LAS VEGAS BLACKJACK REPORT: RIO AND THE PALMS CASINOS
by KC Brooks
I have been addicted to blackjack ever since reading Revere’s "Playing Blackjack as a Business" when I was 15. The art of blackjack is a lifetime endeavor. I went through the learning process backwards, learning Revere’s Advanced Point Count first. I found out early that the actual count system is only a small piece of the puzzle. Presently, I travel "my" Devils Triangle (Reno, Wendover, Vegas}, playing mainly single- and double-deck games. Hi Lo is my choice of strategies and "Professional Blackjack" by Wong is my bible. I worship a large spread, and have been known to wong everywhere I go. Thank God I haven’t had to register as a wonger yet, but I am sure it is not too far off. I also help fellow AP Nick teach card counting at www.Blackjackclassroom.com.
Rio (3700 W. Flamingo Rd.)
If you are on Flamingo Rd. and cross Las Vegas Boulevard heading west, you will see this month’s destinations: the Rio on the right, and the Palms a few blocks down on the left.
From the self-parking garage at the Rio, take the elevator to the fourth floor and cross the catwalk into the Rio. You enter a floor above the main casino, containing photographs of the Chippendale dancers and 60,000 square feet of shopping space, including artwork, jewelry, sports memorabilia, and clothing.
Home to the World Series of Poker, the Rio has over 2500 rooms, a 170- seat race and sports book, four swimming pools (one with a sand bottom), and five spa tubs. Pampering treatments are offered at the Rio Spa and Salon to refresh your mind and body.
The casino is over 100,000 square feet, offering more than 1200 video slots, along with your favorite table games. There are four craps tables with $10-$5000 betting limits and 3x4x5x odds. Seven roulette tables are scattered throughout the gaming area. Other games available are baccarat, Let-it-Ride, Fortune Pai Gow Poker Progressive, Three-Card Poker Six Card Bonus, Texas Hold’em Bonus poker, Crazy 4 Poker, Mississippi Stud, and Ultimate Texas Hold’em. The poker room has nine tables, offering Hold’em, Seven-Card Stud, Omaha, and much more for live-game players. There are another six tables just outside the enclosed poker room that are used for daily tournaments.
The blackjack games offered at the Rio include single-deck, double-deck, six-deck and eight-deck games. The majority of tables (around twelve) are single-deck games with the dreaded 6:5 blackjack payout, definitely games to be avoided. On my visit, I found a couple of tables of double-deck blackjack. The dealer hits soft 17; you cannot double after splitting, and mid entry is not allowed. The table limits were $15-$5000 with a house edge of 0.53%. The penetration was running 61, 63, and 65 cards before the cut card came out.
There are some six-deck shoe games with the dealer standing on soft 17, you can double after splitting, and late surrender is offered. Table limits are $100- $10,000, penetration slightly less than two decks, and the house advantage slightly over 0.30%. Other six-deck games have the dealer hitting soft 17, double after splitting is allowed, and table limits are $15-$5000. The house edge is 0.63%, and penetration is same as the soft 17 games.
Rounding out the blackjack action are about seven tables of eight-deck shoe games. Beware, only one table pays 3:2 for blackjack; the others pay 6:5. The table limits are $10-$2000 and the rules are H17, doubling after splitting is allowed. The house edge for the 3:2 game is 0.66% compared to 2.02% for the 6:5 abortions.
It pays to watch the games before jumping in to play. I won’t name names, but this Asian female dealer had the most unusual delivery when dealing at a double-deck game. She held the deck almost straight up and down end for end. When she dealt the down card, she just slid it off with her thumb of the hand holding the deck. If you were at first base, I guarantee you would be able to glimpse many of her hole cards.
This Rio review would not be complete if I did not mention...
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