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 used to travel a lot for work but that’s slowed down since I moved to Las Vegas. I know a lot of you still travel pretty often and I thought that this might be useful. Frequent Travel University (FTU) has a slew of speakers that will offer tips on how to maximize airline and hotel loyalty programs.
Getting the most out of these non-Vegas loyalty programs can help provide free or discounted visits to Vegas. That money is better used in the casino anyway. The Vegas edition of FTU takes place on April 29 and 30 in Downtown Vegas at The D.
You can find some details below and full details on the FTU website. The first 10 people to register with promo code edgeFTU will save $10. The code is good until March 26.
The all-day Manufactured Spend boot camp intensive is sold out, but fear not. For those with interest in MS, there are still sessions on the latest and greatest Manufactured Spend opportunities on both Saturday and Sunday that are included with the FTU Signature Event. Instead of spending the entire day on just one subject, there will be two 1 ½ hour sessions over two days and it also gives you the opportunity to attend a variety of the other sessions available during the weekend. There will be 3 sessions running concurrently during the day so attendees at the FTU Signature Event will be spoilt for choice. Plus, not every session is repeated at every FTU so there is bound to be something new for those who have attended FTU’s before.
Sample sessions include:
— What is it like to live in hotels full time?
— Finding Cheap Premium Fares
— Introduction to Mileage Running: Costs and Benefits
— International Upgrade Methods and Strategies
— Using ExpertFlyer
— Live Award Bookings
— Advanced booking techniques for revenue tickets
— Non-traditional awards and miles
Optional Blackjack tournament – Travel Writers & Industry VIPs vs. Frequent Flyers
On Friday night after the cocktail reception, continue the fun by participating in the first ever FTU charity Blackjack Tournament: Industry VIPs and travel writers versus frequent travelers. This tournament is all about fun. Never played cards before in a casino environment? No worries. This tournament is a great opportunity to play blackjack in a friendly atmosphere. The dealers will be professional casino “Go-Go” dancer dealer/entertainers. It also gives you the chance to compete against some of your favorite travel writers and industry VIPs.
We have great prizes lined up that include up to 50K SPG points courtesy of Starwood Preferred Guest.
Expect lots of fun and some surprises. This is sure to be a must-do event! Tickets for the Blackjack tournament are $50, and all proceeds go towards the InsideFlyer Kiva charity Lending Team. Your ticket also includes $25 in match play coupons that can be used at The D Casino, which makes this not only an amazing opportunity for charity but also a fabulous “deal”. Tickets for the optional Blackjack tournament can be purchased here – https://ftuniversity.com/events/ftu-signature-las-vegas/
You can now use your comp dollars from The D at Le Thai and Bocho (a restaurant I’ve never heard of until now). Le Thai is a favorite of just about everyone who’s open to experiencing Thai food. Great prices help those who might not normally be willing to experiment with this kind of cuisine.
There aren’t many dining options at the casino and that makes this is a nice perk from the Club Dplayers club at The D. Little things like this go a long way to making The D one of the best casino experiences in Downtown Vegas.
Here’s the press release with all the info you can use:
The D Las Vegas, home to award-winning restaurants including Joe Vicari’s Andiamo Italian Steakhouse and American Coney Island, is expanding its guests’ dining experiences through an innovative business partnership with the Downtown Project and Fremont East restaurants Le Thai and Bocho. Effective immediately, members of Club D, the property’s players club, can use their comp dollars toward meals at both of Chef Dan Coughlin’s highly acclaimed Asian eateries. This collaboration marks the first relationship that connects a downtown casino with the Fremont East restaurants.
“By now, I think everyone knows I hand-pick every experience that’s offered to guests of the D Las Vegas. I want only the best for them, and every decision is personal to me,” said Derek Stevens, CEO and owner of the D Las Vegas. “Beyond my passion for this property and our clientele is my deep-rooted support for the Downtown Las Vegas community. Developing this partnership is a win-win; I’m thrilled to expand my guests’ dining options with two of my favorite restaurants, which in turn will drive additional traffic to other downtown businesses.”
Founded by Chef Coughlin, Le Thai (523 Fremont St) and Bocho (124 S 6th St.) both have made their mark as Las Vegas dining staples. Le Thai, inspired by Chef Coughlin’s Thailand-born mother, is renowned for its famous three-color curry, homemade Thai noodle soup, short-rib fried rice, signature waterfall sauce and authentic pad thai – an ode to Coughlin’s grandmother. Down the street, sushi lovers can visit Downtown Project’s Bocho, a traditional Japanese restaurant overseen by Chef Joon-Yong Cho featuring a wide range of sushi, sashimi and bento boxes, as well as private dining and karaoke rooms. Chef Cho ups the ante with innovative sushi offerings like amberjack and ocean trout.
Registering for Club D is free and available to guests ages 21 and over. Members can earn comp dollars by playing slots, table or video games in the D’s thrilling two-story casino. In turn, these can be exchanged to dine at Le Thai and Bocho at the guest’s leisure. Club D members also can enjoy dining, show and room comps at the D; invitations to exclusive events, parties and tournaments; special room rates and more.
Grandissimo was the name of a hotel and casino that Jay Sarno, founder of Caesars Palace and Circus Circus, was thinking about when he retired. The dream never came to fruition and was over after he passed away in 1984.
Gambling Invest’s domain monitoring service uncovered that at the end of July, The D Las Vegas casino became the new owner of several “grandissimo” domains, including grandissimo.net, grandissimovegas.com and grandissimolv.com.
…The whois details of the three domain names were updated in July this year when The D Las Vegas casino replaced Dickinson Wright as the listed owners, but Gambling Invest believes that the Michigan law firm had registered the domains on behalf of Derek and Greg Stevens, the Detroit brothers who control The D and that in January 2014, Dickinson Wright helped obtain a trademark for Grandissimo in relation to restaurant, hotel and entertainment services.
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.
A couple of weeks ago I played a little blackjack with Mark from the 360 Vegas podcast at The D in Downtown Vegas. We had a blast and I had my first winning blackjack session in far too long. My level of perfection with blackjack strategy is about 90%-95% accurate. It’s not perfect but good enough for me.
Mark used a blackjack strategy card as a reference every time he wasn’t sure what the right play was. I haven’t seen someone use a blackjack strategy card in a casino in a while and that’s silly. Blackjack strategy cards are legal to use at the table and cost less than $5 whether you buy in a casino or via amazon (links below).
$5 for blackjack strategy card is a small investment that you should recoup in your first session or two of blackjack, even if you’re playing at a $5 table. Over time you should learn the correct plays without having to use the card. This is a great item to keep on hand in Vegas if you’re unsure how to play blackjack perfectly or you’re drinking a few too many to think straight this comes in handy.
Over time it may not matter mathematically if you or others at the blackjack table play with perfect strategy but in the moment making the wrong play stinks when you lose. Making the wrong play also makes other players cranky.
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.
I was bored last week so I decided to spend a day and night in Downtown Vegas mostly on Fremont Street. Surprisingly, I didn’t gamble much but I had a great time anyway. I’ll be sharing highlights throughout the week.
One of the highlights last week was outside on Fremont Street when I walked into and out of The D. There was a two person band on the 3rd street stage called Bridge. Bridge are two dudes playing hard rock and heavy metal classics on cello.
Bridge isn’t new to Vegas. You may have seen them performing on the Vegas Strip or on Fremont Street at some point in the past couple years. On this mellow Thursday night I caught them performing for tips on the big stage playing songs from Guns N Roses, Metallica and AC/DC.
If you’re an older metalhead you’ll get a kick out of their show. I’m not quite a metalhead but I knew every song they played. There’s definitely some skill here.
You can see a 25 minute set below (there’s much more on the YouTube) and learn more about Bridge on Facebook. If you see the guys in person and like what you here drop ’em a couple bucks for the good times.
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.