Playing Blackjack at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino

Situated on 26 acres of prime real estate just east of the Las Vegas Strip, the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino has been providing entertainment and gaming action in a boutique luxury resort atmosphere since 1995. In 2010, the property completed a $750 million expansion, including the addition of some 40,000 square feet of casino space, more than doubling the gaming area to its current 72,000 square feet and increasing the options in the pit area to 92 tables, about half of which are dedicated to blackjack. It’s a place for the young and young at heart, as the Hard Rock’s rock’n’roll reputation attracts a demographic of well-off visitors aged 25 to 40, who like to party and play 24 hours a day.

Hard Rock Tables & Games

Blackjack at the Hard Rock comes in three basic varieties—single deck, double deck and six deck. The best odds can be found at tables with minimums of $100, where the dealer stands on all 17s, doubling down after splitting (DAS) is allowed and it is permissible to re-split Aces (RSA). In the double-deck version, surrender is not allowed and the House edge is just 0.20%, while the six-deck version does offer surrender and the advantage to the House is 0.28%.

For those who prefer tables with lower minimums, there’s a double-deck game with limits of $25~$2,000 that has the same rules as the more costly version, but the dealer hits on soft 17s. That bumps the House edge up to 0.40%. And at the $10~$1,000 six-deck tables, the dealer hits on soft 17, DAS and RSA are allowed and surrender is not, for a House margin of 0.57%.

The single-deck games pay only 6:5 on a natural blackjack instead of the standard 3:2. Most of those tables are located near the Hard Rick’s Party Pit, which on weekends features two pole dancers instead of the runway show typically seen at other casinos. There’s one table for $10~$1,000 Blackjack Switch in the main pit, too, and note that although all blackjack tables feature automated shuffling machines, they are not set for continuous shuffling and must be reloaded with discards periodically just like shoes.

What’s Different

Although the Hard Rock was not the first Las Vegas casino to offer poolside blackjack, it certainly upped the ante on how much fun it can be, with bikini clad dealers and one of best music play lists in town. Both in-water and poolside versions of 21 are offered on the five-acre pool grounds. Tables are placed right at the water’s edge at the Poolside Palapa at Nirvana, formerly the HRH Beach Club [ ]. Out of the water, wagering takes place on four tables set up in the shade of the Palapa Hut adjacent to the Nirvana Bar and Grill. Hours of operation, which may vary by season, are generally from 11am till sunset on weekdays and from 10am till sunset on Saturday and Sunday. And yes, “special dryers are used to dry out paper bills, and players are usually given pouches to store their chips when they leave the tables”.

Backstage Pass for Frequent Blackjack Players

To recognize player loyalty, the Hard Rock launched its new Backstage Pass Rewards Club in 2012. Points are awarded for gaming activities—slots, table games and poker—and “nearly every little thing you do on the Casino floor and off.” Tiers of membership are assigned based on point accumulation from General Admission to Entourage at 20,000 points, Platinum Access at 125,000 points and Nirvana by invitation only. Benefits range from room, retail, dining and spa discounts to food, drink and gift comps, free slot play, priority services and room upgrades. New members get a free $10 Match Play coupon upon joining. According to the program description, for table games like blackjack, “Points are generated based on average bet and length of time played”. What’s more, “It is the responsibility of the participant to ensure … that a supervisor is aware of play when playing tables or other games.”

The Inside View

For those carrying a hefty bankroll, one of the finest places to play in all of Las Vegas is the Hard Rock’s Peacock High Limit Gaming area, located on an elevated platform just off the main casino floor. The appeal of $100, $500 or $5,000 hands of blackjack played with a House edge of just 0.20~0.28% should be attraction enough, but management knows that high-rolling customers like a bit of privacy surrounded by rich woods, leather seats and rich-hued fabrics. A separate high-limit room called the “Dragon Salon” offers Pai Gow Poker and Baccarat, but not blackjack. For those who wonder why the name “Peacock” was selected, the peacock-feather vest made famous by Jimi Hendrix when he played the Filmore in 1968 used to adorn the walls here, but it was removed during the renovation.

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