Can Live Dealer Blackjack Games be Rigged?

One of the biggest fears casino players have is being cheated by the casino.

I’ve talked to dozens of live casino players who constantly talk about how they’ve been cheated by the casino. This number is low compared to the number of online players who claim they’ve been cheated by an Internet casino.

The only question I get more than is online blackjack rigged is if online poker is rigged?

Of course it’s an entirely different subject for another day, but I feel a lot safer playing blackjack than poker when it comes to being cheated.

On this page I cover many of the common cheating claims, show you a few ways that cheating could actually occur, a few real issues online blackjack players may face, and discuss a few individual casinos.

As I explain in greater detail below, the best way to know you’re playing a fair game and not being cheated is play at an established and trusted online casino. Ones with a long track record of honest play and customer service are the place you want to play.

The two I can recommend off the top of my head are Guts Casino live blackjack and 5 Dimes real dealer blackjack. Both of these companies have been offering online gambling for years and I’ve played at both of them for real money in the past.

So, is blackjack rigged at casinos?

Claims of Cheating

The same arguments and claims are made about live dealer blackjack as video blackjack. So the following claims are in reference to both of the following questions.

Is video blackjack rigged?

Is live dealer blackjack rigged?

The most frequent claim that I read about blackjack being rigged is that a player has lost 5 straight hands, or 7 straight hands, or 10 straight hands. The person complaining states that the game must be rigged because they lost so many straight hands as if that fact alone proved something.

What these players don’t seem to understand is how probabilities and statistics work.

While you won’t lose 10 hands in a row very often, it can and will happen. Just because something is rare doesn’t mean that when it happened the casino is cheating or the game is rigged.

The odds of losing 8 hands in a row are only 1 in 173 so you’ll have long losing streaks.

On the other side you’ll occasionally have long winning streaks too. But most players quickly forget the winning streaks and scream bloody murder when the casino wins a few hands in a row.

The next complaint I see kind of falls under the same type of thing. Players say that a certain casino’s blackjack game is tighter than others and if the player gets a good hand like a pair of face cards the dealer gets the same hand or a blackjack more often than normal.

The funny thing is I’ve seen a player complain that casino A is tighter than casino B and then seen a different player complain that casino B was tighter than casino A.

The fact is these complainers are simply making statements based on guesses and what they think they see over a few hundred hands at best.

What you never see is anyone that has actually tracked the hundreds of thousands of hands needed to make a real determination of blackjack cheating.

I believe there are two reasons for this. The first reason is the general player is too lazy to actually do the work required to track that many hands. The second reason is if anyone does track the hands they find out that the games are in actuality fair so they stop complaining.

How It Could Happen

The easiest way for an online casino to rig a live dealer blackjack game is by removing some aces or face cards from the shoe.

Because most live dealer games use a 6 or 8 deck shoe and don’t go pat 50% penetration it’d be quite difficult for the average player to determine this was happening.

But a player who took the time to track enough hands would be able to see it in the statistics eventually. I’d want at least 25,000 hands to start making any accusations, and 100,000 would be better.

The only other feasible way is to use a stacked shoe, but the problem with this is in most games they have no way of knowing for sure how many seats will be filled at any time throughout the shoe. With a stacked shoe the casino needs to know how many players will be playing each round, and even then the players don’t always make the same decisions so it alters the outcomes.

Why It Doesn’t Happen

Of course I can’t guarantee that you’ll never find an online casino that cheats or a live dealer blackjack game that bends the rules, but for the most part it just doesn’t happen with the best online casinos.

If an online casino or blackjack game is caught cheating it will cost the company millions of dollars, even if they can stay in business.

The news of a casino caught cheating will spread like wildfire through the Internet community and players will never trust the casino again.

Online blackjack games don’t have to cheat in order to turn a long term profit.

Even the blackjack games that have the lowest house edge have a half percent edge over the player. And the only way a player can play at the lowest house edge is by playing perfect strategy.

Most blackjack players don’t use perfect strategy, so they give the house an additional edge.

I don’t have the exact numbers that online blackjack games operate at profit wise, but even if it’s as low as 1% overall they make money hand over fist. And the truth is that the overall house edge is probably closer to 2% than 1%.

Here’s an example to show just how profitable online blackjack is with a fair game.

If the average live dealer table has five players each betting an average of $25 per hand and the game deals 50 hands per hour the total amount wagered on the table per hour is $6,250. At 1% this is an hourly profit of $62.50 per table.

But the numbers in the example are quite conservative.

If the edge is 2% the hourly profit is $125. If the average wager is $50 with a 2% edge the profit is $250.

Remember this example just covers live dealer play. While some live dealers can deal more than 50 hands per hour, if you play on one of the software driven blackjack games you can easily play 100 hands per hour or more.

The other thing that most online blackjack players do is keep playing until they lose their entire deposit. While this is simply the average house edge grinding their bankroll down, it’s what makes blackjack even more profitable for the casino.

Most players who have a decent run and get ahead at the blackjack tables keep playing and eventually the percentages catch up with them.

In the short run the casino house edge at any blackjack table fluctuates a great deal, but as long as the casino has a big enough bankroll to ride out the short term they’re guaranteed a profit unless players figure out a way to alter the odds.

Some players can gain an edge against the casino in live play in a land based casino, but they can’t while playing live dealer blackjack online.

So is online blackjack rigged?

The bottom line is the casinos have no reason to cheat online blackjack players. In the long term it’s more profitable to deal a fair game than run the risk of being caught cheating.

I want to finish this section with a quote from a Bodog representative about blackjack.

“At the end of the day all Casino games, Blackjack included, have a house edge. We have no reason to alter the game in anyway. All you need to do is walk down the strip in Vegas and you have all the proof you need that offering a fair and honest game of Blackjack is just simply good business.”

Individual Casinos

Over the past several months I’ve received questions about different online casinos. These questions include the following.

Is Bovada blackjack rigged or is Bodog rigged?

Is MyVegas blackjack rigged or is BetOnline blackjack rigged?

For the same reasons I’ve already covered above I don’t believe any of these casinos offer rigged blackjack games or any other games.

I don’t have as much personal experience with the second pair as with Bodog and Bovada, but I trust all of their blackjack games 100%. My personal experience with the Bodog brands is so good that I’ve played for real money with them for over 10 years and will continue to do so.

Real Problems

As you can see you don’t have to worry about live dealer blackjack games being rigged as long as you play at established and trusted online casinos.

A few real problems blackjack players face is the ability to get money into and out of online casinos. Of course this depends a great deal on where you live, but it’s always nice to feel safe in the thought you can easily and safely take your money out of the casino when you hit a nice win.

If you can open a popular online wallet like Skrill or Neteller it’s the best way to quickly and safely move money around with online casinos. If you can’t, have a conversation with the support department before you make a deposit to find out the best way for players in your country to make a withdrawal.

August 10, 2011 - Offer valid as of date published. T&Cs apply.