Aria Casino – Blackjack Rules and Review

January 19, 201019 Comments

Aria Casino at City Center in Las Vegas opened in mid December. A few weeks later I finally got a chance to check it out. The hotel is nice if you like a modern look, but I’m not writing to tell you about the ambiance of the resort. I’m a professional blackjack player, so all I really care about is the quality of the blackjack games offered at Aria. Here’s my review of Aria’s blackjack…

Aria Blackjack Rules

Blackjack at Aria Casino – The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

My first thought about playing blackjack at Aria was that it’s a new place that will hold mostly higher-end players. Great! That means I can throw some large bets around and hopefully go somewhat unnoticed. When it comes to card counting I’m not just looking for great blackjack rules and good dealer penetration, I’m looking for where I can get the most action on the table without drawing too much attention to myself. I found that Aria was pretty good in this respect. I was also pleasantly surprised to see that Aria’s casino chips do not have RFID technology (radio frequency identification) that could potentially track player betting patterns. If you’re wondering what an RFID chip might look like, just head into Wynn Casino and check out a $25 chip. You’ll see that there is a metallic circle near the top-center of the chip which is used for tracking purposes. The main idea of RFID technology is to prevent counterfeit chips, but I also know they can be used to detect a card counter’s betting patterns. So thank you Aria for using normal chips like most of Las Vegas!

Aria Blackjack

Aria Blackjack Rules

Aria is currently dealing 4 types of blackjack and they’re all quite different. Knowing the difference between these games can really help reduce the house edge over an average blackjack player. For a card counter, it’s critical to understand these differences in order to maximize your advantage over the casino. Let’s have a look…

6 Deck with Continuous Shuffle – (H17, DAS, RSA, Surrender)

This is clearly the worst blackjack game at Aria. Not only does the dealer hit on Soft 17 (H17), but the cards are continuously shuffled after every hand making it impossible to track cards. This game typically has a $25 minimum on weekends, but drops as low as $10 on weekdays. As a card counter, the continuous shuffling machines make these tables unplayable for me.

6 Deck Blackjack – (H17, DAS, RSA, Surrender)

The 6 deck blackjack dealt from a real shoe is definitely a nice improvement from the continuous shufflers. The games are countable for advantage players and the dealers are dealing through about 4 ½ decks before shuffling. That’s pretty much standard penetration for an MGM property. On these tables the dealer hits on Soft 17, but you can re-split Aces and Surrender. Other MGM properties such as MGM, Bellagio, Mandalay Bay and Mirage will all let you re-split Aces and Surrender on their 6 deck shoe games as well. Although this clearly isn’t the best 6 deck blackjack in Vegas, you could still do a lot worse. Remember, the hitting/standing on Soft 17 rule is the most important thing when it comes to blackjack rules (assuming you get the full 3:2 payment on blackjack). You want the dealer standing on Soft 17 and at Aria some tables do and some don’t!

6 Deck Blackjack in High Limit – (S17, DAS, RSA, Surrender)

There are a handful of 6 deck blackjack tables in the high limit room at Aria. These games are similar to the 6 deckers dealt on the main floor, only with better rules. Here you get the dealer standing on Soft 17 and you can also re-split Aces and Surrender. This is the same high limit 6 deck blackjack as you will find at many of the other MGM properties as mentioned above. The table minimums are set at $25, $50 or $100 depending on the day of the week and which table you’re at, but that’s often the price you pay for the better games in Las Vegas.

Double Deck Blackjack – (S17, DAS, no RSA, no Surrender)

This is the table where I was more than happy to take some of Aria’s money. The double deck blackjack at Aria is excellent. They stand on Soft 17 and you may double after splitting. Although you cannot re-split Aces or Surrender, you can’t re-split Aces or Surrender anywhere in Las Vegas on double deck when they stand on Soft 17. You will only find re-splitting Aces on games where the dealer hits on Soft 17. Whether you’re card counting or not, this is a great game and the dealer penetration is good. This might actually become one of my favorite games in Las Vegas! On weekends you can expect a $100 minimum, but on weekdays I noticed it was dropped down to a $25 minimum (at least during the daytime).

So let’s have a look at the house edge on these 4 blackjack options…

Aria Blackjack Odds

Note: These “house edge” numbers assume you are playing optimal basic strategy at all times, but not counting cards at all. If you’re not playing correct basic strategy, then these red bars will grow. If you’re a good card counter and actually know how to properly use card counting strategies (this is rare), then these red bars will shrink and become a player’s edge.
So what percentage of the blackjack tables at Aria are dealing each of these games? Here’s an approximation of what it looked like when I was there…

Aria Blackjack Tables

Aria Blackjack Review – The Conclusion

All in all I was happy with what I found at Aria and I’m sure I’ll be spending plenty of time there. I don’t like the atmosphere nearly as much as I like Bellagio, Wynn and Encore, but it’s not too far behind. If you have anything to add my analysis of Aria’s blackjack, please feel free to post it below as a comment. If you’re interested in hearing about the betting strategy, cover and play deviations I used while at Aria and the amount of pit boss heat I received from it, then you’ll have to contact me privately. Unfortunately I can’t go too deep into my personal experiences at casinos because I don’t want to be identifiable by casino personnel. Good luck out there!

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About the "Blackjack Instructor":

When I'm on a card counting trip, I'm hitting the tables hard. When I'm home with the family, I run BlackjackClassroom.com and go by the title "Blackjack Instructor". I hope you've enjoyed the site and come back soon. If you're interested in any of my training services, please don't hesitate to contact me to discuss your options.

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19 Responses to “Aria Casino – Blackjack Rules and Review”

  1. kingkong says:

    Another great post. Keep em coming!

  2. Anonymous says:

    I was under the impression during my visit over the New Years that they offered surrender and RSA on their 6 deck games in the high limit room (I think it is called Carta Privada). After reading this (well, actually, I read the Current Blackjack News), I called the pit in the high limit room and they confirmed these rules. Did you check those tables?

    • Blackjack Instructor says:

      Anonymous: Thanks for keeping me on my toes. Just added the high limit details!

      Al Simon: I’m sure it’s quite a walk. I happened to be in a car (drove out from Southern California) and used the valet. I was able to walk immediately into the blackjack area. Next time you might want to consider a cab even if you’re pretty close to the casino already. It would cost you a minimal amount. Then again, the exercise is good for you!

      E. Collins: Unfortunately you will not be able to find a S17 double deck game in Las Vegas for under $25. On weekend nights it’s even tough to get a table for $25. A card counter on a budget would simply go for H17 games with low minimums where the penetration is great. For a non-counter such as yourself, I would suggest opting for the inexpensive 6 deck blackjack (S17) at Mandalay Bay. Learn basic strategy to minimize the house edge and milk the comps!

  3. al simon says:

    RE The Aria

    Was staying at Ballys’ at Aria’s the grand opening. Went to walk over to the Aria. Found it to be set way too far back for walking. You basically walk a virtual maze to get to the action. Of course if your cabbing it all is okay. This is what I shall do next visit.

    Blackjack action was excellent. $100 minimum tables but with decent penetration.

  4. E. Collins says:

    Thank you for the insight into Aria’s blackjack. I had no idea the odds were different like that. Is there anywhere I can get the same type of double deck blackjack but at a $10 table minimum? I know not at Aria, but anywhere else on the Strip in Las Vegas? I don’t know how to do card counting, but I would like better odds and to lose less money. I’m considering the seminar next month. Thanks in advance for the help!

    ~ E.C.

  5. JSTAT says:

    E. Collins. You will find a couple of double deck $10 minimum S17 with same rules as Aria at the Treasure Island. I spread $10-$80 and received a little heat on high counts by insuring without looking at my cards(-: Nevertheless the TI $10 blackjack game is probably the best deal on the Strip.

    • Blackjack Instructor says:

      STAT: I’ve always known Treasure Island to maintain at least a $25 minimum on their double deck games. Either new management or the hurting economy must have changed their strategy in order to bring in more players. If they’ve dropped to a $10 minimum, then this is truly the best low stakes game (less than $25) on the Vegas Strip. Thanks for pointing this out!

  6. Poker says:

    Nice write up, it is always an advantage to walk into a casino and have great information ahead of time. Care to share what you pocketed?

  7. JSTAT says:

    Admin: Treasure Island’s ownership was just changed from MGM Mirage to billionaire Phil Ruffin who use to own the Frontier. I played there on January 15th where four $10 double deck tables were in play in the main pit. I was pleasantly surprised with the .19% house edge at these games and hope the members here get a piece of the action and confirm my findings.

    • Blackjack Instructor says:

      STAT: I took a look around Treasure Island last weekend and noticed that all the double deck games on the main floor are “Hit on Soft 17″. Only the double deck games in the high limit room are “Stand on Soft 17″ with the low .19% house edge.

  8. Mike S. says:

    Awesome article on Aria blackjack. Any chance you’ll cover some other Las Vegas casinos? How does Aria compare to Wynn in Las Vegas?

    • Blackjack Instructor says:

      Mike S: I appreciate the compliment and hopefully I’ll find some time to add more casino reviews. Most of my playing is in Las Vegas, so I don’t want to give out too much info on Las Vegas casinos. I don’t really want card counters flocking to my favorite spots. I’m more likely to do reviews of areas where I rarely play, but I’ll see what I can do about a Wynn blackjack review.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I would like to express my appreciation for your post. That’s really great to know that there are such people like you who do their job very well and with such enthusiasm.

  10. Bruce says:

    Admin: Treasure Island’s ownership was just changed from MGM Mirage to billionaire Phil Ruffin who use to own the Frontier. I played there on January 15th where four $10 double deck tables were in play in the main pit. I was pleasantly surprised with the .19% house edge at these games and hope the members here get a piece of the action and confirm my findings.

    • Blackjack Instructor says:

      Bruce: Those low limit S17 games didn’t last long. Believe me, I’m in Vegas all the time since I play blackjack for a living. The only .19% games at TI are in the high limit area. That’s usually a $50 minimum and sometimes bumped to $100 minimum. The $10 double deck games now hit on Soft 17.

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