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Best of Mark Pilarski

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Deal Me In: A slippery slope for the weary wallet

1 February 2013

Dear Mark: Where I play blackjack, there are only six-deck shoes. They just removed the last single-deck 3-2 games and replaced them with 6-5 games. Do you get more blackjacks on a single-deck game to make up for the reduced blackjack payoff? John P.

You're on to something, John, in that blackjacks do occur more frequently on a single-deck than on multi-deck games.

On a single-deck game, if your first card is an ace, 16 of the remaining 51 cards, or 31.37 percent, are a face or 10-value card that would complete your blackjack.

On a six-deck game, 96 of the remaining 311 cards, or 30.87 percent, would give you your snapper. Now immediately delete the above information from your brain's hard drive.

Erased yet? Good!

True, John, in the past, I have recommended that players play on single-deck blackjack games, simply because with perfect basic strategy, the house edge shrinks to a paltry 0.15 percent. However, that is based on single-deck games where blackjacks are paid 3 to 2.

The swizz going on now is that casinos like yours are advancing single-deck blackjack, but offering merely 6 to 5 for a blackjack. With this new single-deck version, a player's blackjack is paid just 6 to 5 rather than the usual 3 to 2. To illustrate, if you bet $10 and get a blackjack, you get only $12 instead of the $15 you once received. The house keeps your hard-earned extra three dollars. Above, John, I stated that the house edge against the perfect basic strategy player was a meager 0.15 percent; well, now that casino advantage has soared to 1.45 percent.

Given a choice between a six-deck game and 6 to 5 single-deck blackjack, avoid the latter. A six-deck shoe game is three times more advantageous for you than is 6 to 5 single-deck blackjack.

Dear Mark: Who sets blackjack table limits? Are dealers allowed to raise or lower limits? Danny B.

Table limits are set to establish both the minimum and maximum amount of money you can wager on any one bet. You cannot wager more than the maximum posted on the table game nor less than the table minimum. Table limits can vary from casino to casino, pit to pit, and even table to table.

As to who sets table limits, generally it is either a games shift manager, or a pit boss working that particular pit, based of course, on customer traffic. Casinos try their best to keep the inmates from running the asylum, so you won't see dealers arbitrarily bumping up table limits.

Dear Mark: In Pai Gow Poker, is the joker wild in every situation? Jason C.

In Pai Gow Poker, the joker acts as a special card, but not in every scenario. The joker can only benefit your hand as an ace, or as a wild card to complete a straight, a flush, a straight flush or a royal flush.

Gambling Wisdom of the Week: "Luck has a peculiar habit of favoring those who don't depend on it." - Author Unknown
Recent Articles
Best of Mark Pilarski
Mark Pilarski

As a recognized authority on casino gambling, Mark Pilarski survived 18 years in the casino trenches, working for seven different casinos. Mark now writes a nationally syndicated gambling column, is a university lecturer, author, reviewer and contributing editor for numerous gaming periodicals, and is the creator of the best-selling, award-winning audiocassette series on casino gambling, Hooked on Winning.
Mark Pilarski
As a recognized authority on casino gambling, Mark Pilarski survived 18 years in the casino trenches, working for seven different casinos. Mark now writes a nationally syndicated gambling column, is a university lecturer, author, reviewer and contributing editor for numerous gaming periodicals, and is the creator of the best-selling, award-winning audiocassette series on casino gambling, Hooked on Winning.