Changes in Las Vegas Blackjack in 2012
To create the 2012 Las Vegas Blackjack survey went to every casino in Downtown Las Vegas and the Las Vegas Strip to gather all of the blackjack rules that can be found on this site. This was not the first time I had done such a study of blackjack rules. About one year ago I did the same thing. While it may seem like blackjack is always the same in Sin City, I discovered many changes over the year.
The most noticeable change was that there were more 6 to 5 blackjack games. This is where a dealt blackjack pays only 6 to 5 instead of 3 to 2. This adds 1.39% to the house advantage. There were many more of these tables than there were last year. The noticeable increase in 6 to 5 tables were at the lower end Caesar’s Entertainment properties, Luxor and Monte Carlo.
Another noticeable difference was that there were far fewer tables. Many casinos had closed entire pits and replaced them with slot banks. Other times blackjack was replaced with other table games such as Three Card Poker or Paigow Poker. At MGM Grand, there were 18 tables that were essentially blocked off. These tables would require some work to reopen as the entire pit did not look like it was in operation. As a whole, the city shed at least 10% of their tables. This includes the opening of 14 tables at Margaritaville which is connected to the Flamingo. It also includes the loss of tables at the now closed Sahara.
Something else I noticed was that Caesar’s Entertainment has started offering surrender in their 8 deck games. Surrender was posted on most tables and offered on virtually all of the shoe games. Previously, surrender was only available in the high limit areas which typically have a $100 minimum bet. Most of these tables paid 6 to 5 on blackjack though the games are still not playable.
I also noticed a new video blackjack machine manufactured by Azure Gaming. This new video blackjack game is 6 decks and will tell you when it shuffles. It also has favorable player rules. Players can double anything, double after the split, split up to three hands, and players can surrender. The machine also stays on all 17’s. In three casinos where this machine was offered, it was better than the live blackjack games. It also accepted player’s cards so players could earn cashback and comps.
The average blackjack game in Las Vegas got a little worse over the past year. There are still several good places to play blackjack though. The best game in the city is the single deck at El Cortez. Bellagio, MGM and Aria all offer a good shoe game with a reasonable minimum bet. While there are hundreds of bad blackjack games in Las Vegas, players can still find a blackjack game with loose rules in certain casinos.
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