Monthly Archives: December 2017

Boom: Ten of Our Biggest Las Vegas Scoops of 2017

It’s been a wild year, and we’re drunk (again), so it’s time to brag about our blogging prowess under the pretense of reflecting upon some of the biggest Las Vegas stories of 2017.

These are but a small sampling of our scoops that rocked Sin City during 2017, the stories that sparked conversation online and off, and leaks that gave public relations departments high blood pressure and traditional news outlets episodes of erectile dysfunction.

Told you we’re drunk.

Ice cream scoop

This isn’t the kind of scoop we’re talking about, but now you know what an analogical juxtaposition is.

Here, then, are our biggest scoops of 2017. Which we already probably said in the title of this article, but you’re skimming and probably missed it.

1. SLS Las Vegas Sold

Boom is right. When a casino gets sold in Las Vegas, it’s big news, and we had the jump on the sale of SLS Las Vegas (formerly Sahara) by a mile. While the sale has since turned sour, we’re still hopeful a deal can be had and this struggling casino will get another chance at success under new ownership.

Las Vegas sex aids

These sex toys were once sold in an adult novelty store at SLS. The mind reels.

2. Fontainebleau Sold

The abandoned Fontainebleau was reported “90 days away” from being purchased for two years, but we were the first to share when it was finally sold for $600 million. Sale of the massive blue eyesore, and word the buyers are moving ahead with finishing the project, is great news for Las Vegas and the north end of the Strip.

Fontainebleau

We’ll stop sharing this as soon as you stop smiling when you see it.

3. Alon Site Sold

Another huge Las Vegas story, and we reported it first. We say that with all due humility, because people seem to like that quality for some reason. The failed Alon resort project left a prime piece of real estate up for grabs, and Wynn Resorts swooped in to take the prize.

Alon Las Vegas

So much talent, so little not disappointing everyone.

4. Lady Gaga Residency

Again, vague rumors made the rounds for months about Lady Gaga being signed to a Las Vegas residency, but we got the inside skinny and our story made worldwide news. Or as we like to call it, Sunday. Lady Gaga confirmed she’ll perform at Park Theater starting in late 2018, and is expected to earn a whopping $100 million by the time her residency is done.

Lady Gaga

During her Las Vegas residency, Lady Gaga will have an entire VIP section in her hair.

5. WNBA Ownership and Team Name

Despite the fact we are not a sports person, that doesn’t mean we can’t share sports skinny. When news broke Las Vegas would get a WNBA team, the entity bringing the team to Las Vegas was a mystery. Until we shared that MGM Resorts was the buyer. Later, it was reported the team would be called the Las Vegas Stars. Wrong. We were the first to share the actual team name: Las Vegas Aces.

Las Vegas Aces

If you don’t think they included our Vital Vegas initials in their logo, you’re not properly exercising your imagination.

6. Fly Linq Zipline Attraction

It’s a high-flying attraction set to make a big splash in late 2018, and we shared the news months before the project was officially announced. Sensing a theme here? Yes, the Fly Linq zipline will be 122 feet tall and take guests 1,080 feet over the Linq promenade. Sorry, we couldn’t wait for the news release. The world doesn’t work like that anymore.

Fly Linq zipline

It’s supposed to have 10 side-by-side ziplines. We’re betting not. Ignore the photo captions on a Las Vegas blog at your own risk.

7. New York-New York Roller Coaster Goes VR

New York-New York’s Big Apple roller coaster has been a cash cow for the resort, but it’s time for an upgrade. We were the first to report the roller coaster would get the virtual reality treatment. There’s been no official acknowledgement the roller coaster will convert to VR, but the giant sign on the attraction’s launch platform is confirmation enough.

virtual reality roller coaster

We risked arrest to get this photo, so read it thoroughly.

8. Cosmopolitan, Lucky Dragon and Hard Rock Up for Sale

Our sources hit it out of the park in 2017, and this was a trifecta of casino scoop. Yes, that’s a mixed metaphor, but if you’d stop skimming, you’d have read the part about us not being a sports person. Whenever you hear anyone talking about the Cosmopolitan, Lucky Dragon and Hard Rock being for sale, remember you heard the stories here first.

Hard Rock Center Bar

Signs point to a knighted bajillionaire buying the Hard Rock. You’ll see.

9. Barry Manilow Residency at Westgate

It’s true, there were rumors of a Barry Manilow residency a few months back, but at the time he was “investigating venues.” We were the first to share the deal was happening, which Barry Manilow himself confirmed, so we win the Internet.

Barry Manilow

Barry Manilow is ready to take a chance again on Las Vegas.

10. Chef Michael Symon to Palms

We couldn’t do a top 10 scoops list without at least one restaurant item. There were many in 2017, but news celebrity chef Michael Symon (co-host of “The Chew”) would have a restaurant at Palms was our favorite because, damn it, Las Vegas is in dire need of great barbeque. Our runner-up chef scoop was that Todd English was out at Todd English P.U.B. And, yes, it’s awkward.

Michael Symon

Michael Symon is ready to slather Palms in BBQ sauce.

So, those were our favorite scoops of 2017.

It would be shameless to list other stories we broke, like when Vegas Seven magazine went out of print, when we first shared where the Raiders practice site would be located, or when we Tweeted the Hakkasan and SBE merger was dead in the water.

We also broke that Zero Latency VR was coming to Level Up at MGM Grand, that the Kaboo music festival is coming to Las Vegas, that Surrender nightclub would close at Wynn, that demolition started at the Las Vegas Club site, that Gold Diggers would have a rebrand at Golden Nugget, and so many others.

If you’ve been reading our blog or listening to our podcast, or following us on Twitter (oh, like we’re not going to mention we’ve had 18 million Tweet impressions in 2017), please know how much we appreciate you. Ultimately, “we” are just one person, and this site is our hobby. We do this because we love Vegas, and we love that you love Vegas, plain and simple.

Oh, and a giant, inappropriate hug goes out to our network of sources and tipsters and informants. Sharing news before it’s “official” isn’t without potential peril for these folks, and it’s impossible to overstate how much we appreciate that they trust us with their insider insights and knowledge. You know who you are.

Here’s to a 2018 full of leaks and rumors and speculation and security breaches and giving real journalists a run for their money.

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Fascinating Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Roulette

Roulette is one of the most entertaining, and accessible, games in a Las Vegas casino.

Even seasoned roulette players will be surprised by some of the fascinating aspects of the game we’ve hastily slapped together.

Roulette

Ah, roulette being roulette.

Let’s start with a couple of names for things we didn’t know had names. First, there’s a term for when a roulette dealer gathers and restacks chips, it’s called “mucking.”

Also, there’s another name for the object used to mark a winning number: A “marker” is also called a “dolly.”

Roulette dolly

Roulette markers, or dollys, come in all shapes and sizes.

It’s also worth noting a roulette dealer is also called a “croupier.”

Are we having fun yet?

Here’s a surprising fact about roulette: Just as people are left and right-handed, there are also right-handed and left-handed tables.

If you’ve played roulette, you’re probably more familiar with the right-handed table. The wheel sits to the right side of the dealer.

Roulette right-handed

We’re going to pretend Hard Rock reserved this right-handed table for us. Just go with it.

Here’s a left-handed roulette table. If you guessed the wheel is to the left of the dealer, you’re well on your way to a job as an elected official.

Roulette left-handed

The left-handed layout can cause confusion with players. Example: “It’s backwards! Pay me for the number I thought I was betting on!”

Here’s what happens when a right-handed roulette table and a left-handed roulette table hook up in Las Vegas.

El Cortez roulette

This roulette table at El Cortez goes both ways.

Here’s a relatively useless fact: On roulette tables, the ball spins in the opposite direction of the wheel’s rotation.

On a right-handed table, the wheel goes counter-clockwise while the ball goes clockwise. On a left-handed table, the ball goes counter-clockwise while the wheel goes clockwise.

Interestingly, a roulette dealer trained in a European casino will reverse the rotation of the wheel and ball following every spin.

Triple Zero Sands Roulette

If you see a triple zero roulette table, just run.

Many of the procedures and devices on a roulette table are to try and ensure the results are randoms.

On a roulette wheel, for example, small devices called “canoes” are installed to give the ball additional obstacles to divert the ball from a predictable path as it falls into the wheel.

Roulette canoe

Canoes are also called frets, making this blog post, officially, the most useless in the history of the Interwebs.

Players sometimes try to pick up on a dealer’s pattern or rhythm, called a “dealer signature,” to predict where the ball is likely to fall. When player’s see a pattern, they practice something known as “section shooting,” or betting in certain areas of the wheel to try and gain an advantage over the house.

Now, let’s talk chips!

It’s a little-known fact that dealers, when pushing stacked chips to players, can’t move the chips in a way that conceals them from the security cameras above.

Dealers spend a lot of time practicing pushing stacks of chips. If you’re ever asked, 20 is the standard number of chips in a stack at a roulette table. Try pushing five stacks of 20 chips without them tipping over!

Roulette

Use the Force, Luke.

Unlike other casino chips, roulette chips have no value away from the table and can’t be traded for cash at the casino cashier, or “cage.”

That’s because roulette chips have no set value. Players determine what value a chip will have. Chips can be worth $1, $5 or more, as stated when the player buys in.

Taking chips from a roulette table is discouraged, because it’s a common scam to buy in for a low denomination (say, $1 per chip), to take chips away from the table, then return at another time, buying in for a higher denomination (say, $5), then slipping the previous low-value chips back into the game for an immediate profit. It happens quite often, actually, and the practice is illegal.

We’ve been playing roulette quite a long time, but only recently learned about “picture bets.”

Picture bets are a way for dealers to easily recognize and pay out common chip combinations. Those chip combinations often have colorful names, and dealers memorize the names and payouts to keep games moving. (The more spins, the more money a casino makes, by the way. The house edge for double zero roulette is 5.26%.)

Think of picture bets as flash cards for dealers.

Here are a couple of picture bets, and let’s say the chips are worth $1 just to keep it simple.

The “Mickey Mouse” is two corners (each pays 8-to-1) and one straight up number (pays 35-to-one), and it pays $51.

Roulette Mickey Mouse

To see some of these “picture bets,” like the Mickey Mouse, you have to view the bets from the perspective of the dealer.

“Deck of Cards” is called that because it pays $52 (52 cards in a deck): It’s one straight up number and one split (pays 17-to-1).

Roulette deck of cards

Want to win a bar bet? Tell your friends roulette involves a “deck of cards.”

A “Basket” pays $67 for two corners and three splits. We’ll turn it on its side for you.

Roulette basket

We flipped it so you can see the basket. You’re welcome.

A “Picture Frame” is one straight up number, four corners and four splits. This pays a healthy $135. An “Empty Picture Frame” is the same configuration, but without the straight up number.

Roulette picture frame

Somebody got a phone call!

Our favorite picture bet, because it’s the dirtiest, of course, is “Dinner for Two.” This bet is two splits and a straight up number. It pays (wait for it) $69.

Roulette dinner for two

Because “dinner for two.” We’ll wait.

Hey, roulette dealers often have a lot of idle time on their hands!

Here’s something to watch the next time you’re near a roulette table: Notice that dealers in a live roulette game must keep the wheel in perpetual motion. It’s a gaming regulation.

Now, have fun, and give roulette a spin.

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Naked City Pizza Takes Over for Pizza Lotto at El Cortez

Pizza Lotto is out at downtown’s El Cortez casino, Naked City Pizza is in.

Pizza Lotto always hit the spot, even with superior pizza in the neighborhood at Evel Pie and Pizza Rock. Pizza Lotto was never able to deliver on its marketing hook of providing lottery-style scratch-off discount cards, and now we’ll never know what might have been. Pizza Lotto has moved on to that big pizzeria in the sky.

Without skipping a beat, Naked City Pizza has opened in the Pizza Lotto space.

Naked City Pizza El Cortez

We dare you to tell the difference between Pizza Lotto and Naked City Pizza, even with the naked.

By our layperson’s estimates, Naked City Pizza spent roughly zero dollars to move into El Cortez.

Virtually nothing in the space has changed, beyond the removal of a couple of symbolic video poker machines.

Naked City Pizza is a known quantity in Las Vegas. The chain has been featured on “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.”

While Naked City Pizza has been well-received at its other Las Vegas locations, our first visit to the El Cortez location was decidedly forgettable. Our cheese slice was 90% cheese, reminiscent of the awful Chicago-style “pizza” at Giordano’s. And not in a good way.

The one benefit of the disappointing pizza was it gave us the opportunity to test the “pull” of the cheese. The cheese pull is a big deal in the pizza world, a long-standing advertising trope where a slice is slowly lifted from a hot pie, resulting in a gooey waterfall of cheese.

Our pal Marc Meltzer, of Edgevegas.com, was along for our Naked City Pizza visit, and he generously volunteered to demonstrate Naked City Pizza’s world-class cheese pull.

Naked City Pizza El Cortez

Marc’s going to need longer arms.

While our first Naked City Pizza slice was underwhelming, we were immediately smitten with the restaurant’s Grandma’s Meatball, a mind-boggling half pound (that’s not a typo) of sheer succulence.

Naked City Pizza meatball

Grandma’s Meatball is a meal for two. At least.

Naked City Pizza’s menu is simple, with some favorites from other locations, as well as original pizzas created just for the El Cortez location.

The new pizza styles include Bugsy’s Bianco, 6th Street, “Freemont” Street and (wait for it) the El Cortez.

Naked City Pizza El Cortez menu

Spelling it “Freemont” is a rookie gaff. It’s Fremont.

Determined to have a slice that’s worthy of Naked City Pizza’s reputation, we visited again, and found just that.

The slice was vastly better proportioned, and if Naked City Pizza can deliver that quality on a consistent basis, we’ll be back.

Naked City Pizza El Cortez

Nice recovery, Naked City Pizza.

Don’t look for Naked City Pizza’s hours on the El Cortez Web site, as Pizza Lotto is still listed (it’s also in the hotel’s on-hold messaging system and featured in its internal P.A. rotation).

Yes, you can pay for your pizza with your Club Cortez player’s club points.

Oh, and Naked City Pizza’s liquor license is still in the works, so head to a casino bar first for libations.

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Criss Angel’s “Mindfreak Live” to Close at Luxor Las Vegas

After a 10-year run that provided a smackdown to his legions of haters, magnificent lunkhead Criss Angel will close his “Mindfreak Live” show at Luxor in 2018.

Criss Angel’s “Mindfreak Live” ends its run, and sometimes strained partnership with Cirque du Soleil, on Oct. 28, 2018, according to reports.

Mindfreak Live

Despite the odds, and a profound lack of personality or talent, Criss Angel survived and, and various times thrived, on the Las Vegas Strip.

Las Vegas Weekly’s Brock Radne was the first to share the surprisingly successful show is closing.

Angel’s show opened as “Believe” in Oct. 2008 to scathing reviews. Sorry, “BeLIEve.” Trust us, the weird “lie” affectation was the least of its problems.

While the removal of Cirque elements improved the show somewhat, production costs and declining ticket sales forced Angel and his team to close “Believe” on April 17, 2016.

A trimmed down “Mindfreak Live” opened May 11, 2016.

The revamped show didn’t exactly win over Criss Angel’s haters, but it allowed the show to continue through the end of his contract with Cirque du Soleil.

Criss Angel

No, we didn’t take this at Madame Tussauds. Criss Angel is just a really odd dude.

We saw “Mindfreak Live” and, beyond the random, pointless shouting of its star, we thought the show was reasonably entertaining. Angel seemed to enjoy himself, and his use of self-deprecating humor was refreshing given the annoying onscreen persona he’d cultivated on
the long-running A&E “Mindfreak” TV show.

“Mindfreak Live” also has one of the most impressive illusions we’ve ever seen in a Las Vegas show, a levitation that’s worth the price of admission. Yes, you know it’s wires, but that doesn’t take away from the sheer WTF of it all.

A 10-year run for a Las Vegas magic show must be deemed an unqualified success.

Criss Angel casino chip

Undeniable.

Back in 2016, it was being reported more than four million guests had attended “Believe” since it opened in 2008.

Because “Mindfreak Live” doesn’t close until late 2018, there’s still time to see it again if you’ve seen it, and to trash talk it if you never will.

In a ridiculously awful interview, Criss Angel has said he’s opening another show following “Mindfreak Live,” at another Las Vegas venue, and the cliche-spewing egomaniac reminds us all why he’s so easy to loathe.

Whether you love Criss Angel or hate him, he pulled off what many considered an impossible feat, a decade-long run on the Las Vegas Strip.

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Survey Reveals Park MGM’s New Sports Bar Concept

A survey sent to MGM Resorts customers has provided a first look at Park MGM’s new sports bar.

Park MGM, of course, is the new name of the Monte Carlo, currently undergoing a multi-million dollar renovation and rebranding.

Park MGM sports bar

So pretty, you’ll be tempted to lick it. Feel free to use that in your advertising, Park MGM.

The survey describes the new bar: “The sports bar will be a social hotspot for guests seeking the best in sporting entertainment in a refined, casual environment. The space emanates a classic American sports bar aesthetic, complete with a brass and marble bar, vintage leather booths, and an eclectic array of seating that allows for great views from every angle.”

Here’s to bars that emanate a classic American sports bar aesthetic!

The description continues: “The kitchen will offer a variety of bar-style food and freshly prepared salads, as well as arguably the best burgers in town. The adjoining lounge area offers alternative entertainment options such as billiards and duckpin bowling, and sports betting is available throughout the day so you don’t need to travel far to double down on your favorite teams.”

While the “arguably the best burgers in town” is a tad aspirational, Park MGM’s new bar sounds like a comfy spot to enjoy various forms of sportsball.

Here’s another rendering included in the top secret survey.

Park MGM sports bar

“Find the pinball machine” is the new “Where’s Waldo?”

The survey also shares some possible names for the new bar. Options include: Park MGM Sports Bar, The Money Line, The Spread, The Line Sports Bar, Pony Up and The Dark Horse.

Park MGM tips its hand with the name, as survey recipients who don’t choose The Spread get the message: “We noticed that you did not select the name The Spread for this sports bar. What is you reaction to this name overall?”

“The Spread,” of course, can refer to food, but it’s also a gambling term we were recently forced to learn about.

In sports betting, see, it’s not always about just picking a winning team. That would make it “intuitive” and “popular.” Nope, sports books use something called the “point spread.” Think of it as spotting one of the teams (the underdog) points so there’s a relatively equal chance of either team winning. Sports books can lose a lot of money if too many people bet on one team.

The point spread, then, is a minimum margin of victory.

Say you place a bet on a team that’s a 10-point underdog (written as +10). That means even if the favorite wins the game, they have to win by more than 10 points for you to lose your bet. That’s right, your team can lose, but you can still win your bet with that 10-point buffer.

And, yes, sports nerds, we know you can sometimes just pick a winner in a game. It’s called a “moneyline” wager. We have access to the Internet, too, you know.

Back to something we’re actually interested in: Bars.

We like a few of the potential bar names, but Pony Up is our pick. It’s a reference to horse racing, but it also means “pay up,” which suits Park MGM because they’re going for a more upscale guest than the typical Monte Carlo customer.

Look forward to hearing more about the new sports bar at Park MGM.

Whatever the name ends up being, we love new things, so we might even endure a sport to check it out when it opens.

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Fizz Lounge to Close at Caesars Palace

It looks like a high-end lounge at Caesars Palace, Fizz, won’t live to see 2018.

The champagne lounge and bar will close Dec. 25, 2017.

It seems Fizz fizzled.

Fizz was created by Colosseum regular Elton John’s partner, David Furnish. The pair have been married since 2005.

The $3.2 million Fizz, billed as “the epicenter of chic,” featured lots of fine art (including photographs from Elton John’s personal collection, valued at a cool million bucks) and security personnel committed to not letting us take photos inside the swanky lounge. Thankfully, this blog DGAF.

Fizz lounge Caesars Palace

Never got to Fizz? Congrats on still having money in your bank account!

Big thanks to Twitter tipster @FYMYAWF for letting us know about Fizz’s demise.

Fizz was located just off the casino floor at Caesars, close to the entrance to the Forum Shops.

Fizz Las Vegas

At least they didn’t have to give out too many refunds.

It’s interesting to note that when Fizz opened, we wrote: “Our overriding impression of Fizz would have to be, ‘Who is this for?'”

Fizz

Yeah, that’s never a good sign.

There’s no word on what might replace Fizz at Caesars Palace, but Vegas has a way of always making more new.

Update (12/22/17): We’re hearing Fizz will be rebranded and Caesars Entertainment will continue operating the venue. Fizz will re-open on Dec. 30, 2017, and will get a new name in early 2018.

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