The majority of gamblers that visit Las Vegas aren’t high rollers. In fact, about 80% (arbitrary number in my head) are looking for cheap blackjack wherever they can find it. They’re also looking for good cheap blackjack games. You can find good cheap blackjack on the Vegas Strip but the options are decreasing every day.
It’s time to head to Downtown Vegas where good cheap blackjack isn’t too difficult to find. In recent years, we’ve seen gamblers migrating from the Vegas Strip to Downtown Vegas where the gamblin’s good (see the best craps odds in Downtown Vegas).
For simplicity, I’m using $15 as the cut off for cheapblackjack once again. I’m listing the casinos alphabetically and not by the games with the best house edge. Visit the survey on Wizard of Vegas to see the complete details of the games listed below and higher denomination games.
Binion’s – House Edge: 0.66 California – House Edge: 0.60 The D – House Edge: 0.46 & 0.64 Downtown Grand – House Edge: 0.64 El Cortez – House Edge: 0.30 and 0.45 Fremont – House Edge: 0.60 Golden Gate – House Edge: 0.61 Main Street Station – House Edge: 0.60 Plaza – House Edge: 0.64
El Cortez– House Edge: 0.30 Four Queens – House Edge: 0.57 & 0.60 Golden Nugget – House Edge: 0.48 & 0.60 Plaza – House Edge: 0.456
Binion’s – House Edge: 0.60
Note: Most casinos have multiple games with a worse house edge. Make sure you check the rules before you play.
Earlier today I went over the odds for craps at all of the Downtown Vegas casinos and mentioned that the best odds don’t always make the best games. Everyone has their preferences in casinos and games. The 3 casinos below are probably my favorite downtown casinos in part because they have my favorite craps games.
Golden Gate has 10x odds which is appealing to me but I think I’d still love playing craps at Golden Gate even if they had lower odds. The casino is intimate. It’s small, tight and there’s not a lot of space to move around. The ceiling is low so that you can almost touch it. That confined feeling and dance music makes the energy in the casino intense. The energy at the Golden Gate craps games has nowhere to go and it is unmatched by any casino. The combination of energy and odds make this my favorite Downtown Vegas craps game.
It’s out of character for me but I love everything about the El Cortez. In general El Cortez is the antithesis of everything I like in a casino. It’s old, dirty and I love it. Many of the craps players at El Cortez are crotchety old men. It feels as though they all play the Don’t Pass line. El Cortez doesn’t sound awesome does it?
El Cortez isn’t for everyone but is the first casino that I visited in Downtown Vegasand I have a huge soft spot for gambling here. The 10x odds in craps and great blackjack game (See Vegas Chatter article for details) keep me coming back. El Cortez was one of the first Downtown Vegas casinos to renovate but that was over 20 years ago now. This is vintage Vegas at its best.
The party vibe, dancing-girls and loud dance music on the first floor of The D casino makes me want to craps. If I’m gambling on the first floor of The D then you’ll probably find me rolling dice. The 10x odds are nice but not necessary for a good time. FWIW, if I’m upstairs you can find me at the end of the View Bar near the sportsbook playing 8/5 Bonus (with multiple progressives) Video Poker while keeping an eye on a game.
Craps is my favorite game in the casino. Besides being fun to play, craps gives the casino one of the smallest house edge’s of most casino games. Fun game and small house edge?! Sounds good to me!
You can actually decrease the, already small, house edge by playing greater odds. The higher the odds played the less the house edge. Today I want to look at the craps odds available in Downtown Vegas casinos. Since the higher odds decrease the casino’s advantage I list casinos from the best odds to worst odds.
Even the worst odds in craps give the casino a smaller house edge than most games in the casino. Most people don’t like to max out their odds when playing craps because it’s too much action. I try to max my odds wherever I play. Minimum pass line bets in these casinos is usually only $5 so full odds isn’t too expensive.
The best craps odds don’t make the best games. I’ll get into my favorite Downtown Vegas craps games later. For more information check out Wizard of Vegas craps survey.
Do you ever get nostalgic for having filthy and germy hands when you’re playing slot machines? I don’t.
TITO (Ticket In Ticket Out) is one of the best inventions for the slot machine over the past 20 years. I don’t miss the days where I had to stick my hands in a pile of filthy coins to get paid from slots and video poker.
While TITO has replaced coins in most slot machines there are still 5 casinos in Vegas where you can play coin-in slot machines and get filthy while remembering the good ole days before indoor plumbing and cell phones. 🙂
Bonus Casinos (California, Fremont, Main Street Station)
The Las Vegas Sun has an article on the transformation of the slot machine from coins to TITO if you’re feeling nostalgic. If you’re in Vegas you can head to the Golden Gate where they have about 5 slot machines like the one above from when they first opened. I’m not very nostalgic and even I think they’re cool.
It’s rare that I agree with my first impression days after the fact but this is how I see the Downtown Container Park. Downtown Container Park just opened in Downtown Vegas on Fremont Street a block past El Cortez.
Downtown Container Park is essential an outdoor mall where the stores are all in storage containers. The mall surrounds a giant treehouse park area. The property has free wifi and a nice little grassy area with a stage for musicians to perform.
I don’t love Downtown Container Park and I don’t hate it. It’s a mall. It’s not a traditional mall but it has all the contents that you’d find in a traditional mall. It’s a place for people to shop and eat or for parents to bring their kids to play during the day. At night the restaurants will cater to the anyone who would like to eat and drink outside.
Let’s take a little tour and discuss specific parts of the Downtown Container Park.
The containers are stacked 2 and 3 levels high. The containers aren’t very big which could make this a tight squeeze if it gets busy. The height makes for some pretty cool views if nothing else. Thankfully all of the food and drink are located on the ground level.
Metal Chairs and Metal Tables
As Scott from Vital Vegas likes to say “What could go wrong?”
The combination of metal tables, metal chairs and limited shade in the park seem like a horrible mix for summer in Las Vegas. Since the only seating for Downtown Container Park is outside this could pose a major problem.
Maybe this is why they rushed to open an outdoor park/mall in time for winter.
The treehouse slide and park is set in the center of all the containers at Downtown Container Park. This area looks like a really cool place for kids to play. It also offers some of the only shade in the Downtown Container Park. Kids 1 – Adults 0.
Another view of the treehouse slide at Downtown Container Park. Weeeeeeeeee!
I can’t remember the last time I saw a water fountain that wasn’t from the 1920’s. This is a nice addition to the park area although the metal may become a health hazard in the summer.
The stage area at Downtown Container Park looks pretty cool. It should fit legit bands at night and kids stuff during the day. This could be a great outlet for Downtown Project to preview bands for at no charge as a way to promote Life Is Beautiful Fest 2014.
Note that the grass is real. That’s a big deal for the Vegas locals.
Big Erns BBQ was one of the few outlets to open before the Downtown Container Park was officially open. Early word is that the BBQ is legit. They also serve New Belgium beer. This sounds like a perfect combination. I hope to try this out before the winter comes to town. (UPDATE: I went here yesterday and wasn’t impressed. It wasn’t bad but it wasn’t good.)
The Llama is the unofficial mascot of Downtown Project. If I was cynical I’d say that this was placed near the front of the Downtown Container Park to keep non-DTP people out. But that’s if I was a cynic and believed that DTP was really a cult. I mean, seriously.
Downtown Container Park is a nifty little space that essentially takes up one city block. I think that Downtown Container Park could be a cool place to grab lunch and work a little (since they don’t open until 11am), bring the family for play time and shopping or to grab a few drinks at night while watching a band on the big stage. It’s another thing to check out when you’re visiting Downtown Vegas.
Downtown Project has been doing a lot of development for a local community that they’re helping cultivate. It’s going to take some time to see if this works out as they intend. I’m not sure that I entirely understand the vision but that’s fine. I’ll enjoy the new life they’re breathing into Downtown Vegas.
Use my code MMeltzer5 for $25 off. (I also get $25 off)
Recently I decided to check out hotel tonightfor hotel rooms in Las Vegas. There isn’t a week that passes where I don’t get a message asking where to get a last-minute hotel deal. I’ve heard a lot about the app and the travel people I know speak highly of it. In brief, hotel tonight provides last-minute discounted hotel rooms. The rates are for that night (you can stay up to 5 nights but rates may change) and not next month. As they say, they aren’t hotel tomorrow.
Hotel Tonight doesn’t offer rooms at every hotel – just where they can provide discounted rooms. The other day I did a quick check of rates in Las Vegas and found this basic El Cortez room for $20. It was $40 on the El Cortez website. Nice 50% discount. El Cortez doesn’t have a resort fee but if they did you would have to pay that directly to the hotel. Resort fees are noted when you book. Hotel Tonight doesn’t get involved with that nonsense.
There were rooms available from Hard Rock, Palms and a few other hotels in Vegas. None of the options were awesome but were all clean and cheap places to stay in different parts of Las Vegas.
Hotel Tonight is great for locals like me that may need a crash pad after a night of too much fun. The app is also great for last-minute trips to Vegas. If you’re already in Vegas for vacation you can check the app for a 2nd discount party room or suite. Yesterday there was a Palms suite for under $100. That’s the kind of deal I would get for a last-minute $5 Pai Gow rager.
I’m an early riser and I like to plan my day and night as early as I can. Before today Hotel Tonight rooms were only available after noon local time (anywhere you are). Today that switched. Rooms from Hotel Tonight are now available at 9am. I started writing this at 8 something but rooms for today are now available. Here’s a few options for today. The Palms suite I referenced earlier isn’t shown here but is available once again for $99.
Hotel Tonight has room deals in other cities and is definitely an app that anyone traveling should have. You can download for iPhone and Android.
When I lived on the east coast I used to take notes of interesting things that happened or I noticed during trips to Atlantic City and Las Vegas. I figured that is do that I would do that again during my recent Vegas vacation. These are just straight notes, so there will be grammar mistakes.
I’ll elaborate on most of these subjects in future writing here and elsewhere. Tweet me or leave a comment if you have any specific questions.
– The D sold out Friday and Saturday.
– Cash or bomb in briefcase?
– The D queen room as big as king room just 2 beds. Not bad. Size.
– AC great
– Andiamo’s best restaurant downtown Vegas.
– When in doubt. The song is Train or Pitbull.
– Flair bar tending.
– El Cortez vodka selection awful. Drink beer.
– Fremont East between El Cortez and FSE full of awful.
– flamingo always crowded.
– Families suck.
– don’t like kids, eat at nice restaurants.
– Mandalay Bay 3:2 BJ. Good vodka.
– Margaritaville casino fun. 6:5 bj.
– Margaritaville restaurant ok.
– Fab room bathroom disgusting. Rotting. Chipping. Peeling.
– Monte Carlo casino = eh. No even money bj. 6:5.
– Andre’s fun.
– I like cognac.
– Bally’s moved poker room.
– Flamingo casino air not consistent. Nasty.
– Mississippi Stud go boom.
– cash travel?
– Blackjack bad.
– video poker eh.
– Traffic everywhere.
– LIFE slot kinda fun.
– new, giant Wizard of Oz slots at V & the D.
– Flamingo sportsbook comfy. Drink tix.
– Carlos n Charlie’s as bad as people say. Loud. Never again.
– Strip traffic sucks. Expect long hauls.
– Gamers v. Gamblers.
– T3 great.
– Flamingo housekeeping awful.
– No more Steve Wynn in cabs.
– VIP better than not. Duh.
– flamingo air a mess.
It took me just one summer to get used to the Las Vegas heat. I still hate it but I can deal with it. Last night I was watching the channel 3 news and the weather man almost sounded as if he was panicking. He was so freaked out that I had to stop playing WinPoker and rewind to see what was going on. That’s when I snapped the picture above. It’s not just going to be hot for the next 2 weeks but he thinks it’s going to be record-breaking hot.
Saturday – Las Vegas should break the record for hottest day (ever?).
10 Days – May be in the 110’s for a record number of days.
I picked a fine time to take a vacation in Vegas. Seriously. My hotel rooms will be as cold as a meat locker. I never make my house into a meat locker so this will be a nice treat.
Common sense should tell anyone that it’s hotter in the sun and that’s extreme in Las Vegas. You can add at least 15 degrees to the 117+ degree temperatures when you’re out in the sun. Let is be known that I’ll be hiding under the Fremont Street canopy on Saturday when I stay at The D. Sorry El Cortez. Sorry Mob Bar. OK, that’s probably a lie. Ain’t nothin gonna stop me.
The worst part of the heat is that it’s a dry heat. It dries out the skin more than you can imagine. I carry lip balm and I will be moisturizing all day and all night. I just hope that the casinos have enough moisturizer for me because I don’t need to get ashy. Yeah, I don’t like lizard skin.
Here are some hot weather tips for Vegas.
Alternate water with your booze.
Use lots of moisturizer on your skin.
Use lip balm.
There’s nothing to see.
The heat stinks but if you’re in Vegas and you’re like me you’ll probably spend most of your time in a casino. My only real advice is to stay moist because this extreme dry heat can be annoying.
My musical taste has been questioned my whole life. I never really cared about music growing up but hearing Pantera, Goo Goo Dolls and Soundgarden in college for the first time opened my eyes to music that wasn’t on the radio. From that point forward my taste in music has been a little off the wall. I find equal enjoyment from Britney Spears, EPMD, Pantera, Pitbull and Martyr AD.
Last night the lineup for the Life is Beautiful festival to take place in downtown Vegas was announced to a lot of fanfare.
Headlining this year’s festival, which will take place on October 26th and 27th in Downtown Las Vegas, will be two locally grown acts—The Killers and Imagine Dragons. Also, headlining will be Grammy-winners Kings of Leon and Beck. Childish Gambino, Jurassic 5, Passion Pit, and many others round out the roster.
The headlining bands of the Life Is Beautiful lineup is great if you like rock/pop radio. The great news for the music lineup at Life Is Beautiful is that like many festivals it’s complimented by a slew of lesser known bands like Portugal The Man and Youngblood Hawke that could steal the show. Click the image to view full list of bands.
Life Is Beautiful will take place all over Downtown Vegas and include food from celebrity chefs and artists from a variety of Vegas shows. Much like Coachella and the other large festivals the bands are just part of the overall experience. Life Is Beautiful provides a great excuse to spend a weekend downtown to enjoy music, food and art.
Pro Tip: If you plan on going get a room at El Cortez. Many (if not all) of the events will be happening away from the Fremont Street Experience canopy.
Ticket packages will cost between $100 and $350 and go on sale this Friday. Follow @lifeisbeautiful for updates and more information. The Life Is Beautiful website isn’t very “share friendly” so head there for more details.