The Pros and Cons of Even Money Video Blackjack

Question: Time and time again I've read how blackjack games that pay 6-5 on blackjacks instead of 3-2 should be completely avoided. Recently, I found a one-dollar multi-game machine in a casino which offered video poker, keno, slots, and also blackjack. On this machine, blackjacks paid out even money instead of 3-2. It seems like a bad deal, so I should obviously avoid it, right?

Compared to games like video poker, which have proven immensely popular, video blackjack has never really gained any traction in casinos. This is probably due to the fact that, as you mentioned, most video blackjack machines pay even money on blackjacks. Just a few dozen feet away, however, there is probably a blackjack table which pays 3-2 on blackjacks, and the real players will always choose the one with the better odds.

If you play basic strategy, the casino gains a nearly 2.3% edge by offering even money blackjacks instead of 3-2, pushing the total house edge close to 3%.

While that would be awful on a traditional blackjack table, there is something to be said for the fact that, as casino machines go, a 3% house edge isn't all that bad, especially since you only have to bet $1 instead of the normal $5 minimum you would find on the tables. A 97% payout is actually better than what you find on nearly all slot machines, and about equal to some of the lower-end video poker machines such as 6-5 Bonus Poker (96.9% payout) or 6-5 Double Bonus Poker (96.8% payout). So, for those stakes you could do a lot worse.

One last thing, if you ever do find a 3-2 single-player blackjack machine, which are rare but do actually exist, be sure to always bet in increments of two. So if the minimum is $1, bet $2, if the minimum is a quarter, bet two quarters, and so on. The reason for this is that machines don't tend to deal in any money smaller than the minimum bet amount. So if you bet $2 and hit blackjack, you will win $3. Though if you bet $1 and hit blackjack the win should be $1.50, but the machine will actually only pay even money because it doesn't deal in cents.

Question: Sometimes when I'm at the casino I just like to switch my brain off and chat with dealers and other players for awhile. I tend to do this at the Casino War table – I know the odds aren't as good as say, blackjack, but it's relaxing and actually kind of fun. Recently, I noticed the tie bet, is this a decent bet and should I give it a try?

You're right that Casino War is not as advantageous as blackjack, as most versions of the game carry a 2.9% house edge. Theoretically there are versions out there which have bonuses related to going to war after a tie bet which can drop the house edge to as low as 1.2%. The only problem is that these games are almost non-existent in actual casinos.

While the base game of Casino War isn't that bad, the tie bet is something to avoid like the plague. Playing with a six-deck shoe, the house has a stunning 18.65% edge on the tie bet, and if you happen to find a single-deck game, you are giving the house an edge of more than 30% on the tie bet. Sticking to the basic game will make your money go a lot further while you chat and have fun.

About The Author

Journalist and author John Grochowski is one of the foremost experts on casinos in America. He writes a syndicated weekly gambling newspaper column and he is a frequent contributor to gambling magazines, websites, and radio programs. His books include the best-sellers The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Casino Answer Book.

  • "The simplest, yet worst way to leave a casino is when you've lost all your money. It's hard to walk away when you are up, but the best gamblers learn how to maintain discipline and keep their winnings."

  • "In front of the big six wheel is a table which has pictures of all the different stops on it. To bet, you place your chip on whichever stop you think is going to hit."

  • "Bets must be made before a new blackjack hand is dealt. You cannot place a bet or change your bet once the dealing starts, so remember to pick up any winnings before the next hand.'

  • "In order to keep the house edge, casinos offer games where they win outright more often or they offer games where the player may win more often, but doesn't get paid the true odds."

  • "At a blackjack table, play proceeds right to left, from the player's point of view. When it is your turn, you can make a number of decisions including hit, stand, double-down, or split a pair."

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