Back in 2008, the Four Queens was voted by readers of the Las Vegas Review Journal as the best place to play blackjack in the Valley. It’s an award that the casino still features prominently on its web site. Of course, quite a few other venues have won the prize since then, but the fact that 13 of the 27 tables in its pit area are dedicated solely to blackjack gives a good indication of just how much emphasis this casino puts on the game.
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Four Queens Tables & Games
One of the reasons the Four Queens has been rated so highly by locals for blackjack action is its single-deck table that still pays 3:2 for a natural 21. The game limits are highly affordable, too, at just $10~$500. Of course, there has to be a trade-off so that the House can maintain its advantage. In this case, the dealer must hit on soft 17, there’s no doubling down after splitting (DAS), no surrender, no re-splitting of Aces (RSA) and doubling is only allowed on two-card counts of 10 or 11. That all adds up to a House edge of 0.58%.
A better game at the Four Queens can be found at the double-deck table, where DAS is allowed and there is no restriction on the two-card count. The minimum bet is still $10 and the House edge is just 0.48%. Although the $10 six-deck version follows the same rules as the double-deck one, the additional cards bump the edge up to 0.64%. The only advantage to playing cards dealt from the shoe is the higher table maximum of $1,000 versus $500. There is no high-limit salon.
On the other hand, the Four Queens also has a number of eight-deck tables with DAS and surrender allowed, which pay 6:5 on a natural blackjack. Some offer the “21+3” side bet option, too. Serious players won’t go near them, of course—not with a House edge of 1.93%—but by offering table minimums as low as $5, the casino still manages to fill seats. The bottom line is that despite the single-deck option, compared to other downtown casinos, the blackjack games at the Four Queens are actually harder to beat.
The garish neon façade of the Four Queens represents vintage Vegas. The casino was constructed in 1966 and named in honor of builder Ben Goffstein’s four daughters: Benita, Faith, Hope and Michele. Despite being owned by such corporate giants as Hyatt in 1972~79 and Elsinore until 1999, it has retained a real local feel. Since 2003, holding company TLC Casinos, Inc. has owned and operated the property with Magoo’s Gaming Group CEO Terry L. Caudill at the helm, reminiscent of the “good old days” when downtown gambling was run by people not corporations. In 2007~09, Caudill saw to a complete renovation of the property, including the 32,000-square-foot casino, at a cost of $20 million.
Royal Players Club for Frequent Blackjack Players
The Four Queens loyalty program is known as the Royal Players Club and membership is free. Although the main benefit is accrual of Cash Back for slots and video poker play, the Royal Players Club card is also valid for table games. Blackjack players “earn comps based on rated average bet and time played … not Cash Back.” Members can receive “preferential consideration when booking room reservations … special room discounts and complimentaries on your room, food and beverage, invitations to exclusive VIP special events and special promotions. The more you play, the more benefits you will receive.” Members who are at least 55 years of age also receive admission to Club 55—a club within the club—offering additional 20% discounts for shopping, dining and accommodations.
The Inside View
One of the open “secrets” of blackjack history is the role the Four Queens had in launching the currently popular variant known as Blackjack Switch, which allows players to exchange cards between two hands and has a House edge of around 0.2%. The game was invented by a card counter named Geoff Hall, who exhibited at G2E in Las Vegas in 2000. However, it wasn’t until he came up with the “Push 22” rule in 2003 that any Las Vegas casino, namely the Four Queens, was willing to give Blackjack Switch a try. Hall has described the initial field trial as “a mixture of exhilaration and panic (but) the Four Queens were very open and they loved the switch concept so that really gave me a huge boost.” The game’s success downtown led to its installation at Casino Royale on the Strip and it has been “conquering the casino world at a staggering rate” ever since. For those who want to play where the rage started, this is the place.