2019 Las Vegas Guide to Smart Gambling
The glitz and glamour of the dancing lights created a colorful atmosphere as the dazzled guests walked towards the casino pit. Row after row of blackjack games filled the large room, each identical to the last, as the player looked around and randomly picked a table to sit down and start playing. Aimlessly picking a table can be risky, as the player might sit down at a game with a high house edge. It doesn’t help that the Las Vegas Strip is cluttered with side bets, variations of popular games and an array of different payouts and options that’s difficult for the average player to keep track of. This guide will help casual players determine which table is right for them, what casinos offer what games and what casinos are taking advantage of them.
There is one concept the reader needs to understand before continuing and that is the house edge. Customers might win money here or there, but over the long run, casinos will always come out ahead and this is due to the edge the house or casino has over the player. The House Edge is the amount of money the casino is expected to make off the player’s hand. It’s expressed as a percentage and it’s different for every table. For example, the house edge for roulette is 5.26%, so if the player was betting $100 per hand, then they’re expected to lose $5.26
per hand. If the player plays 60 hands in one hour, then they’re expected to lose $315 during that one hour; over time this can add up to some serious numbers. Therefore, players should strive to wager on bets with a low house edge, such as around 1% and stay away from bets with a high house edge, such as 7% - 15% depending on their risk aversion.
Blackjack House Edge
Blackjack is the most popular table game in America with roughly a 0.5% house edge depending on the number of decks used and the rules involved. Most casinos have rows of blackjack games lining the casino floors each with different combinations of rules and payouts, such as is it a 2, 4, 6, or 8 deck shoe, a 3 to 2 or 6 to 5 payouts, and does the dealer hit or stay on a soft 17 for example. Seeing how the house edge changes depending on all of these factors, it’s understandable that most casual players don’t comprehend or keep track of this type of information. That’s why this article exists; we gathered this information so you don’t have to. We’ve collaborated with Online United States Casinos.com to collect this information and provide it to you, the readers. You can find a comprehensive list at Online United States Casinos.com.
The best house edge a player can get on a Las Vegas blackjack table is 0.26%. The player must act in accordance with the following bullet points in order to achieve such a low house edge:
6 deck shoe
Dealer stays on soft 17
Blackjack pays 3 to 2
The player can double down on any two cards
The player can double after a split
The player has the option to surrender
The player can re-split aces
The player cannot hit after splitting aces
Players can only find this 0.26% house edge at the following casinos:
The player is able get a lower house edge than 0.26% but there are no tables in Las Vegas with that combination of rules. If you follow the listed rules above and only alter one item, then this brings the house edge all the way down to 0.08%. That one item is the player being able to hit their hand after re-splitting aces. By using the Wizard of Odds house edge calculator for blackjack , you can input the rules of your local blackjack table and determine if it’s right for you. Also keep in mind that most casinos have different rules and payouts depending on the table. If you’re not sure what the rules are for any given table, ask the dealer before sitting down.
Blackjack Payouts: 3:2 vs 6:5
The Strip has changed substantially over the years. Long past are the days of mafia controlled casinos, as we now live in an age where corporations rule the roost. Corporations are well known for their need to annually increase profits therefore squeezing their customers and employees in the process. One example of this recent trend is on blackjack, where casinos have gradually changed the 3 to 2 blackjack bonus payouts to 6 to 5. This is due to the fact that a majority of players don’t understand the difference between the two payouts.
When paying a 3 to 2 bet, take your wager and multiply it 1.5 times. For example, if you have a $10 bet, you know that half of that is $5. The math is simple. $10 + $5 = $15, so a 3 to 2 blackjack bonus bet on a $10 wager pays $15. Compare that to a 6 to 5 blackjack payout. Instead of multiplying your bet by 1.5, that number would drop down to 1.2. This means that every $5 bet would get paid a $1 bonus instead of the normal $2.50 bonus. This might not sound like a lot at first, but it can add up over time. Now imagine you’re sitting on a 6 deck shoe where the dealer hits a soft 17, surrender is available, you can double after a split, double on any first two cards, split up to 4 times but with aces you can only split once and you get one card. If blackjack pays 3 to 2 then the house edge on that game would be around 0.53%. However, on the exact same table with the exact same rules, if blackjack pays 6 to 5 instead then the house edge shoots up to about 1.89%. Players lose more money to the casinos yet play the exact same game. The only reason why they don’t get mad about it is because they don’t realize they’re being taken advantage of.
Can this be stopped? Yes, customers can make an impact by voting with their dollars and choosing casinos that have a majority of 3 to 2 games. If a game isn’t bringing in money then management will replace it with one that is. If you’re ever unsure, then before sitting down at a blackjack table, ask the dealer if it pays 3 to 2 or 6 to 5. Try to play on only 3 to 2 games and avoid 6 to 5 games. In Las Vegas, a high majority of single deck games pay 6 to 5 on a blackjack. Here’s a list of casinos that pay 3 to 2 on their single deck blackjack:
|Arizona Charlie's Decatur||$10||$500|
For double deck games, a majority of Las Vegas casinos offer 3 to 2 on blackjack. However there are a couple of casinos that brazenly payout 6 to 5 on their double deck games.
The Cosmopolitan offers 6 to 5 on all double deck games located on the casino floor. (Min-Max $25 - $2,000) The only 3 to 2 double deck games they have are located in the High Limit area
All Hooters blackjack tables pay 6 to 5
Tropicana has four double decks; three are 6 to 5 and only one is 3 to 2
For six deck games, the following list contains all of the casinos that pay 3 to 2 on blackjack:
|Arizona Charlies Boulder||$3||$500|
|Arizona Charlies Decatur||$5||$500|
|Green Valley Ranch||$10||$2,500|
|Santa Fe Station||$10||$2,000|
The following casinos only pay 6 to 5 on their six deck shoe and should be avoided:
Craps odds are one of the best bets in the house. They’re also known as True Odds because the player is getting the real, true, actual odds of that bet, meaning there is a 0% house edge.
The amount of odds a player can take depends on the casino. At some casinos the player will take the amount of their flat bet and double it, placing that amount behind their flat bet. This is known as taking 2x times odds. In Las Vegas, most casinos will pay 3x 4x 5x times odds, meaning if the point is a 4 or a 10 then the player can bet 3 times their flat bet behind the pass line, if the point is a 5 or 9 then the player can bet 4 times their wager and if the point is a 6 or 8 then they can bet 5 times their flat bet. The house with the best odds is the Cromwell with 100 times odds on any point. 20x times odds are 2nd best and the two casinos who offer that are the Main Street Station and Sam’s Town. The 3rd and most common is 10x times odds and the houses that offer that are listed below:
|Arizona Charlie's Boulder||$2||$1,000||Triple|
|Green Valley Ranch||$5||$5,000||Double|
|Santa Fe Station||$5||$1,000||Double|
Craps Field Bet
If you enjoy playing the Field, then pay particular attention to the 12. If the 12 has the words “Double” above it then this means the bet pays 2 to 1 giving the casino a house edge of 5.56%. If it has the word “Triple” above it instead, then the bet pays 3 to 1 giving the casino a house edge of 2.78%. Therefore, when given a choice, it’s much better to play on a craps game that pays triple the field rather than double. We’ve provided a list of all of the Las Vegas casinos that pay triple on the field:
|Arizona Charlie's Boulder||$2||$1,000||10x|
|Arizona Charlie's Decatur||$5||$500||5x|
|Main Street Station||$5||$1,000||20x|
|New York, New York||$15||$3,000||3x4x5x|
Craps Minimum Bet
Craps is a difficult game to learn and when trying to make the appropriate amount and combination of bets per roll it can really add up to some serious cash. If you want to learn the game while avoiding dipping into your savings, then practice on these low limit tables:
|Arizona Charlie's Boulder||$2||$1,000||10x||Triple|
Roulette House Edge
There are several different versions of Roulette available to players and each one has a different house edge. The three zeros might look tempting, but triple zero roulette is the worst version, giving players a 7.69% house edge. Double zero roulette has a house edge of 5.26% and is the most common version of this game. Double zero roulette can be found in most casinos. Some might think that the single zero version of roulette offers players the best house edge at 2.7% yet there’s a version of roulette that’s better for players. European / French Roulette with the La Partage principle offers players a 1.35% house edge. The La Partage rule states that if a zero hits, half of all even money bets are given back to the players. It’s because of this principle that the house edge is lowered to 1.35%. Here’s a list of all of the casinos that have single zero roulette with a house edge of 1.35%.
Even though some casinos call their single zero roulette game European Roulette, there is no La Partage principle, giving players a house edge of 2.7%. Because of this, it’s always good to double check with the dealer to make sure the La Partage principle is in place before you start playing. Here is a list of casinos that offer a single zero roulette with a 2.7% house edge.
In the casino, it’s normal for minimums and maximums to change on a whim. Typically, minimums are subject to change depending on the day and time, where the lowest amounts will be in the morning around 5am and then raised later on in the day. Depending on the casino the lowest minimum could be $5 which then gets raised to $10 around 6pm. The weekdays will have the lowest minimums while the weekends will have the highest minimums. For example, a casino might have a $5 minimum table on Tuesday at 8am but then on Friday at 7pm that minimum would be raised to $10. If it’s a holiday weekend then some casinos might raise their minimums to $15 or $25.
As we continue to see the rising trend of increasing choices for players, we’ll continue to stay on top of the facts and provide the information necessary to properly educate the common casino player. Now that you know what casino to visit and what game you’re going to play… Go out and have some fun! You can relax now that you know you’re getting the best bang for your buck.
Disclosure: This article contains sponsored content.