Category Archives: Gambling

Lucky Player Snags Million-Dollar Jackpot at Cannery Casino

There’s been a spate of big wins in Las Vegas casinos in recent weeks. This, despite the fact we’re only partially sure “spate” means what we think it means.

Eh, we’ll go with “plethora” just to be on the safe side.

The local’s win was a whopping $1,024,065.45, rounded down to $1,024,065 because there’s a coin shortage.

The wager? A mere $3.75.

Poor Ryan probably got carpal tunnel writing out that number!

This big hit happened in the wee hours (2:19 a.m.) of Sep. 10, 2021 at Cannery in north Las Vegas. The win was officially announced Sep. 13. Our Twitter followers heard about the humongous jackpot on Sep. 12, mainly because we omniscient. Or possibly because our Twitter tipsters are are bad-asses, but mostly that first thing.

The million-dollar-plus jackpot was hit on a Buffalo Grand slot machine. That was a big relief to Cannery, owned by Boyd Gaming, as those jackpots are paid by the machine manufacturer, not the casino.

How much does the player actually get out of that million-dollar prize? Generally, The Man holds onto 27% for federal tax purposes, or about $276,000. Government do take a bite, don’t she?

That leaves about $748,000, or the equivalent of 57,582 Chili Stuffed Idaho Baked Potatoes at the casino’s cafe.

As we always say, the next best thing to hitting a monster jackpot is being able to pretend we’re happy for someone else hitting one!

Big wins keep the Vegas dream alive, so congrats to the lucky winner, complete lack of resentmentwise.

Old-School Main Street Station Casino Reopens Downtown

It somehow turned out to be the most-anticipated casino reopening coming out of the pandemic, and it was worth the wait.

Downtown’s Main Street Station, owned by Boyd Gaming, reopened on Sep. 8, 2021, after being closed since March 2020.

The drinks were flowing, the quads were bountiful and it was glorious revisiting all the weirdness for which Main Street Station is known, or should be.

Main Street Station

Our fellow OCD sufferers will be relieved to hear they’re working on fixing the neon.

Weird how, you ask?

Well, Main Street Station isn’t your typical Las Vegas casino.

Prior to it being Main Street Station, the hotel was The Park. It was purchased by Bob Snow in 1986, and he spent about $80 million improving the place.

Snow brought a weird a wonderful collection of antiques and oddities to Main Street Station, a collection he’d spent 25 years building. Unfortunately, Snow was a better antique collector than casino operator (at one point, Main Street Station was losing $200,000 a month), and the casino filed for bankruptcy protection in 1992.

Boyd bought Main Street Station in 1993 and wisely chose to keep the casino’s oddities on display.

Our favorite is probably a portion of the Berlin Wall in the men’s restroom.

Where can you eat, drink, gamble and express your disdain for Communism? Main Street!

Don’t have a freak-out, ladies. Security can escort you in when the coast is clear.

Our next favorite bit of weirdness is Winston Churchill’s snooker table, discreetly available for viewing via an unassuming elevator with a “Lift” sign.

If you’re wondering who Winston Churchill is, you probably went to public school in Nevada, which is why we need the lottery.

The helpful brochure highlighting Main Street Station’s Artifacts, Antiques and Artworks has been freshly updated, and we got our hands on it, of course. You’re welcome.

There are fascinating things at every turn, and one could spend a full day seeking out all these oddball discoveries.

These brass doors come from the Kuwait Royal Bank. If you’re wondering what Kuwait is, oh, nevermind.

While not an antique, also keep your eyes peeled for this artwork. We love it. There’s another one just like it at The Cal.

If you think we’re just showing you this because we like it, you don’t know this blog at all.

Casino nerds will, of course, note the dice in this piece of art, pipwise.

LeRoy Neiman was an art person, not a pip person. Opposite sides of the dice should always add up to the number between six and eight.

Such diversions should be augmented by drinking and gambling, of course, and those are in plentiful supply at Main Street Station.

Main Street Station isn’t flashy, but it’s a solid value and one of our favorite places to play downtown.

It was great being back in Main Street Station, and they even made sure we had a winning video poker session. Such thoughtfulness!

We got eight quads in a few hours, including two quad aces and four deuces. We were also dealt quad 10s, and just to show how good we are at video poker, also got a dealt
straight flush.

Video poker, the ultimate game of skill.

The bartenders were awesome at Boar’s Head Bar, and after 20 or so years visiting Main Street Station, we discovered these awesome elephants holding the brass rail at the bar.

Main Street Station is utterly unique, as opposed to the other kinds of unique.

Frequent visitors to Main Street Station will notice some changes, including fewer table games. About half of the games have been removed, replaced with electronic games. This is an increasingly common cost-saving measure, as we’ve covered extensively.

Main Street Station’s table game minimums are still some of the best around, with $10 minimums on most table games. Main Street still offers player-friendly 20x odds on craps.

We were surprised to see there was no roulette table.

Main Street Station

We trust Amazon will be delivering additional machines for this area shortly.

Another change at Main Street Station is its coin machines are gone. Another Boyd casino, Fremont casino, removed its coin machines in Oct. 2020. A third Boyd casino downtown, The Cal, still has coin machines. El Cortez is about the only other downtown casino with coin machines, unless you count Sigma Derby at The D.

Fun fact: On The Strip, hit Circus Circus for coin machines if you enjoy getting your hands dirty.

Other changes at Main Street Station include the hours of operation of its restaurants.

On the bright side, and to everyone’s surprise, the Garden Court buffet is back. It’s open daily 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. for brunch ($18.99) and Friday/Saturday 4:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. for dinner ($25.99).

Easily the most comely buffet waiting area in Las Vegas.

The popular Triple 7 restaurant was packed on reopening night, possibly because it also has a brewery on-site. And poke, whatever that might actually be. See the menu here.

Triple 7 is open 5:00 p.m. to midnight, Thursday through Monday only. We trust that could change based upon demand.

Triple 7 Main Street

Hearty eats and fresh brews, also known as slot fuel.

It’s worth noting, parking isn’t free as was the case for a long time. Out front, a surface lot costs $5 per hour with a $25 per day maximum. Self-parking in the garage is a flat $10 Monday through Thursday, $20 Friday and Sunday, with the first 30 minutes free.

Parking is free for Emerald and Sapphire tier level members of the loyalty club. Main Street Station will also validate for “Dining & Gaming Guests.” That means free parking if you spend $20 or more at a restaurant or earn at least 20 tier credits or more in the casino.

Given Main Street’s challenging location, paid parking is a bold move.

Overall, Main Street Station is just as you remember it.

The customers are mostly visitors from Hawaii, the staff is friendly and it’s a wildly different experience from a typical Strip casino.

You won’t find an ultraclub or Cirque show at this downtown gem, but Main Street Station is Las Vegas the way we like it best.

Quiet, cheap, quirky and gambling is still very much king.

Player Hits $1 Million Video Poker Jackpot at Cosmo

The next best thing to hitting a million-dollar jackpot in Las Vegas is hearing about somebody else hitting one.

Distant second, but still.

A lucky high limit video poker player snagged a $1 million jackpot at Cosmopolitan on Labor Day, Sep. 6, 2021.

So many zeroes, it’s like the gratuity line on a Raiders restaurant tab.

The jackpot was hit on a Ten Play Draw Poker machine. The game was Triple Double Bonus Poker.

The winning hand was four aces with a “kicker.” (That’s four aces with a 2,3 or 4). Making the win even sweeter, the hand was dealt.

The jackpot was won with a $1,250 spin.

At the time of the win, the player only had $35,000 in credits left, so they were cutting it close!

Seriously, though, high rollers live in an alternate reality the rest of us can only imagine.

Cosmopolitan high limit slots

If you’re looking for the high limit room at Cosmo, just follow the sparkle.

According to Cosmo, the win marks a new record for the largest, non-wide-area progressive at the Strip resort.

A “wide-area progressive” (shortened to WAP in the casino industry), is a system that links slot machines across many casinos to generate large jackpots. Wheel of Fortune and Megabucks are examples of WAPs.

WAP jackpots are paid by the machine manufacturer, while “local” progressives (sometimes called a “bank”) are paid by the casino. Local progressives are usually tied to an individual game.

There are probably more magical words than “jackpot handpay,” but we can’t think of any.

While a million-dollar win is great, it’s not really the best perk of playing in Cosmo’s high limit room.

That would be the free cookies. The pandemic messed with the high limit cookies for a bit, but they’re back, individually wrapped now for greater sensitivity and protection.

The real jackpot.

No word yet on what the player tipped for their million-dollar win, but we trust it was more than $200. Ahem.

The prospect of winning a big jackpot is why Las Vegas exists. Sin City was built upon two things: Optimism and short memories.

Congrats to Cosmopolitan’s big winner, and we are in no way resentful for their good fortune! At all.

Rumor: Player Tips $200 After Hitting $1.1 Million Jackpot at Golden Nugget

It’s a too-familiar story, but a million-dollar-plus jackpot winner at Golden Nugget is rumored to have left a $200 tip. Face, meet palm.

The player won $1.1 million on the Crazy 4 Poker progressive.

That’s not the rumor part.

Took a few years, but this sucker finally paid off.

Golden Nugget employees and others (who wished to remain anonymous) shared word of the painfully small $200 tip.

Cue the asshats chiming in with, “At least he left them something!”

To which we tend to respond, “Oy,” or something similarly clever.

One source said the player is a Las Vegas local, so they should “know how this works.”

We also hear the player’s wife won $5,000 on the winning hand (known as an “Envy” bet in Crazy 4 Poker) and tipped zero.

How Las Vegas works is many casino employees rely on tips for their livelihoods. Yes, it’s a
fundamentally flawed system, blah, blah, blah, but it’s the system we’ve got.

Fun fact: As a nod to its history, Golden Nugget uses a camera from 1946, the year the casino opened.

The subject of tipping, or not, on large jackpots has sparked some lively debates in social media.

We recently shared on Twitter that another winner, at Circa Las Vegas, tipped $200 on a $120,000-plus jackpot.

The responses to the Tweet were, how do we put this diplomatically, wide-ranging.

Many (sadly, most) of the people who responded to our Tweet rationalized the $200 tip, with many saying they’d have tipped nothing.

This inspired a listicle on our podcast, which we’re going to share again for posterity.

Top 10 Excuses for Not Tipping

1. “Employers don’t pay enough.”
2. “Tipping is optional.”
3. “They didn’t tip me when I was losing.”
4. “Tipping is a tool of oppression.”
5. “I have to pay taxes on my winnings.”
6. “These people already make a lot of money.”
7. “They didn’t do very much.”
8. “I didn’t have any cash.”
9. “We don’t tip in my country of origin.”
10. “I’m a clueless bonehead.”

In the defense of the clueless, it’s true large jackpot winners don’t get their winnings in cash. That’s the only excuse that even marginally works here, and it should be noted there’s no time limit on tipping. It’s perfectly acceptable to come back hours or even days later to tip the crew.

We’d love to hear that’s what happened with our $1.1 million winner! We’ll wait.

At this juncture, we usually get the question, “So, what’s the appropriate amount to tip?”

The answer is a trap, of course, as there’s no amount that’s going to satisfy everyone. It’s not a set amount, and while some suggest a percentage of the big win, that’s rather absurd as the gratuity could be outragious.

For example, just a 2% tip on $1.1 million would be $22,000. While casino staff wouldn’t get upset about such a tip, um, no.

While we’re an advocate for generous tipping, we don’t personally tip extravagantly. We aren’t
talking about ridiculous tipping here, we’re advocating reasonable tipping, and that’s highly
subjective.

What’s a reasonable tip for a $1.1 million jackpot? We’ll put it this way: It’s more than $200.

You can’t spell “tip” without “tipsy.” That’s it, that’s the whole photo caption.

We also get this question a lot, “Who should I tip?”

Again, it’s up to you, but here’s our answer: Anyone who made your experience better. If it’s a
table game win, the list includes dealers, cocktail servers and the folks who bring your money. With slots, it’s servers and slot attendants.

Don’t feel obligated to stop there, however. Bathroom attendants, valets, security guards and
cage cashiers all contributed to your unforgettable night, feel free to lavish them with cash as you see fit.

And don’t forget about selfless bloggers whose words and poorly-focused photographs keep you connected to Las Vegas between visits. We wouldn’t accept a gratuity, of course, but that shouldn’t prevent you from offering.

Here’s the question that’s the foundation of all this: Why tip?

First, it’s customary. Las Vegas runs on tips, it’s woven into the culture. If you don’t believe in
tipping, or can’t afford to tip appropriately, you need not visit Las Vegas and its casinos. You should also probably avoid leaving your home, as tipping is a thing everywhere in America. Pretty straightforward.

Second, it’s karma. While it may not make logical sense to give away money when it’s “optional,”
tipping isn’t driven by logic, just as visiting a casino isn’t driven by logic. It’s about mojo, and what goes around comes around. Your gratuity is a statement of your appreciation and generosity, an investment in achieving your next big win.

Tipping is simply the right thing to do.

If nothing else, the subject of tipping is a wonderful conversation-starter. How someone views
tipping says a lot about them as a human being.

Here’s a useful analogy: Big tippers are dog people, poor tippers are cat people. (That sound you hear is us ducking.)

The ultimate goal is to be considered a “George,” casino slang for a big tipper.

Better yet, be a Benjamin. Inflation and such.

Hell-Ton of Table Games Replaced With Machines at Caesars Entertainment Casinos

Caesars Entertainment is in the process of removing entire swaths of table games at its Las Vegas casinos.

The table games are being replaced with electronic table games and slot machines.

At Flamingo, for example, a large table games pit outside Charlos’n Charlie’s is now populated by slots.

Flamingo casino

Simply put, slots don’t need breaks or vacation or health benefits.

The move from table games to machines has flown largely under the radar, but that’s why there’s an us.

We visited several Caesars Entertainment casinos on The Strip and the changes are dramatic.

At each of the casinos we visited, large portions of the casino floor have either already been transformed, or changes are currently being made.

Here’s what’s up at Harrah’s.

Harrah's changes

Harrah’s is currently home to fewer table games and Toby Keiths.

This process is a cost-cutting measure, as machines are much less labor-intensive than table games. While the transition from live table games to electronic slot machines was underway prior to the pandemic, it’s now happening in a concerted way across all Caesars Entertainment casinos.

The accelerated move from table games to machines follows on the heels of the acquisition of Caesars Entertainment by Eldorado Resorts.

Eldorado leaders have made it clear they’re looking to save millions with “synergies.” Reducing table games dealer ranks is one of them.

Loyalty club desks are out, kiosks are in.

Those “synergies” also include closing VIP Laurel Lounges, closing most of the buffets at Caesars resorts and closing a number of entertainment venues.

Cuts have even extended to the liquor realm. Caesars recently reduced its standard liquor pour size from 1.25 ouces to .75 ounces at a number of venues. That one hurt.

At Cromwell, a popular table games area is closed, with machines being moved in.

It doesn’t take a detective to see where changes are happening. Black curtains are the new big, red arrows.

Oh, like we’re just going to show a photo of curtains. Do you know this blog at all?

Cromwell table games

Here’s a peek behind the curtain at Cromwel. Those are slot machine base thingies.

Caesars Entertainment has been up front about focusing on its core business, gambling.

The CEO of Caesars, Tom Reeg, even said the company isn’t reopening its buffets because it’s not the company’s responsibility to feed guests. His quote was, “God forbid they stop at McDonald’s on the way home.”

A visible symbol of the evolution of Las Vegas casinos is the roll-out (pun intended) of Roll to Win Craps. This new game is a fun twist on classic craps, will an illuminated table and terminals giving players full control of their action.

The awkward side of this new game is it only requires one dealer, as opposed to three on the traditional game (four if you include the boxman).

Across town, Roll to Win Craps tables are packed, presumbly because players like the visuals, but actually it’s because table minimums are lower. These new machines aren’t bad, they’re just, well, different.

Roll to Win Craps tables (at left) are now at all Caesars casinos in Las Vegas, right next to old-timey tables (at right).

The use of “stadium style” slot machines has exploded in recent years. These games make it possible for dozens of players to take part, with either one dealer or, if the casino chooses, no
dealers.

Saving money on labor is the name of the game in Las Vegas, and this has been the case for several years now.

The replacement of so many table games with machines, all at once, is a very visible sign of the direction of Las Vegas casinos.

Machines are definitely making moves in Las Vegas casinos.

Electronic games not only save casinos money on labor costs, they are also touted as being more appealing to a younger casino customer. Gambling revenue has declined in recent years, and younger players are a coveted demographic, mostly unfazed by “skill-based” games floated so far.

On the bright side, there are still a lot of tables games available.

At each of the Caesars Entertainment casinos we visited, there were still a huge selection of tables. Essentially, casinos aren’t entirely replacing tables, they’ve just determined there are too many, so send in the robots.

Here’s a quick walk-through of the table games area at Flamingo.

Fair warning: Guests who haven’t visited recently may have some sticker shock at the table minimums, but that’s a reflection of demand, and demand is very strong at the moment.

As there’s unlikely to be a new wave of demand for table games, expect this to be the new normal in Las Vegas casinos.

While we love electronic table games and slots, removing table games can change the vibe of a casino.

Ultimately, the sales pitch continues to be, “There’s something for everyone, and that includes budget.” Table games require bigger bankrolls, so lower cost options are welcomed by value-seeking players.

We’d ask Caesars Entertainment what percentage of its offerings have gone from live to mechanical, but asking Caesars anything is like whistling in a wind tunnel while jamming sporks in your eyes. Yes, sporks.

Cromwell, formerly home to 100x craps odds and low limit single zero roulette. Now, not so much.

You know we’ll report further on this trend as the evolution of Las Vegas casinos continues.

Investors don’t hate Caesars Entertainment’s direction. The stock is up 167% over the past year and 524% over the past five years.

The big picture concern is the Las Vegas experience isn’t all that different from other casino experiences across the country. It’s called “commoditization.” Increased competition, due to the legalization of gambling across the U.S., was a problem prior to the pandemic, and it will be again once the recovery bump subsides.

Remove table games and casinos run the risk of making Las Vegas casinos more like the local places in everyone’s hometown.

There’s a chance Las Vegas is stepping over a dollar to pick up quarters. We’d have said “dimes,” but Vegas doesn’t do dimes. Long story.

Udpate (7/27/21): John Mehaffey, casino enthusiast and owner of VegasAdvantage.com, saw our story and compiled a list of table reductions at Caesars Entertainment casinos. The biggest reductions were at Cromwell (41%), Harrah’s (32%) and Paris (22%). Overall, the number of table games has been reduced by 17% since late 2020.

Keno Lounge Closes at El Cortez Casino

Yet another keno lounge has closed, this time at El Cortez casino on Fremont Street.

Live keno has seen a slow decline in recent months (years, really). Anther downtown casino, Four Queens, shut down its keno room on May 31, 2021.

Unrelated to the story, we just like what El Cortez has done with its high limit room.

The bottom line is keno lounges take up a good deal of space and don’t really generate a lot of revenue for casinos. They’re more an amenity, like salons and poker rooms and those branded pens you constantly steal, although, in your defense, is it really “stealing” if they want you to steal them?

Here’s a look at the former keno lounge area at El Cortez.

El Cortez keno closed

Keno runners are now more rare than royal flushes in Las Vegas.

On the bright side, closing a keno lounge is sparing gamblers the pain of learning, often the hard way, live keno has the worst odds of any game in a casino. By far.

Keno’s house advantage can be 35 percent or more.

Still, live keno is woven into the fabric of the Las Vegas casino experience. Or was woven. Longtime keno fans enjoy the slow pace, and low cost, of the game. It’s a way to kill some time and enjoy some comped beverages.

These days, keno is tougher to find than ever. Las Vegas has about half the keno parlors it did 25 years ago. The vast majority of keno lounges are downtown or at locals casinos.

In further disappointing news, El Cortez now charges a five percent fee for its coin exchange service. The service was once free.

Moist coins are apparently a thing.

Hey, no casino’s perfect, and El Cortez remains one of our favorite places to play downtown.

El Cortez is an old-school casino, with great values, including an extraordinarily low bar to qualify for comped drinks. Literally, 20 cents a hand on video poker.

Strip casinos are experiencing heart palpitations right now.

If you haven’t visited El Cortez, it’s well worth a stroll down Fremont Street.

El Cortez is a grittier casino experience than what you might find on The Strip, but its throwback vibe, low minimums and friendly staff make it a downtown gem, keno or not.