Why is Blackjack so Popular?
The world of online gambling is constantly changing.
It seems like new casinos are always opening, new gaming trends are always emerging, new technologies are always being adopted. It’s a lot for players to keep up with!
Throughout all the new developments in the industry, though, one thing seems constant…
…the immense and undying popularity of blackjack!
To be sure, this game has a rich history.
Even so, it’s pretty amazing to think about its longevity: plenty of casino games have risen and fallen in the three or so centuries that blackjack has enjoyed such success. It makes one wonder… just what is it about the game that keeps players coming back, again and again, generation after generation?
It’s impossible to truly say why one trend continues to thrive while others die out. But even so, here are a few reasons why:
#1: The Lowest House Edge in the Whole Casino
With very few exceptions, most every casino game comes with a house edge greater than 2% – sometimes much greater! This means that players should expect to lose approximately $2 or more for every $100 wagered.
Only blackjack can reliably offer players a house advantage lower than 1%.
It’s true that this requires not only playing with mathematically sound strategy, but also playing exclusively at tables where player-friendly rules are employed.
Even so, when it comes to the achieving the best odds available to players, there’s just no competition.
Even games baccarat, with its comparably excellent house edge of 1.06, doesn’t come close.
#2: Reduce Exposure Further with Comps and Promotions
As if a house advantage below 1% weren’t enough, today’s gamblers can improve their odds even more by taking advantage of the ways that modern casinos’ take care of their clients away from the tables.
This can take one of two forms: rewards programs and promotions.
Call it a loyalty program, a players’ club program, a comps program, or casino rewards – by any name, this rose smells very sweet indeed. These programs usually take only a few minutes to sign up for, and they allow the house to track a player’s every bet. In exchange for this free information, the house provides players with all kinds of perks: free chips, free meals, free stays, you name it.
The house has calculated that, by giving its loyal customers an incentive to stick around and play a little longer, they will make even more money off of them. But remembering #1 above, average players are losing much more money per $100 than a skilled blackjack player!
What’s more, these loyalty programs can usually be combined with promotions that casinos offer from time to time. It’s common to see the house match player deposits, or temporarily offer player-friendly rules (such as blackjack pays 2:1).
These may seem small, but they can add up quickly!
Taking advantage of these programs while playing with optimal strategy can indeed take the small house advantage, and convert it into a small player advantage.
#3: Card Counting and Advantage Play
A game with a low house edge is one thing… a game with a player edge is entirely another!
And this is precisely what counting cards can do for an already strong blackjack player.
We know, it sounds intimidating at first, but remember that it’s called card counting, not card multivariable calculus! Anyone can learn to count cards, and even a low-level ability can make a big difference to a player’s bottom line over time.
By adding together blackjack’s already low house edge, modern casino perks, and counting cards, it’s possible for players to gain such an advantage as to make a living off the game… even a handsome one!
#4: The Image
So far, we’ve discussed only matters of substance with regards to blackjack’s remarkable popularity and staying power. But there’s another side to the conversation as well…
In Hollywood and beyond, blackjack has a massive cultural footprint. There’s an unmistakable, gritty glamor to the game that has been perpetuated by movies new and old, by books, and by history. Let’s put it this way: if the game of blackjack had its own Public Relations firm, they would be doing a great job.
As a result, when new players arrive in Las Vegas (be they small-time tourists or superstar athletes), they head for the blackjack tables as often as not!
The Bottom Line
To really answer the question of why blackjack continues to endure and prosper – in a rigorous, scientific way – would be a task for a postgraduate dissertation, if not a full-length book. There is probably enough data to make this a worthwhile pursuit!
There is, however, a simple reason: despite what you may have heard, people aren’t stupid.
Well, maybe that’s going too far. Plenty of people make terrible decisions, both on and away from the casino floor. But foolish who make bad choices usually don’t stay gamblers for very long! They go broke, and move on.
Smart players know a good opportunity when they see it, and blackjack was and remains exactly that.
That’s why, so long as it continues to offer players the spectacular gaming odds it has in the past (and does in the present), blackjack will likely remain popular for the foreseeable future.