If you’ve never gambled in a casino before, or if you have trouble tearing yourself away those cheap penny slot machines, blackjack is a good place to start. The basic rules of ‘21’ are simple, although master strategy requires some memorization. If you need help, your blackjack dealer can advise you about what to do with any given hand of cards. Most casino hotel shops also sell pocket-sized blackjack poker strategy cards.
To polish your blackjack skills before sitting down to play, download a free blackjack iPhone app for practice. Many casinos also have video poker machines that offer blackjack, starting at 5¢ a bet, which lets you while away an hour or more with just $5 or $10. Some casinos offer free blackjack lessons, usually in the mornings or afternoons.
When you sit down to play live blackjack, you can ask the dealer to change your cash into chips right at the table. Look for blackjack tables that pay 3:2 odds (instead of the less profitable, but more common 6:5). Avoid tables that don’t allow you to split aces. Don’t be fooled by casinos that advertise single-deck blackjack games, because the odds are usually worse. For current casino blackjack odds, consult the Wizard of Vegas.
Tip: 3:2 blackjack odds are increasingly rare, especially on the Strip. Generally, you’ll find the cheapest tables with good odds downtown. Strip casinos may have higher minimum-bet tables and/or less advantageous odds, especially during the evenings and on weekends.