El Cortez opened in 1941. It was designed by Bugsy Siegel. Little has changed about the place since. There is a newer hotel tower and a parking deck. The neighborhood has changed around it, especially in the past few years. There was a time when a gambler would not have wanted to walk from the Fremont Street Experience to El Cortez due to the crime. Those days are long gone. The block between Las Vegas Blvd and El Cortez is now a bar district that attracts locals. It has experienced a complete redevelopment.
El Cortez Games and Tables
There are only two types of live blackjack games at El Cortez. The most popular is a single deck game that permits double down on any two cards. While most Las Vegas single deck blackjack games have this same rule, El Cortez has one that puts it above the rest. The El Cortez single deck blackjack game pays 3-2 on a natural. The dealer hits soft 17. This is the best blackjack game in Las Vegas. The house edge is only 0.19%. There are 10 tables with a $10 to $500 bet range. One table has a $25 to $1,000 range.
There are two double deck blackjack tables. These permit double down before and after splitting. The dealer hits soft 17. The bet range is $5 to $500.
There is a video blackjack machine at El Cortez. It is called Dealers Angel. It has $1 to $100 limits. Players may double down on any two cards and after splitting. Surrender is also permitted. The dealer stands on all 17’s. The house edge is 0.35%. The machine accepts a players card, which adds another 0.2% to the return before free meals and rooms. Players earn points and comps on this machine at the same rate as video poker. Gamblers looking for free rooms and meals should consider playing this game over the live ones.
Players Club for Frequent Blackjack Players
Blackjack players will typically not get rated highly at El Cortez. The casino rates players based on skill over bet limits. Experienced blackjack players should give action at other games. The craps table has a $5 minimum bet with 10 times odds. The double zero roulette tables have a $1 minimum bet. There is also some great video poker machines at El Cortez. Mix the play up and give action at some of these other games to increase the chances of getting a good mailer or free meal.
El Cortez offers the only blackjack game in Las Vegas where players can double down on any two cards and pays 3-2 on a natural. The double deck blackjack game allows double down before and after splitting for only a $5 minimum. One huge minus about El Cortez blackjack is that the casino is ultra paranoid. The pit bosses will back off any player betting a one to three spread that they consider an expert. Many players that are not even counting get kicked out. Pit bosses may just tell a player that they must bet the minimum flat throughout the deck. This is typically enough to get unwanted players to leave, even if the pit bosses guessed wrong on the play level of the gambler.
The Inside View
It is a rite of passage to get backed off at an El Cortez single deck blackjack game. Some players report getting booted for spreading $10 to $25. El Cortez has a short memory and does not record backed off players. Those that get kicked out seem to have no problem returning later on for another session. This may be due to the fact that El Cortez has a history of backing players off that simply got lucky. Due to the quickness of getting kicked off the blackjack tables at El Cortez, we recommend never using a players card, even if you are not counting cards.