What Constitutes A Blackjack

Atlantic City is known for plenty of things, including the Boardwalk, Steel Pier, and its large casino resorts. One thing that this town doesn’t get a lot of attention for, though, is its blackjack scene.

Sure, Atlantic City is the one place where casinos can’t ban card counters. What if you’re not a card counter, though?

I’m going to discuss what, if any, AC casinos offer great blackjack games. But first, I’ll discuss what exactly makes for quality blackjack.

What Constitutes the Best Blackjack Games?

What Constitutes A Blackjack

I normally play blackjack but will play other games 3 card poker, craps, and the occasional slots. I just want to know what I can reasonably expect, before I look like an idiot for asking too much or settling for less then I should. When I go to vegas my limit will be 20k. I'm figuring about 5 hours a day playing.


Test your blackjack skills free by answering the 10 Blackjack questions. Our Blackjack quiz is designed to help you improve your knowledge and skill of the game. The questions are based on the principles of Basic Blackjack Strategy. So make sure you are somewhat familiar with it. The Worst Hand in Blackjack By Henry Tamburin No other hand makes blackjack players feel queasy than the dreaded 16. Players hate to hit the hand because they are afraid to bust. So many chicken out and stand no matter what the dealer shows. His book Professional Blackjack is considered the bible for “wannabe” card counters. The book contained the first count indices for surrender, and strategies for games where the dealer stood on soft 17, as well as the level-3 Halves point count system. Wong’s computer program “Blackjack Analyzer” was one of the first commercially.

Gamblers typically determine the top blackjack games by their odds alone. As you’ll see below, though, this is just one important aspect in the matter.

Low House Edge

The blackjack house edge directly impacts your chances of winning. A lower house advantage boosts your odds of making money.

The typical Atlantic City blackjack table carries between a 1% and 2% house edge. Such games feature six or eight decks and only pay 6:5 on natural blackjacks.

The latter condition raises the house advantage by 1.39% compared to 3:2 payouts. Therefore, your first step should be finding a table that offers 3:2 payouts on naturals.

Single-deck blackjack isn’t abundant in this town. Some games feature 6:5 natural payouts, which makes them unplayable even with the single deck involved.

Other rules also play a significant role in the house advantage. Here are notable ones to watch out for:

  • Double down on any two cards:+0.25% for player
  • Dealer stands on a soft 17: +0.20% for player
  • Double after splitting (DAS): +0.17% for player
  • Re-splitting ace: +0.08% for player
  • Late surrender: +0.07% for player

If these rules are reversed, they increase the house advantage by the matching amount. Assuming the dealer hits on a soft 17, then the house edge increases by 0.20%.

Flexible Stakes

Atlantic City offers a few tables that give you a strong chance to win. However, you also must be wary about the required stakes in these games.

The best Atlantic City blackjack tables can charge upwards of $50 per hand. In this case, you’re better off at a $5 or $10 table with a 2.0% house edge in terms of theoretical losses.

Here’s the math:

  • You play at a $10 blackjack table with a 2.0% house edge.
  • The table sees 70 hands per hour.
  • 70 x 10 x 0.02 = $14 in theoretical losses
  • You play at a $50 blackjack table with a 0.5% house edge.
  • The table sees 70 hands per hour.
  • 70 x 50 x 0.005 = $17.50 in theoretical losses

If you want to play for high stakes, then you should definitely look for the lowest house advantages. However, stakes are just as important as the house edge if you’re dealing with a smaller bankroll.

Good VIP Rewards

Most Atlantic City casinos are competitive with each other in terms of VIP benefits. However, certain establishments stand out in this regard.

Ocean Casino Resort has established itself as the premiere spot for top-notch loyalty rewards. It comps you well on blackjack play and offers flexible options for rewards points.

The Tropicana also features a solid VIP program. Just like Ocean Casino, it features plentiful rewards on your blackjack bets.

What Constitutes A Blackjack Rule

Of course, loyalty perks don’t quite make up for the house edge. But you can’t go wrong by getting a few more freebies for your play.

The Best of Atlantic City Blackjack in Different Categories

As you can see, blackjack tables can excel in different areas. That said, here are the top AC casinos with regard to the blackjack house edge, stakes, and rewards.


Best Blackjack with a Low House Edge

Golden Nugget offers the best blackjack odds in Atlantic City at the moment. They feature certain six-deck tables that pay 3:2 on naturals, see the dealer stand on soft 17, and allow late surrender.

The latter is especially notable, because late surrender isn’t available at many casinos around the world. This rule lets you surrender half of your stake to get out of a hand after the dealer checks for a natural.

These rules result in a 0.34% house advantage. Golden Nugget’s odds are as good as any you’ll find versus Las Vegas and beyond.

The only problem, though, is that you need to bet $50 or more to play. If you’re not willing to do this, then you might consider heading to Bally’s Hotel & Casino.

Bally’s has a game with almost the same rules as Golden Nugget. The lone difference is that you can’t use late surrender, which results in a 0.42% house edge.

The benefit, though, is that only need to wager $25 per hand. This minimum bet is more in line with the rest of Atlantic City.

AC offers some other blackjack tables that feature a 0.68% house edge. They include eight decks, 3:2 natural payouts, the dealer hitting on soft 17, doubling on any two cards, and DAS.

Best Low Stakes Blackjack

Assuming you’re a low roller, then you’ll be looking for great odds combined with reasonable stakes. The catch: you’ll be dealing with anywhere from a 1% to 2% house advantage with most of these games.

Earlier, I showed the math on how you’ll still be getting a better deal with low bets and a higher house edge. But usually, you don’t get to enjoy the best of both worlds.

Fortunately, some exceptions do exist. The Borgata offers a few $10 tables with 3:2 payouts, the dealer standing on soft 17, and eight decks.

These rules lead to a 0.44% house advantage. Combined with the $10 minimum stakes, you won’t find anything better regarding blackjack value in Atlantic City.

Of course, low stakes don’t always mean a good game. AC features $1 and $2 tables that seem like a cheap way to play. However, they also feature terrible rules (eight decks, 6:5 payouts, dealer standing on soft 17) and $0.25 commissions.

The latter force you to pay an extra $0.25 just to play each hand. You’re better off playing slot machines at this rate!

Best Blackjack Rewards in Atlantic City

Again, Ocean Casino Resort offers the best VIP program in the city. Ocean Wow Rewards features five levels and a host of options.

You can attain higher statues and rewards as you continue placing blackjack bets and spending more at Ocean Casino.

Some of the things that you can do with your points include dining, getting free hotel stays, and shopping for free. Other casino comps include VIP Lounge access, free play, and free parking.

What Atlantic City Blackjack Games Should You Avoid?

No one casino in Atlantic City offers the “worst” blackjack. Instead, you should individually judge each table by a combination of its rules and stakes.

I covered how you can’t just look at a $1 to $5 table and automatically assume that it’s a cheap game. Some of these tables include 6:5 payouts to jack up the house advantage over 2%.

Aside from ultra-low stakes, you need to be on guard with single-deck games. Many of these tables are merely used to disguise 6:5 payouts.

Some exceptions apply, including certain games at the Borgata, Bally’s, and Golden Nugget. Overall, though, you should always read the felt of single-deck tables to see if they pay 3:2 or 6:5.

What about the Best New Jersey Online Blackjack Games?

New Jersey is one of the few states that currently offer real money blackjack online. You can play these games as long as you’re physically present in the state and 21 years of age.

NJ online blackjack clearly offers the best odds and lowest stakes. The market is overlooked, though, because many gamblers would rather have the experience of playing live in Atlantic City.

Assuming you’re okay with virtual blackjack, though, then you’ll be happy to know that there are some outstanding games in New Jersey.

PokerStars Casino, Tropicana, Pala, and Virgin all feature single-deck games with house edges ranging from 0.24% to 0.27%. What’s more: you only need to bet $1 per hand.

Even the worst odds, including multi-hand and micro stakes ($0.10 per hand) versions, only feature a 0.7% house advantage.

You may ultimately still opt for playing live blackjack in AC casinos. But the online version clearly features the best value in the Garden State.

Is Atlantic City a Good Place to Play Blackjack Overall?

Atlantic City will never get the same publicity as Las Vegas when it comes to blackjack. However, its blackjack scene can stand on its own merits.

A few land-based casinos feature quality single-deck games with a house edge under 0.5%. The catch, though, is that you must wager between $25 and $50 per hand.

The Borgata offers the top value-based game with a 0.44% house advantage and $10 minimum bets. But you’ll have a tough time finding open seats.

Assuming none of the best Atlantic City blackjack tables are available, you can always grab your smartphone and play blackjack online. NJ gaming sites feature $1 blackjack stakes and house edges ranging from 0.24% and 0.7%.


Atlantic City already offers you plenty of reasons to visit with its ocean views and lavish resorts. Now, you can add quality blackjack games to this list.

I suggest stopping by the Borgata or Bally’s to find the combination of great odds and moderate stakes ($10 to $25). Assuming you can stomach $50 bets, then Golden Nugget features the absolute-best odds (0.34% house edge) in town.

Beware of most single-deck and low-stakes tables, though. Both types of games are used to mask poor rules that drive the house advantage over 2%.

By Henry Tamburin
No other hand makes blackjack players feel queasy than the dreaded 16. Players hate to hit the hand because they are afraid tobust. So many chicken out and stand no matter what the dealer shows. Others opt for the surrender option if it’s available figuring losing half a bet is better then losing it all. If your 16comes as a pair of 8’s most players are reluctant to split if the dealer shows a 9, 10, or ace because they are afraid of losing two bets instead of one. Then there is the 16 made up with anAce counted as 11 (i.e., soft 16). So what’s a player to do when he gets a 16?

First, let’s focus on a hard 16. That’s a hand that does not contain an Ace or if it does the Ace counts as one. Some examples of a hard 16 would be 10-6 or 5-7-4 or 7-8-Ace.

The correct basic playing strategy for hard 16 is to stand when the dealer shows a small card (2 through 6) and hit when the dealer shows a high card (7, 8, 9, 10, or Ace). Following thisplaying strategy will not guarantee that you will win every time but that you are more likely to lose less in the long run.. Let me explain.

Suppose you are dealt a 10-6 and the dealer shows a 7 upcard.

If you hit you win on average 30% of the time and lose 70%.

If you stand you will on average win 26% and lose 74%.

Note that you improve your chances of winning the hand by 4% if you hit rather than stand. But the dealer is still an overwhelming favorite to beat you because he will win 70% of the hands toyour 30%. But is it better to win 26% of the time by standing or 30% of the time by hitting? You should hit because it will increase your chance of winning by 4%, not much, but every percentagewill help you in the long run when you play blackjack.

So the bottom line with a hard 16 is this. Even by following the basic strategy, you will lose more hands than you win but in the long run, you will lose less than following a seat-of-the-pantsstrategy. Losing less on hands where you are the underdog is just as important as winning more when you are the favorite.

What Constitutes A Black Box Warning

What if your 16 consists of three or more cards like 5-7-4? Normally the basic strategy ignores the composition of the hand. However, if you have a hard 16 hand consisting of three or morecards, then you should stand when the dealer has a 10 showing. The reason is that you have consumed a few of the small cards that you need if you were to draw. This tips the odds in favor ofstanding.

Some casinos allow players to surrender. This means you give up the opportunity to play out your hand and automatically lose half your bet. Even when surrender is offered, most players don’tlike “giving up” without a fight. So they rarely surrender. That’s unfortunate because surrendering a hard 16 when the dealer shows a 9, 10, or Ace will save you more money in the long run thanhitting. In fact, surrender is always the best option when your chance of winning a hand is less than 25%. Take the hand of hard 16 against a 10. If we hit our chance of winning is 23.4%. Thismeans the dealer’s chance of beating us is 76.6%. If we played a hundred hard 16’s against the dealer 10 with those probabilities, we would end up winning about $23 and losing $77 for a netloss of $54 on average. By surrendering on every hand our net loss would be $50. Get the point? You are better off losing $50 then $54 which is why surrendering a hard 16 against a 10 is thebetter play because you will save $4.

What Constitutes A Blackjack For Real

If you happen to be dealt a soft 16 (like Ace-5), you should never surrender and you should never stand. Your first option is to double but only if the dealer shows a weak 4, 5, or 6 upcard. Ifnot, then hit.

Finally, we have a pair of 8’s. The correct basic strategy play is to always split the 8’s no matter what the dealer shows. Even though you will lose money on both 8’s when you split, thecombined loss, in the long run, will be less than the amount you will lose by playing the one hand as a 16. Splitting 8’s against a dealer 10, by the way, is also a slightly better play thensurrendering.

No question that 16 is a lousy blackjack hand. Unfortunately, it’s one of the most frequent hands you are going to be dealt in blackjack. But, by following the above playing strategy you willbe optimizing your chances of winning more, and losing less, in the long run. It’s the smart way to play blackjack.

Henry Tamburin has been a respected casino gambling writer for the past 50 years. He is the author of the Ultimate Blackjack Strategy Guide and was editor of the BlackjackInsider newsletter. You can read his latest articles on blackjack, video poker, and his personal playing experiences at https://www.888casino.com/blog/writers/henry-tamburin