There’s a reason that it feels as though your money isn’t going as far as it used to in Las Vegas. Simply put, there’s a markup on price bars and restaurants. The more touristy the location the greater the markup. For example, the Starbucks at Red Rock Casino might charge 10% more than a freestanding shop while the markup at Planet Hollywood can be anywhere from 20%-50%. The price increases make sense since retail outlets are paying higher rent to be inside the casinos.
However, food and beverage prices aren’t the only “markups” at casinos. Depending on where you visit you’ll find better or worse gaming rules. Casinos have been changing the rules of casino games for more than a decade. This increases how much money they make from the games. You may have noticed this and not cared but it changes the gambling experience.
The casino will make more money the greater the house edge is in a game. The thing about the new rules is that you may not feel the pinch during one session but will certainly notice it over time. The one thing that you’ll notice is that your gambling bankroll begins to disappear quicker. The longer you play, the better your chance of hitting a hot streak.
This is why I changed my gameplay on the Vegas Strip to mostly Pai Gow Poker. It’s just a slower bleed of money and I might actually win a few bucks. I was getting crushed playing 6:5 blackjack, tighter slots, and bad video poker. After a while, I was just losing so often that gambling just wasn’t fun. GASP!
When I gamble, it’s to have fun. Sure, I want the best rules but that’s not always possible. I look for a combination of environment and gaming rules. Living here gives me a little flexibility in where I spend my money.
It isn’t easy to peel away to go to a certain casino when visiting Las Vegas for only 48-72 hours just to get a slightly lower house edge in a game. Many casinos offer different gambling options so you can often make the best decision without going elsewhere. Sometimes you just have to look at the rules before sitting down.
Many casinos in 2019 started adding a 000 or “casino” slot to the roulette wheel. Of course, this isn’t good for the player. The extra zero just increases the house edge for the casino.
- 0 house edge: 2.7% – Casino wins $2.70 for every $100 wagered.
- 00 house edge: 5.26% – Casino wins $5.26 for every $100 wagered.
- 000 house edge: 7.69% – Casino wins $7.69 for every $100 wagered.
The Cromwell and The Plaza are two of the few casinos that offer single zero roulette outside of the high limit rooms. Double zero roulette is the most common version of this game on the casino floor. The triple zero version of roulette is usually available right next double zero game which has a lower house edge.
If you’re a roulette player it makes sense to play the game with the lower house edge if the minimum bet is the same. Your money should last a little longer and there’s no other difference in the game. Might as well get the most bang for your buck.
Blackjack is the first game that casinos started to alter the rules for. The casinos started by changing the payout for a natural blackjack from 3:2 to 6:5. The house edge is 3 times as large when the casino only pays 6:5 when a player is dealt a natural blackjack.
- $10 wager pays $15 for 3:2 blackjack
- $10 wager pays $12 for 6:5 blackjack
The casinos have changed even more rules that alter the house edge. I recommend using this blackjack house edge calculator to compare games.
Unlike roulette, most casinos don’t offer the same or similar minimum bets for different rules. Typically, most blackjack games on the Vegas Strip over $25 pay 3:2 for a natural blackjack. This makes 6:5 blackjack sometimes the only affordable option.
I’ll go to a certain casino with the most player-friendly blackjack rules if I’m specifically looking to play the game. This table game survey is a great resource if you’re looking for the best blackjack games. If you know that you want to play blackjack maybe make a plan to explore the casino you want to play.
Treasure Island is a perfect example of venturing to a different location for blackjack. This casino typically has the most 3:2 blackjack games under $25 of all casinos on the Vegas Strip. There are also plenty of options if you go downtown. “Let’s explore downtown Las Vegas tonight…they have new Viva Vision screens.”
If you want to play at a certain casino that only has 6:5 blackjack, just check the rules to make sure you’re playing the best possible game they have.
Video poker is another game that often has a variety of rules that affect returns in the same casino. Rather than bore you with the mundane details of finding the best paytables, I’ll send you to the best video poker resource. vpFREE2.com details the best video poker games in every casino. Here’s the Nevada page for when you visit Las Vegas. The website also tells you exactly where to find the game.
Drinkers might want to take something else into account. If bar top video poker paytables are equal, the difference could be the spirits and beer available. Chandelier Bar at the Cosmopolitan has the best options on the Vegas Strip. They offer higher ABV beer and better quality spirits complimentary for video poker players than most other casinos. I tend to play video poker at this bar than Caesars or MGM bars that only offer well spirits from the gun.
Marc Meltzer covers Las Vegas, gaming and men’s lifestyle for various outlets. Check out his blog at Edge Vegas.