Fremont Street Experience Casinos Deal All Three Worst Las Vegas Blackjack Games

Lucky Cat Blackjack rules at Golden Nugget in Las Vegas, NevadaLucky Cat Blackjack rules at Golden Nugget in Las Vegas, Nevada

Fremont Street Experience likes to tout itself as having better gambling than the Strip. While this is true in some categories, three of its blackjack games are the worst in Las Vegas, based on our research. We have blackjack data from over 200 casinos across the country and these three games rank at the bottom of all. 

The information below was collected from Fremont Street Experience casinos in October 2021. We have not received any reports that there have been changes. 

Yesterday, we published an article about the best downtown Las Vegas blackjack that shows where to get great value around the Fremont Street Experience. It is part of our series related to the decline in gambling quality at member casinos.

All three worst Las Vegas blackjack games have same terrible rule

You will know that you are at one of the worst blackjack games in Las Vegas when the dealer requires you to make a side bet. It is always on the Bonus Spin. This is a digital wheel that is weighted towards lesser prizes. Players spin it when dealt a blackjack. This $1 is separate from the required minimum blackjack bet, which is typically $5 or $10. 

We have no way of knowing the programming of the wheel to determine its return percentage. I researched this years ago, and estimated the house edge to be 23%. Nobody has challenged me on it, so I am sticking with it. If that is the correct number, the player theoretically loses $0.23 on the side bet every hand. 

That is about the house edge on a $40 blackjack wager at a 3:2 table with standard rules that you would find at most other downtown Las Vegas blackjack games or any other in town. Two of the three games listed below pay 6:5 on a blackjack. The one that pays 3:2 is only marginally better.  

Golden Nugget deals worst Las Vegas blackjack game

Golden Nugget has held the top spot for worst blackjack in Las Vegas for several years. It invented a new terrible game this year to put it solely in the top spot of this survey.  

This year’s worst blackjack invention combined Lucky Cat Blackjack, a 6:5 payout, and a mandatory Bonus Spin side bet. The minimum blackjack bet is typically $5 for these tables plus the $1 side bet. It is found in the party pit at the front of the casino.

I computed a 3.33% house edge for the $5 blackjack bet, based on what I read at Wizard of Odds (attention Fremont Street Experience: this is how you attribute properly). I added the 1.39% for the 6:5 payout to the pay table noted that Golden Nugget uses on its original Lucky Cat tables. 

Based on this, the player theoretically loses $0.17 on the blackjack bet and $0.23 on the side when making a minimum bet. I compute the house edge to be 6.67% ($0.40/$6) on a $6 wager. This is far worse than double zero roulette, which holds 5.26% and is much slower than blackjack.

The house edge will drop some as you bet more on the blackjack hand, but I don’t recommend doing that. At $100 plus the $1 side bet, the house edge is still 3.56%, based on these calculations. A normal 3:2 shoe blackjack game holds around 0.65%.

Golden Nugget and Fremont deal another terrible blackjack game

Last year’s worst Las Vegas blackjack game was 6:5 Bonus Spin Blackjack. It dropped to number two this year thanks to the introduction of the 6:5 Lucky Cat Blackjack described above.

This was the original forced side bet blackjack game. The rules are otherwise normal. The player makes a $1 side bet and a standard blackjack one. 

The minimum bet at the second worst Las Vegas blackjack game is usually $10 plus the $1 side bet. The house edge on the blackjack part of the game is about 2%, which is $0.20 on $10. The $1 side bet has an estimated $0.23 house edge. This makes the house edge on the $11 minimum bet 3.91% ($0.43/$11). 

You may find this game for $5 plus the side bet at Golden Nugget. If you do, the estimated house edge is $0.33 on $6, for a hold of 5.5%. 

Binion’s and Four Queens deal third worst Las Vegas blackjack game

Binion’s and Four Queens have some signs that proudly proclaim “Blackjack pays 3:2” at a few tables. However, these tables are not real blackjack games because of the mandatory side bet.

The minimum bet at these tables is $10 plus the $1 side bet. The $10 blackjack bet has a house edge of about $0.07. The $1 side bet holds an estimated $0.23. The house edge at these tables is an estimated 2.73%. This is roughly the house edge on a $1 bet at the 6:5 Downtown Grand table where the expected loss per hand would be about 90% lower. 

Vegas Advantage newsletter released

We have massive amounts of Las Vegas table game data. That is how we know which blackjack games are the worst in Las Vegas.

We will publish a newsletter with every Las Vegas table game with minimum bets and rules by December 1. This includes the Strip, downtown Las Vegas and the entire locals market. The cost is $9.

Click here for more newsletter information

author avatar
John Mehaffey
John, a founding member of Advantage Media LLC, got his start in gaming as a prop player at online poker sites. He played online poker from 2001 to 2005. In 2004, he created a site that served as a directory for an online poker promotional method known as rakeback. He sold that site in 2006 and moved his family from Atlanta to Rapid City, SD to work for a similar company. They later moved to Las Vegas in 2010. John’s favorite game is full-pay video poker. His favorite table game is Ultimate Texas Hold’em, though he would rather play it in video form. Currently, John is best known for compiling blackjack and table game data including all Las Vegas and Clark County casinos.