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# Taking even money at 6-5 blackjack

17 January 2016

QUESTION: I hate to beat a dead horse on “even money,” but here goes.

I play on a lot on cruise ships and many, if not most, are going to 6-5 blackjack on tables under \$25. In that case would taking even money be the better bet? I get it that the 6-5 game has a high vig and should be avoided, but if you don't have adequate bank to play a greenie a hand (or just don't want to risk that much) it is pretty good entertainment.

The other problem I see with the 6-5 is when the casino puts the minimum bet at \$6 and don't pay the extra quarter to bring it up to a true 6-5 on blackjack payoff. In that case they pay 6-6 which is even money. Wouldn't the smart bet to play \$10 a hand and at least get the full 6-5 odds?

ANSWER: Yes, if blackjacks pay only 6-5 and the house allows you to take even money payoffs when the dealer has an ace up, you should take the money. Per 13 hands in which the dealer has an ace face up, there will be a 10-value card down to complete a blackjack four times.

If you bet \$10 on each of 13 such hands, and take even money all 13 times, you would win \$130. If you decline even money, then you would win nine hands, and with 6-5 payoffs each win would be worth \$12. So per 13 hands with a blackjack against an dealer’s ace, you would win \$120.

Most casinos don’t offer even money on 6-5 blackjack games, but if offered, you should take it.

With 3-2 payoffs, of course, the better play for non-card counters is to decline even money or any other insurance bet.

As for times the shipboard casino raises the table minimum to \$6, you have to weigh the increase in house edge if you don’t bet enough to get 6-5 payoffs on blackjacks against the increased risk of betting more.

A six-deck game with rules that lead to a 0.6% house edge with 3-2 payoffs on blackjacks has a 2% edge if blackjacks pay 6-5 and 2.9% if they pay even money.

Per 100 hands at \$10 per hand, your risk would be \$1,000, and if blackjacks pay 6-5, the 2% house edge would lead to average losses of \$20. If you bet only \$6 per hand and settle for 6-6 blackjack pays, you risk \$600 and the 2.9% edge leads to \$17.40 in losses.

By average loss, you’re slightly better off risking less money at the game, but you have a better shot to win by betting enough to get the 6-5 payoff.

I’d try to avoid the game altogether, but I’ve passed time on less-than-ideal games on at-sea days, and understand the urge to play.

QUESTION: A quick video poker question: If the game is 9-6 Double Double Bonus Poker, and I have a pair of sixes and one ace, is the best play still to hold the low pair, like in other games, or should I go for the aces?

ANSWER: Even in Double Double Bonus Poker, where aces are premium cards because of the 2,000-coin payoff on four aces with a low-card kicker, it’s a better play to hold a low pair than a single ace. Dealt sixes of hearts and diamonds, an ace and 2 of spades and a 9 of clubs, the average return per five coins wagered is 3.66 coins if you hold 6-6, and only 2.37 if you hold just the ace.
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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.