By: Victor “Vegas Vic” Royer
Apart from money, there are other considerations. For example – do you want to experience all of the fabulous places in Las Vegas, or just those in the immediate vicinity of where you are staying? Do you want to experience the Strip, or Downtown, or the “local’s” places? Do you want to get around a bit, or mostly stay put?
As you can see, the simple question of: Which are the best places to play in Las Vegas isn’t all that simple.
If you’re a slot player, you should decide whether you want to play mostly penny slots, dollars, or higher. Reel slots, or multi-game machines. Video Poker, Video Keno, or the standard reel slots with the handle to pull. Modern slots, or more traditional slots that are of an older vintage.
Most of the Strip casinos will have newer slots, although there are some very good-paying older machines usually tucked away someplace in a corner. Look for areas of the casino where there isn’t much traffic and not too many players. That’s where you can find some of the great older machines that usually pay better (among Strip casinos).
In general – in most of the more modern casinos – if you want to find the loosest slots then look for a traffic Island with a few slots in a carrousel, where there is a lot of traffic and lots of people playing all the time, and see if they are yelling and screaming and jumping up and down, or generally seem excited about their machine. Then walk around them, and see how much they’ve got on their credits, and how that compares to the value of the credits they are playing.
On more than a few occasions you will find that casinos will put a group of really high-paying slots in a carrousel just like this – because that’s where the most people will see others winning, and so they will think that all of the machines in that casino are that loose. This is a good rule-of-thumb, although not always so. That’s why you need to check it out first, and see what the value of those pays actually is, by watching the players already playing before you sit down yourself.
Among reels slots – those which are Video as well as those which spin the reels behind the glass – Strip casinos will average about a 95% payback. Higher on $1 slots, up to about 98% payback on $5 slots and higher.
Downtown Las Vegas reel slots are a little better, with the average payback being about 96% overall, and again about 98% for the high-roller slots. But Downtown Las Vegas is a better value if you are a small to medium player on a budget.
Local’s places are better still. They are off the Strip, and away from Downtown, and that’s where you will usually find the best deals on slots. And often food as well, and even table games – although most Strip casinos will have reasonably good table games and rules. However, local’s places are far more likely to use hand-held decks, like in Blackjack, and also hand-shuffles, instead of shuffling machines.
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For Video Poker, most of the better games will be in the following casinos, and this also applies to Video Keno (my favorite casino game):
The Palms still has many of the older machines, and they are still quite good. These offer the better paybacks. So does Gold Coast, Palace Station, Sunset Station, Boulder Station, South Point, Arizona Charlie's, Red Rock Station, Aliante Station, M Resort, and some of the other off-the-Strip casinos.
On the Strip the older games have all but vanished altogether, although there are exceptions. If you take the time to look, sometimes you can find the odd game here and there, probably tucked away someplace where most tourists won't go.
And that’s why you should always walk around the casino first, and check out all the games, and where they are, and see – before you start playing.
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