In recent years single-deck blackjack has made a comeback, or so it may seem. Unfortunately, the single-deck game hasn’t been resurrected at all. Most single-deck offerings are mere imposters that pay only 6/5 on blackjack instead of 3/2. You aren’t quite as lucky on a 6/5 blackjack because you’re getting 20% less than what you rightfully deserve. This reduced payout on blackjack adds 1.39% to the house advantage which may not sound like much, but it is a staggering amount. You can make a strong argument that the 6/5 game is not really blackjack. It’s the sacrilegious equivalent of baseball moving the pitcher’s rubber in to 50′ from it’s perfect 60′ 6” distance to home plate. There are some things that are not meant to be changed.
Who is it that plays 6/5 blackjack? It’s largely uninformed blackjack players, many of whom are tourists and simply don’t know any better. Many players are enticed by the lure of single-deck which everyone knows is better than multi-deck. But that’s only true if the house rules are fairly commensurate, and 6/5 blackjack throws that out the window. As if getting paid less than 3/2 on single-deck wasn’t bad enough, some casinos are now paying 6/5 on double-deck and even 6 & 8-deck games! I learned this the hard way. A few years ago when I was in Vegas I met a friend for a few beers at O’Sheas Casino . We sat down at a 8-deck table and I plunked down a $10 bet. On my fifth hand I got blackjack and the dealer paid me $12. I asked her, “Don’t I get $15 for my blackjack?” She pointed to the table’s sign and said, “Sweetie, blackjack pays 6/5 here.” I pulled my chips back and headed to the cage to cash out. Never did I think I would actually experience getting paid 6/5 on blackjack.
Since I played at O’Sheas, 6/5 blackjack has been spreading. Even within the the same casino, there can be a huge difference in the house edge, depending on which blackjack table you sit down at. On the Vegas Strip there are a host of casinos which offer both single-deck games which pay only 6/5 on blackjack, and 6-deck games that pay 3/2 and offer more favorable rules. The 6-deck games with good rules have a house edge of .26%. On the other end of the spectrum, there are games on the Strip in which the house edge runs as high as 2.02% because of the 6/5 payout on blackjack. Talk about a wide range of prices. Playing against a 2.02% house edge is like buying gas from a station that charges more than $15.00 a gallon when the station right next door charges $2.00 a gallon.
As a general rule of thumb, if you come across a single-deck game, odds are the payout on blackjack is 6/5. And if you sit down at a double-deck, 6-deck, or 8-deck table, don’t automatically assume you’re going to get paid 3/2. I’ve made that mistake and I’m $3 the poorer for it. If you’re ever unsure, the payout for blackjack should be printed on the felt as well as the sign on the table. If the payout is not clear, just ask the dealer or a floor person how much blackjack pays. By never settling for less than 3/2 on blackjack, you not only save yourself money and get much more bang for your gambling dollar, you remind casinos that the 6/5 game is not really blackjack.