In 2008, the Four Queens was voted the best location to play blackjack in the Valley by readers of the Las Vegas Review Journal. The casino still conspicuously displays this award on its website. Several other casinos have won the award since then, but the fact that 13 of the 27 tables in this casino’s pit area are devoted exclusively to blackjack is indicative of the importance it places on the game.
Four Queens Tables & Games
One of the reasons why locals rate the Four Queens so highly for blackjack is its single-deck table that still pays 3:2 for a natural 21. The game limits are also very affordable, ranging from $10 to $500. Obviously, a trade-off is necessary for the House to maintain its advantage. The dealer must hit on soft 17, there is no doubling down after splitting (DAS), no capitulation, no re-splitting of Aces (RSA), and doubling is only permitted on two-card counts of 10 or 11. This results in a House advantage of 0.58%.
At the Four Queens, the best game can be found at the double-deck table, where DAS is permitted and the two-card count is unrestricted. The minimum wager remains at $10, and the house advantage is only 0.48 percent. Although the $10 six-deck version follows the same principles as the double-deck version, the added cards increase the house advantage to 0.64 percent. The only benefit of playing with cards distributed from the shoe is the higher table maximum of $1,000 compared to $500. There is no upscale salon.
The Four Queens also offers a number of eight-deck tables with DAS and surrender that pay 6:5 on a natural blackjack. Some casinos also offer the “21+3” side wager. The casino still manages to fill seats by offering table minimums as low as $5, despite the fact that serious players won’t touch them due to the 1.93 percent House edge. In spite of the option for a single deck, the blackjack games at the Four Queens are actually more difficult to win at than those at other downtown casinos.
The gaudy neon façade of the Four Queens exemplifies classic Las Vegas. The casino was built in 1966 and named after the four daughters of constructor Ben Goffstein: Benita, Faith, Hope, and Michele. Despite being owned by corporate behemoths such as Hyatt from 1972 to 1979 and Elsinore until 1999, it has maintained a distinct sense of community. 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, evoking the “good old days” when downtown gambling was managed by individuals rather than corporations. In 20072008, Caudill oversaw the $20 million renovation of the entire property, including the 32,000-square-foot casino.
Frequent Blackjack Players’ Royal Players Club
The loyalty program at Four Queens is called the Royal Players Club, and membership is gratis. Although the primary benefit of the Royal Players Club card is the accumulation of Cash Back for slot and video poker play, the card is also valid for table games. Blackjack players “earn comps based on rated average bet and playing time… not Cash Back.” Members can receive “preferred consideration when making room reservations… special room discounts and complimentary food and beverages, as well as invitations to exclusive VIP special events and special promotions.” The more you engage, the greater your rewards will be.” Members who are at least 55 years old gain access to Club 55, a club within the club that provides 20% additional discounts on purchasing, dining, and lodging.
The Inside Perspective
One of the open “secrets” of blackjack’s history is the role the Four Queens played in launching the currently popular Blackjack Switch variant, which permits players to exchange cards between two hands and has a house edge of approximately 0.2%. Geoff Hall, a card counter who exhibited at G2E in Las Vegas in 2000, invented the game. However, no Las Vegas casino, including the Four Queens, was willing to attempt Blackjack Switch until he invented the “Push 22” rule in 2003. Hall has characterized the initial field trial as “a mixture of excitement and anxiety, but the Four Queens were extremely receptive and they adored the switch concept, which gave me a tremendous boost.” The game’s success downtown led to its implementation at Casino Royale on the Strip, and it has been “conquering the casino world at a staggering rate” ever since. This is the location for those who wish to participate where the craze first began.