Category Archives: FAQ

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
RETURN TO THE BLACKJACK FAQ

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.

Does blackjack have the “best” odds for the player?

Copyright © 1994 – 2017By Michael Dalton All Rights Reserved
FAQ 1: Originally published in Volume 4 Issue 2 of Blackjack Review Magazine
RETURN TO THE BLACKJACK FAQ

Yes! Actually, it depends on the rules of the game and the skill of the player. A single deck game with Las Vegas Strip (LVS) rules and double after splitting (DAS) allowed actually gives the player a 0.1% advantage. This assumes, of course, that the player uses the “correct” basic strategy.

It is not often that you will find casinos offering games with the above rules, but they do occasionally surface. The Frontier casino in Las Vegas offered this game for several years while they were on strike. The games were always busy and the Frontier earned a reputation as being the local card counter’s hang-out.

Theoretically, the game of blackjack can offer the player the best odds in the house. Compared with the next best gamble, the craps pass line (and don’t pass line) offer players a 1.4% disadvantage. Blackjack players would have to look long and hard to find a blackjack game with a casino edge as high as this. If you ignore your typical “double exposure” type games and other high casino edge blackjack variations, the worst blackjack game that a player might run into would be an 8-deck game with double on 10 and 11 only, dealer hits soft-17 and no resplits. Casino advantage? … only about 1%! Generally, as long as naturals are paid at 3 to 2, this game is probably better than any other in the casino.

But unlike craps, which requires only a knowledge of where to place your bet, blackjack requires skill. Players must have memorized basic strategy and be willing to place more money on the table when called for in double down and split situations. It is no wonder that casinos continue to offer this game. The continuous flow of inexperienced new players and players who refuse to follow basic strategy increase the casino’s advantage upwards of 5% or so. And, if you believe in published “win rate” figures casinos are winning over 10% of all money wagered at blackjack tables across the country.

CASINO ADVANTAGES
VS BASIC STRATEGY PLAYERS

1-dk LVS & DAS -.1%
1-dk LVS +.0%
1-dk D10 & H17 +.4%
2-dk LVS & DAS +.2%
2-dk LVS +.3%
2-dk D10 & H17 +.7%
4-dk LVS & DAS +.3%
4-dk LVS +.4%
4-dk D10 & H17 +.8%
6 / 8-dk LVS & DAS +.4%
6 / 8-dk LVS +.5%
6 / 8-dk D10 & H17 +.9%
Double Exposure (Typical) +1.1%

LVS = Las Vegas Strip rules where you can double on any two cards and the dealer stands on Soft-17.
DAS = Double After Splits allowed.
D10 = Double on 10 and 11 only