A question for Las Vegas visitors: Do you regard a trip to casino
gambling's capital city a glitzy vacation, where the highlight is the
glamor of the Strip, or do you like to search out the best odds while
looking for a better shot to win than you'll find in other parts of the
A couple of months ago, I mentioned more than once that the best gambling
deals in Las Vegas are found away from the Strip. That brought reaction
from people who are looking for different things from their Vegas
First, let's hear from Robert, a Chicagoan who'll take luxury over a
better set of blackjack rules anytime:
I think the argument of "Downtown Vegas" vs. "The Strip" is a total moot
I go to Vegas once or twice a year depending on what my budget allows. I'm
a basic-strategy blackjack player with a progressive betting system. If I
get a hot streak, I'll make money. If not, I'll either break even or it
will be a long day at "the office." I know it would behoove me to play
downtown since (for the most part) there's less of a house edge than on
the Strip. But besides that and the incredible neon at night, the downtown
experience changes drastically once you step foot inside.
The downtown casinos are incredibly non-glamorous and the play at the
blackjack tables (from my experience) is much more tension-filled and
competitive between players. I know this can happen on the Strip as well,
but I get the feeling that "the locals" might be gambling with possible
rent or utilities money, as opposed to just being on "vacation." This
makes a big difference in the vibe at the tables.
As long as I'm at a table where I can double any two cards and the dealer
stands on all 17s, I'll play at the Mirage or Mandalay Bay over the
downtown casinos any day of the week.
Personally, I go to Vegas not only to gamble, but to stay in a modern,
luxurious room, lounge beside pools that are mind-boggling in their size
and sophistication, and eat at the better restaurants for three or four
days out of my life. In other words, I'm on vacation!
Leave downtown to the locals. Las Vegas isn't just about gambling. If it
was, I could save a lot of money by just vacationing in Hammond!
Robert has his priorities, and that's fine. The Strip as a vacation
destination is a pretty incredible place, with the sheer variety of
entertainment and dining options, and the 24/7 nature of the beast. Others
put a higher priority on the quality of gambling. Some mix it up, staying
on the Strip but playing elsewhere. That includes Bill from Springfield:
You are right concerning the decline in the quality of gambling on the
Strip in Vegas. I have been traveling to Vegas regularly since 1990 and
have witnessed this watering down of odds each trip. On my last trip in
December, my only play on the Strip of my games of choice - blackjack and
Jacks or Better video poker - came on two-deck blackjack at the Barbary
Coast and some 9-6 $1 video poker machines at few casinos (none available
that I could find at lesser amounts). Like you say, the big Strip casinos
all have the single-deck blackjack tables that pay 6-5 on blackjacks. I'm
sure a lot of people play thinking they have a big edge and don't even
realize the huge house edge.
My gambling now takes place downtown, but I like to stay on the Strip for
the true Las Vegas experience, entertainment and dining. It's a shame that
I can't gamble there. Downtown, which had a brief revival several years
ago, seems to be on the downslide (excluding gambling action).
In my opinion, the decline of Strip gambling is because Vegas has evolved
into to a place where the rich, young celebrities go to party and thus the
wannabes have followed. To this crowd, gambling is secondary and most
don't care what the games' rules are. The Strip properties increase their
edge with impunity because there is less and less competition. The MGM
conglomerate just keeps getting bigger and competing casinos follow each
other like sheep. I still enjoy Vegas for the overall experience, but my
trips gambling locally are more satisfying.
One more reader who checked in was Mike, a local casino dealer:
Downtown (and locals casinos) IS where it's at there - the Strip is just
for tourists, with games to match. An online group I participate in about
blackjack has been bemoaning the 6-5s for months now, and how popular they
are - some sheep just walk right into the fleecing barn! Hope you took the
opportunity at Main Street Station to "pee on the Berlin Wall" (they have
a piece of it in the men's bathroom, with urinals attached). Still no
place like it on Earth (assuming the jets in the Fremont Street Experience
keep the aliens away), though ...
Let's modify that a bit to say that downtown is where it's at - along with
locals joints - provided your priority is the best deal in gambling. As
for Main Street Station's Berlin Wall chunk, complete with original
graffiti, well ... try finding that on the Strip.