Casino Reviews


Aquarius Guest Hotel Satisfaction Surveys

November 21st, 2016 ernie Posted in General 1 Comment »

Aquarius Guest Hotel Satisfaction SurveysWe really enjoy visiting the Aquarius Hotel in Laughlin Nevada. We have had great service, dining and also enjoy the casino. The last time we visited, we had a small problem the last time we stayed there. We filled in an Aquarius Guest Hotel Satisfaction Surveys. My  wife and I wanted to let them know that there was a problem. We hoped that management would see our comments and take appropriate action. It turns out that they did and not only took action, they also called us to discuss it. This was a surprise to us and also one that we appreciate. It is nice to know that someone is paying attention.

Aquarius Guest Hotel Satisfaction Surveys

During the call with the Aquarius hotel employee, who was actually a casino host member, an offer was made to us. They actually offered us a 3 night free stay at the hotel. We are to personally call her  to make the reservation the next time we plan to visit the Aquarius.

When we left the survey comments without any expectations. This was a really great response and the hotel has gained our continued loyalty. We will visit Laughlin Nevada again and definitely will stay at the Aquarius hotel again.

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Casino Roulette

April 21st, 2013 ernie Posted in General No Comments »

Casino roulette is a very popular game found in all casinos with table games and also on online casino as well. In addition many casinos have added slot machine style casino games that are either automated or are slaved off a main table in the casino. These slaved machines have cameras and TV screens showing the main table that is being managed by casino employees. They also can handle almost any denomination, although the higher denomination tables are usually run by casino employees to provide a more personal relationship with players on the casino floor. They provide roulette players with more opportunities to play roulette.

Types of Casino Roulette Tables

There are two main types of roulette tables in the casinos. Not all casinos will have both types and some casinos will only run one type of casino roulette, usually the American style of roulette. European roulette, which is the table shown on the picture looks like any other roulette table with one exception. This table only has one zero on the board while American roulette tables will have both a Zero and a double Zero spot on the table which decreases the odds for the players essentially increasing the take for the house.

What is the Difference to the Average Player

The difference to the average player is really only one of odds. The zero spot is known as the house number. Players can bet on this number the same as any other number, however because there is one more number that is not part of any grouping, it increases the odds slightly in favor of the house. There are 36 numbers on the table, plus one more for the zero on an European style roulette table for a total of 37 numbers and players have a 1 in 37 chance to win when betting on single numbers.

American Tables

On the American table there is the single zero and the double zero spots making 38 spots to bet on and players have a 1 in 38 chance of winning when betting on a single number. Players have a slightly worse chance of winning when playing on an American style table. Most serious players prefer to play on the European tables since they have a better chance of winning something.

This same odds difference carries through to the other best when you are betting groups of numbers. For example if you are betting colors, either black or red, you have a 1 in 3 chance of winning on a European style roulette table and a 1 in 4 chance of winning on the American table. Most North American casinos prefer the American style roulette tables for obvious reasons, although some also have the other type of table as well.

The European tables are typically only offered in gambling markets where there is a lot of competition. In markets where there is little competition, you will not find these tables since they really are not competing with anyone. I have never seen an European style roulette table in any government run casino. After all why would you improve the odds for players when you have no competition. Tthe government is trying maximize the take from their players?

Can You Beat the Casino Roulette Table

Occasionally someone will get lucky. They have a run of numbers that they have picked. They may make a lot of money with a system they have. I have seen a friend run up $300 into $16,000.  However he has only done that once in his lifetime so it is a rare event. His system was to start with $5 on 6 numbers for a total of $30 on the table. If he wins, he would double his bet. When they paid him with $1000 chips, he would hand them to his wife and keep playing. This way he would be playing with the casino’s money and take some winnings home with him. This one day he handed 16 $1000 chips to his wife and he was pretty excited to have done that. Unfortunately he has never had such a run of luck again.

Betting on single numbers pays 35 to one odds. While playing on groups of numbers pays lesser amounts depending on the quantity of numbers selected. This can be a lot of fun with players winning huge sums of money and losing huge sums of money!

As always bet with your head and not with your emotion! Play to have fun  and if you win, consider it a bonus. For more general posts about casino games, click here.

 

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Top 10 Casinos

March 21st, 2013 ernie Posted in General No Comments »

Top 10 CasinosWe have been to many casinos across North American and decided to put together our list of top 10 casinos that we have visited. There is no scientific analysis of our list that we used. This is based on our favorite places to go and spend time, as well as overall ambiance, comp’s and décor. Each one has something special for us to make it into the top 10 casino list. There are other casinos near us that we go to more often. Unfortunately they did not make onto the list, simply because if we were able to go to any of these casinos on our list, we would choose them first. They are just too far away and therefore we must make a special trip to be able to enjoy their casinos and their hotels.

  • Wynn Casino – Las Vegas, NV
  • Bellagio Casino – Las Vegas, NV
  • Mirage Casino – Las Vegas, NV
  • Beau Rivage – Biloxi, MS
  • Gold Strike – Tunica, MS
  • Agua Caliente – Palm Springs, CA
  • Horseshoe Casino – Tunica, MS
  • Aquarius Casino – Laughlin, NV
  • Akwesasane Casino – Near Masena, NY
  • Balterra Casino – Florence, IN

We will outline why we like each of these casino hotels. You can refer to each one in more detail on this web site.

Top 10 Casinos – Las Vegas

Wynn Casino – Las Vegas, NV – Wynn is our favorite place to go in las Vegas. Everything about it is quality. From the casino floor, to the seats at the slots, the comp’s, the drinks, the entertainment and the rooms, this is the casino that gets the most in high marks for us. There are really great restaurants with fantastic meals and chef’s. We have stayed at this Hotel many times and it is our favorite place to stay. It is in the centre of the strip, within easy walking distance to most of the other casinos as well as shopping.

Bellagio Casino – Las Vegas, NV – with the manmade lake out front and a high class casino, the Bellagio is our 2nd favorite place to stay. Part of the Harrah’s group now, it is undergoing some changes but it still ranks high on our list. We try to have breakfast at the coffee shop at least once each time we are in Vegas overlooking the pool.  There are several restaurants to over look the lake which can be spectacular on a warm evening with the fountains on display and the background music playing.

Mirage Casino – Las Vegas, NV – from the volcano that erupts every 30 minute in the evening, the huge fish tank behind the front desk to the spectacular pool with slides and waterfalls, the Mirage is another hotel to stay at. The casino used to have a tropical garden which we enjoyed very much. Since they removed some of it, this location has dropped on our list slightly. We love going to the deli and having smoked meat sandwiches. One is large enough to share for two people.

Top 10 Casinos – Mississippi

Beau Rivage – Biloxi, MS – located on the coast in MS, this casino has everything that the Vegas casinos have along with being next to the water. Great restaurants and casino on a smaller scale. The 3rd floor sports a pool with pool side bar overlooking the ocean. A very enjoyable place to stay.

Gold Strike – Tunica, MS – for central USA, this casino provides great value in terms of room cost, restaurants, comp’s and lodging. We enjoy this location as a stop over on our way south or west of the central part of the USA. Rooms are clean, we always are comp’d for our rooms and for our food.

Horseshoe Casino – Tunica, MS – like the Goldstrike, this casino also provides great value in terms of rooms, meals and comp’s. It is located beside the Goldstrike in Tunica. This is our 2nd choice in Tunica after our 1st choice of the Goldstrike.

Top 10 Casinos –Other

Agua Caliente – Palm Springs, CA – we have never stayed at this casino, but we like to go there and sit outside having our lunch overlooking the pool. They have great entertainment and the slots are not bad either. The pool is very tropical and relaxing.

Aquarius Casino – Laughlin, NV – located on the Colorado river, they have an excellent casino, very reasonable rates and some of the best crab legs we have had in their buffet meals on Friday and Saturday nights. For $20, all you can eat buffet with crab legs and a number of other seafood dishes along with wine and beer. Pretty good deal. You are also within walking distance of 6 to 10 other casinos so need to drive your car.

Akwesasane Casino – Near Masena, NY – this casino is rapidly moving up the list in our opinion. They are busy updating the casino and adding a new hotel which will make it a 1st class facility. The buffet is excellent, prices for drinks are very reasonable and comp’s are very good as well. More to come.

Balterra Casino – Florence, IN – only have stayed once at this casino located along the Mississippi river, we found it to be very nice, although a bit isolated. We rank it high because of value, atmosphere and overall quality. Unfortunately it is too isolated from other places we like to go to rank higher.

None of the Canadian casinos made the list. Their comp’s are low, they generally do not have hotels attached to them and they pretty much seem focused on taking your money without returning much in the form of comp’, meals or entertainment. Just a money grab in our opinion.

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Best Casino

January 7th, 2013 ernie Posted in General 2 Comments »

best casinoThe writer happens to think that the best casino in North America is the Wynn Casino and Hotel in Las Vegas Nevada, with a close runner up The Bellagio Casino and Hotel, also in Las Vegas Nevada. They both have something in common. They were both designed and build by Steve Wynn who has literally transformed the entire Las Vegas strip introducing sophisticated high class casinos and hotels with top of the line entertainment and restaurants.

All of the hotels in Vegas pretty much have the formula down pat. They have lots of rooms, they have the buffet, they have many other high end restaurants and they cater to conferences, weddings and people on vacation. They have lots of glitz, they cater to the high rollers and they have a lot of glimmer. But what really sets these two hotels apart from the others in Las Vegas, or in Tunica or in Atlantic City?

Best Casino Never Looks Tired

In our opinion, these hotels are maintained at a high standard of cleanliness, employees are constantly polishing and vacuuming, they are trimming the plants and keeping them pristine looking, they update furniture and rooms and carpets as soon as they get the least bit tired looking. You know when you walk into a place whether it is beginning to look a little tired looking. The Bellagio and the Wynn casinos and hotels are maintained at such a high standard that they never look this way. This is all based on a first impression when you walk into these hotels and perhaps stay in one of their rooms, but there is a lot more to why they have the best casino designation.

Service Level

The employees treat you as an honored guest and try to make sure that everything is done to perfection. Whether it is the maid making up your room or the blackjack dealer they all understand that Las Vegas is all about competition they plan to be the best to encourage you to return many times to their casino.

This is where the Wynn Casino is slightly above the Bellagio, as the best casino. We have never had to wait for a drink while playing the slots of the tables at the Wynn Casino. They were always prompt and courteous and accurate with drink orders. The Bellagio on the other hand has not always provided the best service.

Perhaps someone called in sick or they did not schedule sufficient servers that day, however we had to literally put our service light on at the slot machine to call a slot repair person to ask them to call a server. Eventually we spoke to a manager and the fixed the problem for us. The next time we visited the Bellagio, service was back to what we have come to expect from the Bellagio. Some might say this is a small thing; however it is an indicator that can turn some customers away.

Décor as the Best Casino

Both casinos have very special attractions that literally bring thousands of people into their casinos every day. The Bellagio has their sound, light and water displays. They run during the afternoons and evenings on a man-made lake outside the front of the casino. It is massive and truly an entertainment spectacle. The Wynn has it’s mountain in front of the casino with waterfalls and lakes with elegant dining around the lake.

They also have a Maserati car display and a champion 18 hole golf course at the back of the casino. There is a very posh 19th hole to relax in. The Wynn is somewhat tropical while being contemporary. The Bellagio is elegant and located in a prime location. They both have all of the top stores that sell clothing and accessories that cost far beyond what the normal person can afford.

These two hotels qualify as being the best casinos in North America and even if you are not staying at the hotel, they are definitely worth a visit to them just to take in the design, the elegance and the pleasure to the eyes. These are truly great places to visit.

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All About Las Vegas, Laughlin and Tunica

July 7th, 2010 ernie Posted in General 1 Comment »

Las Vegas NevadaWe decided to write a blog that covers everything you need to know about Las Vegas, Laughlin and Tunica. These are the main gambling centers from the Mississippi to the west. There is so much to cover that we already know this will be a long blog. However we will sprinkle it with lots of information to help with the reading. Also to generate interest in this important subject. We will cover the following areas in our post. However if you are looking for one particular area of interest just skip ahead to the one that interests you. If we missed something, just leave us a comment and we will be glad to cover it if we can.

Las Vegas Nevada

  • The Strip
  • Downtown Las Vegas
  • Surrounding Las Vegas
  • Shopping in Las Vegas
  • Other activities around Las Vegas

Laughlin Nevada

  • The Casino Strip
  • Bullhead , AZ

Tunica Mississippi

  • Casinos around Tunica
  • Memphis

Slot Cards

  • Cash Back
  • Free Play
  • Comp’s
  • Free Rooms

Obtaining Comp’s
Restaurants
Entertainment
Conferences and Trade Shows

Las Vegas

Las Vegas, Nevada started as buggy stop in the middle of the Nevada desert. It has grown to the metropolis it is today with well over a million people. There are many casinos and hotels in Las Vegas. There are well over 110,000 hotel rooms in the city and more being added every year.

During the later part of 2008 and all of 2009, the number of visitors to Las Vegas was down a lot. Hotels found themselves having to lay off lots of people. They curtailed or stopped some of the remodeling and new building construction that they had planned. As a result visitors to Las Vegas could find some of the best hotel deals in the country. Service levels are fantastic, since everyone in Las Vegas really understands how valuable a customer is to the hotel and the casino. This is the time for great comp’s, deals on rooms and special arrangements. since then, fast forward to 2019. The economy is doing well and there are lots of jobs. Las Vegas is booming.

Homes to Purchase

If you are looking for a home to buy there are a lot of homes that have been foreclosed. Unfortunate for some, but an opportunity for others. You can find really fantastic deals for new homes in the Las Vegas area at this time, Not sure how long this will last, although so fat in 2010, Las Vegas real estate still seems to be a bargain.

Many investors have been scared away, however MGM Grand has been making a huge investment in their City Center project with multiple hotels, casinos and condo dwelling areas. They are hoping to time their release of their properties just as the economy rebounds. We hope they are right since this is a several billion dollar bet. since we wrote this original post, the Aria casino and the city center are now open. This is a mega center and you will need a lot of time even to just walk through the place.

We have been visiting Las Vegas since 1976 and have not missed a year. We have seen change occur every year with new hotels and casinos being built, others remodeled and some of the old land marks torn down to be replaced by mega hotels and casinos. A hotel built today will have at least 3000 rooms with some sporting multiple towers and up to 5000 rooms. We do have our favorites and we will talk about them later in this post.

Vegas offers Everything

Las Vegas offers just about anything that you would like to see in terms of meals, entertainment and accommodations as well as high stakes gambling. Since we are average gamblers and not involved in the high stakes area, we really cannot discuss this area from experience. Instead we will focus on what the average person can expect when they go to Las Vegas for a weekend vacation.

There are three main areas of Las Vegas from the tourists perspective. The strip is the most famous and were most of the hotels today are concentrated. Downtown Las Vegas is where the gambling mecca first got its start and still has something to offer to tourists from all around the world. Lately there have been casinos springing up in various areas of the city. They are a little more local in nature, not as large as the strip casinos, but never the less have something to offer their customers.

The Strip

The following hotels can be found along the strip in no particular order and we have done reviews of many of them and will be adding the rest over the next year:

Aladdin | Ballys |Bellagio |Caesars |CircusCircus Excalibur | Flamingo |FourSeasons |Harrahs |

Imperial |Luxor |MandalayBay |Mirage |MGMGrand |Montecarlo

NewYork |Paris| Planet Holywood | Riviera

Sahara |Stardust | Stratosphere |TreasureIsland | Tropicana Venetian | Wynn

Downtown Las Vegas includes several other hotels, however the notable one os in fact the Golden Nugget. It is one of the originals and has had a recent upgrade, so it is one of the better hotels to stay in if you are planning to stay downtown. We think that the strip is were the action is and you should visit Fremont street while you are there.

Golden Nugget

Surrounding Las Vegas there are many hotels and casinos, some are quite large and popular with the party set such as the The Palms and also the Rio. The Hilton is were many large conferences are given with its proximity to the Las Vegas Convention center. The hotels we have listed are hotels we have written reviews for in the past. There are many other small hotels and casinos outside of the strip and the downtown area.

Hilton |TheOrleans |ThePalms | Rio | SanRemo |Tuscany

Shopping

Shopping in Las Vegas is fantastic and there really is something for everyone from the high roller, to the lucky winner to every day stuff. The Fashion Show Mall is on the strip and is often visited by tourists and residents for its unique venues, high end stores and as well unique stores for someone looking for something special. Apple even has a store in this mall.

In addition , pretty much all of the hotels have high end stores were you can purchase a rolex, a purse for a few thousand and clothes that need an unlimited Amex Card. These are great places to visit and browse, however unless you are well heeled, you should be careful to make sure that you do not break anything. All of the high end popular chain stores are represented in the bigger classier casinos such as Bellagio, Wynn and others.

Other activities around Las Vegas

There are loads of activities around Vegas if you want to get away from the casino for a while. There is everything from swimming at a water park to golfing at premiere courses, to site seeing in Grand Canyon to hiking in the mountains.

Most people will come to Las Vegas for a few days, do some gambling, see a show, have a nice meal and then head home. Some will fly in to Las Vegas, and spend a few days, then heading off on a tour in a rental car for the remainder of their vacation. The Grand Canyon is only 4 hours away by car, the Hoover Dam is about 2 hours, Red Rock canyon is 1 hour and Mount Charleston is probably about 2 hours north were there is lots of hiking.

For those people who are more ambitious, Las Angeles is only 5 hours by car were there is much to see and do. Visit the various movie and TV production sites, go to the ocean along Venice beach or what ever fancies you. Zion canyon and Bryce canyon are both breathtaking and there is lots of great hiking trails for all levels of hikers.

Laughlin

Laughlin is about 90 miles south of Las Vegas on the Nevada / Arizona border. There are approximately 11 casinos located on the Nevada side of the Colorado river. Laughlin is a small town and really could be best described as a throw back to the Las Vegas of the 1960’s or 70’s.  The hotels are older and they are smaller, however they offer excellent value for the money in terms of room rates, meals and entertainment. They are not as crowded as the Las Vegas venues are and they have another major advantage. Patrons can stroll along the banks of the Colorado river while they walk from one casino to the other.

The Town of Bullhead Arizona is across the river and this is were many of the people who work in the casinos live. There is a large commercial area with all of the attributes that are needed by any community. Large stores such as Walmart and Home Depot are located in Bullhead. Bullhead also supports an international airport which many casino patrons utilize to get to this part of Nevada. There are also numerous housing developments that have been built on this side of the river for casino employees as well as for snow birds looking for a place to rent for the winter and spring.

The Casino Strip

The Casino strip in Laughlin is actually quite short compared to Las Vegas. There are about 10 or 11 hotels, with all but 3 along the Colorado River. You can walk along the boardwalk from hotel to hotel while overlooking the water. Dine in one of the many restaurants as well while gazing out at this fast moving river in the middle of the desert.

Generally speaking there are an older level of clientele that go to Laughlin. They like the more peaceful environment and the lower prices. Many hotels will offer rooms in the $30 to $70 range, while there are times when it is busy and you may pay more. If you gamble at all you will probably get the rooms for free.

Either more people go to these hotels that smoke or they do not have a very good air exchange system. We noticed a much heavier concentration of cigarette smoke in the air in these hotels so if you are an asthmatic or suffer from bronchitis, you may want to stay away from these hotels. We liked the Aquarius with a tower for adults and a tower for families with kids. Also there is free WiFi at Starbucks and the buffet prices include free beer and wine with your meal. The wine is ok, you do not get a choice and there is half a dozen name brand beers available for as many as you can drink if you are so inclined.

Bullhead , AZ

Bullhead is across the Colorado river from Laughlin. There is a bridge to the casinos and you can also take a water taxi from Bullhead to any of the Casinos that are along the river. Bullhead has lots of stores and even a Walmart and Home Depot. The local airport is actually an international airport and travelers can fly direct from many locations into Bullhead and then head over to one of the casino hotels.

If you are staying for some time, you will likely need a place to wash your clothes. There is a laundromat very close to were you turn after coming over the bridge and it has free WiFi as well. In fact many places have WiFi and many are free.

There is not much to tell about Bullhead. There are restaurants and a few hotels. Lots of places to park your RV as well as on the Nevada side. One thing to note is that when you cross the river you are actually in mountain time zone instead of pacific time zone, so you lose an hour each time you cross the river from Nevada to Arizona.

Visit Oatmen

One interesting place to visit outside of Bullhead is a place called Oatmen. Oatmen is on route 66 which crosses the mountains from Kingman to Bullhead. Oatmen was a gold mining site, with over 10,000 people living there. Now there is maybe 50 with lots ot touristy things to see in terms of an old mining town. The really interesting thing is the donkeys that roam the street.

When the mines closed and the people left, they turned the donkeys out into the desert. They managed to survive and today they roan the desert as well as come into the town to roam the streets. Tourists can purchase carrots to feed the donkeys and they definitely have learned that there are now lots of carrots. Many locals worry that the donkeys will lose the ability to forage in the desert and if the tourist traffic changes, many of these donkeys might die. From what I could see they definitely were not suffering and were in fact quite fat.

One Bar in Town

There is also a restaurant and bar in town. It has been around since mining days and looks it. They sell basic bar food and it is not too bad. You might ask why would you go there? Well it has something unique as well. When the minors got paid they would come to the bar to drink and eat and carouse. Since they could not count they would put their mark on their money and pin it to the wall. When the money was used up from drinks, food or whatever, it would be removed by the bartender from the wall. The tradition has continued with visitors sticking dollar bills to the walls and of course writing their names on the bills.

The waitress told us that she estimates that there are over $65,000 in dollar bills pinned to the walls. They cover every square inch of the walls, some are even on the ceiling. It is actually an amazing sight to see all of these dollar bills in one place. The thought did cross my mind regarding why no one steals the bills and I suppose some have over the years but a dollar bill is not worth much these days and they are all signed so who wants a signed dollar bill. Anyway I hope that this place stays there for a long time. It is definitely a must see while on your trip and it is only about 45 minutes from the casinos in Laughlin!

Tunica

Tunica is another mini gambling site were the hotels are relatively close together. There are about 9 or 10 casinos in groups of 3’s and 4’s, so you definitely need a car to get around to the hotels and casinos. Tunica is on the Mississippi river just south of Memphis about 30 or 40 minutes by car. We usually stay at the Gold Strike which is part of the MGM Grand Chain or at the Horseshoe which is part of the Harrahs chain of casino hotels. Both of these chains have casinos in all of the major markets across the US as well as other locations around the world. The Gold Strike and the Horseshoe are located beside each other and offer first class rooms and service.

The other hotels are several miles away in both directions located on the Mississippi.  Each have their own niche and each have their own character.  Fitzgeralds is designed to look like a castle, Hollywood is of course designed with Hollywood in mind, while Sams Town is the cowboy place. The Horseshoe and the Gold Strike are the modern hotels on the outside and portray opulence.

Prices vary by time of year and whats going on, however generally they are less expensive than Vegas due to the smaller traffic they receive and the lack of conference space for the larger conferences. Again cigarette smoke is an issue in these hotels, not sure why, because it could be the number of smokers or the lack of air circulation.

Casinos around Tunica

As we mentioned there are casinos around Tunica, about 9 or 10 of them and there are deals to be had. A casino in Mississippi across the river from Helena, Arkansas really offered great deals to us one night. Most of the casinos do, however we really had a special reward in our minds. Unfortunately I cannot remember the hotels name, however it is at the bridge that goes over the Mississippi to Helena.

Our car broke down and needed repairs and we ended up staying at this hotel. They offered us a room, a nice room, for $29 a night provided that we also signed up for a slot card, which we did of course.

Free buffets

Next we found out that new members automatically received a free buffet for signing up for a slot card, which was another great deal for us. In addition the night we stayed there, they had a deal for seniors, which we have to admit that we are. The deal was that seniors ate for free. So in effect we had 4 free buffets. We used two in the evening and 2 in the morning for breakfast! How great a deal is that? The only way to top that is to win at the slots, which unfortunately we did not do, bit oh well, you cannot always have everything!

We told this story really to illustrate just how good the deals can be around Tunica and how important it is to have a slot card.  The food was excellent and the rooms are great. They do not measure up to the 5 star hotels in Las Vegas, however they are more than acceptable and are very enjoyable.

Memphis

There are lots to do in Memphis which is only about 30 minutes north of the Tunica Casino hotels. We have summarized a few of the famous places to see if you are staying in the area.

Beal Street

Know as the home of the blues and the birth place of rock and roll, no other Memphis landmark has held such mystique, intrigue, fame and infamy over the years. Today you will find countless Blues joints, barbecue restaurants, live music and dance clubs to keep you up all night.

Graceland

Everything’s gone Elvis at this theme park dedicated to the life and legacy of the king of rock and roll. Get a little closer to the king with a tour through his Graceland Mansion. Explore Elvis after dark, check out the Kings wheels at the Elvis automobile museum and then jump on his private jet for a look at all of the luxury he enjoyed.

Sun Studio

If Memphis is the birthplace of rock and roll, then Sun Studio is the delivery room. Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and many more cut their first record at Sun Studio and then blazed a trail to Stardom. Visitors can visit all year round.

Peabody Place

Smack dab in the heart of Memphis on Peabody and 3rd street, Peabody Place is a massive entertainment and retail hub featuring 22 theaters, 17 shops and 14 restaurants.

Orpheum Theater

The Orpheum theater may be more than 100 years old, but that does not stop it from hosting 10 to 12 Broadway productions a year. Many celebrities can be found in the audience as well as in some of the shows.

Fedex Forum

The Memphis Grizzlies tear up the court all year round in the middle of downtown Memphis.  Besides basketball, the Fedex forum also hosts circus events and music concerts of all tastes and conventions.

Slot Cards

If you do  not have a slot card or the equivalent when you play the tables, you should. Slot cards are free and are a source of lucrative comp’s for most casino patrons. They consist of cash back, free play, free meals, and reduced room rates as well as free rooms. Casino players who play a great deal will sometimes even have their trips to a casino paid for.
Cash Back

Most casinos no longer offer cash back. At one time they would offer a small percentage of your gambling back to you in cash with the hope that you would turn around and play it at the slots before you left their casino. Some players relied on this cash back to fund the price of the taxi to the airport or perhaps a final meal before they left Las Vegas. Now a days, they have changed this to  what is now known as Point Play.

Point Play

Instead of cash back, patrons are awarded an equivalent amount of cash in what is now known as point play. You are able to play your point play the same way you would play your own cash. The difference is that you enter a code on the slot machine and indicate the amount of point play that you wish to play. Insert one dollar into the machine and play. You will be credited your wager plus any winnings you might gain from the play. Once you point play is exhausted, the machine reverts to regular play and you can either play the winnings you have accumulated or withdraw the cash to use as you please.

Free Play

Free play is another type of comp that can be used on a slot machine in the same manner as point play. The main difference is that the casino will send you an offer via email or snail mail that may include free or reduced room rates, free or reduced meals and a specific amount of free play in dollar terms. We have received amounts in denominations of $10, $25, $100, and $1000. Many other players receive free play as well and some receive huge amounts, since they are high limit slot players.

Your free play can be accessed from the slot machine with the use of a pin number. As you play the slots the value of your free play will decline and any winnings you win as a result will be added to your credit shown on the slot machine. Once your free play has been exhausted you are free to with draw your credit which are real dollars or continuing to play on the same machine.

Free play gifts such as this are designed as enticements to get you to spend time in their casinos, along with the free rooms and meals.  Take advantage of all of these comp’s. Sometimes they can make the difference between a losing and winning trip.

Some casinos will also reward local players by giving them $25 in free play every week if they show that they come to the casino every week. This can be a great reward. You get free play, maybe win some money and receive free drinks while you play in those casinos that offer free drinks. Most offer free drinks in Las Vegas, Laughlin and Tunica. However casinos on Indian properties and in Canada do not offer free drinks as a rule.

Comp’s

Comp’s are another way to increase your pleasure and also gain your loyalty as a player at a casino.  Some comp’s will be mailed to you and offer free rooms or /and free meals.  These are often great offers and can save you a great deal of money if you are already planning to go to one of the casinos for a gambling trip or a vacation.

Remember you must use your slot card whenever you are playing the slots in order to qualify for these comp’s.  If you have any questions consult your slot host to find out exactly what the guidelines are and how you should take advantage of these offers.

Most slot hosts will indicate that you should see them prior to checking out and they will see what they can do for you.  They will tell you to charge all of your meals to your room including tickets for shows etc. Prior to checking out, the host will review your account, your gambling record and will make a decision regarding how much you should have removed from your bill e.g. your comp. They consider how many hours you gambled, how much you gambled and the rate at which you gambled. Based on this review and guidelines they have, they will reward you with comp’s . For some people this can be several hundred or several thousand dollars, depending on your level of gambling.

Free Rooms

Free rooms are the same as comp’s and can be offered prior to you arriving or can be comp’d by the host. Casinos will mail you offers of free rooms to entice you to come to their casino. Of course this depends on your past gambling record and their obvious expectation that you will spend some time gambling in their casino while you stay there.

At other times you may make a reservation at the hotel casino, fully expecting to pay for your room. Based on your play during that visit, your host may decide to comp you for your room! This can be a really nice surprise at the end of your trip to find out that your stay has been comp’d. Remember you must use your slot card when playing the slots to receive any comp’s at all.

Tax Statements

For those of us that win a jackpot, a tax statement can come in quite handy. In the US, any amount won at a slot machine over $1199.99 is taxable, while in Canada all winnings are considered tax free.

Tax statements come in handy when doing your income taxes. Basically it is a record of your wins and losses. Some casinos refer to it as a win/ loss statement. If you win a jackpot of $50,000 , it will be added to your income and you will  pay tax on it at your marginal tax rate. On the other hand if you had losses over the year of $50,000 , and it is documented on a win/loss statement, you can negate any tax payable as a result.

Again you can only receive a win/loss statement if you use your slot card all of the time while playing the slots.

Other Advantages

The casino hosts will also reserve a few seats for their guests. Some will be comp’d, while others patrons will need to pay for. The point is if you are looking for seats at a major show, try talking to your casino host first to see if they have great seats available. Sometimes it can really help to cultivate a good relationship with your casino host!

Another advantage is line passes. Ask your host for a line pass which you can use to go to the front of the line when it comes to busy nights when there are long lines at the buffet or some of the other restaurants. Your casino host can also help you get reservations at some of the best restaurants in the hotel as well as at other hotels.  Always use your slot card and if you are a significant player, get to know your slot host.

When you need to book rooms, call your slot host as well to get the room you want on the date you want and at the best price you can find!

Obtaining Comp’s

Comp’s are either sent to you in advance via email or via the regular mail, or you can be comp’d by your host at the end of your stay.  Some people are uncomfortable about approaching their host for comp’s. This is a standard business transaction as far as the casinos are concerned and if you do not take advantage of this potential comp, you are just leaving your money on the table.

Prior to checking out, visit the host desk and let them know your stay has ended and that you will be checking out. That is all you need to say. They know exactly what you are looking for and will ask to see your slot card and also the number of room. At this point they will review your play for this trip and the expenses charged to your room including your room rate as well. Depending on your play they are going to say, sorry they cannot do anything for you, or they can write a specific amount off, or perhaps even write the entire amount off and you owe nothing.

What a nice surprise when this happens. At this point you thank them and that is it. Proceed to the checkout counter and check out of your hotel room paying the balance of your charges if any.

Restaurants

There are literally thousands of restaurants in Las Vegas from all of the standard fast food restaurants that we are all familiar with to some of the best 5 star double diamond restaurants you can find anywhere in the world.

No matter whether you are in Las Vegas, Tunica or Laughlin, all of the hotels will have their version of fast food restaurants, coffee shops, buffet, steak  and seafood restaurants. However the restaurants in Las Vegas Strip hotels are definitely a cut above any restaurants in these other locations.

Over the years we have eaten at many restaurants and definitely have our favorites that we like to go to. Our favorite hotels are the Bellagio, the Mirage, the Venetian, the Wynn and the Palazzo. Obviously these are the hotels that for us have the best restaurants to try out. Other hotels such as Caesars hotel and the MGM have equally great restaurants, we just have not had the opportunity to enjoy these establishments.

Buffet At the Mirage

The buffet at the Mirage is the best buffet for us. This is no ordinary buffet were you pile scoops of food from trays onto your plate. Instead everything is prepared at stations with the food elegantly displayed. It is high quality and definitely takes you away from the trough experience that so many other buffets display!

The coffee shop overlooking the pool at the Bellagio always has a line up for fresh coffee, muffins , deserts and fresh fruit. Coffee refills are free and the food is great!

The Bellagio

Also at the Bellagio, Sensi is another fine restaurant with a unique decor and excellent food cooked to perfection.

Olives is one of those restaurants with great food, steaks and much more with a view. When the weather is warm and not too windy, sit on the balcony and watch the famous fountain light show in the lake in front of the Bellagio.

The Wynn

At the Wynn, there is a restaurant called Switch. The food is excellent, you can have steak of sea food cooked to perfection. The unique attribute about this restaurant is that the walls and the ceiling will change every 20 or 30 minutes providing you with a different setting and view. It truly is amazing and catches everyone by surprise the first time it happens.

Daniel Boulud at the Wynn is another fine restaurant. Get a seat at the rail beside the lake overlooking the mountain and the waterfalls. How is that for a setting ! The food is also excellent, the service is impeccable and there is a small bar for you to enjoy while you wait for your table to be prepared. At night there is a sound and light show in the lake and on the waterfall to entertain you while you enjoy your meal.

We have eaten at all of these restaurants recently ( 2010) and can highly recommend them all. Some are more expensive than what you might want to spend, however everyone should treat themselves once and enjoy a fantastic meal, celebrate a birthday or an anniversary in style.

Entertainment

We really have not taken in any of the top venues in the past two years, although we have been to Las Vegas at least 6 times in that time period. It is not that we did not like any of the entertainers, we just had too many other things to do.  In past years we have gone to the shows and found all of them to be extremely professional and entertaining.  You will not be disappointed and we challenge you to come up with any other shows that are as good in any other part of the USA or Canada.

At one time you had to tip the matre-d to get the seat that you wanted. This was stressful and many guests were not happy with this approach. They felt that the ushers were just out to grab as much money as they could through tips.

Now a days at all of the major shows, you book your tickets, pay for them and select your seat based on availability and the price. You have guaranteed seats for the show you will attend. If you book your tickets late, then you will have less to chose from and just will have to take the best seats that you can find.

The casino hosts will also reserve a few seats for their guests. Some will be comp’d, while others patrons will need to pay for. The point is if you are not satisfied with the seats that you select for yourself, try talking to your casino host first to see if they have better located seats available. Sometimes it can really help to cultivate a good relationship with your casino host!

Conferences and Trade Shows

With all of the hotel rooms that are in Las Vegas, there are also millions of square feet of trade show capacity that many trade shows take advantage of every year. Some of the largest trade shows will book their show in Las Vegas because the city has the capacity for the trade show, the services to support the show, the conference rooms for all of the people who will be attending the show and the restaurants and entertainment for conference attendees.

Each hotel will have conference facilities for hosting large numbers of people to attend a conference, complete with all of the services and electronic systems that you might need. Their conference rooms can be opened up to handle over 2000 people at once or broken up with movable walls so that smaller groups can be accommodated.  Many conferences will have various streams of talks and presentations and these are easily accommodated with these sorts of venues. Many of the hotels will offer discounts and special arrangements to those people attending the conference if they are staying at the hotel were the conference is being handled. If you are an organizer, don’t forget to discuss these potential discounts for your attendees. They will appreciate the extras and the hotels will be competitive in order to get your business.

Trade Show Facilities

The largest trade show facility in Vegas is the Sands convention center and the Hilton Las Vegas convention center. The largest conventions and trade shows in the world will usually book these facilities to show their trades and products. The NAB ( Nations Association of Broadcasters) is one of the largest shows every year with some where in the range of 100,000 people attending the show every year.

If you are attending this show or just arranging your vacation while the NAB is on, you will want to book early to make sure that you can get a room at a reasonable rate. With so many people attending the show, rooms are at a premium and the hotels will tend to increase the rates as well. You may find that you need to book a room some distance away from the trade show in order to even get a room in Las Vegas. This adds extra cost and time you may not have. You may need to take taxis every day and pay for parking that you did not plan on.

Capitalism

Hotels are entrepreneurial and will react to these conditions very quickly. We once were staying at one of the popular hotels that was also hosting a large conference. All or most of the rooms were reserved and booked. I was checking in and over heard a conversation with another guest beside me. They were complaining that they were being asked to pay $700 for one nights stay in the hotel. This person did not have a reservation. They had just walked in expecting to be able to get a room at a reasonable rate.

The hotel, which was close to being sold out, had decided to raise the rates and take advantage of the situation. Many people were upset and frustrated. However if they had planned ahead and made reservations they could have had the same room for $100 a night. Fortunately for us, we had done just that and our room cost $95 for the night. Which is a pretty good rate for a hotel room anywhere in a 5 star hotel.

Of course we were there on vacation and were not planning to attend the conference at that hotel. We used our slot card and checked with our slot host prior to checking out. We found out that the room plus some of our meals was actually being comp’d. Our room was free. Imagine what the poor guy who paid $700 would have thought if he found out that we had the same room for free. What a deal?

Be Comfortable

Always bring good walking shoes when you come to Vegas. Especially if you are attending a conference or a trade show. These buildings are so large and the distance between hotels is quite far as a result. Taking a taxi is really not an option so you are left to walk to these locations.  It one time took me 30 minutes to walk from my room in one hotel to the front of the hotel, across the street and into the hotel across the street, then to the back of this hotel were the conference rooms were. No way could I take a taxi, yet the walk took 30 minutes!

We have talked a lot about Vegas.  This is really were the big facilities and the best hotels are. They can accommodate truly large shows and meetings.

Tunica and Laughlin also have trade and conference show capabilities. However they are smaller and will attract less strategic and large conferences.  The shows and conferences that go to these places will be more regional in nature. This is to mainly minimize traveling for attendees and manage costs for the organizers.

Attending Trade Shows

Attending a large convention and trade show is really a treat. There has been some cost cutting in the past few years. They still offer great value for the money spent. Not only can you meet colleagues, set up meetings with many vendors and complete multiple deals from one location. You also get to review new products and concepts from many other vendors that you may not normally do business with. In addition, they often will include several meals in with your registration and in the evening. They may also include an entertainment package of some kind. At the large venues, they will sometimes include a significant entertainer for a show that is included in your registration.

Take advantage of all of this to get the full value out of your registration. Talk to the vendors, attend the seminars, visit the booths set up by companies. Take advantage of the many hospitality suites that your vendors will set up and extend invitations to you.

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