In 2011, I started collecting blackjack data from the Las Vegas Strip and downtown. As the years passed, I added all locals casinos to the list. These are all the blackjack variants that I found over the years that are still in service. The differences between it and a standard blackjack game are explained, as well as where you can find it now or where it was played in the past.
This is split into two sections. The blackjack variants still found in Las Vegas casinos are listed below. You may find ones from the past that are no longer spread here.
We compiled graphs on the number of blackjack variants found in Las Vegas during the last decade. This data includes the games and number of live tables each year.
Blackjack variants spread in Las Vegas in 2020
Blackjack Switch was the most popular blackjack variant in Las Vegas through 2017. Free Bet Blackjack passed it in 2018. The number of Blackjack Switch tables has since crashed, dropping from 33 tables in 2014 to just 10 today.
In Blackjack Switch, a player must make two bets. There is an option of switching a card from one hand to the other. Blackjack pays even money. The dealer pushes players still in the hand when a 22 is drawn.
Bonus Spin Blackjack started out as an optional side bet at many casinos. The game is otherwise identical to a traditional blackjack game. In 2018, it appeared at Four Queens and Golden Nugget in a different form. I later popped up at Binion’s. These games require players to make the $1 side bet.
The Golden Nugget version only pays 6:5. On a $5 bet, I estimate the house edge to be 5.5 percent at this table. That makes it the worst blackjack game in the entire Las Vegas market. The Four Queens and Binion’s tables pay 3:2 with signs proudly displaying this fact. However, I estimate the house edge on a $5 bet at this table to be 4.38 percent. It is the second worst blackjack game in Las Vegas.
It is impossible for someone on the outside to know the house edge of the $1 side bet. My research shows that 23 percent is a good estimate. That is the number I used to determine the house edge in these games.
Double Attack Blackjack
Double Attack Blackjack is the game that appeared in all the surveys without ever having more than two tables. In 2011, you could find the game at El Cortez and Bally’s. El Cortez dropped it in about 2013. The Bally’s game is still there to this day. For those on the East Coast, Harrah’s in Atlantic City also has it.
Double Attack Blackjack has one of the lowest house edges of any variant. However, the strategy is complicate to learn.
The game uses a Spanish Blackjack deck. This means the tens, but not the face cards, are removed from the deck. The dealer receives the first card face-up. The player may then double the original bet based on this information. Blackjack pays even money. Double down and surrender are permitted at any time.
Double Up Blackjack
Double Up Blackjack is offered at Binion’s in downtown Las Vegas. Players may double up on any hand that stands on two cards. This includes after splitting. To offset this, the house wins all live hands of 20 and under when making a 16. It may be a soft or hard 16.
Down Under Blackjack
Down Under Blackjack is at Excalibur. I first saw it there in 2018. It is the only installation in Las Vegas as of the last survey. Blackjack pays 6:5.
The dealer checks for blackjack. After that, a machine determines the range of card the dealer has in the hole. It will tell the player if that hole card is a 2 to 5, 6 to 9, or ten and ace. The player can use this information to vary the strategy. In exchange for this, the dealer pushes all live hands on a 22.
Free Bet Blackjack
Free Bet Blackjack is the most popular variant in Las Vegas. It had 61 installs at the start of 2020. That was up from 43 the year before. I first discovered the game in 2013 when it had 12 tables. It overtook Blackjack Switch as the most popular blackjack variant in Las Vegas in 2018.
There are two types of Free Bet Blackjack games in Las Vegas. Most pay 6:5. However, Plaza, The D, Golden Gate, Silverton and M Resort offer the game with a 3:2 payout.
The house pays for all doubles on 9, 10 and 11. All splits are free, except on ten-value cards. Double down after splitting is free on 9, 10 and 11, except on aces, which must stand. To offset these rules, the dealer pushes lives hands on 22.
Lucky Cat Blackjack is at Four Queens. The game plays like a normal one except when the dealer has 22. Four dice are rolled, each containing one cat and five blanks. The player wins based on the number of cats rolled. If all blanks come, the player pushes. Blackjack pays 3:2.
Most Liberal 21
Most Liberal 21 originated in the years of Jackie Gaughan’s ownership of Plaza and Las Vegas Club. These are the only two casinos the game has ever been spread in its more than two decades on the market. The game is down to one table at Plaza.
The game originally had the most liberal rules. The rules were changed in the 2000’s to what they are today. A player can double down on 2, 3 or 4 cards. Split aces may be hit, doubled or re-split. A six-card charlie is paid. Blackjack pays even money, except suited ones, which pay 2:1.
Quick Pay 21
I first saw Quick Pay 21 at Planet Hollywood in December 2019. The game has two bets. One is a traditional blackjack wager. The other is a surrender or play bet.
A player can choose to collect even money on a 20 or an amount of half the bet on 19. A player may choose to push on 18. The play or surrender bet pushes if the player takes the guaranteed money. Otherwise, the hand plays on as normal, except that there is a side bet on whether the dealer with make an 18 or better, and the dealer pushes all live hands on any 17. If the player does not take the guaranteed money, called a Quick Pay, the flat bet and surrender or play bet get combined as one and play as a normal blackjack wager.
Spanish 21 has made two comebacks in Las Vegas. In the first survey in 2011, there were six tables of Spanish 21. There were two at Cosmopolitan and Palazzo, as well as one each at Fitzgeralds and Venetian. The Fitzgeralds Spanish 21 game disappeared when it became The D in 2012. The other casinos dropped it over the next year. Palazzo and Venetian brought the game back off and on until 2017, when it stayed until the present time. Circus Circus added Spanish 21 in 2019.
Spanish 21 uses eight 48-card decks. The tens are missing. The face cards remain. Players may double down on any number of cards. Surrender is available on any number of cards, as well as after a split or double down. The player always wins blackjack, which pays 3:2. A player 21 always wins, with bonus wins for hands that include a 678 or 777, as well as five or more cards. Split aces may be hit or doubled.
Super Fun 21
Super Fun 21 has enjoyed a small following throughout the decade of surveys. It was spread at 14 different casinos during this time. It had 10 in the first survey in 2011. It dropped to 3 the following year. It made a comeback, peaking at 14 in 2018 and 2019. It had nine installations in the 2020 survey.
You will find two tables at Gold Coast and Golden Nugget. There is one table at Main Street Station, Orleans, Sam’s Town, Suncoast and The D.
Players may double down on any number of cards in Super Fun 21. Blackjack pays even money, except 2:1 on suited diamonds. A player blackjack always wins. Aces may be re-split, hit and doubled down. Surrender is available at any time, even after hitting any number of cards and after a double down. Any six-card hand automatically wins. A 21 hand with five or more cards pays 2:1.