While low minimums might not be a concern for a serious player looking for the best card counting opportunities, I can understand a casual player (non-counter) on a budget valuing this kind of info.
So I’ve compiled a short list of Las Vegas blackjack table minimums on the Strip that have decent odds. Vegas casinos tend to offer low table minimums only with terrible player odds, so my goal is to expose where a casual blackjack player can get a decent game with a low house edge.
Warning: Often what seems like a cheap game is actually going to cost you quite a bit. A great example is the 6-deck blackjack at Flamingo. Don’t be fooled by the “cheap” $5 minimums. All 6-deck blackjack on the main floor of Flamingo holds a 2% house edge due to the horrible rules, and that’s assuming you play perfect basic strategy on every hand. So would you rather play $5 per hand at a 2% disadvantage or $25 per hand at a .2% disadvantage? Over time you would lose twice as much money at the $5 game!
Keep in mind I’m only considering casinos on the Strip for this article. Downtown and off the Strip will hopefully be covered another day.
Single Deck – All single deck games on the Strip pay 6:5 on blackjack (a $50 bet gets paid $60 on blackjack instead of the usual $75). Avoid these games due to the large house edge. The closest legitimate single deck blackjack would be at Hooters located just behind Tropicana. Although Hooters single deck blackjack will have just a $10 minimum, the house edge is nearly .5% since you can only double on 10 and 11. For all the card counters out there, this game is not a good opportunity because of the weak dealer penetration.
Double Deck (Dealer hits on Soft 17 / Player may double after splitting)
•Circus Circus – $10 table minimum
•Excalibur – $10 table minimum
•All other $5 and $10 double deck on the Strip will have worse rules such as no doubling after splitting.
Double Deck (Dealer stands on Soft 17 / Player may double after splitting)
•Aria – $25 table minimum
•Bellagio – sometimes on a weekday one table will drop to a $25 minimum
•MGM Grand – sometimes on a weekday one table will drop to a $25 minimum
•Mirage – $50 table minimum
•New York, New York (high limit) – $50 table minimum
•Treasure Island (high limit) – $50 table minimum
•Tropicana (high limit) – $50 table minimum
6-Deck (Dealer stands on Soft 17, Double after split, Resplit Aces, Surrender)
•MGM Grand – $10 table minimum
•Aria – $25 table minimum
•Bellagio – $25 table minimum
•Tropicana (high limit) – $25 table minimum
•Wynn – $25 table minimum
•All $5 multi-deck games on the Strip will hit on Soft 17.
So what’s the best value blackjack on the Las Vegas Strip? If you play good basic strategy and bet the table minimum, then out of the places I’ve mentioned you’ll lose the least amount of money over the long haul by playing the $10 minimum 6-deck at MGM Grand. In fact, you would have an expected loss of under $3 per 100 hands played. This low expected loss is due to the combination of low $10 bets and good rules.
Looking for more options? If you’re willing to bump your expected loss per 100 hands up to the $3-$5 range, then you can play at the other places listed that are $25 and under. Playing $25 per hand can actually start to build some decent comp value over time. The $50 minimums would put you closer to a $10 expected loss per 100 hands played, but would also further increase your comp value. To be able to hang out at great places like Aria, Bellagio and Wynn, have free drinks, build some comp credit and have a good time, would you be willing to pay under $5 per 100 hands played? Sounds like a good deal for those that don’t want to take their game to a higher level with card counting. Just make sure you know your basic strategy!