Monthly Archives: September 2020

Triple Zero Roulette is Pretty Much Everyflippingwhere in Las Vegas

It started innocently enough. An additional space showed up on a roulette table.

It looked innocuous, just one additional space on one table at Venetian back in 2016, no big deal.

Triple Zero Sands Roulette

The logo that started it all.

Then triple zero roulette popped up at Planet Hollywood and New York-New York. No big deal, right?

Well, it depends upon who you ask. Or possibly whom. Have you always been this obsessed with grammar? Lighten up, you’re reading a Las Vegas blog.

Math wizards were quick to point out each additional space on a roulette makes the game worse for players.

Longtime roulette players sometimes joke about triple zero roulette, “More ways to win!”

Um, no.

On a table with two zeros, the house edge is 5.26%. Not great, but a table with three zeros bumps the house edge up to 7.69%, or as we call it, the gambler discomfort zone.

Triple zero Harrah's

Don’t try to hide that extra spot, Harrah’s.

Prior to the pandemic, the proliferation of triple zero roulette raised lots of hackles. We should know, we were one of the main hackle-raisers.

Mid-pandemic, lots of things we used to get riled up about seem relatively trivial. Still.

There’s a reason you don’t hear much about triple zero roulette anymore. It’s pretty much everywhere in Las Vegas now.

We’ve visited a number of casinos in the weeks since casinos reopened in June, and we’re hard-pressed to remember a casino where there wasn’t triple zero roulette.

Triple zero Flamingo

Pretty sure Ben Siegel would’ve bugged out about this, Flamingo.

We’ve seen triple zero at Harrah’s, Flamingo, Four Queens, MGM Grand, Linq and others.

We used to keep a list of casinos with triple zero roulette, but that list seems almost quaint now.

We naively hoped lower demand would inspire casinos to dump triple zero roulette, but no such luck. So far.

Triple zero MGM Grand

Logos have more of a “Nothing to see here!” vibe than zeroes. Good going, MGM Grand.

So, why do people play triple zero roulette when there’s often a double zero roulette table nearby?

There are two answers: One, lower table limits. Two, they just don’t care.

Lower table limits make triple zero roulette tables tempting despite the greater house edge.

As for the “they just don’t care” aspect, we find ourselves in that camp lately.

We are a recreational gambler. We aren’t playing any game for hours on end. That’s true of most Las Vegas visitors, too. You’re lucky or you aren’t. It’s more about fun than math.

Triple zero Four Queens

We knew we were fighting a losing battle when we saw triple zero at Four Queens and its sister casino, Binion’s. Bonus points for the blue felt, though.

Ultimately, gambling is gambling. The odds are always on the side of the house.

If you’re gambling to make money, while possible, you may want to find other pursuits.

One of the worst things that can happen is to let frustration about odds or rules or pay tables overtake your enjoyment of the gambling experience.

Unless it has to do with paper straws being used in your drinks. Those ruin everything.

Triple zero roulette Linq

Is now really the time to risk irking players, Linq?

While it’s not fun having to report triple zero roulette tables are everywhere in Las Vegas, there are bright spots!

For example, downtown’s Plaza hotel has a single zero roulette table on its casino floor.

Plaza single zero roulette

Behold the unicorn of roulette tables, single zero at Plaza.

Cromwell has a single zero table, too. We miss you, Cromwell.

A few other Las Vegas casinos have single zero as well, but they’re typically tucked away in high limit salons where table minimums can be sky high.

Our advice is to find a roulette table with solid drink service and friendly dealers, and just play for fun.

Lucky Luck will either smile upon you or plant her boot firmly in your posterior.

Gamble for the memories, not the return on investment.

And also avoid keno, because the odds absolutely suck.

But mostly gamble for the fun! Life already has plenty of math.

Charcoal Room at Palace Station Brings the Value

Las Vegas has so many great steakhouses, it’s virtually impossible to visit them all.

We finally got around to trying Charcoal Room at Palace Station, and we’ve added it to our list of go-to Las Vegas steakhouses.

Charcoal Room Palace Station

Charcoal is obtained when carbonaceous material is partially burned. Not the sexiest tagline, but there it is.

Charcoal Room at Palace Station isn’t flashy, but what it lacks in Strip-style glamour it more than makes up for in value.

Palace Station caters mainly to locals, so the price points are appealing, with most entrees about 25 percent less expansive than equivalent offerings on The Strip.

Charcoal Room Las Vegas

Basic math: The less you spend on dinner, the more you have for Wheel of Fortune.

Every part of the meal, from the bread to the steak to the dessert, hit all the right notes at Charcoal Room.

Charcoal Room Palace Station

One does not live on bread alone, but we’re damned well not living without it.

See the full menu on the Palace Station Web site.

We went for the grass-fed filet mignon from Grass Run Farms, whatever that might actually be, and it was excellent.

Charcoal Room Palace Station

Whatever grass-feeding is supposed to do, it’s doing.

A highlight of our visit was a signature cocktail we would like several dozen more of next time.

We would share the ingredients in the Absolutely Bananas cocktail, but that would involve “having taken notes” or “listening to the server rather than drinking our Absolutely Bananas cocktail,” so, you’re S.O.L., sorry.

Charcoal Room Palace Station

We spoke to a manager about receiving this cocktail via I.V. tube. Pretty sure they thought we were joking.

The service at Charcoal Room was top notch, as expected at a place in the Stations Casino family.

We’re a big fan of the style of service where someone’s helpful when needed, without the constant interruptions to see how things are going.

We also love servers who watch the liquor level in our glass. Ask too soon (glass half full) and it’s awkward, wait too long and it feels like you’ve been wandering the Mojave for a week with holes in your safari hat. Yes, that’s exactly what it feels like.

Thankfully, Charcoal Room nails it on all counts.

Charcoal Room Palace Station

Sometimes, being indecisive pans out.

Palace Station is about five minutes west of the Las Vegas Strip, and the Charcoal Room is just off the casino floor.

Charcoal Room is next to the casino’s popular oyster bar. “Popular” is probably an understatement. The line for the oyster bar starts at the entrance of Charcoal Room and often stretches to Hoover Dam.

Charcoal Room

Our first rule of steakhouses and creme brulee: Don’t muck with a classic.

Many tourists don’t venture away from The Strip or downtown during a visit, but Palace Station is worth a little rideshare action.

Palace Station recently got a major overhaul and the casino’s transformation has been amazing. Bottom line: Less train, more urbane.

Charcoal Room at Palace Station

Margarita lovers are covered, of course.

Palace Station has a new dining offering in the works as well. The casino is working with Clique Hospitality to open a new restaurant, Tailgate Social, in November 2020. Tailgate Social replaces the recently-closed burger place, BBD’s. Fair warning, there may be sports.

Big thanks to the Charcoal Room steakhouse for hosting our visit, a refreshing value just off the Las Vegas Strip, and we can’t wait to Absolutely Bananas again soon.

Oyo Las Vegas Reopens, Here’s the Skinny

The Oyo Las Vegas hotel-casino reopened on Sep. 16, 2020, so we had to check it out.

By “check it out,” of course, we mean, “We lost $100 at blackjack in less than five minutes.” Seriously, we lost 10 out of the 11 hands we played. How is that even mathematically possible?

We were happy to donate to Oyo’s bottom line just to have it back.

Oyo Las Vegas casino

You can walk the entire casino at Oyo in under 30 seconds. Twice.

Oyo, formerly Hooters casino, isn’t the biggest casino on The Strip, but we always enjoy our visits.

On the way in, we noted a new slushy drink place being built just inside the front entrance, called Hoyo.

Oyo reopens

We see some epic brain freezes in our future.

You can never have too much slushy.

Heading inside, we were reminded it’s impossible to get lost in Oyo’s casino.

We were also reminded Oyo has $1 blackjack, virtually impossible to find on or near the Las Vegas Strip.

At the moment, there’s no craps available at Oyo. Dice has higher labor costs than other table games, as it requires two dealers, a stickman and usually a manager or “box man.” Yes, the terminology is sexist. It’s craps, get used to it.

Oyo has six blackjack tables. They all had a $10 minimum during our visit on opening day, and each paid 3-to-2, except for the $1 table which paid 6-to-5.

Yes, this stuff matters to many gamblers.

There was a roulette table, with a $5 minimum. Oyo clearly would like people to play.

Oyo casino

Oyo is an initialism that stands for “on your own,” so it should probably be capitalized. We don’t live by society’s rules.

While we had what’s traditionally referred to as “our ass handed to us” at blackjack, it was a great time. Staff seemed genuinely happy to be back to work, and despite being petite, Oyo’s casino has fun, welcoming atmosphere.

The Hooters restaurant was open, although the Hooters Saloon wasn’t.

Oyo Hooters Saloon

Bars have reopened in Las Vegas, so we trust the Hooters Saloon will as well.

Oyo’s Steak ‘n Shake hasn’t reopened yet, ditto the Southside Eatery snack bar.

The poolside Splash Cantina is open, though.

Oyo’s Night Owl Showroom is obviously still closed, but we hear Nevada’s 50-person gathering limit will soon be bumped to 250 people, so that could clear the way for some shows to return.

By “some shows,” of course, we mean “Cherry Boom Boom,” of course.

Cherry Boom Boom

We miss your choreography and character arcs, “Cherry Boom Boom.”

The bottom line is Oyo’s back in the game, and any time a casino reopens, it’s great news.

We’ll be back for wings, dice (when business warrants) and to recoup our 100 clams. Or possibly simoleons. What is money called now? Kale? How lame would be be to say you dropped some “kale” playing blackjack in Vegas? Whatever shekels are called now, we’re getting some back. We are securing the bag. Is that a thing? Oh, as if you actually read this far, anyway.

Welcome back, Oyo!

Vital Vegas Files Anti-SLAPP Motion in Defamation Lawsuit

In case you missed it, we were sued by Sahara casino for a rumor we shared about the possible closure of the Las Vegas resort.

After our story went live, Sahara reached out to express concerns, and as a courtesy, we did a retraction. Apparently, that didn’t satisfy Sahara.

Sahara sued for “defamation.” Here’s the lawsuit (.pdf format).

While we bent over backwards to work with Sahara, we weren’t willing to just bend over.

The First Amendment: Still a thing.

We sought out representation, and hired the attorney who helped draft Nevada’s anti-SLAPP statute, Marc Randazza. Randazza is one of the foremost First Amendment lawyers in the country.

Put simply, Nevada’s anti-SLAPP law protects free speech.

SLAPP stands for “strategic lawsuits against public participation,” and SLAPP suits are often used to intimidate and silence critics through expensive legal proceedings.

Wikipedia says, “The plaintiff’s goals are accomplished if the defendant succumbs to fear, intimidation, mounting legal costs or simple exhaustion and abandons the criticism.”

Anti-SLAPP laws are intended to prevent people or companies from threats of groundless defamation cases.

So, on Sep. 18, 2020, we filed an anti-SLAPP motion (.pdf format).

We think the anti-SLAPP motion is a masterpiece, although it’s possible we’re biased.

We think this motion speaks for itself.

If you think the law is boring, you’ve never satisfied the first prong. Just saying.

A key component of the motion is something called “actual malice.”

Defamation has to meet certain criteria: Our story would have had to be published with: 1) knowledge it was false or, 2) reckless disregard of whether it was false or not.

Neither of those things is even remotely true.

It’s unfortunate Sahara felt it was necessary to go this route. We’ve always been a fan of the place and have rooted for it to succeed. We certainly have never rooted for it to close.

At this point, it’s not really about whether Sahara might close or not. It’s about free speech.

We hold the First Amendment in extraordinarily high regard, and we think it’s worth fighting for.

Stay tuned, and thanks for all the kind words of support during this surreal saga.

Update (10/20/20): A judge granted our anti-SLAPP motion and the case has been dismissed. Turns out, free speech is worth fighting for.

Anti-Slapp Dismissed

Some of our favorite boom of 2020.

Four Queens Confirms It’s Not Smoke-Free

Park MGM recently announced it will be a completely smoke-free casino. Four Queens can’t say the same.

A five-car fire in the popular downtown casino’s parking garage caused about $500,000 worth of damage on Sep. 17, 2020. The fire happened at about 1:40 a.m.

Four Queens fire

Here’s the damage viewed from Golden Nugget’s porte cochere.

The cause of the fire is unknown, but a chemical reaction involving oxygen, fuel and heat has not been ruled out.

There were no injuries, so we get to make all the smoking jokes we want. All due respect to car nuts.

Damage to the west side of the Four Queens garage is dramatic.

Four Queens fire

Even with fire damage, the Four Queens garage is still cleaner than many casino parking structures. You know who you are.

Four Queens is one of our favorite downtown casinos and we’re glad nobody was hurt during the car fire.

Usually the hottest things at Four Queens are our winning streaks on Wheel of Fortune.

Here’s a last look at the fire damage, because public interest about this has been off the charreds.

Four Queens garage fire

We’re fairly sure that “charred” joke would’ve been funnier if spoken aloud. Fairly.

There’s no way we’re writing a story about Four Queens without a gratuitous fun fact.

The builder of Four Queens was Ben Goffstein. The “four queens” were his daughters. Their names: Faith, Hope, Benita and Michele.

Four Queens is currently owned by Terry Caudill, who purchased the casino in 2003.

Caudill also owns Binion’s, another one of our favorite Las Vegas casinos, and not just because the chicken tenders at Whiskey Licker Up are one of the best things we’ve ever placed our mouth on.

Shout-out to our Las Vegas firepersons who showed this fire who’s boss.

Las Vegas Bars, Taverns, Breweries and Pubs to Reopen

Following an agonizing, 70-day closure due to COVID-19 concerns, Las Vegas bars, including those with bartop video poker, will reopen at 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, Sep. 20, 2020.

So, basically, video poker bars are back Monday, Sep. 21. Finally.

You go, Nevada COVID-19 Mitigation and Management Task Force. Try saying that five times, fast.

Prohibition Bar Golden Gate

Vegas is about to get unprohibitioned.

We got wind of bars reopening several days ago, and the rumors were confirmed on Sep. 17, 2020.

Bars that do not serve food have been closed since July 10, 2020.

Now, many of the things you love about Vegas are back. The bartender banter, the quads and royal flushes, the hook-ups with similarly negative-testing guests, the steady supply of comped drinks when you gamble, all back.

Bars are reopening with the standard safety protocols in place, naturally, including mandatory masks.

The guidelines include social distancing and a 50 percent capacity limit.

Whatever we need to do, we’re ready. Ditto, our liver.

Gustav's Paris

It’s time to get reacquainted with some old Vegas friends.

It’s been an extraordinarily tough time for a lot of bars, many of which rely on gambling revenue to survive. A legal challenge by more than 60 bar owners to the closure order failed.

We prefer to focus on the positive news rather than the cavalcade of WTF (great band name there), and we’re just thrilled to be betting video poker bars back.

In anticipation of the reopening, we compiled a list of 11 Places We’re Going When Las Vegas Gets Video Poker Bars Back.

We’ll see you at the bar.

You have no idea how good it feels to say that again.