High limit blackjack allows you to wager more than you ordinarily might, and is often linked with your VIP status at your favourite online casino. Depending on the software that powers the casino, you might be able to wager anything from several hundreds of pounds, up to several thousands – and that can mean substantial returns if you win.
Blackjack is of course not the only casino game that can be played for high stakes, and different sites each offer their own limits on other table games too. This can allow several thousands of pounds to be staked on baccarat, while on roulette stakes are usually limited to a few hundred pounds on individual numbers, or several thousand on ‘outside bets’ like odd/even, red/black and high/low.
Whichever site you play at, the table limit is usually clearly displayed in the software, and in live dealer rooms the limits may differ from in the random number generator (or ‘RNG’) part of the site.
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How do these limits compare with the real world? Well, the obvious place to look for high-stakes land-based blackjack is Las Vegas. There casinos typically offer tables with limits of up to $10,000 – roughly £6,500 at the time of writing. When it comes to the high-stakes Las Vegas tables, limits vary across the city from $5,000 limits up to anything from $15,000 to $50,000.
But it’s the Asian casinos that suit the high-rollers best with table limits starting at as much as 25SGD ($20) in Singapore and 500HKD ($65) in Macau casinos while upper limits can be as high as you want in some cases.
In other parts of the world such as the United Kingdom, land-based casinos in many locations are more recreational, and you could see table minimums of just a few pounds. However, high-rollers are again usually catered for, often with table maximums that are only confirmed on request – and may be fairly negotiable.
Perhaps the most notorious blackjack high-roller of recent years is Don ‘The Blackjack Beast’ Johnson, who took over $15 million from three Atlantic City casinos in the winter-spring of 2011.
His strategy was based on more than just statistics – he managed to negotiate special privileges, including $100,000 table limits and a 20% rebate on any losses up to $500,000 per day.
But he also deliberately behaved in an obnoxious manner while at the table, annoying the dealer to such an extent that, according to Don Johnson himself, dealer error led to him winning a few extra hands each day.
Ken Uston is another all-time great of the game, credited with developing team-based blackjack strategies and card-counting techniques. Uston reputedly wagered up to $12,000 per hand – which, given that he died in 1987, equates to fairly high stakes for the time.
Like any other blackjack hand, a high limit hand can usually be split, if you are dealt a matching pair as your first two cards. Depending on the table rules, you may be allowed to split again, providing you are prepared to fund the extra stakes. And you may also be allowed to ‘double’ in the usual way – double your wager, hit once and stand on whatever your hand is now worth. Combining these options together means that, if the cards happen to fall in the precise pattern required, your high limit game could end up being for very high stakes indeed.
Online casinos, like their land-based counterparts, tend to take good care of their high rollers, so choose carefully and you can reap plenty of benefits for being willing to gamble more than most members. In many cases, you can start reaping these benefits even before you’ve placed a bet, as some sites offer specific high-roller signup offers.
Some online casinos make high-roller status an invitation-only feature, so you might need to know an existing member, or play as an ordinary member until you can demonstrate that you’re capable of funding high stakes.
Other casinos award high-roller status depending on the size of your first deposit, so if you can make a one-off sizeable payment into your account, it might be enough to secure that status at least for the medium term, if not for even longer.
To get to the very top levels of most sites’ VIP schemes, however, you’ll need to be able to wager large amounts on a regular basis. Expect to play through several thousands of pounds before you secure the top-tier VIP status, probably with several hundreds of pounds per week or month to hang on to your high-roller benefits.
Remember, however, that the exact bonuses you receive will usually be in line with the total amount you have wagered – so a site with a higher wagering requirement for its top VIP level will probably offer more lucrative benefits for those who attain it.