Blackjack may not have existed in the Middle Ages, but it fits in perfectly at the Excalibur, which opened on the Las Vegas Strip in 1990 and is designed to resemble a medieval fortification. More than 100,000 square feet of gaming space occupies the Great Hall on the lobby level, which is surrounded by faux stone and wood and adorned with banners and coats of arms. There are a total of 72 tables in the main casino floor, including 38 blackjack-only tables.
Excalibur Tables & Games
The procedures for playing blackjack at the Excalibur are standard for MGM Resorts International casinos, beginning with “The dealer must draw on hands totaling 16 or less and any soft 17.” Depending on the sort of game being played, the dealer will pay you one-and-a-half times your wager or 6 to 5 for natural blackjacks. The tables paying 6:5 for natural blackjacks have a House edge of 1.09%, which places them among the worst games on the Strip. Fortunately, tables are plainly marked in this regard, so it’s relatively simple to avoid them.
The two most common card formats are double-deck and six-deck. In both variations, doubling down after splitting (DAS) is permitted, but re-splitting of Aces is not (RSA), and surrender is not an option. The distinctions pertain to table assets and the manner in which hands are dealt. The $15$1,000 double-deck game is dealt by hand with the participants’ cards face down, whereas the $5$1,000 multi-deck game is dealt from a shoe with all cards visible. Because there are fewer cards in circulation, the double-deck game has a slightly better House edge than the six-deck game (0.45% versus 0.64%).
There are also live Blackjack Switch tables on the casino floor, a game that has gained tremendous popularity along the Strip in recent years. Numerous IGT Game King machines in the slot area offer blackjack in denominations of 25 cents, 50 cents, and one dollar. However, since cards can only be divided once and natural blackjacks pay 1:1, it is probably best to avoid these machines.
In contrast to the very serious, mature approach that some of the other resorts on the Strip take to gaming, Excalibur’s casino floor is referred to as “party central.” The pit offers participants “everything you’d expect from a Las Vegas casino, with an extra dose of fun and friendliness.” This laid-back attitude is exemplified by the cocktail “women” who serve complimentary drinks to participants. If you’re new to baccarat or live table games, the Excalibur is a decent place to start. The main pit provides free gaming lessons twice daily at 11:30 am and 7:30 pm for blackjack.
M Lifestyle for Regular Blackjack Players
Due to MGM Resorts International’s ownership of the Excalibur, its loyalty program is incorporated with the same “M life” card offered by the Bellagio, MGM Grand, and a dozen other sister properties. However, table games do not qualify for M life “points” accumulation. Instead, there is a “minimum wagering requirement to be rated for Table Games; please see the pit supervisor at each participating M life resort for assistance.”
Blackjack players can earn “Express Comps and Tier Credits” based on their average wager size and playing time. Sapphire is the lowest classification, followed by Pearl, Gold, Platinum, and NOIR as the highest. The higher the tier, the more Express Comps are earned for play, up to $10,000 worth, which can be redeemed for accommodations, food and beverage, entertainment, and unique experiences known as “M life Moments.”
The Inside Perspective
There is a special area designated “The Party Pit” for those who require more entertainment than the cards alone can provide, where “tables are open and the girls are on stage.” Blackjack players can enjoy “friendly dealers, great music, and complimentary beads, all while taking in an unbeatable view.” The cards are dealt at all eight tables using continuous shuffling devices, and natural blackjacks pay 6:5, so there is a cost to the additional entertainment. The Party Pit is located on the casino floor across from Dick’s Last Resort, the so-called “Shame of the Strip.” Dick’s Last Resort is a large restaurant that specializes in sarcastic service, unruly waiters, and “deliciously messy cuisine.”