Maryland blackjack professionals will be reeling this week after a recent change in the law ensured that the house had a little extra edge over the player. Small fractions make a big difference in this game, and this is a little more than a small fraction as far as the house is concerned.
The change was announced and commissioned by the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission and said that all blackjack dealers in Maryland casinos will be able to hit on Soft 17. Whilst this sounds like a change that should have already been in place, even minor moves like this have to be agreed upon by the gaming authorities, and prior to this week the Maryland authorities had not allowed the dealers to hit on Soft 17.
It may also sound like a change that won’t make much of a difference, but as any blackjack professional will tell you, blackjack is all about trying to get the odds are in your favor. It’s about doing what you can to increase your chances every step of the way, regardless of how small they may be. In this case, it is a huge loss for blackjack players and this definitely favors the house.
A Soft 17 hand is a hand that totals 17 but includes an Ace. This means that a hit to a 2, 3 or 4 will produce a better hand, whilst a hit to anything bigger will not bust, as the Ace will then revert to a 1. This makes it a very strong hand indeed. The casinos had applied for this change in the rule a year ago, but it had been rejected out of hand, only for a repeat application to be put through and to succeed in the last few days.
Prior to this change, Maryland had been a hotspot for blackjack players in the US, as they had generally been very easy going, with low house edges, all of which favors the player. The payouts for a Blackjack have always been at their highest and the fact that dealers have stood on Soft 17 had also worked in the players’ favor. However, that will now change.
It is unlikely that the number of players at the tables will drop by much, as there are still enough casual players out there to keep the profits rolling in, whilst the professionals that have plied their trade in these casinos for many years are also likely to take this hit and continue onwards. After all, it could have been worse and providing they apply some basic blackjack strategy, and maybe some card counting here and there, then players can still get one over on the house.