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Blackjack Continuum

29 May 2022

QUESTION:Is the difference in house edge between blackjack games where the dealer stands on all 17s or hits soft 17 large enough that I should bet more to get the better rule?

At the casino nearest me, the cheap tables are $10 minimum, dealer hits soft 17, six decks, blackjacks pay 3-2, split pairs up to three times except only once on Aces, you can double down on any first two cards, and you can double down after splitting pairs.

The $25 and up tables are the same game except the dealer stands on all 17s.
I move my bets up and down a little, but my average is probably a little short of $20. Maybe $17.50, $18, something like that.

Am I better off staying at the $10 tables or upping my bet so the dealer always stands on 17?

ANSWER: When the dealer hits soft 17, it adds about 0.2 percent to the house edge.

With the rules you describe, the house has a 0.4 percent edge if the dealer stands on all 17s, but 0.62 if the dealer hits soft 17.

If you wagered the minimum of $10 a hand for 100 hands at the hit soft 17 table, your bets would total $1,000, and your average loss would be $6.20.

At your wagering level of about $18 a hand, the bet total is $1,800 and the average loss is about $11.16.

Now let's move to the other table. The house edge is lower, but when you risk the minimum of $25 a hand, your bets total $2,500. Your average loss is $10, a little less than the $11 and change when you average $18 at the hit soft 17 table.

The situation changes rapidly if you increase your bets. At a $30 average, the average loss per 100 hands at the better-rules table increases to $12.

Even if you discipline yourself to stay at $25 a hand, betting more money puts extra pressure on your bankroll. If you're betting too large a percentage of your gambling budget per hand, there's the danger that a normal losing streak could wipe you out.

Having the dealer stand on all 17s is a plus for players. But that plus is more than offset if increased bets take you outside your wagering comfort zone.


QUESTION: Listed video poker payback percentages apply only with expert play, right? When you say 10-7-5 Double Bonus Poker pays 100.17 percent, that assumes expert play.

Most players will get less, so casinos are still making money on those games. So why are they disappearing? It seems like every time I go, I see fewer video poker games with good pay tables. What's the incentive to eliminate profitable games?

ANSWER: Yes, casinos make money on games such as 10-7-5 Double Bonus Poker. Average players get between 97 and 98 percent on those games, not 100.

But casinos make more money if the public accepts reduced pay tables such as 9-6-5 Double Bonus. It takes expert play to get 97.8 percent on that version, and average players get closer to 95 percent.

The same goes on any video poker game. Most of those we see are reduced-pay versions of Jacks or Better, Deuces Wild, Double Double Bonus and others.

Video poker also is lower in the mix at many casinos than it once was. Video slots have taken over some of the space once devoted to video poker. There's less pressure on slot directors to appeal to demanding video poker players as long as there are enough players to fill a smaller number of reduced-pay games
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.

John Grochowski Websites:

www.casinoanswerman.com

Books by John Grochowski:

> More Books By John Grochowski

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.

John Grochowski Websites:

www.casinoanswerman.com

Books by John Grochowski:

Winning Tips for Casino Games

> More Books By John Grochowski