I’ve got a running list of things that drive me crazy or are just plain wrong at blackjack tables. Some examples include rude players, 6:5 payouts, and boring dealers – this trip to Vegas I added the continuous shuffle machine.
I understand why casinos use it – saves time, makes the dealer’s life easier and ultimately makes the casino more money by dealing more hands per hour. I actually don’t mind that smaller casinos or even the bigger places use them at lower limit tables.
What I don’t like is when higher end places use them and use them liberally at tables with $15 – 25 limits. My case in point is Aria Las Vegas. On my most recent Vegas trip I was lucky enough to stay at the Aria Sky Suites and was looking forward to playing some blackjack at their casino. I was disappointed to learn that there were no tables at or below $25 without a continuous shuffle machine.
If you don’t know what I mean by a continuous shuffle machine look for the big black wheel device which looks like a handheld vaccuum attached to what would be a normal shoe of cards. The vaccuum is an accurate analogy since it will be sucking up your chips in a hurry.
My top preference is a 6 deck shoe with a manual dealer shuffle, my secondary preference is the auto-shuffle machine which shuffles one 6-deck shoe while you are playing the other shoe.
My main gripe with the continuous shuffle machine is that you aren’t able to count on the normal ebb and flow of cards and get a feel for where you stand. Getting on a run is almost impossible and you never know if a shoe starts or ends so you are left holding the bag at nearly every turn. This tilts the advantage even further into the house and makes walking away a winner nearly impossible.
My advice to you as a player is to walk away when you see the continuous shuffle machine and my advice to Aria is to get rid of at least some of these machines and make your blackjack tables more attractive to your guests.
Aria casino Las Vegas is a stunning venue. It is one of the newest additions to the strip and it attracts a very beautiful upscale crowd. My last visit to Aria was March 2014. I really want Aria to be my favorite place in Vegas, it is georgeous, has a huge gaming floor and has a very slick vibe, but unfortunately I just can’t get into it. There are a ton of blackjack tables, but the $15 and $25 tables use auto-shuffle machines which make them feel cheaper than the venue. The $50 and $100 tables have manual shuffle, but they are in the middle of the gaming floor which doesn’t make them feel very special. Maybe this place doesn’t feel like betting $50-100 per hand is worthy of special treatment and that is why I don’t feel like it is for me. Also the dealers are generally blah, not a lot of energy and while they are not unpleasant like you can find in some casinos they don’t go out of their way to make a fun and welcoming atmosphere.
As far as food goes, I eat at Todd English PUB almost every time I’m in Vegas and they have great upscale dining option in Aria. I’m a pretty basic guy, burger, fries, beer are my staples and PUB delivers these extremely well in a nice relaxed environment. They also have great happy hour deals most days which let’s you eat good food at a reasonable price which is sometimes hard to come by in Vegas.
I think a concerted effort by the MGM management to have the dealers show some energy and have more fun would likely make Aria a contender for one of my Vegas must visit casinos. As it is I’ll stop by here most visits for sliders at PUB and maybe a couple of rounds of blackjack, but unless the energy level ramps up it won’t be my first destination.
Overall my ratings for Aria Casino Las Vegas is an A-
Gaming – B+
Atmosphere – A
Food – A- great for upscale dinners, Todd English PUB is a favorite for casual bar fare
People watching – A, very few of the giant straw in a plastic drink crowd, tons of beautiful people which makes it hard to concentrate
Friendly dealers/staff – B
Nightlife – not known for it