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One of our readers, Chris, recently asked the following question about setting up a private poker game at a Vegas casino for an upcoming trip:
Help: I'm a daily reader and appreciate the constant Vegas updates. I'm planning a July bachelor party and the groom-to-be is interested in seeing if we can reserve a few tables at one of the casinos to host 20 of us for a private poker game. I don't think I've seen a story on this but would appreciate if you could put your collective heads together.
While it's quite common to see table games such as craps, blackjack, or roulette reserved for certain players, things are a little different when it comes to poker. According to Nevada gaming laws, casinos may not specifically prevent anybody who is lawfully on the property from sitting in any poker game that is taking place in the casino. Many people see the high limit rooms such as Bobby's Room at Bellagio or Ivey's Room at Aria and presume that these are private games. This is not the case. The fact that these games take place in walled off areas of the poker room, often with security personnel lingering nearby, does not mean that your average Joe off the street can't take a seat in the game, presuming he has enough money in his pocket to meet the minimum buy-in.
Each game has a different pay table and that affects odds and returns. Reader @rickwozniak asked a fair question in the comments section of the post that others have probably wondered as well, “if video poker is random, 52 card deck, why would one game have a higher variance then another?”
First, here’s a definition of what variance is, as it relates to video poker from vpFREE2:
Vegas For Beginners / Poker / Gambling / Tips / The Strip / MGM Grand / Excalibur / Monte Carlo / Mandalay Bay / Caesars Palace / Aria / Bellagio / Venetian / Survival Strategies / → All Tags
There are many factors you should consider when deciding where to play poker during your time in Vegas, such as what games and stakes are offered, how much you receive per hour in comp dollars, tournament offerings, the level of competition, and so on.
Another factor that should not be overlooked is what promotions a given room offers and how much value you are likely to get out of those promotions. Most poker rooms in town offer some sort of incentive for players in the form of high hand bonuses, bad beat jackpots, "aces cracked" bonuses, or hours-based free rolls. What many people don't realize is that the house isn't giving away free money with these promotions, they are simply taking money that players have contributed to a fund and giving it back out in the form of a bonus.
Imagine this scenario. A visitor to Las Vegas finds a game in a casino that he knows has a small house advantage. Therefore, he thinks, he shouldn't lose a lot of money playing that game. He plays for a short while, and he loses all of his money, and he walks away confused and pretty unhappy. What happened? Was it just bad luck? More likely, he just experienced the concepts of volatility and of risk of ruin!
A recent VegasChatter article about how much money is needed for a trip to Las Vegas got me thinking about the closely related concepts of risk of ruin, volatility, bet size, and total gambling bankroll size. Risk of ruin explains why you can play a game with a slim house advantage, and still lose your entire bankroll more quickly than you might expect.
Keno isn’t one of the more popular games in the casino, but you’ll see it in different varieties here and there. Keno is a simple lottery-like game where players pick numbers a la bingo. Correctly pick a certain amount of numbers drawn at random by a machine or person to win varying amounts of money. Pay tables differ and may vary by how many numbers you match up correctly.
All the variations involved with keno mean there's not just one exact way to win. There may be a game where you win if you match a minimum of three numbers correctly and there may be a game where you don’t win unless you match five. The more numbers you match, the more money you’ll win.
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Ever since the start of the "poker boom" back in 2003, when an unknown accountant from Tenessee with the unlikely name of Chris Moneymaker won the World Series of Poker, no-limit Texas Hold 'Em has been the game of choice among poker players everywhere.
It's easy to forget that, in the grand scheme of things, no-limit hold 'em is a relatively new game. If you were in Las Vegas back in the 90's or earlier, you would be much more likely to be playing a game like 7 card stud or even a variation of draw poker. While most poker players today are content playing no-limit, there are many who long for the days when this variation of the game didn't have the near monopoly it seems to have on the poker world today. The good news is, if you look hard enough, there are still places in Las Vegas where you can find some alternatives. Here's a look at some poker rooms around town that offer up a bit of variety for those looking to mix things up:
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On Monday, Golden Nugget ended its $5 Downtown Destination Fee in exchange for a $22.60 tax-inclusive resort fee. But, if you don't want to pay, you don't have to. Of course, there's a string attached.
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Casino party pits aren’t for everyone. These parts of the casino are often marked with scantily clad go-go dancers and dealers, even louder music and less-friendly blackjack payouts. There are people that enjoy the atmosphere and don’t mind playing a game that pays 6:5 as long as they’re having a good time.
One of our go-to resources for casino gaming information, Michael Shackleford (a.k.a. Wizard of Odds), recently interviewed Angela Wyman, a former party pit dealer, who revealed some interesting information about what it’s like. The interview (embedded below is 15 minutes long, but here are some highlights if you don’t have the time to devote to it.
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As a food writer, I get many many questions regarding where people should eat while they are in Vegas... but with a caveat. "Mitchell, you handsome devil," they'll ask me, "where should I dine next Saturday night?" I'll answer something like Sage or Twist or Carnevino, but am quickly shot down with something like "ehhhhh, I mean eat ON A BUDGET."
Oh? A budget? You want a terrific dining experience for pennies on the dollar? Oh, well, why didn't I think of that? But, sarcasm aside, it can be done. It can! So, I have collected here the five best places to get a fine meal for a small amount of money.
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Many of us like to go back to the basics to become a better person in a new year. Soul searching can sometimes do the body and the mind good. We’re not going to get that deep. We will, however, look at four basic concepts that will help you become a better gambler in 2015, and beyond.
1. Don’t chase: It's instinctual to chase losses when gambling. Nobody likes to lose. Unfortunately, chasing losses often ends up extending a cold streak and sees your money going in the wrong direction. Casino games all have a house advantage. Sometimes you’re going to win and sometimes you’re going to lose. Losing stinks, but it’s going to happen. Just take the loss to your allotted budget and move on.
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We recently asked one of the most popular questions that comes up when planning any trip to Las Vegas, “how long should I stay” Now, we take on budgeting, a subject that, while not quite as exciting, is just as important. In a city full of temptation, sticking to a budget might be harder than anywhere else. Going bust halfway through your trip can prove disastrous and spoil an otherwise great vacation. A little planning and discipline can help make any trip a success.
“How much money do I need each day in Vegas?” We get the question all the time. Budgeting for a Vegas trip starts just like any other. You’ve got the essentials like meals and a place to stay. You plan for local transportation costs, entertainment, and souvenirs if you want to take something home with you. Those are simple enough, but Vegas requires adding a few more variables.
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I travel to Las Vegas about four times a year, and I've stayed at many different casino resorts up and down the Strip. Lately, I've really been digging the Cosmopolitan, so much that I've stayed there three times in the last seven months.
Like most Vegas casino resorts, the Cosmopolitan has multiple room classes, and I've booked three of them. I've stayed in the resort's two smaller rooms that have terraces, the Terrace Studio and the Terrace One Bedroom, and I've experienced the first level of its premium rooms, the Terrace Suite. (Thanks to my awesome casino host KJ for that one!) I have not yet stayed in their room without a terrace, the City Room, or in any of their larger suites. When I look at a casino hotel websites, I often can't tell what's really different about the different room classes so I thought I would compare these three levels to help you decide which room to select if you decide to stay.