Category Archives: Las Vegas Casinos

Old-School Main Street Station Casino Reopens Downtown

It somehow turned out to be the most-anticipated casino reopening coming out of the pandemic, and it was worth the wait.

Downtown’s Main Street Station, owned by Boyd Gaming, reopened on Sep. 8, 2021, after being closed since March 2020.

The drinks were flowing, the quads were bountiful and it was glorious revisiting all the weirdness for which Main Street Station is known, or should be.

Main Street Station

Our fellow OCD sufferers will be relieved to hear they’re working on fixing the neon.

Weird how, you ask?

Well, Main Street Station isn’t your typical Las Vegas casino.

Prior to it being Main Street Station, the hotel was The Park. It was purchased by Bob Snow in 1986, and he spent about $80 million improving the place.

Snow brought a weird a wonderful collection of antiques and oddities to Main Street Station, a collection he’d spent 25 years building. Unfortunately, Snow was a better antique collector than casino operator (at one point, Main Street Station was losing $200,000 a month), and the casino filed for bankruptcy protection in 1992.

Boyd bought Main Street Station in 1993 and wisely chose to keep the casino’s oddities on display.

Our favorite is probably a portion of the Berlin Wall in the men’s restroom.

Where can you eat, drink, gamble and express your disdain for Communism? Main Street!

Don’t have a freak-out, ladies. Security can escort you in when the coast is clear.

Our next favorite bit of weirdness is Winston Churchill’s snooker table, discreetly available for viewing via an unassuming elevator with a “Lift” sign.

If you’re wondering who Winston Churchill is, you probably went to public school in Nevada, which is why we need the lottery.

The helpful brochure highlighting Main Street Station’s Artifacts, Antiques and Artworks has been freshly updated, and we got our hands on it, of course. You’re welcome.

There are fascinating things at every turn, and one could spend a full day seeking out all these oddball discoveries.

These brass doors come from the Kuwait Royal Bank. If you’re wondering what Kuwait is, oh, nevermind.

While not an antique, also keep your eyes peeled for this artwork. We love it. There’s another one just like it at The Cal.

If you think we’re just showing you this because we like it, you don’t know this blog at all.

Casino nerds will, of course, note the dice in this piece of art, pipwise.

LeRoy Neiman was an art person, not a pip person. Opposite sides of the dice should always add up to the number between six and eight.

Such diversions should be augmented by drinking and gambling, of course, and those are in plentiful supply at Main Street Station.

Main Street Station isn’t flashy, but it’s a solid value and one of our favorite places to play downtown.

It was great being back in Main Street Station, and they even made sure we had a winning video poker session. Such thoughtfulness!

We got eight quads in a few hours, including two quad aces and four deuces. We were also dealt quad 10s, and just to show how good we are at video poker, also got a dealt
straight flush.

Video poker, the ultimate game of skill.

The bartenders were awesome at Boar’s Head Bar, and after 20 or so years visiting Main Street Station, we discovered these awesome elephants holding the brass rail at the bar.

Main Street Station is utterly unique, as opposed to the other kinds of unique.

Frequent visitors to Main Street Station will notice some changes, including fewer table games. About half of the games have been removed, replaced with electronic games. This is an increasingly common cost-saving measure, as we’ve covered extensively.

Main Street Station’s table game minimums are still some of the best around, with $10 minimums on most table games. Main Street still offers player-friendly 20x odds on craps.

We were surprised to see there was no roulette table.

Main Street Station

We trust Amazon will be delivering additional machines for this area shortly.

Another change at Main Street Station is its coin machines are gone. Another Boyd casino, Fremont casino, removed its coin machines in Oct. 2020. A third Boyd casino downtown, The Cal, still has coin machines. El Cortez is about the only other downtown casino with coin machines, unless you count Sigma Derby at The D.

Fun fact: On The Strip, hit Circus Circus for coin machines if you enjoy getting your hands dirty.

Other changes at Main Street Station include the hours of operation of its restaurants.

On the bright side, and to everyone’s surprise, the Garden Court buffet is back. It’s open daily 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. for brunch ($18.99) and Friday/Saturday 4:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. for dinner ($25.99).

Easily the most comely buffet waiting area in Las Vegas.

The popular Triple 7 restaurant was packed on reopening night, possibly because it also has a brewery on-site. And poke, whatever that might actually be. See the menu here.

Triple 7 is open 5:00 p.m. to midnight, Thursday through Monday only. We trust that could change based upon demand.

Triple 7 Main Street

Hearty eats and fresh brews, also known as slot fuel.

It’s worth noting, parking isn’t free as was the case for a long time. Out front, a surface lot costs $5 per hour with a $25 per day maximum. Self-parking in the garage is a flat $10 Monday through Thursday, $20 Friday and Sunday, with the first 30 minutes free.

Parking is free for Emerald and Sapphire tier level members of the loyalty club. Main Street Station will also validate for “Dining & Gaming Guests.” That means free parking if you spend $20 or more at a restaurant or earn at least 20 tier credits or more in the casino.

Given Main Street’s challenging location, paid parking is a bold move.

Overall, Main Street Station is just as you remember it.

The customers are mostly visitors from Hawaii, the staff is friendly and it’s a wildly different experience from a typical Strip casino.

You won’t find an ultraclub or Cirque show at this downtown gem, but Main Street Station is Las Vegas the way we like it best.

Quiet, cheap, quirky and gambling is still very much king.

Player Hits $1 Million Video Poker Jackpot at Cosmo

The next best thing to hitting a million-dollar jackpot in Las Vegas is hearing about somebody else hitting one.

Distant second, but still.

A lucky high limit video poker player snagged a $1 million jackpot at Cosmopolitan on Labor Day, Sep. 6, 2021.

So many zeroes, it’s like the gratuity line on a Raiders restaurant tab.

The jackpot was hit on a Ten Play Draw Poker machine. The game was Triple Double Bonus Poker.

The winning hand was four aces with a “kicker.” (That’s four aces with a 2,3 or 4). Making the win even sweeter, the hand was dealt.

The jackpot was won with a $1,250 spin.

At the time of the win, the player only had $35,000 in credits left, so they were cutting it close!

Seriously, though, high rollers live in an alternate reality the rest of us can only imagine.

Cosmopolitan high limit slots

If you’re looking for the high limit room at Cosmo, just follow the sparkle.

According to Cosmo, the win marks a new record for the largest, non-wide-area progressive at the Strip resort.

A “wide-area progressive” (shortened to WAP in the casino industry), is a system that links slot machines across many casinos to generate large jackpots. Wheel of Fortune and Megabucks are examples of WAPs.

WAP jackpots are paid by the machine manufacturer, while “local” progressives (sometimes called a “bank”) are paid by the casino. Local progressives are usually tied to an individual game.

There are probably more magical words than “jackpot handpay,” but we can’t think of any.

While a million-dollar win is great, it’s not really the best perk of playing in Cosmo’s high limit room.

That would be the free cookies. The pandemic messed with the high limit cookies for a bit, but they’re back, individually wrapped now for greater sensitivity and protection.

The real jackpot.

No word yet on what the player tipped for their million-dollar win, but we trust it was more than $200. Ahem.

The prospect of winning a big jackpot is why Las Vegas exists. Sin City was built upon two things: Optimism and short memories.

Congrats to Cosmopolitan’s big winner, and we are in no way resentful for their good fortune! At all.

San Manuel Tribe Firms Up Timeline for Reopening Palms Casino

It was announced back in May 2021 the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians will purchase Palms Casino for $650 million.

Yes, we broke the news, but it’s not always about us, probably.

Since then, the tribe’s been relatively quiet about its timeline for reopening the popular off-Strip casino. That’s why you have us.

Unknown bar Palms

Damien Hirst’s shark stays when Palms opens. Much of the remaining art is leased, so is probably out after the lease agreements expire.

We’ve chatted with multiple reliable sources familiar with the purchase of Palms, and a clearer
picture is emerging about when we might expect the resort to come back online.

First up, the sale has to close.

The tentative date for the close of the purchase from Station Casinos is Nov. 15, 2021.

One source said that date is “early, but not impossible.” So, you’re saying there’s a chance.

Should that date hold, licensing would presumably be approved shortly thereafter.

That means a soft opening of mid-January 2022 could very well be doable, best case scenario.

One source said a soft opening is more likely “mid to late Q1.” Which is fancy talk for “Marchish.”

Palms, of course, is pretty much move-in ready given Station Casinos invested in $620 million in renovating the place prior to the decision to sell. It’s expected San Manuel will only have to spend $15 million to get the resort ready to reopen.

In Native American culture, shields represent not just physical protection, but spiritual. Shields also represent good luck for gamblers, a fact which we just made up, but we’ll take all the help we can get.

While this “draft timeline” is fluid, what’s not is the fact a General Manager for Palms should be announced within the next couple of weeks.

This is a an important step in the reopening of Palms, as this individual will then start selecting
executives, with the goal of having a core team in place by Oct. 2021.

Very exciting if you’re anxious to get back to Palms to see what San Manuel brings to the table.

Palms

Fingers crossed they keep the neon.

From what we’ve heard, a high priority will be given to making Palms a place the tribe’s Southern California customers will enjoy.

That translates as “value-driven,” which we love, as it means Palms will again embrace Las Vegas locals as well.

If we were a betting person, we’d take that focus on locals (as well as what we’ve been told) to mean there will be a buffet at Palms. And we are a betting person. In case that weren’t obvious.

AYCE buffet Palms Vegas

The A.Y.C.E. (all you can eat) buffet was solid. Serrano Buffet (San Manuel’s buffet) has a nice ring to it as well.

San Manuel is pretty much guaranteed to steer clear of past missteps at Palms, including trying to compete in the dayclub/nightclub realm.

That said, Ghostbar is likely to be back, as its a strong brand and fans have expressed an interest in its return. Don’t expect big name DJs, however, an expensive mistake made by the previous ownership at the failed Kaos.

At one point, it sounded like most, if not all, of the previous Palms restaurants would be out. Now, we’re hearing San Manuel is having conversations with several of the venues to see if a deal can be struck for a comeback.

We understand Green Street Kitchen and Tim Ho Wan are likely candidates, but no final decision will be made prior to the deal closing.

The Palms food court brands are likely to remain largely the same.

File this under “How to Make a Good First Impression While Attracting Quality Employees.”

Given recent trends, it’s worth noting parking will remain free at Palms.

San Manuel’s draft timeline is subject to change, and the licensing process involves a lot of variables, but chances are good we’ll have Palms back by February of 2022, April at the latest.

Stay tuned for more.

Update (9/22/21): San Manuel named Cynthia Kiser Murphey, former President of New York-New York, General Manager of Palms.

Rumor: Player Tips $200 After Hitting $1.1 Million Jackpot at Golden Nugget

It’s a too-familiar story, but a million-dollar-plus jackpot winner at Golden Nugget is rumored to have left a $200 tip. Face, meet palm.

The player won $1.1 million on the Crazy 4 Poker progressive.

That’s not the rumor part.

Took a few years, but this sucker finally paid off.

Golden Nugget employees and others (who wished to remain anonymous) shared word of the painfully small $200 tip.

Cue the asshats chiming in with, “At least he left them something!”

To which we tend to respond, “Oy,” or something similarly clever.

One source said the player is a Las Vegas local, so they should “know how this works.”

We also hear the player’s wife won $5,000 on the winning hand (known as an “Envy” bet in Crazy 4 Poker) and tipped zero.

How Las Vegas works is many casino employees rely on tips for their livelihoods. Yes, it’s a
fundamentally flawed system, blah, blah, blah, but it’s the system we’ve got.

Fun fact: As a nod to its history, Golden Nugget uses a camera from 1946, the year the casino opened.

The subject of tipping, or not, on large jackpots has sparked some lively debates in social media.

We recently shared on Twitter that another winner, at Circa Las Vegas, tipped $200 on a $120,000-plus jackpot.

The responses to the Tweet were, how do we put this diplomatically, wide-ranging.

Many (sadly, most) of the people who responded to our Tweet rationalized the $200 tip, with many saying they’d have tipped nothing.

This inspired a listicle on our podcast, which we’re going to share again for posterity.

Top 10 Excuses for Not Tipping

1. “Employers don’t pay enough.”
2. “Tipping is optional.”
3. “They didn’t tip me when I was losing.”
4. “Tipping is a tool of oppression.”
5. “I have to pay taxes on my winnings.”
6. “These people already make a lot of money.”
7. “They didn’t do very much.”
8. “I didn’t have any cash.”
9. “We don’t tip in my country of origin.”
10. “I’m a clueless bonehead.”

In the defense of the clueless, it’s true large jackpot winners don’t get their winnings in cash. That’s the only excuse that even marginally works here, and it should be noted there’s no time limit on tipping. It’s perfectly acceptable to come back hours or even days later to tip the crew.

We’d love to hear that’s what happened with our $1.1 million winner! We’ll wait.

At this juncture, we usually get the question, “So, what’s the appropriate amount to tip?”

The answer is a trap, of course, as there’s no amount that’s going to satisfy everyone. It’s not a set amount, and while some suggest a percentage of the big win, that’s rather absurd as the gratuity could be outragious.

For example, just a 2% tip on $1.1 million would be $22,000. While casino staff wouldn’t get upset about such a tip, um, no.

While we’re an advocate for generous tipping, we don’t personally tip extravagantly. We aren’t
talking about ridiculous tipping here, we’re advocating reasonable tipping, and that’s highly
subjective.

What’s a reasonable tip for a $1.1 million jackpot? We’ll put it this way: It’s more than $200.

You can’t spell “tip” without “tipsy.” That’s it, that’s the whole photo caption.

We also get this question a lot, “Who should I tip?”

Again, it’s up to you, but here’s our answer: Anyone who made your experience better. If it’s a
table game win, the list includes dealers, cocktail servers and the folks who bring your money. With slots, it’s servers and slot attendants.

Don’t feel obligated to stop there, however. Bathroom attendants, valets, security guards and
cage cashiers all contributed to your unforgettable night, feel free to lavish them with cash as you see fit.

And don’t forget about selfless bloggers whose words and poorly-focused photographs keep you connected to Las Vegas between visits. We wouldn’t accept a gratuity, of course, but that shouldn’t prevent you from offering.

Here’s the question that’s the foundation of all this: Why tip?

First, it’s customary. Las Vegas runs on tips, it’s woven into the culture. If you don’t believe in
tipping, or can’t afford to tip appropriately, you need not visit Las Vegas and its casinos. You should also probably avoid leaving your home, as tipping is a thing everywhere in America. Pretty straightforward.

Second, it’s karma. While it may not make logical sense to give away money when it’s “optional,”
tipping isn’t driven by logic, just as visiting a casino isn’t driven by logic. It’s about mojo, and what goes around comes around. Your gratuity is a statement of your appreciation and generosity, an investment in achieving your next big win.

Tipping is simply the right thing to do.

If nothing else, the subject of tipping is a wonderful conversation-starter. How someone views
tipping says a lot about them as a human being.

Here’s a useful analogy: Big tippers are dog people, poor tippers are cat people. (That sound you hear is us ducking.)

The ultimate goal is to be considered a “George,” casino slang for a big tipper.

Better yet, be a Benjamin. Inflation and such.

Main Street Station Sets Reopening Date: Sep. 8, 2021

A beloved downtown casino, Main Street Station, has been closed since March 2020 due to the pandemic.

Finally, plans for reopening Main Street Station, owned by Boyd Gaming, are moving forward.

Main Street Station reopens at 6:00 a.m. on Sep. 8, 2021.

Main Street Station

Main Street Station completes us.

Boyd’s downtown casinos were hit hard during the pandemic, mainly because a good part of their business relies upon visitors from Hawaii.

Hawaii had tight travel restrictions, so Boyd was forced to keep Main Street Station closed until business conditions improved.

The announcement Main Street Station will reopen is a pretty good indication business conditions have improved.

Main Street Station

Today’s thing we will never take for granted again.

Because Main Street Station has been closed, it hasn’t been able to take advantage of an influx of customers visiting its new neighbor, Circa Las Vegas. That’s likely to change now.

Let’s Boar’s Head again!

We have no idea why it’s called Boar’s Head Bar given it’s the entire boar.

Main Street Station is an old-school casino, and is known for its player-friendly games, restaurant values, on-site brewery (Triple 7s Brewery) and the fact you can relieve yourself on a piece of the Berlin Wall in the men’s restroom.

We are not making this up.

Berlin Wall Main Street Station

Take that, Communism!

Some of the collectibles at Main Street Station include street lamps from the town square in Brussels, Belgium; stained glass from Lillian Russell’s (she was huge in the 1890s) mansion; columns from the Windsor Barracks; bronze doors from the Kuwait Royal Bank; chandeliers from the Coca Cola building in Austin, Texas; and a chandelier from the Figaro Opera House in Paris.

Check out the brochure with all the antiques and their locations. Sorry, train nerds, the Blackhawk train car is no longer at Main Street Station. You’ll manage.

One of our favorite hidden treasures at Main Street Station is Winston Churchill’s snooker table. Take the elevator with the “Lift” sign to the second floor.

free things to do in Las Vegas

Not your typical casino attraction.

Main Street Station is quirky AF and we love it.

For more than a year, there’s been a high level of interest in when Main Street Station would reopen. Boyd is hoping that interest translates into renewed interested in this downtown gem.

In some bonus good news, the casino’s popular Garden Court Buffet will return! The “all-you-can-eat experience” will be open daily for brunch (8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.) and dinner on Friday and Saturday (4:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.).

We are happy to be able to fill your gullet with all this good news.

We’d love to see a splashy reopening celebration to mark the return of Main Street Station. And by “splashy,” of course, we mean us having a two-hour craps roll. Or fireworks or whatever.

We can’t wait to get inside Main Street Station again!

11 Reasons the Return of Mandatory Masks in Casinos is Awesome

The mandatory mask mandate is back in Las Vegas as of midnight on Thursday, July 29, 2021 (technically, 12:01 a.m. on July 30).

Masks will be required indoors whether one’s vaccinated or not (unless smoking, eating or drinking), and that includes casinos.

Thankfully, the fun doesn’t need to stop. Vegas has a lot of booze.

Rather than rant, we’ve decided to focus on the bright side of this unfortunte turn of events.

Here, then, are 11 reasons the return of masks to casinos is awesome. Just play along.

1. Masks Muffle Loud-Talkers

Loud-talkers are everywhere, and the prevalence of liquor in casinos only serves to make things worse. Enter masks. They not only serve to muffle loud-talkers, they also solve the issue of people who spit when they close-talk. Masks are god’s gift to the neurotic and we’re so glad they’re back.

2. Masks Mean Less Smiling Required

With masks, there’s much less pressure to smile. This is true for everyone, but it’s especially welcomed by casino employees whose job duties include pretending you’re funny and likeable. Most employees have perfected “smizing,” or smiling with their eyes, but masks still provide some effective camouflage. It’s worth noting masks make us focus on the eyes. It’s a well-known fact prolonged eye contact creates a sense of affinity, and affinity with, say, a bartender, often results in stronger pours. Masks for the win!

Las Vegas smizing

Here we go again.

3. Masks Filter Cigarette Smoke Stench

Casinos are popular with smokers, but cigarette smoke can be irksome to some guests. Masks do a decent job of filtering out the smell of cigarettes. At certain times, even when the mask mandates were dropped, we sort of wished we had one on. Side note: If you really dislike cigarette smoke, visit Park MGM. It’s smoke-free.

4. Masks Help Service Workers Talk About Us

Many casino, restaurant and bar customers turned into jerks during the pandemic. Folks in the service industry have no real way to fight back other than to talk shit about us. It’s so much easier to do that when we can’t see their lips! Service industry employees being able to discreetly trash-talk rude customers without being detected is a great perk of masks.

5. Masks Provide Cover for Unattractive People

Masks have been a godsend for those of us who are appearance-challenged, and we were a little disappointed when they went away for a minute. Masks even the playing field, and are especially beneficial to those with poor dental hygiene. Visitors from Southern States can again walk among us without shame, and we can’t wait to see our friends from the U.K. again. Please don’t send us angry e-mails. We kid because we love.

6. Masks Save Money

It’s pretty much common knowledge women saved a fortune on lipstick during the previous mask mandates. The savings mount when you consider the decreased need for breath mints toothpaste and shaving cream. The return of masks is a windfall, except for attractive women who rely on their looks to get free drinks in nightclubs. Poor them.

7. Masks Replace Black Out Curtains

Yes, most Las Vegas hotels have black out curtains, but they’re moot because masks can easily double as sleep masks. You’re welcome.

8. Masks Make Inexpensive Keepsakes

Forget keychains and fridge magnets, casino-branded masks make fun, inexpensive souvenirs. Visit the gift shop at your favorite Las Vegas casino for details. If you ask nicely, they might just give you one for free. Free advertising!

Bonus: Branded masks are a handy reminder of where your hangovers originated.

9. Masks Keep the Mask Industry Afloat

The mask manufacturing industry had a little freak-out when masks went away, but now they’ll be raking it in again. (Mask sales rose 24 percent leading up to the mandate being reinstated.) Mask-makers and retailers have bills to pay, just like the rest of us, and masks won’t be a thing forever. Probably.

10. Masks Give Us All Something to Talk About

Small talk is king in casinos, and everyone’s pretty much over talking about sports and the weather. Now, we have masks to spark conversation again. Masks are a gateway to passionate
discussions about a wide variety of topics including health, viral loads, politics, public policy and what morons people who don’t agree with us are.

Our thoughts go out to all the casino employees who have to cover up their moneymakers.

11. Um, Hello, Heists

Back in the day, masks were a big no-no in casinos, but now they’re mandated! If you’re planning to rob the vault shared by Bellagio, Mirage and MGM Grand, which definitely exists, you’re going to want to protect your identity. With a mask, your caper will be flawless and you’ll be able to escape with your anonymity intact. One more thing: You may want to hold onto your mask, as we understand there are a lot of close-talkers in federal prison.

We hope this list has helped you see the glass-half-full side of our exciting new mask mandate.

While the reinstated mandate is frustrating, we urge you to remember the folks enforcing it didn’t sign up to pester you about keeping your mask on. They’re not thrilled about the mandate, either, but they didn’t make the policy, so chill.

Outdoors. No mask required.

If we want to visit casinos, and we do, we need to mask up and be nice to each other.

If you’d prefer to not wear a mask, visit one of the outdoor attractions in or near Las Vegas, like Red Rock Canyon or Fremont Street Experience. Hit the pool. Rent a convertible and cruise The Strip.

Otherwise, masks are a thing again.

Remember, you don’t have to wear a mask when you’re drinking, so ABD (always be drinking). You’re welcome, again.