My local casino has finally given in to “player pressure” to make its main casino floor table games more competitive, after trying unsuccessfully to make even more revenue from its loyal player base. About 8 months ago, the main gaming floor moved from 4-deck Continuous Shuffle Machine (CSM) blackjack to 6-deck CSM blackjack, and also raised the minimum stake on its Pai Gow dominoes game from $25 to $50. I predicted at that time that there would soon be less players on the blackjack tables (as the edge had moved from 0.38% to 0.54% – almost a 30% increase), and at the Pai Gow tables (due to the higher minimum). It does appear that I was right. In the last few months especially, I’ve noticed a real decline in player numbers at those tables on my visits. Tables which regularly had 4 or 5 players were down to 1 or 2 at best.
However, the casino powers that be have now seen the light, or so it seems. The Pai Gow tables have now returned to a $25 minimum ($2000 maximum) – and the tables are getting busy once again. The blackjack tables also seem to have more players now that the edge has been lowered. For me as a casino table games player, this is a good thing. I like a busy casino full of people playing (not just hanging around) as its a better atmosphere, and discourages idiots from bugging you all day / night.
Before I claim victory however, the change back to 4-deck CSM blackjack was not for the reason I’d hoped (wanting to give players a better deal). Instead, it’s in response to the casino getting HAMMERED by Perfect Pairs (side bet) players. Apparently, quite a few “syndicate” players were playing progressive style betting strategies on the Perfect Pairs bet, until it hit (the spread allowed was $2.50 – $100 which I’ve always thought too high), getting a 25-to-1 payout. And once they’d had that payout, they simply walked away from the game. Net result? The casino lots THOUSANDS of dollars on that side bet. Moving from 6-deck CSM blackjack back to 4-deck CSM blackjack will statistically reduce the number of Perfect Pairs generated – so the casino are clearly hoping they’ll retrieve some of those losses. As someone who doesn’t generally play Perfect Pairs, I’m just happy to see the base blackjack game become better. At 0.38% average edge, it’s worth playing again.
As I’ve said many times, it’s the casinos that look after their players and offer competitive games that will prosper in the long term. My only wish is that casino managers took that long term view rather than trying to screw down every last percentage margin possible, killing off their customers in the process.