Category Archives: Las Vegas Casinos

Three Strip Poker Rooms Appear Down for the Count

It’s looking more like three poker rooms on the Las Vegas Strip won’t be back following what were originally thought to be temporary closures due to the pandemic.

The three former poker rooms were at Mirage, Mandalay Bay and Excalibur.

According to Cardschat.com, MGM Resorts will be giving away left over jackpot money, signaling these poker rooms are shuttered for good.

When Mirage reopened, we shared photos of the former poker room now decked out as a “Non-Smoking Slots” area. It didn’t look temporary.

Mirage non-smoking slots

Fun fact: They can’t guarantee the slots aren’t smoking when we’re playing.

Before the pandemic, Las Vegas had 31-ish poker rooms. Now, there are 21-ish.

Poker rooms aren’t a huge moneymaker for casinos, they’re more of an amenity, so it’s possible some rooms are being closed under the cover of COVID-19.

The three closed poker rooms in question have money (leftover “bad beat” jackpots) they’re required to give away, in this case via something called a “freeroll tournament.” It basically means they’re free to enter. Learn more.

“Freeroll” should not be confused with “pre-roll.” Hey, things can get confusing now that marijuana is legal in Las Vegas.

The freeroll tournaments to give away jackpot money from the three closed poker rooms are taking place at MGM Grand. The two remaining tournaments are Nov. 17 and Dec. 1, 2020. (The first one sold out.)

Poker jargon

That time we learned what an “aquarium” is in poker.

We aren’t a poker person, but sort of wrote this entire post just to share the Nov. 17 tournament will give away Mirage’s $69,804 jackpot cash. We repeat, about $69,000. Because we are 14, apparently.

Poker players (and poker room employees) have definitely been going through a rough patch in 2020 as the number of poker rooms has continued to shrink, but die-hards are finding new places to play and some predict poker rooms could rebound once the pandemic is behind us.

The good news about shrinkage is it’s often temporary.

Not that we’d know anything about that. At all.

Circa Resort Opens in Downtown Las Vegas

It’s the best thing to happen to Las Vegas since thongs. Circa Las Vegas has opened downtown, and it’s straight-up glorious.

We already shared a metric hell-ton of preview photos, so check those out.

Vegas Vickie is back

Vegas Vickie’s back on Fremont and her hubby, Vegas Vic, is happier than a masochist in a cactus patch.

Circa provided all the hoopla befitting a Las Vegas casino opening celebration, and made sure to hit all the right notes, including a clever twist on a longtime Vegas tradition: The first craps roll.

Rather than inviting one Vegas heavy-hitter to roll the dice first, Circa’s owner Derek Stevens invited a gaggle of them.

Here are the folks around the Circa craps table for the first official dice roll: Ryan Growney, G.M. of South Point; Jonathan Jossel, CEO of Plaza; Scott Sibella, Pres. of Resorts World; Andy Abboud, V.P. at Las Vegas Sands; Chris Latil, Sr. V.P. of Golden Nugget; Terry Caudill, owner of Binion’s and Four Queens; Mike Nolan, G.M. of El Cortez; and Brendan Gaughan, grandson of Jackie Gaughan.

Vegas VIPs

We’re definitely not the one who’s going to point out nobody from Boyd was there. That would be awkward.

Plaza CEO Jonathan Jossel snagged the honor after a draw of cards (he got an ace), and the first roll at Circa was a six. That tidbit will win you a bar bet someday.

Circa dice roll

That’s some Vegas immortality right there.

After months of anticipation, guests finally got their first in-person look at the newest casino in Las Vegas.

Circa features what’s billed as the world’s largest sportsbook, the “country’s largest destination pool experience,” a bevy of new restaurants and lounges and Nevada’s longest bar, Mega Bar.

Here’s a quick look inside Circa.

The centerpiece of Circa is a refurbished Vegas Vickie. She looks amazing, after a three-year absence from Fremont Street, and her leg is kicking again.

Also getting some buzz is the return of the 99-cent shrimp cocktail, once so beloved at Golden Gate. Circa owners Derek and Greg Stevens also own Golden Gate (as well as The D), so it was a natural to serve up the popular treat at Circa.

There are some caveats. The 99-cent shrimp cocktail is only available from 3-5 a.m. at Saginaw’s. To get the 99-cent price, you have to purchase a meal at the restaurants.

Outside those hours, the shrimp cocktail is $11. Hey, casinos don’t subsidize restaurants anymore, so not really surprising. Anyway, it’s there for nostalgia lovers.

Circa shrimp cocktail

Die-hard Vegas fans won’t want to miss this throwback drunchies shrimpfest.

The prices overall at Circa’s restaurants provide a bit of sticker shock to downtown regulars. We trust those will be adjusted based upon demand.

In the meantime, we predict Plaza’s Pop-Up Pizza stand is going to be overwhelmed.

You know we were excited for Circa to open because we wore a tux. No, not a tuxedo T-shirt, an actual tux.

A highlight of our evening was being “tiered out.” Circa’s One loyalty club just introduced tiers, and we’re a Maverick, as if you didn’t already know that.

Here’s more about the new One loyalty club tier system.

Circa Las Vegas tiers

We didn’t need a loyalty club to confirm our Maverick status, but we’ll take it. Free parking!

It’s worth noting two of the tiers get free self-parking. Circa does not validate as The D and Golden Gate do.

Parking in Garage Mahal is $4 an hour, with a $15 daily max. (Note: Parking is $5 at Plaza next door.)

There’s one tier that hasn’t been announced yet. It’s invite only, so fancy.

Garage Mahal Circa

We love the floor numbers at Garage Mahal.

Yes, we got closer. Do you know this blog at all?

Garage Mahal

The cars in the floor number sign are vacuum-sealed for freshness.

Overall, the opening of Circa was pretty much flawless, and it was great to see the enthusiasm for this new destination in downtown Las Vegas.

Downtown needed Circa, Vegas needed Circa, we all needed Circa.

Circa uniform

Circa’s dancing dealer uniforms look amazing. Yes, we had a chaperone.

Amidst so much bad news, Circa is a ray of hope. Derek and Greg Stevens have really done it right and this shiny new adult playground surpasses all expectations.

While it hasn’t been publicly announced, our sources say Circa cost $1.156 billion, and it shows.

Circa cage

You’re not supposed to photograph a casino cage. We don’t live by society’s rules.

If you’ve got a few spare minutes, hear some exclusive scoop about how Circa became a reality from the resort’s owner, Derek Stevens.

Circa’s elevated experience, and prices, are a bridge between downtown and The Strip. There’s nothing gritty or seedy here. Circa is Strip-style gorgeous with a downtown vibe. It’s the best of both worlds.

From the jaw-dropping video screens in the sportsbook and pool complex to the dancing dealers and free pours, Circa isn’t just the dream of the Stevens brothers, it’s the dream of everyone who loves casinos and downtown.

Circa sportsbook

Circa squeezes a lifetime of sports into every visit.

Circa is a dream made real, and you’re going to absolutely love it.

Behold the Biggest Circa Las Vegas Resort Preview Photo Gallery in the World

Circa Las Vegas, the first new downtown casino resort for decades, opens Oct. 28, 2020.

As usual, we couldn’t wait, so we’ve put together the biggest pre-opening photo gallery of Circa in existence.

Vickie Circa

Nearly done, but Vegas Vickie’s already a knock-out.

During our recent visits, we got the witness the resort putting the final touches on Circa (which is why you’ll see some ladders, exposed wires and plastic-covered tables in the pics).

We can’t thank Circa enough for letting us get an early look at this amazing new Las Vegas destination.

The bottom line: We loved every inch of the place. If you get our drift.

Circa

This isn’t even her best side.

We were literally breathless seeing Circa’s massive sportsbook for the first time, and we are not even a sports person.

Rumor has it the manufacturers of Circa’s sportsbook screen, upon seeing it for the first time, were equally stunned. And they made the thing!

Circa sportsbook

Come get your swoon on, sports fans.

Circa’s restaurants were cranking out delicious food during an employee play date as bartenders and dancing dealers were put through their paces.

Thanks to Circa owner Derek Stevens, we were given the honor of being the first to share Circa’s chips (photo below).

The reveal of the chips was topped by Stevens’ “secret” project, the creation of casino plaques. He was giddy to share these beauties he describes as “highly desirable.”

Circa's casino chips plaques

One of each of Circa’s chips and plaques, please.

There was some truly unique and remarkable moments at the Circa play date, as Derek Stevens actually got to gamble at his own casino, a no-no for owners when actual money is being wagered.

Stevens tried his hand at video poker, roulette and craps.

Derek Stevens slot machine

Top casino tip: You don’t have to be a casino owner to get freebies. Always use your players card.

Fun fact: Stevens and his wife Nicole won $183,000 in pretend money at dice thanks to his wise choice to find a “virgin” shooter, his executive assistant, Yivi.

Circa is as beautiful as the renderings, and Circa has pretty much delivered on the hype, much of it ours. Yes, we’ve been a Circa cheerleader. That’s because beyond loving what we’ve seen and consumed so far, it’s objectively awesome. Circa is also the good news Las Vegas could use right now.

Mega Bar

Let’s just say Circa isn’t “under-barred.”

The only asterisk is Circa’s much-touted “adults-only” status isn’t technically accurate. A contractual loophole means kids will be allowed into the resort’s steakhouse, Barry’s. Hey, nobody’s perfect.

The centerpiece of Circa features the long-awaited return of Vegas Vickie, an iconic Las Vegas neon sign which sat above the former Glitter Gulch strip club.

She is absolutely glorious, and Circa is making the most of this newly-refurbished blast from the past.

We are confident enough in our masculinity to admit seeing Vickie lit up for the first time was one of several times we started opening weeping during our initial visits to Circa. Ditto our first Captain Morgan and diet.

Circa cocktail

Seal broken.

There’s far too much ground to cover in one blog post, so we’ll set you on your visual journey through Circa via our photo gallery.

There, you’ll get an inside peek at Circa’s special places (hello, high limit slot salon), its restaurants and menus, its artwork and its casino floors.

Circa screens

Want behind-the-scenes? You’ve got it. This is the hidden area where technicians can replace modules in the sportsbook’s video screen without the use of cranes.

We’ve made no effort to hide the fact we’re smitten. We love what Circa co-owners Derek and Greg Stevens (more from the latter on our next podcast episode) have done downtown and Circa is the crown jewel.

Big socially-distanced hugs to Circa for letting us share these work-in-progress, unretouched, plastic-wrapped, home stretch blemishes-and-all images.

Circa casino

Nothing beats that new felt smell!

Circa has already exceeded expectations and it hasn’t even opened yet! Say “hello” to our new home away from home, Circa Las Vegas.

Related: We get the question about how much Circa Las Vegas cost often. Since we’re the only one with the answer, here it is: While it’s never been officially announced or confirmed, our information is Circa resort cost $1.156 billion to build.

Source Says Cromwell Resort to Reopen Oct. 29

An employee says the lone remaining closed casino on the Las Vegas Strip, Cromwell, will reopen on Oct. 29, 2020 at 10:00 a.m.

Cromwell Hotel Las Vegas has been closed since March 18, 2020.

Cromwell

Welcome back, you boutique beauty, you.

The other Las Vegas casinos still closed due to the pandemic are: Palms, Rio, Main Street Station (Downtown), Fiesta Rancho (North Las Vegas), Texas Station (North Las Vegas), Fiesta Henderson (Henderson), Eldorado Casino (Henderson) and Eastside Cannery (Boulder Highway).

While Cromwell was closed, it played host to a reality TV show, “Love Island.” It’s worth noting we’re using the term “reality” very loosely here.

Cromwell is a beloved Vegas casino, with a player-friendly casino, the excellent Giada restaurant and the popular Drai’s Nightclub.

It’s unknown which of Cromwell’s venues will be back upon reopening.

The Cromwell

Sexy AF. Formerly, the quasi-sexy Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall and the old-school sexy Barbary Coast.

Midweek demand remains soft at Las Vegas hotels, but Cromwell only has 188 rooms, so it should fare relatively well upon reopening.

We’re thrilled for the employees of Cromwell, as it’s been a long period of uncertainty about the future of the resort.

We’ve heard several parties have explored a potential purchase of the casino at one of the most visible intersections in Las Vegas, the corner of Flamingo and Las Vegas Boulevard.

Caesars Entertainment Buys William Hill Sportsbooks

Casino giant Caesars Entertainment has made its first big move since merging with Eldorado Resorts. The company has acquired William Hill, the sports book folks.

Caesars is purchasing William Hill for $3.7 billion, and the deal is expected to close in the second half of 2021.

William Hill Caesars

For each share held, William Hill shareholders will get 272 pence. We have no idea what those are, but they sound adorable.

Sports betting has taken off in recent years, despite our best efforts, and it’s clear Caesars Entertainment wanted a bigger piece of the action.

The purchase of William Hill wasn’t without some drama, of course. Apollo Global Management was also interested, but Caesars made it clear if Apollo won the bidding war, Caesars would pull the plug on its deal with William Hill.

William Hill has an existing partnership with Caesars Entertainment, running its sports book operations at Caesars casinos in 16 states across the U.S.

It sounds like Caesars will sell off William Hill’s overseas assets, including in the U.K., where William Hill is based.

As we are not a sports person, we’re sort of baffled by the Caesars Entertainment purchase of William Hill.

Caesars has about $8.8 billion in debt already, and this seems a hefty investment in a part of the casino business that brings in relatively little revenue.

Sports books tend to be an amenity for players, like salons and poker rooms.

Sports book

Yes, this is exactly what everyone at every sports book looks like.

For example, in August 2020, Nevada casinos made $17 million from sports betting. That’s all Nevada casinos, combined. Before taxes and expenses.

While $475 million was wagered, the “hold” was a mere 3.58 percent.

We keep hearing people talking about the “fast-growing legal sports betting industry in the U.S.,” so we’re probably missing something.

Casino companies are obviously betting big on the potential future growth of online sports wagering, and online gambling in general.

Ultimately, such acquisitions tend to be about data. Yours, specifically. Each of these companies have valuable databases, and now they get to share.

It’s unlikely sports bettors will see many changes to their favorite sports books resulting from this deal.

Opinions vary widely about William Hill, with approximately one percent of its customers kvetching 24/7, but the company pretty much owns the sports book realm in Las Vegas.

William Hill Tropicana

Yes, we accidentally took a photo of the sports book at Tropicana. We were drunk.

Sports, in general, is taking up more Las Vegas bandwidth, given its new big league teams, the Vegas Golden Knights and Las Vegas Raiders.

The bottom line: Good luck finding a Las Vegas bar or restaurant without sports on.

You can read more about “compelling strategic rationale” of the purchase of William Hill by Caesars Entertainment in the news release.

Or just read our superficial and clueless take on this “historic acquisition” again. You do you.

Here’s the Scoop on Planet Hollywood’s Reopening Plans

Planet Hollywood has announced it will reopen Oct. 8, 2020, following a months-long closure due to the pandemic.

As has been the pattern of late, Planet Hollywood is taking things slowly, and says its hotel will operate Thursday through Sunday only.

The most important part of Planet Hollywood, the casino, will operate seven days a week.

Planet Hollywood

So many memories. And so many partial memories, which are the best kind, actually.

Dining options will open selectively when Planet Hollywood does.

Guests can seek out sustenance at Gordon Ramsay Burger (formerly BurGR), Strip House, Cafe Hollywood, Earl of Sandwich, Starbucks and, just outside, Chick-fil-A.

Burger Planet Hollywood

One cannot live by burgers alone. The Oreo shake at Burger is a must-try.

Koi will remain temporarily closed, as will P.F. Chang’s, Yolo’s Mexican Grill and the Ringer sports bar.

Our beloved Spice Market Buffet won’t be reopening, and it remains unclear if it ever will.

Spice Market Buffet

We miss our visits to Gluttony Central.

Planet Hollywood’s two popular lounges, Heart Bar and Extra Lounge, will reopen Oct. 8 as well.

The resort’s freshly-rebranded William Hill sports book will be open, along with the resort’s spa.

The adjoining Miracle Mile Shops mall has been open since June 9, 2020.

Worth noting: Self-parking at Planet Hollywood is free, as was the case prior to the shutdown.

Now, all Caesars Entertainment casinos have free parking on The Strip, and we couldn’t be happier typing that sentence.

Crazy Girls statue

“Crazy Girls” may not be back yet, but the butts are, so there’s that.

The reopening of Planet Hollywood is a welcome turn of events. Rumors have been ongoing about a potential sale of Planet Hollywood, with the Seminoles (Hard Rock) being an often-cited suitor.

We’ve also shared industry chatter Twin River has kicked the tires at Planet Hollywood, too.

The announcement by Caesars Entertainment seems to put to bed any uncertainty about whether Planet Hollywood would reopen again under its current ownership. We’d have lost money on that bet.

Planet Hollywood

Welcome back, you beauty.

The reopening of Planet Hollywood is also welcome because the Strip-side walkway that runs along the resort has become a tad sketchy since cleaning crews and security became scarce during the closure.

The general rule: More foot traffic, less WTF.

When Planet Hollywood reopens, we’ll be another step closer to feeling some normalcy in Las Vegas again. The resort is a fixture on The Strip, and it was painful seeing it shuttered.

Let’s Planet Hollywood again.