The state of blackjack for the past few years hasn’t always been good. Casino operators are looking to generate more revenue every day. Adding new games and changing the rules of existing games is an easy way to accomplish that goal. We see this almost every day in Las Vegas.
Casino operators have been adding new games with higher volatility and a higher house edge. The high volatility in each game helps to create more excitement for players with big wins. There are long periods of quiet from downside volatility. The cheers from players hitting 40-1 wagers every now and again make up for that. The new games often replace player-friendly games on the casino floor. This allows the casino operator generate more revenue because of the large house edge.
Blackjack has been the existing casino game that has been most affected by rules changes. Over the years casino operators in Las Vegas have been tweaking the rules to where it’s nearly impossible to enjoy a player friendly game on the Vegas Strip. You’ll find that almost all blackjack under $25 on the Vegas Strip pays 6:5 on a natural blackjack instead of the traditional 3:2.
Thankfully, changes to blackjack rules haven’t taken place in many locations outside of Las Vegas. The only state to change its blackjack rules in favor of the casino operators recently has been Maryland. When MGM National Harbor opened, they brought 6:5 blackjack to Maryland.
Pennsylvania is one state where you won’t see blackjack rules changes anytime soon.The player-friendly rules, that include paying 3:2 on a natural blackjack, will remain intact for the foreseeable future.
In an interview with Player’s Advantage at TribLive.com, Pennsylvania’s Gaming Control Board Executive Director, Kevin O’Toole said the following about blackjack:
“I don’t foresee any changes….Our board has consistently recognized their responsibility to protect the gaming public in all aspects of legalized gaming. Part of that is to have rules of the game that provide an appropriate house advantage to the casino but something that still meets a standard of reasonableness and a standard of fairness. We’re pleased with how we have accomplished that in games that have been on the books since 2010.”
Here are the current blackjack rules you’ll find in Pennsylvania casinos:
- Natural blackjack pays 3:2
- Dealer stands on Soft 17
- Players may split on any two cards
- Players may surrender
The house edge in this blackjack game is 0.35% when you play an 8 deck shoe with perfect basic strategy. Some casinos may even offer blackjack games with fewer decks. The house edge is better when there are fewer decks in use.
This is great news for east coast gamblers. Pennsylvania has some of the best blackjack rules in the country and will keep them for a while.