Category Archives: Gambling

Downtown Grand Offers $1 Blackjack, It’s Complicated

Downtown Grand is serving up a rare deal for its casino guests, blackjack with a $1 minimum.

Downtown Grand Tweeted the news on Oct. 16, 2020, along with the fact it’s the only downtown casino to offer $1 blackjack.

Downtown Grand $1 blackjack

How’s this for a little throwback action?

The response to this news has been counter-intuitive, to say the least. Responses to Downtown Grand’s Tweet include the following.

“Oh, dear.”

“That’s terrible.”

“That’s gonna reel in some quality patrons.”

“I feel for the dealers.”

“Poor dealers.”

That’s because $1 blackjack is a little, well, awkward.

Downtown Grand has struggled to be profitable for years, and offering $1 blackjack could be perceived as a little bit desperate.

The only other casino we can think of with $1 blackjack is Oyo, formerly Hooters.

The economics of a $1 blackjack table are such it’s pretty much a loss leader for a casino due to labor costs.

If everyone at a $1 table actually plays that amount per hand, a $1 6-to-5 blackjack table will only generate about $43,300 in an entire year.

A 6-to-5 $5 minimum blackjack table generates a meager $25 per hour in revenue, or $216,000 a year. A $5 3-to-2 table earns about $86,000 a year.

Now you know the answer to the question, “Why can’t I find any $5 3-to-2 blackjack tables?”

The general idea is to lure players into a casino for $1 blackjack hoping they’ll spend money on other games, whether at other tables or slots or restaurants or the bar.

blackjack

Fun fact: Playing blackjack is the closest we get to liking math.

While a $1 blackjack table may seem enticing, the games often have rules that hurt players.

For example, $1 minimum tables tend to be 6-to-5 payouts for blackjacks, rather than 3-to-2. (It’s worth noting a lot of higher limit tables are 6-to-5 as well.)

In low minimum blackjack games, dealers also hit soft 17, not optimal for players.

Value-seekers should take note of the $1 blackjack at Downtown Grand and enjoy it while it lasts.

We always enjoy Downtown Grand, as we like the generous video poker pay tables and frequent drinks (from the bottle, not the gun) at Furnace bar, and if you like a mellow, quiet casino, Downtown Grand’s hard to beat.

Also, one of our favorite restaurants, Triple George, is mere feet away.

That Time We Learned About Burning the Dice in Craps

We’ve played craps a time or two during our innumerable Las Vegas outings, but until recently had never heard the term “burning the dice.”

A helpful yet surly floor supervisor at one of our favorite casinos shared that “burning the dice” is a method cheaters use, so it’s not permitted.

“Burning the dice” is when a player rubs the dice against the table felt repeatedly in an attempt to dull the corners and influence the roll.

dice hard six

Players should take care to avoid friction with the felt, as well as casino management.

Casinos are always on the lookout for cheaters, of course, so there are a number of rules and procedures to prevent tampering with the dice or making rolls less random, the way Mother Nature intended.

Longtime followers of this blog will recall we compiled a list of 11 Casino Dice Security Measures to Keep Players From Cheating. It was the one time we did “research” and “took notes.”

Security steps include the serial numbers on dice, making dice translucent, backfilling the pips, canceling used dice and the aforementioned sharp corners.

Dice pips drilling filling

The dots on dice are pips. When they’re drilled, they’re filled back in (backfilled) to ensure perfect balance.

Here’s a fun game. Whenever you see an advertisement for a casino, make sure to notice whether the dice have rounded or sharp corners. If the corners are rounded, you know somebody slipped up, as dice with rounded corners are never used in casinos.

Dice with rounded corners are typically used in board games and for other non-gambling purposes.

Once you start noticing dice corners, you can’t not see them!

Even bigtime movies get casino dice wrong. Check out this still from the popular documentary starring Bruce Willis, “Armageddon.”

Armageddon dice

We trust this prop person never worked in Hollywood again.

We call “no roll” on that one! Landing on an asteroid to divert it from a collision course with Earth is a lot more believable than a casino using dice with rounded corners.

Now, you know.

Knowing what “burning the dice” is will win you a bar bet someday, or at least help you avoid the wrath of a casino pit boss.

Note: Yes, we know a pit boss is different from a floor supervisor. We honestly didn’t expect you to read this far.

Circa, The D and Golden Gate Revamp Players Club, There’s a Twist

The casino loyalty club for The D, Golden Gate and upcoming Circa is getting an overhaul, including a new set of tiers.

The new One Club tiers have been officially announced, but we’re even more intrigued by one that hasn’t. Been announced. Please try and keep up.

Here’s a look at three of the four new One Club tiers: Gambler, Maverick and Legend.

One Card loyalty club Circa

Fun fact: One Club’s tier names were inspired by characters from “Top Gun.” Additional fun fact: We may have just made that up.

Among other things, it’s refreshing to see a casino calling it “gambling” rather than “gaming.”

If you look closely at the graphic, the colors of the cards correspond to the circles in the background. Three cards, four colors.

Teases!

We hear there’s another tier, for elite players, that won’t be available to the general public. Invite only. Or as it’s called in the business, an “aspirational tier.”

We already have our eye on you, aspirational tier.

Word is the name of the highest tier is a nod to Vegas Vickie, the iconic neon sign making her return to Fremont Street when Circa opens on Oct. 28, 2020, kicking leg and all.

Vegas Vickie Circa

Not a rendering! Thanks to our friends at Circa for letting us be the first to share their amazing photo of a restored Vegas Vickie on the Twitters. Yes, we got weepy.

While we couldn’t ferret out details about this “mystery” fourth tier, we did snag specifics about the three official One Club tiers.

Here’s an exclusive first look.

One Club benefits

Who brings the boom? We’ll wait.

We asked, and One Club has no plans to tier match at the moment. (That’s where casinos match an existing tier status at a competing casino to get your play.)

It’s worth noting players get cash back at the Legend level. We’re pretty sure that’s new.

We’ve found One Club to be very generous with its perks, and it appears that won’t be changing with the new players club structure.

We play at The D and Golden Gate fairly often, and actually find it challenging to use all our free play and dining benefits. We seem to rack up comp dollars quickly, too, hence the embarrassingly large number of branded clothing items in our closet acquired from The D’s gift shop.

The new loyalty club tiers for Circa, The D and Golden Gate debut Oct. 23, 2020.

The Oct. 28 opening of Circa Las Vegas is the most exciting thing to happen in Las Vegas in 2020, and the new loyalty club tiers and perks are icing on the cake.

See you at Circa! And The D. And Golden Gate. We don’t want to play favorites.

Caesars Entertainment Buys William Hill Sportsbooks

Casino giant Caesars Entertainment has made its first big move since merging with Eldorado Resorts. The company has acquired William Hill, the sports book folks.

Caesars is purchasing William Hill for $3.7 billion, and the deal is expected to close in the second half of 2021.

William Hill Caesars

For each share held, William Hill shareholders will get 272 pence. We have no idea what those are, but they sound adorable.

Sports betting has taken off in recent years, despite our best efforts, and it’s clear Caesars Entertainment wanted a bigger piece of the action.

The purchase of William Hill wasn’t without some drama, of course. Apollo Global Management was also interested, but Caesars made it clear if Apollo won the bidding war, Caesars would pull the plug on its deal with William Hill.

William Hill has an existing partnership with Caesars Entertainment, running its sports book operations at Caesars casinos in 16 states across the U.S.

It sounds like Caesars will sell off William Hill’s overseas assets, including in the U.K., where William Hill is based.

As we are not a sports person, we’re sort of baffled by the Caesars Entertainment purchase of William Hill.

Caesars has about $8.8 billion in debt already, and this seems a hefty investment in a part of the casino business that brings in relatively little revenue.

Sports books tend to be an amenity for players, like salons and poker rooms.

Sports book

Yes, this is exactly what everyone at every sports book looks like.

For example, in August 2020, Nevada casinos made $17 million from sports betting. That’s all Nevada casinos, combined. Before taxes and expenses.

While $475 million was wagered, the “hold” was a mere 3.58 percent.

We keep hearing people talking about the “fast-growing legal sports betting industry in the U.S.,” so we’re probably missing something.

Casino companies are obviously betting big on the potential future growth of online sports wagering, and online gambling in general.

Ultimately, such acquisitions tend to be about data. Yours, specifically. Each of these companies have valuable databases, and now they get to share.

It’s unlikely sports bettors will see many changes to their favorite sports books resulting from this deal.

Opinions vary widely about William Hill, with approximately one percent of its customers kvetching 24/7, but the company pretty much owns the sports book realm in Las Vegas.

William Hill Tropicana

Yes, we accidentally took a photo of the sports book at Tropicana. We were drunk.

Sports, in general, is taking up more Las Vegas bandwidth, given its new big league teams, the Vegas Golden Knights and Las Vegas Raiders.

The bottom line: Good luck finding a Las Vegas bar or restaurant without sports on.

You can read more about “compelling strategic rationale” of the purchase of William Hill by Caesars Entertainment in the news release.

Or just read our superficial and clueless take on this “historic acquisition” again. You do you.

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.

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!