Blackjack Variations: Vegas Strip Blackjack
Blackjack games on the Las Vegas Strip use what is commonly referred to as the ‘Standard US Blackjack’ rules. Over the years the most common rules have evolved and settled into a status-quo which is familiar to the millions of tourists who visit the casinos on the Strip each year. The main difference between US Blackjack and worldwide games is the ‘peek for Blackjack’ which the dealer will perform if a 10 or Ace is showing as an up card.
You can play Vegas Strip Blackjack online at most casinos. This will be called American Blackjack, or maybe simply Blackjack. There is a game which is named after the Vegas Strip available at casinos which use the MicroGaming software.
This page gives you an overview and the general rules of Vegas Strip Blackjack, and then goes on to describe those parts which can vary between casinos.
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The setup of this game will involve between 4 and 8 decks of cards, which are shuffled and then put into a special shoe. This will be used until around 2/3rds of the cards are dealt. Minimum bets for players in Vegas Casinos start at $5, bets of up to $500 can be made on the floor of most casinos and more can be bet by high rollers on request.
Once bets are placed, each player will be dealt 2 cards, one at a time from the dealer’s left. These will be face up, while the dealer will have one card face up and the other face down. If the showing card is an Ace, players will be asked whether they would like to take the ‘Insurance’ side bet, which pays out at 2:1 if the dealer hits 21.
If the dealer shows a card with a value of 10 or an Ace, she will ‘peek for Blackjack’. If the hidden card makes a natural 21, this is revealed and the hand ends. Players with 21 get their bet returned, and those without this total lose. If a player has 21 in 2 cards they will be paid out at 3:2.
Now players take it in turns to make their decision on whether to hit (take another card), stand on the total they have, split their cards into separate hands (adding another bet), or doubling down by adding a bet and receiving just one more card. Surrender (giving up a hand for the loss of half of your bet) may also be offered as part of this format.
Once players have acted, the dealer will reveal her hidden card and take more cards according to the rules printed on the felt. The dealer will normally stand on a soft 17, though some casinos will see the dealer hitting here instead. If the dealer busts (goes over 21) then all live player hands get paid at 1:1.
Areas Where Rules Can Differ
Even subtle differences in the rules can make a big difference in Vegas Blackjack games. Splitting and Doubling are two such areas.
Usually the double-down rules are very liberal in Vegas, players can double on any total they wish. Keep in mind that it might not always be optimal to do this, depending on what up card the dealer is showing.
Splitting is also liberal compared to other games. You can split any pairs, including aces, and resplit a total of 3 times. Aces can only get one more card after splitting, and the total is ‘only’ a 21 hand and not a ‘Blackjack’. You cannot usually double after a split in this game – though once again, check with your casino, as these rules do vary.
Vegas Blackjack Side Bets
In general, side bets have a bigger edge in favor of the house than the main game. For example 6% for Perfect Pairs compared to 1.6% for an average Vegas Blackjack game. What you get for your money with these bets is the opportunity to win windfall payout, with up to 50x your bet commonly awarded and bigger wins for some rare combinations. This can add some interest and excitement to the game.
Common side bets with Vegas Blackjack includes ‘Perfect Pairs’. Here you are betting that your cards will be a pair, you get a bigger payout if that pair is the same color, and an even bigger one if your pair is the same suit. Bonus Blackjack is a side bet which rewards you for hitting Blackjack, with 50:1 available for Ace + Jack of spades. You might also find a jackpot game based on 7’s. This is great for Blackjack as 3 x 7 = 21. If you hit 3 yourself and the dealer also shows one, then you can be in for a very big pay out indeed.