The casino industry’s largest conventions, Global Gaming Expo (aka G2E), happens every year in late September (early October next year). The convention gives people that work in the industry a chance to discuss the state of business and share tips. Unless you’re a casino dork like me the convention is fairly mundane and probably like any other industry convention. Things change for the better when you walk into the expo itself.
The expo floor at G2E is where businesses offer their products for casinos to buy. Businesses hawking their products range from ATM manufacturers to food companies to slot machine and other gaming companies. While it’s interesting to see which brand of coffee may be served in the casinos next year it’s much more fun to see which games will be coming to casinos soon.
I’d estimate that 40% of the G2E expo floor is occupied by slot machine manufacturers showing off the brightest new games for casinos to purchase. Sneak previews are great but being able to play the cool new games is even better. Some of the more popular slot machine themes that were previewed included at G2E included games for Avatar, The Walking Dead and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.
Some of the slot machines, like The Walking Dead, won’t be in Las Vegas casinos until 2014. Thankfully that’s not the case for all of the slot machines. The Avatar and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off are already in casinos. Some other games are also making their way to casinos in Las Vegas.
Last week we looked at playing games with the best odds to maximize your money spent at the casino. You might have to raise how much you wager per hand but you’ll be getting the best potential returns. While you may get better odds for your dollars by playing a higher denomination you may not want to have that much at risk at once. If that’s the case you can turn your head to the lower limits games. Lower limits gaming isn’t as easy to find as it once was but you can find it if you know where to go.
The lowest limit game that you’ll find anywhere in Las Vegas is at the Riviera. The Riviera recently introduced $1 blackjack. For the right to play $1 blackjack you’re giving away a some potential returns since this game only pays 6:5 on blackjack. In the short term this is $1.50 vs. $1.20 for each time you get blackjack. Over time that would add up but it probably isn’t much for a few hours at the table. Chances are that you’ll probably tip the cocktail waitress more on drinks than you’ll lose with the lesser odds.
The $1 blackjack at Riviera is always open. Even though it never closes the table will probably be busy on the weekends. The good news is that if you don’t feel like waiting for a seat to open up you can find other low limit games at the Riv.
Fine dining and great shows are big attraction to visiting Las Vegas but there is one constant that has always been a draw – the casino. Even though there is casino gaming in just about every state in the country today, Las Vegas is still seen as the gaming capital of the United States. Casino gambling was born in Las Vegas and there are few places where you can have luxury hotels, fine dining, 5 star spas to go along with the casino games.
We always want to get the most bang for our buck but that’s not always available when playing the least expensive casino games. You’ll usually have to risk more money in order to maximize your dollars spent. For example you can play $10 blackjack at many casinos on the Vegas Strip but you’ll be playing a game that’s much worse than if you played a $25 blackjack game.
Many of the $10 blackjack games will only pay 6:5 for blackjack ($6 for every $5 bet) while the $25 games will return 3:2 ($3 for every $2 bet) when you get blackjack. You can look at a blackjack calculator (like this one on Wizard of Odds) and see that the 3:2 blackjack game has a much lower house advantage.
Football is the most popular sport in the Vegas sportsbooks. There is more money wagered on pro and college football than all other sports combined. Beyond the casino fantasy football is a huge business. All of this helps the ratings on TV where football games are continually top of the ratings for all sports.
We’re almost at the halfway point in the college and professional football seasons but it’s not too late to get into the action. Between the rest of the regular seasons, playoffs and bowl games there are plenty of games remaining.
Technology is changing how we live our lives every day and casinos have realized this. We’re not gambling the way our grandparents did. We don’t want to be tied down to one thing. We’re constantly on the move and casino gambling wants to go with us wherever we may be.
Mobile sports wagering was introduced to Nevada a couple years ago and it has quickly caught on. It’s almost commonplace for a sports bettor to have a sports wagering account and app. Sure we can watch the games in the sportsbook but we never even have to walk into the counter to place a wager. We can also place the wagers while anywhere in the entire state and watch whenever we’re done with a show or zipline ride.
It’s not often that you can get something for nothing in Las Vegas but it is possible. For example, some of the off-strip hotels offer free shuttle services for you to explore their properties. On face value you’re getting a free ride to a different hotel with no strings attached. The ultimate goal for the hotel is to entice you to visit or stay at the property. Sounds like a fair exchange and a potential win-win for the customer and hotel.
The same can be said when you sign up for a casino players club. The casino uses the players club to offers discounts and complimentary items in exchange for adding your name for their marketing database and for the ability to track how and where you spend your money. This is very valuable information for the casinos. Some casino players clubs will lure you with deep discounts on hotel rooms meanwhile other properties have to add freebies to entice you to share your information.
Casino players clubs have evolved over the years in a manner similar to the way the casino has evolved into a casino hotel & resort. Once used to track how much you gamble, players clubs can now track how much you spend in every area of a casino. Players club cards are now more similar to loyalty club cards at supermarkets than the slot club cards of yesteryear. Like other loyalty programs casino hotel players clubs offer various rewards and benefits based on how you spend your money.
Players clubs are a good deal for both the casino resort and the customer. Casino resort players clubs enable them to follow every dollar you spend on their property in exchange for comp points and discounts on the things you use at the resort. It’s a win-win. The casino bean counters can follow the dollars in exchange for discounts or free items on their property. The exchange creates mutual loyalty for both the customer and the casino hotel.
Not all casinos offer comps for all money spent but a few years ago The Venetian’s players club, Grazie, started to credit players club accounts when for all money spent. Other players clubs in Las Vegas like Total Rewards and MGM Resorts’ MLife have since followed.
It’s football season! We know this because a new pro football website, TheMMQB.com, debuted this week and because NFL teams begin training camp this week. The Hall Of Fame game will be the first NFL preseason game and that takes place on Sunday August, 4. The first regular season NFL game is a month later on September 5 with the following Sunday being the first full day of NFL football. It’s time to get busy planning Sunday’s for the rest of the year!
All sportsbooks are great.
Some sportsbooks in Las Vegas are better than others but the concept of hanging out, betting on games, watching all 8 to 15 of those games at once without paying a cover charge is undeniably great. Most people can’t do this at home and with sports fans from all over the country congregated in a small space, why would you want to? The fun in casinos always provides a good time but the camaraderie in the sportsbook is unlike any else you’ll find in any casino. For sports fans like me a Sunday in the sportsbook used to be one of the main reasons to visit Vegas.
Having your buddies over for a poker night? Tired of betting with matchsticks and fighting over the last remaining can of lager? Follow our five step plan to make your weeknight poker feel more like a bachelors weekend in Vegas.
Step 1 – The Cards
You can’t play cards without a deck, but not all decks are the same. Don’t use a set of old, beat-up playing cards as they just make you look cheap. Buy a brand new deck and break the seal in front of your friends for a professional touch, or invest in a set of more expensive – but far more durable – plastic playing cards for that true Vegas feel.
Step 2 – The Table
If you are using the dining table, make sure it is covered with a cloth that doesn’t rumple or catch the cards. Otherwise you are just going accidentally expose cards. If you can’t afford to buy an off-the-shelf poker table, there are many websites out there that show how you can cheaply build your own. At the very least, buy some nice felt to cover the dining room table with.
If you’re a sports fan and a gambling man, Las Vegas can seem like a sports bettor’s dream. On the famous Las Vegas Strip there is an amazing array of great casinos and hotels to choose from, and they all have some type of a sports book. That said, there are good sports books, bad ones, and the plain old average or even mediocre. The good news is that every so often there is a truly great sports book. The Venetian is one of those rare casino hotels on the Strip that can actually brag about having an absolutely fantastic sports book.
There are several reasons The Venetian Race & Sports Book operated by Cantor Gaming gets high grades. One is great free drink service. During some major sporting events you might be required to put down a certain bet level, but many patrons have reported that as long as the sports bettor is polite, they pretty much get as many free drinks as they want. The service is outstanding, the individuals taking bets are very polite, and the TV spread is fantastic. The “small” flat screen televisions on the side would make most men ecstatic if they had one in their house. The 3 large screens over six feet tall are just bonus.
Enduring folk wisdom claims that slot machines near a casino’s entry door pay better than those deeper within. A former vice-president at the Tropicana hotel in Las Vegas once said that their entryway machines and those nearest the elevators paid more freely because they lured customers into not only visiting the casino, but staying overnight when they vacationed in Vegas.
Many people believe the casinos still adhere to such practices, but it may be an inaccurate perception. Early slot machines, also known as pokies, operated using mechanical reels and were vulnerable to fraud. Further, each reel originally held ten symbols on each of the three reels, allowing for a potential 1,000 possible outcomes. Because a jackpot spin would happen every thousand times it was played, jackpot sizes were also limited. Even though the number of symbols on each reel was more than doubled in later versions, the odds remained limited to about one jackpot payout for every 10,000 spins.
Tourists that visit the Vegas strip are generally looking for fine dining, big name shows, awesome nightclubs with a little gambling here and there. The downtown Vegas crowd is different. Yes, there are good places to grab a bite downtown but you’re not going to find celebrity chefs posting up at The Plaza. Think about it this way; You’ll find the best $6 pancakes in the world at DuPar’s inside the Golden Gate Casino while you’ll probably find one of the best steaks at SW at Wynn Las Vegas. The difference is that the steak will run you about $50 at SW. The choices of dining is subjective but the point isn’t. People that visit both parts of Vegas are different and that’s a great thing.
Let’s get technical for a minute. Gaming revenue still makes up the majority of income for Downtown Vegas casinos. This hasn’t been the case on the Vegas strip since 1999. If you visit a casino downtown you’ll see plenty of people gambling not waiting in line for a club. Some of those people are tourists in town to blow off steam, some of those are just playing there because they’re a little older and don’t feel comfortable being on the strip and some will be the smart gambler that knows where to find the best gambling odds.
If you haven’t been to Las Vegas in the past year you may not know about the major transformation happening to
the Vegas strip. O’Sheas was closed last year so that Caesars Entertainment could build their open air mall area in the middle of the strip called The Linq. The Linq will open in December with a host of new shopping and dining options but without a casino. While new things to do on the strip are cool, low rollers that frequent Las Vegas have been saddened by losing one of their favorite dive casinos.
If you going to Las Vegas you don’t have to spend any money for a chance to win big. All you need is some good old fashion slot promotions and a little luck.
$100 Free Slot Play at The Cosmopolitan: Play your favorites slots in our casino, and if you lose $100 in a day, we will reimburse you with $100 in Identity Play. Just bring your card to the Identity Membership Desk after your loss to receive your $100 in Identity Play. Players can receive $100 reimbursement one time only and the slot loss must be greater than or equal to $100 on that calendar date. Cannot be combined with any other offer. Available to new Identity enrollments only. Offer only redeemable once. Visit the Identity Membership Desk for more info. more info
$1,000 Slot Rebate at Palms: Participant’s actual rated slot loss up to $1,000 will be reimbursed in Free Slot Play. Loss must be within the first 24 hours of sign up. You must be a new Club Palms member 21 years of age or older in order to participate in this promotion. Residents of Clark County are not eligible for this promotion. Rebates are staggered over time see website for detailed scheduled. more info
$200 Slot Rebate at Tropicana: On the first day you activate your Trop Plus Players Club card, they’ll reimburse your losses on casino slots up to $200! It’s all part of there Even the Odds® promotion. more info
TIP: For a chance to play completely free I suggest you play only the amount the casino rebates. Then use your comped play on low jackpot 25 cent machines. This should give you the best chance to cash out with your full rebate amount.
Mesa Grill at Caesars Palace
The Aces of Comedy series
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