What is meant by the term “Las Vegas rules”?

Copyright © 1994 – 2017By Michael Dalton All Rights Reserved
FAQ 2: Originally published in Volume 4 Issue 3 of Blackjack Review Magazine
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Welcome to Las Vegas

This term was often used as the standard to compare one blackjack game with another. Las Vegas rules used to refer to games that were typical of Downtown Las Vegas – double down allowed on any initial two cards, dealer hits soft-17, resplits and insurance allowed. Las Vegas rules also implied that re-splitting of aces and double after splitting were not allowed. Good examples of Las Vegas casinos with standard Las Vegas rules were the Fremont and Fitzgeralds.

Las Vegas “Strip” rules improved the player’s odds slightly requiring the dealer to stand on all 17s. The Las Vegas Strip has traditionally implied those casinos found between the old Hacienda and the old Vegas World, however, not all casinos know what the term means. A good example of a Las Vegas Strip casino offering Las Vegas Strip rules used to be the Imperial Palace.

Reno rules were considerably less favorable to the basic strategy player where doubling was restricted to 10 and 11 only and the dealer hits soft-17. These rules could also be found in the Lake Tahoe region. A good example of a Reno casino offering Reno rules was Circus Circus.

Atlantic City is another region that has coined its own term due to a unique combination of rule options. Atlantic City rules allowed players to double on any 2 cards, dealer stands on soft-17, double after splitting allowed, and no resplits allowed. The Taj Mahal and Showboat were good examples of casinos offering typical Atlantic City rules.

Players and blackjack authors have promoted the above terminology since the early days of advantage play. However, not all casinos in a specific region will necessarily offer the rules depicted above.  As an example, on the Las Vegas Strip, you will find most large casino shoe games now have dealers hit soft-17 but double after splitting may be allowed. In Mississippi and Louisiana, you will also find casinos with similar rules.

These terms are for historical significance only.  It appears that the trend is for rules that are worse for the player.  Good examples of this are that most casinos are now hitting soft-17 and blackjack payoffs are often only 6:5.  We can live with dealers hitting soft-17 but we should all protest and not play games with 6:5 rules.

To round out the rules and to add some spice to the game you will also find some casinos offering late surrender, bonuses, jokers, sidebets, the ability to resplit aces, and a variety of blackjack variations such as Heads Up Blackjack, Multi-Action, Triple-Chance, Players Choice, and Double Exposure to name a few.

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