weather icon Mostly Cloudy

Boosters of National Blackjack Day want you to play on 3:2 tables

Not many things rile up a recreational gambler more than for “the house” to chisel into a player’s winnings.

There have been cries far and wide on social media, blog posts and player forums about the perceived escalating of nickel-and-diming of casino patrons. That ties in directly to Monday’s celebration of National Blackjack Day.

It’s no accident that Monday was chosen for the unofficial observance. It’s March 2 — or 3-2, as in how much a “natural” blackjack hand is usually paid to a player who beats the dealer. A natural occurs when a dealer delivers a player an ace and a 10-card to score 21. At tables offering 3-2 odds, players win $3 for every $2 bet. That means if you put $10 in chips on the table and hit a blackjack, the dealer would give you $25 — a $15 profit and your original $10 bet.

But more and more casinos are changing the odds on their blackjack tables, paying 6-5 odds. On those tables, a blackjack with $10 in chips would pay $22 — a $12 profit and your original $10 bet.

State Gaming Control Board statistics indicate blackjack is the most popular table game in Nevada. No regulation prevents casinos from paying winners at a 6-5 rate as long as the casino clearly explains it.

A number of gamblers believe the house is eroding value from the casino, citing paid parking lots, fewer free drinks, tighter slot machines (increasing the percentage of house win in the software), triple-zero roulette — where there are three green slots instead of two or one — and 6-5 blackjack.

John Mahaffey, an Atlanta transplant who moved to Las Vegas in 2011, decided to study the proliferation of 6-5 blackjack and shared his findings on his Vegas Advantage website.

In recent Twitter posts, Mahaffey said he counted 199 6-5 blackjack tables on the Strip out of 984 total (20.2 percent) in 2011. In December, he found 568 such tables of 925 total (61.4 percent). In downtown Las Vegas, there were 26 6-5 tables of 181 total (14.4 percent) in 2011 and 46 of 172 total (26.7 percent) in December.

In some places, the 3-2 blackjack tables are high-minimum tables — in other words, the minimum bet per hand could be $25 or $50. The entry-level tables, generally $10 to $15 a hand, are all 6-5 tables.

One reason for the smaller percentage of 6-5 tables downtown is that one of the champions of 3-2 blackjack is Derek Stevens, owner of the D Las Vegas, the Golden Gate and Circa, which is set to open in December.

There are other pockets of 3-2 tables around town, but sometimes it takes a little time to find them.

Besides Stevens’ downtown properties, the Rampart Casino at the Resort at Summerlin is observing National Blackjack Day for the third straight year. Vice President and General Manager Michelle Bacigalupi said the casino is boosting 3-2 play and is offering a free bonus $20 bet to Rampart Rewards cardholders who hit a suited blackjack on bets of $10 or more.

As far as anyone can tell, another Atlanta-to-Las Vegas transplant can take credit for deeming March 2 National Blackjack Day.

“I’m no pro at it, but I really enjoy playing and have been playing dozens of years now,” said Derek Van Nostran, who recently took a job with VSiN Sports Betting Network. “In the last few years, I got into it on social media talking about it, and it’s been a lot of fun.”

Van Nostran said National Blackjack Day came as a result of an offhand comment he made online.

“It was a fun little thing tweeting back and forth with some people, and everyone was complaining about (6-5 blackjack payouts) and I just made an offhand statement that we need to start National Blackjack Day and if we do it, it has to be March 2 because that’s 3-2.”

What can consumers do about 3-2 vs. 6-5? Van Nostran suggests going out and playing — but not at 6-5 tables.

He encourages celebrating National Blackjack Day on Monday, playing the game at your local casino, playing only at 3-2 tables, sharing your love of the game on social media and calling on casinos to rid their floors of 6-5 payouts.

“It’s all about the wallet,” Van Nostran said. “If you express yourself with your wallet and only play at tables that pay 3-2, that’s the absolute best thing you can do. Avoid the tables that pay 6-5 as much as possible.”

I asked Van Nostran if he expected some casinos to counter with a blackjack celebration on June 5. You know, 6-5.

“Maybe they will,” he said. “6-5 will be MGM Day forever now.”

MGM Resorts International, of course, isn’t the only casino company that offers 6-5 tables. But its introduction of paid parking on the Strip painted the company, fairly or unfairly, as the symbol for nickel-and-diming customers.

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Business Videos
Small business owners talk about shutdown impact
Small business owners talk about shutdown impact. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Top stories Friday April 3, 2020
Rj Business reporters Bailey Schulz, Subrina Hudson and Eli Segall talk about the top trending stories at the Review-Journal
Caesars furloughing about 90% of US workers
The furloughs come amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which has prompted all U.S. commercial casinos to temporarily shut their doors.
Amazon blocks sale of N95 masks to public - VIDEO
Amazon established a new section of its website where U.S.-accredited hospitals or state or federal agencies can apply for supplies. N95 masks, surgical masks, facial shields, surgical gowns, surgical gloves and large-volume sanitizers are among the restricted items. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Cars line up for over 4 miles for food
Cars were lined up along Sahara Avenue from Palace Station to South Rainbow Boulevard for food distribution sponsored by Three Square and Central Church in Henderson.
US weekly jobless claims jump to 6.6 million - VIDEO
The U.S. Labor Department reported 6.6 million people filed for unemployment insurance in the past week. A reported 10 million people have filed over the past two weeks. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
When will self-employed get unemployment money in Nevada? - VIDEO
President Donald Trump signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act into law March 27. It allows states to expand unemployment insurance benefits, including to independent contractors, self-employed and gig workers. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Free Business Updates
For more information head to: https://www.reviewjournal.com/vegas-business-updates/
Walmart’s new safety measures at stores: Checking temperatures - VIDEO
In an effort to intensify safety measures in their stores, Walmart and Sam’s Club will check the temperatures of all employees as they arrive for work. (Kevin Cannon / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Macy’s to furlough majority of 130,000 employees amid coronavirus closures - VIDEO
On March 30, Macy’s Inc. announced their decision to furlough a majority of their employees and instead move to the “absolute minimum workforce needed.” (Las Vegas Review-Journal
An empty Las Vegas Strip from the air - Drone Video
For the first time in forever, the famed Las Vegas Strip is closed for business amid the coronavirus pandemic. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada construction continues as coronavirus spreads
When Gov. Steve Sisolak ordered Nevada businesses closed, he let construction workers stay on the job, deeming homebuilding and other construction “essential” lines of work.
US weekly jobless claims soar to record-breaking 3.28M - VIDEO
The U.S. Department of Labor released the shattering numbers on Thursday. Jobless claims had been as low as 282,000 the previous week. The 3.28 million jobless claims for last week is more than double the 1.5 million new claims that analysts were expecting. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Worker at Allegiant Stadium tests positive for COVID-19
Construction of Allegiant Stadium is unlikely to affected by the coronavirus outbreak that is having an impact on just about every industry across the Las Vegas Valley. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Casino companies burning through millions daily
RJ reporter Bailey Schulz talks about how much Las Vegas Casino companies are losing and how the Emergency bill could help if they run out of money or need help recouping what was lost.
Albertsons, Walmart, Amazon increase pay amid coronavirus impact - VIDEO
Grocery stores and other retailers have raised employee pay as they work to meet customer demand during the coronavirus pandemic. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas police tells nonessential businesses to respect the shutdown - VIDEO
The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department reminds businesses in Clark County that all nonessential businesses are to be shut down as mandated by Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak, due to the coronavirus crises. (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)
Amazon Prime delays are now as long as a month - VIDEO
As of Sunday, many nonessential items ordered with Prime delivery are showing an April 21 delivery date. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Fed announces unprecedented actions to stabilize markets - VIDEO
The Federal Reserve announced several new measures on Monday. Among the announced programs is a further commitment of $300 billion "supporting the flow of credit" for Main Street businesses. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Lee’s Discount Liquor stores close on Sunday - VIDEO
Lee’s Discount Liquor stores across the Las Vegas Valley closed at 3 p.m. Sunday, March 22, the company announced on Twitter. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Local Businesses Message To Customers After Closing - Video
Local movie theaters and stores leave signs on their doors for customers as businesses close after being ordered to shut down.
Valley businesses react to mandatory order to shut down - VIDEO
All non-essential businesses in the Las Vegas Valley have to shut down. We spoke with store owners who would remain open for the benefit of the community and others who were still confused as to why they had to close. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada casino closures impact 206K workers, AGA finds - VIDEO
About 206,000 direct casino employees in Nevada are without work after Gov. Steve Sisolak’s Tuesday mandate, according to the American Gaming Association. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
More Las Vegas Valley grocery stores offer early hours for seniors - VIDEO
A growing list of Las Vegas Valley retailers are offering special shopping hours for seniors in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada casinos closing for 30 days following state order - VIDEO
Gov. Steve Sisolak’s unprecedented order on nonessential Nevada businesses will shut down 440 licensed casinos. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Wynn CEO and Dr. Rebecca Katz go over coronavirus - Video
The Wynn CEO Matt Maddox and Dr. Rebecca Katz give a warning about the coronavirus in Las Vegas and around the world.
The Bellagio casino floor cleared as guests get ready to leave hotel - VIDEO
The Bellagio casino floor cleared as guests get ready to leave hotel (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Tourists upset with MGM Resorts' lack of closure notice - VIDEO
Tourists like David and Emma Walker, who are visiting from Scotland, found out about MGM Resorts' property closures through Google, instead of the Luxor where they are currently staying. The Walkers are upset with how MGM has handled the situation by not making their customers aware of the closures first. (Cassie Soto/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
All Las Vegas MGM casinos, hotels to temporarily close - VIDEO
MGM Resorts International announced Sunday it is temporarily suspending operations at all Las Vegas properties “until further notice” effective Tuesday. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Caesars begins layoffs during coronavirus crisis - VIDEO
Documentation obtained by the Review-Journal shows Caesars Entertainment Corp. has begun laying off employees amid reduced travel demand from the coronavirus pandemic. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)