How Amazon’s Fire Phone Will Make Vegas Vacations Even Better

Amazon Fire Phone
Amazon Fire Phone Can Make More Vegas Memories

I saw the launch of Amazon’s Fire Phone yesterday and thought it was a cool new mobile phone option. I don’t think I’ll immediately drop my iPhone and run to it but I’ll consider it if they get other carrier’s on board. AT&T doesn’t have good coverage in the part of Vegas where I live.

This morning I read about a feature that slipped by me that will immediately have an effect on families that travel. Amazon’s Fire Phone will have a 13 Mb camera that shoots 1080p HD video but more importantly the phone comes with FREE CLOUD STORAGE.

HD video and high quality photos take up a lot of internal storage space on mobile devices. Chances are that you won’t have enough space on your phone to keep everything. I never do. I load most of my pictures onto my laptop and delete most of my photos from the Apple Cloud because I don’t want pay for the service. That said, I still have hundreds of pictures on my phone.

There are a lot of people that still don’t understand or trust the cloud. My mom would love a service like this that just saved all of her pictures at no additional charge. Then again, I just showed her how to use The Google last year.

When people visit Las Vegas they take a boatload of pictures. Families and tourists are off the chart with the amount of pictures they take. Just try to walk anywhere on the Vegas Strip without bumping into people snapping pics. A day of pictures and a couple of videos will take up a lot of space on a phone. If you’re visiting for more than a weekend you’ll probably have to delete pictures and/or video from your phone at some point. Free cloud storage would help with this problem.

Free cloud storage, alone, is a game changer. Storage is dropping in price so rapidly but the majority of American’s don’t even know how or where to find storage. The Amazon Fire Phone seems like it will be a great one stop shop for the average American consumer and a great way to save more Vegas memories. [Insert sappy music]

More Info On Amazon Fire Phone

Most Important Travel Accessory – 10 Foot Mobile Charger Cable

Extended iPhone Charger Cable
iPhone Cable

Today’s WWDC conference announcements have me pretty stoked on the future of my Apple devices. I think the new Apple desktop and mobile operating systems will change how we use our mobile devices. With that in mind I wanted to being awareness to my favorite mobile travel accessory that comes in very handy before and after going out for a day/night in Vegas.

I don’t travel without a super long charging cable for my iPhone and iPad. 

The cable I’m currently using is 10 feet long. Ten feet may be a bit excessive but it doesn’t take up much more space than the 6 footer I used with my old iPhone and it costs the same amount of money ($7). I’m online at all times and need easy access to my mobile chargers. The extended cables allow me to charge my iPhone and/or iPad while I’m using them.

Unfortunately many of the older hotel rooms in Vegas (think Downtown Vegas) still have outlets that aren’t comfortably accessible. I can always plug in a charger but the small wire that comes with the devices often isn’t long enough for me to charge and use my phone or tablet. Thankfully many upgraded hotel rooms are adding lamps with outlets or charging stations.

My second most valuable travel accessory would be a Mophie Juice Pack charger case pack for my iPhone but I use that every day. Having a charging case that allows me a 100% full charge on the go is amazing. Both products help keep me juiced and connected for just about an entire day on the Vegas Strip.

What are your most valued travel accessories?

Hotel Tonight Rooms Now Available At 9am

Hotel Tonight Logo
Hotel Tonight

Use my code MMeltzer5 for $25 off. (I also get $25 off)

Recently I decided to check out hotel tonight for 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.

Hotel Tonight El Cortez

There were rooms available from Hard RockPalms 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.

Hotel Tonight App Countdown

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 Thursday

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. 

Over 4% Of English iPhone Users Have Sports Betting Apps

William Hill Mobile App
William Hill Mobile App

Mobile gaming is just beginning and sports bettors in the United Kingdom are leading the way. Over 4% of iPhone users have a sports betting app on their phone.

In December 2012, comScore estimated that there were 8.65m active iPhone users in the UK. If that figure has stayed constant, based on Onavo’s 4.3% figure, it would mean around 372k Brits are using sports betting apps on their iPhones.

Rosen says that companies in the US are watching the UK closely, since it’s one of the most established mobile gambling markets in the world, ahead of what they hope will be legislation to make real-money gambling legal on mobile phones across the US.

William Hill leads the way with app use in the UK with more than 1/3rd of those sports betting apps in use being theirs. 38% of sports betting apps in use belong to William Hill. People with the William Hill app use it about 4 times a month. That’s second behind Bet 365 whose app is used over 5 times a month.

I’m not sure this is 100% applicable but if you translated these numbers to the population of Nevada (2 million in NV vs. 63 mm in UK) there would be about 11,000 mobile sports bettors between the William Hill, Cantor Gaming and Station Casinos sports betting apps. They’d be making somewhere between 40,000 and 50,000 wagers per month coming from iPhones alone.

With mobile gaming and mobile sports betting still in its infancy I think those 3 companies in the US would be satisfied with those results. As the legality of online gaming expands so will that number and these companies will be the leaders.

Blackjack Tips

Marc has provided a lot of good information about blackjack lately and I hope he doesn’t mind if I add my two cents. I started playing the game in 2004 (an Atlantic City trip report I may write someday) based mainly on the writings of ESPN’s Bill Simmons, aka ‘The Sports Guy’ (ED: Download Free Podcast), back when he was funny (ED: He’s still funny, you’re just desensitized to it.). Prior to the trip, I taught myself basic strategy by purchasing some software for my PC and playing it until most of the strategy became second nature.

Neither this game nor Bill Simmons, however, could teach me the ‘unwritten rules of blackjack’. Okay, in retrospect, I probably could’ve Googled it, had I known they existed. Heck, I could Google it right now, but then a) I wouldn’t have an article to write or b) my article would clearly be biased by what I’ve read. So, when you’re done reading, feel free to add your own in the comments, but if you think I missed something obvious, now you know why.

General Play

  • When joining a game mid-shoe, it never hurts to ask the players already in the game if you can join. (ED: I never join mid-shoe and hate when people do)
  • If you are dealt a double-down opportunity, it is perfectly acceptable to double your bet by moving your chips into position before it is your turn. There is a slim chance that the dealer has a 10 up card and turns over an Ace, but any good dealer will return your second bet to you while taking your first. Naturally you wouldn’t do this if the dealer was showing an Ace.
  • I don’t think there’s any situation where you’d split 5s, but a dealer must ask you if you want to double or split them. Since casinos are noisy (that is why there are hand signals, of course!), you can hold your index finger up, like a 1, meaning ‘1 card’, which is all you get when you double.
  • When the first round of cards are dealt, it is nice to wish any players that their Aces become blackjacks/naturals by lightly banging/tapping the table in their direction and saying “Good luck on your Ace”.
  • It’s obvious that you can touch your chips after you get paid for a win and normally the dealer takes your chips as soon as you lose. But what about a push? As I learned the hard way, DO NOT touch your chips until the dealer gets to your position and bangs/taps the felt in front of you to signal ‘push’ to the ‘eye in the sky’.


  • There are two main ways to tip your dealer: 1) slide a chip into the ‘dealer zone’, that nebulous area best described as “around the insurance line”; a comment like “that’s for you” should convey the message and 2) make a bet for the dealer by placing your chip(s) near your betting stack, akin to the Moon orbiting the Earth.
  • In the event of a push, I usually but not always remember to ask the dealer what he/she prefers. Most often, they’ll ‘let it ride’. I don’t think I’ve had anyone take the tip on a push.
  • True story: my first or second time playing, a player to my left, during the betting portion, reached over and put singles/whites ‘in orbit’ around all our bets. I had no idea what she was doing. It was only when we all won and I went to take the money that I learned she was tipping the dealer on all our hands. I have never seen this since.
  • When coloring up at the end of a session, if I don’t think I’ve tipped enough, I try to remember to keep a red (or two) to the side so it’s not included in the coloring. That way I’m not digging in my wallet for some small bills after being handed a stack of greens and blacks.

That’s all I can think of at the moment. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments!

ED: Check out my favorite blackjack/counting app for the iPhone on Get Vegas Apps.

Tweet me @eastcoastgamblr


Is Cantor Gaming Good For Gamblers?

In the past year I’ve written a lot about Cantor Gaming‘s takeover of many sportsbooks in Las Vegas at Vegas Chatter. Sometimes it’s good and sometimes it’s not. Last night I was having a discussion about Cantor Gaming taking over some of my favorite casino’s sportsbooks and I was getting a little salty (but not aggro). Yesterday, I wrote about VIP seating at the Venetian sportsbook not being available to Venetian high rollers, but to Cantor Gaming high rollers.

We asked the desk if our Club Grazie Gold card did anything for us and he said no with a smirk. Then he started chuckling when he said that it was reserved for people betting at least $25,000 per day. 

I understand that Cantor Gaming operates as its own entity under the casinos, but not providing any perks for casino customers isn’t a going to help bring the casual sports bettor to the book to gamble. While places like Station Casinos and Caesars give players club points for sports betting I don’t believe Cantor can or does this for the properties where they are in control. If I’m correct, they don’t even have their own players club to earn “Cantor Points.”

Sports bettors don’t really look for comps beyond a free drink, but the casual gambler does. I’m sure the old men that sit at the race book all day would like to earn a free sandwich every once in a while. I know I would for my sports bets.

When all sportsbooks look and feel the same with Cantor’s retrofitting of sportsbooks, what is going to give people a reason to visit one book over the other? When sports betting goes mobile, why would anyone choose Cantor above Leroy’s or Station?

I won’t be doing much betting with Cantor gaming because they don’t have an iPhone app yet. I’m used to using my Leroy’s app and since I don’t get players club points there either, I’ll work with what I know until Station comes out with their iPhone app and I can get Boarding Pass points. Unless there is line value with Cantor I can’t get anywhere else (which there isn’t, generally) then I’m not sure I see a reason to frequent their sportsbooks.

WinPoker iPhone App

I was practicing video poker while watching TV and realized that I haven’t done a blog about the WinPoker iPhone app.  This is the only app that I’ve purchased on both my old iPod touch and my iPhone.  It is a great tool to practice video poker strategy and I usually play a few hours before every trip, just to hone my skills.

WinPoker allows you to choose the type of video poker game you want to play with the pay tables that you’ll play so you can have an accurate simulation and learn to play video poker the right way.  If the pay tables aren’t stock on the game you can add them. For example; before my last trip to Las Vegas I added 8/6 Jacks or Better because I knew that Venetian didn’t have anything better to offer.

Once you’ve selected a game to play you simply play video poker as you normally would.  Where WinPoker really earns its money from me are the error messages when I’m playing.

Knowing when I’m making the wrong play is what helps make me a better video poker player.  I now consider myself to have perfect play when playing Jacks or Better.  Since Las Vegas’ best game is Double Double Bonus poker I’ve been practicing that a lot.  I’m not quite the “perfect” player, but I’m getting there.  Hopefully before the year is out I’ll be perfect.

I absolutely feel confident that if you play video poker you will get lots of mileage out of WinPoker for the iPhone or iPod and possibly improve your game like I did.

Bet Tracker Pro iPhone App for Sports Betters

A new, and free, iPhone application is available for sports betters – Bet Tracker Pro.  The app keeps track of your sports bets so you don’t have to keep checking you bet tickets.  Of course, you can’t use a mobile phone in a sportsbook without getting yelled at but if you’re anywhere else this could be an easy way to track your bets.

This looks like a pretty cool app and the ratings are good.  I wish I had this last week in Las Vegas to be be able to review it accurately.  For the time being I’ll test it out in a less than perfect situation.

Note that the free version of the app only allows for tracking of one bet.

Click here for the Bet Tracker Pro App