Stadium Blackjack: A Modern Twist on a Classic

First of all, let’s get things straight. Stadium Blackjack does not happen in a high capacity arena with a chanting audience. It’s actually just a different way to play the game, but one that is growing in popularity. So, let’s find out what makes it so different and why it’s gaining such a large following. Discover how it’s played and all the pros and cons. Once you’ve read our guide, you’ll be ready to try your hand at Stadium Blackjack too!
Playing cards and casino chips on a green felt table.
Published on: 15 August 2019

What Is Stadium Blackjack?

Stadium blackjack is basically a cross between normal blackjack and online blackjack. We’ve seen the monumental rise in online gaming. There are thousands of ways to bet online, from the comfort of your own home or while you’re on the move. This presents casinos with a problem – how to get players through the door? Well, stadium blackjack is the industry’s response to this growing trend.

You can play it at casinos all over the US, on futuristic electronic terminals. 44 people in total can play together at once, which is far more than can play in online blackjack. In front of the terminals is a live dealer. To make things a little easier, there are large screens so that all of the players can see. This is the ‘stadium’ element. In essence, it works in a very similar way to online live blackjack.

The main difference between regular blackjack and stadium blackjack is to do with the hands that are dealt out. In normal blackjack rules, each player would be dealt a different hand, which they then use to compete against the dealer. In stadium blackjack every single player gets the same hand. They can play this hand however they like. Part of the fun is seeing how different players treat the same hand. Some players will hit, others will stick; maybe they’ll split or double down. It’s a great way for groups to play blackjack together, without having to sit at a table.

Our Guide to the Rules

Let’s break it down and explain how to play stadium blackjack.

  • First of all, you need to find a casino that offers stadium blackjack. As it requires specialist equipment and takes up a lot of space, it’s not available to play everywhere. However, as its popularity grows, it is spreading quickly across US casinos.
  • Choose your console. If you’ve gone as a group or as a couple you can pick consoles next to each other. Deposit some cash onto the console so that you can start playing.
  • As there are so many people playing, there is a timer. Choose what kind of bet you’d like to place before the timer runs out.
  • Just like in online blackjack, you can select virtual chips. You can choose when to wager when you like.
  • When the round begins, the dealer will draw 3 cards. One card is for the dealer, the other two for the players. As we said before, this is the main quirk of stadium blackjack – every player begins with the same hand.
  • Choose how you want to play your hand before the timer ends. Will you hit, split, stick or double?
  • The dealer will then draw the Community cards. The way these are counted depends on the player’s decisions. While it is complicated to understand, the software is helpful in handling it automatically. The rules are just the same as in regular blackjack.
  • Once all of the players agree on sticking (also called standing) the dealer will take an extra card. If the dealer is bust, there will be winners. If 44 people are playing, it’s likely that they will have made similar decisions throughout the game, leading to lots of winners.

A gambler smoking a cigar, holding stacks of casino chips.

What Are the Pros and Cons?

Now we know what we’re dealing with, let’s go through all the pros and cons of stadium blackjack.

Pros

  • You can let the machine do the hard work. Instead of having to keep count in your head, you can relax and let the console’s software keep count for you. This way you don’t need to worry about anybody distracting you or losing concentration.
  • The table minimums tend to be pretty low in stadium blackjack. This is simply because it’s improbable that you’re going to get 44 high rollers turning up for one game. We say unlikely, though it’s not impossible – stranger things have happened!
  • Everyone starts off with equal footing. This creates a nice sense of camaraderie in the game, which is particularly enjoyable if you’re playing with a large group of friends. Even if you’re playing with 43 other strangers, players say that stadium blackjack does have a way of bonding people.

Cons

  • Some players say that the timed nature of stadium blackjack makes the game difficult to keep up with. You will generally only have between ten and fifteen seconds to choose your move. If you’re not a seasoned blackjack player, this is a pretty difficult way to get the ropes. We’d say that stadium blackjack is really much more enjoyable for players who want to think fast and already have some experience. However, the consoles are able to process the cards much faster than a dealer, and are often more reliable. Others might like the challenge of playing the game at a fast pace, so this one could go either way. Fewer human errors from the dealer are a good thing, although those don’t tend to happen very much anyway.
  • The payouts are not that high. This is obviously not universal and is highly dependent on which venue you’re playing at. It’s not uncommon for stadium blackjack to have a pay of 6:5, which isn’t going to be popular with serious players.
  • If you’ve spent years perfecting your ability to count cards, you’re out of luck. The cards go back into the shuffler continuously, so it’s just not possible.
  • You can only split up to three hands. This isn’t a casino rule, it’s simply because the screen isn’t big enough to show a fourth split.
  • It’s not the place to chat with your mates. Due to the way the consoles are set out, you might find it hard to sustain a conversation for very long. If you’re more interested in just playing the game without distractions, you’ll probably still like this way of playing. Plus, you don’t have to listen to cocky players boasting about how good they are at blackjack.

Our Final Verdict

So what do we think? Is stadium blackjack a swing and a miss, or a surefire hit? Ultimately, the jury is still out on this one. It’s a very strange take on blackjack, but that said it’s not without its perks. Sometimes it’s good to mix things up a bit and try new things. It’s great to see casinos looking towards the future and figuring out how to incorporate technology into their games. As we see VR technology becoming more affordable, it would be interesting to see how the two things could mix. Casinos need to be open-minded to compete with online gambling. Using technology like this to take in big crowds with fewer dealers is a great solution.

On the other hand, we do just love the familiar nature of playing blackjack at a table. It’s tried, it’s tested and it works. If we wanted to play on a screen, we’d probably just play online blackjack. Stadium blackjack is a step in the right direction for casinos though, so we are very excited to see the industry trying out new directions.

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