We’re always looking for the best blackjack games. However, even the worst blackjack games aren’t the worst bets you can make in a casino. There’s no doubt that a blackjack player should look for the most favorable rules but even the worst blackjack game played perfectly offers a lower house edge than other games in the casino.
The easiest player friendly rule to find is what you’re paid when being dealt a natural blackjack. The traditional payout for a natural blackjack is 3:2 and always prominently displayed. You’ll win $15 on a $10 wager with this game. Casinos, especially in Las Vegas, have been moving to the less player friendly payout of 6:5 when you’re dealt a natural blackjack. You’ll only win $12 on each $10 natural blackjack in this game. After awhile this $3 difference can add up!
The difference between the two payouts is approximately 300% worse for the player but the house edge for the worst blackjack games you’ll find in casinos today isn’t quite as bad as the majority of games you’ll find in a casino. Popular new table games like Three Card Poker, Mississippi Stud Poker, and High Card Flush each have a house edge above 2.5%. Let’s look at some of the games with a larger house edge than the dreaded 6:5 blackjack.
Big 6 Wheel ($1): 11.11%
High Card Flush: 2.64%
Let It Ride: 3.51%
Mississippi Stud Poker: 4.91%
Three Card Poker: Ante & Play – 3.37%, Pair Plus – 7.28%
You can find a useful list that has the house edge of different casino games here.
The house edge may get worse when you leave the table games area of the casino. The majority of games you’ll find in any casino are penny slot machines. The house edge is often above 10% for penny slot machines. The house edge may be closer to 15% depending on where you gamble. Even the best slot machine payouts can be worse than bad blackjack games. Higher limits slot machines ($1 and above) can still have a house edge around 5%.
Machine game players often look to video poker for a game with a low house edge. It’s not easy to find great video poker pay tables in many casinos. Middle of the road video poker pay tables have a house edge close to, or worse, than you’ll find when you play the worst blackjack games. Additionally, the house edge for video poker is when you play with perfect strategy. Unfortunately, few video poker players can play perfect strategy.
Learning how to play good strategy is helpful for all games. Perfecting basic strategy is the key to maximizing your money when playing blackjack. Like video poker, the house edge in blackjack is correlated to playing with perfect basic strategy. Each wrong move a player makes increases the house edge. Thankfully learning blackjack strategy isn’t very difficult.
Playing blackjack that pays 6:5 on a natural blackjack is never optimal. However bad this game may be, just remember that there are plenty of worse bets you can make in a casino.