California Hotel and Casino is often referred to as The Cal by locals and tourists. It is owned and operated by Boyd Gaming. It opened in 1975. The Cal has a Hawaiian theme. That is fitting as The Cal has worked hard ever since it opened to attract tourists from Hawaii. Boyd Gaming built its success on that business model.
The Cal has a pedestrian bridge that connects it and Main Street Station, its sister casino. Fremont is also owned by Boyd Gaming. All three offer nearly identical blackjack options and rules.
The Cal Tables and Games
There are 19 blackjack tables at The Cal. The dealer hits soft 17 in all of these games.
The most popular blackjack game by far is the double deck. There are 15 of these tables. The bet limits are $5 to $1,000. Players may double down on any two cards. Doubling down after splitting is not permitted. The house edge is 0.6%.
There is one $3 to $200 six-deck shoe blackjack table. Players can double down before splitting but not after. Players may not surrender or re-split aces, rules often permitted in shoe games at other casinos. A recent rule change pays even money on blackjack for hands with a wager below $5. Bets of $5 and higher get paid 6-5 at this table. The house edge for $3 and $4 bets is 2.9%, the highest of any live blackjack game in Las Vegas. Wagers of $5 or more get have a house edge of 2.01%.
There are two single deck blackjack tables at The Cal. Players may double down on any two cards. Double down after splitting is not allowed. Blackjack pays 6-5. The house edge is 1.6%. Bet limits are $5 to $500.
BConnected for Frequent Blackjack Players
It is easy to get a free hotel room and meals at Fremont. Make sure to use Boyd Gaming’s BConnected card. A player giving $10 action can expect weeknight rooms and buffets. Green chip players can expect any reasonable comp request to be honored. Boyd Gaming is known to take care of downtown players.
The Cal offers $3 blackjack at its shoe table, but the new even money rule makes these games unplayable. Move up to the $5 double deck games for a house edge that is nearly six times better than the shoe.
The $5 double deck blackjack games are plentiful. It would be nice if these games permitted double down after splitting. Unfortunately, Boyd Gaming decided long ago that its downtown Las Vegas casinos would not allow double down after a split at any blackjack tables.
The Inside View
The Cal is the definition of an old school downtown Las Vegas casino. Its blackjack games have a $3 or $5 minimum bet. Low rollers can expect a free meal between sessions with about four hours of play, assuming the BConnected card is presented when sitting down. Players that want a break from blackjack can enjoy full pay video poker. Many of these great games use coins. Some do not even have bill acceptors.
There is a wide variety of unique dining options at The Cal. Those with a taste for the Pacific Islands will enjoy a buffet like no other. The café offers some of the same unique specials.