in town, there is really no such thing as "even money" anymore, is there?

As an example, we bet \$10, have a blackjack and the dealer shows an ace. Insurance costs \$5, and if the dealer has blackjack we get \$10 on that bet and push our blackjack for a profit of \$10, but if the dealer does not have blackjack we lose the insurance bet and get \$12 for our blackjack for a profit of \$7.

In a 3:2 blackjack game, if your initial bet is \$10, then calling “even money” is just short-hand for adding a \$5 insurance bet. You’re guaranteed a \$10 profit regardless of whether the dealer has a blackjack.

It’s not a good bet. Even though you risk pushing by declining insurance, your average profit on the hand is higher by taking the 3-2 payoffs when they come.

But when 6:5 blackjack started to pop up on the Las Vegas Strip in 2002, blackjack players reasoned that even-money was the way to go. A guaranteed \$10 profit for a \$10 bet was higher than the average payoff skipping insurance and taking 6:5 payoffs when you won.

Casinos adapted quickly. Some dropped insurance entirely at 6:5 tables. Others started treating insuring blackjacks the same as other insurance bets. You couldn’t just call out even money anymore. Instead, given a \$10 bet, you had to put out a \$5 insurance bet, leaving the situation you describe above – you win \$10 if the dealer has blackjack but only \$7 if he doesn’t.

So in a world where you could still call “even money” and be guaranteed a profit equal to your initial bet, it would be to your advantage to insure blackjack in a 6:5 game. We don’t live in that world, and under the playing conditions that exist to day, insurance remains a bad bet for non-card counters.

QUESTION: I’m not sure the video poker paybacks on full houses and flushes are all that important. If I get 45 coins or 40 coins on my full house, those are still just coins I’m going to bet back. The hands you cash out are the four of a kinds or better.

ANSWER: You seem to be suggesting you commit to losing everything you put into a machine unless you get quads or better. I wouldn’t go that far, but even in a quads-or-bust playing style, bigger paybacks on full houses and flushes give you extra chances to achieve your big-hand goal.

Let’s use 9/6 Double Double Bonus Poker as an example. Given optimal strategy, you’ll see a full house an average of once per 92 hands and a flush once per 88.

In an average 900 hands – a hour for a really fast player or more like an hour and a half if you take your time – you an expect about 10 of each. If full houses pay 9-for-1 and flushes 6-for-1, your five-coin wagers bring 450 coins on the 10 full houses and 300 on the flushes for a total of 750 on those hands.

If the paybacks are reduced to 8-for-1 and 5-for-1, the full houses bring 400 coins and the flushes 250 for a total of 650.

The reduced paybacks cost you 100 coins. That’s enough for 20 more five-coin bets – 20 extra chances to chase the big hands.
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John Grochowski

John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager, Casino Journal, Strictly Slots and Casino Player.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter @GrochowskiJ.