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A Beginner’s Guide to Vegas Downtown Blackjack

While Blackjack is a fairly standardised game, you will have no doubt noticed that there are many different versions of it (with several of them available here at Casino). Vegas Downtown Blackjack is a hugely popular version of the game due to its very low house edge (just 0.38%). Be careful not to confuse it with Vegas Strip Blackjack, while the differences between the two are subtle, they are very important and shall be explained below.

An Introduction to Vegas Downtown Blackjack

One of the most important features of Vegas Downtown Blackjack is that it is played with just two decks of cards shuffle in the shoe. Vegas Strip Blackjack uses four decks or cards, and many other versions of the game will use six or even eight. As with all the major versions of Blackjack, the aim of the game is to build a hand with a value as close to 21 as possible, but without going over 21, which is known as going bust and disqualifies the hand. The player will win as long as their hand is closer to 21 than the dealer’s hand is.

Understanding hand values in Blackjack is very straightforward. The number cards (2 to 10) are worth their face values, the face cards (Jack, Queen, King) are worth 10, and Aces are worth 1 or 11. This means that 21 can be made using two cards, an Ace and a 10 card. This hand is known as Blackjack, it is the best hand and it will win against all other hands, including those worth 21 but made up of more than two cards.

In Vegas Downtown Blackjack, you can only every play one position at a time. At the start of a round, you need to place your bet and then click on Deal. You will then be dealt two face up cards while the dealer receives one face-up card and one facedown.

If the dealer’s face-up card is worth 10, then they will immediately check for Blackjack. There are two advantages to this. The main one is that it will prevent you from pursuing a hand that you are set to lose and potentially wasting more money on it. The other advantage is that it speeds up the game. If the dealer’s face-up card is an Ace, then you have the chance to take out insurance against the dealer having Blackjack. Insurance costs half of your original bet and if the dealer does have Blackjack then you are paid at 2:1, ensuring that you do not lose any money on that round. 

Assuming that the dealer does not have Blackjack, the game proceeds as usual. Players have three main choices for each hand, Hit, Stand and Double: 

  • Hit – Another card is dealt to the hand. If it does not send the hand bust then it is possible to hit again. 
  • Stand – The hand remains as it is and play moves to the dealer. 
  • Double – This is only possible after the first two cards are dealt. It will double the initial bet and the hand receives just one more card before play moves on to the dealer.

There is one more possible option, Splitting. This is offered if the first two cards in a hand have the same value. It will double your bet and the two cards are then separated into two hands that are played independently. Importantly, in Vegas Downtown Blackjack, you can split a split hand, for a maximum of four hands, but you can only split aces once. Furthermore, Double Down is available after a split. However, if a Split hand contains an Ace and a ten card it is not considered Blackjack, rather it has a value of 21.

When you have finished playing your hands, the dealer plays. In Vegas Downtown Blackjack, the dealer will stand on a Hard 17 (a hand without an Ace) and must hit on a Soft 17 (a hand with an Ace). This is different to Vegas Strip Blackjack in which the dealer will stand on all 17s.

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. 

Basic Vegas Downtown Blackjack Strategy 

One of the reasons that Blackjack is so popular with players is that it is possible to work out a perfect strategy. With Vegas Downtown Blackjack, this is even easier as there are just two decks of cards in play. It means that players can calculate the likelihood of certain cards being drawn from the shoe. These strategies are displayed in charts that tell players what they should do based upon the cards they are holding and the dealer’s cards. The charts are very easy to use, and are an excellent tool when playing.

However, there are a few basic tips that can be memorised to help you improve your success. While it is not as comprehensive a strategy as those shown in the charts are, it is an excellent starting point while you familiarise yourself with the charts.

  • If you are holding a hand worth 17 or more, a pair of 10s or soft 20, then you should stand.
  • If your hand is worth 11 then you should always choose Double, regardless of what the dealer has. 
  • If you have a pair of Aces then you should split them. 
  • While insurance may be an attractive option, it should be used carefully as it has a huge house edge of 6.8%.
  • If you are dealt a pair of 5s and the dealer is holding a 10 or 11 you should hit. Otherwise, you should double.

Vegas Downtown Blackjack Betting Systems 

The strategy charts are a great way to improve your returns. However, equally important to your success will be your bankroll management. You need to make sure that you have enough funds to play for as long as you wish. To that end, many people employ betting systems. These are all fairly easy to use and are a great way of stretching your bankroll a little further. 

There are two basic types of betting system, a negative progression, in which you increase your bet after losing, and a positive progression, in which you increase your bet after winning. Here are two popular Blackjack betting systems.


This betting system is named after the order in which bets are placed. You follow the sequence of numbers and you only move onto the next after winning a hand.


If you take your basic bet per hand to be €5. If you played four hands and lost them all, then each hand would have a bet of €5 on it and you would have not moved along the sequence.

If you had won your bet on each hand, then the sequence of bets would have been €5, €15, €10, €30 (this is simply the €5 base bet multiplied by the number in the sequence). Each time that you win a bet, you move to the next number in the sequence. If you win four bets in a row then you return to the start, so in the above example the fifth hand would have had a bet of €5.

If you were to win the first two hands and then lose the third, then the bets would have been €5, €15, €5. In other words, you follow the sequence until you lose a hand, and then you start again. The advantage of this system is that it gives you the chance of hitting some extremely profitable winning streaks but it also balances things by not increasing the size of the bets drastically until the end of the sequence, by which point you will have increased your bankroll through winnings.

Oscars Blackjack Betting System 

This is a very famous betting system that is named after a Craps player who invented it (however, he didn’t publish the system, that was done by a mathematician called Allan N. Wilson).

The system is not designed to win large amounts, rather, the aim is to win one unit from a series of bets, and then the system stars again. This means, that if you were to win your first hand, then you would immediately start again. 


Imagine that we take one unit to be €2. If you place that bet and then lose the hand then you would repeat the bet on the next hand. If you win, then you have recovered your loss but you will not yet have made one unit of profit (€2), which is the aim of the system. Therefore, you do not yet start again. Rather, in the next hand you will increase your bet by one unit, so you bet €4. If you win, then you will have made your profit and can begin the cycle again.

The trick to this system is to make sure that you are not betting to win more than one unit. For example, if you win a bet of 4 units and you need to make another 2 units to recover your losses, there is no need to make a 5 unit bet. A 5 unit bet will win you more than one unit profit whereas a 3 unit bet will make the right amount of profit and see you risk less money.

The system will take a little adjusting to, but after a bit of practise it becomes almost second nature. Hopefully, with these systems and the tips from above, you will be able to spend many happy hours playing Vegas Downtown Blackjack.

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