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This Blackjack Forum report covers casinos, blackjack rules and limits in Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, and Paraguay. Professional blackjack players will find profitable card counting opportunities in South America due to the casinos' good blackjack rules. South American casinos often offer the early surrender rule, wild jokers, and good conditions for blackjack card counting. Table limits at blackjack tend to be low in South American casinos, however.
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(From Blackjack Forum XXIV #3, Summer 2005)
© Blackjack Forum 2005

[Editor’s Note: I want to thank RK, a long-time Blackjack Forum subscriber and trustworthy reporter, for this report. –Arnold Snyder]

For me it is really a pleasure to share this information with you. This is a report on casinos in Argentina, Uruguay, Chile and Paraguay. The information on Argentina and Uruguay is most up-to-date, as I do most of my play there. 

has 71 casinos, some government owned and some privately owned. As you may know, the main game here is roulette (single zero) and punto y banca (baccarat). 

Blackjack was introduced in Argentina in 1980, with some weird rules, so it is a relatively new game here. But blackjack is growing in popularity in South America, especially with young people. 

Until the end of the 90´s the main casino in Argentina was the old Casino Central in Mar del Plata, on the Atlantic Coast (government owned then and now). It was opened in 1939 as a temple for all the gamblers in Argentina—a big place with a wonderful view of the sea . It’s a big casino with 103 roulette tables, 50 Punto y Banca tables, 20 blackjack tables and 2 craps tables too. And, of course, you will find plenty of slot machines. 

In summertime about 25,000 people gamble there every day. 

At the end of the 90´s a casino was opened in Buenos Aires (the capital of Argentina) after a long-awaited bill, and all the gamblers started to make long lines waiting for the opening of the casino each day. For the owners, it was a like a gold mine. 

This casino is a riverboat owned by the Spanish Cirsa Corporation (which also owns a lot of casinos in the Caribbean, Venezuela, Colombia and other 3rd world places). Open 24 hours a day now, the casino is a 5-minute drive from downtown. It’s a big boat with four levels—the first one full of slots, the other ones filled with table games. As at other South American casinos, the main game here is single zero roulette. After that comes baccarat (punto y banca). The boat has 28 blackjack tables. 

The rules are 6 decks with 75% penetration (sometimes better), face-up games, ENHC, DOA, DAS, resplit aces 4 times. The limits are in local currency (1dollar = 3 pesos) with various tables at 10-200 and 25-500. Only five tables are shoes, the others are 4-deck CSM's. One floor is for dollar play, with four tables (just one non-CSM)—there the limits are 5-100 (early in the morning) and 10-200 later. A high roller pit is also open (with play in dollars only) with three blackjack tables, all non-CSM shoes, and with limits of 25-500, 50-100 and 100-2000. The heat is very low, of course, if you bet BIG, they will watch you, but mainly for security reasons. The PC's are young people. Penetration is worse today, and sometimes they only put 60% of the cards in play. No tips are allowed there. 

The other casino is in Tigre (Provincia of Buenos Aires), a 25-minute highway drive from downtown. This casino is in a big building with three floors, of which two are full of slots (almost 2000 machines). On the third floor are the table games. The state is the owner of this casino, and the employees only want your tips (this is the main point). The 16 blackjack tables are in the blackjack pit, where the limits are 10-400 and 20-600 (all in pesos). The rules are 8 decks, face up game, double 10 &11 only, no resplits, a push on a blackjack wins a player 50% of his bet, and if you get 10s on aces after splitting it counts as a natural and pays 3 to 2 (the same for when you split 10's and get aces on them). The penetration here is 83% and sometimes better (dealer discretion). But the best thing is it is fine to bet min to max if you want—the dealers and floormen will cheer with you if you tip them.  

The Provincia of Buenos Aires has 10 more casinos, some medium and the one big one (Mar del Plata) on the Atlantic, all with the same rules. 

Other states in Argentina have casinos too, including the Provincia of Entre Rios (200 miles from Buenos Aires), which has five casinos, all with blackjack. These are the rules: 6 decks, ENHC, double 10 & 11 only, no resplit of pairs, unlimited draw on split aces and one unusual rule: If your first card is an ace (face up games), you can place an additional bet on YOUR hand for half of your bet, and if YOU receive a blackjack, not only is this additional bet paid 2 to 1, but you also get the full payoff on your natural of 3 to 2. No regular insurance (against a DEALER blackjack) is allowed. Regarding penetration: The dealer deals down to the last 20-30 cards of the shoe. Limits are 5-200 (in pesos), and you may play all the spots you want. 

Other casinos in the country have standard strip rules with ES10 (Corrientes Casino and Salta Casino in the North of the country), but low limits. In the South, good rules can be found in Bariloche with ES against any card (limits 5-300). I was there one year ago, and found the PC's were people with zero experience in blackjack. Also in the South, on the Atlantic Coast, are a few other casinos, some with good rules like ES, as well as good penetration, but low limits. 

Another nice place that I recommend is Iguazu Falls, in the three borders zone (Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay) 1000 miles from Buenos Aires. The show of the water falling is incredible, and there is also a casino (!!) with standard strip rules plus LS. All the play here is in American dollars.  

Okay, Argentina has lots of casinos, but Uruguay is good too. In front of Buenos Aires is Colonia (Uruguay) where there is a small lovely casino with two blackjack tables. The rules are 6 decks, dealer takes a hole card but all bets lost when the dealer has a blackjack, DOA , DAS, resplit up to 6 times (aces too), you can hit your split and resplit aces, and if you get 10's on them it’s a full-pay blackjack (same for split and resplit tens). The penetration is 75% (sometimes better). The limits are in dollars (5-60), but you can arrange a higher max.

The national government is the owner of 6 or 7 casinos in Uruguay. In Punta del Este (a beach for the rich people on the Atlantic shore) are three casinos. The biggest is the Conrad casino (the only one private in the country)—a big casino with plenty of high rollers. The rules are standard strip rules, with penetration around 75%. All play is in American dollars, with limits from 5-500 to 100-5000 (or more). Here the pit does know about card counting, beware. The other two casinos have the same rules but better limits. Again, play is in American dollars. A few weeks ago I visited Punta del Este and found that the two government-owned casinos, trying to compete with the Conrad casino, had installed ES on their blackjack tables. This rule is still in effect. 

It’s been two years since I’ve played in Chile, but I found good rules. The state is owner of these five casinos. Even if you’re there to play blackjack, you might want to visit Pucon (Chile), a beautiful and pleasant place where you can drive across the Andes. There's also a nice casino there. They have DA2, ES10, hole card, but no DAS. The limits are up to 800USD on the weekends. They play in Chilean pesos and the exchange rate is very bad in the casino. Be sure to exchange your money in Banco del Estado before 2 p.m. when they close. The other casinos are on the Pacific coast, in cities like Viña del mar, La Serena and Arica.  

Paraguay has 4 or 5 casinos too, with two of them in Asuncion, the capital city. There are low limits there. The rules are D9, DAS, ES10, and the penetration is 80% or better. ♠ 

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