Category Archives: Table Games

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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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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Today’s Iron-Clad Betting Stategy: The Big Six Wheel

One of the most recognizable games in a casino is the Big Six wheel, informally called the “Wheel of Fortune.”

It’s called the Big Six wheel because there are six levels of pay-outs.

Big Six wheel

On this wheel, the six pay-out levels are for $1, $2, $5, $10, $20 and a “joker” (or casino) spot.

The house advantage, or “edge,” on the typical Big Six wheel is 24.07%.

Therefore, our expert opinion about a betting strategy for the Big Six wheel is: RUN. RUN FOR YOUR LIFE.

Hope that helps!

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Stadium Gaming: Sucking the Fun Out of Gambling Since Late 2013

It’s new! It’s gambling! It’s sort of sucking the fun out of gambling for everyone! What is it? Stadium Gaming.

At the moment, Stadium Gaming is exclusively at The Palazzo, and we’re hoping it stays that way.

Palazzo Stadium Gaming

Sorry, photography was strictly forbidden, so we’re unable to show you this picture.

Stadium is sort of a hybrid between video slots and live casino games, specifically roulette and baccarat.

Each chair in the Stadium Gaming area of the casino (it takes up quite a bit of real estate) has its own interactive video display. Wagers are placed through the screens as live games are dealt by actual human dealers, nearby.

The video screens are fairly intuitive, so you can jump right in. Rules of the games are also available via the screens, so beginners can learn before they make their first bet.

Stadium Gaming roulette

On the positive side, the roulette layout has a single zero (no double), which is advantageous for players. It’s known as European roulette.

From what we hear, this Stadium Gaming set-up has been imported from Asia, where the demand for table games is so great, the casinos can’t keep up. Stadium Gaming has obvious advantages for the casino. It takes just three members of the casino staff to serve all those players, two dealers and a floor manager. Low cost, high return, just the way casinos like it!

While we’re happy the casino is happy, this whole set-up leaves a lot to be desired.

There’s no camaraderie with Stadium Gaming. Everyone’s playing their own game. There’s no feel of chips, and no dealer interaction. There’s also no real excitement. It’s mechanical, and unlike with video slots with no live game component, there’s room for human error.

Baccarat

We’ve never gotten baccarat, but it’s one of the most popular games in casinos among high rollers.

It’s not that we’re against playing machines that simulate our favorite table games. For example, we love Shoot to Win Craps. But even in that game, you bond with your fellow gamblers and share in victories and losses. (Not that anyone ever loses in a Las Vegas casino, of course.)

Did we win trying out Stadium Gaming? Yes. Was it fun? Not really.

The whole time we played, we had this weird feeling the whole game was set up to benefit the casino, with little concern for what a player might want from a game.

Nowhere on the game’s official site does it say anything about saving money on payroll, or churning through more results (the key to the profitability of any casino game). Dealers must absolutely hate dealing this game, because beyond this game leading to fewer dealers being employed, there’s no way to tip them via the video screens, which is likely to lead to far fewer, and smaller, tips.

But don’t take our word for it! Give the game a go.

For a limited time, to pursuade (bribe) players to try Stadium Gaming, the Palazzo is giving players club members $10 to bet.

If you get a chance to give Stadium Gaming a test run, let us know what you think.

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Circus Circus Las Vegas Has a Red Light District

What will those crafty Las Vegas casino wizards think of next?

Circus Circus has a special promotion in its Party Pit (motto: “We test the limits of the term ‘party,’ daily”), where when red lights start flashing, blackjacks pay double.

Roxanne doesn't have to turn these on. The casino floor managers handle it.

Roxanne doesn’t have to turn these on. The casino floor managers take care of it.

The lights go off at random times throughout the afternoon and evening, up until 11:00 p.m. To get double on blackjacks, you have to make a $10 minimum bet.

It's official: Flashing is permitted in the casino at Circus Circus. You heard it here first.

It’s official: Flashing is permitted in the casino at Circus Circus. You heard it here first.

The benefit to gamblers isn’t bad, although the chance of getting a blackjack during a particular window is somewhat small. Apparently, at one time, the lights went off at regular intervals, but advantage players showed up and bet big just for the duration of the promotion, then left, so the lights go off at random times now.

The flashing red lights give the Party Pit a certain flair, and probably keep some players around longer waiting for the next red light special. Which it the ultimate goal of any casino, of course.

Even if this form-over-substance promotion might not blow your skirt up, there’s still a lot to love about Circus Circus Las Vegas.

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A Rare Look Inside a Casino Automatic Card Shuffler

If you’ve played a card game in a Las Vegas casino, you’ve probably had your cards shuffled by an automatic card shuffler. These mysterious black boxes do their job, quietly and effectively, making sure the cards come out randomly, to protect both the casino and the player. Mostly the casino.

We were given a rare glimpse into the inner workings of an automatic card shuffler at a Strip hotel during some routine maintenance. Our mind still hasn’t stopped being blown.

It's complicated. Like prostitution in Las Vegas.

Automatic card shufflers are complicated. Like Las Vegas prostitution.

The shuffling machine’s a lot more complicated than we’d imagined. Wheels and gears and belts and motors move the cards around with robot-like efficiency, dispensing them based upon the game being played.

The machine we saw the innards of was being used at a three card poker table, so the cards were coming out in batches of three.

We grabbed some sweet video of the automatic card shuffler in action. Which we’re pretty sure we weren’t supposed to do. We’re not a big fan of rules. It won’t take long for you to learn this about us. Let’s watch.

Amazing stuff, don’t you think? It’s like capturing footage of a Sasquatch, or something even more rare, like video of Criss Angel solving a math problem.

Most automatic shuffling machines you see in casinos were made by Shufflemaster, a company now called SHFL Entertainment for reasons lost on us. In the SHFL offices, there’s a wooden prototype of their first automatic shuffler, from 1983, made mostly of wood.

A random discovery at SHFL headquarters. See what we did there?

Imagine a global company being based on wood. You know, like Playboy Enterprises.

The history of card shufflers is riveting, so naturally, you won’t find it here. Go here if you care to learn more.

We’re endlessly fascinated by how casinos do what they do. And you?

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