The dream of many blackjack players is to take a trip to Las Vegas. They think about playing blackjack in the legendary casinos such as treasure island las vegas. Knowing how to play blackjack in Vegas is not always about doing the right things at the tables. It can also include knowing which things you need to avoid.
We have taken the time to create a list of things to do and things to avoid if you want to win in Sin City. Here’s your guide to how to play blackjack in Vegas.
DO – Know the Basics of Las Vegas Blackjack
We are assuming that you are familiar with the basic blackjack rules of Las Vegas blackjack. If you are not, learn them before you go. Walking into a casino with no idea how the game is played is a sure way to lose your money.
For those who are completely new to the game, here are the basic rules. You are trying to make a total of 21 without going over. To win your total must be closer to 21 than the total of the dealer. If you or the dealer is dealt a 21 on your first two cards, this is a natural blackjack.
You will be given the opportunity to improve the total of your first two cards by asking for a hit, or another card. You can also choose to stand on the total you have, double down, or split. In some casinos you can even surrender your hand.
Counting Edge has many helpful resources that will allow you to master the game before you make a trip to Vegas. If you want to know how to play blackjack in Vegas we recommend that you study all of the helpful blackjack articles on our site, just use the search button to the top right or click through the top menu.
You can also play blackjack for free at some of the online casinos we recommend. Create an account and use the free games to practice before you make your trip to Vegas.
DON’T – Be Afraid to Seek Help
No matter how much you have prepared yourself, you will likely be overwhelmed when you step into a Las Vegas casino for the first time. The lights and sounds are there to distract you. It is easy to get caught up in the whole environment and lose your money.
Don’t hesitate to ask for help. There are hundreds of workers in the casino. Some you can see and others you cannot. All the ones that you interact with, from the cocktail waitresses to the pit bosses, are able to answer any questions that you may have. Your dealer is also a source of help. These people are used to gamblers asking questions, and most of them will be happy to assist.
Another source of help specifically related to blackjack will be the other players at your table. Most players are happy to help those who are new to the game. All you have to do is ask.
DO – Communicate With Proper Hand Signals
How to play blackjack in Vegas is a little different from playing online. In live Las Vegas blackjack you will have to communicate the decisions you want to make with hand signals. There are a few reasons for this.
The casino environment is very loud. Hand signals are used to avoid any mistakes in hearing. When you use the correct hand signal your action is also captured by the casino’s cameras. This prevents any discrepancy that may arise after the hand is over.
There are two primary hand signals that you will use when playing blackjack in Las Vegas casinos. When you want to stand on the total of your cards, wave your hand over the top of the cards. Do not touch the cards. This is not permitted. A simple wave of the hand over the cards will do. To ask for a hit, use your index finger to scratch or tap the table.
That’s all there is to it. Don’t try to complicate the movements. They have been used for years in the live casinos.
DON’T – Split a Pair of Tens
As a first-time blackjack player in Las Vegas this is the worst rookie mistake that you can make. It will incur the wrath of every other player at the table, and possibly ridicule. Even the dealer will know that you don’t know what you are doing.
The reason for this is very simple. A pair of tens is a total of 20. That means that you have an almost guaranteed winner. The only hand that will beat you in this situation is a dealer’s 21. The real danger in doing this is that you could cause other players at the table to lose.
If you choose to split your tens and take a card when everyone else at the table is standing on their hand, the card you take could be the card that causes the dealer to bust. Trust us. We have seen players at live blackjack tables become hostile when this happens.
DO – Turn Your Phone Off
In most live casinos you will be kindly reminded to not use your phone at the blackjack table. We suggest that you simply turn the phone off. You are there to play blackjack. You do not need the distractions that come from a cell phone.
From the casino’s perspective, any use of electronic devices at the blackjack table is suspect. You could be receiving information from someone who is spotting the dealer’s hole card. You might be doing something innocent like looking at a blackjack basic strategy chart, but the casino doesn’t care. Turn off the phone.
DON’T – Criticize Other Players at the Table
There is a certain etiquette that comes with knowing how to play blackjack in Las Vegas. A part of this etiquette is being respectful of the other players that are at your table. This means not criticizing the play of others.
Remember when we talked about splitting tens? You wouldn’t like it if another player at the table screamed at you for your play. Don’t do it to others. Remember, they may be on their very first trip to Vegas as well.
Some blackjack players make the mistake of thinking that offering criticism makes them look smart. That is almost never the case. It makes you look like an obnoxious know-it-all.
DO – Tip the Dealer
If you are going to play live blackjack in Las Vegas, be willing to tip the dealer. This is an accepted practice. If you do not tip while winning you will be looked upon as a greedy jerk. You don’t have to tip a fortune. It is not the amount that matters, really. It is that you tip consistently.
Dealers and other live casino workers in Las Vegas depend upon tips for their livelihood. They count on them as a large part of their salary. Tipping is just good common sense. Do you really want a blackjack dealer giving you negative vibes while you play? Nobody needs that kind of scrutiny at the blackjack table.
DON’T – Get Caught Card Counting
If you are new to playing blackjack, you probably don’t count cards. If you want to win on a consistent basis, you should learn how. Card counting in live blackjack can greatly reduce the house edge against you. The real trick is not getting caught.
This is why you should not even attempt card counting in Vegas until you are very skilled. The casinos use trained personnel to spot card counters, and they will surely spot you. The punishment for counting cards in a live casino is usually being asked to leave and not return. In the old days a card counter was lucky to avoid a beating when caught.
DO – Practice Basic Blackjack Strategy Before You Go
The smart player will learn how to play blackjack in Vegas before they go. That means learning basic blackjack strategy. Basic strategy is a way to act upon every hand that you are dealt. You can find a blackjack cheat sheet chart here at Counting Edge, and you can also buy them in the live casino gift shops.
You should practice blackjack basic strategy at home until all the plays become intuitive. You should be able to execute the strategy without having to think about it. One of the best ways to practice your blackjack skills is to create an account with one of our recommended online casinos. Many of them offer free blackjack games online.
You can also find blackjack training apps for mobile devices. Download one of these free devices and start perfecting your approach to the game of live blackjack.
DON’T – Stay on The Strip
Knowing how to play blackjack in Vegas isn’t all about actual gambling at the table. If you are traveling to Las Vegas you will need a place to stay. Don’t be swayed by the lights of the Vegas Strip. This is the place in Las Vegas where you will find high room rates, and high blackjack table limits. You should certainly plan to visit the Strip on your visit, but don’t stay there.
You can check out Lasvegas craiglist and use it to plan your next vacation.
DO – Find a Good Deal Downtown
Did you know that it is still possible to find room rates in Downtown Las Vegas for as low as $19 per night with no resort fees? It’s true. And we are not talking about a seedy motel. We are talking places like the legendary Four Queens Casino and Hotel.
Many people neglect Fremont Street and downtown Las Vegas when deciding where to stay. You should consider it. In addition to low room rates there is something to do for the whole family. The food downtown is reasonable, there is plenty of free entertainment, and some of the best blackjack games are available.
Another reason to stay downtown is that some casinos still offer a $3 minimum bet on blackjack! That is about the cheapest blackjack game you will find anywhere in a live casino.
We hope these tips will help you learn how to play blackjack in Vegas. In the meantime, you can also check out an online casino that we list on our website. We’ve suggested many of the best places to play mobile blackjack for real money on our website.