Blackjack in the pool is an experience you'll only find in Vegas

The blackjack games at Caesars Palace, Hard Rock and Tropicana are where you'll find swim-up blackjack tables when you can play while still in the pool.

Marc Meltzer
May 21, 2015 • 02:04 ET
Blackjack in the swimming pool is a truly Las Vegas experience
Photo By - Caesars Palace

High temperatures have only been in the 80s for the past couple of weeks in Las Vegas. It’s strange but I’m not complaining. Temperatures in Vegas usually start to feel like summer by now. That's followed by the low hundreds and then the 115 degree dog days of summer. Those days will be here soon enough.

It’s the perfect time to start planning more outdoor activities in Vegas before it gets too hot and you just do whatever is easiest. Unlike most cities, outdoor activities in Vegas can actually be very limited in the summer. Activities like golf, hiking, and running are often only done around sunrise and sunset when it’s relatively cool. Cool in July is 100 in the shade. Thankfully, there’s so much more to do outside in Vegas in the summer.

The pool scene in Vegas is one of the most amazing you’ll get anywhere in the world. You’ll find something for everyone to enjoy but I'd like to focus on the people like me today. Frankly, there can’t be enough gambling outside for me. According to “Vegas Seven” magazine, there will be no less (but not many more) than 12 casino pools offering poolside blackjack.

Pools where you can play pool-side and swim-up blackjack include Caesars Palace, Cosmopolitan, Downtown Grand, Encore, Flamingo, Golden Nugget, Hard Rock, Mandalay Bay, The Palazzo, Red Rock, SLS Las Vegas, Tropicana, and Wynn. The blackjack games at Caesars Palace, Hard Rock, and Tropicana are where you'll find swim-up blackjack tables where you can play while still in the pool.

Many of these blackjack games are bad bets. Consider these recreational games for lower rollers and not serious gamblers. You’ll find limits mostly under $25. Off the Vegas Strip, you may even find some $10 blackjack limits. Some games will pay 6:5 when you’re dealt blackjack instead of 3:2. Some of the games have strange splitting and doubling rules that are definitely not in your favor. You can't beat these games in the long term even if you can count cards. Anything can happen in the short term.

When you’re playing poolside blackjack, you’re generally going for the experience of gambling outside that you won't find anywhere else. You’re playing these games because you're in Vegas and outside enjoying the beautiful weather, a few cold ones, great scenery and, of course, a little gambling action. Knowing that the rules of blackjack are tilted more in the casino's favor than normal makes it a little easier to digest.

If you’re a dice player, you can find a craps game at the Flamingo pool. The table is only half the size of a normal table but it works for the outdoor game.

Pro-Tip: If you’re not a guest at a hotel with a room key you may not be allowed access to the pool area. Some casinos may allow access to their pool for non-guests for a fee. Having said that, if you choose to go to one of the pools that offer gambling you can get in without being a guest or without paying a fee. If you’re not staying at a hotel but want to check out their pool just tell them that you are going to gamble. The casino legally can’t stop you. Most of the casinos that deal blackjack have excellent pools, so you may want to visit them regardless of gambling.

To summarize: There are 14 Vegas pools where you can play blackjack. Three pools have swim-up blackjack. The games have bad odds but can be fun in the short term. You can gain access to these pools just by telling security you want to gamble (just make sure gambling is available that day). Apply sunscreen and have fun!

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