Getting a new blackjack table with "Key West" on the layout was a great conversation starter. The other day, while sitting at the table, my father -- who is 88 -- asked an intriguing question about the game.

He goes to the casinos regularly, and could not understand why he sees a waiting line at a $10 blackjack table, and a dealer standing idly at a $25 table.

"Why don't they just open another $10 table and let people play?" he asked.

I assured him that the casinos have already "done the math" and had a good reason for not opening that second $10 table. I also know that they've certainly calculated the exact time that needs to pass before some of the people standing in the $10 table line break down and walk over to the $25 table.

He was not satisfied with this answer. At 88, he is rarely satisfied with why anyone does anything these days. So I decided to look into it a bit further.

Clearly, it has something to do with the table limits and the house advantage -- the percentage of hands (and money) the casino is likely to win over time.

What we know:

Table dealers are paid by the hour. The casino also has to pay the "floor," and a pit boss.

The casino advantage on a standard eight-deck shoe is 0.430 % to 0.446% (from The Wizard of Odds). That means they'll win less than one-half of one percent more of the games played, and presumably, the total amount bet in all the hands by all the players, than they lose.

Professional dealers are required to deal between 200 and 300 hands per hour, including the dealer's hand, and shuffling.

If we assume most people will place the minimum bet, we can calculate the house "win' over the course of an average hour.

$5 x 200 hands x (house advantage - 0.00430) = $4.30

$5 x 300 hands x (house advantage - 0.00430) = $6.45

$5 x 200 hands x (house advantage - 0.00446) = $4.46

$5 x 300 hands x (house advantage - 0.00446) = $6.69

$10 x 300 hands x (house advantage - 0.00430) = $12.90

$10 x 200 hands x (house advantage - 0.00446) = $8.92

$10 x 300 hands x (house advantage - 0.00446) = $13.38

$25 x 200 hands x (house advantage - 0.00430) = $21.50

$25 x 300 hands x (house advantage - 0.00430) = $32.25

$25 x $200 hands x (house advantage - 0.00446) = $22.30

$25 x 300 hands x (house advantage - 0.00446) = $33.45

So, on a $5 table, the casino can expect an average hourly "win" of between $4.30 and $6.69 -- not even the minimum wage paid to the dealer.

And on a $10 table, the average hourly win for the casino will be only $8.60 to $13.38. I can understand why some casinos would hesitate to even wager for such a small win.

To me, this explains why I see more $25 tables these days.

For the record, I've assumed that people play according to basic strategy. One maniac can be a bonanza for the casino. And the Wizard of Odds says the more likely and "realistic" number is the higher house advantage. And I'm sure we've all bet $10 or $20 or even $50 at a $10 table, so the actual average bet per hand is probably higher than the low limit.

Now, convincing my dad will be more difficult than algebra.

He goes to the casinos regularly, and could not understand why he sees a waiting line at a $10 blackjack table, and a dealer standing idly at a $25 table.

"Why don't they just open another $10 table and let people play?" he asked.

I assured him that the casinos have already "done the math" and had a good reason for not opening that second $10 table. I also know that they've certainly calculated the exact time that needs to pass before some of the people standing in the $10 table line break down and walk over to the $25 table.

He was not satisfied with this answer. At 88, he is rarely satisfied with why anyone does anything these days. So I decided to look into it a bit further.

Clearly, it has something to do with the table limits and the house advantage -- the percentage of hands (and money) the casino is likely to win over time.

What we know:

Table dealers are paid by the hour. The casino also has to pay the "floor," and a pit boss.

The casino advantage on a standard eight-deck shoe is 0.430 % to 0.446% (from The Wizard of Odds). That means they'll win less than one-half of one percent more of the games played, and presumably, the total amount bet in all the hands by all the players, than they lose.

Professional dealers are required to deal between 200 and 300 hands per hour, including the dealer's hand, and shuffling.

If we assume most people will place the minimum bet, we can calculate the house "win' over the course of an average hour.

**For a $5 table**$5 x 200 hands x (house advantage - 0.00430) = $4.30

$5 x 300 hands x (house advantage - 0.00430) = $6.45

$5 x 200 hands x (house advantage - 0.00446) = $4.46

$5 x 300 hands x (house advantage - 0.00446) = $6.69

__$10 x 200 hands x (house advantage - 0.00430) = $8.60__**For a $10 table:**

$10 x 300 hands x (house advantage - 0.00430) = $12.90

$10 x 200 hands x (house advantage - 0.00446) = $8.92

$10 x 300 hands x (house advantage - 0.00446) = $13.38

**For a $25 table:**$25 x 200 hands x (house advantage - 0.00430) = $21.50

$25 x 300 hands x (house advantage - 0.00430) = $32.25

$25 x $200 hands x (house advantage - 0.00446) = $22.30

$25 x 300 hands x (house advantage - 0.00446) = $33.45

So, on a $5 table, the casino can expect an average hourly "win" of between $4.30 and $6.69 -- not even the minimum wage paid to the dealer.

And on a $10 table, the average hourly win for the casino will be only $8.60 to $13.38. I can understand why some casinos would hesitate to even wager for such a small win.

To me, this explains why I see more $25 tables these days.

For the record, I've assumed that people play according to basic strategy. One maniac can be a bonanza for the casino. And the Wizard of Odds says the more likely and "realistic" number is the higher house advantage. And I'm sure we've all bet $10 or $20 or even $50 at a $10 table, so the actual average bet per hand is probably higher than the low limit.

Now, convincing my dad will be more difficult than algebra.

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