Category Archives: Las Vegas Casinos

Eight Casino Games and the Psychology of Why People Play Them

Las Vegas casinos are an absolute blast. Each has a slew of games of chance to choose from, and there’s something for everyone.

One of the great things about casino games is each differs in why they’re appealing, and players of various games often have very different reasons for playing.

The psychology of gambling is one of the best parts. Well, that and hand pays. And free drinks. But mostly psychology!

Here, then, are eight of the most popular casino games and why players play them.

1. Craps: When You Enjoy Meeting New People

Craps, referred to as “dice” by the cool kids, has some of the best odds in the casino. But that’s not really why most people play the game. Craps is social! Because most players have money riding on the same bet, it’s a team game and the camaraderie is unlike anything you’ll find anywhere else. If you have a hot roll at a dice table, you’re guaranteed to have a new batch of lifelong friends.

Casino Royale

Remember when crowding around a dice table was a thing?

2. Roulette: When You Don’t Want to Learn How to Gamble

One of the reasons roulette is so popular is it requires virtually no skill. Just put your chips on the numbers and hope Lady Luck is on your side! People sometimes get bent out of shape because a roulette table will have three zeroes. While this is a disadvantage to players, critics don’t seem to understand these two words: Who cares? People who play roulette are having a great time. It’s not about rules or odds. It’s about fun.

Roulette

You don’t have to play all your hunches. Hunches can be real jerks sometimes.

3. Baccarat: When You Really Don’t Want to Learn How to Gamble

Baccarat pretty much has two bets: You bet on the “player” or the “banker.” So, pretty much like a coin toss. The dealer does the rest. Whales love baccarat and fortunes have been won and lost playing this game. Ultimately, though, it’s pretty much a 50/50 game and what’s not to love about a game that takes five seconds to learn?

Baccarat

We learned baccarat at Lucky Dragon. Which closed shortly thereafter. They should’ve put quotation marks around the “Lucky.”

4. Keno: When You Really, Really Don’t Want to Learn How to Gamble

Remember how we said craps has some of the best odds in a casino? Well, keno has some of the worst. The house advantage (also called the “house edge”) for live keno is around 25 percent (and can be as high as 35 percent). In layperson’s terms, that’s an avalanche of suck. Still, keno can provide a low-cost form of enjoyment and, as we’ve said, that’s really the point of gambling, not merely the financial ROI. The strategy in keno involves: 1) Marking numbers. That’s the whole list. Just as with the lottery, winning it out of your hands, so just enjoy the ride.

world's largest keno board

Will you please grow up?

5. Blackjack: When You Like Math

Blackjack, unlike some games we’ve mentioned, involves a degree of skill. That means a player with knowledge of the game (basic strategy) tends to do better than one without. One of the biggest barriers to blackjack is it involves math. Every hand involves addition. Dealers do a lot of the heavy lifting, but it’s still up to players to make a decision, whether to hit or stand, for every hand. If you’re not up for sum math, blackjack may not prove to be of value.

blackjack

Getting a blackjack keeps the math to a minimum.

6. Sports Betting: When You Want To Have Skin in the Game

Lots of people who aren’t this blog absolutely love sports! And many of the people who love sports enjoy betting on sports. Here’s why: Sports betting makes sports a lot less boring. Rooting for your favorite team is one thing, but having money on the line inspires a whole new level of enthusiasm. Proof? During the pandemic, as major sports were shutting down, sports bettors shifted their attention to offbeat sports including ping pong and Belarusian soccer. No, really. The sports themselves don’t matter all that much, it’s all about the wagering action.

Circa sportsbook

If you’re into sports, the new Circa resort has a metric hell-ton of it.

7. Slots: When You Want an Escape

It’s a scientific fact playing slot machines can put gamblers into a trance-like state. Slots are a great way to escape our daily lives, to enter the “zone” where our concerns are set aside while we take a mental vacation. Slot players often lose track of time (casinos aren’t mad about that) as well as their surroundings. Slots are like self-hypnosis, where worries melt away and we’re freed up to reap the rewards of our labor and dispose of our disposable income. Everything in moderation, of course, but slots are a popular diversion from all the WTF in our everyday lives.

Cosmopolitan high limit slots

Cosmo is one of our favorite mental vacation destinations.

8. Video Poker: When You Love to Drink

Video poker has some of the best returns in a casino, but that’s not really why people play and it’s just one small part of the experience. The best part is the drinking! When you sit at a casino video poker bar, it’s expected you’ll play a reasonable amount per hand (in most places it’s a dollar per hand), but if you do, the drinks flow freely. Video poker provides a great value, and while there’s always a risk of “decision fatigue,” video poker players almost always have a great time because Las Vegas never runs out of libations.

Vital Vegas royal flush

We’ve gotten two royals in 20 years, so we’re definitely in it for the hooch.

There are lot of other casino games, of course, but the number eight is lucky, so we don’t want to screw with our mojo. As soon as this story goes live, we’re heading to the casino! Shocker.

We’d love to hear why you play your favorite casino game. Do you prefer solitude or interaction? Math or no math? Do the odds matter most or is the experience that gets your blood pumping?

Whatever game you play, Vegas is the place to do it. Otherwise, it would be Vital Des Moines, and that would just be awkward.

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.

Downtown Grand Halts Table Games Midweek

In another lovely sign of the challenges facing Las Vegas casinos at the moment, Downtown Grand has stopped operating its table games on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

While Downtown Grand’s casino table games area has never really been considered lively, at least they had one, and the experience was always enjoyable.

Downtown Grand

We love Downtown Grand’s casino because it’s quiet. Just not closed quiet, please.

Downtown Grand is the latest casino grappling with weak demand mid-week. Winter is always slow in Las Vegas, but without NFR and conventions, we’re pretty much screwed.

Adjusting table games hours can help reduce labor costs, and slot machines end up doing the heavy lifting on revenue generation for casinos.

For example, Circus Circus bailed on its table games mid-week. The worst part is all the kids are now limited to the definitely-not-gambling games in the midway. Bummer!

Circus Circus

A casino without table games is like an “O” without a “69.”

Hotel towers are partially closing as well. Mandalay Bay, Mirage and Park MGM close their hotels midweek, for example.

Encore also closed midweek due to soft demand.

Palazzo recently announced it would temporarily close its hotel tower seven days a week.

Rooms, schmooms, don’t take away our roulette, blackjack and craps! We need something to do after our chicken parm at Triple George.

Downtown Grand’s situation is particularly interesting because it recently opened a new hotel tower. While we’re pretty sure Downtown Grand has never earned a dollar of profit from its casino, it’s had strong demand for lodging in the past, hence the expansion.

Sadly, the new tower opened in the middle of the pandemic.

Downtown Grand hotel tower

Come hell or high water, Vegas keeps making new things.

It feels like Las Vegas is being tested.

Hang in there, Downtown Grand. We’re rooting for you, and we’ll be by to try our hand at those excellent video poker machines at Furnace bar soon.

Virgin Hotels Las Vegas May Delay Opening (Again)

Damn it. It looks like Virgin Hotels Las Vegas will delay its opening, again.

The resort, formerly Hard Rock Las Vegas, was set to open Jan. 15, 2021, but Richard Bosworth, President and CEO of the casino’s owner, JC Hospitality, has informed employees they may have to push that date back due to concerning predictions by health agencies and recent directives from Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak.

Virgin Hotel Las Vegas pool

We are currently experiencing an epic level of bummed about another delay in the opening of Virgin Las Vegas.

In an internal memo, Bosworth said, “While the current restrictions put forth by the Governor are only scheduled for three weeks, there could be an extension if there is no improvement in the COVID-19 crisis. Either way, a slowdown in county services and the inability to have gatherings with over 50 attendees will likely impact many of our pre-opening activities.

The missive continues a wee more ominously, “Additionally, we have learned today through both the CDC and John Hopkins University that the next surge is projected to occur in early January, right in the middle of our scheduled launch. It is very difficult to know if this prediction is accurate, but it could be extremely disruptive to our opening.”

In his communication, Bosworth touches upon some harsh realities of opening in mid-January.

“We are closely following hotel bookings for January,” the memo says. “With unprecedented low occupancy projections for Las Vegas, it is unclear that if we did open as scheduled, there would be enough business to support scheduling even 50% of our staff.”

Richard Bosworth

Our heart goes out to you and the team, Boz. Yes, he said we can call him that.

Bosworth says the final decision has yet to be made, but given the circumstances, it seems prudent to wait a bit rather than opening and being crushed by capacity limits and ongoing travel restrictions.

No new potential opening date for Virgin Las Vegas has been shared.

Bosworth says to staffers, “Making the decision to delay is very painful for all of us. As I have stated before, we want to start ringing our cash registers and for all of you to start earning a great living. While I am not able to determine a new opening date at this time, it could be three weeks or more beyond the original date of January 15th.”

It appears our collective suck won’t end with the end of 2020.

Bar at Commons Club

We really, really wanted to have a drink here in January.

This new casino resort is shaping up to be a sweet new offering (including an enticing collection of bars and restaurants), and while it’s disappointing to hear we probably won’t be able to get inside this Virgin in mid-January, it’s something to look forward to, and we could all use more things to look forward to.

Update: Our sources say Virgin Hotels Las Vegas will open no later than April 7, 2021, although it could open sooner.

Rio Las Vegas to Reopen Dec. 22, Mostly

There are just a handful of Las Vegas casinos that haven’t reopened since the shutdown on March 18, 2020 due to the pandemic.

A glaring omission from the Caesars Entertainment roster of Vegas casinos has been Rio, but now the off-Strip casino has announced it will be back online as of Dec. 22, 2020.

That’s right. It took a pandemic to make people miss the Rio, and now she’s coming back. Well, most of her, anyway. But let’s not get bogged down in details.

Rio

Let’s Rio again, already.

As with a number of Las Vegas casinos, Rio’s reopening will have some caveats.

The hotel part of Rio will only operate stays Thursday through Monday.

On the bright side, the casino will be open seven days a week. It’s worth noting Caesars was careful not to say its table games would operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Places like
Circus Circus have dramatically cut back their table games hours due to soft demand.

Rio view

One of the best things about the Rio is the view from the Rio.

A very bright side to the Rio reopening is one of our favorite Vegas shows, Penn & Teller, will relaunch as well.

Penn & Teller

Welcome back, miscreants.

Chippendales, not so much. We trust it’s because the show is a little too interactive.

Poor Chippendales guys. With their show closed, how are they going to meet women now? The struggle is real.

Chippendales

Here, a Chippendales dancer socially distances himself from his clothing.

“Wow” and the Comedy Cellar will not reopen when Rio does.

Restaurant options will be limited to: All-American Bar & Grille, Hash House A Go Go, VooDoo Steak and the Sports Deli.

Off the table for now are the Carnival World Buffet, Guy Fieri’s El Burro Borracho, Pho Da Nang Vietnamese Kitchen, KJ Dim Sum & Seafood and Royal India Bistro.

Royal India Bistro

One of the most underrated restaurants in Vegas is going to be a minute.

Many of the Rio’s bars will reopen, including Shutters, iBar, Purple Zebra, Masquerade and the Race & Sports Book Bar.

Self-parking will remain free, valet will remain closed.

Rio Kiss Minigolf

Sorry, tongue fans. No mention of Kiss minigolf reopening.

It’s worth noting that while Caesars Entertainment continues to operate Rio, the company no longer owns it. Rio is owned by Dreamscape Companies, from the folks at Imperial Companies, a real estate investment company.

For that matter, Caesars Entertainment isn’t even really owned by Caesars Entertainment anymore. The company recently merged with Eldorado Resorts.

Mental gymnastics aside, and despite the limited dining options at Rio, it will be great to have her back.

Given the closure of Palms (it still hasn’t reopened, and no date has been set to do so), it’s been a little dreary on that part of Flamingo Road.

The return of Rio and Penn & Teller means Las Vegas is slowly getting its VooDoo back.

Resorts World Drops New Renderings of Pool, Nightclub and Restaurants

Resorts World continues to titillate with sweet renderings of the Las Vegas casino resort opening in summer 2021.

This time, we get a glimpse of the $4.3 billion resort’s dayclub, Ayu.

Resorts World dayclub

Damn it, never should’ve sold that Ab Roller.

As you know, “Ayu” means “beautiful” in Javanesse.

And as you also know, Javanesse is the language spoken by people at Starbucks.

Next up is the entrance to Zouk Las Vegas nightclub.

Zouk is a well-known nightlife brand in Asia, with high profile venues in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Malaysia, none of which we would be able to locate on a map.

Thanks a lot, public education.

Resorts World nightclub

Behold the newest place in Vegas to get your recommended allowance of oontz.

To the credit of Resorts World, they went outside the usual suspects to manage their nightclub.

The state of nightclubs in Vegas has been in flux for some time, with the closure of several Vegas fixtures, including Intrigue at Wynn, 1 Oak at Mirage, Hyde at Bellagio and others. The most recent implosion was Kaos at Palms.

New blood may be just what’s needed to shake up the town’s nightclub formula.

Here’s a shot from inside Zouk.

Resorts World nightclub

Zouk is a kind of dance music from the Caribbean. It’s also the sound your withdrawal slip makes when it goes up the vacuum tube at your bank.

There’s also Fuhu restaurant. According to the official Web site, “Fuhu is a vibe dining restaurant, conceptualized by the team behind the world famous number three nightclub in the world, Zouk Singapore.”

Nightclubs and restaurants? Echoes of Hakkasan and Tao up in here.

Resorts World Fuhu

Fuhu means “lucky tiger” in Mandarin. We like it, despite the whole “vibe dining” thing.

Among the new renderings is RedTail, which we’re pretty sure needs a space in it, but we’re going to play along.

Speaking of play, RedTail is a “social gaming bar,” where guests can mingle and playing games like beer pong, darts and pool.

Oh, stop judging, that idea has got to succeed at some point. Somewhere. Maybe even in Las Vegas. At some point. Have you seen the numbers at Dave & Buster’s? Neither have we, but you see our point.

RedTail will have hooch, which is really the important part, so there’s that.

Resorts World RedTail

We’re ready to get some consensual RedTail.

The renderings are sexy, and the rooms we saw in the sales center at Resorts World were appealing as well.

Bringing 3,500 rooms to The Strip when visitation was already on the wane in Las Vegas prior to the pandemic means Resorts World will face some challenges.

The resort will also rely heavily on conventions (near zero in Las Vegas right now), nightlife (nightclubs and dayclubs are closed) and entertainment (no headliners are currently performing on the Las Vegas Strip).

Resorts World seems to be using a tried-and-true playbook for Las Vegas megaresorts. The question is whether that playbook actually works anymore, especially in light of recent world
events and the proliferation of legal gambling across the country.

Resorts World Las Vegas

The size and scope of Resorts World has been fluid since it was first announced in March 2013. This is about what it will look like on opening day in summer 2021.

Resorts World is hoping pent-up demand will draw visitors to its shiny new destination on The Strip.

We’re rooting hard for Resorts World. Let’s hope science, visitor confidence and good luck align to help make this new Las Vegas casino resort a success.