The best blackjack game in Las Vegas is located at the El Cortez. It is a single deck game that pays 3-2 on a blackjack. Most Las Vegas single deck games pay 6-5 on a natural. Another advantage of the El Cortez single deck blackjack game is that players can double down on any two cards. The handful of other 3-2 single deck blackjack games in Las Vegas only allow double down on 10 or 11.
The house edge in the El Cortez single deck blackjack game is 0.2 percent. This is the lowest house advantage of all Las Vegas blackjack games. Even better is that the minimum bet is only $5.
The El Cortez attracts mostly locals that bet just $5 or $10 per hand. Most do not know the full basic strategy for single deck blackjack and make mistakes. This is exactly what the casino wants.
Pit Bosses Sweat Blackjack Action
As soon as a player buys into the game for any serious amount of money and displays a level of high skill, the pit bosses at El Cortez take notice. This sometimes results in players getting backed off.
Getting backed off refers to a restriction on a player’s action. This may be a requirement that the player bet the same amount throughout the deck, typically the minimum. Sometimes, the player is simply asked to leave the blackjack pit.
Players have reported getting backed off for varying their bet as little as 1-2.5 units. One player reports that a $10-$25 spread was enough to make El Cortez nervous enough to back him off. Complaints from players are typical when spreading even a 1-3 or 1-4 bets. This means that a $10 player may run into trouble if he starts to bet $30 or $40 when the count is favorable.
High Limit Table Watched Closely
There is one overly optimistic table at El Cortez that has a minimum bet of $25 and a max of $1,000. Good luck trying to bet anywhere near the max at this table.
This author was playing a $25-$50 spread at this table with other player recently. One player at the table was not playing anything that resembled basic strategy. I was playing it perfectly. The other two players were nearly perfect. One of the nearly perfect players was spreading either $50-$150 or $100-$300 during decks, of which we would see 2-3 hands before a shuffle.
This player was drinking at the table, just as we all were. After 30 minutes of this action, the player was told that he must flat bet the table $25 minimum. No other wagers would be accepted from him. All four of us immediately left the table.
This was a puzzling back off. The player deviating greatly from basic strategy was not wagering much less than the player that was using nearly perfect play. The edge from the poor play more than offset the small advantage a card counter may have had in this situation. El Cortez management still felt it was worth killing the action over, which in turn left an idle table that just minutes before was taking an average of $200-$300 in bets per hand.
Back Offs Permitted Under Nevada Law
El Cortez has every right to do this under Nevada law. Casinos are permitted to restrict action from expert players at blackjack tables. This is not the case in Atlantic City, where Ken Uston prevailed in a lawsuit against Resorts International that forbids casinos there from banning skilled blackjack players.
Las Vegas tourists looking for a good blackjack game should consider checking out the El Cortez. It is important to only raise the bet spread once during a deck, and by only one unit, to prevent being asked to leave the blackjack tables.