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Gaming Guru

 

6:5 Blackjack

1 May 2004

"Blackjack pays a whopping 6:5"

So says the sign heralding one of the biggest corporate rip-offs in gaming history. The use of "whopping" should win some kind of award for deceptive advertising. What next? Single numbers at roulette pay a "whopping" 30-1? Sports wagers pay off at a "whopping" 8/10? Change machines pay off at a whopping 90 cents to every dollar inserted?

Why is this game so bad? Well, a number of studies have been done already, and what it boils down to is this: you lose eight times faster than at a game of regular blackjack.

This game has spread to an alarming number of casinos all over Las Vegas. Now, let's be blunt. Clued-up gamblers won't touch the game with a bargepole. A straw poll of my gambling buddies and on the online forums came up with some interesting names for this new form of blackjack...almost all of which are not suitable for a family newspaper. Lets say that "scumjack" was the mildest one any one came up with.

No, 6:5 blackjack is aimed straight at that section of Joe Public who wears his ignorance on his sleeve as some kind of badge of honour. As unethical as it is to offer such a dreadful game to the public, the players who accept the game are ultimately responsible for having to put up with it. Don't be one of them, refuse to patronize casinos that offer this game.

Am I worried? Not really. I can make money off this game. It is not easy, but if you've been reading my columns for a while you'll know there is always some angle (a tip: many break-in dealers have trouble getting the weird pay-out right). I mention this because some casinos seem to get off on the fact that the pros can't beat the game, despite the fact that they are saving quarters at the expense of dollars. Well, sorry guys, we can. We always find a way.

In any case, I doubt it will last.

Here's what happens with funky new blackjack rip-off games. Some bean-counter decides that if they double the house edge in a blackjack game, they will make more money. To compensate, there will be some gimmick or other to keep the public interested (in this case, single-deck blackjack is the carrot). The public is curious about the new game for a short time and the bean-counter is promoted to bean-counter heaven. Then the public gets it: they are being swindled. They probably don't understand the house percentages or probability laws, but they don't have to. Fewer people are winning, and losers don't come back, and some of them do listen to the experts. Ultimately almost everyone loses--the casinos and the players lose--everyone except the bean-counter.

Ultimately these ideas are doomed, because they use vulgar statistical methods that grossly undervalue or ignore the importance of "goodwill" and repeat wagering induced by giving the gambler a fair whack.

It would be better if some wise casino exec decided to kick the bean-counter next time one comes up with a bright idea. To misquote Oscar Wilde, "These guys know the price of everything and the value of nothing."

John May
John May is one of the most feared gamblers in the world. He has developed "advantage play" techniques for many games that are considered unbeatable.

Books by John May:

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John May
John May is one of the most feared gamblers in the world. He has developed "advantage play" techniques for many games that are considered unbeatable.

Books by John May:

> More Books By John May