Growing My Circle in the Blackjack Community

This week I met Chris from the podcast driven blog Faces and Aces Las Vegas.  He was putting together his most recent podcast as he planned a segment on the increasing prevalence of 6:5 blackjack tables.  As luck would have it I’ve been railing on this for months and Chris was tipped off by Vegas Fanboy.

I was happy with my segment at the end of the podcast, but honestly the conversation with Dr. Timothy Fong, co-director of the UCLA gambling studies program was the highlight of the hour.

My segment was roughly 10 minutes, but the real fun was the 45 minutes talking blackjack after we finished the segment.  All of my friends are sick of hearing me talk Vegas and blackjack so finding someone who shared my passion for both was refreshing.

I know there is a strong blackjack, gaming and Vegas community out there and over the past couple of years I’ve been fortunate enough to make a few good connections along the way.  Even though I play a fairly solitary style I do appreciate the camaraderie that comes with a group of people who share the same interests.  I think it makes me a better player and it makes my hobby more enjoyable to be able to compare notes and share stories.

As I’ve said over the years I’m proud to be a blackjack player and I’m excited to continue as an active part of this community for years to come.

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Is Blackjack Dying?

It’s getting harder and harder to be a blackjack player these days.  6:5 payouts are getting more common, tables with reasonable rules are less available, Baccaract is slowly taking over, and twenty-something party kids are turning Vegas into a giant nightclub with more celebrity DJs popping up every day.

Great article from Pacific Standard about the 6:5 blackjack payout and other trends chipping away at blackjack’s dominance in the world of gambling.  Some of the most interesting items include the decline in blackjack as a percentage of the total winnings for casinos – down to approx. 25% of casino revenue in 2013 vs. roughly 50% in ’85.

It’s surprising to me that casinos are squeezing the blackjack rules as they are making less from gaming in general.  More and more revenue comes from hotel rooms, dining and night clubs, but Vegas was built on gaming.  So if I own a casino and I make it less friendly for gamblers am I making a great business move or a short term profit while hurting my long-range success?

I’d argue that there is a tipping point which is coming closer – gamblers like me have bigger overall budgets than club kids for their average trip, but it may not be as obvious.  The party crowd pays $50 cover, buy $100 bottles, and spend their days at the pool – generalizing here, but you get the idea.  Me and my blackjack playing friends bring $1000+/day for gaming, buy nice dinners, and stay in comped rooms.

On the surface the party crowd might actually look more profitable since they pay for their rooms, drinks and clubs, but my guess is that the gambler is still the foundation that makes Vegas, well Vegas.  When the trends turn, and the trends always turn, and the celeb DJ scene starts to fade like old trucker hats I’m thinking that gamblers will be what saves Vegas (again).

I’m probably being a bit over-dramatic, but c’mon casino owners, don’t squeeze us with 6:5 blackjack and other weak rules meant to cut corners with the novice players because at some point you are going to need some winners coming back with good memories of their time at the tables to keep printing money in the desert.