Random Rant, Again

Clearly it should read “Blackjack” (i.e, with quotes)

My apologies in advance for troubling you with another rant. I’m still mostly just hanging out in my room and the boredom is resulting in rants. I promise, this will be the last one. And it’ll be MUCH shorter than the last one – I know, I know … how could it NOT be!?

As I wandered the area of the strip in close proximity to my home at The Excalibur Hotel and Casino, I saw several signs advertising $5 Blackjack. This was notable because the last time I was in Las Vegas (several years ago), one was hard-pressed to find such a game. At that time, typical minimums were $10 or even $25 during the busier hours. The problem with these seemingly abundant $5 Blackjack tables was the notable rule change whereby a Blackjack payout was 6:5 instead of 3:2. Herein starts the rant. 6:5 Blackjack is not Blackjack. It’s not even blackjack with a lower case “b”. At best, it’s 21. At worst, it’s a shameless cash grab in a game where the house already has a significant edge. Yes, you can argue that the edge isn’t “significant” but that’s only if perfect mathematical strategy is employed – something that isn’t generally the case. In the long run, the house wins. If you disagree, well … look around a casino. They’re pretty big and fancy. And they’re not paid for by winners. (Although resort fees probably help!)

The sad thing is, I’m not sure how many people sitting at these “blackjack” tables even know how badly they’re being swindled. I suspect most are just there to play, have some fun, drink a bit and pretty much expect to lose eventually. Been there, done that. And I’m perfectly ok with that. That’s the entertainment service that Las Vegas provides. And that’s what makes the 6:5 aspect even more offensive. I mean, no one is getting rich playing at a $5 table (or a $10 table). Optimistically, they’ll play until they lose the money they came to gamble with and move on. The 6:5 payouts simply means they’re likely going to lose faster. Call me crazy (I’ve been called worse), but that’s not fun for me. Did I want to play? Yup. Did I? Well, ok … technically yes. But only because I THOUGHT I had found an actual Blackjack table (you know, one that pays 3:2).

In keeping with my usual “luck” at such tables I quickly found myself down $110. Almost as quickly though, things took a turn for the better and a series of good (or at least decent) cards combined with a somewhat aggressive (yet strategic) increase in wagers, followed. During this series of good/decent cards and aggressive-ish (I know, not a word) wagers I discovered I was at a 6:5 table when my $40 wager hit Blackjack. As I waited for my $60 payout, I was brought back to reality as the dealer proceeded to push a mere $48 in chips in my direction. I was a bit confused and in that confusion found myself caught up in the action and placing another bet. This time a strategically-based $10 wager (I wasn’t so confused as to lose track of the strategy). Uncharacteristically, I hit another Blackjack. And I was paid a mere $12. This time, before the dealer started her next round, I apologized to Kenny Rogers and did a quick chip count. Said count revealed I was up $10. I love it when the strategy works.

Despite the 30% reduced Blackjack payouts, I had recouped my quick, early losses and was back in the black. Was it a big victory? Clearly not. But a moral victory? Indeed.

Not willing to partake any further in this skewed version of “Blackjack”, I cashed in my chips to seek out a REAL Blackjack table. Sadly, that search failed – as did my energy level. Quickly. As such, I returned to my room to rest – and take some solace in beating (even if only minimally) the 6:5 game.

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