Category Archives: Gambling

First Skill-Based Slot Machines in Las Vegas Debut, Here’s the Low-Down

Skill-based slot machines, the subject of much buzz and speculation over the last couple of years, have officially arrived in a Las Vegas casino.

The first skill-based slot machines in Las Vegas can now be played at Planet Hollywood, and we’ve got all the details about what casinos are hoping will help deal with “The Millennial Problem.”

Gamblit skill-based slot machines

Welcome to Las Vegas, you sexy, skill-based vixens, you.

The Millennial Problem, of course, is the belief on the part of casinos and slot machine makers that traditional slots are “losing their luster,” especially with younger customers, specifically, millennials. While the number of millennials visiting Las Vegas is going up (roughly 34 percent of the city’s 43 million visitors in 2016 were millennials, an increase of 24 percent since 2015), casinos cite a decline in slot machine play as evidence millennials raised on video games don’t find traditional slot machines compelling.

There’s some debate about whether The Millennial Problem actually exists, but damn it, casinos are out to solve it whether it exists or not. That’s where skill-based slot machines enter the picture.

Why, look, here’s one now. This is one of three skill-based slot machines at Planet Hollywood.

skill-based slot machine

If you’re a millennial, your nether region should be throbbing right about now.

Of the three games being tested on the casino floor at Planet Hollywood (the machines have to pass a field trial before regulatory approval can be granted), two are Gamblit Poker and the third is a game called Cannonbeard’s Treasure.

The first distinctive thing you notice about these skill-based games is you can’t play with yourself. Yes, we know how that sounds, we are a snark-based Las Vegas blog.

The machines can accommodate up to four players each, but not individual players.

It should be noted the machines currently won’t take loyalty club cards, in case you’re into that kind of thing.

Here’s how they work.

Gamblit Poker is a variation of (wait for it) poker. Players “grab” cards from a common pool of cards, building a hand of five cards. The player with the best hand wins the jackpot, the amount of which is determined by the machine.

Cannonbeard’s Treasure is a variation of blackjack. Players, again, grab cards from a pool of cards. The cards are added up, and the player whose card total is closest to the target number (without going over) wins the pot.

Here’s a look at how the simulated game play looks on the machines, courtesy of us risking our neck to get video of how the simulated game play looks on these machines.

A key element of skill-based machines, and what differentiates them from traditional slot machines, is customers aren’t playing against the machine (or a dealer), they’re playing against each other. The outcome is based upon skill, rather than chance alone.

Mind, meet blown.

So, let’s dig a bit deeper into the pros and cons of Gamblit Poker and Cannonbeard’s Treasure.

First, a big pro of these games is the low price to play. There’s a $2 Gamblit Poker and Cannonbeard’s Treasure is also $2. There’s also a $5 Gamblit Poker.

Second, the competitive and social aspects of skill-based games are undeniable. Traditional slot machines are solitary endeavors. With skill-based games, you can hang out with friends and do your best to relieve them of their hard-earned cash.

Observing people play skill-based slots, it’s easy to see how one’s competitive instincts can kick in, keeping players engaged and playing longer than they might otherwise.

Interactivity certainly does seem to be more appealing than staring blankly at a screen while repeatedly hitting a button.

skill-based slot machine

This is Cannonbeard’s Treasure. They had us as “each player gets not one, but two, cup holders.”

The biggest twist in this whole story, though, is millennials aren’t actually the ones playing skill-based games, at least not the ones at Planet Hollywood. Millennials are curious about the machines, but they’re hit-and-run looky-loos, rarely playing more than $20 a pop.

Truth be told, we didn’t see a ton of play on these machines at all. But when people played, they weren’t millennials. Who’s playing skill-based slots? Slot players. That’s right, older players who already enjoy slot machines. A representative of Gamblit confirmed millennials aren’t the majority of those playing skill-based slots.

That ought to give casino operators more than a few restless nights.

While play on the machines appears light, there’s obviously going to be a period when awareness of the games has to be raised. At Planet Hollywood, a small sign tells customers they can actually gamble on these tables. Most would mistake them for similar interactive, touchscreen tables like those in several Las Vegas lounges like Ignite at Monte Carlo, Encore Players Lounge at Wynn and iBar Ultra Lounge at Rio.

The new games are simply lost among the crop of current slot machines, many with massive vertical screens.

skill-based slot machines

Not gonna lie, we’re missing you a little right now, Quark’s Bar.

Those who did play the games seemed to spend a lot of time just sitting and drinking and talking. Which is great if you’re trying to increase revenue from drinks, but not so much if you’re trying to make money from gambling. At a table game, dealers and other players keep the pressure on to make more bets. The social aspect of skill-based games actually distracts from the gambling.

A critical downside to these games, though, has to do with perceived value.

As players make bets, the machine serves up the amount of the jackpot they’re trying to win. In the vast majority of cases, the jackpot is less than the players are contributing.

For example, we saw a couple sit down to play Gamblit Poker. They each bet $5, for a total contribution of $10. The jackpot was $7.50. They had fun playing, but the next pot was the same, ditto the one after that. It didn’t take the couple long to realize they were getting dinged a $2.50 “rake” with each passing hand.

The rake accumulates, similar to the jackpots in progressive machines. Part of the rake goes to the machine manufacturer, and the manufacturer has a revenue sharing agreement with the casino. We’ve yet to see any published information about the house edge for these games.

While the potential for larger jackpots is there (the max jackpot on the $5 machine is $1,200, $480 on the $2 machine), the couple cashed out and dashed. A Gamblit rep says the biggest jackpots happen several times each hour, but the perception problem means many players won’t be sticking around that long.

Presumably, though, the more play the machine gets, the more frequently the larger jackpots (considerably more than what the players are betting at any time) will hit.

There are some other peculiar aspects to these skill-based games.

For starters, we were told there will always be an attendant with the games. Why? Because they have to monitor the play to avoid collusion and bullying. We were told there’s the potential for experienced players, or teams, to take advantage of novice players. Essentially, there’s room for cheating.

A smaller annoyance, but one that’s undeniable, is the table surfaces require constant cleaning. Nobody wants to touch a screen that has hand smudges all over it, so attendants have to continually spritz and wipe the screens. High maintenance is right.

skill-based slot machines

Gamblit calls these skill-based slot machines “ModelG.” Find the ModelG spot near the Pleasure Pit, if you get our drift.

Overall, these new skill-based slot machines are a great conversation piece, and any “first” is a great PR opportunity.

It’s premature to say, though, skill-based slot machines are going to halt or reverse the decline of slot revenue trends. In fact, we’re going to venture they’ll have little or no effect on those numbers. Oh, yeah, we’re putting our naysaying right out there.

Gamblit officials have said they’re happy with the early results of their field test, but honestly, what would you expect them to say?

Here’s the bottom line, and it’s something you won’t hear often.

The fact is millennials are smarter than previous generations.

Millennials know more about gambling than their parents or grandparents ever did.

They know casinos have been gradually increasing the house edge for 20 years, and what millennials aren’t particularly interested in is being screwed. Shocker.

Millennials aren’t a thing, they’re people. People who happen to be technologically adept. People who value experiences. They’re people who know when the deck is stacked against them, and know when they’re being squeezed. They want value for their entertainment dollars, just like the rest of us.

Here’s how you solve The Millennial Problem. Lower the rake. Lower the minimums. Bring comped drinks more frequently. Let people take photos in the casino to share with friends.

The Millennial Problem isn’t a slot machine problem or a disposable income problem. It’s a perceived value problem.

And here’s hoping casinos are listening, because giving customers, young and old, better value and remarkable experiences is the solution. All due respect, Cannonbeard.

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How People Started Sitting at Slot Machines in Casinos

For the longest time, slot machines were the red-headed stepchild of casino gambling. They were the thing casinos had to offer to keep the wives of table games players (“real gamblers”) occupied.

It may sound absurd now, but in the early days of casino slot machines, players stood while they played. Which sucked in a number of ways.

Slot machines

Back in the day, everyone stood at slot machines. Probably because Top Dollar and Wheel of Fortune hadn’t been invented yet.

It’s believed a major turning point in how slot machines are played came about because of our human need to urinate. See, after feeding a slot machine for a period of time, players didn’t want to leave a machine to use the restroom for fear of losing their impending jackpot to another player.

Clever players began stealing chairs from nearby table games and took to leaning them against the slots to save their spot. This is a practice that continues today, despite it being incredibly annoying.

Slot machine leaning chair

On the Annoyance Scale, this is right up there with resort fees and cigars. Just stop.

It didn’t take long for customers to use the chairs to sit and play, thus changing the culture of slot machine play forever. Today’s slot machine chairs are plush and ergonomic, and many feature sophisticated sound systems and vibration functions to keep players engaged and entertained.

The folks at Binion’s in downtown Las Vegas claim they know the exact moment the practice of sitting at slot machines began.

In 1956, the Birdcage Casino opened at the corner of 1st Street and Fremont. The casino began offering customers a 10-cent keno slot, and the machines started raking it in. In response, Binion’s offered its own bank of 10-cent keno slot machines to compete with its neighbor.

It was inside Binion’s the practice of sitting down at slot machines began.

Today, slot machines account for as much as 85% of a casino’s revenue. One of the biggest measures of a machine’s profitability is known as “Time on Device,” or TOD, or the average time a gambler spends on a given slot machine.

Suffice to say, “Time on Device” has been increased immeasurably by the fact customers sit as they play.

Here’s another fun fact about Binion’s: It was the first downtown casino to get carpeting. How’d that happen? Presumably, a gambler ran up some debt with the casino’s owner at the time, Benny Binion, and repaid his debt by carpeting the joint.

Now you know!

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Everything You Need to Know About Stadium Blackjack

Stadium gambling is now a thing in Las Vegas casinos, and we figured it was time to check out Stadium Blackjack at Venetian.

In Stadium Blackjack, up to 44 players compete with one of two live dealers in, wait for it, stadium-style seating.

Stadium blackjack Venetian

Oh, all right, it’s nothing like a stadium. Just play along.

As with most games in a casino, Stadium Blackjack accomplishes a couple of key goals for The Man.

Casinos make more money when labor costs are lowered, and when there are more hands dealt. Since casino games have a built-in advantage for the house, more hands means more profit.

Here’s how Stadium Blackjack works at Venetian Las Vegas.

There are 44 seats for players. Each player has their own terminal, and selects which of the two dealers they want to play against, blue or red.

Once a dealer is selected, the player has 30 seconds between hands to place a bet. A big benefit of Stadium Blackjack is the $5 minimum. Most standard games at Venetian have $15 minimums.

Stadium blackjack Venetian

Get ready to play blackjack with 43 of your new best friends.

Once bets are made, each screen reads “No More Bets.”

Then, three cards are dealt from a six-deck, continuous “smart shuffle” machine.

Two cards go to the players, one to the dealer. One of the intriguing aspects of Stadium Blackjack is all the players get the same two cards. (That is, all the players who chose the red dealer get the same two cards. All those who chose the blue dealer get different cards.)

Now, each player makes their own decision about what to do next. Players can hit, stand, double down or split.

Here’s where the game veers into new territory. Since everyone has the same two cards, and can make their own decisions about what happens next, additional “Community” cards are needed. Community cards go to players until all the players have chosen to stand (or have been eliminated because they busted). After all the players’ hands are locked, additional community cards go to the dealer until the hand has a result.

Stadium blackjack Venetian

The “Community” cards (upper left) are really the only perplexing part, but just let the dealer do their thing.

Example time!

Say the first cards are dealt and all the players get a queen and a king, the dealer gets a five. That’s 20 for the players, so everyone’s going to stand. (Feel free to split them, though, that’s part of what makes Stadium Blackjack so fun, no peer pressure.) The dealer takes additional cards and busts. Everyone wins, cheering ensues, annoying all the players in the nearby poker room in the best possible way.

Here’s a more complicated example.

Players get a king and six, dealer gets a queen. Some players stand on 16, some hit, right? (You’re supposed to hit.) The players who choose “Hit” on their display get another card (a “Community” card). Again, those who “Stand” don’t get another card. Each player is doing their own thing. Say, that next player card is a two. Everybody stands with 18. But the fun part is you don’t have to! You can “Hit” again. Only after all the players have finished does the dealer then complete their hand and a result is shown.

Stadium blackjack Venetian

If Stadium Blackjack isn’t your thing, there’s stadium baccarat nearby. Again, $5 minimums are hard to pass up on The Strip.

A lot of this happens on the dealer’s display. Players just see their own hand and how it’s stacking up against the dealer.

Once the hand is done, all the cards go back into the shuffler and the fun begins again.

So, that’s a long-winded way of saying, “It’s just like regular blackjack.” The fact others have the same two opening cards, or how dealers decide which cards are communal, is rather irrelevant. It’s you against the dealer.

Let’s get into what’s really important about Stadium Blackjack, the pros and cons.

First, the pros. Stadium Blackjack is great for groups and couples! Where else in Las Vegas can you and 43 friends all play blackjack at once? During our visit, the majority of players were couples.

Again, low table minimums. That $5 minimum is tempting and it never gets raised, even if the game is busy.

Also, no glares from other players if you do something stupid. Stadium Blackjack is anonymous, and players make their own decisions.

Another pro for us is the machine adds up your cards. We hate math, so this is a great aspect of the game.

We also like that you can take a break between hands, sitting out then jumping back in at any time.

There are some drawbacks to Stadium Blackjack, but opinions vary about how important these cons are.

The rate of play, if you play every hand, is fast. After you get your cards, you have 10 seconds to decide whether you’d like to hit or stand. That’s a lot of pressure! If you do nothing, the machine automatically stands. It won’t hit or double or split for you, though. More hands means you can lose more quickly, but it also means you’ll win more quickly when you’re on a lucky streak.

It’s interesting to note that while the game is called “Stadium Blackjack” on the player terminals, it’s called “Rapid Blackjack” on the dealer’s screen.

Another potential downside is Stadium Blackjack pays 6-to-5, rather than 3-to-2. Then again, that’s true of the majority of blackjack games on the Las Vegas Strip.

Also, serious blackjack players dislike six deck, continuous shuffling machines. Card counting is impossible with such machines.

Stadium blackjack Venetian

Another look at the layout. Make a bet, hit or stand, rake in the big bucks.

That’s about it. Each display has a bunch of other buttons, but probably the most important for first-time players is “Help.” Beyond the two people dealing the cards, there’s another dealer that roams the floor and helps players with questions.

There’s a button for dealer tips, another to call for service, one to “Re-Bet” and others. There’s also a button so players can see the game in Chinese.

There are a couple of side bets as well, Royal Match 21 and Bet the Set 21. Blackjack side bets tend to be sucker bets, but only if they don’t hit!

Stadium blackjack Venetian

Side bets are for entertainment value only. Don’t go nuts.

Overall, Stadium Blackjack is a fun new twist on blackjack, and its social component could make it a draw for groups seeking to gamble together.

If you’d like to know more about Stadium Blackjack, check out these stories from VegasFanboy.com and our bud Marc Meltzer. We also talked about Stadium Blackjack on the Vital Vegas Podcast, if you’re into that kind of thing.

Our first story about stadium gambling (at Palazzo) was way back in 2013, and we didn’t have the best time. While we didn’t win playing Stadium Blackjack, it wasn’t a bad experience.

Let us know what you think of Stadium Blackjack. Some believe it’s the future of casino gambling. For us, interacting with the dealer is often half the fun of playing, so unless we were with a group of friends, we’d probably bite the bullet and find a traditional, higher limit table.

Got questions? Ask away!

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Security Breach: El Cortez Begins Creation of Imbibe Bar

Way back in Jan. 2016, we caught wind of a new bar coming to El Cortez, the classic hotel on Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas.

At last, the hotel’s current casino bar has been closed and Imbibe bar is in the works.

El Cortez Imbibe bar

Yes, even if it’s just a curtain, it qualifies as a security breach. You’re quite the stickler, aren’t you?

The hotel has made no official announcement about the bar, it’s closure, any expansion
or even the bar’s name. Just go with it, anyway.

Naturally, we had to peek behind the drapes to see what’s up inside.

El Cortez Imbibe bar

The future home of Captain Morgan spiced rum and possibly other kinds of liquor we care much less about.

Presumably, the new Imbibe bar will try to appeal to a younger crowd. From what we hear, there’s already a strong millennial presence on Fridays and Saturdays. El Cortez benefits from all the surrounding restaurants and bars (think Gold Spike and Commonwealth) in the Fremont East District.

We did a walk-through of Fremont East so you can get your bearings.

Staffers say not only is the bar being renovated, but it’s expanding beyond the current casino bar’s footprint, and could potentially swallow the area where the keno parlor resides. (The keno desk would then be relocated to the hotel’s sports book area.)

El Cortez Imbibe lounge

Cornhole and foosball in 3…2…

We’ll keep an eye on the new bar at El Cortez, of course, but in the meantime, you’ll want to take advantage of a new promotion at the historic casino.

Here’s a thingy because we’re too drunk to relay the details.

El Cortez promotion

We refuse to do math unless it directly benefits us. This is that.

So, that’s cool, right? You’re making a withdrawal from the ATM, anyway, so why not get some free slot play?

Once you make your ATM withdrawal, head to the casino cage. There, you’ll be given a certificate for free play. Take the certificate to the loyalty club desk, and the free play is put on your club card.

El Cortez promotion

Vast fortunes have been won in Las Vegas with $15. Actual results may vary.

Now, win something and stick it to The Man. Winning with free play is even sweeter than the regular kind of winning, promise.

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Asian-Themed Lucky Dragon Casino Opens in Las Vegas, Absolutely Crushes It

A new casino resort has opened in Las Vegas, the Asian-themed Lucky Dragon, and we’re pleased to report it’s off to a fantastic start.

Lucky Dragon

Jaw, meet dropped. Welcome to Lucky Dragon Las Vegas.

If you’d like to fancy up your computer, grab one of our wallpapers: 1024 x 768, 1280 x 1024, 1920 x 1080.

Lucky Dragon’s official opening isn’t until Dec. 3, 2016, but the owners of the boutique hotel-casino apparently couldn’t wait that long to show it off. And with good reason. Lucky Dragon exceeds all our expectations, and is a great new addition to the north end of the Las Vegas Strip.

It’s been six years since a casino was built from scratch in Las Vegas. The most recent was Cosmopolitan in 2010.

Lucky Dragon is located near the corner of Sahara Ave. and Las Vegas Boulevard, between the Bonanza Gift Shop and Golden Steer Steakhouse, not far from SLS Las Vegas and the Stratosphere.

Some good news right off the bat: Parking is free.

Lucky Dragon has done an amazing job with relatively little real estate. Lucky Dragon occupies about three acres of land. By comparison, Caesars Palace sits on about 34 acres.

Lucky Dragon

Size, it turns out, isn’t everything in Las Vegas.

The biggest “wow” factor at Lucky Dragon is its stunning, quarter-ton dragon chandelier. The glass sculpture took 800 people to create, and has 288 glass balls. Sorry, orbs. The sculpture is 23 feet tall and is a dazzling centerpiece of Lucky Dragon’s casino.

Lucky Dragon

They’re orbs, not balls. Please keep it classy.

It should be made clear Lucky Dragon isn’t your typical Las Vegas casino, attempting to be all things to all people. Lucky Dragon isn’t just Asian-themed, its intention is to cater primarily to Asian players.

So, you won’t find the usual mix of casino games or cuisines. Lucky Dragon’s focus is on table games like baccarat and Pai Gow, and all the restaurant offerings at Lucky Dragon feature Asian food.

First, let’s hit the casino.

Lucky Dragon’s center bar is lively and comfortable. Luckily, drinks are poured from the bottle, so unlike in many Las Vegas casinos, you know you’re getting the liquor you ordered.

The bartenders are hilarious, and provide some great entertainment for video poker players. The video poker machines feel loose, and you won’t find any automated drink monitoring systems here.

Lucky Dragon

One of the best things about our first visit was the TVs at the casino bar weren’t working yet, so no sports.

Just about the only qualm we had with Lucky Dragon’s casino (aside from there being no Top Dollar slot machines) was the fact the reflection from the dragon chandelier made it a little difficult to see the video poker screens. Not a huge deal, but we expect changes to the screen angles will be made prior to the casino’s official opening.

Lucky Dragon

You’ll see what we mean.

Everyone on staff was incredible friendly and helpful. The cocktail servers are lovely, and their uniforms are flattering and tasteful.

Lucky Dragon

Yes, some people are Asiaphiles. Don’t make it weird.

Playing at Lucky Dragon means you may have to shift your gambling priorities a bit. We found just four blackjack tables (thankfully, they pay 3-to-2, as opposed to the odds now more common on The Strip, 6-to-5), so for the first time we tried our hand at baccarat. Hey, when in Macau.

Baccarat (you don’t pronounce the “t”) is simultaneously the easiest and most confounding table game. You place a bet on “Player” or “Banker,” and your dealer does the rest. You can do the math, but in our book, math is the opposite of fun.

Lucky Dragon

The house edge is so low for baccarat, a number of Las Vegas casinos don’t offer the game at all.

Of the 37 table games at Lucky Dragon, 25 are devoted to variations of baccarat. There are four Pai Gow tables and two roulette tables. Alas, no craps tables at all, but we’ll live.

Lucky Dragon

Here are the Lucky Dragon chip designs, because we know how you are.

Slot machines take a back seat to table games at Lucky Dragon, but there’s still a solid selection. Most of the games are Asian-themed, but you can still find your favorites like Wheel of Fortune and Buffalo.

One of the brilliant aspects of Lucky Dragon is how it combines a high ceiling with the feeling you’re in a more intimate casino space. Studies have shown players gamble less in spaces with high ceilings, so Lucky Dragon’s designers wisely covered the table games with faux “ceilings.”
These structures allow guests to experience the grandeur of the place, while feeling cozy at the same time.

Lucky Dragon casino

Somebody’s been reading up on casino design. This is brilliant.

Off the main casino floor is a high limit table game area, the Emerald Room.

Lucky Dragon high limit

Much like when we have sex, we tend to last about four minutes in high limit rooms.

Players looking for an even more intimate space can hit Lucky Dragon’s six VIP gaming rooms. These tastefully appointed, Macau-style rooms feel private, but they’re open to the public, as required by Nevada gaming regulations.

Lucky Dragon VIP salon

We’re going to design our den just like this someday. As soon as we get a den.

During our first visit to Lucky Dragon, we pretty much won at every game we played, both in machines and at the tables, so maybe there’s something to this dragon thing!

As with any Las Vegas casino, it’s important to sign up for the loyalty club. At Lucky Dragon, it’s the Dragon Club. You can visit the loyalty club desk or asked for a loyalty club card at one of the gaming tables. A hundred points equals a dollar, and points can be used at Lucky Dragon’s restaurants and hotel.

Beyond its great casino, Lucky Dragon has put together a rather extraordinary collection of dining options. The first you’re likely to encounter is the 24-hour Bao Now, right on the casino floor.

The restaurant has dim sum, soups, noodles and other to-go dishes. You can tell it’s a to-go counter since there are only about 10 chairs.

Lucky Dragon Bao Now

It would be difficult for us to adore the name Bao Now more.

A majority of the food on the casino’s first floor comes from a “show kitchen” called Jewel Kitchen.

There’s a lot going on in there, and it’s a great reminder of how much we don’t know about how Asian cuisine is prepared. Lucky Dragon could sell tickets, but we don’t want to give them any ideas.

Lucky Dragon open kitchen

Careful, or you just might learn something.

Also on the first floor is Dragon’s Alley, meant to evoke the night market scene on Ghost Street in Beijing, whatever that might actually be.

Dragon’s Alley could be described as a food court, but we consider it more along the lines of a buffet. Each station has Asian delicacies, and guests choose dishes a la carte. The chefs are extremely knowledgeable, so navigating the dishes isn’t as intimidating as you’d think.

Lucky Dragon

We’re definitely getting a metric ass-ton of lanterns for our den.

Guests can choose from a wide variety of dishes, each running $5 to $11. There’s seafood and barbecue and dim sum and desserts of all kinds.

Lucky Dragon food court

Dragon’s Alley seats 325 people, and will be open “from breakfast through late evening.” Translation: We’ll see how it goes.

Unlike at other Las Vegas buffets, there’s no signage to identify the dishes, and there are also no prices posted, so you’re sort of winging it until you get to the cashier. We suspect this process will be refined prior to Lucky Dragon’s official opening.

Lucky Dragon casino

Thanks, random guy in line who let us take a photo of his food.

At Dragon’s Alley, look for the art piece fashioned from bicycles.

Lucky Dragon casino

Bicycle is “zi xing che” in Chinese. Told you there was a chance you’d learn something.

On the casino’s mezzanine level, there are the Phoenix and Pearl Ocean restaurants. We’ll definitely be back to do some damage to their menus.

Lucky Dragon Phoenix

We’re fairly sure this is Pearl’s Ocean restaurant. We were fairly well lubricated by this point in our visit. For good luck!

Roaming out of the casino and over to the Lucky Dragon’s hotel, you’ll find Cha Garden. It includes the hotel lobby and pool area, and serves as a lounge and tea garden.

Lucky Dragon Cha Garden

The walk from Lucky Dragon’s casino to its hotel takes approximately a fourth of a minute.

We are not a tea person, but the pool and lounge areas seem a great place to meet friends and enjoy yum cha. Yes, we looked that up. Yum cha are light snacks, like tapas.

The pool area isn’t large, but again, Lucky Dragon has done a lot with a little, and guests should find the space a cooling diversion, especially during Sin City’s sweltering summer months.

Lucky Dragon

We’re pretty sure the pool isn’t more than a couple of feet deep, even at the deep end, so please, no diving.

We stayed overnight in Lucky Dragon’s 203-room hotel, and found our room to be clean and comfortable.

Lucky Dragon hotel

Lucky Dragon’s standard room is 400 square feet. The 55-inch TVs seem to have more Chinese programs than the actual country of China.

That’s our first take on Lucky Dragon, the newest casino in Las Vegas. We had a completely enjoyable first visit, and it’s a must-try during your next Las Vegas visit.

Lucky Dragon seems to have a thorough understanding of its target audience, a departure from the vast majority of Strip hotels that seem to only give lip service to wanting business from Asian customers. (“Look, a lion dance! Gamble here!”)

While Lucky Dragon may have its eye on Asian guests (signs are in both Chinese and English), there’s never a moment when non-Asian guests feel out of place. Whether you prefer chopsticks or a fork, you’re going to find something to love.

Lucky Dragon

Worth noting: Not a single security guard or staff member freaked out about our taking photos at Lucky Dragon, making us a fan for life.

The north end of The Strip has proven challenging for SLS Las Vegas, but Lucky Dragon has chosen a bold strategy in wooing a niche audience. Lucky Dragon could very well end up being an unlikely success story, scooping up regulars from casinos known for being Asian-friendly, like Palace Station and Gold Coast.

Back in the day, opening a Las Vegas casino was pretty much a financial sure thing. That’s not the case today. (Especially when you open a resort without a nightclub. Another reason to love Lucky Dragon!)

With its gorgeous, exotic decor, buzz-filled casino and delicious dining, though, Lucky Dragon could very well have what it takes to get lucky in Las Vegas.

Lucky Dragon Las Vegas

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10 Craps Mistakes Made By First-Time Players

Craps is an absolute blast, and one of the most exciting games in a casino, but it can be intimidating to new players.

We’ve slapped together 10 common craps mistakes made by newbies.

googie 1. Trying to hand cash to a dealer.

Dealers aren’t allowed to take cash from your hand, so simply lay your money on the table. The dealer will give you chips, and you’re ready to stick it to the house.

googie 2. Not holding the dice over the table.

There are lots of rules in casinos, typically intended to either keep people from cheating or employees from stealing. Always keep the dice in sight of the dealers and boxman. We’d explain what a “boxman” is, but it’s not that kind of list.

hard_six_dice

Want to make $1,000 from a $1 investment? Bet a “hard six.” Hit it three times before you “seven out” and you get a grand!

googie 3. Touching the dice with two hands.

It’s exciting shooting the dice, and if you’re a craps virgin, experienced players are going to love having you shoot the dice, too. Just make sure to only use one hand to shake or throw the dice. Using two hands makes the house nervous (as some cheaters try to switch the dice for loaded ones).

googie 4. Not hitting the back wall.

Throw the dice all the way down, or the dealers will let you hear about it. This ensures each roll is truly random, and there’s no funny business (sometimes called “dice control” or “precision shooting”) going on.

Craps pyramids

Just look for these bad boys at the opposite end of the table, and hit them with the dice. No pressure.

googie 5. Not knowing the chip denomination colors.

We saw this one at a downtown casino recently, and it was adorable. Before you begin play, make sure you know the colors associated with each denomination of chip. Red chips, for example, are typically worth $5. Green are worth $25, and so on. This helps a lot when a helpful dealer says, “If you’d like to bet on 6 and 8, I’ll need $12.” Otherwise, chaos.

googie 6. Holding a drink over the table.

Yes, people sometimes drink when they gamble. That leads to spills, and the felt on table games is especially vulnerable. So, take a sip and place your drink on the special “rail” down below (and don’t forget to tip your waitress). The chip rail is on top, by the way, with ample room for your winnings.

Craps the hook

See the drink rail? It’ll keep your cocktail out of harm’s way.

googie 7. Dangling hands over the table.

Seasoned gamblers are very superstitious, especially craps players. Avoid their hard stares by keeping your hands out of the way of the dice. Hands are better put to use clapping in support of hot shooters.

googie 8. Shouting out late bets.

“Get your bets in early!” is a common saying among dealers. Waiting until the last minute to make a bet can cause confusion and delays at the table. Make your bets when the dice are in the middle of the table, before they’re pushed to the shooter.

googie 9. Mistaking dealer placed bets for self-serve.

Some craps bets are made directly by players, and others are made by the dealers. For the most part, anything within arm’s reach is your responsibility. Otherwise, set your chips in the middle of the table (the area marked “Come” is a good spot), and tell the dealer your bet. If you’re confused about which bets are which, just watch and ask questions. You’ll find other players and dealers are very helpful. Note: It’s best not to ask lots of questions during a hot roll. You’ll mess with the mojo.

craps mistakes

Craps tip: Don’t bet the Big 6 and 8. The same bet pays more if you “place” those numbers with the dealer. You’re welcome.

googie 10. Saying “seven” at the table.

Speaking of mojo, this is one of the worst transgressions a new craps player can make. Don’t say the word “seven” out loud at the craps table. Our hands are actually shaking just typing that word. Part of the fun of craps is learning the rituals of the game, the jargon, the ridiculous rules and superstitions. This isn’t one of the ridiculous ones, by the way. Don’t say “seven”! Just trust us, we are a Las Vegas blog.

Now that you know some of the gaffs new craps players make, you can avoid them and take part in one of the most thrilling casino games, ever.

Remember to have fun stick to the basics of the game when you’re first starting out.

Catch a hot roll and you could reach legend status in a mere three to four hours. Actual results may vary.

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