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.
It’s funny, gamblers always say that the Vegas Strip can learn something about keeping gamblers in their casino by offering better odds like Downtown Vegas casinos. I think it may be the other way around. Maybe the Downtown Vegas casinos need to improve their bars and restaurants like their counterparts on the Vegas Strip to keep gamblers like me happy.
A couple of weeks ago I spent a day and night in Downtown Vegas. I stayed at the Fremont Hotel because they always offer low room rates and noresort fee. My hotel room for the night was $32 after taxes. Not bad.
I went into this day away with no plan. My solo trips to Downtown Vegas have always been similar to someone going on a bender. I’d eat, drink and gamble way too much for a 24 hour period. This time my night in Downtown Vegas was different. I had a great time but it was a different kind of great time.
If you read this blog last week you saw daily updates of where I spent my time in Downtown Vegas.
I had a beer and chicken parm sliders for dinner at Triple George.
Wow, I drank a lot of beer. There’s one thing missing from my night in Downtown Vegas. I hardly spent time in a casino and I barely gambled! This is very unlike me and I reflected on this on my drive back home to the burbs.
The casinos on the Vegas Strip are re-inventing themselves with new restaurants, bars and clubs to keep you on their property. My visits to the Vegas Strip haven’t changed. New restaurants and bars draw me to casinos on the Vegas Strip where I’ll inevitably end up gambling a little.
Eat, Drink, Gamble in one place – that’s my kind of fun. Let’s go back to Downtown Vegas.
Most of the new bars and restaurants are outside of the Downtown Vegas casinos. When I’m eating a great burger and drinking great beer at Pizza Rock there isn’t anything that says that I must go back out to the casino and gamble. The casinos in Downtown Vegas feel as though they’re becoming less relevant to me. They’re out of sight while I’m having fun eating and drinking and that puts them on the back burner.
Besides Andiamo Steakhouse at The D and Du-Pars at Golden Gate there really isn’t a restaurant destination inside of a Downtown Vegas casino that I feel like I ever need to visit. On the flip side every bar and restaurant I visited on my last trip to Downtown Vegas will be visited again.
As Downtown Vegas continues to re-invent itself the casinos may need to take note from the Golden Nugget and refresh their restaurants and bars every couple of years to keep old customers like me and attract new customers.
Many of my favorite casinos to gamble are in Downtown Vegas so it’s not like I’ll be avoiding the casinos there but I will certainly spend less money in those casinos when there are better bars and restaurants a short walk away.
It’s funny, gamblers always say that the Vegas Strip can learn something about keeping gamblers in their casino by offering better odds like Downtown Vegas. I think it may be the other way around.Maybe the Downtown Vegas casinos need to improve their bars and restaurants like their counterparts on the Vegas Strip to keep gamblers like me happy.
Speculating on the future of Vegas is fun. Instead of full-blown posts about specific subjects I think it’s more fun to be short and concise. Here’s my take on two potential moves that would shake things up on the Vegas Strip.
Speculation: I’m going to speculate that Dan Lee’s next job will be something big. If he has a non-compete clause with Palms or just needs time away from work he might look for a major role with Genting as they open Resorts World Las Vegas.
If that’s too far ahead perhaps a move to another independently operated casino in Vegas might make sense.The Cosmopolitan might make sense as they’ll likely add new leadership when Blackstone takes over operations.
If you’re not familiar with Dan Lee, Vegas Tripping had a really detailed post when he was named CEO of Palms last year.
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.
The next major casino project to open in Las Vegas will feature a new William Hill Sports Book under a long term agreement with Fifth Street Gaming, developer and operator of the Downtown Grand Casino & Hotel. The property is expected to open in September…
…The new sports book will have a William Hill storefront and dedicated entrance on Downtown3rd, with an outdoor look similar to William Hill’s 2,400 betting shops in the UK.
William Hill is an independent sportsbook operator similar to Cantor Gaming. They operate sportsbooks at quite a few casinos in Las Vegas and all of Nevada. In addition they have sports betting kiosks in a variety of bars across the state along with an easy to use app. They can essentially facilitate sports betting anywhere it’s legal.
While Cantor Gaming targets the high-end customer William Hill is more focused on the every day gambler. Neither approach is right or wrong – it’s just different. If you like free drinks, head to a William Hill sportsbook. If you want to bet 5 figures, you can head to a Cantor Gaming sportsbook.
Downtown Grand seems as if it will be an awesome casino once it opens. Besides this announcement and outdoor gaming everything inside the casino and hotel seem like it will be a great addition to downtown Vegas.
Old Vegas became Downtown Vegas over the past few years because of a myriad of changes to the area. There have been a lot of additions to the area but the places I care most about are the casinos. Many of the Downton Vegas casinos have been renovated over the past few years. Some renovations are better than others. Here are my favorite Downtown Vegas casino renovations.
1. the D – The D casino used to be Fitzgeralds but a complete overhaul of the property last year turned it into something entirely new and awesome. I know I’ve been inside The Fitz but I have no memory of it. The D has two very contrasting floors of its casino. The first floor is incredibly energetic (and loud) with great craps and good 3:2 blackjack. The loud music gives beats that the Go-Go dancers in between table games can dance to. Upstairs has a more mellow vibe with slower music and more machine games. This is where you’ll find Sigma Derby, old video poker and slot machines. It’s a fun contrast and easily one of my favorite places downtown. Photo: Yelp
2. El Cortez – El Cortez was the first casino to renovate and the renovations almost seem old compared to the other casinos in downtown Vegas. The renovations being a little older than the other downtown Vegas casinos allows El Cortez to easily have the most real vintage feel. Besides having great gaming rules (3:2 blackjack, 10x odds craps) rules and cheap gaming ($5 blackjack, $3 craps) they give away free ice cream and free pie periodically. I love El Cortez. Photo: AllVegasPoker.com
3. Golden Gate – Golden Gate is the oldest downtown Vegas hotel and last year’s renovations go a long way to keep that vibe. The renovations were all done to a roarin 20’s theme. The casino is very small and can be claustrophobic to some but that coziness brings great energy to the tables. Golden Gate has the same owners as the D so much of the gaming is the same. The main difference is that the video poker here is not very good and some of the blackjack games use a Continuous Shuffle Machine (I hate CSM!). Most of the dealers at night are also G0-Go dancers. That doesn’t hurt. This is probably my favorite downtown Vegas casino to play craps (ironically, no go-go dancers are craps dealers). Photo: Priceline
Honorable Mention. Gold Spike – Gold Spike is a tiny casino off Fremont Street. The casino is made up of 4 blackjack tables. That’s it (I think). Gold Spike is fairly useless with the exception of $5 sexy blackjack. $5 sexy blackjack isn’t really sexy but it’s fun. Gold Spike is more of a change of pace than anything else. Drink service is super quick since it’s small and never busy.
Other: The Plaza – This is my least favorite of the renovated casinos downtown. There is just no vibe at all here. It’s clean, big and new but that’s about it. Odds are if I’m at this end of Fremont Street I’m probably across the street rolling dice or eating pancakes at DuPar’s inside the Golden Gate.
You may have noticed that I’ve been posting where the best video poker in Las Vegas is recently since I’ve had trips staying at Main Street Station downtown and at Encore on the Vegas strip. A few weeks ago I was asked where the best craps games can be found in Las Vegas. Interesting.
I thought I knew the answer but wasn’t entirely sure. I only know the craps odds at casinos I visit but I don’t know the craps odds at every casino in Las Vegas. I’m not that good. At least I wasn’t.
Countless searches showed only very old craps odds – like pre-2010 old. I finally found odds that seem fairly up-to-date on Wizard Of Vegas. Here are the breakdowns of the best craps odds at downtown Las Vegas casinos (sorted best to worst).
Main Street Station – 20x Odds
The D – 10x Odds
El Cortez – 10x Odds
Golden Gate – 10x Odds
Las Vegas Club – 10x Odds
Binions – 5x Odds
Four Queens – 5x Odds
Golden Nugget – 3-4-5x Odds
The Plaza – 3-4-5x Odds
California – 2x Odds
Fremont – 2x Odds
You’ll notice that Gold Spike is missing from this list of downtown casinos with the best craps. I don’t believe they have craps. They have Sexy Blackjack and I don’t think they could promote Sexy Craps so they just stick with blackjack.
It should come as no surprise that Main Street Station has the best craps downtown. Craps at Main Street Station has almost even odds. Probably the best thing about craps at Main Street Station is that it’s affordable for most gamblers.
Playing full odds at a Main Street Station craps table is $100 on a $5 bet. This is one of the most affordable smart bets you can make in a casino. Full odds on 100x or 1000x times a $5 bet is pricey even though the returns are as close to even as you will find at a craps table.
The Wizard of Vegas survey hasn’t been updated since the D replaced Fitzgerald’s but most of the list seems up to date. Feel free to comment if know of different odds. I’ll be glad to update this list.
Photo – flickr jcnikon (PS: I know this picture isn’t downtown, but the downtown craps table pics weren’t interesting)