Monthly Archives: September 2017

Vital Vegas Podcast, Ep. 61: Virtual Reality, Inside Skinny and Cheating Las Vegas

It’s time for another installment of the podcast even our closest friends listen to on double speed.

This week, we wrangle all the Las Vegas news you need to make the most of your next visit.

Michael Symon is coming to Palms (not confirmed, but not denied), while just about everything at the resort is shutting down for renovations and rebrands, including N9NE Steakhouse and Ghostbar, China House, The Lounge and Social (the casino bar).

Monte Carlo, too, is changing up all its venues as it transforms into Park MGM, including the closures of Hit Lounge, Yusho, BLVD Creamery, The Pub at Monte Carlo, Brand Steakhouse, D.Vino and Dragon Noodle Co.

The 800 Degrees Neapolitan Pizzeria is going as well, but it will relocate to New York-New York. See them when they were shiny and new, all the way back in 2014. Hey, that’s 30 years in Vegas time.

D.Vino wood-fired pizza

D.Vino is one of the casualties at Monte Carlo, but there’s lots of newness on the way.

Also in the news: EDC is changing its dates from June to May 18-20, 2018, Lotus of Siam is closed for roof repairs, Bin 702 at Downtown Container Park is expanding to a new location, feuding siblings Donny and Marie hit 10 years at Flamingo and more.

We also chat about two massive new projects coming to Las Vegas, and almost do so with a straight face. One is an extreme sports park called The Edge, another is a science fiction-themed entertainment venue called Area 15. In the words of Councilwoman Lois Tarkanian, “Even though I don’t understand it fully, everyone is very excited.”

Bottom line on those efforts: Don’t hold your breath.

Other perfunctory news includes the end of The Parklet, the opening of Zak Bagans’ Haunted Museum, “Twilight Zone” mini-golf coming to Bally’s, the demise of Planet Dailies and the return of the Age of Cleavage Renaissance Festival.

Age of Chivalry Las Vegas

Yeah, like we were going to share a photo of a knight.

For our “Listicle of the Week,” we cleverly rehash “11 Casino Dice Security Measures to Keep Players From Cheating.” Read it.

Thanks to KNPR for letting us play portions of a recent interview. Here’s the whole shebang.

Join us for a Captain Morgan-fueled cavalcade of WTF, and marvel at the fact we’ve managed to slap together 61 episodes of this dog and pony show.

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11 Casino Dice Security Measures to Keep Players From Cheating

About 20 minutes after dice were invented, fashioned from the ankle bones of hooved animals, somebody cheated using dice.

The tradition of trying to swindle casinos continues to this day, so casinos take extraordinary measures to prevent players from cheating, especially at the craps table.

Because players handle and shoot the dice, craps is the only casino game where patrons have complete control over the outcome of a wager. In other cases, it’s a machine or wheel or dealer. Dice, then, are an easy target for cheaters.

Here are 11 hastily slapped-together dice security measures casinos take to ensure players don’t cheat and every roll is random.

1. Serial Numbers

Swapping out legitimate dice with weighted or “loaded” dice is a time-honored tradition in Las Vegas casinos. To avoid “crooked” dice entering a game, casino dice have serial numbers. Typically, casino dice come in packs of five, wrapped in gold foil, each with matching serial numbers. If a casino staffer sees two dice in play with two different serial numbers, the cheater’s jig is up.

Dice serial number

Casino dice come in groups of five, much like Hugh Hefner.

2. Sharp Corners

The next time you use dice on a board game at home, take note of the corners. Most dice outside casinos have rounded corners, but in casinos, they’re sharp. Rounded corners cause rolls that aren’t truly random, and exaggerate any bias in the dice. Sharp corners “grab” the felt and assure rolls are random and keep the odds the way casinos like them, in their favor.

Dice square corners

Curved corner, amateur hour. Sharp corner, all business.

3. Glow Spots

Some casinos use dice that have spots, also called “pips,” filled with special epoxy that changes color under U.V. light. Floor managers can quickly tell if dice are legit using a simple black light.

Dice glow spot

Shout-out to Bruce Leroy.

4. Translucency

Before the advent of plastics, it was difficult to tell if dice were weighted, or “gaffed.” Since the 1950s, dice have been made of cellulose acetate, making them translucent. Being able to see inside a die makes it much easier to see if anyone’s mucked with it.

Dice key letter spot

We’ll get to the “K” in a minute. Always in such a rush.

5. Key Letter Spot

This is one of our favorite casino dice “secrets,” because while we’ve held hundreds of dice at craps tables in Las Vegas and around the world, we never noticed this security measure despite the fact it’s in plain sight. Each casino die has a letter or number “monogrammed” on a designated spot before the spot is painted. While scammers may be able to replicate the exterior of a die, it’s difficult to convincingly fake a letter under pip paint. Check it out the next time you’re shooting for “boxcars” or “puppy paws.” Yes, there are a lot of nicknames for dice combinations.

Dice key letter spot

You’re totally going to win a bar bet with this one someday.

6. Casino Logos

Yes, imprinting a casino’s logo on dice is actually a security measure. On its own, putting a logo on dice is fairly easy to do, but this “unique identifier” is another element a cheater has to take into account, and another way they can get tripped up trying to use counterfeit dice.

Dice logos

Logos are typically printed on the side of the dice with one or two spots, because there’s more room. This isn’t rocket science.

7. Diamond Rubber Bumpers

This security measure is more about the table than the dice, but we’re including it, anyway. They have lots of names, but along the sides of a craps table are textured bumps, sometimes called “diamond rubber bumpers” or “pyramid bumpers” or even “alligator bumpers.” These textured bumpers make it much more difficult to manipulate how the dice will land.

Craps pyramids

It’s all fun and games until somebody puts an eye out.

8. Change-Outs

Casinos foil cheaters through a variety of means, including frequently changing out dice, just as they do with cards at the blackjack table. As mentioned, the randomness of rolls can be impacted by things like edges and corners becoming less sharp through use. Fresh dice are brought into a craps game every four to eight hours, often during a shift change. Casinos have the right to change out dice at any time, however. This sometimes happens during hot rolls, as casinos want to ensure a player’s good luck isn’t the result of dice tampering.

Dice

Casinos are paranoid about dice cheats, so always keep dice over the table and only use one hand to shake them before you shoot.

9. Perfect Cubes

There’s a reason casino dice are also called “precision dice.” That’s because casino dice are made to exacting specifications. Most casinos use 3/4-inch dice, and each of the die’s dimensions must be true to within 0.0005 of an inch, or approximately the length of this blog’s sexual organ. Just making sure you’re still paying attention.

Precision dice

Perfect cubes, of course, aren’t “perfect.” For example, some mistakenly believe Chicago-style pizza is actual pizza.

10. Pip Drilling and Backfilling

Even tiny variations in a die can cause it to roll in a less random way. Pips aren’t just painted in casino dice, they’re drilled. To make sure the side of the die with six pips doesn’t weigh more than the side with just one, the drilled holes are filled with a special paint that’s the same density as the rest of the die. Oh, all right, maybe there’s a little rocket science involved.

Dice pips drilling filling

Drilled Pips and The Backfillers were a terrific folk group in the 1970s.

11. Cancellation

When dice are removed from a table, casinos use a hand-operated press (or “punch”) to “cancel” the dice before they’re destroyed or sold in the casino’s gift shop. Cancellation markings, commonly in the shape of circle, make it easy for casino security, dealers and managers to see if a “retired” die has been put into play by an unscrupulous player.

Dice canceled

While Las Vegas casinos get away with this cancellation mark, Atlantic City casinos must drill a hole in canceled dice. Typically, it’s done by a guy nicknamed “Knuckles.” All due respect.

Craps is one of the most exciting games in a Las Vegas casino. Now, the next time you play, you’ll know all the dice security measures casinos take to keep players from cheating.

By the way, cheating in a Las Vegas casino is a felony. You have better things to do during your Las Vegas visit than going to the big house and being passed around like a social security number at a hacker convention.

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Palace Station Has a Brand New Erection

There’s been a flurry of activity at Palace Station in recent months, including the demolition of the crime scene that sent multiple murderer O.J. Simpson to the slammer.

While demolition is fun to watch, it’s even more fun to see new things rise from the rubble. Palace Station now boasts a new structure, and we’ve got the pics.

Palace Station construction

We are a big fan of new.

The new structure is adjacent to Palace Station’s new porte cochere. We asked what the new structure is, but got no official response.

Chatting up Palace Station staff, we hear blueprints refer to the building as a “fight arena,” but a more likely use will be for convention space.

Palace Station construction

No photos of the construction site are permitted, so unfortunately we can’t show you this.

Upgrades at Palace Station are being done in phases. The first phase included remodeling the casino’s facade (and removing the train theming), adding a new bingo room and other enhancements.

Next, guests will see a new buffet, additional work on the casino and potentially a new 27-story, 606 room hotel tower. There will also be a new movie theater, bowling alley, two restaurants and upgraded pool area.

Red Rock Resorts (Station Casinos) says it will spend about $70 million on all the upgrades.

Palace Station construction

Palace Station demolished its rundown motel buildings, about 447 rooms, to make room for less suck.

Palace Station is located just off the Las Vegas Strip, on Sahara Ave. Or, as we like to describe it, “mere feet from Chick-fil-A.”

Palace Station’s main clientele is Las Vegas locals, especially Asian players. Lucky Dragon has tried to cannibalize Palace Station’s customer base (ditto Gold Coast), with little success.

Red Rock Resorts is no doubt aware of its competition in the marketplace, and is making the financial investment needed to give customers new offerings to keep them coming back for more.

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McGregor-Pacqiao Fight Could Be a Thing in Las Vegas

Fresh off what many consider to have been the sports event of the year, Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Conor McGregor, we’re hearing another colossal matchup may be in the works.

A highly-reliable source says a fight between Conor McGregor and Manny Pacquiao could be in the offing.

The fight would take place in Las Vegas, of course, and could happen by the end of 2017.

McGregor Pacqiao Las Vegas

We see sweaty guys, but lots of people see dollar signs.

Further details aren’t known at this time, but a McGregor and Pacquiao fight seems entirely possible given the astronomical amounts of money generated by the Mayweather-McGregor spectacle, and the Mayweather-Pacquiao match before that.

When Mayweather fought Pacquiao in May 2015, the fight broke a variety of records, almost all of them related to money. The fight had more than 4.5 million pay-per-view purchases, and revenue generated from pay-per-view alone is believed to have been $400 million.

The purse alone for the Mayweather-McGregor fight, which Mayweather won, was $100 million for Floyd Mayweather, $30 million for Conor McGregor.

In the end, it’s believed Mayweather’s take was more than $300 million and McGregor snagged about $100 million.

fight tent

Vegas loves it some boxing. Tents to hawk merchandise sprouted up all over town during the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight.

Numbers like those are enough to bring just about any fighter back into the ring, even if they’re “retired.” Publicizing the fact a fight with McGregor would be the last of Pacqiao’s career would add another element of interest to a McGregor-Pacqiao matchup.

Manny Pacqiao jab

Manny Pacqiao jab wasn’t on the card for the Mayweather-McGregor fight, but he couldn’t resist getting in a jab.

Of course, it’s not just the boxers who reap a windfall from these high-profile fights. They’re lucrative for everyone, and the biggest fights provide Las Vegas with a huge bump in room bookings, gambling and non-gambling revenue (like restaurants and nightclubs).

While we are not a sports person, we are a Las Vegas person, and mega-fights have an undeniable impact on the Las Vegas landscape, so we’ll be watching for what’s next in the world of guys punching each other in the face.

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Celebrity Chef Michael Symon On His Way to Palms

There’s been a flurry of activity at Palms in recent weeks, mainly involving restaurants and other venues closing as Red Rock Resorts (Station Casinos) moves into its new digs.

News about what’s in store for Palms is light, but now we’re hearing the resort has inked a deal with celebrity chef Michael Symon for a new restaurant.

Michael Symon

The Greek and Sicilian chef Michael Symon is set to make a splash at Palms soon.

The James Beard-winning chef is a fixture on the Food Network, appearing on “Iron Chef America,” “Food Feuds,” “The Best Thing I Ever Ate” and others.┬áSymon is also a regular on the Daytime Emmy Award-winning “The Chew” on ABC.

Beyond his TV fame, Symon has had a string of successes in downtown Cleveland. The one in Ohio. Please try and keep up.

His restaurants include Lola, Lolita, Mabel’s BBQ and The B Spot.

He recently opened Angeline, an Italian restaurant at the Borgata in Atlantic City.

While we haven’t heard which cuisine Symon will focus on at Palms, we’re crossing our fingers his concept will be what’s next for Nove Italiano. Vegas could use some great BBQ, too, so we’d be fine with that.

Symon has described his cooking as “meat-centric.”

Palms

The Palms’ new owners, Red Rock Resorts (Station Casinos) are shaking things up!

It’s also possible Michael Symon’s new restaurant could move into the space of the former N9NE Steakhouse.

This rumor hasn’t been confirmed, but if it’s in a news release, it’s too late!

Learn more about Michael Symon on his Web site, and expect an official announcement from the Palms soon.

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N9NE Steakhouse and Ghostbar Close Abruptly at Palms

Two venues at Palms have shuttered without notice, N9NE Steakhouse and Ghostbar, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Ghostbar Palms closed

Ghostbar, the polar opposite of this blog since 2001.

The shuttering of N9NE Steakhouse and Ghostbar was sudden, but not unexpected.

The venues were originally opened by N9NE Group, founded by Michael Morton and Scott DeGraff.

Palms is in the process of overhauling its offerings following its purchase by Red Rock Resorts for $312.5 million. Red Rock Resorts is known to most as Station Casinos.

Palms steak

Hey, it’s a steak, and we had it at Palms. We couldn’t find a photo of N9NE on short notice.

It’s also been announced China House restaurant, The Lounge and the main casino bar, Social, will all close for new construction.

Other changes at Palms have included the opening of a new cafe, Lucky Penny (previously 24 Seven Cafe), and the addition of a temporary restaurant called Social Table, in the former Hooters space.

The Palms buffet closed on June 30, 2017, and is expected to open again (with a new name) after a $6 million makeover.

Expect more changes (so long, Nove Italiano), including lots of personnel changes, at Palms as the new owners purge old partnerships and bring their new acquisition into the Red Rock Resorts fold.

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