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LAS VEGAS BLACKJACK REPORT:

FOUR QUEENS, FREMONT, GOLD SPIKE, AND GOLDEN GATE CASINOS

by KC Brooks

I have been addicted to blackjack ever since reading Revereís "Playing Blackjack as a Business" when I was 15. The art of blackjack is a lifetime endeavor. I went through the learning process backwards, learning Revereís Advanced Point Count first. I found out early that the actual count system is only a small piece of the puzzle. Presently, I travel "my" Devils Triangle (Reno, Wendover, Vegas}, playing mainly single- and double-deck games. Hi Lo is my choice of strategies and "Professional Blackjack" by Wong is my bible. I worship a large spread, and have been known to wong everywhere I go. Thank God I havenít had to register as a wonger yet, but I am sure it is not too far off. I also help fellow AP Nick teach card counting at www.Blackjackclassroom.com. 

Note: This is the second of a three-part report on the downtown blackjack scene. Click here to read Part 1 that covered Binionís, California, D Las Vegas, and El Cortez casinos.

FOUR QUEENS

This report starts with The Four Queens, which opened in 1966 and is adjacent to the Golden Nugget, situated in the heart of Fremont Street. The property houses a 690- room hotel, three full-service restaurants, a 32,000 square foot gaming area with over a thousand slot machines, and close to thirty table games.

On my visit, the casino offered a variety of blackjack games, the majority being eight- deck games with horrible rules as far as eight-deck games go. They are: H17 (hit 17) DAS (double after splitting), blackjacks pay 6:5, you are allowed to surrender but cannot take insurance. The house advantage is a whopping 1.92 %, table limits are $5-$1000, and the cut card is placed two and a half decks deep.

There are two tables of single-deck blackjack games. One game offers 6:5 blackjack payouts with a house advantage of 1.57% and should be avoided. The other game is typical of Reno single-deck games; double on 10 and 11 only, and you are not allowed to double after splitting. The good thing is that blackjacks are paid at 3:2, making for a house advantage a tolerable 0.44%. Table limits are $10-$500 and penetration was decent. I observed two players being dealt four rounds per shuffle.

I only found one double-deck table in action. Unfortunately, the penetration was at 50% and the rules were H17. Doubling after splitting and re-splitting aces is not allowed, yielding a house edge of 0.53%. The table limits are $10-$500.

Rounding out the blackjack games are two tables of eight-deck shoe games, and two tables of Blackjack Switch. The eight-deck rules are as follows: H17, doubling after splitting is allowed, and the table limits are $5-$500. The house advantage is 0.66% and the cut card is placed two and a half decks deep. The Blackjack Switch games are played from an eight-deck shoe with table limits of $5-$500.

FREMONT

Next up is Fremont Hotel and Casino, a Boyd gaming establishment. The Fremont opened in 1956 as the first high-rise hotel in Las Vegas. It expanded to fourteen stories in 1963, and is known for giving Wayne Newton his start in 1959.

The casino is close to the same size as the Four Queens, with over 1100 slot machines and close to 30 table games. The Fremont seems to be the busiest of the casinos, with most tables going non-stop.

There are two single-deck games offered, one being a Super-Fun 21, and the other your typical 6:5 garbage game found throughout Las Vegas. The Super-Fun game has a house edge of close to 1% and the 6:5 games deliver 1.57% juice to the house.

There are about ten tables of double-deck blackjack games available. All tables had table limits of $5-$500, and H17 rules. You are not allowed to double after splitting nor are you allowed to re-split aces. The Lucky Ladies 9 side bet is offered on four of the double-deck games. The penetration is a dismal 50% on all the tables yielding a house edge at 0.53%.

Three tables of six-deck shoe games round out the blackjack action offered at Fremont. The rules are the same as the double-deck games, and one table offers the Lucky Ladies side bet. The house edge on these games is 0.76% with the cut card being placed two decks deep, and table limits are $3- $1000.

A good friend of mine deals, at Fremont and I always question him on the playing conditions when we get together. I am amazed at the amount of...

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