How To Choose A Video Blackjack Machine

 How To Choose A Video Blackjack Machine

One thing I’ve warned blackjack players about is games that pay less than the standard 3-2 on blackjacks. If you play video blackjack, you have to be extra watchful, as one reader learned.

“You have warned against playing blackjack when blackjacks pay only 6-5 because that increases the house edge,” he wrote in an email. “I assume that means you’d also warn against playing on machines where blackjack pays even money. What does that do to the house edge?

“I ask because I was playing on a dollar machine that had video poker, video keno, some slot games and video blackjack, but the blackjacks only paid even money.”

When blackjacks pay even money, it adds 2.3 percent to the house edge against a basic strategy player when compared with a game where blackjacks pay 3-2. Compare that to table games, where games that pay only 6-5 on blackjacks add 1.4 percent to the edge.

Still, there’s an attraction to being able to play for $1 a hand, or even 25 cents a hand on quarter machines with a blackjack option. The even-money blackjack payoffs lead to a game where the full house edge is about 3 percent, if you know your basic strategy. That’s the same as saying a 97 percent payback, which is higher than you’ll get on slot machines and about the same as low to mid-tier video poker games such as 8-5 Jacks or Better (97.3 percent with optimal play), 6-5 Bonus Poker (96.9 percent) or 8-5 Double Double Bonus Poker (96.8).

I have occasionally seen single-player video blackjack games that pay 3-2 on blackjacks. Should you find one, be sure to bet in even numbers of coins, regardless of whether the denomination is quarters, dollars or something else. That’s to facilitate the 3-2 paybacks.

If you have a $2 bet on a dollar game, a blackjack will pay you $3. Bet two quarters, and a blackjack pays three quarters, or 75 cents. But a 3-2 payoff on a $1 bet is $1.50, and on a 25-cent bet it’s 37.5 cents. Instead of dealing in the change, most machines will revert to even-money payoffs on one-coin bets, and that increases the house edge.

Leave a comment