Blackjack play at Circus Circus Hotel & Casino

In 1968, when Circus Circus first opened on the Las Vegas Strip, it consisted only of a showroom, a few restaurants, and a casino; there was no hotel. Today, the resort has 3,770 guest accommodations, an RV park, three swimming pools, an indoor amusement park, and full-service meeting and convention facilities[1]. What has remained constant over the past fifty years is the casino’s emphasis on “playful entertainment,” exemplified by the high-wire and trapeze performances performed directly above the 101,286-square-foot gaming floor and reflected in its slogan, “Act your age somewhere else” [2]. For blackjack participants, the focus is on low-stakes action and enjoyment.

Circus Circus Tables & Games

The centerpiece of the main arena at Circus Circus is blackjack. The overwhelming majority of its 49 gaming tables are devoted to variations of 21 [3], and three basic games are available: single-deck, double-deck, and six-deck shoe [4]. All games have the dealer play on soft 17 and permit doubling down after splitting (DAS), but neither surrender nor resplitting of Aces (RAS) is permitted. The best bargain is the $25 double-deck table with a 0.45% house advantage, but the most popular table is the $3 six-deck table with a 0.6% house advantage [5]. Maximum table wagering limits are $3,000.

According to one study, the overall House edge at the blackjack tables at Circus Circus is 0.68%, which positions it in the middle of all casinos on the Strip [6]. Like many other Las Vegas casinos, Circus Circus has introduced $5 and $10 single-deck games that pay 6:5 instead of the standard 3:2 for a natural blackjack. Nonetheless, at “select times daily,” blackjack in the “Rockin’ Party Pit” pays 2:1, significantly improving the player’s odds. Look for glaring red lights to indicate when this special rule is in effect 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.


There used to be live blackjack tables at “Slots A Fun” [7], the neighboring affiliate of Circus Circus, but all table games have been substituted with slot machines. There are three five-seat machines for blackjack players: two “Royal Match 21” units and one “Bet Set 21” unit. The minimum bet amount is $1.


What’s Unique?

According to the travel advice of Frommer’s [8], Circus Circus is “the last bastion of family-friendly Las Vegas.” The presence of clown acts, juggling, acrobatic performances, and a boisterous carnival midway may deter more serious blackjack players, but it is ideal for parents looking for a place for their children to congregate while they play. Children are not permitted on the casino floor, but the mezzanine level is almost always packed with teenagers playing arcade games, and pre-adults can be seen traversing the carpeted passageways between the gaming areas on their way to Adventuredome in the back. Free blackjack lessons are offered daily at 10:30 a.m. for beginners.


Players Club for Regular Blackjack Participants

Although Circus Circus is a subsidiary of MGM Resorts International, it does not share its “Circus Players Club” with other Strip properties. In its place, the loyalty program rewards gaming machine and table play with perks such as “free slot play; special event invitations to parties, concerts, and tournaments; comp dollars to use at our dining outlets; complimentary and discounted room nights; and priority hotel check-in” [9]. For “points” earned within 72 hours of joining, new members are eligible for free gifts such as T-shirts, specialty beverages, free buffet dining, and two free room nights. One point is awarded for every $2 wagered on slot machines or $10 wagered on video poker. New table game participants can purchase $15 in promotional chips for $10 or $45 worth for $30. Blackjack players must be ranked according to their average wager size and playing duration. Platinum, Diamond, and Sapphire membership levels include additional benefits such as room upgrades, valuable discounts, VIP line access, complimentary show tickets, and invitations to exclusive events. [10].


The Inside Perspective

It is improbable that Circus Circus will alter its focus away from families in the near future. MGM Resorts has shown no interest in harmonizing the hotel-casino with its other properties on the Strip. In fact, corporate management is upping the ante on family attractions by moving forward with plans to introduce a small water park on the RV park premises of the resort[11]. Early in 2013, the county zoning commission approved plans to build a 5.5-acre facility with “a lazy river, 90-foot water slides, and special attractions… exclusively for Circus Circus guests” [12]. This is excellent news for blackjack-playing parents, as it provides yet another daycare facility.






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