Inside Baseball: Internal Document Reveals New Blackjack Rules at Mirage

Most recreational gamblers don’t care a whole lot about tables games rules. The granular details are less important than the experience.

Serious players, however, scrutinize the rules, as a swing of even one or two percentage points in the house edge can make or break their session.

Typically, blackjack has some of the best odds in a casino. It’s sort of the opposite of the Big Six wheel and live keno.

In early versions of the game we today know as blackjack, winning hands with a black jack (spades or clubs) paid 10-to-1. Now, not so much.

We got our hands on a confidential internal Mirage (soon to be Hard Rock) document that sheds some light on where the casino is going related to revenue enhancement and risk aversion.

The document, distributed to blackjack managers and dealers, spells out specifics of the rules we’ve been told went into effect on Monday, Feb. 6, 2023.

We’ve never seen a document like this, so a lot of this is new to us, too. Have a look.

Our inability to do even rudimentary math comes in handy because it helps us avoid freak-outs.

Some parts of the rule sheet require translation for laypersons, and we count ourself among those.

To start, Mirage’s new layout doesn’t have a fairly standard piece of information on the felt, whether the dealer must hit or stand on soft 17. As stated, that means the table can use six decks (less advantageous for players) or double deck. That rule appears on the “VL sign.” “VL” stands for “visual limits,” a little sign that sits on the table.

Dealers hitting on soft 17 for double deck tables is not a good thing for players.

Next, all tables will have six spots (or players).

“TM” stands for the software used by the casino, Table Manager.

The new rules for high limit blackjack double deck aren’t great news: No surrender, no mid-shoe entry, hit soft 17, split pairs one time for maximum of two hands, split aces receive one card only, rated players may wager three hands, non-rated players limited to one hand and max wager of 10x posted minimum.

Again, the dealer hitting on soft 17 isn’t great, and only being able to split pairs once is a turn for the worse as well.

If you’re not familiar with the terms “rated” and “non-rated,” a “rated” player is one using a player’s club card. The casino knows who the player is. A “non-rated” player isn’t using a loyalty club card.

The idea here is the rated player is a known quantity, the non-rated player is pretty much anonymous.

This distinction is related to preventing card counting by “advantage players” and limiting potential losses.

Mirage becomes Hard Rock in 2025.

The rules for high limit blackjack with a six-deck shoe are: Surrender offered, stand on all 17s, split pairs three times for maximum of four hands (including aces), split aces receive one card only, rated players may wager three hands, non-rated players limited to wagering one hand and max wager of 10x posted minimum.

While the intentions here make sense, the logic fails when high limit players are limited to 10x the minimum. Six deck shoes already make card-counting challenging, so this rated vs. non-rated rule is leaving money on the table for Mirage.

It pretty much means on a $15 6-to-5 table, with six decks, continuous shuffle, a non-rated can only wager $150.

Ill-considered, to say the least.

Main floor blackjack rules: Surrender offered, hit soft 17, split pairs three times for a maximum of four hands, split aces receive one card only, rated players may wager three hands, non-rated players limited to one hand and max wager 10x posted minimum.

Again, these rules are shooing away card counters and protecting against taking big hits without knowing who’s doing the hitting. Casinos have gotten very good at identifying advantage players, and some will back them off. Meaning, the house edge is already comparatively small, so their action isn’t welcome.

Our friend John Mehaffy at did a deeper dive into these rules changes and he isn’t allergic to math, which we definitely are.

From the industry folks we’ve spoken to, these rules are unlikely to deter most players from gambling at Mirage, but they are likely to lead to some confusion and possibly arguments with dealers and management about the rules.

A lively discussion followed our posting of the Mirage’s blackjack rules on Twitter, so check it out.

While it can’t hurt to know the impact of various rules on your odds of winning, we tend to focus on the fun. We aren’t here for math, we’re here for stories and memories. We play roulette, live keno and even that cursed Big Six wheel if we’re feeling lucky and like the vibe of a casino or the people we’re playing with. Math is real life, and Las Vegas is the opposite of that. Play on.


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