Category Archives: Slot Machines

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]3120
[img src=https://vitalvegas.com/wp-content/flagallery/trago-lounge-at-tropicana/thumbs/thumbs_trago_lounge_tropicana1.jpg]4380
[img src=https://vitalvegas.com/wp-content/flagallery/trago-lounge-at-tropicana/thumbs/thumbs_trago_lounge_tropicana2.jpg]3020
[img src=https://vitalvegas.com/wp-content/flagallery/trago-lounge-at-tropicana/thumbs/thumbs_trago_lounge_tropicana3.jpg]2590
[img src=https://vitalvegas.com/wp-content/flagallery/trago-lounge-at-tropicana/thumbs/thumbs_trago_lounge_tropicana4.jpg]3010
[img src=https://vitalvegas.com/wp-content/flagallery/trago-lounge-at-tropicana/thumbs/thumbs_trago_lounge_tropicana5.jpg]3300
[img src=https://vitalvegas.com/wp-content/flagallery/trago-lounge-at-tropicana/thumbs/thumbs_trago_lounge_tropicana6.jpg]2590
[img src=https://vitalvegas.com/wp-content/flagallery/trago-lounge-at-tropicana/thumbs/thumbs_trago_lounge_tropicana9.jpg]2190
[img src=https://vitalvegas.com/wp-content/flagallery/trago-lounge-at-tropicana/thumbs/thumbs_trago_lounge_tropicana10.jpg]1920
[img src=https://vitalvegas.com/wp-content/flagallery/trago-lounge-at-tropicana/thumbs/thumbs_trago_lounge_tropicana13.jpg]2330
[img src=https://vitalvegas.com/wp-content/flagallery/trago-lounge-at-tropicana/thumbs/thumbs_trago_lounge_tropicana14.jpg]2600
[img src=https://vitalvegas.com/wp-content/flagallery/trago-lounge-at-tropicana/thumbs/thumbs_trago_lounge_tropicana11.jpg]1650
[img src=https://vitalvegas.com/wp-content/flagallery/trago-lounge-at-tropicana/thumbs/thumbs_trago_lounge_tropicana12.jpg]1500
[img src=https://vitalvegas.com/wp-content/flagallery/trago-lounge-at-tropicana/thumbs/thumbs_trago_lounge_tropicana7.jpg]2550

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.

Station Casinos Tests Cardless Loyalty Club System That Could Change Everything

Easily one of the most annoying things about gambling in casinos is the loyalty club card shuffle. Carry. Insert. Insert again. Insert again, with profanity. Leave behind. Stand in line to replace. Repeat.

With all the technology at our fingertips, it’s baffling why players must continue to wrestle with plastic cards to get what’s coming to them.

Station Casinos feels your pain and is doing something about it.

Casino loyalty club cards

The loyalty club card struggle is real.

Station Casinos is testing a new system that promises to make connecting to your slot machine quick, easy and cardless.

We’re happy to report the new system fulfills on its promise.

At the moment, the new cardless loyalty system is only in one Las Vegas casino, Barley’s Casino & Brewing Co. in Henderson. Let’s just say Barley’s is quaint and leave it at that.

Barley's Casino

Barley’s. We don’t need no stinking table games.

Here’s how this cardless system works.

First, casino guests download the Station Casinos app. It’s a one-time thing, and takes a few seconds.

We made the mistake of downloading a similarly-named app, so make sure to get the right one.

Station Casinos app

It’s the one on the bottom. We just saved you upwards of three minutes right there.

Many Station Casinos customers already use the app to track their point balance, make restaurant reservations and book rooms.

Once the app is installed, players link the app to their loyalty club account, otherwise known as a “Boarding Pass.”

Station Casinos app

The account linking process is a great reminder you don’t know your mother well enough.

That’s pretty much it for the set-up, then you’re ready to connect to your slot machine. Without a card. Or one of those coiled leashes. Just your smartphone. Glorious.

Just hold your phone near the slot machine’s card slot (make sure Bluetooth is enabled), hit “Connect to Machine” (see below) and magical slot machine elves do the rest.

That’s probably not the technical methodology you were hoping to see here, but we are a blog, not an app developer.

Cardless Connect

Don’t make fun of our tier, it’s rude.

Once you’re connected to the slot machine, you accumulate points just as you would with your old-timey loyalty club card.

You can tell you’re connected because the card slot turns green.

Casino cardless loyalty club

You’re good, bro.

Your app will confirm you’re good, bro.

Casino cardless loyalty club

In Vegas, it’s all about being connected.

When your session is done, you can hit the “Disconnect” button on the app, or the system will disconnect automatically after 30-45 seconds of inactivity. The connection will also be terminated based upon your device’s distance from the machine, depending upon the device and Bluetooth strength, per Station Casinos.

This system, called Cardless Connect, has the potential to be huge. Not just for Station Casinos, but for casinos overall.

Having a convenient way for player to participate in loyalty clubs means more will do so. That means the system isn’t merely a perk for players, it’s also a boon for casinos.

Casino loyalty clubs have been around since the 1990s, inspired by (translation: lifted from) the frequent flyer model made popular by American Airlines. Loyalty programs are a way to keep customers coming back and are a critical part of casino marketing efforts.

Fun fact: The first casino loyalty club was Total Rewards. It’s the loyalty club of Caesars Entertainment, and its or original name was Total Gold.

Play with your card, you’re “rated.” Play without, you’re “unrated.” Unrated players are the bane of a casino’s existence, as players who use their loyalty club card can be enticed into returning.

Station Casinos app

Admit it, this isn’t the first time you’ve connected with a slot in Vegas.

Casinos know how important it is to reward loyal customers, so loyalty club use can lead to lots of deals, discounts and freebies.

Another fun fact: Members of some casino loyalty clubs receive more than 150 pieces of direct mail a year.

So, what’s next for the cardless system at Station Casinos?

It’s likely there are more kinks to be worked out. The company no doubt watching closely to see how the cardless system impacts play and usage.

We tried dozens of machines, and the results were impressive. Still, there were a couple of machines where the connection failed. The app prompts players to move the phone closer for a better connection.

There are life lessons being taught here, you know.

Cardless loyalty club

This is actually less sexy than it sounds.

Moving closer didn’t work, so we got the “Cannot Connect” message and were prompted to use a physical card, which sort of defeats the purpose of the system.

Cardless Connect slot machines

Rejected.

Still, failures happened on just a fraction of the slot machines we tried linking to (thanks a lot, Buffalo).

We expect the Cardless Connect system will be rolled out to the roughly 20 Las Vegas casinos operated by Station Casinos sometime in 2018, then you can try the system for yourself.

You’ll soon have a bunch of useless cards, so check out our 11 Alternate Uses for Your Casino Players Club Card.

You can find out more about how to use the Cardless Connect system at the Station Casinos blog. Yes, Station Casinos has a blog. And, yes, you can have a hall pass to check it out without feeling like you’re cheating on us. Go ahead, we’ll wait.

As billed, the cardless loyalty club connection system is a fun, fast way to avoid fumbling with cards and to get all the casino perks you deserve for your play.

This cardless system has another benefit in that it feels like you have a superpower along the lines of motion-activated doors at grocery stores and shopping malls.

You won’t just feel like you’re using a player’s card, you’ll feel like you’re using the Force.

Golden Gate Expansion Nears Completion, Here’s a First Peek Inside

Golden Gate’s expansion is in the home stretch, and we’ve got an exclusive look inside.

Golden Gate expansion

Dead center is where the 24-foot tower of televisions will be. No, we haven’t talked about that yet. We don’t live by society’s rules.

The expansion has been months in the making as Golden Gate has moved into the footprint of the former La Bayou casino.

The additional space will nearly double the size of Golden Gate’s casino floor, adding about 100 slot machines.

Golden Gate will close temporarily on Aug. 20, 2017 to complete the build-out, and the new space will officially debut on Aug. 25.

If you know anything about this blog, you know we’re not real big on waiting for things to “officially debut,” so we had to do a security breach, while adhering to all applicable laws, ordinances and safety regulations, of course.

Golden Gate expansion

We love that new slot machine smell.

During the closure, virtually the entire east wall of Golden Gate’s existing casino will come down to connect the new and old spaces.

A highlight of Golden Gate’s expansion will be a 24-foot tower of TVs, surrounded by hundreds of beveled mirrors.

The television “fountain” will sit inside a new entrance to the casino, with marble flooring and velvet drapes.

The opening of the new casino area and entrance will coincide with an expansion of the casino’s lucrative outdoor bar, One Bar. The bar will expand 20 feet.

Golden Gate expansion

There are fewer words in the English language we love more than “more bar.”

Another big change at Golden Gate will be the relocation of the casino’s loyalty club desk. To complete the finishing touches of the loyalty club and casino expansion, it’s rumored crews will work 108 hours straight during the casino closure to meet the Aug. 25 debut date.

We’re exhausted just typing that sentence.

Golden Gate loyalty club

This is where they’re going to keep the loyalty.

To celebrate the debut of the casino expansion, owners Derek and Greg Stevens will host a free concert by Better Than Ezra on Sep. 3 at 9:00 p.m. The concert is a late addition to the free summer concert series put on by Fremont Street Experience (where we work as our day gig in digital marketing).

Golden Gate has made the most of a fairly modest space, and the casino interior already gives off a welcoming vibe with its mix of modern and classic design elements, including dark wood accents we sort of want to rub our various body parts up against for some reason.

Golden Gate expansion

Golden Gate opened in 1906. Back in those days, slot machines paid jackpots in cobwebs.

The new space is already filling up with shiny new slot machines (no classics from the Riviera here), many of which were too tall to put in other areas of the casino due to the classic casino’s low ceilings.

Golden Gate’s expansion is a great excuse to stop by during your next visit, and make sure to check out the demolition site just across Fremont Street while you’re there.

Here’s a little-known fact related to Golden Gate: The hotel was home to the first telephone in Las Vegas (the phone number was “1”), but that’s not the little known fact. The little-known fact is about who got the second telephone in Las Vegas. Any guesses?

We’ll wait.

You’re going to love this.

Golden Gate (originally called Hotel Nevada) was owned by John F. Miller. The second telephone in Las Vegas was installed in his home, at the behest of Miller’s wife, Rosa. Who else do you think he’d call with the city’s first phone? Now you know!

Downtown Grand Snafu Reaps Big Wins for Players

It’s a Las Vegas story almost too good to be true, but it happened, and it’s sure to become the stuff of casino legend.

Recently, an error in Downtown Grand’s loyalty club system resulted in thousands of dollars in unearned free play for customers and tens of thousands in losses for the downtown casino.

Here’s how it went down.

On Mother’s Day, May 14, 2017, guests using their player’s cards noticed something strange when they accessed their Downtown Grand Rewards loyalty club accounts.

Rather than the typical free play offered by the casino, customers realized they were being given hundreds of additional dollars in free play for no apparent reason.

Ultimately, a system glitch resulted in each slot player receiving nearly a thousand dollars in free play ($970, to be exact), irrespective of their previous level of play. Or, to put it into the parlance of casino management, “Aieeee.”

Downtown Grand $1,000 rebate

They weren’t kidding.

Word of the snafu spread quickly, with customers alerting friends and relatives by phone and text so they, too, could take advantage of the administrative fluke.

While casino free play has no cash value, players are allowed to keep winnings resulting from the use of free slot play.

Downtown Grand’s incident (most likely caused by human error, according to casino insiders) resulted in players cashing out for substantial sums as a result of the gaff.

There’s no way to know how many players took advantage of Downtown Grand’s mistake or how long the glitch was in effect before casino management rectified it, but it’s safe to say the casino took a hit for tens of thousands of dollars.

One customer inquired about the abnormally generous free play and a Downtown Grand employee claimed a similar aberration had transpired a week prior, but players had mistakenly received free play in the $100 range.

Downtown Grand

We totally got a photo release from this guy and his suspenders, so no worries.

While magical for gamblers, errors like the one at Downtown Grand can do serious damage to a casino’s bottom line. Casino computer systems are sophisticated, but remain vulnerable to human fallibility.

The good news is Downtown Grand seems to have found its footing in recent months. We’ve heard the resort’s room bookings are strong and there are plans to add more room inventory soon.

The resort has also announced it will transform a nearby parking structure into The Quad (don’t get us started about the name), an entertainment district featuring a tavern, concert venue and fitness center. Read more.

Downtown Grand The Quad

Yay, new.

Here’s a better look at the plans for The Quad at Downtown Grand.

So, here’s the question: If you realized you were getting a thousand dollars in free play you hadn’t earned, what would you do? Would you keep playing or report the error to casino officials?

Let us know. We’re a Las Vegas blog, so we won’t judge. Probably.