Maintaining an Empty High-Limit Table When $5 or $10 Tables Are Overflowing

 Maintaining an Empty High-Limit Table When $5 or $10 Tables Are Overflowing

When my wife, Marcy, goes to casinos with me, she rarely plays on the tables, but she knows the kinds of things I watch for. So when she spotted one empty blackjack table in a crowded casino, she pointed it out.

“It’s a $100 minimum bet,” she said. “Couldn’t they get more players if it was lower?”

There were players waiting for seats at $5 tables, and no doubt the casino could have filled another $5 table. But casinos will go out of their way to accommodate bigger players, and it’s not just a courtesy. It’s a matter of profit.

Let’s say you have a seven-player table filled with $5 bettors. Speed of the game depends on both dealer and players, but in his book “Casino Operations Management,” former casino manager and current consultant, Jim Kilby, estimated 52 hands per hour at a full table. With seven players, that’s 364 hands, and at $5 a hand, it’s a minimum risk of $1,820 per hour. With average players facing a house edge of about 2 percent, the casino expects to make just over $36 an hour from the table.

A single player going head-to-head with the dealer plays much faster, at 209 hands an hour, according to Kilby. A $100 bettor playing heads-up risks $20,900 an hour, with an average loss per hour of $418.

That single $100 player loses more per hour than a table of $5 players loses in 11 hours.

Not everyone at the $5 table will be making minimum bets, but neither will players at $100 tables. And a $100-plus player is so profitable for the casino that operators are willing to let a table sit empty for hours on end to welcome the big players when they come.

Leave a comment