Unsurprisingly, Vegas Strip Blackjack is one of the most played variants. The first thing you need to know is that the game is played with four decks of cards that are shuffled together into a shoe (many other Blackjack variants use six decks). The aim of the game is the same as virtually all other Blackjack variants, for the player to build a hand that has a value as close to 21 as possible but without exceeding 21, which is called going bust. At the end of a round, as long as the player’s hand is closer to 21 than the dealer’s is, then the player wins.
When calculating a hand’s value, Aces are worth 1 or 11, the face cards (Jack, Queen and King) are all worth 10, and the number cards are worth their face value. Therefore, 21 can be formed with just two cards, an Ace and a Ten card. This is called Blackjack; it is the strongest possible hand and will beat all others, including those worth 21 but containing more than two cards.
To start a round, you need to place your bet on any hand positions that you wish to play (some versions of the game will allow you to play more than one hand at once). You will then receive two face-up cards to each of your hand positions while the dealer will receive one face-up card and one facedown.
At this point, if the dealer’s face-up card is a 10 card, then they will check for Blackjack. This speeds up the game and saves you playing a hand that is set to lose. If the dealer’s face-up card is an Ace then you will be offered insurance against the dealer having Blackjack. This costs half of your original bet and if the dealer does go on to have Blackjack then you are paid at 2:1, ensuring that you do not lose any money on that round.
If the dealer does not have Blackjack then the round proceeds as normal. There are three main options offered for each hand. The most basic of these is Stand, which simply leaves the hand as it is and then play moves on. Choosing Hit will deal another card to the hand and if it does not send you bust, then you will have the choice of Hit and Stand once again. The third option is Double. This will double the bet for the hand and the hand will receive just one more card before play moves on. In Vegas Strip Blackjack, double down is allowed on every hand, but only after the first two cards have been dealt (you cannot double after drawing an additional card).
Vegas Strip Blackjack also allows for the splitting of hands. This is possible if the first two cards dealt to a hand have the same value. Hands can only be split once (i.e. you cannot split a split hand) and if you split two Aces, then just one more card will be dealt to each hand. It is important to note that If you split a hand it will double your bet.
When you have finished playing your hands, the dealer plays. In Vegas Strip Blackjack, the dealer will draw cards until the hand is worth at least 17 and stop as soon as it is worth 17 or more.
At the end of the round, you are paid out for winning hands. A winning Blackjack hand pays at 3:2 while all other hands pay at 1:1. If you have drawn with the dealer then your bet is returned as a push.
Vegas Strip Blackjack Side Bets
Many versions of Vegas Strip Blackjack, including those on offer here at mr.play Casino give you the chance to win a bit more through a couple of side bets, the Pair and the 21+3. The Pair bet wins if a hand’s first two cards form a perfect pair (two identical cards), a coloured pair (the same colour but different suit) or a mixed pair (different suit). A Mixed Pair pays 6:1, a Coloured Pair pays 12:1, and a Perfect Pair pays 25:1.
The 21+3 pays out if the first two cards of a hand together with the dealer’s card form a Flush, a Straight, a Three of a Kind, a Straight Flush or a Suited Three of a Kind. A flush pays 5:1, a Straight pays 10:1, Three of a Kind pays 30:1, a Straight Flush pays 40:1 and a Suited Three of a Kind pays 100:1.
Basic Vegas Strip Blackjack Strategy
One of the reasons for Blackjack’s popularity is that there is a theoretical perfect strategy. Players know that there are four decks of cards, which means that in every situation it possible to work out the likelihood of certain cards being drawn and therefore, what the best course of action is. This strategy is most often shown in a Blackjack strategy chart that shows your hand and the dealer’s face-up card together with the action that you should take (hit, draw, stand, etc.)
These charts are great, but they will slow down your play and take a bit of time to become familiar with. However, the more you use them, the better you will get to know them and before you know it, you will likely have memorised much of it. It is easy to look these charts up online and it is definitely worth doing so.
Vegas Strip Blackjack Betting Systems
In general, there are two types of betting systems, positive progression, in which you bet more after you win, and negative progression, in which you increase your bet after a loss.
One of the most popular Blackjack betting systems is the 1-3-2-6 system. Bets are placed following that sequence of numbers and you only trigger the sequence after you win a bet.
Imagine that your base bet is $10. If you lose four bets in a row, all of these bets would have been $10 and you have remained at the start of the 1-3-2-6 system.
If you had won four bets in a row, your bet sizes would have been $10, $30, $20 and then $60. Each time you win a bet, you move on to the next number in the sequence (and multiply your base bet amount by the number). The sequence ends after winning four bets in a row. If you win four in a row then you return to the start of the sequence and your next bet would be $10.
If you win the first two bets but lose the third, then your bet sizes would have been $10, $30, $20 and $10. You follow the sequence until you lose the third bet, at which point your return to the start of the sequence.
Remember, this system will not affect the house edge, but it will introduce some variety to your play and could see you land some large winning streaks.
Oscars Blackjack Betting System
The Oscars grind betting system is a progressive strategy that is based upon the concept of neutralising losing streaks and always winning one unit of profit per progression. The system was developed in the mid-1960s, originally with the game of Craps in mind.
The aim is to always make one unit of profit for each sequence. After you win a unit, then you start from the beginning again.
Take a base bet of $10. If you win the first bet, then your next bet will remain the same.
If you lose your first bet, then the second bet is also one unit ($10). However, at this point, you are down one unit and this is where the system kicks in. If your second bet wins, then the next bet is doubled. Each successive winning hand continues to double the size of the bet until you have made a profit of one unit. When you have won a unit (and recouped your original loss) then you start from the beginning once again.
To summarise, when you lose a bet, your next bet will be down to one unit. When you win a bet, your next bet needs to be one unit higher. Stop the sequence as soon as you have made a profit of one unit.
A worked example may look like this:
- 1 Unit Bet – Hand Lost – Profit is -1
- 1 Unit Bet – Hand Lost – Profit is -2
- 1 Unit Bet – Hand Lost – Profit is -3
- 1 Unit Bet – Hand Lost – Profit is -4
- 1 Unit Bet – Hand Won – Profit is -3
- 2 Units Bet – Hand Won – Profit is -1
- 2 Units Bet – Hand Won + Profit is +1
- Stop and start sequence again
The bet remains at the minimum unit size while you accumulate losses and the progression only begins after a winning hand. In the above example, the bet on the final hand is 2 units not 3 because the aim is to make a profit of exactly 1 unit.
This system requires a bit of practice, but if followed properly, it can help extend your play and aid in bankroll management. You can have a lot of fun playing Vegas Strip Blackjack using the systems and strategies discussed above, and with a bit of luck, you may even make some significant winnings.