Bally’s Resort & Casino

Depending upon whom one listens to, when it comes to casinos on the Las Vegas Strip, Bally’s is either “the center of the action” or “the blandest of the bland” [1]. The truth, of course, lurks somewhere in between. It’s a fact that Bally’s has a great location on Las Vegas Boulevard at the corner of Flamingo Road, smack in the middle of all the major properties. It’s also true that the décor and hotel rooms are a bit dated, with renovations underway but lagging behind those of nearby competitors. Fortunately for blackjack players, there’s still plenty of opportunity to be found within the resort’s 66,200 square feet of gaming space [2]. The casino floor boasts of “more than 65 Las Vegas table games, including four different kinds of casino blackjack” [3].

Bally’s Tables & Games

According to at least one study, the blackjack action at Bally’s rates in the lower half among Strip casinos, owing to an overall average House edge of 1.09% [4]. However, if one avoids the single-deck tables paying 6:5 for a natural blackjack, the percentages tip much more favorably in the player’s direction. With many table minimums starting at $5 and $10, virtually everyone can afford to play.

The best games in Bally’s main pit are the multi-deck versions played from a shoe. The dealer hits on soft 17, doubling down after splitting (DAS) is allowed and so is surrender, although re-splitting of Aces (RSA) is not. For the six-deck shoe the House edge is 0.55% and for the eight-deck one it is just a tinge higher at 0.57% [5]. A slightly less welcoming game is the double-deck version with a $25 minimum, which allows neither DAS nor surrender; its House edge is 0.60%. The maximum wager at almost all tables is $2,000, with the exception of a $25~$3,000 game or two, depending on how crowded the main pit becomes.

One bank of tables on the casino floor has been designated as “Jarrod’s Party Pit,” which features a single small platform for a go-go dancer and otherwise resembles part of the main pit. Look for a couple of continuous shuffle machines in use in this area, along with two blackjack variants, namely a side bet called “21+3 Xtreme” offered on the basic games and one table set up for Blackjack Attack.

What’s Different

The availability of $5 blackjack played from an eight-deck shoe, coupled with the lack of a high-limit area, is a good indicator of Bally’s role among Strip casinos. It caters to a less moneyed crowd—the low rollers—many of whom are novices at the game [6]. As one of the older casinos in the area, its chairs, tables and felts tend to be a bit more used, although new carpeting was installed as recently as 2006. Players will discover that the tables are closer together than they are in the newer, higher-end casinos. Some have mentioned that smoke can be a factor at Bally’s too, owing in part to poor ventilation as well as a high percentage of smokers among players.

Total Rewards for Frequent Blackjack Players

“Total Rewards” is the players loyalty club at Bally’s Las Vegas—the same program offered by Harrah’s and some 40 other resorts and casinos around the world that are part of Caesars Entertainment Corporation [7]. “Reward Credits” are earned for frequent play, which can in turn be exchanged for entertainment, meals, merchandise and more. The credits also serve as “Tier Credits” to determine the player’s status within the program, from Gold to Platinum, Diamond and “Seven Stars.”

For every $5 played on reel machines, or $10 for video poker, one Tier/Reward Credit is earned. The program rules state, “For table play, be sure to hand your Total Rewards card to the dealer or pit supervisor as soon as you sit down to play and ask to be rated. Both Tier Credits and Reward Credits are earned based on length of play, average bet and type of game…. If you play slots and tables, all earned Reward Credits go into the same account that you can use for comps.” If free rooms, meals or show tickets are desired, quite a few hours at the blackjack table will be required.

The Inside View

Comments left on bulletin boards by visitors tell quite a tale of how the gaming experience at Bally’s rates in the pecking order of Las Vegas casinos. One blogger writes [8], “Bally’s has no themes or attractions or diversions, nor are there hoity-toity shopping promenades or incredibly overpriced night clubs. What you get is a great value and tons of unpretentious fun.” Others have said that “it has the feel of a classic joint” and it is “old school Vegas on the Strip.” And perhaps the most telling comment: “Just good ‘ol fun. Nothing too fancy but if you need fancy… it’s connected to Paris”—just follow Le Boulevard south from the pit area.

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