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Best of John Grochowski
What To Do If the Casino Raises the Blackjack Table Minimums5 November 2012
By John Grochowski
I’d arrived at a casino about 9 a.m., figuring I could take advantage of early-day sparse crowds and low table minimums. I found a $10 table and bought in for $200, with four $25 chips, 19 $5 chips and five $1 chips so I had a little starting change to tip dealers and waitresses.
It was a pretty ordinary session, up a little here, down a little there, and after a couple of hours I was ahead by $7.50. And it was a pretty ordinary crowd. I was the first player at the table. Others came and went, and the most playing at any one time was five.
There were three others playing with me when the pit supervisor approached the table.
“In half an hour, the table minimum is going up to $25,” he said.
There was grumbling all around. No one was consistently betting $25 a hand, though a couple of players sometimes surpassed $25 as they varied their bet sizes. A woman at the middle of the table was playing a progression with a top bet of $80, but she made a lot more bets at $10 than at $60.
I’d been in the situation many times before, so I spoke up.
“Will those already playing be grandfathered in at $10?” I asked.
The pit supervisor said no, it would be a $25 minimum for everyone.
It was worth a shot. I’ve been grandfathered in at lower betting minimums before. I had one more question.
“Will any of the other tables have $10 minimums?”
The supervisor said no, but he pointed to a table he said was currently at $15 and would be staying there. Everything else soon would be $25 and higher.
One of the most important rules for a cautious gambler is to avoid overbetting your bankroll. If you’re playing 100 hands an hour at a table with two or three other players, at a $10 table you’re making $1,000 worth of bets per hour, while with a $25 minimum, that soars to $2,500.
If the house edge is 0.6 percent against a basic strategy player --- pretty normal at a six-deck game where the dealer hits soft 17, with some variation depending on other rules --- the average hourly loss is $6 an hour at the $10 table, and $15 at the $25 table.
Beyond the average hourly loss, there’s the matter of what happens in a lowing streak. If I lose six in a row --- and that happens all too often --- I’m out $60 at a $10 table, but $150 at the $25 table. Blackjack has its ups and downs, and you have to be able to weather the downs if you’re going to stuck around for the ups. If you’re a modestly bankrolled player, playing through a $60 loss might be no problem, while a $150 loss takes too big a toll too fast.
The crowd was growing, and I knew the $15 table would fill all seven chairs, slowing the game to 50 hands an hour or so. That would mean less risk per hour than I’d at the half-empty $10 table.
I thanked the supervisor for the information and picked up my chips. I didn’t want to wait for the crowd to get any bigger. It was time to move, before others filled the $15 table that was to be the lowest-minimum in the house.
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