Many towns and states across America offer blackjack. However, few blackjack destinations are more notable than Atlantic City and Las Vegas.
These two iconic gambling towns both have plenty of tables for you to enjoy. But how do they compare to each other in terms of blackjack?
I’m going to cover how Vegas and Atlantic City differ from each other regarding blackjack rules, casinos, card counting, and blackjack variations.
Slight Rule Variations
At first glance, Las Vegas and Atlantic City feature nearly identical rules. However, they do have slight discrepancies in this category.
I’ll start by going over the common Vegas Strip game:
- 4 decks
- Natural blackjack pays 6:5; but it can also pay 3:2
- Dealer stands on soft 17
- Dealer peaks for a natural with a 10 or ace upcard
- You can double down on any two cards
- You can double down after splitting (DAS)
- Split your hand up to three times (4 total hands)
- Split aces once
- You only receive one card after splitting aces
Again, Atlantic City rules are almost exactly the same as what’s featured on the Vegas Strip (and beyond). However, AC does have the following rule exceptions:
- 8 decks
- Late surrender
Both games can give you a solid chance to win. The main question involves if you’re being paid 3:2 or 6:5 on blackjacks.
A 3:2 payout lowers the house edge by 1.39% in comparison to 6:5. Given that this rule varies in both Sin City and AC, I see no major differences in the rules between the two.
Verdict: Atlantic City and Vegas tie on the standard rules
Vegas Features Far More Casinos
The Vegas Strip game is merely a standard set of rules found at many casinos throughout Sin City. However, it by no means encompasses the entire town.
Certain casinos located downtown and on the Boulder Strip feature some of the world’s best blackjack rules. They offer single-deck tables with 3:2 natural payouts and other player-friendly rules.
Such games are only possible due to Las Vegas’ immense selection of casinos. Sin City features 136 gambling venues at the time of this writing.
You may find Vegas Strip rules at the majority of the town’s casinos. However, you can also locate a few exceptions that offer blackjack house edges lower than 0.5%.
Atlantic City features nine casinos—10 when counting Bally’s and Wild Wild West as separate entities. Each of these establishments is a large resort that caters to many tourists.
In contrast, some of Vegas’ 136 casinos are smaller venues that serve locals. In short, Atlantic City feels bigger than just 10 casinos.
The problem, though, is that AC doesn’t have the top-to-bottom variety in terms of blackjack. Most of its casinos feature standard Atlantic City rules.
This town doesn’t have the small locals establishments that offer incredible blackjack rules. You’ll miss this variety if you’re looking for the absolute-best chance to win.
Verdict: Vegas offers numerous blackjack casinos
Atlantic City Can’t Ban Card Counters
Casinos have never welcomed card counters with open arms. Almost every gambling jurisdiction lets casinos kick out advantage players.
Atlantic City is the one gaming destination, though, that doesn’t allow casinos to do this. Based on a ruling in Uston v. Resorts International, AC casinos can’t discriminate against skilled gamblers.
Of course, this law doesn’t prevent gambling establishments from changing the rules (i.e. 8 decks & 6:5 payouts) or asking the dealer to shuffle more often (reduces deck penetration). In theory, though, it makes Atlantic City the perfect card counting destination under the right rules.
You can still find great tables to count cards at thanks to the sheer variety alone. But you will be booted if you’re caught.
Verdict: Atlantic City is, theoretically, the best destination for counting cards
Sin City Offers Some of the Best Blackjack Games Anywhere
Again, the average game between Las Vegas and Atlantic City isn’t much different regarding rules. However, Vegas has the rarest-and-best games.
El Cortez is a perfect example. Located in downtown, it features a single deck, 3:2 payouts, and other favorable rules that create a 0.34% house edge.
You can’t do any better than this at online casinos! Other venues, such as Silverton, have similar rules and house advantages ranging between 0.4% and 0.5%.
Atlantic City features the occasional table with a 0.5% house edge. But you normally need to wager $50 or more to play in these games.
The average table features eight decks and other house-friendly rules. And while these games don’t differ much from the Vegas Strip, they can’t compete with the Sin City locals casinos.
Verdict: Las Vegas features the best blackjack odds
Vegas Also Has More Blackjack Variations
Las Vegas is king when it comes to different variations of blackjack. It features Blackjack Switch, Double Attack, double deck, pontoon, progressive, single deck, Spanish 21, and Vegas Strip rules.
These are only the variations that I’ve personally found. Therefore, Vegas probably offers nearly a dozen more variants beyond what’s mentioned here.
Atlantic City mostly sticks to the rules covered before. You’re looking at standard six- or eight-deck tables with either 3:2 or 6:5 payouts and (possibly) late surrender.
I’ve seen Blackjack Switch, Double Attack, and double deck games featured here. By and large, though, AC is sorely lacking when it comes to variations.
Verdict: Sin City easily wins in this category
The Average Atlantic City Casino Is Classier
Sin City offers the finest penthouses, hottest nightclubs, best restaurants, and most-impressive amenities out of any gambling destination.
However, it also has plenty of low-rent dives that look like they haven’t been updated since the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign was put up. In short, you get the best of the best and lowest of the low here.
You don’t need to worry about roach motels during AC blackjack trips. Instead, all of these casinos serve tourists and try to remain in tip-top shape. You’ll appreciate this opulence when you’re away from the blackjack tables.
Verdict: All Atlantic City casinos offer solid amenities beyond blackjack
Overall Verdict on Vegas vs. Atlantic City Blackjack
Before starting this post, I fully knew that Las Vegas was going to take the crown for the top blackjack destination.
It has far more casinos and tables than Atlantic City. Sin City also features blackjack house edges ranging from 0.34% to 0.5% at certain establishments.
The average Atlantic City casino compares well with the average Vegas joint in terms of rules. AC, however, doesn’t offer the aforementioned locals casinos with amazing blackjack odds.
But Atlantic City also has its positives regarding blackjack. First off, you’ll be playing in style no matter where you go. This town doesn’t have any true dive casinos like Vegas does.
It also prevents gambling establishments from banning you just because you’re counting cards. AC is the only major gaming destination with this card-counter-friendly law in place.
Looking at everything as a whole, I have to give Las Vegas the edge when it comes to playing blackjack. However, I’m more impressed with Atlantic City’s blackjack scene than I expected to be.
Las Vegas boasts the best blackjack action anywhere. It showcases more variations and tables than Atlantic City or any other town for that matter.
If you’re serious about finding the most-favorable blackjack odds, then you should visit Sin City. Vegas has the most to offer blackjack enthusiasts.
However, Atlantic City makes for a nice alternative if you can’t make it to Sin City. This East Coast gambling hub offers plenty of tables and decent rules.
Assuming you’re into advantage play, then you’ll also appreciate the fact that AC casinos can’t ban you for counting cards.