There is a new blackjack game at Four Queens in downtown Las Vegas. It’s one that players looking for a reasonable return will want to avoid.
The new Four Queens blackjack game has a $5 minimum bet and pays 3-2. This makes it respectable at first glance. There is a mandatory side bet that makes the game the worst of its kind in Las Vegas.
Players are required to make a $1 side bet. It is called “Bonus Spin.” There is an electronic wheel with 12 spots on it. The prizes range from $5 to $5,000.
The game is dealt like normal real money blackjack. The Bonus Spin occurs when a player receives a blackjack. The player clicks a button and the wheel displays a prize.
The cumulative value of the spaces on the wheel is $6,140. Like many digital wheels, the outcome is not random. The expected value of spinning the wheel would be $511 per spin if it were. With a probability of a blackjack every 21 hands, the value of each $1 side bet would be about $24. Obviously, a return of 2,400% is not happening here.
House Edge of Side Bet
The Wizard of Odds told SFGate that the Bonus Spin side bet installed at a different casino had a house edge of about 8 percent. There are two major differences between the game at Four Queens and the one in the SFGate story, as well as any other Bonus Spin tables I’ve ever found. The side bet is typically optional, as noted by the description on the game distributor’s website.
The standard Bonus Spin wager returns the player’s side bet if an ace is dealt on either of the first two cards. This is a losing hand at Four Queens.
The player not pushing when dealt an ace adds 15 percent to the Bonus Spin side bet’s house edge, assuming the likelihood that this not accounted for in the weight of the wheel. Based on the Wizard of Odds’ previous statement to the press, and not pushing on an ace, I estimate that the side bet’s house edge is approximately 23 percent.
I tried to find out the exact house edge of the bet at Four Queens. I determined that the employees I spoke to there did not know. I reached out to Four Queens via email on Thursday to confirm that 23 percent was a reasonable conclusion for the house edge of the side bet and for any comment on the game. I did not receive a response.
Total House Edge on Minimum Bet
The rules of the blackjack game spread here put the house edge at about 0.65%. A $5 player theoretically loses $0.0325 every hand on the normal bet. That’s reasonable by itself. It’s the forced side bet that makes this the worst blackjack game in Las Vegas. The expected loss on the side bet is $0.23 every hand, based on my estimation.
A player making a $5 blackjack bet plus $1 on the Bonus Spin is theoretically losing $0.2625 each hand. This puts the house edge at 4.38%, making it the worst blackjack game in Las Vegas. The house edge improves to 2.95% on a $10 bet.
Play These Games at Four Queens Instead
While this particular blackjack table is terrible, there is still some decent action at Four Queens. The casino spreads 10/7/5 Double Bonus at the $1 denomination. There are also several other 99 percent and higher video poker machines, including ones at the bar. The casino spreads decent pay tables on its multi-hand machines. Craps offers five times odds.
Players will find 3-2 double deck blackjack for $15. That game does not permit double down after splitting. All other blackjack games at Four Queens are 6-5.
Gambling is not the only thing to do at Four Queens. It offers one of my favorite restaurants in Las Vegas, Hugo’s Cellar is just a few steps off the casino floor.