Thanks for a great question and for being a Counting Edge reader. We can certainly appreciate your concerns over the various forms of electronic blackjack which are now being found in more and more live casinos. There are a few reasons for this. Some platforms use a video screen for the “dealer” which is cost effective because a virtual dealer is only paid through the electricity that powers the machine. Another reason is that, as an electronic game, virtual blackjack is not subject to the same odds as an authentic live game.
When we asked a casino shift supervisor directly about these machines, the answer we received was expected and typical of the casino industry. We were told that the machines function exactly as a live game and offer the exact same odds. We were also told that the games reward a knowledge of basic strategy. All of the information we got was received with the appropriate grain of salt. In our opinion, electronic blackjack in live casinos operates much like blackjack as it is found in online casinos. It uses a type of random number generator to determine which cards will appear. Since this seems to be the case, you would do just as well playing at an online casino from your home where the table limits are lower–often $1 per hand–and you have greater accessibility.
The truth is that you might actually fare better at an online casino as opposed to a live one because we have our doubts about the randomness of these machines. What is far more likely is that the electronic blackjack games in the live casino operate like a slot machine, meaning that the outcome of a hand is predetermined before the cards even fall. When you pull the handle on a slot machine, the reels that show up have already been determined prior to the spin. This is how the live casino manages their advantage and the overall odds that they post. It is logical to believe that they do the same thing with electronic blackjack. As long as the satisfy whatever their odds are, they are compliant. For example, an electronic blackjack game might offer 95% payback like many slots. What this means is that the machine returns $0.95 for every $1.00 it takes in. Now, you can catch a hot streak and beat a slot machine…temporarily. In the long run, however, the machine will take it all back plus $0.05 on the dollar. Here’s a good rule of thumb to remember in gambling and in life overall: if you encounter anything or anyone that is willing to back up against the wall and challenge the entire world to come and get some, your odds probably aren’t too good.
If you stick with online blackjack, you’ll get true random card generation. The deck is shuffled after each hand of play and the cards that fall are not predetermined but genuinely random. Plus, you can get some nice blackjack bonuses and things that the live casinos won’t give you.
Good luck at the tables!