Category Archives: Las Vegas Casinos

Major Overhaul of Palace Station Casino Commences

There are big things in the works for the off-Strip Palace Station, and some of those plans are well under way.

We popped in at Palace Station, but won’t be able to share any photos because, according to a security guard, “Photos of the construction site aren’t allowed.”

Palace Station construction

Suck it, asshats. All due respect.

Seriously? The site is readily viewable by the public, 24/7.

Well, we’re nothing if not respectful of authority, so we’re not going to share more than a dozen or so photos of the site.

Palace Station construction

Looks like somebody’s getting a fancy new video screen.

Oh, and here’s some video of the construction, mainly because our contempt for overreaching casino security guards is exceeded only by our aversion to casinos that swap out our liquor brand.

Palace Station, owned by Red Rock Resorts (also known as Station Casinos), is currently adding a new porte cochere and bingo hall to its casino, and they’re just getting started.

Improvements will include a new, 27-floor hotel tower, a movie theater, bowling alley and upgraded pool area. It’s believed the hotel’s railroad theme will go away in favor of a more modern design. (Think Red Rock Resort, which is a good thing.)

Palace Station trains

Time to bid farewell to the choo-choos.

In a future phase of the transformation, Palace Station is expected to also add a new buffet and two additional restaurants, as well as additional convention space.

Yes, convention space is incredibly boring, but it’s also lucrative, so expect to see more. Aria even closed a Cirque du Soleil show, “Zarkana,” to make more room for conventioneers, and Riviera was demolished to expand the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Thanks to our friends at Eater Vegas for ferreting out all the details of the changes at Palace Station.

Palace Station construction

Why all the additional space for bingo, you ask? Station Casinos has a long history with bingo, and Palace Station originally opened as Bingo Palace in 1976.

Misguided security guards aside, Palace Station remains a great place to play. Despite being five minutes from the Las Vegas Strip, it tends to appeal to locals, which means better table minimums, better odds and better overall value.

Enjoy a few more photos of the construction happening at Palace Station, which we definitely didn’t take after being informed photography isn’t permitted, because that would be wrong.

Palace Station Renovations Begin

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Everything You Need to Know About Stadium Blackjack

Stadium gambling is now a thing in Las Vegas casinos, and we figured it was time to check out Stadium Blackjack at Venetian.

In Stadium Blackjack, up to 44 players compete with one of two live dealers in, wait for it, stadium-style seating.

Stadium blackjack Venetian

Oh, all right, it’s nothing like a stadium. Just play along.

As with most games in a casino, Stadium Blackjack accomplishes a couple of key goals for The Man.

Casinos make more money when labor costs are lowered, and when there are more hands dealt. Since casino games have a built-in advantage for the house, more hands means more profit.

Here’s how Stadium Blackjack works at Venetian Las Vegas.

There are 44 seats for players. Each player has their own terminal, and selects which of the two dealers they want to play against, blue or red.

Once a dealer is selected, the player has 30 seconds between hands to place a bet. A big benefit of Stadium Blackjack is the $5 minimum. Most standard games at Venetian have $15 minimums.

Stadium blackjack Venetian

Get ready to play blackjack with 43 of your new best friends.

Once bets are made, each screen reads “No More Bets.”

Then, three cards are dealt from a six-deck, continuous “smart shuffle” machine.

Two cards go to the players, one to the dealer. One of the intriguing aspects of Stadium Blackjack is all the players get the same two cards. (That is, all the players who chose the red dealer get the same two cards. All those who chose the blue dealer get different cards.)

Now, each player makes their own decision about what to do next. Players can hit, stand, double down or split.

Here’s where the game veers into new territory. Since everyone has the same two cards, and can make their own decisions about what happens next, additional “Community” cards are needed. Community cards go to players until all the players have chosen to stand (or have been eliminated because they busted). After all the players’ hands are locked, additional community cards go to the dealer until the hand has a result.

Stadium blackjack Venetian

The “Community” cards (upper left) are really the only perplexing part, but just let the dealer do their thing.

Example time!

Say the first cards are dealt and all the players get a queen and a king, the dealer gets a five. That’s 20 for the players, so everyone’s going to stand. (Feel free to split them, though, that’s part of what makes Stadium Blackjack so fun, no peer pressure.) The dealer takes additional cards and busts. Everyone wins, cheering ensues, annoying all the players in the nearby poker room in the best possible way.

Here’s a more complicated example.

Players get a king and six, dealer gets a queen. Some players stand on 16, some hit, right? (You’re supposed to hit.) The players who choose “Hit” on their display get another card (a “Community” card). Again, those who “Stand” don’t get another card. Each player is doing their own thing. Say, that next player card is a two. Everybody stands with 18. But the fun part is you don’t have to! You can “Hit” again. Only after all the players have finished does the dealer then complete their hand and a result is shown.

Stadium blackjack Venetian

If Stadium Blackjack isn’t your thing, there’s stadium baccarat nearby. Again, $5 minimums are hard to pass up on The Strip.

A lot of this happens on the dealer’s display. Players just see their own hand and how it’s stacking up against the dealer.

Once the hand is done, all the cards go back into the shuffler and the fun begins again.

So, that’s a long-winded way of saying, “It’s just like regular blackjack.” The fact others have the same two opening cards, or how dealers decide which cards are communal, is rather irrelevant. It’s you against the dealer.

Let’s get into what’s really important about Stadium Blackjack, the pros and cons.

First, the pros. Stadium Blackjack is great for groups and couples! Where else in Las Vegas can you and 43 friends all play blackjack at once? During our visit, the majority of players were couples.

Again, low table minimums. That $5 minimum is tempting and it never gets raised, even if the game is busy.

Also, no glares from other players if you do something stupid. Stadium Blackjack is anonymous, and players make their own decisions.

Another pro for us is the machine adds up your cards. We hate math, so this is a great aspect of the game.

We also like that you can take a break between hands, sitting out then jumping back in at any time.

There are some drawbacks to Stadium Blackjack, but opinions vary about how important these cons are.

The rate of play, if you play every hand, is fast. After you get your cards, you have 10 seconds to decide whether you’d like to hit or stand. That’s a lot of pressure! If you do nothing, the machine automatically stands. It won’t hit or double or split for you, though. More hands means you can lose more quickly, but it also means you’ll win more quickly when you’re on a lucky streak.

It’s interesting to note that while the game is called “Stadium Blackjack” on the player terminals, it’s called “Rapid Blackjack” on the dealer’s screen.

Another potential downside is Stadium Blackjack pays 6-to-5, rather than 3-to-2. Then again, that’s true of the majority of blackjack games on the Las Vegas Strip.

Also, serious blackjack players dislike six deck, continuous shuffling machines. Card counting is impossible with such machines.

Stadium blackjack Venetian

Another look at the layout. Make a bet, hit or stand, rake in the big bucks.

That’s about it. Each display has a bunch of other buttons, but probably the most important for first-time players is “Help.” Beyond the two people dealing the cards, there’s another dealer that roams the floor and helps players with questions.

There’s a button for dealer tips, another to call for service, one to “Re-Bet” and others. There’s also a button so players can see the game in Chinese.

There are a couple of side bets as well, Royal Match 21 and Bet the Set 21. Blackjack side bets tend to be sucker bets, but only if they don’t hit!

Stadium blackjack Venetian

Side bets are for entertainment value only. Don’t go nuts.

Overall, Stadium Blackjack is a fun new twist on blackjack, and its social component could make it a draw for groups seeking to gamble together.

If you’d like to know more about Stadium Blackjack, check out these stories from VegasFanboy.com and our bud Marc Meltzer. We also talked about Stadium Blackjack on the Vital Vegas Podcast, if you’re into that kind of thing.

Our first story about stadium gambling (at Palazzo) was way back in 2013, and we didn’t have the best time. While we didn’t win playing Stadium Blackjack, it wasn’t a bad experience.

Let us know what you think of Stadium Blackjack. Some believe it’s the future of casino gambling. For us, interacting with the dealer is often half the fun of playing, so unless we were with a group of friends, we’d probably bite the bullet and find a traditional, higher limit table.

Got questions? Ask away!

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15 Las Vegas Casinos Once Named Something Else

In the grand scheme of things, Las Vegas hasn’t been around that long. It has managed to cover a lot of ground when it comes to the names of its casinos, though.

Casinos are bought, sold, rebranded, imploded and rebuilt. Along the way, they often change names.

Here, then, are a hastily slapped-together batch of Las Vegas casinos formerly named something else. And in some cases, several something elses.

1. Planet Hollywood Was Tally Ho

That’s right, Planet Hollywood was originally the Tally Ho. After that, the hotel was called King’s Crown, then the more familiar Aladdin Resort & Casino. Are we having fun yet, we asked, rhetorically?

Planet Hollywood

We get the weird feeling we mainly wrote this blog post to show off some of our casino photos.

2. Westgate Was the International

The hotel we now know as Westgate opened in 1969 as the International Hotel. For years, it was known as the Las Vegas Hilton. For a minute, it was LVH, or Las Vegas Hotel and Casino. Hey, naming things is hard.

Westgate

We were there the day the LVH’s letters came down and the Westgate sign went up.

3. SLS Las Vegas Was Sahara

SLS Las Vegas is a relatively recent development. For nearly 60 years, 1952 to 2011, it was the Sahara Hotel and Casino. You’ll never guess which we like more, “hotel” or “casino.”

Sahara

Some days we sort of miss the Sahara’s fancy porte-cochere.

4. Harrah’s Was Holiday Casino

Never heard of Holiday Casino? Well, you’re in good company. The Holiday Casino came to be in 1973, thanks to Shelby and Claudine Williams, former owners of a classic Vegas casino, the Silver Slipper. Harrah’s got its name in 1992.

Harrah's Las Vegas

The Holiday casino had a riverboat theme, while Harrah’s has a Mardi Gras theme. Someday, we hope to do a story about themes that were formerly other themes.

5. MGM Grand Was Marina Hotel

What’s now on big-ass hotel, MGM Grand, got its start as the Marina Hotel and Casino. The Marina opened in 1975. Later, the hotel was called the MGM-Marina Hotel. The Marina closed in 1990, but still exists as the west wing of the MGM Grand.

MGM Grand

MGM Grand is the largest hotel in the United States. If you slept in all 5,044 of the rooms at MGM Grand, all in one night, you would have both multiple restraining orders and severe chafing.

6. The D Was Sundance Hotel

Lots of folks know downtown’s D Las Vegas was previously a casino called Fitzgerald’s. Before that, though, it was the Sundance Hotel. The Sundance opened in 1980 on land owned by a mobster named Moe Dalitz. Later, Sundance became The Fitz, and eventually it was owned by Don Barden, the first African-American casino owner in Las Vegas.

Fitzgerald's

How weird is it we appear to have never taken a photo of the exterior of Fitzgerald’s, but we somehow have a photo of the carpet?

7. Stratosphere Was Vegas World

Las Vegas eccentric Bob Stupak whipped up the idea of the Stratosphere as an addition to his Vegas World casino. At first, he wanted the Strat to look like the Eiffel Tower, but the site was too narrow. While impressive, the Stratosphere was designed to be much taller. The FAA got their undies in a bunch, so the height was decreased to its current 1,149 feet.

Stratosphere

You sort of can’t miss it.

8. Bally’s Was MGM Grand

Stay with us, now. The site where Bally’s sits was, at first, Three Coins Motel. Then, it was the Bonanza Hotel and Casino and later, New Bonanza Hotel and Casino. MGM Grand opened on the site in 1973. The hotel was sold to Bally Manufacturing in 1986, hence the name. It’s now owned by Caesars Entertainment.

Ballys

Bally’s, back when it had some bling.

9. Cromwell Was Barbary Coast

Caesars Entertainment owns the Cromwell, too. Way back when, a place called Empey’s Desert Villa sat on the land. In 1979, Barbary Coast came to be, it later became Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall and Saloon. Before the Cromwell name was finalized, the casino was going to be called Gansevoort. That name was tanked when regulators discovered connections between a Gansevoort Hotels investor, Arik Kislin, and the Russian mob. Good times.

Cromwell

Barbary Coast cleaned up real nice.

10. The Linq Hotel & Casino Was Flamingo Capri Motel

That’s right. At its inception, what’s now the Linq was the Flamingo Capri. In time, the resort became the Imperial Palace. It was named The Quad from 2012 to 2014. Funny story, mainly involving the word “oopsie.”

Linq hotel las vegas

The Linq swallowed the former O’Sheas. O’Sheas was originally called, well, O’Sheas. One less thing to memorize.

11. Golden Gate Was Hotel Nevada

Golden Gate, in downtown Las Vegas, is about as far back as Vegas goes. Its address is One Fremont Street, in fact. In 1906, it opened as Hotel Nevada, then became Sal Sagev Hotel and Casino. That’s Las Vegas spelled backwards. Told you naming things is hard. It got the name Golden Gate in 1955.

Golden Gate Las Vegas

Warned you about the showing off thing.

12. Casino Royale Was Nob Hill

Technically, the casino’s current name is Best Western Plus Casino Royale. Say that five times fast. From 1979-1992, the place was called Nob Hill. It closed in 1990, and Casino Royale opened in 1992, becoming a favorite Strip destination for value-seeking low rollers.

Casino Royale

Casino Royale isn’t your typical Strip casino. The words “White Castle” spring to mind.

13. Delano Was THEhotel

God, how we despise that affectation, THEhotel. Mandalay Bay’s sister hotel isn’t technically a “casino,” but we sure weren’t going to create a list with just 14 things on it, so there you have it.

TheHotel

It seems like they were screaming the wrong part.

14. Downtown Grand Was Lady Luck

Downtown Grand was, at first, the Lady Luck Hotel & Casino. Against all odds, Downtown Grand opened on Oct. 27, 2013.

Downtown Grand

We were there as Lady Luck transformed into Downtown Grand. We have clearly been around.

15. Hooters Casino Hotel Was Howard Johnson Hotel

If there were an award for “Casinos Previously Named Something Else,” Hooters would need a bigger mantle. What began as Howard Johnson Hotel eventually became Paradise Hotel, 20th Century, the Treasury, Pacifica and Polynesian. At the end of that run, it was renamed Hotel San Remo, and that one stuck, at least for awhile (1989 to 2006).

Hooters

The Hooters rewards club is called Rewards Club. Told you naming things is hard.

Sin City’s collection of casinos previously called something else continues to grow. Sometime in 2017, for example, Monte Carlo will be called Park MGM. The now-closed Las Vegas Club will get a new name, too.

Serious fans of Las Vegas have to keep on their toes. Or have access to the Internet. Whichever.

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Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority Unveils New (Wait for It) Parking Lot

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) recently sent out a news release where it excitedly announced the unveiling of a new parking lot. No, really.

The LVCVA’s new Diamond Lot, of course, is better known to Las Vegas fans as the site of the former Riviera casino.

This is what the lot looked like in May 2016.

Riviera Las Vegas

Riviera resort, just before it went on an aggressive weight loss program.

Months of work and a dozen dismantled and imploded buildings later, here’s a look at what “progress” has wrought.

Riviera demolition

It wasn’t paradise, but it’s definitely been paved to put up a parking lot.

Yep, it’s a parking lot all right. A parking lot with 3,100 spaces, to be specific.

The new lot is more than just a parking lot, of course. It’s also an outdoor exhibition space, and part of a larger, much-needed expansion to the Las Vegas Convention Center. Officials say the convention center expansion will “increase economic activity in our community.”

We get all that. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take a few minutes to remember the Riv.

With that in mind, we’ve culled highlights from our somewhat obsessive coverage of the Riviera demolition to create the ultimate Riviera demolition timeline.

So, time moves on, and Las Vegas continues its evolution.

It would take a lot to convince us a parking lot is more valuable than even a fading casino like Riviera. All due respect, LVCVA.

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Security Breach: El Cortez Begins Creation of Imbibe Bar

Way back in Jan. 2016, we caught wind of a new bar coming to El Cortez, the classic hotel on Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas.

At last, the hotel’s current casino bar has been closed and Imbibe bar is in the works.

El Cortez Imbibe bar

Yes, even if it’s just a curtain, it qualifies as a security breach. You’re quite the stickler, aren’t you?

The hotel has made no official announcement about the bar, it’s closure, any expansion
or even the bar’s name. Just go with it, anyway.

Naturally, we had to peek behind the drapes to see what’s up inside.

El Cortez Imbibe bar

The future home of Captain Morgan spiced rum and possibly other kinds of liquor we care much less about.

Presumably, the new Imbibe bar will try to appeal to a younger crowd. From what we hear, there’s already a strong millennial presence on Fridays and Saturdays. El Cortez benefits from all the surrounding restaurants and bars (think Gold Spike and Commonwealth) in the Fremont East District.

We did a walk-through of Fremont East so you can get your bearings.

Staffers say not only is the bar being renovated, but it’s expanding beyond the current casino bar’s footprint, and could potentially swallow the area where the keno parlor resides. (The keno desk would then be relocated to the hotel’s sports book area.)

El Cortez Imbibe lounge

Cornhole and foosball in 3…2…

We’ll keep an eye on the new bar at El Cortez, of course, but in the meantime, you’ll want to take advantage of a new promotion at the historic casino.

Here’s a thingy because we’re too drunk to relay the details.

El Cortez promotion

We refuse to do math unless it directly benefits us. This is that.

So, that’s cool, right? You’re making a withdrawal from the ATM, anyway, so why not get some free slot play?

Once you make your ATM withdrawal, head to the casino cage. There, you’ll be given a certificate for free play. Take the certificate to the loyalty club desk, and the free play is put on your club card.

El Cortez promotion

Vast fortunes have been won in Las Vegas with $15. Actual results may vary.

Now, win something and stick it to The Man. Winning with free play is even sweeter than the regular kind of winning, promise.

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Margaritaville Casino at Flamingo May Have the Best Happy Hour Deal in Las Vegas

Given all the happy hour deals to be found in Las Vegas, it takes a lot to get our attention. Margaritaville Casino at Flamingo Las Vegas just did.

Margaritaville Casino, a casino-within-a-casino, is currently offering five-cent beers each day at its 5 O’Clock Somewhere Bar, 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Margaritaville casino happy hour

Once thought to be extinct, a genuine casino loss leader has been spotted at Flamingo.

The happy hour deal has no small print, caveats or asterisks, so drink up.

While you’re there, you may also want to take advantage of the newly-unfurled beer pong tables. Just about every casino on The Strip is trying to lure younger customers, and beer pong seems an effective, low-cost way to do that. Social games for the win!

Margaritaville Casino beer pong

If you’re unfamiliar with beer pong, it’s just an excuse to drink a lot. You know, like having children.

There’s also a DJ at Margaritaville Casino, but don’t let that deter you from going.

The beer pong and music marketing strategy has worked wonders at O’Sheas inside the Linq hotel, right next door to Flamingo. The lively spot is the most profitable area in the entire Linq casino.

We’re always on the lookout for great deals on The Strip, especially when they’re hooch-related, so send your favorites our way.

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