I might age myself a little bit by saying this, but when I first started gambling in Las Vegas, the table minimums were always $5. Sure, you could find $1 blackjack and other discounted table games off-Strip or at off-peak hours, but generally you could assume that you could walk into any casino and play craps, roulette, or blackjack for $5 a round.
That’s not the case anymore. It feels like the casinos all got together and decided that $10 is the new $5.
Hunting for cheap or affordable casino games is a cottage industry, with blogs, YouTube channels, and message boards all dedicated to people finding and sharing the reasonably-priced games they love.
This post is all about the cheapest table games in Vegas and where to find them.
I’ll start with a (complicated) definition of what makes a casino game cheap.
What Makes a Casino Game “Cheap?”
There’s something counterintuitive about hunting for cheap table games – you aren’t looking for the game with the lowest possible wager. The main factor I consider when looking for a cheap table game is the game’s return-to-player (RTP) statistic. The higher a game’s RTP, the cheaper that game is in the long run.
There are exceptions to every rule, of course, and I sometimes do consider wager size when hunting for cheap casino games to play.
This post is focused on table games. In some cases, a table game may be considered cheap if it’s wager limit is lower than a typical game. That’s why you’ll find references to cheap blackjack or cheap roulette in this post referring to the availability of a $5 minimum bet.
Rating a casino game’s relative cheapness is no easy task, considering you also have to take into account the different budgets people have and the ever-changing meaning of “expensive.”
Let’s start with where to find cheap popular table games in Las Vegas.
Cheapest Blackjack in Las Vegas
The majority of big casinos in Vegas deal a $10 game with a 6:5 payout for a natural blackjack. This is sub-optimal; that 6:5 payout is a rip-off compared to the standard 3:2, and a $10 minimum puts the game out of the reach of most casual blackjack fans.
Luckily, some casinos still host cheaper blackjack games.
The Strat hosts a $5 3:2 blackjack game that’s among the cheapest in the city. Weirdly, they also sometimes offer a $5 minimum table paying 6:5 for blackjack, so be sure to check the game rules before you sit down. How cheap is that $5 table?
If you follow basic blackjack strategy and make no mistakes, the casino is only stripping about $0.025 from your bankroll per hand. At a typical table, you’ll see 70 blackjack hands per hour, meaning your hourly cost at that $5 table at The Strat is $1.75.
Is this the cheapest blackjack table in Vegas? If you don’t mind going off-Strip, you can find similar games at Downtown Grand. They sometimes host a $1 minimum blackjack table, though the payout for a natural blackjack is 1:1, to make up for the lower cost per hand.
That one rule change, reducing the value of natural blackjack hands, gives the casino an extra 2.27% edge. That means the hourly cost at this table is about $1.93, slightly more expensive than the $5 game, but not considerably so.
Cheapest Craps in Las Vegas
Cheap real money craps tables are getting harder to find than low-cost Vegas blackjack.
The Sahara occasionally hosts a $5 craps game, usually off-peak times and on weekdays. As far as I can tell, there’s no other property on the Strip regularly running a $5 craps game.
The further you move off the Strip, the more likely you are to find $5 craps tables. I know I’ve seen them at Binion’s in the mornings and afternoons, and Four Queens advertises their $5 craps and roulette games heavily.
Cheapest Roulette in Las Vegas
The cheapest roulette game on the Strip these days is at Circus Circus. They’re the only big-name property in town regularly hosting a $5 minimum game of roulette, meaning it doesn’t disappear at peak times or on the weekends.
Since roulette moves slowly, a cheap roulette game is bound to be one of the most affordable table games in town. At 50 decisions per hour, with each $5 minimum bet only expected to lose about $0.26, Circus Circus roulette players are looking at $13 an hour in cost to play.
This isn’t literally the cheapest roulette you can play in Las Vegas, because the further you move from the Strip, the more common a $5 minimum table becomes. For example, you can these tables from time to time at Ellis Island, Oyo, and South Point.
I read a couple of posts online about a $3 roulette game at Gold Coast, but I can’t find any specifics. I’m pretty sure they’ve modified the rules and therefore the expected RTP. But assuming that $3 table is identical in every other way to the $5 game at Circus Circus, your expected hourly losses are just $7.86.
Other Cheap Las Vegas Table Games
Here’s a look at three other Vegas table games that can be played cheaply:
Introduced at The Strat in the 90s, Crapless Craps is catching on again, in part because the rules are simpler, the game moves faster, and the minimum bets tend to be lower, depending on what time of day you’re playing. The game is popular with casino operators because it has a higher house edge than the traditional game.
Considering that a round of golf on a public course in Vegas runs about $110, $43 an hour seems like a reasonable price for entertainment.
High Card Flush
While not yet a super-popular game, High Card Flush is widely-available in Vegas, though not always in a low-minimum format. The object of High Card Flush is to form the best-possible flush hand, as all other hands are ignored in the game’s hand hierarchy. The best hand is a seven-card flush.
At off-peak times, you can usually find a dozen or so High Card Flush games accepting a minimum bet of $5. Played according to optimal strategy, High Card Flush gives the casino an edge of 2.64% on each of your bets.
That’s an expected loss of $0.13 per hand. At about 60 hands per hour, your expected losses are just $7.80 an hour, or about the cost of seeing a typical first-run movie at the cinema.
Caribbean Stud is a well-known casino-style poker table game available all over the country. It’s based on the rules of five-card stud poker, though players compete against the house, and not against one another.
Players who follow optimal strategy can add about 3 points to the game’s 94.78% RTP, meaning the house edge on each bet is just 2.55%. Unfortunately, Las Vegas versions of the game tend to require a relatively high minimum bet of $15.
Still, even with a minimum bet of $15, a player’s expected losses are just $0.38 per hand. The game moves at a snail’s pace, producing about 35 outcomes per hour. That gives us a total cost of $13.30 per hour to play Caribbean Stud in Vegas.
To put that into perspective, local Top Golf franchises in Vegas are charging up to $60 an hour for their form of entertainment, so spending $13.30 having a blast at the casino doesn’t seem that bad.
In fact, it seems downright cheap.
Our Final Thoughts on These Cheap Games
Las Vegas is no longer the land of the $1.99 prime rib buffet. Vegas has gone Disney, and something of Old Vegas has been lost that can probably never return.
That said, you can still find an occasional $5 table game, or even a fluke $1 blackjack (that pays even money for a natural), though these are by far the outliers.
The cheapest table games in Las Vegas are still there, they’re just harder to find, and you may have to gamble at off-the-wall times if you want to take a crack at them.