Why You Should Never Play Blackjack 6 to 5

Peter Nairn
Written byPeter Nairn
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Peter Nairn

Casino Operations Specialist
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  • Over 3 decades of experience in casino operations management, with a focus on Table Games and Slots;
  • Senior executive positions in both Native American and traditional casino markets for companies like Harrah’s New Orleans and Minnesota-based Grand Casinos;
  • Hands-on experience as trainer and dealer of multiple casino games including: Blackjack, Roulette, Craps, and more;
  • Profound knowledge of Title 31 regulations, State compacts, and Federal MICS.
Liliana Costache
Editorial review byLiliana Costache
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Liliana Costache

Online Gambling Content and Localization Manager
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  • Over 10 years of experience in the iGaming sector, including 5 years as a Content Manager.
  • Holder of certifications in German, Swedish, and the EU Gambling Regulatory Framework from the iGaming Academy.
  • Over 15 years of specialization in creating compelling and SEO-optimized content.
  • Brings 25+ years of experience in translation and localization.
  • Over four decades of fluent French proficiency.
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icon-thumb-up100%icon-clock-grey7 min
icon-calendarUpdated on Apr 15, 2024

Welcome to today’s article about playing 6 to 5 blackjack. Is playing a 6 to 5 blackjack game a good idea?

It’s a truism that many land-based casinos are adopting the 6 to 5 payout for a blackjack – but what does that do to you as a player, and why are they doing it?

After you’ve read this article, you will know what effect the 6 to 5 vs 3 to 2 payout has on the game, why casinos may be changing the payout from 3 to 2 to 6 to 5, and whether you should do anything about it.

The difference between 6 to 5 Blackjack and 3 to 2 Blackjack

It used to be that all casinos paid 3 to 2 on every blackjack game.  

At 3 to 2, a $10 blackjack gets paid $15.  $50 gets paid $75, and so on.

At 6 to 5, the $10 bet now gets paid $12, and the $50 bet gets paid $60.

What that does in the big picture is increase the House Advantage on that game by 1.39%.  And for a game that typically holds about 0.75%, that’s a huge increase.  

It takes the 0.75% HA to 2.14%.  Which is a massive HA to try and play against.  It’s virtually impossible to win against an HA that high.

Nowadays, many casinos have a 6 to 5 payout on their retail floor (and by retail, they mean low limit).  Even on a retail double deck, the casino pays 6 to 5 on their low-limit games.

In the High Limit room, you will find a 3 to 2 payout on blackjack, but probably with a $50 minimum bet.

Once you add the other rules, you can get a clearer picture of whether the HA is too high to play against.   

For example, do they hit or stand on a Soft 17? 

Hitting vs standing on Soft 17 increases the HA against you by 0.22%. 

Read the full article on the Soft 17 rule in blackjack to understand what the implications of changing that rule are.

Imagine if they hit a Soft 17 and pay 6 to 5 for a blackjack.  

Now the HA against you is 2.36%.  Ouch!

Do they allow you to double down on any two cards, or only with a 10 or an 11?

All these rules make a difference to the HA and can add up to a very high HA.

Author's Tip

If you would like to see more information about how to play the most popular casino table games, visit our Expert Gambling Guides page. We have many articles for beginners all the way through to advanced players written by experts, including blackjack, roulette, craps and baccarat.  

You will also find lots of information on slots guides and other casino-related subjects.

Why are casinos adding the 6 to 5 payout to Blackjack?

Here’s how I made that decision at a large casino where I was the head of the Casino Operations department.

I was getting a lot of requests from our retail players for a $5 minimum game all day, every day.  

Which is difficult to agree to, because a $5 game isn’t so profitable when I can easily run all my retail games with a $10 or $15 minimum on Swing (night) shift and on Saturdays and Sundays.

I was also getting many requests for a single deck game. 

A single deck game with a 3 to 2 blackjack payout and standard other rules is a dangerous game for a casino.

Why?  Because it’s such a ‘close-to-even’ game it attracts the most knowledgable players and has to be watched very closely for advantage players by the casino.

So I decided to add a single deck with a 6 to 5 payout. 

The additional HA is enough to keep the advantage players at bay.

I thought ‘let’s put it on the floor and see if they’ll play it with a 6 to 5 blackjack payout’.  

And I was amazed that the game became ‘standing room only’ within a couple of days.

I spent time around the game, talking to the players about how they felt about the game, and asking the dealers how the players were reacting to the game.  

And also just watching the game myself – it’s called management by walking around.

And the players loved it!

They weren’t just playing the $5 minimum – which is what I suspected was going to happen.  

I’d set it up with $5 to $500 limits.

I was shocked to see $15 to $20 bets all over it, and some up to $50 and occasionally more.

On the first Saturday night, I had a woman playing first base flat betting $100 and betting the $200 back when she won.

For hours.

It was amazing.  And really eye-opening for me.

Reminded me of one of my mentors, way back:

‘It doesn’t matter what you like, if the guests want vanilla, give them vanilla’.

So I did!

And then the numbers started coming in.  

In that market, a regular double deck blackjack game paying 3 to 2 was holding about 14% - 16% - which means for every $1,000 in the drop box, the game would win about $150.

This game was consistently holding $230 or so per $1,000 in the drop box!  

So a hold of 23%.  Almost double the other retail games.  Wow!

And that’s why you’re seeing the 6 to 5 payout on blackjack – because it’s simply more profitable for the casino.  For me, it was about meeting requested needs for the players, and the extra win was just a bonus.  

6 to 5 Blackjack Payouts

The simplest way to calculate how much a bet pays at 6 to 5 is to add 20% (that’s 1/5th) to the initial bet.  

I can hear you saying it – ‘but my brain doesn’t work that way’.

Okay – think of it in chips.  

$1 chips get paid even money until you get to $5 because the casino doesn’t have 20-cent chips to pay the breakage.

So a $1 white chip pays $1, $2 pays $2 and so on.

A $5 red chip gets a red chip and a white chip.

2 $5 red chips get 2 red chips and 2 white chips.

3 red chips gets 3 red chips and 3 white chips.

red chips payouts

A green $25 chip get a green and a red chip.

2 green chips get 2 green chips and 2 red chips.

green chips payout

A $100 black chip gets a black chip and $20.

2 black chips gets 2 black chips and $40.

3 black chips gets 3 black chips and $60

black chips payout

A purple $500 chip get a purple chip and a black chip.

purple chips payout

Easier that way, isn’t it?

Bet 6 to 5 payout 3 to 2 payout
$5 $6 $7.50
$10 $12 $15
$15 $18 $22.50
$20 $24 $30
$25 $30 $37.50
$50 $60 $75
$60 $72 $90
$70 $84 $105
$80 $96 $120
$90 $108 $135
$100 $120 $150
$125 $150 $187.50
$150 $180 $225
$175 $210 $262.50
$200 $240 $300
$250 $300 $375

Expert Advice / Tips

The most obvious one is don’t play any game that has a 6 to 5 payout for blackjack.  There is a significant disadvantage to playing that game, and it is just a way for the casino to take your money faster.

Where can you find good 3 to 2 games?  

Most online casinos will offer 3 to 2 because they don’t have the bricks and mortar casino’s monthly expenses to pay. 

You will find that many of the land-based casinos have all gone to the 6 to 5 blackjack on their retail floors, reserving the better 3 to 2 game for their High Limit rooms.  

I made a few phone calls and found that the locals places in Las Vegas, like the Station Casinos and The Boyd Group, plus those properties on the north end of the Strip – for example, The Strat Casino, all offer 3 to 2 on their retail blackjack games.

I also noted that Treasure Island at the corner of the Strip and Spring Mountain Road offers an old-school double deck game. 
 
Standard Strip rules, plus 3 to 2 double deck blackjack on their retail games. They do hit on a Soft 17 though, so they’re still not giving the store away.  
 

Blackjack 6 to 5 FAQs

Why have casinos gone to a 6 to 5 payout on blackjack?
Casinos, like every other business, like to see revenue growth year over year.  So at the annual budget meeting, the General Manager says to the Director of Table Games ‘How are you going to increase your revenue next year without impacting the headcount or capture rate of your games?’ And the Director of Table Games, who likes his job, looks at the numbers and decides to add two single deck games with a blackjack payout of 6 to 5.  Those two games will probably do enough to keep his boss happy, and make sure he makes his bonus next year.
What is capture rate and headcount, and why do casinos use those numbers to make business decisions?
Headcount is how many people come through the casino door, and capture rate is how many of them play table games, or eat in the buffet, or ride the roller coaster.  So for example, let’s say the headcount last Saturday was 5,000.  The capture rate on the slot machines was 80% (4,000) - which means 80% of people who visited the casino played the slot machines.  The capture rate of the table games department was 17%, or 850 people.  Of those 850, 592 played blackjack. Headcount and capture rate are two of the KVIs (Key Volume Indicators) that casinos use to keep track of whether their business is increasing or decreasing, and to check which departments are doing well, and which are not.
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Peter Nairn

Peter Nairn

Casino Operations Specialist

  • linkedin
  • email

About Peter Nairn

  • Over 3 decades of experience in casino operations management, with a focus on Table Games and Slots;
  • Senior executive positions in both Native American and traditional casino markets for companies like Harrah’s New Orleans and Minnesota-based Grand Casinos;
  • Hands-on experience as trainer and dealer of multiple casino games including: Blackjack, Roulette, Craps, and more;
  • Profound knowledge of Title 31 regulations, State compacts, and Federal MICS.
Read Full Bio
Liliana Costache

Liliana Costache

Online Gambling Content and Localization Manager

  • linkedin
  • email

About Liliana Costache

  • Over 10 years of experience in the iGaming sector, including 5 years as a Content Manager.
  • Holder of certifications in German, Swedish, and the EU Gambling Regulatory Framework from the iGaming Academy.
  • Over 15 years of specialization in creating compelling and SEO-optimized content.
  • Brings 25+ years of experience in translation and localization.
  • Over four decades of fluent French proficiency.
Read Full Bio
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Is there live blackjack at Brango Casino that you guys recommend?

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Does Blackjack teams have an edge in tournaments?

I played and witnessed  Blackjack teams , I know they exist  to help each other   eliminate other players like me. For Example , I had an opportunity  in semi- finals to make final table, but I new I had to hit on hard 15  to make final table to give me a chance. The player to my right  did not have enough chips to make final table no matter what she did, she was looking at my chips and decided to hit on 19,  the card  came out was a 5 , would have given me a 20 and a chance to move on,  I got a king instead , busted out, I got  little emotional  and yelled at her for helping her team members on the end make it to final table.  She just stood there quietly like nothing happened, so obvious .Maybe it's just me,I have great instincts on  other players teaming up sometimes,  I was right that time.

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