Vegas Casinos Mess With Blackjack Rules to Increase House Advantage

Blackjack used to be one of the best bets in Vegas. Easy to understand, with decent odds. The house advantage on a single-deck game of blackjack, under standard rules, was a measly .18%.

But the casinos are intent to wring out the fun. Here’s how they’re doing it:

    • Cutting the payout for hitting blackjack from 3:2 to 6:5
    • Requiring the dealer to hit and not stand on a “soft 17”
    • Limiting players’ rights to double-down
    • Increasing the number of decks in the shoe

Phil Gordon might explain the exact numbers behind all these, but each of these is bad for the player.

Time to start reading the fine print — those plastic cards that state the minimum bet and other table rules. Each casino can have different rules. Rules aren’t even standard within the same hotel.

If you want to play old-school single-deck blackjack with 3:2 payouts, you’ll have to head to the El Cortez or Four Queens hotels. Neither of them are swanky, but your odds of winning are a lot higher. MARK ASHLEY

Las Vegas: A winner’s guide to blackjack [LA Times]