Category Archives: Slot Machines

New High Limit Room Adds Flair to Downtown’s El Cortez Casino

Downtown’s El Cortez recently opened a new high limit room, and it adds a fresh burst of color to the classic casino.

A highlight of the new high limit room is a wall-sized, eye-catching photo of the El Cortez neon sign.

El Cortez

El Cortez cleverly used an image that looks like neon, but without the cost or trouble. Because, frankly, neon is a huge pain in the ass.

The high limit room is next to the casino’s cage. The space formerly held high limit slot machines, several of which we spent more time with than our own family.

Also worth nothing in the new high limit area is the fancy new El Cortez carpet.

The carpet was recently upgraded from one that (how do we put this delicately?) had been around awhile. About 13 years to be exact. Here’s the new carpeting.

El Cortez carpeting

It’s a myth casino carpets are designed to keep customers looking up at slot machines. They are designed to camouflage stains while making you feel like you’re hunting big game.

The previous carpet was so well-known and beloved, the casino actually sold sections of it in the gift shop. The supply of carpet pieces sold out quickly. Only in Vegas!

At the moment, the modest high limit room has two blackjack tables and four slots.

It’s expected a baccarat table will be added soon.

There are four slot machines.

El Cortez

The slot selection in high limit isn’t expansive, but you only need one. Just be sure to pick the right one.

In the past, El Cortez didn’t exactly scream “high roller,” but casino management has seen more interest in higher table limits, apparently.

Currently, the El Cortez high limit room tables have limited hours of operation, offering blackjack on Fridays and Saturdays only. Guests can also reserve a table.

EL Cortez

No matter how much you’d like to, please do not make out with this wall.

El Cortez is one of our favorite places to play downtown. The value is undeniable, and it’s on a shortlist of casinos that still have a throwback vibe.

While we were at El Cortez, we said goodbye to Naked City Pizza. The restaurant space has been walled off.

El Cortez

Naked City wasn’t just closed, it was erased.

El Cortez opened in 1941, and was the former stomping ground of casino legend Jackie Gaughan.

Another claim to fame (if you can call it that) for El Cortez is it was once owned by a gaggle of mobsters: Bugsy Siegel, Meyer Lansky, Gus Greenbaum and Moe Sedway.

Moe Sedway later went on to invent two-wheeled, self-balancing transportation devices.

Now that we think of it, “gaggle” may not be the best collective noun for a group of mobsters. Maybe a “family” of mobsters? Or better yet, a “whack” of mobsters?

El Cortez

We love it and we hate everything.

El Cortez is a great jumping off point for the Fremont East entertainment district and quirky Downtown Container Park. It’s a two-minute walk east from downtown’s Fremont Street Experience.

Cheers to El Cortez for evolving, and for inspiring us to seriously consider putting up a wall-sized El Cortez sign in our home. Let’s get those bad boys in the gift shop, already.

Little Casino, Big Money: Ellis Island Guest Nabs $905,000 Buffalo Jackpot

Ellis Island might be a little casino, but that doesn’t mean players don’t win big there.

On Feb. 2, 2021, an Ellis Island regular won $905,754.63 on a Buffalo Grand slot.

Ellis Island jackpot

Judge not a casino by its size, but by its jackpots.

The player, David Frys, said, “I’ve been playing at Ellis Island for years now and am absolutely in shock with this win. It’s not every Tuesday that you walk into your favorite local spot and leave with almost $1 million.”

We’re also fairly sure the lucky winner also said, “HOLY SHIT!” But that’s unconfirmed.

Ellis jackpot

Don’t spend it all in one place, David. Unless it’s on Ellis Island barbecue, then we totally get it. Thanks to Ellis Island for the pics.

While it didn’t make headlines, the winning spin also paid another $7 of “normal win,” whatever that is.

Normal win

There are lots of days gambling when we’d be happy getting a $7 win.

Whenever a giant jackpot hits at one of our favorite casinos, we are overcome with a wide range of emotions.

We are overjoyed with happiness for the winner.

Mostly.

In addition, we are jealous as hell.

We want giant tax burdens, hours of paperwork, a new home theater and photo ops with the Ellis sisters!

Oh, well, there’s always video poker and pizza at the Front Yard.

Every gambler knows there’s a jackpot out there waiting, somewhere. We just have to play until we find it, or it finds us.

Megabucks Hits for $15.5 Million, We’ve Got Exclusive Details

On Christmas Eve 2020, a lucky player won $15.5 million on a Megabucks slot machine at Suncoast casino.

The dude’s name was Kevin.

But wait, there’s more.

Megabucks winner Suncoast

At least somebody’s 2020 didn’t entirely suck.

The exact jackpot was $15,491,103.27.

While taxes for such jackpots vary, The Man takes about a 40 percent bite.

Still, the jackpot was the largest in Nevada in eight years.

Megabucks winner Suncoast

Three credits, $15.5 million. Two credits, a paltry $20,000. Lesson: Just spring for the extra buck.

We were the first to share news of the Suncoast jackpot, mainly because our ever-vigilant Twitter followers noticed a Megabucks machine at another casino had reset to $10 million. That happens whenever somebody wins the jackpot.

Megabucks

The Megabucks reset is reliable jackpot alert system.

We naturally visited Suncoast to check out, and possibly fondle, the winning machine. Lighten up, it was consensual.

Suncoast is a locals casino owned by Boyd Gaming, about 15 minutes west of the Las Vegas Strip.

Suncoast

Suncoast rents that sky just to make our photos look better.

Apparently, Kevin (a part-time Vegas resident, who also lives in Alaska) put $40 in the lucky Megabucks machine before his big win.

For posterity, we’d like to share the winning machine number was 9669. The machine’s location was 5501. (See photo below.)

While casino practices vary slightly, you can tell a machine’s I.D. number and location by looking for the big red arrows.

Slot machine numbering

It’s like a GPS for slot techs.

The winning machine sits next to the casino’s Peng Zu restaurant.

More controversially, it’s near Du-par’s restaurant. The Megabucks winner apparently dined there following his windfall. A casino insider contacted us to share Kevin failed to tip the staff after his meal. Awkward.

Megabucks

This Megabucks machine is currently a local celebrity.

Whether the player tipped staff for his $15.5 million win is unknown.

Anyway, we’re confident Kevin will circle back and lavish staff with gratuities galore.

It was probably the shock.

Megabucks

Megabucks is what’s known as a “progressive” slot machine, which could explain why it’s always redistributing wealth.

The irony in cases of multimillion-dollar jackpots is the player often has little or no cash on them. Large jackpots are paid by check (by the machine manufacturer, not the casino) often over many years, so it’s not uncommon for players to “forget” to tip, or not have the cash to tip, at the time of their win.

Nailed this jackpot during our visit. Who says lightning doesn’t strike twice?

Whatever the circumstances of a win, there’s always a collective thrill when somebody snags millions of dollars on a slot machine. (Also known as collective envy.)

Megabucks jackpots are part of what keep the Las Vegas dream alive! One spin or pull of the arm can change your life forever.

Tropicana Opens Swanky New Trago Lounge

Tropicana has opened its new Trago Lounge, and we had to swing by for cocktails, video poker, a live DJ and mostly that first thing.

“Trago,” of course, is the first person singular present indicative of “trazer” in Spanish. As if that weren’t obvious.

Trago Lounge Tropicana

Make sure to roll the “r” when you say Trago. It will make you seem worldly.

“Trago” means sip or swig. In Portugese, it means “to quaff.” And if that made you giggle, please grow up. It means “drink with enthusiasm.”

Nailed it on the name.

Trago will be open 24 hours a day, the way Mother Nature intended.

The new bar sits just off the casino floor, in the footprint of the former Tropicana Lounge (which closed Sep. 10, 2018), and the space has gotten quite the overhaul.

Trago Tropicana lounge

Trago’s exterior design is composed of 1,114 interlocking squares. Related: Admit it, you believed us for a minute. Um, hello, it’s a photo caption. On the Internet.

It’s a relatively small space by Las Vegas lounge standards, about 3,500-square-feet, and can accommodate 120 guests, which ups the intimacy factor.

Trago Lounge at Tropicana hits a lot of the right notes.

The vibe has a little touch of glamour, but without being pretentious.

The music level is refreshingly perfect. The night we visited, a Vegas fixture, Lydia Ansel, was doing DJ duty. Ansel is a classically trained violinist, and accompanies the music she’s playing. The violin is unobtrusive, and most guests weren’t even aware Ansel was playing live.

Trago Lydia Ansel violinist DJ

Some random anonymous dude just sent Lydia all those roses. Hint: It’s the violin.

We should probably get into the beverage aspect of the Trago Lounge before your head explodes.

The menu is fairly limited, but the drinks we tried were excellent. All are in the $16-18 range, which is the new normal for Strip casino lounges, so don’t freak out.

Trago Lounge Tropicana

The more you drink, the more interesting you become. To you, mainly.

A favorite was the Purple G&T (gin and tonic). We are not a gin or tonic person, but it was delicious.

It had Express gin, Italicus liqueur, fresh lime and Fever-Tree Elderflower Tonic. Which is, apparently, a thing.

Trago Lounge

Young flowers should respect their elderflowers.

The Tropical Margarita was also top-notch, and should appeal to tourists looking for a drink that matches the hotel’s beachy theme.

The Tropical Margarita had Don Julio Blanco tequila, Contreau orange-flavoured triple sec liqueur, fresh lime, passion fruit and Red Bull Tropical Edition. Now, you know why we take photos of cocktail menus.

Trago Lounge cocktail

Party in a glass.

The drink menu also has “Bourbon and Whiskey” and “Scotch and Cognac” sections, as well as draft beer, craft bottle beer and wine.

Trago Lounge also offers bottle service for $250 a pop. It’ll be interesting to see how that goes.

Video poker fans will be happy to see the Trago bar lined with 22 machines, although we trust seasoned players will wince when they see the pay tables (6/5 Bonus Poker). Then again, seasoned video poker players wince at just about everything.

While Trago won’t comp signature drinks for video poker players, they do comp bottled beer and well drinks.

The pours are watched closely, so no free pours here.

We hear Trago will be getting an automated drink monitoring system, but at the moment, you can get a pretty steady supply of drinks if you’re playing at a reasonable pace.

A definite selling point: The servers, hostesses and bartenders are all very attractive, if you’re into that kind of thing.

Trago Lounge waitresses

Thanks for playing along, you two.

And while we’re on selling points: Tropicana still has free parking. Hang in there, Tropicana!

Plus, that glorious stained glass above the casino.

Tropicana stained glass

Glorious.

Trago Lounge is a refreshing addition to the offerings at Tropicana, and aims to appeal to a younger customer than has been typical at the Tropicana Lounge and resort overall.

It’s great to see Tropicana making moves, investing in new venues and making an effort to keep pace with other casinos in the neighborhood, while taking care not to rankle longtime customers, many of whom still regularly use the word “rankle.”

If you pop into Trago, let us know what you think.

Trago Lounge at Tropicana

[img src=https://vitalvegas.com/wp-content/flagallery/trago-lounge-at-tropicana/thumbs/thumbs_trago_lounge_tropicana8.jpg]3810
[img src=https://vitalvegas.com/wp-content/flagallery/trago-lounge-at-tropicana/thumbs/thumbs_trago_lounge_tropicana1.jpg]6030
[img src=https://vitalvegas.com/wp-content/flagallery/trago-lounge-at-tropicana/thumbs/thumbs_trago_lounge_tropicana2.jpg]4030
[img src=https://vitalvegas.com/wp-content/flagallery/trago-lounge-at-tropicana/thumbs/thumbs_trago_lounge_tropicana3.jpg]3430
[img src=https://vitalvegas.com/wp-content/flagallery/trago-lounge-at-tropicana/thumbs/thumbs_trago_lounge_tropicana4.jpg]3910
[img src=https://vitalvegas.com/wp-content/flagallery/trago-lounge-at-tropicana/thumbs/thumbs_trago_lounge_tropicana5.jpg]4120
[img src=https://vitalvegas.com/wp-content/flagallery/trago-lounge-at-tropicana/thumbs/thumbs_trago_lounge_tropicana6.jpg]3210
[img src=https://vitalvegas.com/wp-content/flagallery/trago-lounge-at-tropicana/thumbs/thumbs_trago_lounge_tropicana9.jpg]2770
[img src=https://vitalvegas.com/wp-content/flagallery/trago-lounge-at-tropicana/thumbs/thumbs_trago_lounge_tropicana10.jpg]2440
[img src=https://vitalvegas.com/wp-content/flagallery/trago-lounge-at-tropicana/thumbs/thumbs_trago_lounge_tropicana13.jpg]2830
[img src=https://vitalvegas.com/wp-content/flagallery/trago-lounge-at-tropicana/thumbs/thumbs_trago_lounge_tropicana14.jpg]3460
[img src=https://vitalvegas.com/wp-content/flagallery/trago-lounge-at-tropicana/thumbs/thumbs_trago_lounge_tropicana11.jpg]2080
[img src=https://vitalvegas.com/wp-content/flagallery/trago-lounge-at-tropicana/thumbs/thumbs_trago_lounge_tropicana12.jpg]1860
[img src=https://vitalvegas.com/wp-content/flagallery/trago-lounge-at-tropicana/thumbs/thumbs_trago_lounge_tropicana7.jpg]3140

Player Hits Rare Sequential Royal Flush for $217,000 Jackpot

Lots of video poker players dream of hitting a royal flush. Some of us have even played on and off for, oh, 20 years and have never hit one.

Not bitter. At all.

One lucky video poker player at Red Rock Resort not only hit a royal, they hit a rare sequential royal flush.

The player’s $5 bet reaped an incredible $217,591.55 jackpot. And the Internet went wild.

Sequential Royal Flush

The stuff gambler’s dreams are made of. Photo Red Rock Resort.

We shared a photo of the sequential royal on our Twitter account, resulting in more than 130,000 Tweet impressions. This has nothing to do with the story, we just like to show off.

The sequential royal flush jackpot is remarkable for several reasons.

First, it’s remarkable we didn’t even know this existed.

Apparently, some video poker games require sequential royal flushes appear in order, left to right. The player at Red Rock nailed a “reversible sequential,” reading right to left.

Second, that’s a metric hell-ton of money.

Third, seriously, 20 years. Just saying.

The jackpot was won on a game called Video Poker Deluxe. Note to self.

How rare is a sequential royal flush? Well, the elusive royal flush (where cards can appear in any order) is 1-in-40,000. No small feat, obviously.

The odds of getting a sequential royal are about (wait for it) 2.4 million-to-1.

Or as we call it in Las Vegas, Saturday.

Defying the odds is what Vegas is all about. Well, that and cleavage. But mostly that first thing.

Hard Rock Rolls Out Painless Drink Voucher System

The first time we ever saw a voucher system for free drinks on a video poker machine, we had a minor meltdown.

That was at Mirage, back in 2015.

Then Caesars Entertainment made a splash when it rolled out drink monitoring to all its casino bars.

We still had sort of a meltdown, but we learned some deep breathing exercises and started asking questions.

Let’s just say we’ve done a 180 since 2015, largely due to understanding more about why drink monitoring systems are necessary and how, surprisingly, they help players.

This knowledge came in handy when we learned Hard Rock casino has implemented drink monitoring in all its casino bars. (Thanks to Lisa H. for the tip!)

Here’s a look at the new message guests see when they sit at a video poker machine at Hard Rock.

Hard Rock drink vouchers

What once gave us palpitations now elicits a “La-dee-dah.” Don’t judge. We used to musical theater.

No meltdown. Either we’re mellowing, or we’re starting to get a clue. You decide, because we’re drunk on comped drinks.

See, drink monitoring accomplishes a lot for casinos.

One, it cuts costs. Gone are the days when players would slip a dollar in a video poker machine and try to drink free all night. These systems assure players are actually playing, which is part of the deal to get drinks for “free.”

That’s the way it’s always been in Las Vegas, by the way, the monitoring was just never automated before.

Two, it takes the drink monitoring burden away from bartenders. Their reaction to drink monitoring systems has evolved much as ours has over the last couple of years, by the way. It’s no fun being a gatekeeper.

Three, drink monitoring systems prevent over-serving. The default in Las Vegas now seems to be players can earn about three free drinks per hour with continuous play. That’s how it works at Hard Rock, too.

So, what do these systems do for players?

One of the best benefits is monitoring systems keep freeloaders from taking up seats where you want to play. You know, to gamble. Which is sort of the point of having video poker at casino bars in the first place. They’re for gamblers.

Also, drink monitoring systems like the voucher system at Hard Rock take much of the mystery out of how much you have to play and at what betting level before you’ve earned more free hooch. You know where you stand.

The message on the machine at Hard Rock makes it clear. You put in $20, you get your first free drink. Then, just make $1 (or more) bets continuously, and you’ll get a steady supply.

By the time we were done at Hard Rock, we had more vouchers than we could actually redeem. We also won $60.

It was yet another reminder why Las Vegas is the best place on Earth.

Hard Rock drink vouchers

If you ever let a drink voucher go unredeemed, you’re doing Vegas wrong.

Some other small print at Hard Rock: The drink vouchers are only good for 12 hours, the vouchers aren’t transferable and the “beverage selection is limited.” They’ll have what you want unless you’re a snooty 60-year-old bottle of Macallan Valerio Adami person.

And, no, we don’t actually know what that is, but you get our point.

So, has Vegas changed in recent years? Yes.

Would we prefer to get free booze anytime, anywhere? Sure.

Are drinking monitoring systems coming to all the slots on Las Vegas casino floors? You bet.

But drink monitoring systems like the ones at Hard Rock or Caesars resorts or Westgate don’t even make the top three of our “Most Bothersome Things About Vegas Casinos” list.

That would be, in no particular order: 1) No plastic straws, 2) paid parking and 3) swapping out the liquor brand we order with a knock-off and lying about it.

By the way, parking at Hard Rock (soon to be Virgin Hotel Las Vegas) is free. Plus, they poured our Captain Morgan from a bottle and even included straws without our having to ask.

Man, alive, we love this town.