There is no doubt in any gambling aficionado’s mind regarding blackjack’s status as the most popular table game ever. Its simplistic ruleset and the fact that decision-making can dramatically affect game results have skyrocketed it to the position as most high-rollers’ favored option, ahead of more history-rich games like roulette and baccarat.
In reality, blackjack in its current form has not been around for as long as many believe. It rose to prominence in the mid-19th century and got established during Nevada’s Clark County hotel expansion in the 1950s. Thus, despite its enormous popularity, its origins remain somewhat unknown and its lifespan short. However, since it currently ranks only behind slots as the predominant casino pick, pretty much everywhere, gambling operators are making massive moves to promote it and get more people to test their luck at twenty-one tables. One such opportunity that most gaming brands have jumped on is National Blackjack Day. What began as an excuse to celebrate this gambling genre and its dying formats inadvertently gave establishments a reason to supply promotions connected to it as bait to drive hordes of customers through their doors. Gambling sites have also begun utilizing this “holiday” to feature their online blackjack games.
It is essential to understand that no organization came up with this unofficial holiday. It spontaneously came into existence around 2016 as an idea to highlight the declining number of casinos that offer 3:2 payout tables. The first National Blackjack Day happened in 2017, on March 2nd, but the name got trademarked two years later. Of course, the date, March 2nd, got chosen to correspond with the 3:2 blackjack payout that is slowly going extinct. Most gaming venues in gambling hot spots have now moved to incorporate a 6:5 payout, frustrating veteran players and tilting the odds further in the house’s favor.
Blackjack often gets mentioned as the game with the lowest house edge out of all the gambling classics. Its default one is 2%, which can get lowered to 0.5% with optimal strategy. The difference between 3:2 and 6:5 blackjack is simple. In the first case, players get paid $3 for every $2 bet, and in the latter, they get $6 for every $5 staked. Therefore, 3:2 blackjack features 1.5:1 odds, and 6:5 tables have 1.2:1 win chances. Naturally, all players prefer the first scenario.
To better explain the benefits of 3:2, let us use this example. If a player bets $10 on a hand and hits 21, he gets paid $25 on a 3:2 game and $22 on a 6:5 one. Some casinos are also trying to sneak in 6:5 odds at the higher limit tables, and even most video blackjack machines now supply prizes using this reward ratio.
Virtually everyone renowned in the blackjack scene supports the 3:2 initiative, as it affects each individual that chooses this game as the one to use and see if they are in Lady Luck’s good graces or not. The National Blackjack Day movement does not have a ton of presence on social media, aside from a fairly active Twitter page. Still, it is picking up steam, encouraging players to only play at casinos that feature 3:2 odds, and voice their opinion and displeasure to operators regarding where they are taking this beloved gambling game.
In early 2020, John Mahaffey, a Vegas-based gambler, released a study on Twitter detailing the proliferation of 6:5 casinos on the Vegas Strip. According to him, in 2011, out of 984 blackjack tables on the Strip, 199 were 6:5 ones. In December of 2019, this figured jumped to 568. In downtown, in eight years, the percentage of 6:5 tables rose from 14.4% to 26.7%. So, it is clear that this is the new standard that the industry is gravitating to growing, not maintaining.
Nevertheless, though this movement is gaining traction, operators are spinning the ‘holiday” to promote their services. Now, come March 2nd, many casinos are supplying free blackjack lessons, have cocktails and food specials that bear this game’s name, offer exclusive twenty-one bonuses, and more. In short, they are using the date and name of this movement to organize blackjack-themed festivities and entice more people to come and gamble.
National Blackjack Day is a made-up holiday that serves as an excuse to cast light on the declining figure of gambling establishments offering tables that feature 3:2 payouts.
Shelly Schiff has been working in the gambling industry since 2009, mainly on the digital side of things, employed by OnlineUnitedStatesCasinos.com. However, over her eleven-year career, Shelly has provided content for many other top interactive gaming websites. She knows all there is to know about slots and has in-depth knowledge of the most popular table games. Her golden retriever Garry occupies most of her leisure time. Though, when she can, she loves reading Jim Thompson-like crime novels.