Due to the popularity of blackjack, a lot of variations have surfaced over the years. One of the most prominent blackjack games nowadays is the Vegas Strip. Besides, no city has more right to have its own blackjack rule than the Sin City itself. The Vegas blackjack rules are well-loved by gamblers because it’s classy and flexible, especially if you’re looking for more ways to spend your money on.
Like other blackjack games, the Vegas Strip requires the dealer to stand on Soft 17. You can also double down on any two-card hand. However, there’s no surrender rule on Vegas Strip. This increases the thrill and challenge which many gamblers are looking for.
It’s also believed that Vegas has a very low house edge. A double-deck game can have as low as 0.25% of house edge. Still, this will depend on the casino.
If you want to how to play blackjack in Vegas, here’s our brief guide:
Classic blackjack vs. Vegas Strip
Vegas Strip is founded on the basic tenets of classic American blackjack. If you’re already playing the regular version, the Vegas-style should be easy to grasp.
The biggest difference is that Vegas is played in a fixed four-deck table. Meanwhile, classic blackjacks can be played in a maximum of 8 decks. There are also small details that will differentiate the moves and strategies while playing.
The payout system is also different with Vegas Strip. To make things clearer, below are the rules for the game.
Vegas blackjack rules
Like most blackjack games, your aim is to beat the dealer by getting a hand of 21 or anything that’s higher than the dealer without getting busted. As said earlier, classic Vegas Strip is played with 4 decks only. However, there are many sub-variations that offer two decks. This makes it easier to master since you won’t have to alternate between deck numbers during your practice.
Here are some of the Vegas blackjack rules you should keep in mind:
🃏Doubling down. Vegas Strip allows you to double down on your initial hand and after splitting. With this, you have higher chances of winning more money given that you employ the right strategy.
🃏Splitting. You can only split a maximum of 4 hands. However, you can only split Aces once and there’s only one card you can take to split the said Ace card. Lastly, you can split 10-value cards with different faces (example: K-Q)
🃏Blackjack winning. Your initial blackjack hand wins but a 21 after splitting Aces doesn’t count as a blackjack.
🃏Dealer. The Vegas Strip dealer has to stand on Soft 17, hit on 16, and stand on anything between 17and 21. Also, the dealer peeks for a blackjack. If there’s a blackjack, non-blackjack or 21 hands lose.
🃏Payout. Most Vegas Strip tables pay 3:2 like most classic blackjack games do. There are 6:5 games as well but avoid this if you can.
Remember, though, that Vegas Strip has many sub-variations. One of the most popular is Vegas Downtown Blackjack. It basically has the same rules but the difference is that the dealer will hit at Soft 17 and there are only 2 decks in the shoe.
This variation could be easier to play but it will require a different strategy.
Pros and cons of Vegas Strip Blackjack
Like any casino game, the Vegas-style of playing blackjack also has its pros and cons. The good thing here is it has lenient Vegas blackjack rules when it comes to doubling down. It also allows up to 4 split hands. And if you’re playing classic blackjack before, you’d find it easier to adjust to it since the dealer also stands at Soft 17.
Although not much of an advantage, you can also place insurance bets if you want to take the risk. But if you’re not apt to lose your money on side bets, the splits should be enough to offer you more winning chances.
On the flipside, you should also know that there are some ugly parts in this game. First, you can’t surrender. If the dealer has a 10 up-card and you have an ugly hand, you’re doomed. Still, I think this adds up to the thrill of the game.
Another thing is that a 21 after splitting an Ace doesn’t count as a blackjack. That sucks if you want to make as much money as you can from splits. Also, only one card will be dealt with you when you split Aces. That increases your chance of losing, given that majority of the 10 cards are already out of the shoe.
Calculating the house edge
One thing that offsets some of the disadvantages of the Vegas Strip is its low house edge. Compared to classic blackjack, the house has way lower upper hand in Vegas blackjack tables. You can easily find tables with 0.25%-0.35% house edge. Just keep in mind that you should avoid 6:5 payouts and insurance bets if you want to keep the house edge on the lowest possible level. Knowing how to play blackjack in Vegas should include caution.
However, there’s one catch to this low house edge. The minimum bets are bigger. For example, if you’re playing a Vegas Downtown Blackjack with a 0.25% house edge, minimum bets are slated at $100. You’re lucky if you can find $25 tables to play on. As you see, any advantages come at a higher price, both literally and figuratively.
Is it better to play Vegas Strip online?
This all depends on your preference. If you’re a card counter, playing online would be bleak. You can’t count cards at all. However, if you’re living outside America, Vegas Strip is rare to find on most casinos. Your best bet is a trusted online casino to play on.
But for Aussies, it’s sad to say that online blackjack games are goners. A new law promulgated back in 2017 banned online casinos to offer real-money gambling to Australian players. There are very few online gambling platforms in Australia right now but it’s heavily regulated.
Still, if you’re not in the Down Under, playing Vegas Strip online will be very convenient. This will also allow you to employ your strategy with charts and cheat sheets all around you.
How to play Vegas Strip
Ready to take on the Vegas Strip challenge? If you know something about basic strategy, you’re off to a good start. However, we have to adjust some strategies since surrendering is out of the picture. Experienced Vegas Strip players suggest that you play this variation using the Condensed Optimal Strategy. With this, you’ll focus more on what the dealer has than what your hand value or composition is.
Here are some the moves on how to play blackjack in Vegas in a multiple-deck table:
♠️Hit when the dealer has 8 or lower up-card
♠️Always split eights and aces
♠️Double if you’re dealt with an A-7 hand
♠️Don’t split pairs of 10s, 5s, and 4s
To give you a clearer concept, here’s a chart that you can follow courtesy of the VidPoker. The moves are based on the up-card of the dealer:
If your card count, your strategy of playing would definitely become different. However, card counting will give you an edge if you’re a hard-headed fan of insurance bets. Otherwise, don’t take the risk. Insurance bets have a house edge of 8%. It’s better that you focus on your strategy than putting your money in uncalculated risks.
Tips to increase your chances of winning in Vegas Strip
Do you want to have the upper hand? Although you may not always beat the dealer, you can minimize your losses with the following tips. These tips came straight from gambling aficionado Michael Shackleford:
🃏Never play with 6:5 payouts. The absence of the surrender rule is already a loss on your end. If you play with 6:5 payout, you’re allowing the house to have 1.4% additional edge without getting anything for your part.
🃏Soft doubles are special. It’s advisable to double on Soft 18 or Soft 13 if the dealer has an up-card of 4, 5, or 6. However, I’d like to make an exemption with Soft 13 doubling a dealer 4. Any combination stated beforehand should do well.
🃏Side bets are sucker bets. As much as possible, never make any side bets on Vegas Strip. As much as the game itself is low in house edge, side bets can skyrocket up to 20%. This is a casino’s way of luring you to put more money on the table by thinking that there are more chances of winning. Side bets also include insurance bets.
🃏Learn the rules. What we discussed here are general rules of Vegas Strip. Each casino will have their own rules. Always ask the dealer if you have doubts on how to play blackjack in Vegas.
🃏Use a strategy chart. Never fly blind when playing the Vegas Strip. Always base your moves on a strategy chart, especially if you’re a newbie. When playing online, you can have the chart handy but you have to memorize it if you plan to head to a brick-and-mortar casino.
Playing blackjack in Las Vegas casinos?
If you’re planning to fly to Las Vegas to experience the glitz of actual gambling, don’t be blinded by the shine of the City of Lights. Here are some points to remember the moment you step into an actual Vegas casino:
♣️Avoid tables with an auto-shuffler. Tables with this device continuously shuffle the cards during the game. This takes some advantage away from you, as the player, especially if you’re a card counter. If you can, play only on two-deck tables if you’re not yet a pro in blackjack.
♣️Put the money or chips on the table. New to casinos? Never hand the dealer the money or chips directly. Place it on the table and they will get it from there.
♣️Don’t bring the chips out of the table. Remember, in Vegas, the dealer cashes you out. Never remove the chips out of the table unless they permit you to do so.
♣️Be sociable. Vegas is filled with both experienced and newbie gamblers. If you don’t want to be the pit boss’ subject of suspicion, smile and have fun. As you know, a serious gambler who doesn’t take his or her eyes off the table is probably a card counter. Remember, casinos don’t like great players.
♣️Always tip. Yes, you’re just spending a weekend in Vegas, but that doesn’t mean you can get away from the snide looks of the dealer when you leave without tipping. Give tips to the waiter/waitress who will bring your free drink. If you don’t have cash, they accept chips. Some experts recommend that you tip 10% of your overall winnings. This is a lavish tip, though.
The Vegas Strip Blackjack is an exciting variation of the game. And like other versions, you need a solid strategy to increase your odds of winning. Practicing and knowing the rules by heart is a good start. Although the house edge of Vegas Strip is relatively lower than other blackjack games, complacency will do no good.
For card counters, always be cautious and brace yourself against the possibility of getting backed-off. Staying low-key is best and try not to bet erratically. If you’re going to Las Vegas to have a good time, being tossed out of the casino will not be a good experience.
You have the choice to play online Vegas Strip games, but there’s no way you can count the cards. Still, you have the advantage of using charts to the fullest.
But before you head to the Sin City to play Vegas Strip right at the biggest gambling destination, keep in mind the etiquette we discussed above. If you got backed-off by a pit boss, be polite and don’t escalate the situation.
Overall, this is all about knowing the Vegas blackjack rules, practicing, and making informed bets or moves. It’s like any blackjack games, you’re playing against the dealer and you need to make money.