For the very experienced player, it is easy to say that Vegas Strip Blackjack and American Blackjack are almost the same in gameplay. However, it is essential to point out that a subtle difference is all it takes to cause an upset at the table.
Vegas Strip Blackjack draws its name from the famous Vegas Strip in Las Vegas, arguably one of the world’s gambling capitals. So, suppose you are looking to visit this charming city home to luxurious casinos like Caesar’s Palace, MGM Grand, Harrah’s, Bellagio, Harrah’s, and Circus Circus. In that case, you need to get acquainted with how the game works.
Similarly, if you prefer to play online, the game rules are the same, although there might be some variations from one developer to the other. So, while we put together this piece to help you make the best decisions, as a rule of thumb, it is essential that you find out more at the table if there are specific rules before you start playing.
What is Vegas Strip Blackjack?
Vegas Strip Blackjack is a very popular game among land-based casinos in Las Vegas. The game’s objective is the same: to beat the dealers with a more valuable hand without exceeding 21.
At the beginning of each round, the cards are dealt from four decks containing 52 cards each. The dealer passes two cards each to every player on the table. The player’s cards are exposed, while the dealer receives two cards, but only one is exposed. The dealer’s first card is the upcard, while the second unexposed card is the hole card.
In a regular land-based casino, players are not allowed to touch their cards because Vegas Strip Blackjack is a shoe game. Indeed, there is no point in handling the cards when both are already exposed, but these are some rules that differentiate these games.
How to play Vegas Strip Blackjack
Playing a game of Vegas Strip Blackjack can be very exciting, especially if you are playing from a city that never sleeps. The bustling and colourful scenes will make you fall in love with the game, and when that happens, here is how to go about it.
The first step is to get a seat at the table. There is a croupier to handle the card shuffling and dealing from the decks. Place your bet by moving the chips to the hole at the table. The minimum and maximum bet amounts vary depending on the casino. However, once all bets have been received, the dealer begins to deal the cards to every player. Since every player gets two cards face up, the focus is on the dealer’s card because one is not exposed for the players to see.
The next step is for the player to make a move. Usually, there are many options, and this depends on the dealer’s card that is exposed as well as the player’s hand. This is a very tricky game because the dealer already sees both players’ cards. The player’s actions are subject to the rules of the game. That is, whether the player is allowed to split, double down or make any move based on their hand is a function of what is acceptable and the player’s strategy, if any.
In the end, if the player wins, the payout is a function of the betting action. For example, a regular blackjack pays 3 to 2, but an insurance bet pays 1 to 1.
Vegas Strip Blackjack Card Value
Understanding the value and ranking of cards is crucial in every game of blackjack, and that’s because it is the summation of these values that gives the hand total which determines the overall outcome of the game. In the case of Vegas Strip Blackjack, suits are not relevant, just numerical or symbolic values on each card. A, 2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10, J, Q, K, A. Notice that the Ace doubles as a 1 and 11 depending on the situation it is used. The court cards have a value of 10 and do not enjoy the same fluidity as the Ace, while the other numeric cards have a value that is in tandem with the face value displayed.
Vegas Strip Blackjack Rules
The game’s rules are what make it different from the other variations. There are fixed rules in Vegas Strip Blackjack, particularly for the dealer, which applies to land-based and online casinos.
- The dealer must STAND on a soft 17
- When the dealer’s upcard is an Ace or a 10-value card, the dealer peeks the hole card for blackjack.
- The payout for a natural blackjack in Vegas Strip Casino is 3:2. Ensure that you always insist on it.
- In some casinos, the payout on blackjacks is 6 to 5, which is not great as it increases the house edge by about 2%.
- Players can double down on their first two cards alone.
- Players can double down after splitting a hand.
- Splitting is acceptable on any two cards of the same face value.
- Splitting is allowed up to four times for all cards except Aces.
- Players can split an Ace only once per hand in a round and will receive only one card afterwards.
- After splitting an Ace, a total hand of 21 does not count as a blackjack.
- Players can slit unmatched cards (K, Q, J, K) with the same card value. This is mainly for the court cards (K, J, Q), which all have a face value of 10.
- The insurance bet is available, and it is an option for consideration when the dealer’s upcard is an Ace.
- There is no option to surrender in a typical Vegas strip blackjack game. However, check in with the casino before you start playing.
The Players Moves in Vegas Strip Blackjack
What options are available to the player upon receiving two cards from the dealer? Don’t get too excited if you think you have a great hand or if the dealer’s upcard isn’t threatening. There are many more options a player can take, and while the goal is to beat the dealer, your action can go a long way to determining how that turns out. Below are some of the most popular moves a player can make:
Hit: Request an additional card when you think your total hand is not good enough. As simple as this sounds, there are certain conditions when going for the HIT move is referable, and this is where strategy and charts come into play for every player. You don’t have to be a professional at this point. Knowing these charts will go a long way to help you win and improve consistently.
Stand: This is arguably the best move. Players delight in standing when they feel most confident in their hand total. To stand is to bring the game to an end. The dealer checks the cards, and if you win with a blackjack or the highest card total value, the dealer is busted and vice versa.
Double Down: Halfway into the game, players can make a move to increase their wager, especially when they have a good hand. Double down is only allowed after the first two cards have been dealt. Afterwards, it is not acceptable. This strategic move should only come when the player has a strong hand, and the dealer’s upcard is low-value. Players can also double after splitting a par in a Vegas Strip Blackjack.
Split: The option to split comes when a player receives two cards of the same value. This also includes two court cards, not necessarily the same symbols. For example, a K and Q card can be split as well. When that happens, the player has two independent hands, and a wager must back each. The player also receives an additional card for each hand, and splitting is lowed in Vegas Strip Blackjack up to four times (8 different hands) for all cards except aces (once). Also, the player can only hit once after splitting an ace, so it is vital to map out the strategy before making a move.
Surrender: After receiving the first two cards, the player can decide to surrender after examining the situation at state. There is an option for early, and late surrender and the acceptable move varies from one casino to the other. In Vegas Strip Blackjack, players are allowed to surrender even after the dealer peeks the hole card for blackjack when the upcard is an ace. This feature is known as late surrender, and when that happens, the player gets half his wager rather than losing everything.
Insurance: This move is a very delicate one that many players consider as an unstrategic move. The first condition for an insurance bet is that the dealer’s Upcard must be an Ace. Then, the player places another bet (half the original bet amount) as insurance that if the hole card turns out to make the dealers hand a blackjack, then the player wins and receives a payout of 2 to 1. However, if the reverse happens, the player loses everything. This is more of luck than strategy.
Vegas Strip RTP and House Edge
The RTP for Vegas Strip Blackjack in a typical casino is 99.65%, with a house edge of 0.35%. This means that each time you make a bet of $1, you will only get back $0.9965 if you win. Invariably, you will constantly lose each time, except that it looks insignificant at this point. Indeed, this looks favourable, as with the classical American Blackjack. However, a common practice in many land-based and online casinos is to lure players to a payout of 6 to 5 on a single deck table against the conventional four or more decks. At a glance, many players don’t see this as a wrong move because they think a single deck is most favourable. However, many unfavourable conditions accompany this option, thereby increasing the house edge to about 1.4%, which is very unfair. So, the next time you play Vegas Strip Blackjack, ensure that you stick to the standard four or more deck that offers the lowest house edge and highest RTP.
Vegas Strip Blackjack Strategies
There is absolutely no fun in a game if you always end up on the losing side of the table. Of course, there are good and bad days. However, blackjack is more than just luck, so you should never sit at a table without any strategy. For the most part, the same strategy for American Blackjack should work fine. Below are some of the strategic moves you can make depending on the situations described:
When to Stand or Hit
- When your hand is a hard 5 up to 8, always hit against all hands. What this means is that irrespective of the value of the dealer’s upcard, always request another card.
- When a dealer’s upcard is a 4, 5, and 6, stand on a hard 12 and hit if the card values are higher.
- Stand on 17 to 21 against any of the dealer’s cards.
NB: This is only a strategy and does not guarantee a win. In some situations, these options might not be the best move. For example, standing on a hard 12 when the dealer’s upcard is a 6 does not mean you have won the game. The dealer could have a 10 and end up with a 16.
When to Double Down
- Against the dealer’s upcard with values of 3 to 6, doubling down on a hard 9 is a good move. If otherwise, Hit.
- Double down against the dealer’s cards from 3 to 6 when you have a soft 17 or 18.
- Except when the dealer’s upcard is an ace (Hit), double down on all cards when you have an 11.
- When the dealer’s upcard is between 2 to 9, double down on pairs of 5 and a hard 10.
When to Surrender
- When the dealer’s upcard is a 9, 10 or an ace, always surrender a hard 16.
- Surrender a hard 15 when the dealer has a 10
When to Split
- Never split a pair of 5s. This makes for a good start with a total of 10, making it suitable for a double down.
- Always split a pair of 8s for the obvious reason that a hard total of 16 can put you in an awful position. You get the chance to start each hand with an initial 8, which is a better position than a hard hand of 16.
- Always split a pair of aces. The logic behind this move is the same as splitting a pair of 8. Your chances of winning both hands increases when you already have an 11 with a chance to receive additional cards on each hand.
- Never split on any 10-value cards. Since you already have a 20, the best move is to stand, as the dealer needs a 21 to win. Splitting puts you in a more difficult position even though it looks good in that you get the chance to win both hands still when you receive additional cards on each hand. However, you could also lose both hands.
This can go on and on based on players’ experience. However, the fact that the cards are dealt in a random fashion means that you have no control over what your next card might be. So, the next time you are thinking about splitting a pair of 9s or 10, bear in mind that you could receive a very bad card of, say, 1 and 2, which puts you in an awkward position. Bottom line is that these strategies are only meant to guide you. The player gets to make the ultimate call.
If you are looking to play your favourite blackjack game but with that touch of the bustling Vegas life written all over it, then Vegas Strip Blackjack is the game for you. The game features a high RTP and low house edge, especially if you are playing the standard 3-to-2 payout variation. However, this could turn sour if you play the single deck variation as the house edge increases to about 1.4%. Also, Vegas Strip Blackjack does not allow for multi-hand and side bets. However, with the right strategy and game management approach, it is a very simple and exciting game to play.
What is Vegas Strip Blackjack?
Vegas Strip Blackjack is a popular variation of the game that is common in the US, especially in Las Vegas. It is similar to the traditional American Blackjack in many ways but has its peculiar variations depending on the casino.
Is Vegas Strip Casino a better option for card counters?
Yes, if card counting is a part of your strategy, then Vegas Strip Blackjack is a much easier option in that it uses fewer decks of cards, usually four. However, in some casinos, fewer decks might be used, but this comes at a cost of a higher house edge.
Is Vegas Strip Blackjack a better alternative to other variants?
Yes, if you are looking to enjoy the thrilling experience of classical American Blackjack with less strict rules and more favorable gameplay, then Vegas Strip Blackjack is a better alternative.
Can you surrender in a game of Vegas Strip Blackjack?
The rules say that you can surrender late in the game if the dealer’s upcard is an ace and after the dealer peeks the hole card for a blackjack. If it is blackjack, then the player only loses half his bet. However, this might not be the case in every casino.