Playing Blackjack at Golden Nugget Hotel & Casino

Built in 1948, the Golden Nugget is one of the “grand dames” of downtown Las Vegas. It occupies a prime piece of real estate near the head of Fremont Street and still draws a classy clientele. Part of the attraction is the Golden Nugget’s 55,845-square-foot gaming space, which features 96 gaming tables. Of those, 52 tables are dedicated wholly to the game of blackjack.

Golden Nugget Tables & Games

There are plenty of blackjack variations offered at the Golden Nugget. The rules summary states, “On some games, the dealer must hit on a ‘soft’ 17,” but that should probably be updated to read “on all games with minimum stakes under $100.” Whether the game is double-deck or six-deck, if the table stakes start at $10, $25 or $50, the dealers hit on soft 17. The version with the lowest House edge at 0.45% is the $25~$5,000 double-deck game. Unlike the $10~$2,500 double-deck one, it allows doubling down after splitting (DAS).

All games with minimums under $50, including six-deck games dealt from a shoe, prohibit surrender and re-splitting of Aces (RSA). However, the $50~$2,500 six-deck table has both surrender and RSA for a House edge of 0.48%. Reports of a six-deck game with DAS, RSA and surrender, where the dealer stands on soft 17, could not be confirmed, unless they were referencing the $5 tables that have 6:5 payouts on natural blackjacks. All in all, seven other downtown casinos have been ranked better than the Golden Nugget in terms of average House edge at the blackjack tables.

The Golden Nugget has a small high-limit area featuring a couple of blackjack tables with stakes of $25~$5,000. Other blackjack variations in the pit area include Free Bet Blackjack for $10~$1,000, single-deck “Super Fun 21” and a number of tables offering a “Wild Aces” side bet, whereby players receiving an Ace as their first card may wager $5~$100 on the next card having a face value of 10 for a payout of 2:1.

What’s Different

Despite several changes in ownership over the years, the Golden Nugget has remained a traditional “old school” casino, focused on catering to sightseeing tourists and a cadre of loyal locals. (It’s tiny) (The lack of a) high-limit area is indicative of the focus on mainstream players, as is its choice of headliners for its showroom, mainly C&W stalwarts like Willie Nelson, Gretchen Wilson and Merle Haggard, among others. One of its most popular promotional tools over the years has been the “Golden Values Coupon Book.” Available upon request to staying guests, it’s a sizeable catalog of special discounts valued at $250 in dining, entertainment, retail and other resort offers. Of course, blackjack players will want to be sure to take advantage of the book’s Match Play Coupon worth $10.

24 Karat for Frequent Blackjack Players

The Golden Nugget’s player’s club is called 24 Karat. Membership is free and applies to all Golden Nugget properties, including Laughlin, Biloxi and Atlantic City. Upon signing up, new members are given the opportunity to “Spin & Win” for $5, $100 or $1,000 in Free Slot Play. Thereafter, they can earn cash, room nights, meals, show tickets and more whenever they play slot or table games. It’s also possible to qualify for VIP service and be invited to exclusive events and tournaments, too.

Every dollar wagered counts toward benefits, but blackjack players are reminded that “the extension of complimentaries is based on rated play (and) the Golden Nugget’s policy is to rate all table players wagering $25 or more each bet.” Rewards depend upon time at the table and average amount bet. One new reward introduced recently is “Play ‘Til You Lose” promotional chips that allow players to bet on blackjack and, if the bet wins, continue playing the promo chips like live money until they lose.

The Inside View

For many years now, the Golden Nugget has quietly been rewarding its blackjack players with invitations to seasonal tournaments, typically offering $100,000 in prize money up for grabs. The entry fee is usually $500, the grand prize is $50,000 and the top 26 finishers all end up in the money, with consolation awards ranging from $500 to $15,000. There are also bonus drawings for special prizes such as watches or promo chips. The events have themes like “Bada Bing,” “Super Hero” or “Flashback.” Special room rates are offered to participants, along with three days of activities, from a welcome reception to raffles and complimentary Continental breakfasts.

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