Looking for Nevada’s best blackjack experience? Go north

The small, unassuming Alamo and Topaz casinos in Northern Nevada have a leg up on the best of Las Vegas’ glittering resorts – at least by the standards of blackjack.

Whatever the Alamo in Sparks and the Topaz in Gardnerville lack in pizzazz they make up for in favorable blackjack games, according to this month’s issue of Casino Player magazine. The two were the only Nevada casinos to make the magazine’s list of properties offering the nation’s best blackjack games.

Both casinos offer blackjack that’s played with a single deck of cards, increasing the player’s ability to gauge when certain cards will appear. The casinos also allow players to surrender their initial two-card hand provided the dealer doesn’t have a blackjack, among other player-friendly rules.

Las Vegas once offered the best blackjack anywhere but has since muddied the water with games that pay 6-5 odds on blackjacks rather than the traditional and more favorable 3-2 odds, said gambling writer Henry Tamburin, who compiled the magazine’s list. Many Las Vegas casinos also have unfavorable rules and blackjack variations with a higher house edge, he said.

Blackjack watchers say the rule changes follow the rise of Las Vegas as a tourist destination for people who don’t necessarily gamble. Rising overhead costs for megaresorts lead casinos to charge more for games, such as raising minimum bets on table games.

Moreover, Las Vegas is competing against an increasing number of states offering the same or better games, Tamburin said.

His article warns gamblers against high-cost blackjack variations like “Blackjack Switch” and “Spanish 21” and games dealt from machines that continuously shuffle multiple decks of cards. Some games also charge a fee per hand or pay even money for blackjacks.

The other casinos to make list of top blackjack games were San Diego’s Barona casino, Coushatta, L’Auberge du Lac and Paragon in Louisiana and Silver Slipper and Treasure Bay in Mississippi.

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  1. Vegas is slipping, I wonder if that casino over looking topaz lake is still there?

  2. @mred, the Topaz being referenced in the article is indeed the casino that overlooks the lake. Gardnerville, NV is used as the city because Topaz isn't recognized by the post office yet.

    Also, both of these casinos are owned by the Cashell family, including Reno mayor, Bob Cashell.