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Perfecting skill and winning casino games isnít easy. In fact, perfection is impossible since the casino has a built-in advantage in every game. At best, we want to play games with a small house advantage and an easy strategy to learn in order to maximize how long we play. Playing longer improves chances of hitting a hot streak or a jackpot. Here are a few resources we use for honing our gaming skills:
vpFREE: vpFREE2.com is a great site for video poker players or people interested in learning how to play. vpFree2 lists how much optimal returns are for different video poker games as well as which casinos have those games. They also detail exactly where you can locate the games on the gaming floor. The information is updated every few months so it may not be 100% accurate, but itís pretty darn good.
Vegas Observations / Downtown Grand / Blackjack / Video Poker / Gambling / Downtown Vegas / → All Tags
Things change in casinos. Thatís why VegasChatter exists. Things changed for the worse while†Downtown Grand†was still in their soft opening phase and don't look like they'll change for the better any time soon. When we first walked through the casino on the opening day, we found†good returns on blackjack, but not much elsewhere. 3-4-5 craps odds arenít bad, but they arenít good, either. When we checked, video poker the Bonus Poker game was 7/5 (pays 7-1 for full house, 5-1 for flush). Again, not the worst, but not good, either.
As the days past, we read a few Facebook and forum posts about Downtown Grand changing the pay tables on their video poker games, but we didnít see before and after pictures to confirm these reports. When we checked the video poker at Downtown Grand for a second time, the pay tables were, indeed, changed. The same Bonus Poker video poker pay tables that used to be 7/5 were downgraded to only pay 6 for a full house and 5 for flush.
OpenThread / Gambling / Video Poker / Blackjack / Craps / Mississippi Stud Poker / 3 Card Poker / Penny Slots / Slot Machines / → All Tags
Trips to the casino are filled with ups and downs. Sometimes, there's a winning session and, sometimes, there's a losing session. The casino has a few percentage point advantage on every game so losing a little isn't really a surprise. We can deal with losing by small percentages. It's part of the territory. The sessions, however, where there's no winning at all is what really grinds this writer's gears.
On a recent trip to the casino, I couldn't shake off a cold streak. I played every game to see if I could change my luck and nothing worked. The first session started out at the tables with 3 card poker where I was actually up for a little before losing. Later, I played craps and that was a loser, too, mostly on my rolls. Gasp! I switched to Mississippi Stud Poker and that was a loser. The only win was $10 while killing time on a penny slot before dinner. After the break, the losing continued with blackjack, video poker, higher denomination slot machines and Mississippi Stud Poker (again) before I just gave up.
Gambling / Downtown Grand / Blackjack / Video Poker / Slot Machines / High Limits / Baccarat / → All Tags
Downtown Vegas is known more for low-limit gambling than high limit rooms, but that's slowly changing.
When The D and Golden Gate renovated their casinos, they included small high limit rooms. These traditional high limit rooms have some blackjack tables for people that prefer a little privacy when they play with bigger money. The D even has baccarat available since thatís one of the more popular games that was only available on The Strip. Since The D opened with baccarat, the Golden Nugget has added a baccarat area to their casino. High rollers are being welcomed to Downtown Grand with a separate high limit room featuring slot machines, video poker and blackjack as well as an Asian gaming room which features baccarat.
Vegas Observations / Downtown Grand / Craps / Blackjack / Video Poker / Sportsbooks / William Hill / Gambling / Betting / Openings / Downtown / Downtown Vegas / → All Tags
Downtown Grand is a beautiful hotel. The hotel happens to have a casino. The casino is beautiful because itís new, but itís not very big and doesnít feel very comfortable for a gambler. But, letís begin with the good news.
Limits on table games are $5 (during the day) as the property's opening week kicks off. Blackjack pays 3:2 as itís clearly marked on all tables. The small casino only has about 10-14 table games with about half being dedicated to blackjack. All games are dealt from a shoe which is nice, too.
We didnít get to check all the video poker machines, but we saw 7/5 Bonus Poker available on most. Many are connected to a Royal Flush progressive which helps increase returns to a better level. The high limits room has better 8/5 Bonus Poker games, but youíll have to do so on $1 3-play games there (that's $15 per game with max credits). These arenít the worst video poker returns, but theyíre not the kind of returns that will make Downtown Grand a destination for video poker players.
Blackjack / Riviera / Low Rolling / Gambling / → All Tags
The Riviera recently introduced a $1 live blackjack table. Itís important to note that this game is live and not a machine. Live blackjack dealt by humans is almost always more fun than a machine. You may find a blackjack machine game with $1 limits across the street at Slots a Fun now that they've removed all dealer games. The Riviera is now the only casino on the Vegas Strip with limits this low. The rules of this game only offer 6:5 pay when you get blackjack as opposed to the 3:2 payout you'd receive on a traditional game with good rules.
Openings / Drinking / Bars / Whiskey Down / MGM Grand / Gaming / Blackjack / Video Poker / → All Tags
Whiskey Down, a "high-end gaming lounge," will officially open Wednesday, August 28. The 24-hour venue, able to seat up to 64, will offer six blackjack tables and seven bar-top video poker machines. Whiskies will include "American, Canadian, Irish and Scotch." And, that's all we have to say about that. (For now.)
Station Casinos / Hotel Promotions / Hotel Deals / Off Strip / Gambling / Blackjack / Tips / Survival Strategies / → All Tags
Comped rooms in Vegas are typically reserved for players who, well, play. If youíre not the gambling type, but still want a free stay, a current promotion at most Station Casinos might be right up your alley. This deal requires some planning, a little bit of work, and a single blackjack hand of good luck.
If successful, you can score a room at a variety of Las Vegas hotels for just about nothing. You may even come out ahead a few bucks. The only gambling involved is a single $10 hand of blackjack. If you win, you will have earned back a night's stay, resort fees and taxes included. But, to do so requires beating the suits at their own game. Interested? Keep reading.
Gambling / Blackjack / Borgata / → All Tags
Memorable gambling experiences come in all shapes and sizes. There is one connection that most gambling experiences have and that's winning.†Nobody wants to remember the time where they sat down at the blackjack table and lost 12 hands in a row. In fact, that would be one of this writer's least favorite gambling experiences if it didn't follow a delicious steak dinner.
My most memorable gambling experience happened some time between 2002 and 2007. I remember that because a certain football player was playing on a team based close to Atlantic City where this story takes place. That football player won't be named, but he'll come into play as the story develops.
Downtown Vegas / Downtown / Downtown Grand / Gaming / Blackjack / William Hill / Openings / Sportsbooks / → All Tags
Our crush on Downtown Grand is not exaggerated. The hotel rooms look fab, the restaurant options seem like a great addition to Downtown Vegas and we even get a little giddy when we walk by the scaffolding surrounding the re-construction of the hotel-casino.
Last year, we learned there would be outdoor gaming†at the Grand and this writer got a little too giddy for his own good. Outdoor gaming won't quite fit my dream casino-slash-bar scenario, but it may be close. There wasn't much detail to the outdoor gaming at the time, but as the opening of Downtown Grand gets closer, we're learning a little more about the casino and gaming to come.
Palazzo seems like The Strip's gambling guinea pig. Palazzo is often the first place on The Strip where new games are tested. Last year, they were one of the first Strip casinos to offer Galaxy Gaming's†craps bonus bets. This year, they're the first to offer a pretty strange version of blackjack with Players Choice 21.
Players Choice 21 combines the jackpot fun of 3 card poker with blackjack and mixes them in a bowl. The first thing you'll notice with Players Choice 21 is that there are three bets available to be played. Get ready to be confused and amazed!
There are two hands of blackjack and one 3 card bonus bet that must have a bet equal to the blackjack bets. The dealer deals each player 3 cards face up. These are the cards used to determine your 3 card poker hand. Before any blackjack is played, the dealer will pay out the poker bets which are as follows:
Blackjack / Tournaments / Stratosphere / Slots / Gambling / → All Tags
One of the most frequent questions we get about gambling is from people looking to get into tournaments -- specifically blackjack tournaments. Most blackjack tourneys in Vegas are by invite only for casino players club members while slot tournaments are more widely available in many different casinos. Stratosphere, however, is changing the game up a little. While Station Casinos is offering a free slot tournament every Sunday in June,†The Strat is offering blackjack tournaments every Saturday.
Besides being different games there is a monetary difference in to the tournaments as well.†Registration for blackjack tournaments at the Stratosphere is $40 for Ace Play players club members. Everyone that reaches the final table will receive some form of monetary prize, ranging from $800 for 1st place to $150 for 6th or 7th place.