Why $5 Table Games Are Becoming a Thing of the Past

Heads up Hold'em table game at the Strat in Las Vegas

One of the most common questions we get asked is where to play $5 table games in Las Vegas. There are few casinos left that offer it. Most are deep in the locals market.

It may seem greedy that casinos have largely raised table game limits to $10, $15, and $25. However, the economics are clear. It has become impossible to profit at most $5 tables. 

Low-limit blackjack is unprofitable for the house

A 3:2 blackjack game holds about 0.7% when all players follow basic strategy. Many players will bet more. Let’s assume the average bet is $7.50 at this table. There will be many strategy mistakes, so I will add about 50% to the house edge and go with 1%.

If there are six players at the table betting a total of $45 per hand, the house makes $0.45 per hand at 1%. A full blackjack table deals about 70 hands an hour. This means that the house is theoretically making a little over $30 an hour in gross gaming revenue at this table. 

Nevada’s minimum wage is $10.50 if health insurance is not offered. The table requires about 1.5 dealer hours for every hour it is open to cover breaks and accounting. With payroll taxes, that is over $17 an hour in labor. The table also needs a pit supervisor, surveillance, cocktail service, and cleaning. Licensing, taxes, cards, chips, and table maintenance are other expenses. A table making $12 or $13 an hour after dealer labor will often run in the red after cocktails alone. 

All of this assumes a full table that does not have slow players. If the game is shorthanded, it may not even cover the dealer’s pay. 

Making this game 6:5 does not help much

One solution casinos used was to alter the blackjack payout to 6:5. This about triples the house edge of the game. Adding 0.5% for player errors, the same table described above now makes almost $80 an hour, assuming it is full. That makes the casino a little bit of money, but not enough to justify keeping table games in the space, especially if it can’t draw a full table for most of its hours. 

Craps is even more expensive to operate

A craps game requires three dealers to operate at full capacity. There is often a pit supervisor dedicated to the game. With breakers, this table requires at least five employees per hour. The pay rate is higher with the needed supervisor. The labor cost of this game can easily break $70 an hour. 

A craps game has fewer bet resolutions per hour than blackjack. That is because it takes an average of 3.3 rolls for line bets to win or lose. If players are not making prop bets, this can cost the house money on every roll.

A craps table has about two rolls a minute. At 120 rolls an hour, and 3.3 rolls per pass line resolution, the pass line win or loses about 36 times an hour. Since odds do not affect the theoretical house win, a table of six players betting 1.5 times the minimum $5 bet on the line will collectively lose, on average, about $23 per hour.

Prop bets will make up for some of this, but you can see why a $5 craps game does not happen much these days. It must be full, fast, and have many players betting props and numbers. 

$5 roulette is more feasible, but still tough to find

A roulette wheel spins about 40 times an hour at a full table. The house edge is 5.26% at double zero and 7.69% at triple zero. Even if all players bet the minimum, a full double zero table holds around $125 an hour. It goes to $185 an hour at triple zero. Even a table with only two players could still be profitable for the casino. This is a reason why roulette minimum bets have not increased like other games that have a lower house edge or require more labor.

Related articles: Where to play $5 blackjack in Las VegasWhere to play $5 craps and roulette in Las Vegas