What is the 6 to 5 Blackjack rule?
Every break-in dealer fresh out of dealing school knows what a blackjack pays. You pay the player three chips for every two he or she wagered when their first two cards are an ace and any ten-value card. The student-dealer also knows that if you can’t figure out the payoff amount on unusual wagers the dealer just breaks the wager in half and cuts into halved chips three times. No sweat, right? But if you’re dealing on one of approximately 231 blackjack tables on the Las Vegas Strip (as of this writing), you would be over paying the customer. Why? Because the house rule dictates that the customer receives an alternative blackjack payoff amount of six chips for every five wagered (6:5). Of the twenty nine major gaming resorts located on the Las Vegas Strip, twenty five casinos offer 6:5 on blackjacks on at least one table, with at least six casino offering 6:5 on between fifteen and twenty five blackjack tables (Wong, 2006). Is the use of a blackjack payout that reduces blackjack payoffs to 6 to 5 increasing the game’s house advantage worth it for the casinos? Should every casino executive consider shifting to the 6:5 rule?
First, let’s look at the purpose of the 6:5 payoff and what it was designed to accomplish for the casino. Several years ago, Howard Grossman created and marketed a variation of traditional blackjack called “Super Fun 21”. Grossman’s desire was to create a blackjack game that was fun and interesting for the player, while providing the casino with a reasonable house advantage on a single deck game. As a past professional player, Grossman knew that casinos that offer a single deck game face a double edged sword; single deck games attracted more play since the customers believe they have a better chance playing against one deck, and the casino’s profit margin was extremely low on single deck games because the basic house advantage is close to breakeven (depending on game rules). By creating a game with different rules that offered different interesting blackjack payoffs while marginally increasing the house advantage of the single deck game, Grossman felt he had the answer to the single deck problem.
Unfortunately for Grossman, one of the major gaming corporations found his variation in blackjack payoffs interesting and decided to offer a blackjack payoff of 6 to 5 instead of Grossman’s payoff schedule, or the standard payoff of 3 to 2 (7.5 to 5). After calculating the difference between the two payoffs, the casino executives discovered their procedure change increased the house’s advantage on the single deck game by an astronomical 1.39%. Knowing that the 6:5 wasn’t part of Grossman’s patented Super Fun 21, some casinos decided to go with the 6:5 rule without incorporating any bonus payoffs or more liberal rules and created an extremely high house advantage games as compared to other traditional blackjack games.
As of this writing, plenty of 6:5 blackjack games populate the Las Vegas Strip. Of the 26 Strip gaming resorts, 22 offer single deck blackjack with the 6:5 rule; 4 locations also offer 6:5 on some of their double deck and six deck games. These locations combine for a total number of 231 blackjack games paying 6:5; almost 16% of all the blackjack games that line Las Vegas Boulevard. If you were to look at blackjack tables in other gaming locations throughout North America you would find an additional 247 games scattered throughout other areas of Las Vegas and Nevada, as well as venues in California, New Mexico, Washington, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi and Atlantic City