9 Ways Blackjack has Changed for the Worse for Players

Dealt Blackjack on Left Man Holding His Hands to His Face on Right

Many casino gamblers may look at blackjack and think the game hasn’t had many changes over the years. To the casual observer or untrained eye, that’s an easy mistake to make.

However, veteran casino gamblers can quickly point out dozens of ways the game has changed over the years. Usually, when things change, it’s for the better.

But in the case of real money blackjack, many of the changes have made things more challenging for players. There are a few reasons for that shift, but they all work in the casino’s favor.

One major hurdle savvy players face is the waves of recreational gamblers who are more concerned with entertainment than the house edge or bankroll management.

Another problem facing the players is that the casino can make the changes without much protest. If enough gamblers were willing to take their business to casinos with better games, we would cease to have many problems.

Here are the 9 ways blackjack has changed for the worse for players.

Electronic Blackjack Games

Electronic gaming machines are taking over in some casinos. It’s bad enough when you’re forced to navigate through banks of endless slot machines on your casino trip.

Now you may be relegated to playing blackjack on an electronic game that’s void of dealers or other players. This type of gaming robs players of the social aspect of gambling that has made casinos such beautiful spaces.

What’s worse for the players is that many of these electronic game versions offer a higher house edge than traditional blackjack tables. So, players lose money faster on a game that provides a lower bang for their buck.

Furthermore, advantage gamblers have zero opportunity to make the most of their craft on these video versions of a casino masterpiece. Electronic games may be the wave of the future, but it’s never too soon to be a grumpy old man, and here is where I make my stand.

Less Deck Penetration in Many Games

Another trend that had developed slowly since before I was ever in the casinos revolves around deck penetration. When blackjack first made its way into casinos, gamblers played the game with only two decks dealt from a shoe.

This allowed card counters ample opportunities to get a favorable count before the deck reset. Now casinos use automatic shuffling machines to keep the deck shuffling between hands, and the casinos put up to eight decks in play to make counting more challenging.

Dealt Blackjack Table

The deck penetration issue is a legit obstacle for many advantage gamblers. This small trick by the casino also increases the house edge on the lower-skilled recreational players.

However, most couldn’t tell you how many decks are played on the table they’re at, let alone what the deck penetration looks like for a game.

The Comp Rates Have Dropped Dramatically

The rate at which casinos reward loyal players has also taken a significant hit in recent years. Casinos once prided themselves on giving away the kitchen sink to players who were showing a willingness to lose their money at a specific casino.

When I started playing live dealer blackjack, I remember a comp rate of at least 0.1%. Now, the same casinos are giving blackjack players 0.05% at most.

That is a severe hit that has a real impact on gamblers’ bottom line. When you factor in the ways the casino has slowly slid the house advantage further into their favor, it’s almost like you don’t earn anything.

Casinos could do the players a tremendous solid by upping the comp rates. I can assure the accountants that there will still be enough for the corporate Christmas bonuses and annual getaway to the Bahamas.

The 6 to 5 Blackjack Payout

The worst, nastiest ploy made by the casinos concerning blackjack is the tables paying 6 to 5 for a blackjack. For years 3 to 2 has stood as the benchmark for a natural.

Yet, in recent years more casinos have started offering games that pay 6 to 5. That subtle change doubles the house advantage for the game.

Unfortunately, many players never notice the difference. I’ve seen casinos with 3 to 2 payout games on the left side of a row and 6 to 5 on the right side.

An Active Blackjack Table

So, half the players on a line of games were playing the same game for double the house edge and were none the wiser. That sounds like a top-secret CIA initiative to me.

Sadly, the casinos know their base too well, and players who are only focused on entertainment are happy to pay double for the privilege.

The Casinos Dedicate More Resources to Stopping Advantage Gamblers

It’s incredible the lengths casinos will go to thwart advantage gamblers. The changes you see in the rules are all, on some level, an effort to combat advantage gamblers.

Card counters are the primary targets of the casinos’ efforts, but any advantage gambler is a lousy gambler to casinos.

Card counting is hard to achieve because as soon as pit bosses start seeing a betting spread, they’re on you like white on rice. That has made card counting so tricky to pull off long-term that many gamblers have begun looking to other advantage tactics.

Hole carding is a practical strategy, but it’s tough to find sloppy dealers anymore. The casinos know precisely what they’re looking for and won’t hesitate to send card counters to another game or different casino.

Blackjack Variants are Rampant with a Higher House Advantage

The onslaught of poker variants and poker derivative games has made it too hard for average players to comprehend their games fully.

Some casinos will offer dozens of blackjack variations, one being worse than the next. But novice gamblers can’t differentiate one game from another and look for the most entertaining game or ones that have the most potential upside.

Closeup of Blackjack Table

That upside usually comes in poor side bets or progressive jackpots that massively influence the house edge.

Remember, it’s your responsibility to find the best games and only play on tables where you’re familiar with the rules. Without knowledge of the house edge, bankroll management becomes next to impossible.

Too Many Good Games Are Impossible to Find

While excellent blackjack games still exist, they can be impossible to find. Some casinos will go so far as to advertise having certain games with rules that are incredibly soft for the player.

However, that may only represent one table in the entire casino. It’s also likely that the stakes are so high for that one game that most players can’t afford to pay.

But most casinos will merely offer blackjack tables with poor rules, and players can either deal with it or try their luck elsewhere. The fact is there are enough casino patrons who haven’t got a clue to keep the tables full and the money flowing.

Players Don’t Care About Strategy

The same players who couldn’t tell you the difference between a 6 to 5 payout and a 3 to 2 payout are certainly not concerned with basic strategy. Yet, the simple method can reduce the house edge to only 0.5% on the best games.

The basic strategy of blackjack was developed using millions of hands of computer-generated blackjack. It will give you the best possible play on every hand based upon the dealer’s card.

I’ll admit that learning the strategy is complicated and takes a fair amount of practice. However, there’s no need to dedicate the entire system to memory.

Casino Dealer Moving Blackjack Cards on Table

Basic strategy cards are available online for a couple of dollars. You can even find the cards in many casino gift shops.

Most surprisingly, casinos will allow players to use the cards right at the tables. I suppose their strategy is to Jedi mind trick players into believing that if the process worked, the casinos would never be so open about it.

It appears to be working as most blackjack players have no clue what the basic strategy is or how it may benefit them.

Live Dealer Blackjack

Online casinos are booming, and that’s not likely to change. The first online blackjack games were relatively standard and used random number generators to churn out results.

Then the casinos decided to give the games a personal touch by adding a live dealer on a video feed. This move led many players to believe that online games were as good as land-based games.

Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Live dealer games often have a higher house edge than the other online games. The casinos must pay the dealer, so they need a more significant cut.

The problem is you’re not getting much value for your added losses. You can only communicate via a chat, and you’re still alone playing against a computer.

In Summary

The 9 ways blackjack has changed for the worse for players paints a picture of how casinos are going. Fewer human interactions, more emphasis on the ancillary experience, and worse odds are how casinos will operate in the future.

If I were a professional card counter, I’d be worried. As an avid blackjack player, I’m disappointed.