The Age-Old Question: Is Blackjack Rigged?

Written by Thomas | Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

This particular piece delves into the world of online blackjack and analyzing the question of blackjack’s fairness – and could it possibly be rigged online?

At a land-based casino, the pay out percentage on a live blackjack game is percentages that mathematical analysis says that they will average over time based upon the rules of the game.

Online casinos use the same system for calculating what the payout is, with the exception being that the sequence and shuffling of the cards is done by a computer program called a random number generator (RNG).

Blackjack has a mathematical percentage that favors the house, although the payout percentage in blackjack varies by the skill level of play by the blackjack player, including those who know mathematics and statistics a lot better than your average BJ player.

It can be the difference between beating the best online casino out there versus the internet house taking you for your bankroll!

Regulation, Testing, and Certification

Casinos become licensed and regulated by a government regulatory Agency. Both land based and online casinos are subjected to regulations by the government regulatory agency in the gaming jurisdiction that they are in.

For land-based casinos the regulatory agencies will send a licensed inspector to the casino. ┬áThis person analyzes the dealers, pit bosses and other personnel that fill up the blackjack areas, and make sure they are properly performing their jobs and no cheating or manipulation of the cards or the “shoes” their housed in.

Online casinos are even easier for regulatory agencies to enforce because they require that the online casino has the random number generator tested and certified on a regular basis. There are independent third party companies that provide testing and certification services. These third-party certifications are issued on a regular basis based upon testing that is done on a regular – and many times random – basis.

The same holds true for most poker sites online, which have some of the strictest enforcement codes out there.  Regulatory committees crack down on internet poker more so than others due to widespread cheating scandals like the ones at Absolute Poker and UB several years ago, where it was said dozens of high-stakes players were robbed of hundreds of thousands of dollars in the biggest online cash games in the world!

Stability and Reliability

Casinos make their income from the percentage that favors the house. A casino increases their income from blackjack by increasing the volume of blackjack that they deal.

This is a good business for successful casino operators both land based and online.

Why would a successful casino endanger their continued operation and profits by rigging the game?

Many of the online casinos have been in business for over a decade and process high volumes of blackjack wagers every day.

These casinos are also very concerned about their reputations because their good reputation helps to increase their volume of business, thereby increasing their revenue, and a negative reputation would decrease their volume of business and that would mean decreased revenue.

Why Do Some People Think Online Blackjack is Rigged?

The people that think that online blackjack is rigged are the same people that think the dealers at land based casinos are cheating them by manipulating the cards. Blackjack players never think that a game is rigged or that they are being cheating in any way if while they are winning.

They only think this when they are losing money. Since computer generated rates of pay out on blackjack are based upon both the dealer and player making optimal or fixed decisions over a period of time. There will be times when the percentage of return is higher and times when it is lower but it will average out over time to match the computer models.

The dealer then makes decisions on when to hit and when to stand based upon a set of pre-determined rules, whereas the players can sometimes make less than optimal decisions due to outside conditions like alcohol consumption and just enjoying “the gamble” and sociable aspects of the game. Factors like these will also potential lower the percentage of return that a player will bet from blackjack, and gives the house more of an edge than one might expect.


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