There are two basic types of slot machines in North America. There are standard slot machines, which produce random results based on a programmed payout percentage. Then there are video lottery terminals (VLTs), which deliver a series of predetermined results. Today’s topic will cover which of these style electronic blackjack tables are more akin to.
I was recently involved in a discussion with an old friend of mine who now lives in New York. He was rather excited a few years ago when he found out several new casinos were being built, and would be permitted to host blackjack games. However, following his first trip to Resorts World Casino, he questioned whether the electronic blackjack tables were just as bad as the VLTs on offer.
VLTs vs Slot Machines
VLTs aren’t normal slot machines, as I already mentioned above. A traditional slot machine has a pre-programmed payout ratio that’s guaranteed to earn the casino a specific percentage of what it takes in, over time. In the short term, however, these games could hit big jackpots back to back, due to their random behavior.
VLTs are different. They aren’t just programmed for a percentage, but for a specific series of wins and losses. As professional gambler and columnist John Grochowski described them:
“It’s as if you were drawing from a stack of scratch-off lottery cards, and whatever outcome is shown on that card is then translated into slot and video poker images.”
Is Electronic Blackjack comparable to VLTs?
Thankfully, the answer here is a resounding, “No!” In fact, electronic blackjack is exactly the same as playing online blackjack, except that players are seated at a table within a real live casino.
These games are run completely on a computer software platform, but they incorporate the same random card shuffling and probabilities as a genuine blackjack game. The odds of being dealt a two-card 21 are just as likely in electronic blackjack as they are in live dealer games where physical decks of cards are used.
This gives casinos the exact same house edge, and gives players the same ability to incorporate skill, like basic decision-making strategies. The only real difference is that there are no psychical cards, and no live dealer to collect or pay bets.
Some casinos that host electronic blackjack games have actually boasted that their house edge is lower than traditional, live blackjack tables. That’s not theoretically possible. However, it is possible for a casino to have paid an above average amount of winnings in a short period of time than another casino where live tables are present.
As I said above, the power of probabilities will always win out, but only in the long term. It’s always possible for a casino to win more – or lose more – than the house edge calls for in the short term.
Are there Advantages to Electronic Blackjack?
House edge aside, there is actually an advantage to playing electronic blackjack. Inexperienced dealers aren’t going to muddle up the game. There won’t be any misdeals. No one’s winning bets will accidentally be collected, instead of paid. The games will take place at an even pace, without needless interruptions or arguments.
All in all, electronic blackjack tables have their place in land-based casinos, and players need not fear that they’re being cheated. Every jurisdiction has strict regulations for fair play, requiring regular audits of the software to prove its randomness. Casinos would be ill advised to disobey those laws, lest they risk losing their ability to offer blackjack at all.
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