Las Vegas attracted an astounding 42 million visitors in 2018, and when these gamblers got into town, they overwhelmingly hit The Strip.
This iconic stretch of 30 casino properties lining Las Vegas Boulevard – starting with Mandalay Bay on the southern end and stretching 4.6 miles northbound to the Stratosphere tower – has become synonymous with Sin City. In fact, for millions of gamblers worldwide, the idea of playing blackjack games or slots anywhere else in Las Vegas is a nonstarter to say the least.
It wasn’t always this way of course. Up until the 1990s, the beating heart of Las Vegas could be found a few miles north of The Strip in the Downtown district. The historic old gambling halls clustered along Fremont Street were famously frequented by Frank Sinatra and the “Rat Pack” pals, while Elvis Presley’s legendary film “Viva Las Vegas” (1964) featured plenty of scenes filmed on the old Fremont drag.
Eventually though, Las Vegas Boulevard’s seemingly endless space for new construction prompted casino operators to build their modern mega-resorts there. Over the last 30 years or so, glittering monuments to all things gambling like the Bellagio, Caesars Palace, and Wynn emerged from the Mojave Desert sands like flowers after a summer shower.
Las Vegas’ History with Blackjack
The Strip’s appeal for tourists is its ability to combine slots, table games, poker, and all the other casino staples with an endless supply of non-gambling entertainment. From the glory days of “Mr. Las Vegas” himself Wayne Newton – to more recent permanent residencies by luminaries like Celine Dion, Britney Spears, and Aerosmith – visitors to The Strip can have fun for weeks on end without ever stepping foot on the gaming floor.
That’s all well and good of course, but if you found your way here, you’re looking to learn more about the Las Vegas Strip’s blackjack selection.
Unfortunately for blackjack players who enjoy The Strip, corporate casino ownership has muddied the waters, so to speak. Companies like MGM Resorts and Caesars Entertainment have come to dominate the market – these two industry titans collectively control 17 casinos on The Strip – and consolidation is never good for consumers.
To wit, today’s blackjack scene on The Strip is largely defined by diluted 6 to 5 payouts on blackjack rather than the old standard of 3 to 2. Knowing most casual gamblers and tourists looking for a good time won’t know the difference, the casino operators who lord over The Strip have mostly replaced their 3 to 2 tables with the inferior 6 to 5 setup.
In reality, this subtle adjustment balloons the house edge incurred by basic strategy players, swelling the house’s advantage from 0.40 percent to over 2 percent (depending on various house rules).
As a result, many advanced blackjack players who have been around the proverbial block have sworn The Strip off altogether. These thinking players have studied the numbers, and they know that many of the best places to play blackjack in Las Vegas can be found in Off-Strip casinos.
That’s a shame though, because The Strip didn’t become an oasis of glitz, glamour, and gambling for no reason. Even if you’ve already experienced the sights and sounds of The Strip for yourself, and your sole focus is finding the best blackjack odds and house advantage, Las Vegas Boulevard still has a few diamonds in the rough waiting to be discovered.
With that in mind, check out the list below for a full rundown of the best places to play blackjack when you’re on The Strip.
1 – Treasure Island
While not as popular as many of The Strip’s more well-known casinos, Treasure Island is home to the very best blackjack game in the area – both in terms of house edge and price point.
You’ll learn about a few other venues where blackjack’s house edge can be reduced to 0.19 percent – one of the lowest rates in all of casino gambling – but only Treasure Island lets you enjoy those odds for just $25 per hand.
That’s the minimum bet limit found on three of the 28 tables at Treasure Island which award 3 to 2 payouts on blackjack. This trio of 3 to 2 tables uses the double-deck system too, so players concerned with the count only have 104 cards to sort through instead of 312 (six-deck shoe) or 416 (eight-deck shoe).
To finish things off, the three best blackjack tables on The Strip require the dealer to stand on soft 17, rather than take a mandatory hit. This rule tweak shaves a full 0.20 percent off any game’s house edge rate, creating the razor-thin 0.19 percent advantage held by Treasure Island on its 3 to 2 double-deck games.
Other venues might be able to match that house edge, but they require minimum wagers of $100 or more, while Treasure Island lets low-rollers live a little thanks to that $25 limit.
And if you want to bet smaller at the standard $5 minimum stakes, Treasure Island has 16 six-deck tables which use the 3 to 2 payout for a house edge of only 0.46 percent.
2 – ARIA Resort & Casino
Sticking with the lowest house edge on The Strip of 0.19 percent, blackjack players with good blackjack bankroll management will enjoy the swanky ARIA Resort & Casino.
And of the 18 blackjack tables at the ARIA which offer 3 to 2 payouts, you’ll find three using the same double-deck, dealer stands dynamic described above. Those rules combine to create the elusive 0.19 percent house edge rate, but the minimum bet of $100 represents a 4x premium on the price paid by Treasure Island players.
3 – Bellagio Hotel & Casino (Honorable Mention to Mirage and MGM Grand)
If the ARIA is the epitome of modern luxury, the Bellagio is an homage to the utterly unique beauty of antiquity.
Centered around its Old World Italy theme, the Bellagio is famously home to dancing water fountains outside, and art galleries, designer shopping, and even a one-of-a-kind Dale Chiluly handblown glass exhibit.
Those amenities provide the Bellagio’s backdrop, but 14 blackjack tables – four of which offer 3 to 2 payouts and the same 0.19 percent house edge setup for $100 minimum bets – are this casino’s centerpiece.
And if you’re looking to save a few bucks on the room rate, check out MGM Resorts sister properties Mirage (2) and MGM Grand (3) to find a few of the exact same tables.
4 – Tropicana
You’ll find dozens of tables on The Strip which use a six-deck shoe, have dealers stand on soft 17, and pay 3 to 2 on blackjacks.
This structure produces a house edge of 0.26 percent, but while everywhere else asks for minimum wagers of $100, the Tropicana halves that limit to $50 on four tables.
The “Trop” also has four double-deck 3 to 2 tables with a 0.35 percent house edge at $25 minimum bets.
5 – Circus Circus Hotel & Resort
This joint has seen better days, but if you can abide the abundance of children running around the periphery, Circus Circus spreads one of the most affordable 3 to 2 blackjack games on The Strip.
Two tables here come in double-deck format with dealer hits on soft 17 to bring the house edge to 0.40 percent, all for the low price of $15 per hand.
6 – Caesars Palace Hotel & Casino
If variety is the name of your game, Caesars Palace has 21 different 3 to 2 blackjack tables on hand.
On the other end of the spectrum, seven tables with a 0.26 percent house can be found at $100 stakes.
7 – Wynn Las Vegas
Closing out the list is the Wynn Las Vegas Hotel & Casino, which houses 19 tables using the 3 to 2 payout system. The lowest house edge here is 0.26 percent on seven $100 tables, while 12 other $50 tables offer 0.40 percent hill to climb.
In exchange for betting a bit higher, blackjack sharps can still enjoy all the amenities and attractions found on The Strip – without sacrificing any equity in terms of the house edge along the way. It’d be great if all blackjack tables on Las Vegas Boulevard offered 3 to 2 payouts and liberal house rules, but alas, that ship has sailed.
The Strip will always be a money pit designed to separate suckers from their dollars and cents, but you don’t have to be one of them. Armed with this list of top-rated places to play blackjack on The Strip, you can have your cake and eat it too.