There are about as many good cheapblackjack games on the Vegas Strip as you might have expected. In other words, there aren’t many. Where you do find good cheap blackjack you should expect that there are only one or two of these tables at most of the casinos listed below. They should be easy to spot since you’ll probably see a large crowd at these tables so you might have to wait for a seat.
For simplicity, I’m using $15 as the cut off for cheapblackjack and just listing the house edge of the games. I’m also listing the casinos alphabetically, and not by the smallest house edge. You can see the full survey here. The list is great and has information on all blackjack at every casino in Las Vegas.
Bally’s – House Edge: 0.57 Caesars Palace – House Edge: 0.57 The Cromwell – House Edge: 0.57 Excalibur – House Edge: 0.66 Flamingo (and Margaritaville) – House Edge: 0.57 The Linq – House Edge: 0.57 Harrah’s – House Edge: 0.55 New York – New York – House Edge: 0.48 Paris – House Edge: 0.57 Planet Hollywood – House Edge: 0.57 SLS Las Vegas – House Edge: 0.48 Treasure Island – House Edge: 0.46 and 0.48 Tropicana – House Edge: 0.57
The majority of gamblers that visit Las Vegas aren’t high rollers. In fact, about 80% (arbitrary number in my head) are looking for cheap blackjack wherever they can find it. They’re also looking for good cheap blackjack games. You can find good cheap blackjack on the Vegas Strip but the options are decreasing every day.
It’s time to head to Downtown Vegas where good cheap blackjack isn’t too difficult to find. In recent years, we’ve seen gamblers migrating from the Vegas Strip to Downtown Vegas where the gamblin’s good (see the best craps odds in Downtown Vegas).
For simplicity, I’m using $15 as the cut off for cheapblackjack once again. I’m listing the casinos alphabetically and not by the games with the best house edge. Visit the survey on Wizard of Vegas to see the complete details of the games listed below and higher denomination games.
Binion’s – House Edge: 0.66 California – House Edge: 0.60 The D – House Edge: 0.46 & 0.64 Downtown Grand – House Edge: 0.64 El Cortez – House Edge: 0.30 and 0.45 Fremont – House Edge: 0.60 Golden Gate – House Edge: 0.61 Main Street Station – House Edge: 0.60 Plaza – House Edge: 0.64
El Cortez– House Edge: 0.30 Four Queens – House Edge: 0.57 & 0.60 Golden Nugget – House Edge: 0.48 & 0.60 Plaza – House Edge: 0.456
Binion’s – House Edge: 0.60
Note: Most casinos have multiple games with a worse house edge. Make sure you check the rules before you play.
It doesn’t seem as though most athletes need or use a players club card but Johnny Football isn’t most athletes. If he continued his low rolling ways than Johnny Manziel is probably a lower level Total Rewards member and has to pay resort fees on his comp’d room.
Furthermore, his $10-$15 hands of blackjack may not even be rated by Total Rewards. Blackjack players might be most interested to know that Johnny Football is most likely still playing 6:5 blackjack.
Alas, there’s no photographic proof that Johnny Football was actually in Vegas this weekend. Did he attend Britney Spears‘ first show of the new year? I guess we’ll never really know if he was in Vegas flashing his Total Rewards Gold Card around.
Shuffle Master was rebranded as SHFL a couple of years ago but was purchased by Bally Technologies. Shortly after that acquisition Bally Technologies was purchased by Scientific Games. In the video below it seems as though Scientific Games has reverted to the old branding of Shuffle Master. Got it? Okay.
The video below shows a tease of new Shuffle Master table games that will debut at G2E. Shuffle Master controls most of the space on the casino floor that’s devoted to Carnival Games. They’re called Carnival Games mostly by traditionalists that grew up with blackjack, craps, roulette and slot machines occupying the casino floor.
Carnival Games are the newer casino games like 3 Card Poker, Mississippi Stud Poker and so on. It’s easier for a company like Shuffle Master to test a new game in place of one of their 3 Card Poker games, for example, than it is for a new manufacturer looking for extra space on the casino floor.
Do any of the titles in the preview below sound interesting? Leave a comment and I’ll try to get some information on that game.
I’ll get more information on the branding as we get closer to G2E but that’s not important right now.
On last week’s Wynn Resorts earnings call Steve Wynn went into a long discussion of how Wynn Las Vegas is adjusting their casino floor to maximize revenue. Here’s an excerpt of the call from Vegas Hotel News.
I also rearranged the floor in the casino to put our specialty games that are very popular with the public – that have a higher margin – and I put them in the hundred percent location. And I moved my games with less of a margin to secondary locations. Those changes have worked out favorably to us in the past three weeks, and that kind of re-examination… our slot floor has been re-done. We win more money with less games now. These are some of the reasons why we make more money than anybody else in Las Vegas.
You can read the full segment on gambling at Wynn from the Wynn Resorts earnings call from Vegas Hotel News.
Every business has the right to maximize their earnings potential. At the same time every customer has the right to take their money elsewhere.
I haven’t gambled at Wynn in almost a year and I don’t see myself returning any time soon. The emphasis on 6:5 blackjack, 2x craps (info on Vegas Chatter), poor video poker pay tablesand the focus on prominently featuring games with a high house edge really isn’t of interest to me.
I’ve always liked gambling at Wynn and especially Encore. While I’m looking forward to the renovations at Encore (details on Travel Vegas) and I love dining at SW Steakhouse I’m not sure I want to support Steve Wynn any time soon.
A couple of weeks ago I played a little blackjack with Mark from the 360 Vegas podcast at The D in Downtown Vegas. We had a blast and I had my first winning blackjack session in far too long. My level of perfection with blackjack strategy is about 90%-95% accurate. It’s not perfect but good enough for me.
Mark used a blackjack strategy card as a reference every time he wasn’t sure what the right play was. I haven’t seen someone use a blackjack strategy card in a casino in a while and that’s silly. Blackjack strategy cards are legal to use at the table and cost less than $5 whether you buy in a casino or via amazon (links below).
$5 for blackjack strategy card is a small investment that you should recoup in your first session or two of blackjack, even if you’re playing at a $5 table. Over time you should learn the correct plays without having to use the card. This is a great item to keep on hand in Vegas if you’re unsure how to play blackjack perfectly or you’re drinking a few too many to think straight this comes in handy.
Over time it may not matter mathematically if you or others at the blackjack table play with perfect strategy but in the moment making the wrong play stinks when you lose. Making the wrong play also makes other players cranky.
I play blackjack every now and again in the casino but unlike some of my friends I enjoy other games like 3 Card Poker or Mississippi Stud. When I do play blackjack in a casino I always want to play using correct basic strategy. Over time wins and losses will even out so I don’t really worry about other players. I just want to make sure I make the right moves – for me and for the table.
MyVegas Blackjack was introduced in the beginning of October (see details on Vegas Chatter). I downloaded the MyVegas Blackjack game to see what it was like. While MyVegas Blackjack is a game for fun it wasn’t as simple as a traditional blackjack game.
There’s a “Bold Play Meter” (aka “Wrong Play Meter”) which makes the game fun but rewards the player for making the wrong plays. This feature made me pause. I enjoyed playing MyVegas Blackjack more than I expected. However,
I had to delete MyVegas Blackjack from all of my devices.
MyVegas Blackjack was creating some bad habits in my blackjack game because of the ability to earn more points for bad moves. I enjoyed this feature a bit too much and had to stop. I have some friends coming to town that will play blackjack, almost exclusively, for a 4 straight days. I need my blackjack skills sharp for when we play.
SLS Las Vegas has monkeys everywhere. I love monkeys. There are 5 different monkeys on each blackjack table and the dealers wear vests with monkeys on the back. There’s no way that someone who loves monkeys like me won’t go a little crazy after looking at them for a while.
Bad (fun) things can happen with the combination of too many moneys and too much scotch. A friend emailed a conversation that I’ll very likely have…because there’s a monkey everywhere you look.
Marc: “c’mon, (sitting on an Ace), hit me a MONKEEEE…BLACKJACK, FUCK YEAH MONKEY!” Pit Boss: “Sir, you can’t use that language here…” Marc: “Dude, There are Monkeys everywhere, it’s ok”
This will happen in a couple of months. Here’s another Blackjack Monkey.
My first impression of SLS Las Vegas is positive but not perfect. Nothing is perfect as far as I’m concerned. I’ve already detailed some of the flaws from the first few days of business in a separate post.
The pre-opening moniker SLS Las Vegas used to describe the property was “affordable luxury”. That set up for the hotel to be fancy on a budget. For example there’s no way to make Ikea furniture feel luxurious but it can look nice. With that in mind I went in with limited expectations.
2. Casino Layout
I care more about the casino than most of SLS Las Vegas. The floor plan is only 60,000 square feet. If you ever visited Sahara this is 20,000 square feet less. The floor plan is small, which is fine but there are choke points that make it almost impossible to go to certain parts of the casino. The high traffic walkway by table area near the players club and The Griddle is tight and will always be busy. There are similar choke points on the slot floor that will be impossible to walk through because machines are packed so closely. Just scope out areas before sitting down at a table or machine.
Layout aside there are ample 3:2 blackjack games for $5 and $10. Craps has $10 minimums. There is decent video poker and all new slot machines. I dig all of this and wouldn’t mind gambling here. US Poker has a breakdown of most of the games.
Parts of the casino floor seem dark and that can make the tight casino feel almost claustrophobic on busy nights. This feels like a casino I’d visit during the day more than at night.
3. Umami Burger – Sportsbook – Beer Garden
This is the part of the casino I was most looking forward to. A sportsbook that serves good burgers and good beer? This might be heaven. It is and it isn’t. This isn’t a sportsbook.
Umami Burger a sports bar/restaurant with a patio and a place to bet on sports. Burger prices are between $12 and $15. Not too bad for the Vegas Strip. Draft beers are around $9-10 and bottles start at $5. There are no drink tickets from William Hill for sports bets as of opening but I think that will change. If you drink/eat at the video poker bar your drinks will be comp’d while you have money in play.
I really like this as a restaurant. Like I said in Vegas Chatterthis is a good sports bar/restaurant but it’s not a traditional sportsbook. It should be packed with sports fans for big events but expect to see kids and families in the mix on other days. Even thought it’s not a traditional sportsbook this is my favorite spot at SLS Las Vegas.
Note, you can still sit and watch games without spending any money. However, if there are paying customers for Umami Burger you’ll politely be asked to leave if you’re not spending money.
I like SLS Las Vegas. I might like it a lot but it’s too early to tell. Like everything in life SLS Las Vegas has some flaws. During the week I’ll going a bit deeper into the things I like but I want to touch on some things that I’ve seen and heard that stand out on the less than awesome side.
These are just meant as a heads up for visitors and not a take down of SLS. You can’t judge any business on 2 days of operation.
SLS Las Vegas has already started to address some complaints from the first two days of business (beer prices for one) and it will be interesting to see how else they handle early complaints.
Dark – The casino is kind of dark. There’s little natural light and what light they have isn’t very bright. I didn’t spend much time in the casino so I’m not sure if this is a sleep inducing kind of dark or if it creates some intimacy. If you like natural light hang out near the Vegas Strip side. There’s a blackjack pit near the Vegas Strip entrance and Umami Burger has light from the beer garden.
Tight – Even though there are less 200 less slot machines than the Sahara had the slot floor can be tight. If two people are playing back to back in some areas it may be impossible to pass. When The Griddle or The Code booth are busy the pit of blackjack tables becomes uncomfortable. I’m not sure this can be fixed so these are just spots that I’ll avoid.
Hidden Buffet – The buffet is on the second floor and there’s limited signage that I can remember pointing people there. The setup is nice if you like a buffet but you may have to remember that you want it. I think it’s great to have the buffet on the second floor as it will keep kids/families out-of-the-way from the rest of the property for a while.
Drink Prices – Drink prices across the board are kind of insane. Most draft beers (a good selection) at Umami burger are around $10 or more. Cocktails at other restaurants are $14-$15. A bottle of soda (no fountain drinks) at Umami Burger is $5(!). Large Iced Coffee at The Perq is more than $5. These are more in line with Vegas Strip luxury hotel prices than a middle tier hotel. Umami did drop a bottle of Stella Artois from $8 to $5 last night so it looks as though SLS Las Vegas will offer some options to the prices.
Trying Too Hard – I like a lot of the design touches on the main floor of SLS but some have mentioned that it comes across as trying too hard to be cool. It’s almost as if there’s too much design effort which comes off as obnoxious. To each their own.
Small Rooms – You should know the basic rooms are some of the smallest on the Vegas Strip. If you’re not aware of the size it will bother you. They try to mask the small size and bad views with design but the bones are the bones.
In The Hood – You’re kind of in the hood when you’re outside of SLS. There are plenty of security guards on and around the property to remind you of that.
Slow Elevators – The building is old and the elevators haven’t been replaced and have been getting wonky already. This was a problem for some people in the garage over the weekend. On my Friday tour the World Tower elevators didn’t want to close. In their defense we had to be over capacity with too many people.
Here are links to pictures I took over the weekend if you’d like to get an idea of what SLS Las Vegas looks like.