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.
I recently visited Oscar’s Steakhouse at the Plaza in Downtown Vegas for the first time in a couple of years. I enjoyed Happy Hour on that first visit (see full review at Vegas Chatter) and enjoyed the experience. Unfortunately the Happy Hour deal at the bar is no longer offered and the beer selection is back to mainstream basics.
That was okay for this visit as I was having a meeting in the lounge that would end in dinner in the dining room. You know that iconic dining room at the Plaza that juts out above the main hotel entrance (where valet should be) as you can see in the photo above.
Since that first visit to Oscar’s I’ve been telling people who it’s one of two steakhouses to visit in Downtown Vegas. The other is Andiamo’s Steakhouse at The D. While the steak was great my thoughts remain almost the same.
The New York Strip is normally my steak of choice but I decided to switch things up with Joey C’s Filet Mignon (12 ounce $44) prepared medium. Besides a little cartilage you see in this bite the steak was perfect. The exterior was charred and topped with a little kosher salt (which makes everything better) and black pepper. The center was as pink, tender and beautiful as you could want.
The steak was cooked to perfection and it was delicious. The filet was probably better than the NY strip. That’s a rare opinion for me.
Service was great. The bottle of wine selected for us was exactly what I wanted (something fruity and mellow). The vibe and company weren’t bad either. 🙂
This visit to Oscar’s Steakhouse was better than the first time in part because I had a better steak but also because we sat in the dining room instead of the bar. If you’re looking for a great steakhouse experience in Downtown Vegas you really have two options – Oscar’s Steakhouse at the Plaza and Andiomo’s at The D.
Both steakhouses have excellent steak. Both steakhouses are similarly priced and less expensive than the Vegas Strip. Both steakhouses have a unique vibe that can’t replicated anywhere else. I would gladly eat at either steakhouse and I’m glad I was talked into meeting at Oscar’s to reaffirm that thought.
Update: Check out the Best Steakhouses in Downtown Las Vegas at Top 10 Vegas.
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.
I haven’t done a video poker check in a while and since I’m spending a night around Downtown Vegas next week I figured that I’d see what games are available in the area.
When I go on a solo trip to a casino I tend to play more video poker than table games. When I’m with others I tend to be more social and play blackjack, craps, etc.
If you’re a video poker player in Las Vegas then you want to play downtown. There are games with positive returns in almost every casino. If you’re like me and prefer to play perfectly instead of playing a game with plus EV, there is 9/6 Jacks or Better (99.56% return) or 8/5 Bonus Poker (99.17% return) readily available.
Here’s the rundown of the best video poker in downtown Vegas beginning with the casinos that have the most options for good video poker games.
The D – Long Bar video poker is not on this list. That game has about 94% returns.
Cantor Gaming Adds Another Sportsbook In Las Vegas..Blah Blah Blah. Instead of writing about each addition I figure I’ll give a guide to each Cantor Gaming sportsbook and list highlights.
Lagasse’s Stadium (Palazzo) – Restaurant, Bar, Stadium Seating, Mini Casino, Outdoor Billiards, Skyboxes. Easily the best sportsbook. Anywhere.
Venetian – Biggest and brightest sportsbook TV’s I’ve ever seen. A lot of room. Bar with video poker in back of book.
Tropicana – Huge with ample seating. Feels like mission control. Can enter without going into casino via MGM Grand bridge.
Cosmopolitan – This place is tiny and awkward. The only reason to go here is because it’s in Cosmo and close to Holsteins Burgers and Marquee.
Palms – Small and crowded sportsbook that has an adjoining poker room. If you don’t mind the click clack of chips in the background, this is fine.
Hard Rock – Small sportsbook that, besides football season, is never really crowded. Drink service is minimal so BYO.
MResort – This is where is all began for Cantor Gaming. With all of the new sportsbooks, this sportsbook looks and feels old. It can use an update.
Silverton – Silverton is considered a locals casino and is located between Mandalay Bay and M Resort. This sportsbook fits perfectly with the casino and is a sneaky great place to watch a game.
There are upsides to Cantor Gaming sportsbooks, like the new, beautiful television screens and nifty technology, but you will not receive a comp drink unless you’re betting $10,000 per game, you won’t receive any casino comps and you’ll be lucky to see a cocktail waitress walk by to get you a drink.
This list will be updated as Cantor Gaming adds more casinos.
Recently your host, Mr. Eastcoastgambler (Hi), has been bringing you youtube videos of past Vegasimplosions. Now that the economy has soured, Vegas isn’t destroying old properties to build new ones but instead is investing money to improve already existing resorts. Yesterday, the trend continued with the announcement that Golden Gate would be adding 19 new rooms and expanding its casino floor. So what other properties need a fixer upper?
Bills Gamblin Hall and Saloon – This place is so in need of some life, that Caesars won’t even let it be part of Total Rewards. As the Barbary Coast, it was unique, boutique and known for great service. Since being taken over by Caesars, it has fallen into disrepair. The service has majorly declined and upkeep has been minimal. The doors even still have the BC initials from the Barbary Coast. There is a lot to like about the interior of Bills, but it needs a lot of work to become relevant again (and a new name wouldn’t hurt either).
Binions – Binions is basically a Las Vegas landmark. Historically, it is known as being the place where Benny Binion would take any bet offered and even would display a million dollars in cash for people to take photos with. Caesars may have stolen (ED: They paid for the name, that’s not stealing) the Horseshoe brand, but that doesn’t mean that Binions should go away. With the Plaza, El Cortez, and Golden Gate getting upgrades, Binions should be next in line to continue the trend.
Excalibur – This place needs so much work I don’t even know where to start. The theme is a killer, as it is distinctly built to be a family oriented place. Since Vegas has moved out of that trend, the theme hinders more than it helps. A fresh coat of paint to bring down the ‘Camelot’ and re-theming the place into a good vs evil knight thing could be a start. However, Excalibur would need a remodel along the lines of the Tropicana to have any chance at relevancy.
Pioneer Club – This is my dark horse candidate. Pioneer Club has one of Vegas’s most iconic signs, Vegas Vic, and yet is no longer even a casino. How sad is it that Vegas Vic now advertises for a gift shop and an ABC store? I would love to see someone buy this place and return it to its former glory and give Vegas Vic the property he so rightly deserves.
It wasn’t too long ago that sports betting meant that you placed a bet at the begging or halftime of a game, you watched the game, and then collected on your win afterwards. Sports betting is one of the few games in the casino that if you are skilled enough, you can win. These types of games are pretty much limited to sports betting, poker, and blackjack. (ED: Craps has better odds than all if you can find 100x odds)
With Cantor Gaming recently announcing that they will be managing the newly remodeled Plaza’s sport book, a revolution in sports betting is taking place. Cantor currently runs the sport books at Tropicana, Cosmopolitan, M Resort, Hard Rock, Venetian, and Palazzo. Cantor provides for live-action betting throughout the sporting event. So if you are watching a basketball game you can bet during the game on whether a player will make an upcoming free throw, or during a football game you can wager on what the next play might be. Basically you can place bets the whole time the game is going through an electronic terminal. (ED: I tried this a couple years ago and didn’t really like it)
This doesn’t change a thing for those who just like to place a bet, take the ticket, and redeem it when the event is over. However, for people who want more excitement when betting, it’s an awesome idea. I played with it some at The Cosmopolitan and I have to say that it is quite addicting. I suspect it won’t be long until we hear about Cantor gaming taking over another sport book.
(ED: I’ve covered a bunch of the Cantor Gaming moves over the past year at Vegas Chatter if you want more.)
The Plaza in downtown Las Vegas is using Fontainebleau’s misfortune to help with their upcoming remodel.
When the Plaza’s 1,037 hotel rooms reopen in September 2011, they will feature top-flight wallpaper, carpet, tile, sofas, chairs, desks, dressers, side tables and bed frames courtesy of the Fontainebleau, the stalled luxury property with an estimated $3.5 billion price tag that was designed to compete against Las Vegas’ swankiest resorts.
I’m sure this was a cheap way to get materials that would probably be out of the price range of the Plaza. I’m sure it will be a nice touch, but as the saying goes you can take the girl out of downtown, but you can’t take the downtown out of the girl.