Maryland blackjack games can now have the dealer hit on a soft 17, and this is going to bring significant extra revenue to the casinos.
In the casino world, there are two major types of games. You have games like slots that are primarily about luck, and then you have games like blackjack that center largely around skill. While you can maximize your payout rate by playing correctly in these games, you're normally just minimizing the house edge as much as possible. A recent rule change in Maryland will have their blackjack games lower the amount you can minimize that house edge by around 0.2 percent. It doesn't sound like much, but it has major implications.
One of the main rules that a blackjack game has to clarify is what happens when the dealer has a soft 17. Traditionally, the dealer stands like he or she would with a hard 17. However, some games allow the dealer to hit in these situations, which gives the house a slightly larger advantage. The change is just at 0.2 percent, and while that doesn't sound like much, consider the long-term implications.
If you're playing for $20 per hand, and you get in 60 hands an hour, then you're betting a total of $1,200 per hour. Suppose you play for about ten hours each week. At that rate, you're going to lose another $1,248 each year to the casino than you would have before the rule change. Multiply that by all players, and that's some major revenue that the new rule will be bringing in.
What this situation boils down to is that politicians are desperate to increase revenues, and this is a somewhat sneaky way to do it. If this was to happen in Canada, then it would be a little bit of a different situation because the market is so much more open with many more choices to choose from. In Maryland, there aren't that many choices, so it's harder to have a situation where one casino gets a competitive advantage by having their dealers stand on a soft 17 instead.
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