Blackjack payout rules are a subject that always get people agitated.
Initially, if a player was dealt the perfect blackjack of an ace accompanied by another card with a face value of 10, they would be paid out at odds of 3:2. So a player betting £10, would receive a £15 profit, plus their original stake back.
However, as a way of marginally boosting their blackjack profits further than the general house edge they add to the game, most casinos have now made the adjustment to pay a blackjack at 6:5 instead of 3:2.
This means that the same £10 will only secure a £12 profit from a blackjack. Given that a player can expect to be dealt this with a probability of once every 21 hands, this £3 saving on payouts will soon add up across the blackjack felts.
Sitting down at a 6:5 blackjack table is one of numerous errors an uninformed gambler can fall foul of. We have looked at this and some others previously.
For the most part, video blackjack on computer terminals mimics playing live with other human players and a dealer.
But there is one major rule that video blackjack players should make sure they understand. Some machines pay out a blackjack at odds even worse than 6:5.
Even money payouts
Back in the early days of video blackjack, it was a regular occurrence for dealt hands of 21 to be paid at stingy odds of 1:1.
This was typically done in a misleading fashion, with the machines telling ignorant players that their blackjacks were being paid at 2:1, albeit with this including the return of the initial stake.
As machines developed, so did the blackjack payout, with the expected return at the majority of video blackjack consoles now being 3:2.
Yet, there is a still an issue at some machines where players getting dealt blackjack are paid out at 1:1 and this is tied in with whether their stake on a hand is an odd or even-numbered sum.
Those betting in even sums encounter no problems. Bet £2, get £4 profit for a blackjack. Stake £10 and get paid out £25 including the return of the original amount.
But bet an odd number and some machines can run into issues providing accurate payouts. Therefore, a player betting £5 and getting dealt blackjack will only net a profit of £5.
The obvious way to avoid getting short-changed in this manner is to bet in even-number amounts.
What else is there to know about video blackjack
The rounded-down winnings of betting in odd numbers hits even harder given the number of hands a player can expect to complete in an hour on a video blackjack machine.
If games were limited to playing head-to-head against a dealer, on a live table a casino visitor could expect to rack up around 200 hands in an hour.
However, whereas a dealer manually has to deal the cards, collect them at the end of the hand, calculate and pay out winnings, shuffle the deck from time to time and occasionally have to put right errors, a computer suffers from none of these issues.
Therefore, it is not beyond the realms of possibility that a video blackjack player can get through as many as 800 hands in an hour. If this occurred, probability suggests a player can expect 38 blackjacks.
For a player betting £5 a hand and getting paid out at 1/1, they would be losing out on £95 in profits each 60 minutes. The equivalent of what would effectively be stake money for 19 hands of blackjack.
One benefit for some players with video blackjack is that lower table minimums are in existence.
If sitting down in front of a dealer, it is likely that a minimum buy-in per hand is £5 or even in some cases £10.
With video blackjack, this is likely to drop to £1 or even lower in some cases, which obviously could help to balance out the net spend across an hour’s play.
Better or worse than live play?
Ultimately it depends on a player’s need for speed, their confidence, their staking plan and how much atmosphere factors into their demands of a game.
For players still relatively new to the game of blackjack, there may be a fear factor in heading to a live table, where they could slow down or interfere with the strategies of those more experienced.
Playing on a computer terminal avoids any confrontation.