Everything You Need to Know About Stadium Blackjack

Stadium gambling is now a thing in Las Vegas casinos, and we figured it was time to check out Stadium Blackjack at Venetian.

In Stadium Blackjack, up to 44 players compete with one of two live dealers in, wait for it, stadium-style seating.

Stadium blackjack Venetian

Oh, all right, it’s nothing like a stadium. Just play along.

As with most games in a casino, Stadium Blackjack accomplishes a couple of key goals for The Man.

Casinos make more money when labor costs are lowered, and when there are more hands dealt. Since casino games have a built-in advantage for the house, more hands means more profit.

Here’s how Stadium Blackjack works at Venetian Las Vegas.

There are 44 seats for players. Each player has their own terminal, and selects which of the two dealers they want to play against, blue or red.

Once a dealer is selected, the player has 30 seconds between hands to place a bet. A big benefit of Stadium Blackjack is the $5 minimum. Most standard games at Venetian have $15 minimums.

Stadium blackjack Venetian

Get ready to play blackjack with 43 of your new best friends.

Once bets are made, each screen reads “No More Bets.”

Then, three cards are dealt from a six-deck, continuous “smart shuffle” machine.

Two cards go to the players, one to the dealer. One of the intriguing aspects of Stadium Blackjack is all the players get the same two cards. (That is, all the players who chose the red dealer get the same two cards. All those who chose the blue dealer get different cards.)

Now, each player makes their own decision about what to do next. Players can hit, stand, double down or split.

Here’s where the game veers into new territory. Since everyone has the same two cards, and can make their own decisions about what happens next, additional “Community” cards are needed. Community cards go to players until all the players have chosen to stand (or have been eliminated because they busted). After all the players’ hands are locked, additional community cards go to the dealer until the hand has a result.

Stadium blackjack Venetian

The “Community” cards (upper left) are really the only perplexing part, but just let the dealer do their thing.

Example time!

Say the first cards are dealt and all the players get a queen and a king, the dealer gets a five. That’s 20 for the players, so everyone’s going to stand. (Feel free to split them, though, that’s part of what makes Stadium Blackjack so fun, no peer pressure.) The dealer takes additional cards and busts. Everyone wins, cheering ensues, annoying all the players in the nearby poker room in the best possible way.

Here’s a more complicated example.

Players get a king and six, dealer gets a queen. Some players stand on 16, some hit, right? (You’re supposed to hit.) The players who choose “Hit” on their display get another card (a “Community” card). Again, those who “Stand” don’t get another card. Each player is doing their own thing. Say, that next player card is a two. Everybody stands with 18. But the fun part is you don’t have to! You can “Hit” again. Only after all the players have finished does the dealer then complete their hand and a result is shown.

Stadium blackjack Venetian

If Stadium Blackjack isn’t your thing, there’s stadium baccarat nearby. Again, $5 minimums are hard to pass up on The Strip.

A lot of this happens on the dealer’s display. Players just see their own hand and how it’s stacking up against the dealer.

Once the hand is done, all the cards go back into the shuffler and the fun begins again.

So, that’s a long-winded way of saying, “It’s just like regular blackjack.” The fact others have the same two opening cards, or how dealers decide which cards are communal, is rather irrelevant. It’s you against the dealer.

Let’s get into what’s really important about Stadium Blackjack, the pros and cons.

First, the pros. Stadium Blackjack is great for groups and couples! Where else in Las Vegas can you and 43 friends all play blackjack at once? During our visit, the majority of players were couples.

Again, low table minimums. That $5 minimum is tempting and it never gets raised, even if the game is busy.

Also, no glares from other players if you do something stupid. Stadium Blackjack is anonymous, and players make their own decisions.

Another pro for us is the machine adds up your cards. We hate math, so this is a great aspect of the game.

We also like that you can take a break between hands, sitting out then jumping back in at any time.

There are some drawbacks to Stadium Blackjack, but opinions vary about how important these cons are.

The rate of play, if you play every hand, is fast. After you get your cards, you have 10 seconds to decide whether you’d like to hit or stand. That’s a lot of pressure! If you do nothing, the machine automatically stands. It won’t hit or double or split for you, though. More hands means you can lose more quickly, but it also means you’ll win more quickly when you’re on a lucky streak.

It’s interesting to note that while the game is called “Stadium Blackjack” on the player terminals, it’s called “Rapid Blackjack” on the dealer’s screen.

Another potential downside is Stadium Blackjack pays 6-to-5, rather than 3-to-2. Then again, that’s true of the majority of blackjack games on the Las Vegas Strip.

Also, serious blackjack players dislike six deck, continuous shuffling machines. Card counting is impossible with such machines.

Stadium blackjack Venetian

Another look at the layout. Make a bet, hit or stand, rake in the big bucks.

That’s about it. Each display has a bunch of other buttons, but probably the most important for first-time players is “Help.” Beyond the two people dealing the cards, there’s another dealer that roams the floor and helps players with questions.

There’s a button for dealer tips, another to call for service, one to “Re-Bet” and others. There’s also a button so players can see the game in Chinese.

There are a couple of side bets as well, Royal Match 21 and Bet the Set 21. Blackjack side bets tend to be sucker bets, but only if they don’t hit!

Stadium blackjack Venetian

Side bets are for entertainment value only. Don’t go nuts.

Overall, Stadium Blackjack is a fun new twist on blackjack, and its social component could make it a draw for groups seeking to gamble together.

If you’d like to know more about Stadium Blackjack, check out these stories from VegasFanboy.com and our bud Marc Meltzer. We also talked about Stadium Blackjack on the Vital Vegas Podcast, if you’re into that kind of thing.

Our first story about stadium gambling (at Palazzo) was way back in 2013, and we didn’t have the best time. While we didn’t win playing Stadium Blackjack, it wasn’t a bad experience.

Let us know what you think of Stadium Blackjack. Some believe it’s the future of casino gambling. For us, interacting with the dealer is often half the fun of playing, so unless we were with a group of friends, we’d probably bite the bullet and find a traditional, higher limit table.

Got questions? Ask away!

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  • RustyHammer

    They gotta pay 6:5 on a machine that is meant to maximize earnings based upon the number of seats? Shameful. But that’s 21st-century Vegas.

    • This is a casino with a triple-zero roulette table. You expected anything else?

      • Agreed. Most stadium gambling iterations I’ve seen offer 3:2. Granted, these are outside of Las Vegas. Vegas seems to have not shame in their attempt to fleece average customers.

    • Yeah, the prevailing wisdom is the vast majority of customers don’t know (or care about) the difference between 3-to-2 and 6-to-5. I’m increasingly of that perspective, too.

  • James Kilpatrick

    How does stadium blackjack compare to table games and Video poker/slots?

    Since traditionally the machine games are more beneficial to earn comps?

    Heading down for super bowl. Excited to see in person all the things I’ve read on Vital Vegas in the past few months since I was last there.

    • Yeah, I’d say in that regard, rating is more precise. The conditions of the game probably would lend itself to play by more experienced gamblers, though.

    • BarryR

      I was told by someone at The Venetian that it rates as a table game, which means it’s worthless. On the other hand, that blackjack game with the creepy animated dealer rates as a slot machine, which is much better.

      • James Kilpatrick

        Thanks Barry! Any idea how the creepy machines rate at caesars properties? I always passed them because I don’t get why she has to stare at me like that!

        • LVBigBear

          Because her eyes are up here buddy! (assuming she’s still wearing that bustier… I think they’ve changed out the videos of some of the dealers).

  • Big Steve

    Even if card counting was possible, 6/5 blackjack shoe games are unbeatable even with gigantic bet spreads. Casinos use these continuous shuffles for speed.

  • Thanks for sharing my story. I’m inclined to like the stadiums that offer more than one game. A lot more action and variety. Great write up.

    • I’d try those. I do like that there’s a collective element, though. The more diverse the selection of games, the more you’re on your own.

      • Very true. I liked the setup here in Detroit, much like the poster above mentioned about Seneca. I can play craps next to a buddy who wants to play BJ.

  • another_interested_observer

    Seneca in Niagara Falls has a great stadium set-up. The stadium surrounds their circle bar and behid the bar is a massive jumbotron. While playing your selection of BJ, craps, roulette or sic bo, you can watch whatever game and get bar sevice quickly. The screen has a few pip’s so you can watch a major game and then a couple small screens to the side can show other games. I have only played the craps so no comment on the BJ rules but, I find it a great place to do a three of the things I enjoy – gamble, watch a decent game and have a decent beer!

  • Falcon Falcone

    Had to mention your article from 2013 saying stadium gambling is a bad thing:
    http://vitalvegas.com/stadium-gaming-sucking-fun-gambling-since-late-2013/
    Have you changed face for any reason or has it gotten better?

    • Ha, yeah, I forgot all about that until I found it searching for other articles on the subject. Went back and added the link. This visit cost me a fortune, and it went quickly, so guess I’m still not a fan, although I’d love to try it with a group to see if the social aspect could make up for the financial hit.

      • RustyHammer

        A financial hit is never worth the social aspect of gambling.

        • Can’t agree with “never.” Odds and cost are just a couple of factors, but others outweigh them, like having fun.

  • RustyHammer

    When do we get this sort of thing downtown? And will the millenials love it?

  • LVBigBear

    Since you said to ask… Looking for some clarification. Does the dealer get the same cards against every player? So if 25 of us stand after the first 2 cards and 17 take a hit, then 5 take a 4th card, than the dealers cards simply start after that 4th up card. The system doesn’t say, card 3 is the dealer 2nd card for players 1-25, etc.? The reason that I ask is that although its you against the dealer, if there are 41 of you that stand with a 13 against a dealer 6 (because you understand basic BJ) and some yahoo takes a hit, it can affect your eventual outcome for everyone. The difference is you have to figure out who the 1:41 tool is instead of the 1:5 tool.

    • Thanks for asking! The dealer does get the same cards, although the actions of the player determines when the dealer gets their cards (other than the first one). There is still a yahoo factor, but they have the luxury of not having their decisions scrutinized by everyone else at a table.

  • Justin Combs

    Were you there long enough to get a feel for how quickly drink service comes?

  • Bouldersteve

    Looks like something that could be fun if not profitable. Like the low minimum and the fact you can sit out on hands without leaving. Not having to count is also nice especially after a few or more drinks.

  • Mako10

    As is you needed yet ANOTHER reason NOT to step foot in the Venetian. Adelson can go suck a fat one.

  • William Wingo

    Anyone who plays 6-5 Blackjack deserves exactly what they get–which is to say, nothing. Possible exceptions would be in a tournament and/or with a really generous coupon.

  • Sam The Spam

    So your rationale for plugging a 6:5 BJ game is that lots of other casinos are doing it? Don’t play 6:5 games. Don’t give free publicity to 6:5 games.

  • Buzz Paff

    How many hands on average per hour? A 7 spot table averages 50 per hour. More hands per hour will empty most pockets faster. This 6/5 $5 game may cost a customer a lot more than a $25 3/2 game.

  • Buzz Paff

    Everything WRONG. If players A&B get 8/8. Dealer has a 10.Player A stands Player B splits and gets a 3 on his first 8, that 3 is also the dealers second card , but only for
    Player A. Next card is a 10. Dealer breaks only for Player A. Player B now has a 21 on hand 1. Only after player B finished his other 8 will the dealer takes cards on his hand for player B.
    Now imagine a player splits or doubles down against a dealers 10 or A. Then the dealer get a BJ. Remember dealer only has one card ti start. Does player lose all bets or just original bet ? Feel free to look up Nevada gaming rules. You won’t find it there.