For many reasons, Vegas Downtown Blackjack is one of the most popular versions of the game, least of all its very low house edge of 0.38%. The game is played with just two decks of cards, which is one of the reasons the house edge is so low and makes it very attractive to players. Anyone familiar with Blackjack will already be familiar with the rules, the aim is to build a hand of cards with a value as close to 21 as possible, but without exceeding 21 and going bust. At the end of the round, the player wins as long as his/her hand is closer in value to 21 than the dealer’s hand is.
The hand values are calculated in exactly the same way as any other form of Blackjack (Aces worth 1 or 11, face cards worth 10 and number cards worth their face values), and the strongest hand is 21 formed by an Ace and a picture card.
The first important difference is in regards to the option to take insurance. If the dealer’s face-up card is worth 10 then they will immediately check for Blackjack. This has two big advantages for players. The main one is that it prevents players from spending any more money (in the form of Double or Split) on a hand that they are likely to lose and will push on at best. The second is that it keeps the game moving quickly.
However, if the dealer is showing an Ace, then players will be offered insurance. As usual, this costs half of the initial bet and if the dealer does have insurance it pays out at 2:1.
When the round progresses, players will have the same options as in all other forms of Blackjack. They can Hit, Stand and Double. The game also gives players the option to Split hands of two cards that have the same value. In Vegas Downtown Blackjack, a split hand may be split again, but Aces can only be split once. Furthermore, unlike many versions of Blackjack, this version allows Doubling Down after a split. However, it is important to note that a Split hand containing an Ace and ten card is not Blackjack, rather it is considered a hand of 21.
In Vegas Downtown Blackjack, the dealer will stand on a Hard 17 (a hand without an Ace), but must hit on a Soft 17 (a hand with an Ace). It is worth noting that this is different to Vegas Strip Blackjack, in which a dealer must stand on all 17s.
Vegas Downtown Blackjack Strategies
As all card players will know, there is such thing as a perfect Blackjack strategy. It is simply a matter of using statistics to work out what the best course of action is in any given situation. This can be calculated based upon what card the dealer is showing, what cards the players are showing, and what cards are left in the pack and likely to be dealt.
When it comes to Vegas Downtown Blackjack, this process is made easier as there are just two packs of cards involved. The strategies are displayed in charts with the player’s hand down the side and the dealer’s face-up card along the top. Players then simply need to look at where the two meet in the grid to see the best possible action.
While these charts are easy to use and a fantastic tool, they do slow down the rate of play and you may not feel very comfortable sitting at a casino table with a chart next to you. You can practice with the charts at home and it won’t be long before it begins to become instinctive. Luckily, until that happens there are a few basic rules that take no time at all to memorise and they will help you get off to the best possible start.
- You should always stand if your hand is worth 17 or more, you have a pair of 10s (i.e. do not split them), or you have soft 20 (20 with an Ace).
- You should always Double Down if your hand is worth 11 no matter what the dealer is showing.
- You should always split a pair of Aces
- You should Hit if you have a pair of 5s and the dealer is showing a 10 or 11, otherwise Double Down.
- Be very careful about taking out insurance as it has a house edge of 6.8%. While it is fine to do occasionally, remember the house edge when managing your bankroll.
Vegas Downtown Blackjack Tips
Beyond using the rules above or a strategy chart, there is not much more you can do to improve your strategy. However, whenever you play at a casino, you should always be thinking about bankroll management. You want to ensure that your bankroll does not run out before you feel that you have played enough. Furthermore, it is always safest to assume that you will lose your entire bankroll.
To help with this you can use a betting system. There are many different betting systems around, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. In general, there are two types, negative progression systems, in which you bet more after losing, and positive progression systems, in which you bet more after winning.
A very popular system and one that is easy to get started with is the 1-3-2-6 betting system. The system is simply named after the order of the bets, so if you remember the name then you have remembered the system. You follow the sequence and only move on to the next number after a winning hand (which means that it is a positive progression system).
For example, if you take your basic bet to be $5 per hand. Your first hand you bet $5 on and if you lose, then you bet the same on the next hand. However, if you win then you move along and place a bet of $15. This is because $5 X 3 = $15. You follow this system until you lose a hand. For example, if you win the next hand then you would bet $10 and if you lose the next, then you go back to the start and bet $5 again.
The great thing about this system is that if you hit a winning streak, then you will quickly recover some of your loses while if you are on a losing streak, you won’t be draining your bankroll too quickly.
Using all of the above, you should be able to have a great time playing Vegas Downtown Blackjack. All you have to do now is hit the casinos and try your luck.