Sniffing out the best blackjack table in a casino

Looking for the perfect blackjack table in a casino but don’t know how to choose?

From the rules of the table and the right kind of table-mates to the best times of day to play, picking the best blackjack table is both a science and an art.

No need to pony up the cash for a Bachelor’s in blackjack or a Doctorate in doubling down though. Just stick with me as I explain the killer blackjack table features to look for and reveal the secret to finding the juiciest blackjack games around. If you want to buy your own table, I’ve got a few words of advice on that score too.

Why should you find the best blackjack table?

Unless you’ve got a train to catch or it’s last orders, you should avoid falling in love with the first blackjack game you see.

Blackjack tables may all look alike, but with a dizzying array of rules and house edges, not to mention almost infinite combinations of seat positions, players and dealers, your playtime can feel very different from one game to the next. Take the time to consider a few factors before you play blackjack and you’ll be in better shape to bank a winning session, or at least have a ball.

Finding the right table matters, whatever your goal. Here are some of the motivations for choosing a table:

  • Getting the smallest house edge
  • Playing instantly with no delay
  • Diving into a party atmosphere
  • Killing time without spending much money
  • Enjoying the company of a friendly or familiar dealer

It’s possible you might want all of those things, but let’s assume your main motivation is financial. When it comes to the house edge, the rules of the game are more important than empty seats or witty dealers.

Some blackjack games are better for your wallet

Getting the best Return To Player is the number one priority when learning how to win at blackjack. It means you lose less in the long run, and get more playtime for your money.

Value for money isn’t just about the percentages behind the table rules. Feeling comfortable with your surroundings and your fellow players is an essential part of any blackjack experience.

Feel great, play great! If something or someone is distracting you, you won’t be able to bring your blackjack B-game, let alone you’re A-game.

Pick a table that matches your mood

Finally comes the fun. However perfect your play, you can’t win in the long run, so you better have a great time. For some, that means a nice quiet table in the corner. Others prefer to be in the melting pot, living the buzz of the Saturday night session.

What odds you get and how you find your fun depends on where you choose to play, and that starts with a choice of real life or the digital one.

Finding an online blackjack table

PlayOJO blackjack games lobby on a landscape tablet or desktop monitor

It’s bloomin’ easy for anyone to find a table in an online casino but for a novice, choosing the right one can be a headache. There are hundreds of tables to choose from at PlayOJO alone, so where do you start?

Fun or real?

You don’t always need to jump in at the deep end, and sites like PlayOJO will often have blackjack games with demo modes so you can try for free or practice your blackjack basic strategy. When it’s time to play for real, look for trustworthy payment methods and offers like money back on every bet.

Betting stakes

Online blackjack is perfect for low-stakes tables and massive variety in stakes. There aren’t too many land-based casinos you can walk into and play 50p or £5,000 a hand, but that’s just a couple of clicks away when you play blackjack online.

Once you’ve figured out your spending money for the session, calculate a sensible bet size per hand and seek out an online blackjack table whose minimum and maximum betting limits fit the bill.

Classic or Live Blackjack?

You wouldn’t have had this choice 10 years ago but today you can choose between private, software-powered tables or Live Blackjack tables which use live streams, real dealers and real decks of cards. Both have their merits and similar house edges, so this one’s all down to personal choice.

The right rules

blackjack table rules

With so many tables to choose from, you should be able to find the rules you prefer. How many decks of cards are used? What does the dealer do with Soft 17? When can you double or split? It even extends to what side bets are offered. With variety in spades, you need never settle for less.

The highest RTP

If you can get a Return To Player of 99.60%, why take less? It might take a few extra clicks but you can easily find the specific RTP for any online blackjack game in the rules or settings menu. Learn to love these percentages, they’re your best friend!

Speak your language

It’s not uncommon in a land-based casino to hear ‘English only at the table’. But online, you may be able to find a blackjack table created especially for your countrymen and women. With game rules plus dealer chat in your own language, a blackjack table can make you feel more at home.

The right site

Only one casino has a respected gaming licence, fair bonus terms with no nasty small print, a rewarding loyalty programme, great customer support, reliable blackjack software and a big choice of tables. Fortunately, you’re already here!

Choosing a blackjack table in a casino

Walk into a brick & mortar casino and it won’t take you long to spot the half-moon tables in the centre of the gaming floor.

The choice of table rules and stakes will be more limited in a real casino, so a lot of your decision-making comes down to which casino to visit.  What rewards do they offer? How professional and friendly are their staff? At what times of day can you get a seat at your favourite table?

Some casinos may offer both American blackjack and European blackjack and they might even have unusual new variants. With a range of house edges, it’s important to know the impact of your preferred game on your wallet.

Evaluating the house edge

With no advertised RTP on display at a blackjack table in a casino, you’ll need to rely on your knowledge and what you have learned in our blackjack guide. This includes which rules are good for you, and which rules are good for the house. Using the advice below, you should be able to quickly assess at a glance which table gives you the best i.e. lowest house edge.

In general, the more options you have when you face a decision during a hand of blackjack, the better the house edge is likely to be. If a rule seems restrictive -for example No Double After Split – it’s probably bad news. Although a typical table will have a mix of good and bad rules, you should know how to quickly compare the rules from different tables and get a rough feel for the size of the house edge.

  • Decks: The fewer, the better. A single deck game is a rare gem. A 6 or 8 deck game is the standard, while continuous shuffling renders the number of decks largely irrelevant. The difference between 1 deck and 8 decks is as much as 0.60%!
  • Blackjack odds: If they don’t pay 3 to 2, don’t play! Can’t get simpler than that. This is the most visible rule as it’s always printed on the felt, and it’s by far the most important when it comes to the house edge too.
  • S17 or H17: In an S17 game, the dealer must stand on all hands worth 17 or more. The play the same way in an H17 game too, except they hit Soft 17 too. This will also be printed on the felt. An H17 game adds 0.20% to the house edge.
  • Doubling: You’ll need to check the rules or ask the dealer for this one. Doubling on any two cards is the best rule, but even if it’s limited to hands worth 9-11, it won’t impact the house edge much.
  • Splitting: Check for how many times you can split, and if you can double afterwards. You want the widest possible set of options.

You don’t need to be rain man to know if a game is good, bad or average. But if you’ve got a head for numbers, here are the differences in percentage terms between the options for each rule.

RuleApprox. house edge range
BJ pays 3 to 2 v 6 to 51.40%
1, 2, 4, 6 or 8 Decks0.60%
S17 v H170.20%
Double v No double after split0.12%
Double any cards v 10-110.10%
Split 1 v 4 times0.05%

Speed of play

You might want to play as many hands as possible when you play at a blackjack table in a casino or online.

But be aware that the more hands you play, the greater the opportunity for the house edge to take its toll on your bankroll. This advice comes in handy at any real casino, but it applies to classic and Live Blackjack tables online too.

The number of hands you’ll get to play every hour is dependent on a few factors:

  • Playing live or online
  • The number of seats and how many are taken
  • How experienced the dealer is
  • How the cards are shuffled

In live blackjack games, shuffling is the most important factor. Dealers can shuffle the cards manually, using a mechanical shuffling machine or a continuous shuffling machine (CSM).

If you want a slow game or you’re interested in card counting, go for manual shuffling and as few decks as possible. Failing that, a mechanical shuffling machine will do. If you care more about non-stop action than the house edge, a CSM should keep you happy.

The vibe really matters

Rules aside, playing in a real casino is all about the atmosphere. How are you feeling? Who are your perfect table mates?

Who you play with

Observing the table for a few minutes will give you an invaluable sneak peek into how your session could play out. If a loud-mouth in Seat 1 is likely to get on your wick, find another table. If you get frustrated by bad play, don’t sit next to a player who stands on 16 against a 9.

What time of day you play

Unlike PlayOJO, casinos don’t have unlimited blackjack tables, so the time of day can be a factor too. Visit on a weekend and although it’ll be party central, you may have to wait for a seat. Frustration (or that extra beer you had while you waited) can affect how well you play blackjack when you finally take your seat. If you’ve got less time, you might play a little more recklessly. 

Play during quieter periods and you’ll always get a seat at a casino blackjack table, but you’ll often be playing alone. This means the number of hands you see per hour can skyrocket. Lower your stake or you could be in a cab sooner than you planned.

The secret sauce for picking a table

Follow these blackjack table do’s and don’ts and you’ll always be ready for a fair fight at the felt:

  1. Best rules. No point burning money if there’s a choice of game tables with better RTPs.
  2. Full tables. Your bankroll will last longer and you’ll have more time to consider your decisions.
  3. Manual shuffle. Same effect as a full table. You’ll get more playtime for your money.
  4. Good crowd. Avoid jerks on a mission to teach everyone how to play blackjack. Stick with fun, relaxed and chatty players who are there for a good time.

How to buy your own blackjack table

If you want to run the game rather than play, you’ll need your own blackjack table. If you’re running a play-money home game or a casino night fundraiser, you have the choice of buying your own table or hiring one for the occasion.

Where to look

Amazon won’t be much use if you’re looking to buy a table, but you’ll find plenty of second-hand options on eBay for under £500, including some ex casino blackjack tables that come with history baked in. Just make sure you disinfect it first!

How much you need to spend

If you want to splash out and impress your mates, you may be able to buy a casino-grade deluxe blackjack table from one of the main suppliers such as TCSJOHNHUXLEY.

Although it will be a stunning addition to your games room and put your pool table to shame, it comes at a cost. From the quality of wood to the casino cloth felt, the craftsmanship that goes into a real blackjack table can set you back thousands of pounds.

To get an authentic blackjack casino experience at home, a blackjack card table should ideally have some of these features:

  • Shoe – Play with multiple decks and draw them from a pro shoe to get more hands in per hour.
  • Discard box – a clear plastic open-side container where the recently played cards are stashed.
  • Chip trays – You might not have the fortune needed to fill one up, but it’s a convenient way to manage the casino chips.
  • Felt – These days, suited speed cloths are all the rage at gaming tables. Choose the correct table layout, your favourite colour and suit pattern, and watch those cards glide across the table.
  • Drink holders – Nothing worse than someone spilling red wine on your lovely new table cover, is there?

If you’re on a budget, try a foldaway blackjack table for just £50 or if that’s too dear, a blackjack felt might do the trick. For less than a tenner, you can lay your hands on a semi-circular felt with all the right boxes and rules. Whack it on your dining table, rack up your custom poker chips, shuffle up and deal!

Rent a blackjack table

If you want the full blackjack experience with none of the fuss, hiring a card table and dealer is the way forward. Pay your monies, clear some space and the hire company will do the rest. Chuck in a mobile bar and a hog roast and make sure we’re invited!

Stay on the right side of the law

Before you don your tuxedo and start dealing to your mates, OJO’s got a word to the wise. It’s illegal to run your own real-money blackjack games without a gaming licence.

You don’t want the feds knocking down your door or a nasty fine from the council. So if it’s anything more than play-for-fun you’re after, head to your local blackjack casino or play online.

Bonus content!

You made it this far, so you deserve a little more knowledge before you go. 

You should now be a black belt in blackjack table selection, but there are still 2 things you need to know before the chips hit the felt.

Where to sit at a blackjack table

Short answer – whatever chair’s empty! If there is more than 1 seat free, take Seat #7, furthest from the shoe.

blackjack table with numbered seats

The benefit of taking seat 7 or third base is that you act last in the round, so you get to see all of the cards before you play your hand.

The more information you have about which cards have come out – and therefore what’s left in the deck – the better your chances of beating the house if you’re using a card counter system. And you won’t have to wait long to find out if you’ve won, either.

What not to do at the table

3 blackjack players breaking one of these rules

You’ve pulled up a chair in the casino, or your home game is ready to roll, but you’ve drawn a blank when it comes to blackjack table etiquette. OJO to the rescue!

Follow these tips and your game will go without a hitch.

  • Don’t touch the cards. That’s the dealer’s job. Get handsy with your hand and the pit boss might have a word.
  • Don’t hand the dealer your cash. They’re not allowed to take it that way. Plop it on the felt and let the cameras see the Benjamins.
  • Don’t interfere with another player’s hand. Play your own hand and let others do it their way, even if their strategy is poor.
  • Don’t be rude. Everyone’s trying to have a good time. If you’re pooping the party, it’s time to hit the road.

You’re now an expert in everything blackjack table. Go find the best game and play your A-game!

Daniel Grant

Dan Grant has been writing about gambling for 15 years, and been fascinated by beating the odds for even longer. Now he’s on a mission to help others bet smarter and avoid the mistakes he made. When he’s not obsessing over bankroll strategy or counting cards badly, he’s hosting The OJO Show podcast.

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