Where can a beginner find low-dollar blackjack tables?
We are going to spend a few days at the MGM Grand soon; our second visit. This time I would like to try blackjack. I will not have a huge bankroll, but mainly want to learn, and see if I like it. I have studied all the strategies and understand them, for the most part. Where will I find the best basic blackjack tables with lower limits?
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It's getting more and more difficult to find a good blackjack game on the Strip, especially one with a low minimum bet. Not only have most Strip casinos gone to $10 minimums on the low end, but they've also tinkered with the rules to lower the payment on a natural 21. (Traditionally a player is paid at 3:2 for a natural 21, or $7.50 on a $5 bet. Many tables now pay only 6:5, though, meaning a $6 payoff for the same $5 wager. Many casual players don't care anything about the difference, but mathematically it's a giant shift in favor of the house.) That said, it is still possible to find a decent table for beginners, it just may require some legwork.
Something to note is that casinos can and do change table minimums during the course of a day. During slow times they'll often lower the minimum; during peak hours they'll take them higher. Table minimums change so frequently that the recommendations below are really only a guideline, since there is no way to know for sure whether a given casino will offer a given minimum at any particular time. In general, players are more likely to find lower table minimums early in the day.
Here are the locations on the Strip most likely to feature blackjack tables with a minimum bet of $5 or less:
- Casino Royale
- Circus Circus (sometimes even a $3 can be found)
- Bellagio (sometimes)
- MGM Grand (sometimes)
- New York New York (sometimes)
Not all tables at the casinos listed above will feature the player-friendly 3:2 blackjack payoffs. Most won't, in fact.
If you're willing to venture away from the Strip you can find better tables. Ellis Island, located just off the Strip, and within safe walking distance of the MGM Grand, usually has good low-dollar tables available. Ellis Island is also home to one of the favorite steak deals in all Las Vegas, so it's not a bad place for a gamble-and-eat visit.
It's much easier to find a $5 table Downtown, but even there table minimums are beginning to creep upwards and 6:5 blackjack payoffs are beginning to take root.
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