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# Those horrible 6-5 blackjack games

1 November 2012

QUESTION: I can understand your warnings to blackjack players not to play when blackjacks pay 6-5 instead of 3-2. You don’t want to settle for less than the usual payoff. But what about a single-deck game? I'd always heard single-deck was the best game. If blackjacks pay 6-5 but you’re playing with one deck, isn’t that a good tradeoff for players?

ANSWER: No, it’s not a good tradeoff. You lose far more with the 6-5 blackjack pays than you gain by playing with fewer decks.

Let’s take an ordinary set of rules. The dealer hits soft 17 -- sadly, this is ordinary nowadays -- players may split pairs up to three times for a total of four hands, players may double down on any first two cards and may double after splitting pairs. Aces can be split only once, and players get only one more card on each ace. Blackjacks pay 3-2.

With six decks, the house edge against a basic strategy player is 0.59%. Put those same rules on a single-deck game, and it’s nearly an even game, with a house edge of 0.008%. Even in days of yore when blackjack games gave players a better deal than today’s games, this one would have been a rarity.

What happens if you make one adjustment to the single-deck game, and have blackjacks pay 6-5? The house edge soars to 1.40%.

Look at that house edge. It’s not just higher than that on the six-deck game, it’s more than double -- a house edge 2.37 times as high as that on the six-deck game with the higher blackjack payoff. I don’t know about you, but I want no part of that game.

If all other rules are equal, you are better off with fewer decks. The main reason is that blackjacks occur more frequently with fewer decks. Say you start with an ace. Let’s say the first card we’re dealt is an ace. In a single deck game, 16 of the other 51 cards are 10 values. That means 31.37% of the remaining cards will complete the blackjack. If six decks are in play, removing an ace means 96 of the remaining 311 cards are 10-values. That’s 30.87%, meaning we have a lesser chance of completing our blackjack in a six-deck game than in a single-deck game.

Fewer decks also help in double down situations. Start with 6-5, and 32% of the other cards are 10s in single-deck blackjack, and 30.97% in six-deck games.

But if all other rules are not equal, you have to weigh the effects of the changes. And for players, the 6-5 blackjack rule is a weighty disadvantage indeed.

QUESTION: Answer a question on the Monopoly slots, please. They’ve had a lot of different ones, but the bonus I always like best is when you get to go around the board. My girlfriends that I play with say the same thing. So why do some of the games not have the trip around the board?

ANSWER: WMS Gaming, which makes Monopoly, is well aware that the trip around the board has been the most popular event in the series, and it brings the board back in new versions of the game regularly.

But in video slots, players are always looking for the next big thing. Video slot games have much shorter popularity peak than did mechanical games in the days when three-reelers ruled the slot floors. Game designers always are looking for ways to keep the games fresh and entertaining. Some of the Monopoly games without the trip around the board have been big hits, while some have had less success. But manufacturers do take note of what’s being played, and WMS is a sharp company that values player input, including that at its Players Life site online. There always seems to be a Monopoly game with the game board on casino floors, and I expect there will be for a long, long time.
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Best of 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.

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Winning Tips for Casino 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.