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Las Vegas is one of the world’s best places to pay blackjack. Just be mindful of which casino you choose to do it in.

Las Vegas may have lost the top casino gambling spot to Macau, but it remains the leader in blackjack games. Expert players from the world over flock to Sin City to throw money down at top tables. The desert gambling hub is home to great casinos like the Bellagio which offer player-friendly rules.

But for all of its world-class blackjack tables, one can find some of the worst blackjack rule variations there. Before planning your trip to Vegas, this piece will tell you which establishments to avoid like a swarm of killer bees.

Caesar’s Palace

Caesar’s Palace hosts some tables with relatively low house edges, but only for players willing to bet $100-$200 minimums. For the rest of us, its not a good bet. Why? Its $15 minimum rules are not player-friendly. The dealer hits on a soft 17, which is fairly standard, and the player is not allowed to surrender.

In addition, other player-friendly moves like doubling down after splitting and re-splitting aces are not allowed, and the player may only double down on a 10 or 11. WizardofVegas estimates that the house edge on this game is .78 percent, one of the worst you will find in 3-2 blackjack. Unless you are looking to lose money, stay away.


Harrah’s was one of the first Vegas casinos to begin offering 6-5 payout single deck blackjack games in 2005. These games are attractive to many players because they involve lower stakes, allowing casual gamblers to play for extended periods of time without losing their bankroll.

However, the 6-5 rather than standard 3-2 payout significantly increases the casino’s house edge over time. Rather than receiving a $15 payout after landing a blackjack on a $10 wager, the player only get $12 back. Considering that the house will always win the majority of hands, the player needs to maximize the payout when possible.

The 6-5 payout is so advantageous to the house that other rule variations are made insignificant. It is estimated to add 1.39 percent to house edge, pushing it close to 2 percent in most games. If you want to slowly bleed cash while enjoying a social night out, Harrah’s is a good place to do it. If you’re interested in winning at blackjack, find another casino.

The Riviera

This Vegas Strip mainstay carries a high house edge for low minimum games. That is a standard Vegas technique for maintaining profit levels, but its something that both serious players and vacation gamblers should be aware of.

The casino’s $10 minimum six-deck table has a house edge of .64 percent, significantly higher than the standard .5 percent. Why? Six decks make counting difficult (the Riviera’s two-deck game has an edge of .45 percent, all other rules being the same), and player-friendly moves like surrendering and re-splitting aces are prohibited.

The Riviera pays 3-2 on blackjack, but that’s about the only good thing it does. If you want to leave with more than you came with, this isn’t the place to do it.

The Flamingo

The Flamingo offers an unholy alliance of money-guzzling 6-5 games and 3-2 games with rules tailored to keep the house edge high. Neither are good for the player, so there is no reason to play blackjack at this casino.

The 6-5 games carry a 1.45 house edge, almost triple the standard .5 percent. Sure, players are allowed to double down after splitting, but that doesn’t come close to making up the overall loss due to the poor payout.

The 3-2 minimum bet game is much easier on your wallet but it is worse than what you will find elsewhere. The $10 minimum game is dealt from 8 decks, making use of a card counting strategy very difficult. In addition, re-splitting aces is not allowed. The house edge here is .57 percent.

The $25 minimum game has a house edge of .6 percent. While it’s dealt from only two decks, the list of rules is filled with “No!” No surrendering, no doubling down after splitting, and no re-splitting aces. By contrast, the $100 minimum game at the Flamingo is very player friendly, but most of us don’t have the bankroll to play that sort of game.


When looking to play blackjack in Vegas the first thing to keep in mind is never play 6-5 games. You may lose money slower and in a more friendly environment, but you will lose more money. Adding 1.39 percent to the house edge is something to be avoided at all cost.
Don’t play 6-5 blackjack at Harrah’s unless you want to do your best Terry Watanabe impression and wind up in bankruptcy court.

Beyond that, look out for rules which are less obvious but still increase the house edge. Dealing from more decks, not allowing players to surrender, re-split aces or double down after splitting, all of these lighten your pockets over time. Caesar’s Palace has the worst 3-2 game on the Vegas Strip, and the Riviera and Flamingo are also poor bets.