In April I wrote a review about the new Station Casinos app for Vegas Chatter. I’ve written a lot of app reviews and I can usually find additional features that will make an app more user-friendly. The Station Casinos app really blew me away simply because it had just about everything a Vegas casino app should have. As I told a friend, you’d be surprised how many Vegas casino apps are completely useless.
Rebecca, the big dawg at Vegas Chatter, sent me a heads up on Saturday that Station Casinos used a quote from the post in their June mailer. This is the first time I’ve seen a business use words from an article I’ve written in their marketing materials. I’m stoked about this so I just wanted to share.
I’m taking a break from being on break to share some cool info. Last week I was a guest on Peter Greenberg Worldwide radio show talking about Las Vegas. I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to share the mic with some great people.
Guests includeVegasChatter‘s Marc Meltzer, Director of the Center for Gaming Research David Schwartz, Robin Leach, and one of the hardest working firemen we know, Clark County Fire Chief Bertral T. Washington.
The process was quick and painless and I got to talk about things I know best – nightclubs, bottle service and cheap dining. The show is about two hours long and there is a nice cross-section of guests talking about different things in Vegas. If you need to hear me and me only just head to 1 hour and 36 minutes. My outro music was “Getting Jiggy With It”. That’s fun.
I stumbled onto Mississippi Stud Poker last year. The night is a little hazy but if I remember correctly a friend and I were stumbling through Harrah’s looking for a low limit table game to play while we had a few drinks. Even though the table may have a $5 minimum you can have as much as $55 in play at a time. We had no idea what the game was but there were some open seats so we sat down. A couple purple chips later and I was sucked in.
Let’s not get twisted – Mississippi Stud Poker is as awful as it is awesome.
The house advantage on Mississippi Stud Poker is almost 5% according to Wizard of Odds. By contrast a good game of blackjack will have a house advantage around 1%. Mississippi Stud Poker isn’t a smart game to play but it can be damn fun. The game has huge swings – usually to the downside. However, the jackpots hit more often than you’d expect.
Earlier this year my friend hit 4 of a kind twice in one 7 or 8 hour session. 4 of a kind in Mississippi Stud Poker pays 40-1 and you can have up to 3 bets of $15 – each of which get paid 40-1. This isn’t chump change as you can see from the photo of her winnings on the first 4 of a kind. There may have been some yelling, running and jumping around afterwards.
Moving forward to last weekend I noticed that there are more Mississippi Stud Poker tables in casinos than ever before. This used to be the kind of game where there was a maximum of only one table in most casinos. A few larger casinos might have two. More casinos seem to be offering Mississippi Stud Poker now than ever before. The casinos that were already offering Mississippi Stud Poker are beginning to have multiple tables.
There are so many new businesses opening up in Downtown Vegas that it’s difficult to keep track of. The changes range from casino renovations to new bar and restaurant openings. I’m always excited by the shiny new things in Las Vegas but I got way too excited when Vegas Chatter went the preview of the Downtown Grand.
If you’re into Downtown Vegas but not as in touch as you like I recommend following a few websites.
Vegas Chatter – They’re a legit press outlet located in Las Vegas but they’re not mainstream media. They go to the press events so they have the mainstream info covered but they also have a lot of people on the street writing for them (including me) to give first hand views, pictures and opinions. Follow on twitter for all of their Vegas stories plus first hand accounts and follow the downtown Vegas tag for just the downtown articles.
Fremont Street Bars – They have all the news you could imagine one the bars on Fremont Street. There have been a lot of bar openings so there’s a lot to keep track of. While 90% or so of the website is focused on bars they also have news restaurants and larger projects. The focus of Fremont Street Bar is it’s strength. There’s no news from anywhere else in Las Vegas distracting from Downtown Vegas. Follow on twitter or their RSS feed for the news.
Joe Downtown – Joe Downtown covers Downtown Vegas for the Las Vegas Sun. Since the Sun is a mainstream newspaper for all of Las Vegas you’ll find coverage of everything from government to what’s happening in the casinos. It’s a nice mix of what’s happening in downtown Vegas that you won’t find on Vegas Chatter or Fremont Street Bars. Follow Downtown Joe page on the Las Vegas Sun or on twitter.
Let it be known I am no longer working for the Venetian. It would be an understatement to say that my feelings about the termination are acrimonious.
…I started with the Sands corporation on April 30, 2012. My job title was Director of Gaming Mathematics. Physically, I worked in the Venetian, but my job was at the corporate level, pertaining to all things table games in all the Sands casinos worldwide.
Venetian and Palazzo both have some of the best blackjack that you will find on the Las Vegas strip. Specifically, Palazzo is my favorite place to play blackjack on the Vegas strip.
I’m not sure if Mr. Shackleford is the reason for the good blackjack, but I’m sure it didn’t hurt. The rest of their games are strip average at best. Venetian and Palazzo’s 3:2 blackjack dealt from a shoe for all denominations stand out from the Continuous Shuffle Machines at MGM properties and the 6:5 blackjack at Caesars properties.
I hope Mr. Shackleford’s departure from Las Vegas Sands doesn’t mean that the blackjack will go away too. Even though I don’t know him I wish Mr. Shackleford the best.
It’s true, last week I was rockin at Rampart Casino. I’m a fairly regimented person. When I find something I like, I go there pretty often. Generally, I’m not the exploring type. I actually plan my exploration, like I did with my trip to Laughlin that I detailed on Vegas Chatter.
Well that pattern took a slight change last week. I needed to take in a beautiful day and decided to grab a smoothie and explore the Vegas burbs (Summerlin) until I finished my smoothie. Besides finding about 5 different golf courses and a road that just stopped being created (pics soon) I drove by Rampart Casino.
Rampart Casino is next to Suncoast Casino and north of where I live. I rarely head that way, so I never think to go there. When I was was exploring local casinos I didn’t consider it since it’s not associated with any casinos near the strip like Station Casinos (Red Rock Casino) or Boyd Gaming casinos (Suncoast).
After driving by Rampart Casino, I decided I’d check it out another day. Why not? It’s close even if it’s not a direction I normall travel. That night I looked at vpFREE to see what kind of video poker games they have. They had 10 play nickel 9/6 Jacks or Better. I’ve never seen that before and although there’s not much money making, but there’s little at risk.
While checking out a new casino I always drop a little in a machine or table to see what kind of offers I get. I thought maybe I could get a Royal Flush in honor of Denver Gambler’s quest (#royalflush2012) for one since I’m playing 10 games at once. Good times for all. As you can see from the image above and video below, I got a Royal Flush!
I actually changed from Jacks or Better to Bonus Poker but I got the Royal Flush! As you might expect, 4,000 nickels is not nearly as awesome as $1’s, but I’ll happily take it! That $200 will pay for all the smoothies I can handle. Haha.
My venture to Rampart was more to get a vibe of the casino. The outside is very old and classy looking. I thought the inside may be the same. The decor at Rampart Casino is somewhere between 1920’s and 1980’s. I’m not sure if that’s on purpose, but the casino reminded me of some of my favorite New York City classic steakhouses. Comfortable, but not modern.
The casino itself is tiny, but not much smaller than the other casinos in the area. There is a lot of video poker throughout the casino. There are games I’ve never seen, which is always fun. There are new and older slots and there were lot of people.
I’d say 98% of the people I saw at Rampart Casino were over 60 years old and smoking about 40% of those people had walkers and/or oxygen tanks. Rampart Casino felt like the Atlantic City casino where people go to die…and I liked it.
Even though the place was overly smokey, everyone was nice and many of the people playing knew each other from the area. Everyone was having a good time and in turn I was having a good time. The smoke was so bad that I had to throw my clothes in the washing machine and jump in the shower when I came home from (no joke) but I enjoyed my visit to Rampart Casino.
I don’t see Rampart Casino replacing Red Rock casino as my local casino, but it’s a nice alternative. If it wasn’t for the fun video poker games (full pay 10 play and below) that I won’t find anywhere else, I probably wouldn’t return. That said, I’ll be back at Rampart Casino when I’m bored and need a video poker fix.
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.
The reason for my mini stay at home Las Vegas vacation began because I wanted to see Queens of the Stoneageat the Boulevard Pool at Cosmopolitan. I haven’t seen this band in years and I figured that the setting of the Boulevard Pool on a warm summer night would be amazing. As soon as I bought tickets I immediately went to Caesars.com to get a room because this isn’t the kind of band I want to see sober and I’d rather not pay for a cab – most rooms are cheaper or even free. The best I could muster was a room at Harrah’s, which wasn’t so bad after the upgrade.
After the room was booked I mentioned my excitement about how awesome the show would be to a friend and they booked a flight from the east coast. The game was on! What started as one night of raging became 4 nights of raging. R A G E !
I’ve seen Queens of the Stoneage before but it’s been a while. In the last year I’ve gotten back into their catalog. In fact, I’m listening to R as I write this. Side note: I wrote a comparison between the Boulevard Pool and watching a band at the pool at Red Rock Casino on Vegas Chatter last week and the main difference is the setting.
Watching Queens of the Stoneage (QOTSA) on the Cosmopolitan rooftop was awesome. The views we stunning and the sound wasn’t bad – especially for an outside venue and the setlist was great! They even played some songs I forgot about (like “Little Sister”).
Regular John Avon The Lost Art of Keeping a Secret 3’s & 7’s If Only Sick, Sick, Sick Better Living Through Chemistry In My Head Into the Hollow Make It Wit Chu Little Sister (Intro Jam) Burn the Witch First It Giveth Go With the Flow You Can’t Quit Me Baby Encore: No One Knows A Song for the Dead
It was almost like a greatest hits set, but it was kind of what I wanted. I got lost in the show and atmosphere a couple of times. Once alone when I found a seat towards the back of the pools looking at the stage with The Harmon in the background. Nice advertising for Viva Elvis.
I had another moment again when I was up closer watching the show and taking in the Vegas strip skyline. To be super honest, it was moving. That’s what Cosmopolitan has been banking with everything they do and the Boulevard Pool is a success there. I rarely have moments like this so this night will remain special for a long time to come.
One of the most stunning parts of watching a band on the Boulevard Pool at Cosmo is the marquee. It’s a great piece for the bands to have at their sides when they play because it makes watching the band easier if there are a lot of people or you just want to be in the back. The big screen is viewable for just about anyone on the strip (no audio though) and is visually stunning if you don’t want to be close enough to see the band from stage.
Speaking of being in the back, the Cosmo flickr has a bunch of professional pictures from the show which are way better than my iPhone pictures. If you’re into concert pictures you’ll notice there’s nothing take from less than 200 feet away from the stage. Still nice pics, but that’s the difference between nice and awesome and ZOMG!
Anyway, the people there to watch the band were cool, but that only accounted for about about 40-60% of the crowd. This show was easy to spot who was there to see the band and who was just there. QOTSA is the kind of band that is definitely more fun to watch with people that are into the music as they get into the music and everyone feeds off of each others energy.
Less cool was the fact that beer prices were about 20-30% higher than in the casino. My can of Fat Tire was $10. I don’t think I’ve ever paid more than $7 for a beer. My Stoli and Soda was about $13. I’m pretty sure that’s the price of Grey Goose at Book and Stage. I drank for “free” at Harrah’s beforehand so this wasn’t too big of a deal. (I say “free” because I know my gambling spend allows me the Diamond Lounge access)
The most uncool feeling was the feeling that the casino didn’t want any rock people hanging out after the show. Everywhere we went after the show had some kind of AWFUL pop-dance-remix music pumping. I get that people like that kind of music, but it would have been nice to be eased back into that after the high an awesome rock show. Especially since the casino usually plays much cooler music. I can only imagine that indie snobs going to the Cosmo to see bands will never return or would just leave right away without spending money. I ended up walking to Planet Hollywood to get a cab back to Harrah’s since the line was at 20-30 minutes.
Bottom line is that QOTSA was an amazing show, but it came across that the club (Cosmo) wanted a different customer that evening. I’m not sure “the curious class” isn’t being taken over by “the douchey class.” More on that another time.
A couple weeks ago I had the opportunity to go to the G2E expo in Las Vegas. As I detailed on Vegas Chatter it was a great experience. I was able to see some of the behind the scenes things in the casino industry that I’ve always been curious about. It’s nice to see one of the things I overheard confirmed.
Last week’s annual Global Gaming Expo (G2E) saw a 15 percent increase in attendance from last year, with over 26,000 attending and 520 exhibitors.
I’m like having my observations confirmed. If you are curious about the gaming expo check my wrap up. If you haven’t seen the awesome new Hangover slot check it out too.