Treasure Island – Blackjack Paradise ?

When it opened on the southwest corner of Las Vegas Boulevard and Spring Mountain Road in 1993, Treasure Island was a Mirage Resorts property intended to attract young parents and their children. It was part of a citywide “family-friendly Vegas” initiative, featuring a pirate’s theme with a skull-and-crossbones marquee, a huge video game arcade, and free staged pirate battles in “Buccaneer Bay’ in front of the casino entrance. Within ten years, management decided to abandon the experiment and focus on adult entertainment. The whimsical pirate features and icons were removed, and the property was rebranded as “TI.” By 2009, the entire resort was sold to billionaire businessman Philip Ruffin, who continued the trend toward upscale adult gaming and entertainment, centered on a 90,000-square-foot gaming space with seventy table games, including 39 blackjack tables.

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TI Tables & Games

Three basic variations of blackjack can be found at Treasure Island. The best of these from the player’s point of view is the $100~$5,000 six-deck game that has the dealer stand on any count of 17. This version also allows doubling down after splitting (DAS), re-splitting of Aces (RSA) and surrender, creating a House advantage of 0.28%. By comparison, the $10~$2,000 six-deck game has the dealer hot on soft 17, causing the House edge to rise to 0.48%.

A better choice for those who want to play for low stakes is the $10~$2,000 double-deck table, where the dealer hits on soft 17 and DAS is permitted, but RSA and surrender are not. The House margin there is 0.45%. Taken all together, including party pit games, the TI blackjack tables have an overall average House margin of 0.81%, which places it in the middle of casinos on the Las Vegas Strip when it comes to finding the best odds for blackjack.

What’s Different

Among the newer additions to the TI gaming floor are the Gilley Girls Party Pit and the High-Limit Lounge. The former features “the gorgeous and friendly girls of Gilley’s Saloon, Dance Hall & Bar-B-Que,” dressed in bikinis, cowgirl boots, chaps and cowboy hats, showing off their talents as casino dealers. Table limits are $10~$1,000 and both automated shufflers and continuous shuffling machines are in use. Note, however, that a natural blackjack here pays just 6:5 for a natural blackjack instead of the customary 3:2. Contrasting Gilley’s blue-collar gaming area, the High-Limit Lounge features “first-class service and comforts with limits up to $15,000.” Table minimums start at $50 or $100, and drinks are served from the lounge’s own private bar.

TI Players Club for Frequent Blackjack Players

The Treasure Island Players Club is a loyalty program intended primarily for slot players [ ], but rewards can also be earned based on TI Casino table games play, such as blackjack. Benefits range from complimentary or reduced-rate rooms, free shows and dining, exclusive members-only events and promotions, and special invitations to giveaways, tournaments, and concerts. There is also a variety of brand-name merchandise available through the Club’s “Treasure Chest Points” promotions. Although points are not awarded directly for table games play, members who show their card TI Players Club Card to the dealer will be “rated” based upon a minimum average bet of $15.

The Inside View

In the slot area immediately adjacent to the pit, a number of machine blackjack options are available. Bally’s Multi-Play Blackjack machines can be found next to the party pit, with betting denominations of 25¢, 50¢ or $1 . Players can wager up to 10 credits per hand on seven hands at a time. However, it is best to avoid the TI Multi-Game machines that offer single-hand, single-deck play for denominations of 50¢, $1, $2 or $5. The blackjack software does not allow for doubling down or splitting, and the payout for a natural blackjack is even money instead of the customary 3:2.

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