Blackjack is, as everyone knows, one of the most popular games in any casino. It is generally more expensive than virtually any other game on the floor, excluding select high-roller poker games, but with its enjoyable and fairly basic gameplay, along with its relatively low house advantage (0.5 to 2 percent on average) and decent payouts, it really draws in the crowds. Certainly, “serious gamblers” will pick a blackjack table over a slot machine or even roulette, as the player does have a bit more control on the outcome than in games that are purely chance-based.
The question of how many blackjack tables there are in a casino is really no different than how long is a piece of string. This completely changes from casino to casino, based on their size, clientele, and location. There are, obviously, far fewer blackjack tables at your average casino than slot machines, but because of their popularity, expect to find a couple in even the humblest of casinos, whereas bigger casinos may have a relative multitude of them.
But Why, Though?
The bigger question, actually, is why do they have them at all. Sure, blackjack is very popular, but with its very low house advantage and that aside for poker, which is really a game of skill, it relies the least on chance, why would casinos bother having blackjack tables when it’s a much safer bet for them to offer only slots, roulette, baccarat, Big Six Wheel, video poker machines, and craps than something that players can actually manipulate to their advantage?
The Dirty Secret Behind Blackjack
In truth, blackjack is extraordinarily profitable for a casino. As long as, that is, they have one simple rule in place and the ability to enforce it.
Here’s why casinos don’t just offer blackjack, but depend on it every but as much as on the slots.
- As noted, blackjack is not a cheap game. It is easily the most expensive game in the casino and reckless players may easily lose thousands of dollars in the time it would take someone at the slots to lose fifty bucks. Each bet costs a significant amount of money and a whole round of blackjack can take no time at all.
- Players don’t like quitting while they’re ahead and they especially aren’t afraid to chase loss after loss after loss in the hope of winning their money back. And this is where that small house advantage really hits them. House advantages, no matter how big or small, mean that the more you play, the higher the chance of losing to the casino.
- Counting cards is strictly forbidden in casinos. This is the rule I mentioned above that makes all the difference in the world. If you’re able to count cards, knowledgeable players can work out the odds of each card being dealt and can turn that house advantage on its head. Frankly, they could clean the casino out. Because of this anyone suspected of counting cards will be asked, not often nicely, to leave the casino. Further, casinos make it as difficult as possible to count cards by playing with many decks at once, when one or two would do just as well.
- Most players don’t know what they’re doing. This is sad but true. While some blackjack players know how to play optimally to keep that house advantage as low as possible, most casual casino goers simply aren’t well-versed enough in the game to know exactly when to hit, when to stand; when to double, when to split. And the less luck that players are having in a night, the more reckless and desperate they become.
- Those who know how to play the game optimally are usually those who will spend thousands upon thousands of dollars in a single evening, so while they may lose less often than less experienced gamblers, they will lose much, much, much more.
What to Keep in Mind
Because of these reasons, it is absolutely imperative that you have certain safety measures in place before you sit down at the table. This is called responsible gambling. Do not overestimate your charges at winning blackjack. Do not underestimate the house advantage. But most importantly, set yourself a very, very strict budget – based on what you can afford to lose – and stick to it.
If you have limited funds and want to stick around at the casino for hours, either stick to slot machines or play only at the cheapest blackjack tables. If you lose, accept your losses and don’t try to recuperate those losses by playing over your budget or worse, on credit. If you hit your budgeted amount in ten minutes, though. Go home and live to play another day.
If you’re doing exceptionally well, quit while you’re ahead so that the house advantage doesn’t turn a major win into a major loss. Most simply, keep your primary purpose as having fun, with winning being just a nice bonus, rather than the other way around.
Do this and blackjack can be a real blast. Don’t, though, and things can turn sour very quickly.