Category Archives: Roulette

Cromwell Rolls Out Eatwell Snack Bar, Sports Book and Enticing Games

For a small, boutique hotel, The Cromwell has made some big moves recently.

To start, The Cromwell unveiled a new snack bar, Eatwell.

Cromwell Eatwell

Eatwell at Cromwell. If you want to self-park, it’ll have to be at the Flamingowell.

Eatwell is open 24 hours a day, and has a variety of grab-and-go goodies like sandwiches, pastries, salads and pizzas.

We went for a sandwich, mainly because sandwiches are a metaphor for love. Or something.

Eatwell at Cromwell

One cannot live by cavorting alone, even in Vegas.

We’re pleased to report the food quality is solid at Eatwell, and the prices are reasonable.

Here’s a peek at the Eatwell menu.

Cromwell Eatwell menu

If you actually read the “Healthy Alternatives” section, we can’t be friends.

We have no idea what these things on the ceiling are, but we are a blog, not a snack bar design firm.

Cromwell Eatwell

We’re pretty sure you can become pregnant just walking under these.

Caffeine fans will rejoice in the knowledge Eatwell offers a full selection of Starbucks coffees.

Here’s a gratuitous photo of some cookies.

Cromwell Eatwell cookies

Don’t think of them as cookies. Think of them as fuel for your bad Las Vegas decisions.

The Cromwell has also opened a new race and sports book.

We have never personally understood why they’re called race and sports books. A race is a sport. If you’re going to call it a race and sports book, you could just as easily call it a game and sports book, or possibly a match and sports book.

Cromwell sports book

It’s not the size of the sports book that counts, it’s whether you cover the spread.

The new sports book at Cromwell has a tiny footprint, but sports books aren’t huge moneymakers for casinos, so the size is proportionate given the limited footprint of the resort.

The Cromwell used to be Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall & Saloon, and before that it was Barbary Coast and Empey’s Desert Villa. Prior to that, it was a small collection of tumbleweeds.

The new sports book can accommodate about 50 people or 75 if they all inhale at the same time.

The Cromwell sports book boasts a 32-foot-long, nine-foot-tall LED video wall.

Beyond these sweet new amenities, The Cromwell has made a serious play to attract gamblers.

Among the new offerings is a single zero roulette table. Single zero roulette, also known as “European roulette,” is often reserved for high limit rooms, but Cromwell has a table on its main casino floor.

Because photos aren’t allowed at live games, we won’t be able to share the photo below.

Cromwell single zero roulette

The house edge in a single zero roulette game is 2.7%. With two zeros, it’s 5.26%.

Unlike double zero roulette games, the minimum bet on the single zero game is $25. Better odds, higher minimums. In Vegas, that’s a thing.

On the other end of the spectrum, Venetian has a $5 roulette table with three zeros. We are not making this up. Remember, the more zeros, the more suck for players.

In addition to single zero roulette, Cromwell also offers 100x odds on craps.

Nobody ever actually takes advantage of 100x odds, but it’s great to know you could if you inherited money from a rich uncle. Possibly, one named Sheldon.

Cromwell casino

Thanks to the good folks at The Cromwell for not asking security to give us The Taser Experience during the taking of these photos.

But wait, there’s more.

The Cromwell is also touting its EZ Baccarat. We’re pretty sure we played EZ Baccarat at Lucky Dragon, and it was, as promised, easy. One benefit of this version of baccarat is it “eliminates the taking of the 5% commission after every winning Bank hand.” Whatever that might actually mean.

Also being talked up are The Cromwell’s 3-to-2 and double deck blackjack games.

During our visit, we saw three open 3-to-2 double deck blackjack tables, two with $25 minimums and one at $15. Shoe games had minimums ranging from $10 to $25.

The Cromwell also lists among its new “enhancements” a “re-imagined” Interlude bar (if you’re not a fan of live music, this is a great place to not be a fan of it), a new high limit slot area called The Abbey, and keyless access to hotel rooms.

Cromwell casino bar

Our liver breaks into song whenever it sees Cromwell’s casino bar.

There’s also Ivy, a “personalized virtual concierge service” provided via text, developed by a company called Go Moment. It’s sort of a bot that can field questions and requests related to housekeeping and room service. Such services are mainly a way for hotels to save money and cut down on call volume, but Ivy has gotten generally good reviews since the most common guest requests can be resolved more efficiently through automation. Fewer and fewer Las Vegas hotels have real concierges, anyway.

With its recent changes, The Cromwell has certainly gotten the attention of players, and despite ongoing challenges with unsavory elements at Drai’s Nightclub on the roof, the boutique hotel is drawing new interest from visitors seeking a welcoming environment with friendly service and odds you won’t find in many casinos on the Las Vegas Strip.

Enjoy more poorly-framed and inadequately-focused photos from The Cromwell.

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Venetian Sticks It to Players with Triple Zero Sands Roulette

It appears all bets are off when it comes to casinos coming up with clever ways to increase profits. Venetian Las Vegas recently introduced Sands Roulette, a game almost identical to traditional roulette, but with an insidious twist, a triple zero.

Most roulette tables in the U.S. have a zero and double zero. Those games have a house advantage of 5.2%. Not the worst game in a casino, but fairly hefty when compared to games like blackjack and baccarat.

Occasionally, you can find a European roulette table, with just a zero, and the house edge
dips down to 2.7%. In Las Vegas, those tables tend to be reserved for high rollers.

Sands Roulette at Venetian, with 0-00-000, means there are more ways for a player to lose,
and the house advantage jumps up to 7.7% (7.69% to be exact, but let’s not get bogged
down in details).

We’d love to show you a photo of the Sands Roulette table layout, but photography is
strictly forbidden at live tables in the Venetian. Therefore, we aren’t able to share the
photo below.

Triple Zero Sands Roulette

Sadly, this isn’t Photoshopped. It actually exists.

Yes, the bean counters are at it again.

While a 2.5% increase in the house edge may not seem like a lot at first glance, it
amounts to a huge windfall for the casino over the course of thousands, or hundreds of thousands, of spins.

The frustrating part about this particular revenue enhancement strategy is it’s
implemented in a way that seems underhanded. You won’t see a triple zero on the table, but
rather the triple zero is represented with an “S” and the Sands logo. The Venetian is owned by Las Vegas Sands Corp.

Sands Roulette intentionally takes advantage of less experienced players. One Venetian
staffer even said, aloud, “Tourists and conventioneers don’t really care.”

That opinion seemed to be confirmed by the fact the Sands Roulette table (there’s only one
in the casino at this point) was packed during our visit.

That same floor person admitted, “We try new table games for 90 days and evaluate the
results. If it tanks, it’ll go away.” Good to know, although much like 6-to-5 blackjack
(for many years, the game payed 3-to-2), sometimes such “innovations” never go away.

The Venetian staffer followed up with something rather ominous. He said, “If it increases
the drop, they’ll probably try adding another space.”

We’ll let that particular brand of WTF sink in for a moment.

Triple zero Sands Roulette

Sorry, we can’t show you this photo, either. Our hands are tied!

That’s right. Not only is the Venetian exploring new ways to stick it to us, they’re open to upping the ante. Let’s do this until we see what the pain point is, they seem to be saying.

Deep breaths.

Look, we don’t begrudge casinos the ability to increase profits. They’re doing it with paid parking and reduced liquor pour sizes and comp drink monitoring systems.

But is it too much to ask to not muck with a timeless, iconic casino table game? Seriously, WWJBS? (What would James Bond say?)

As mentioned, there’s currently only one triple zero table at Venetian, and we’re not
aware of any others in Las Vegas. It would surprise no one if triple zero games started
popping up at competing casinos in the very near future.

The Sands Roulette table had a $10 minimum, while all the other roulette tables had a $15 limit. One could make the argument the triple zero is a “surcharge” for the “lower” table minimum. Or not.

Will the average Las Vegas visitor realize they’re being dinged when they play the triple
zero Sands Roulette? Will knowing about it keep them from playing? We suspect not. Recreational gamblers don’t obsess over things like odds. These are the same folks playing the Big Six wheel, with one of the biggest house edges in a casino (as much as 24%, the mind reels).

Taken alone, Sands Roulette’s triple zero at Venetian Las Vegas isn’t the end of the world. But it does feel like another symbol of how casinos seem to be jeopardizing long-term trust and loyalty for short-term gain. With each new fee or detrimental change to a game, casinos run the risk of damaging the public perception of Las Vegas as a value-driven destination.

The opining about this state of affairs isn’t limited to us, of course. Our friend Sam Novak at VegasBright.com has a few thoughts well worth a look.

Ultimately, we decide what games succeed or fail. So, choose wisely.

Thanks to Marc Meltzer of EdgeVegas.com and the eagle-eyed folks at the Wizard of Vegas
forum for tipping us off to the unfortunate existence of Sands Roulette at Venetian Las Vegas.

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One of Those Magical Las Vegas Moments

One of the reasons we love Las Vegas so much is its undeniable magic. Not the kind of magic with doves or mirrors. The real kind. The kind that keeps the dream that is Las Vegas alive and kicking.

So, we were recently at the California casino, downtown, and had been playing roulette about an hour. We were up about $100. Which is pretty magical, but that’s not the magic we’re discussing here.

California Hotel

Unrelated: Was that traffic light really necessary? It messes with our neon mojo.

After that hour, we’d gotten to know the dealer a little, and our fellow players. Building that rapport makes the game even more fun. Then a young guy strides up and slaps a green $25 chip on one number.

After you’ve been in casinos awhile, you get used to seeing that kind of random behavior. Often, it’s annoying. Those “hit it and quit it” gamblers can disrupt the flow of the table, and often don’t tip, for whatever reason. You also kind of get used to those one-off players getting spanked, hard. Especially if someone bets on just one number in roulette.

That $25 bet was the only one this guy made, just the one, out of the blue. On 23. Then this happened.

roulette

Boom. The casino staff was so taken aback, they forget to kick us out for taking a photo.

There was a collective stunned silence as the number 23 was called. Then there was bedlam. The other players at the table roared, and this guy’s friends roared. He just sort of smiled, as if he’d known what was going to happen all along.

The bet paid $875. He tipped the dealer $25, and began to walk away. The dealer said, “Sir, you have a $25 chip still on the table.” The player said, “Keep that, too.”

After this magical moment, we learned the guy’s name is Ken, and he and his friends were visiting from West Covina, California.

The whole episode had us all shaking our heads for the rest of the session.

Yes, the odds are stacked against us. Everyone knows that. Yes, the casino almost always wins. But sometimes, Lady Luck intercedes, and that “almost” clears the way for us to win, too.

When those moments happen, and they happen more frequently than you’d think, it’s as close as it gets to real magic. Voila.

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Riverboat Roulette at Golden Gate Lends a Colorful New Twist to a Classic Game

A new take on roulette was recently unveiled at Golden Gate casino, downtown, called Riverboat Roulette. We’re pleased to say we were momentarily able to divert our eyes away from the go-go dealers to give it a whirl.

Riverboat Roulette

Let’s gamble and stuff.

This “new” version of roulette isn’t exactly revolutionary, as the basics of the game remain intact. Riverboat Roulette does provide some interesting new side bets, as well as an eye-catching layout (above) and tricked-out ball “pockets.”

Riverboat Roulette

Behold, the first overtly LGBT-friendly roulette wheel in Las Vegas.

We were the first-ever customer to make a bet on the live game at Golden Gate (where it’s available exclusively), so from here on out, please treat us with the respect we so richly deserve.

Riverboat Roulette made its first appearance at the 2012 Global Gaming Expo and was named one of the “Top New Table Games of 2013” by Casino Journal. No, really, they didn’t just make that up.

So, here’s the deal.

Beyond the basic game of roulette, Riverboat Roulette offers color-coded side bets that pay varying amounts based upon the color. Bet blue, if blue hits, you win. Same with the other colors, except for white. If you bet on a color other than white, and white hits, you lose your bet. There are eight white spaces.

Riverboat Roulette

We’d do the math, but you know, Captain Morgan.

But here’s the cool part. If you bet blue and teal hits, your bet doesn’t go anywhere, it’s a “push.” That’s what makes this a “multi-spin” game. If you hit another color, other than blue, the bet keeps going. That cycle continues until you hit your color (win!) or white (not so much!).

Riverboat Roulette

People with too much time on their hands will note there’s no chip under the marker. It was a re-enactment.

When you bet on white, it’s a one-spin bet. Any other color sends your bet home crying to its mommy.

Riverboat Roulette

We’re 99% sure you’ll never need to know this unless you get a much better job.

The payouts are as follows: Blue and orange pay 7-to-5, purple and pink pay 8-to-5, teal and yellow pay 2-to-1. White pays 7-to-2.

We’d love to get into the nitty-gritty of these payouts and house edges, but we have things to do, so we’ll just say, “The odds aren’t particularly in your favor.” Then again, you know, casino.

Riverboat Roulette

We just like to blur backgrounds sometimes.

Other than that, Riverboat Roulette adds a little flair to a classic game, and while we didn’t have much success, we suggest you give it a try because it’s at Golden Gate, and the Golden Gate is the best thing since sliced bread, although if you think about it, sliced bread doesn’t provide epic free cocktails and eye candy. So, suck it, sliced bread.

Golden Gate Las Vegas

Golden Gate trivia: The Golden Gate was assigned the first phone number in Las Vegas. The number was 1.

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Five Ways to Not Piss Off a Las Vegas Dealer

Being a dealer in a Las Vegas casino can be a sweet gig. You meet interesting new people every day, the financial rewards can be substantial and you get to be an ambassador not only for your casino but also Las Vegas, the most exciting city on Earth.

There are challenges to being a dealer, too, of course, and a lot of that’s on us.

We grilled a dealer, Michael Nguyen, co-owner of a new dealer school, Casino Entertainment Group (CEG), and got him to spill about the things that tick dealers off, and how we can avoid them.

craps game

We’re about to get told.

5. Don’t Blame Dealers If You Lose

Gambling is a numbers game, and the house always has the advantage. Nevertheless, dealers make a convenient target when players need to vent about their bad fortune.

“We hear people say things like ‘unbelievable’ or ‘Can you believe that?’ every other hand,” says Nguyen. “We’ve dealt thousands of hands. Don’t get upset if your 17 in blackjack doesn’t beat the dealer. People must realize the odds aren’t always in their favor. They can’t expect to win every hand.”

One of the worst things about players taking their frustrations out on dealers, often to the point of verbal abuse or worse, is dealers aren’t allowed to defend themselves. A dealer who gets combative with a player, even if it’s deserved, risks losing their job. So, they just have to take it. Only jerks and cowards beat up on those who aren’t allowed to defend themselves.

4. Don’t Gamble Drunk

Yes, the cocktails are free, and drinking is part of the Vegas experience, but customers going overboard can turn ugly for dealers.

Nguyen says, “The person gambling isn’t doing him or herself any favor by tipping back one too many during the game. The more drinking, the more mistakes are made during a game. If you’re wasted while playing, you’re wasting money.

Dealers are used to players having a few cocktails, and getting a little boisterous, but excessive drinking is annoying to dealers and other players alike.

Also, gambling drunk leads to spilled drinks, one of the most irksome aspects of a dealer’s shift. Spilled drinks ruin table game felt, disrupt the game and turn dealers into babysitters. Drink responsibly. Or don’t, but don’t play a table game!

Las Vegas dealer

It’s simple. You be nice, they’ll be nice.

3. Don’t Blow Smoke in a Dealer’s Face

Sounds like common sense, right? Wrong.

“We understand the environment and know people like to smoke while playing,” says Nguyen. “We don’t even mind the smoking, in fact. But blowing cigarette or cigar smoke directly in a dealer’s face is rude. Be respectful.”

Agreed. Oh, and if we ever write a list of “The Five Best Ways to Not Piss Off This Las Vegas Blog,” not smoking a disgusting, big-ass cigar in our vicinity will be all five things on the list.

2. Tip Your Dealer, Already

We’d have make this number one on the list, but we defer to the expert.

Nguyen comes clean, saying, “This is a very touchy subject. Dealers don’t expect a person who’s
losing to tip. But if you’re winning, toss a chip our way every so often. We’re not looking for
a stack of chips, but don’t stiff the dealer if you’re on a winning streak.”

Somebody had to say it! We’ve seen this trend getting worse in recent months, or at least it seems that way.

We disagree with Nguyen on this point, actually. Dealers make a meager base pay, and they live on tips. So, we tip whether we’re winning or losing. We value what they do no matter the outcome of our play.

craps dealer

One of the many talents of dealers is concealing their “tells” when a player is being a nimrod.

Nguyen continues, “Another pet peeve is when a player tells us we’ll get tipped at the end [of the session] and leaves a dollar or less when all is said and done. A dollar or less is sort of like a slap in the face. And while we’re talking about tipping, don’t stiff the cocktail waitress, either.”

We can’t say it enough. If you can’t afford to tip, do something other than play casino table games. Slot machines might be your thing. No tipping required.

1. Good Vibes Only, Please

Playing in a Las Vegas casino is meant to be fun, so avoid being a buzzkill.

“Remember, there are other people at the table, too,” says Nguyen. “No one wants to be next to the person who constantly complains, demands the cocktail waitress bring a drink immediately, and so on. We understand when a person’s trip or gambling session may not be working out, but the next hand or spin may be different. Keeping an upbeat attitude and staying positive could possibly change a person’s luck.”

Absolutely nailed it. The Golden Rule applies to casinos as it does to everday life.

In a casino, be the kind of person you’d like to hang out with. Keep the mood light, be polite and don’t lose sight of the fact if gambling isn’t fun, why the hell are you doing it?

Special thanks to Michael Nguyen of CEG dealer school for giving us the straight scoop, and we appreciate dealers for being such an integral part of some of our most memorable Las Vegas moments, ever.

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