The entire Colorado gambling industry exists as three dozen or so casinos within the boundaries of three tiny mountain towns. If that makes it seem like a niche industry, then I’ve not done my job. Colorado’s casinos report $600+ million in profits annually, in the top-15 in terms of American state gaming revenues.
I’ve played at about half of the casinos in Colorado’s gambling towns. I think the best places to play blackjack in Colorado are at Wildwood Casino, Monarch Casino, and Grand Z Casino. The best blackjack games in the state are ones that pay 3:2 for a natural blackjack, which can be found in all three of Colorado’s mountain gambling towns, though rarely.
I love that Colorado’s government distributes the money mostly to education efforts. The state’s Limited Gaming Fund is used to prop up programs like the Innovative Higher Education Research Fund, as well as to fund small community colleges and other school and library systems that are always pressed for cash. This fund hands out an average of $111 million a year to groups that desperately need it. Very cool, Colorado.
This post breaks down blackjack options in The Centennial State and offers recommendations of where to play blackjack in Colorado based on my personal experience.
Blackjack in Colorado by the Numbers
The Colorado Division of Gaming releases a lot of interesting statistics related to all forms of casino gambling. Slots players in Colorado enjoy some of the most specific RTP figures anywhere in the country. Blackjack players also benefit. Let’s look at blackjack in Colorado through the lens of statewide statistics and dollar amounts.
In the year 2020, the most recent year for which full statistics are available, an average of 63 blackjack tables were open on any given day in the state’s three gambling jurisdictions. The adjusted gross profits per table per day are about $700. Put that all together, and casinos in Colorado are making about $44,000 a day from blackjack.
If you take the adjusted gross profits of the state’s blackjack tables and consider it relative to all casino adjusted gross profits, you can get an interesting sense of how big blackjack is in the state’s gaming industry. Colorado casinos reported more than $363 million in adjusted gross profits in 2020, meaning the state’s blackjack tables represent about 1.6% of all gambling profits. That makes sense, considering more than half of these casinos’ incomes are derived from slots and video poker.
The average hold percentage of blackjack games in Colorado is 25.55%, which surprised me. Then I remembered that the state’s $100 bet maximum really limits how much damage sharp players can do. I also remembered how popular side bets and other gimmicky blackjack variants are in the state.
Interestingly, only one game had a higher average hold percentage than the state’s blackjack tables – casino-style poker. Table gamblers may look down their noses at slots, but the “worst” slot denomination in terms of hold percentage is the penny slots with a hold of 9.67%.
A Typical Blackjack Game in Colorado
Typically, a natural blackjack pays 6:5, though some tables offering 3:2 blackjack pop up from time to time, mainly in Black Hawk. I’ll cover that in more detail in my review of Monarch Casino later in this post.
Dealers in Colorado usually stand on a soft 17, though again, some variation between table rules exists. Normally, Colorado blackjack allows players to double down on any two cards, double after splitting a pair, and the surrender option is available.
You’re not going to find many blackjack tables in Colorado that don’t offer bets between $5 and $100. That’s because $100 is the max bet size for blackjack in the state, like by state law. And we should be happy with our $100 max bet – how soon we forget that up until 2009, the max bet on blackjack in Colorado was $5.
Essentially, you couldn’t play blackjack in Colorado back then – why open a table for a $5 max bet game? Now that the max bet is $100, you’ll find the game in about half of the casinos in Colorado.
If you can find a Colorado blackjack table with all the typical rules above in place and a 3:2 payout for a natural blackjack, you’ve found a game with a 0.4% house edge against basic strategy. If it’s the same table but the payout for a natural is 6:5, the house edge is 0.65%.
Blackjack at the Wildwood Casino in Cripple Creek, Colorado
My top-line review of Wildwood Casino in Cripple Creek is simple – they have the best service of any CO gambling spot I’ve been to, and they offer decent blackjack rules. If you find yourself in Cripple Creek and you’re itching to play blackjack, I recommend Wildwood Casino.
Wildwood Casino calls itself “the highest casino in the world,” which is not a nod to Colorado’s boundary-breaking recreational cannabis program. Wildwood is at a ridiculous elevation – 10,000 feet, almost two miles above sea level. It’s in the middle of an awesome little mountain town. I don’t know why, but I feel like some combination of the high elevation and the snugness of this mountain village has produced some of the best casino employees in the world.
I really felt coddled and cared for at Wildwood, and I wasn’t doing anything but betting $10 a hand at a lonely blackjack table. I was checking the place out on a Friday night at about 7 PM, obviously among the busiest times on the floor. I found a table with just one other player and was only about six deals in when a super-friendly waitress offered me a free beer.
I just liked the vibe of the place. If you’ve ever had service way better than you expected or maybe even deserved, you know what I’m talking about.
As for the blackjack tables here – nothing particularly special. Typical $5-$100 bet range, and I couldn’t find a 3:2 table that night, so I was playing a standard Colorado game at 6:5. I played for a couple of hours and ended up $40, which I basically distributed to my dealers and waitress.
It was fun – not necessarily profitable, but where else can you have two hours of entertainment for zero dollars?
Blackjack at the Monarch Casino in Black Hawk, Colorado
If you’re serious about playing blackjack in Colorado, you have to check out Monarch. If any city in Colorado can be said to be a blackjack town, it’s Black Hawk. It’s probably the fact that the game’s name sounds like the city’s name. For whatever reason, every casino in Black Hawk runs at least one live blackjack table, which is something you can’t say about Central City or Cripple Creek.
Monarch Casino is a modest-sized gambling hall, advertising 1,700 slots and 40 table games. They only had three blackjack tables when I visited, which was a Saturday night in the summer. I was a little surprised to see so few, but the Colorado gambling scene is even less about table games than Vegas or Atlantic City, so we should expect limited coverage.
I’m Happy to Report That I Played a Real Live 3:2 Blackjack Game in Colorado
In fact, the only one I’ve ever successfully played was at Monarch. I think some other rules were adjusted to make up for it – I feel like some splitting and doubling rules were changed, but I can’t remember and didn’t take any notes – but it was a legit 3:2 payout blackjack table.
I don’t remember how the session ended, but I’m pretty sure I was slightly down. I didn’t care, I was happy just to find a 3:2 table.
I don’t know if this totally true, but I think Monarch Casino offers the only 24-hour $5 minimum blackjack tables in the entire state. I haven’t visited every single casino, but the 24-hour table at Monarch is the only one I’ve ever seen.
Blackjack at Grand Z Casino in Central City, Colorado
Tucked right into a beautiful stand of pine and aspen against a dramatic mountain backdrop, Grand Z’s luxury hotel makes a big visual impression. The casino is also among my favorites. At just about 50 minutes from the Denver airport, I like that I can be sitting at a live blackjack table in a very nice casino-hotel less than an hour after I land at Denver International Airport.
One thing to know before you head into Grand Z – the minimum blackjack bet is $10 here, not $5 like at most Colorado casinos that offer blackjack. That didn’t make a huge difference to me, because I like to bet at the $10 and $20 level, but I know some people who won’t bet above $5.
Also beware – dealer hits on a soft 17 at every table at Grand Z, which shifts the edge in the house’s favor by 0.22%. You get some of that back because house rules allow players to double before and after splitting, but it still leaves a little mark on your odds.
The big draw at Grand Z, like all the sister casinos in the Z line, is the beautiful and modern environment, something like a Colorado mountain take on old-school Vegas glamour.
For blackjack players, the big draw is the state’s only single-deck blackjack game. If you want to play single-deck blackjack in Colorado, you have to go to Central City and play at Grand Z. The table minimum for the single-deck game is $25, and it pays out 6:5 for a natural.
I’ve had a lot of fun playing blackjack in Colorado, though the $100 max bet thing puts a damper on my blackjack style. Lots of players aren’t comfortable playing above $10 or $20 per hand anyway, so the $100 bet maximum in Colorado won’t be much of a consideration for casual players. It also doesn’t limit the amount of fun you can have playing blackjack.
The best places to play blackjack in Colorado are Wildwood Casino, Monarch Casino, and Johnny Z’s Casino, which is nice because it gives Colorado blackjack players a spot to check out in each of the state’s three gambling-friendly cities.
If you want to maximize your odds playing blackjack in Colorado, you’ll have to hunt for tables with the most player-friendly rules. Usually, these tables are clustered in Black Hawk, though you’ll occasionally find player-friendly blackjack rules in Colorado casinos in Central City or Cripple Creek.
Michael Stevens has been researching and writing topics involving the gambling industry for well over a decade now and is considered an expert on all things casino and sports betting. Michael has been writing for GamblingSites.org since early 2016. …
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