Snyder Comments on the New Stadium Blackjack Game

Las Vegas Advisor
Super Slots

On a recent trip to Las Vegas, I noticed something at TI called “Stadium Blackjack.” It had a live dealer, but all the players sat at machines. The minimum bet was $1 on weeknights and $3 on weekends. Of course, I assumed it would have terrible rules, but when I checked them out on one of the machines, I was astonished: 6 decks, blackjack pays 3-2, dealer stands on all 17s, double on any two cards, re-split pairs up to two times, double after splits, split aces once with one card dealt to each ace, and late surrender. Honestly, those were the kind of rules I saw in Las Vegas 20 years ago -- the traditional “Strip Rules." I was astonished to see such great rules on machines, with such low minimum bets. There were a bunch of side bets, which I presume is where they make their money, but you didn’t have to play them. I never saw many people playing there, but the rules were better than the tables (dealer hits soft 17) and way better than any stand-alone machines, which seem to get more action. What are your thoughts on this game? It seems to me that for the basic strategy player, these are some of the best rules in Las Vegas.


[Editor's Note: This answer is provided by Arnold Snyder.]

With the rule set you provide, the house advantage over a basic strategy player is only 0.32% (about one-third of 1%). As I assume the deck is shuffled after every round, you can’t really apply a card-counting system, so the only way to beat this game would be with players club points, assuming the points earned had enough value to wipe out the small house edge and then some.

As you suggest, the casino probably makes its money on this game with the crazy side bets, but also with an awful lot of player errors. As soon as a casino allows soft doubling and surrender, amateur players’ errors go way up. Many card counters know basic strategy for these rules, but the general public makes lots of costly mistakes. (And I doubt many card counters would be interested in this game.)

You mention that the minimum bets are either $1 or $3. What are the maximum bets? The value of the slot club points earned would be a function of both your bet size and how many hands you could play per hour. I suspect you couldn't play multiple simultaneous hands. I don’t know all the ins and outs of exploiting players club points and these potential club gains vary from casino to casino and probably have higher value on specific days or with a casino’s promotions.

If you’re trying to beat the game, then I’d look into the players club potential. If you’re just trying to have cheap fun, go for it! Just don’t get tempted by the side bets and brush up on your basic for all soft doubling, pair splits, and surrender. That’s where amateurs lose their money.

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