Playing Casino Blackjack in Argentina

I used to play blackjack here in the capital of Ecuador, but El Supremo managed to get all the casinos closed several years ago.  Now I am planning a trip to Buenos Aires and Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay.

What are some good casinos for playing 21? 

What might a player new to Buenos Aires want to know about the casino experience in the city?

Any jugadores who can relate the differences between playing blackjack in B.A. as opposed to Uruguay?

cccmedia in Quito, Ecuador

I'm on that previously-mentioned trip now .. and yesterday I visited my first casino in Argentina.  It's named after the Puerto Madero section of Buenos Aires which area features port activities, industrial buildings, residential buildings and now a casino.

There are two other casinos in the B.A. area -- one in the northern suburb of Tigre (TEE-gray) and a racetrack/slots casino in Palermo sector.

Casino Puerto Madero is located on two permanently-anchored riverboats, although you really don't get the sense of being on a boat.

The table games are spread out on several different levels.  Only one restaurant -- a North American-style cafeteria near the main entrance -- was opened during my Thursday afternoon visit.

On an upper level, only $10 US-minimum blackjack was offered.  One man was playing at this table.  His play was ridiculous.  The first hand I watched, the dealer showed a face card.  The player split his sevens.  When he drew an 8 to his first 7, I walked away -- not needing to see the end result of the impending disaster.

On other levels, I found blackjack tables with play offered for Argentine-peso bets with minimums equivalent to $4 or $8 US.  They were many players at the $4 games.

The B.A. game offers rules common to international (non-U.S.) blackjack -- blackjack pays 3 to 2 ... dealer stays on soft 17 .. double any two cards.

The dealer does not take a hole card, so doubling or splitting against an ace or face is probably a bad idea, since (unlike U.S. blackjack) the player would lose both hands in case of a dealer blackjack.

Back a few years ago when I dealt blackjack professionally in U.S. casinos, management liked dealers to be friendly, entertaining and show personality.  That's not what I encountered at Puerto Madero.  The dealers were like robots, never smiled, never encouraged. 

I didn't see any players winning.  Nobody was tipping or betting for the dealer.

At one point, I tried getting money out of the ATM's on the upper floors, but my card was rejected.  I went back past the security point near the casino entrance .. and the ATM there honored my card and spit out pesos.

cccmedia on the road in Buenos Aires

The only other full-on casino in metro Buenos Aires is close to an hour north of the center city area by bus or train in Tigre (TEE-gray), the jumping-off point for trips into the islands-area connected by waterways (“Venice of Buenos Aires”).  This could be a major mosquito zone after dark.

Several blackjack tables were open in the mid-afternoon -- two packed tables with low 50-peso minimums and an empty 100-peso table.

There were several fast-food restaurants open in the upstairs food court of patio de comidas.  I had a sandwich and juice.

Once I got on a table, players were coming and going, usually keeping the entire table filled.  I tried to play two hands, but it was too busy -- the dealer and the pit boss politely backed me off the second spot.

Limits in the game I played were 50-1500 pesos.

cccmedia from Tigre, Argentina

Top Ways Blackjack in Buenos Aires is Different From the U.S.

10.  Dealing-shoe games at Casino de Tigre allow players to turn over double down hit-cards and aces-split cards.  Some cards end up bent and stay in play, a no-no in most North American casinos where players in shoe games are strictly prohibited from touching any cards during play.

9.  Players cannot bet for the dealers.  Tips must be given to an Argentine dealer, typically as a chip, which the dealer may acknowledge by saying “empleados” (team members).

8.  Split aces at Puerto Madero’s casino may receive multiple hit cards, which favors the player.  Almost all U.S. casinos allow one-card-only per ace in a split.

7.  A player may play as many adjacent hands as are available at table minimum.  At most U.S. casinos, a bet double in size or larger is required to play each of two hands.

6.  As with most non-U.S. casinos, the house wins double-down and split bets if the dealer turns over a blackjack at the end of the round.  In U.S. casinos, the extra bets are kicked back to the player when the dealer ‘snaps.’

5.  Argentina’s casinos are stricter about keeping player chips that are not in action away from the betting spaces and near the table ‘rail.’

4.  Dealers on dead games tend to have roaming eyes, looking around the casino .. and the bosses don’t seem to sweat it.  In most U.S. casinos, a dealer is required to maintain constant peripheral vision on his or her dead table even if no one else appears to be nearby.

3.  Before getting to gaming-pit areas, all casino ‘guests’ are required to go through security screening procedures (Puerto Madero).

2.  The chips at the blackjack table are of differing colors but there is no indication on the chip face as to how much each chip or color is worth.  You have to ask.  (Casino de Tigre.)

And the #1 way that blackjack is different in Buenos Aires....

1.  The players and the dealer hardly ever speak to each other.

Conclusions in the post based on play at Casino Buenos Aires at Puerto Madero .. and Casino de Tigre in suburban Buenos Aires.

cccmedia from Buenos Aires

Hi, do they use a shoe, whats the penetration in buenos aires, can I play BJ anywhere in ecuador, tx a lot

Mark89 :

do they use a shoe, whats the penetration in buenos aires ?

Yes, a plastic dealing shoe is always used.

I didn’t closely monitor penetration during my February-March trip to B.A. and Uruguay because I don’t believe the shoe game can be beat by counting cards unless you have a Big Player on a strong counting team.

From my vague memory of six months ago, I’d say penetration was ordinary by world standards -- maybe 70 percent of the cards were dealt before the shuffle, on average.


Mark89 :

can I play BJ anywhere in ecuador ?

As stated in my first post when I started this thread, El Supremo got all the casinos closed in Ecuador.  There was a national referendum he sponsored, and a plurality of the voters -- about 45 % -- voted in favor of the casino ban in 2011.  That was enough to enact an anti-casino law and get all the casinos closed by March 2012.

Of course, this all occurred before Ecuador’s economy fell into a black hole known as plummeting oil prices, a government budget crisis, volcanoes, El Niño flooding and the earthquakes that ravaged the EC coast. 

Maybe the new presidente who will take office next April will be open to re-starting Ecuador’s casino industry and restoring the thousands of jobs that were lost due to the casino closings.

If you wish to discuss Ecuador’s casino situation further, remember that this is an Argentina thread, so please post on an Ecuador forum thread or start a new thread on that forum.


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