Comments or Questions?

Hoofa's Visitors...

Frontier Hotel 1942-2007

Frontier Hotel 1942-2007

"This is the end result of all the bright lights... and the comp trips, of all the champagne... and free hotel suites,
and all the broads and all the booze. It's all been arranged just for us to get your money.
That's the truth about Las Vegas. We're the only winners. The players don't stand a chance. "

-- Sam "Ace" Rothstein, Casino, 1995

Friday, July 30, 2010

Las Vegas Car of the Week #2

This is my LV car of the week #2.  It was heading down the freeway near Russell Road when I took the pic.

I am not sure what to make of this rig.  I know it's a pick up truck that's on steroids.  But the flat black paint and blue rim color? -- not sure what this is all about.  The chrome smokestacks are a nice touch. Nice truck mirrors too...

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Junk in the Desert…

I do a lot of hiking and exploring in the desert and canyon areas in and around Las Vegas.  The Las Vegas area is unique in that it very easy go from urban and suburban sprawl to complete desert isolation.  I like to hike and explore the desert in the area and take photos.   The desert however, is an easy dumping ground for a variety of objects and materials. 

Here are a few photos of junk I have stumbled across in my explorations.  Here’s a couple of cars I stumbled across while exploring.  The gutted car on the left is just sitting out in the desert about a mile from a housing development in north east Las Vegas.  The car on the right – sitting on jack stands is located about half mile from the million dollar plus homes of Lake Las Vegas.  I am not sure what the story was with this vehicle – perhaps it was a stripping in progress?

The steel girder on the left was just dumped out in the desert a few miles from my house.  I see a lot of this – construction site dumping or waste dumping.  I guess it’s just easier and cheaper to just dump your junk or waste in the desert.  The object on the right is a refrigerator or freezer – riddled with bullet holes and shotgun pellet blasts.  People bring stuff like this out in the middle of nowhere and then use it for target practice.  The problem is that they leave the stuff out in the desert.

IMG_7179 IMG_4073

Yes, that’s a small boat.  It’s been sitting there about a mile or south of the M Resort and Casino for quite some time.  Strange.  The earthmover on the right is abandoned (right by Lake Las Vegas) – it has a flat tire and is partially buried.  There’s a bunch of abandoned construction projects all over Las Vegas with machinery like this and building materials just left behind.

IMG_4379 IMG_5321

On the left is a metal sign used for target practice.  Since many of the housing construction sites are now abandoned around Las Vegas, people go into these areas and vandalize/destroy property.  Some of these areas look like outdoor shooting ranges.  On the right is a close up of an old lock with some rusting nails. 

IMG_7424 IMG_8719

FYI -- All photos in this blog were taken by and are property of Jimmy Hoofa.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Street Vendors -- Las Vegas Strip

Below are some photos of a vagrant selling waters for a $1.00 right in front of the Mirage.  I love the expression of the couple in the first picture.  You go for a walk down the Strip and you have a homeless guy hitting you up to buy a water from him.  Nice.

Apparently, the city of LV or Clark County has no problem with these types of guys selling water, or whatever in public. I tried to ask this guy how business was and he replied "there are just too many god damn water sellers out here." He was not willing to give me a number on his usual take during a good day.

Since I moved to LV, I always notice these "vendors" whenever I go to the Strip. They are selling waters, sunglasses, gum, candy, whatever. There really seems to be no enforcement by police or anyone from the city/county. Apparently, anyone can just set up shop on the sidewalk on the Strip and sell whatever they please. I have yet to see one of these "vendors" rousted or hassled by the authorities. Maybe the city/county does not care about this issue?

Personally, I don't think this is acceptable.

And please, do not tell me he has the 1st Amendment right to stand out there on sidewalk and sell water. There needs to be some sort of enforcement on these "vendors." If the city/county does not take steps to deal with "vendors" the problem will just get out of control and the LV Strip will look like Venice Beach or some open air shopping market. Seriously, what if some guy set up one of those taco carts out there?

Las Vegas Smoker of the Week #1

Las Vegas / Clark County is home to more smokers than I have ever encountered in my life.  At least half the cars driving around have person driving who is smoking.  Smokers are everywhere, lighting up all over the city, then throwing their spent butts on the ground.  Local casinos like Joker's Wild, Sam's Town, Fiesta Henderson are like walking into a gas chamber the smoking is so bad in there.  I guess the people of Nevada did not get the memo 30 years ago about the impact and negative health effects of smoking. 

Anyway, in honor of the cigarette smokers of Las Vegas, here is the first "Las Vegas Smoker of the Week."  This photo was taken on the Strip by the Flamingo.  This person is female.  While smoking her delicious cigarette I think she passes out some free tickets/passes in that area.  It was over 105f when I took this photo.  Nice.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Cab ride from LV airport to the Strip

I am writing this post as a public service to all you folks from all over the world who fly into Las Vegas and then have to take a cab from the airport to your hotel on the Strip.  The odds are already against when you gamble at a casino in LV, so why should you get ripped off by a cab ride from the airport to your hotel?

Do not, I repeat, do not let yourself get "long hauled" --
ripped off on the cab ride from the airport to the Strip. 

Long hauling is when a cabbie takes you on a longer route to your hotel instead of the shortest and most direct route.  Unfortunately there are a number of unethical cab drivers in this city who will take on you a ride to bump up the fare, which of course increases their total tip at the end of the ride.  The long hauling issue has become so bad from the airport, that the LV Taxi Authority is now considering just going on a flat rate charge from the airport to the Strip hotels.  Until that happens, then you need to be an informed consumer about taking a cab ride from the airport.  As proof of how bad long hauling is in LV, here's a story from the LV Sun about a Nevada Taxicab Authority Administrator who got long hauled:

Before you do anything, go on Google maps and find Las Vegas, NV.  Find McCarran Intl. Airport.  Then find the hotel you are staying at.  Guess what?  The airport is right next to the LV Strip.  50% of the Strip hotels are literally within 3 miles of the airport.  The rest are under 5 miles.  Unlike some airports in the United States, the airport in LV is right in the middle of the city.  Here a link to Google maps.

So, you just got off the plane, you have collected your bags and you are ready to get to your hotel.  You get in line and wait to get a cab -- there are literally hundreds of cabs lined up at the airport waiting to take visitors to the Strip.  The problem is that a large percentage of the cab drivers waiting to pick up a fare are like sharks and you are like a baby seal who has just entered the water for the first time.  You are "fresh meat" just waiting to get long hauled.  Do not, I repeat, do not, let yourself be a victim and get long hauled by these predators.  When you tell the cabbie your hotel do not get into a discussion with him/her about taking the route with the least amount of traffic.  If you agree to go on the route with the least amount of traffic you will get long hauled.

Here's what you say to the cabbie to avoid any confusion:  "Hi, I am staying at _______________ hotel.  Do not take me there using the airport tunnel or the freeway.  Exit the airport on Swenson and take me to my hotel using surface streets."  Now, what cabbies do is try and persuade the customer that taking Swenson will "take longer" and "cost more" because of traffic and signals.  This is complete nonsense.  Do not fall for it.

It is critical that you know the location of your hotel in relation to the airport once you are on Swenson.  Just because the cabbie has followed your directions does not mean they still can't drive you around and jack the fare up.  There are 5 major streets that connect to all the hotels on the Strip.  These streets are as follows:
Tropicana, Harmon, Flamingo, Sands, and Desert Inn.  Taking Swenson from the airport to every hotel on or near the Strip connects with these 5 streets.  However, it is not that simple.  Keep reading.

If your hotel is on/near Tropicana or Harmon then the route is very simple from the airport:  Exit the airport on to Swenson, take Swenson to Tropicana or Harmon, make a left, take Tropicana or Harmon to your hotel.  Done.

If your hotel is on/near Flamingo, Sands, or Desert Inn then it slightly more complicated.  Exit the airport on to Swenson, take Swenson to Harmon.  The driver should take a left on Harmon and then a quick right on to Paradise. Paradise then connects with those three streets.  Make a left on Paradise and you will get to your hotel.  You want the driver to be on Paradise, not Swenson!  If the cabbie continues on Swenson past Harmon, you are getting long hauled.  After Harmon, Swenson becomes a longer route and more out of the way to get those three streets.  To see what I am talking about, you have to look on a map.

Good luck.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Day Trip -- Valley of Fire State Park

Valley of Fire State Park (VFSP) is a must see place if one has the time on a trip to Las Vegas.  The scenery and the stark contrasts make a trip to VFSP unforgettable.  VFSP is like Red Rock Canyon -- except on steroids.  My recent trip to VFSP was only for about 3 hours and I felt like I barely scratched the surface of the park.  There is just too much to look at and explore on a short day trip.  In my opinion VFSP requires a full day or 2 days to really get a feel for the the place -- whether you are into hiking, photography, or just exploring.

Like Red Rock Canyon, VFSP can just be viewed by driving around in your car.  Yes the scenery is stunning, but the real beauty of the place is getting out of your car and exploring the many different aspects of the park.  The scenery, rock formations, and colors are so stunning at VFSP that it almost seems like you are on a different planet when visiting there.  In all honesty, to try and describe the park in words in frankly very difficult.  It is a place that must seen and taken in.  It is not a place to be rushed through.

Here is a link from the state of Nevada that tells you everything you need to know about the VFSP:

Driving to VFSP is more complicated then driving to Red Rock Canyon.  The drive takes about an hour from Las Vegas and you are pretty much out in the middle of nowhere.  There are two ways to get to VFSP -- the most common way from Las Vegas is to take the 15 north and then take the 169 to the park.  There are plenty of signs to direct motorists in the right direction.  There is another way to get to VFSP and this involves driving through Lake Mead National Recreation Area.  This route is longer and more time consuming then the 15 north -- but does offer more in the way of scenery.  Here's a pano photo I took driving back to Henderson through LMNRA:

When I visited VFSP it was during a storm in the Spring. It was cold, windy, and intermittent rain through the course of the day. I found it very pleasant and great for taking pictures. However, I would imagine a visit to VFSP during the summer months to be especially brutal. If you are planning a trip to VFSP during the summer I would advise a person to be well prepared and make sure your vehicle is in good running order.

As noted I barely scratched the surface of what VFSP has to offer in terms of trails and hiking.  I did manage to get out on a few trails and rock formations, but nothing overly demanding or time consuming.  From the information provided at the park entrance there are an abundance of excellent hiking and climbing opportunities in VFSP.  Also of interest are the numerous well preserved Indian rock art or petroglyphs on rock faces throughout the park.

Note:  All photos in this blog were taken by and are the property of Jimmy Hoofa.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Table Games Comps

I have gotten a few emails from readers about comps and how casinos calculate table games comps.  Since I have never worked in the casino industry, I can only provide you what I have experienced and researched through the years as a blackjack player.   Please do not take this as some sort of "expert" advice from a "casino insider."  Also, this information does not really apply to "high rollers" and if you have a casino host.  Players with casino hosts are in a different league then what I am talking about in terms of comps.

Comps at table games at most casinos are handled much differently than machine comps.  Machine comps are very easy for the casino to calculate and are very transparent for the player to see what they have earned -- Put your player's club in any machine and it will tell you how many points you have earned for your play. Those points can then be used for comps.  Very simple.

Table games comps are much more complicated and are almost impossible for the player to figure out how much they have earned.  In fact, if you ask how much "you have earned" the pit bosses will not tell you.  Their usual question is "what are you looking for" or "what do you want?"  Then they go check the computer to see if you have qualified for the comp amount you have requested.  Why the comp amount at table games is such a mystery to the patron who has gambled in the joint is beyond me.

Here's a general example of how a comp rating works at table games for my recent blackjack play at Green Valley Ranch.  I buy in for $1000 with a players club card, which is then recorded on the casino tracking software.  My opening bet of $30 is then recorded.  Every 15 minutes or so the pit boss will come around and note my bet.  Since I am counting cards and varying my bets, my bets are going to be all over the place.  Sometimes the PB will note $50 a hand, sometimes he will note $75, sometimes he will note $100.  This information is all entered into the tracking software.  The tracking software takes an average of my bets and multiplies that by the number of hands dealt per hour.  On a double deck pitch game the dealer is dealing about 60 hands in an hour -- about one hand per minute.  So, lets say my average bet comes out to $60 a hand. So in the course an hour I have bet a total of $3200 (approx.).

Now, this is where things get complicated.  Every casino has a different formula for calculating what the comp value should be on my average total bet of $3200.  Trying to figure out the formula is very difficult -- as the casino not only looks at your total bets in an hour, but what their expected "hold" is during that time period.  "Hold" = how much the casino is expected to win.  But as a general rule from what I have seen and been able to research, tables games are comped at about 1/2 percent to 1 percent of your total average bet per hour.  Please do not hold me to this number as I am making an educated guess.  In the case of my $3200 total bets, I roughly calculated that my comp should be somewhere around $20-$30.

But factor in the human element into tracking of bets.  Sometimes pit bosses forget to note your bet, or even forget to log your play into the computer.  So you play blackjack for a few hours, leave to go watch a football game, come back later to get a comp and they tell you "we don't have you in the system from this morning."  Then you have to do what I call "comp begging" and try and convince the PB that you did play blackjack for a few hours earlier and what your bet spread was.  This is highly annoying and you really are at the mercy of the pit bosses to get a comp.  I have found that if you are really detailed with your play information and act shocked (not pissed off) they will give you a comp.  I call this a "nuisance comp" -- they just write you a comp to make you happy so they can get back to work.

Now throw this issue into the mix of getting a table games comp:  The comp amount seems to be higher when you ask for the comp right at the end of your tables games play as opposed to coming back the next day or even a week later.  For whatever reason, pit bosses seem to be much more liberal when you ask for a comp when you are done with your session. I guess there is a familiarity aspect that goes along with this as the PB knows you and is comfortable with you.  Also, I don't think they want to look like jerks by shooting you down in front of the dealer and other players.  All I know, is when I go back to a casino a few days later after I have played blackjack, it always seems to be complicated with PB and the comp amount is usually less then I calculated for my play.  Frankly, I think PB's get annoyed with what I call a "walk in comp" -- for whatever reason they prefer giving comps right at the table.  Personally, what does it matter?  $3200 total bet in a hour should have a fixed comp amount at the end of the play, the next day, or a week later.

Here's an example of what happened to me at Green Valley Ranch about a week ago when I asked for a comp based on my blackjack play as noted above.  This was a "walk in comp" -- I was asking for a comp based on my play from 3-4 days prior.  I walked up to the pit boss to ask for a comp.  Immediately I got what I call "Pit Boss Stink Eye."  The typical "what are you bothering me for" look from the PB.  I knew before I even asked for a comp that there would be a hassle.  Here's how things went down:

JH: "Hi, could you check my card to see what my balance is?  I would like to go get some lunch at Tides." (Tides is a restaurant inside GVR).
PB:  "We don't check balances.  How much do you want?"
JH:  "Well, I don't know.  How about $30?" (that was rough estimate of my comps)
PB: (checking on computer) "$30 won't work, would you like to try for $20?"
JH: OK, see if that works. (Now I am just a bit annoyed)
PB:  "Sorry, $20 won't work.  Would you like to me to try for $10?"
JH:  "No, that's a waste of time.  I will just take my card back, thank you."

Now at this point the PB thinks I am just another ploppy and I will be on my way.  But no, The PB is dealing with Jimmy Hoofa, and Jimmy Hoofa does not take this type of treatment from a PB.  So then I hit the PB with this:

JH:  "May I ask you a question?"
PB:  "Yeah sure, what's your question?" (PB is visibly annoyed)
JH:  4 days ago from approx. 3pm to 4:30pm I played blackjack in this pit.  I was at a $15 to $2000 table.  My approx. bet spread was $25-$125.  I played for approx. 60-90 minutes.  My average bet was somewhere in the $50-$60 range.  Now you are telling me that I have not even earned $20 in comps?  There must be some sort of mistake on the computer."

Now the PB is really irritated.  But the PB now knows they are dealing with someone who knows exactly what is going on and not some "bird" who is just going to fly away.  They know that I am not leaving until I get my comp and they know I most likely have come close to or have earned that comp amount.  Either the PB is being lazy or just being a jerk and not wanting to give me a comp.  This type of nonsense has happened too many times to be a coincidence.  Personally, I think the PB is irritated by the fact that this is a "walk in" comp.

The PB then takes my card and goes back to the computer to "check" if there's been a mistake.  At this point the PB knows they have been busted and that they are dealing with someone with a basic knowledge of how the comp game works.  What occurs next is just so typical of the BS that casinos play with customers.  The PB tells me the following:  "My computer seems to be having problems."  I am going to take your request for a comp over to my supervisor and he will check on his computer."  The PB walks my card over to the floor supervisor who is in another pit.  They have a brief conversation.  The floor supervisor then checks my card on the computer.  In under 30 seconds my comp is being printed out by the floor supervisor.  The comp is for $30.  I sign the comp, the floor apologizes for the wait, and I am off to have lunch at Tides.

Now WTF just went on here?  I get shot down by a PB for a comp, then magically the comp is given after the floor supervisor "approves" it?  I can't prove this, but I think the PB I approached was busy and also irritated that I asked for a comp but I was not actually playing at a table.  Because I interrupted the PB in the middle of something, then the PB just denies me the comp in the hopes I will just go away.  Like I said, this type of treatment has happened enough times around town that I am convinced this is just accepted practice on a "walk up" comp.

Here's the moral to the story:  If you have earned legitimate comps for table games play and you get shot down, then do not take no for answer.  Stand your ground and don't let the casino get away with this nonsense.  Don't get rude and don't throw a fit.  Explain the details and facts of your play and make it clear to the PB you are not leaving until you get your deserved comp.  If you still can't get a comp go up the food chain to the pit supervisor and explain the situation.  9 times of 10 you will get your comp.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Do I Really Need BBQ Sauce?

I get this sent to me by mail from the Silverton Hotel.  Normally I have only positive things to say about Silverton promotions, not this on this one, however.

Here's how this one works:  If I earn enough points in a day or a week I get three bottles of BBQ sauce --  Lucille's BBQ brand.  I don't know about this brand of BBQ sauce -- I assume it's good as there is a restaurant called Lucille's BBQ.  The question is whether I really need to drive over to the Silverton from Henderson and pound a VP machine until I get the required points?  I am sorry, but this promotion is ridiculous in my opinion.  I see these promotions from time to time where the casino gives away stuff like this as a "reward" for play.  Come on now.  BBQ sauce?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Las Vegas Car of the Week #1

I see all kinds of interesting cars around LV.  So I have decided to start a LV Car of the Week for my blog.

This car is a Ford -- perhaps a Crown Vic?  Nice rims and loud blue paint.  The "Starsky and Hutch" stripe on the car is a bit much.  Not sure if this is some sort of joke, but I thought it was creative at least!  Anyway, this is the first car added to the list.  Enjoy.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Blackjack Hall of Shame -- New Inductee

Unfortunately, it is with great disappointment that I have to add another inductee to the Blackjack Hall of Shame.  To date, there are two inductees in the Hall of Shame:

This individual is being added to the Blackjack Hall of Shame not because of 6/5 ploppy games started by Harrah's and then followed by MGM, but because of his treatment and attitude toward blackjack players who actually use their brain and play blackjack correctly.  This individual owns and operates the South Point -- a hotel on the south Las Vegas Strip.  Bar none, the South Point (AKA "Sweat Point") has some of the rudest and most arrogant pit bosses in all of Las Vegas.  Blackjack players are basically treated as a nuisance and with contempt at the South Point -- unless they are ploppys losing their asses.  Please see my post on ruddest pit bosses in LV:

My friends and I were backed off at the South Point a few weeks ago.  Yes, we were counting cards -- big f-ing deal.  Yes we were spreading our bets -- from $15-$75.  After about 15 minutes in the joint we were rudely backed off and told we were no longer allowed to play blackjack.  As a card counter, getting backed off is part of the deal, fine.  Most back offs are done with courtesy.  Not at the South Point.  My friends and I were treated like crap, and for what?  Because we had a 5x bet spread?  We did not even get to black chip action and the hammer came down.  Come on now. 

It is with great displeasure that Jimmy Hoofa must now add another person to the Blackjack Hall of Shame:

Michael Gaughan (son of Jackie Gaughan)
Owner of the South Point Hotel and Casino. 

Mr. Gaughan, if you can't even handle red chip/green chip action and a 5x bet spread, maybe you need to close your blackjack pit and just fill up the area with machines.  Pathetic.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Hotel Review -- Planet Hollywood

Disclaimer:  Planet Hollywood is now owned/controlled/managed by Harrah's.  Most likely this will result in a steady deterioration of service and facilities the longer Harrah's operates the hotel.  Please note that my review of Planet Hollywood may not even be applicable 3 months from now depending on what Harrah's does with the property.

Aside from new ownership by Harrah's, Planet Hollywood (PH) is great hotel and in a great location.  It's location rivals the Flamingo in terms of location, and the hotel is so much better than the Flamingo in terms of updating, cleanliness, and overall atmosphere.  The room rates between PH and the Flamingo are usually pretty close, so why a person would stay at the grimy old Flamingo as opposed to PH is beyond me.

The location of PH is outstanding -- right in the middle of the strip.  Bellagio and City Center are across the street, with Paris right next door.  The Miracle Mile shops are also located within PH which is a nice shopping diversion should one want that.  A short walk gets you over to Caesar's and the Flamingo.  Overall, the location of PH is outstanding in terms of access to the LV strip. 

The room we stayed was very nice.  Nothing special, but updated, clean, flat panel TV.  View was of the pool and part of City City Center and the Bellagio.  Compared to the ratty rooms over at the Flamingo, the value of PH is so much better.  The same room at the Flamingo would have had blue carpet, a tube TV, and pictures on the wall from circa 1987.  If you are choosing between the Flamingo and PH, and the rate is the same or similar, by all means stay at PH!

Here are a few things to note if you stay at PH:

Gaming:  Harrah's now controls all gaming at PH.  This means 6/5 blackjack, high table limits, and rip off machines.  The gaming area of PH is actually pretty fun and lively with loud music playing constantly.  If you don't care about getting screwed and want to have a good time, PH is the place to be.  If you are going to lose money and get grinded down, at least have a good time, right?

Sportsbook:  Nice a sportsbook tucked away from all the action -- which means hardly any Feldmans or lookie loos in the place.  There are also no annoying machines in the area to disturb you.  Chairs are really comfortable, nice flat panels, clear projection TV's.  The PH sportsbook is a nice place to relax, watch sports, and have a few drinks.

Pool:  Pool looked nice from our room, but we did not ever get out there.  There are two pools, but they are not huge, but the pool deck is enormous.  There appears to be lots of room to spread out without crowding.  I will get back to PH and do a pool review one of these days.  Here's a merged photo I took from the room:

Parking:  Do not, I repeat do not, park in the parking garage if you are staying at the hotel.  The parking garage is ridiculously far from the actual hotel -- you have to walk through the entire Miracle Mile shops and go down an elevator to get to the front desk.  Don't be cheap -- park the car in the valet.

Music:  There is music blasting at all hours inside the casino and just about every public area inside of PH.  Fine, I can deal with that -- that's part of the atmosphere and vibe.  However, the blasting music inside the elevators is a bit much.  If you are looking for a "quiet" and "relaxing" type of place, PH is not for you.

Major Annoyance:  There is a timeshare complex at PH -- it is called PH Westgate.  I don't believe the timeshares have anything to do with the actual hotel.  However, there are time share hustlers all over the place trying to get you to go on a "tour" of the place.  They use the usual tricks of offering you free stuff, then hustle you into a "tour."  After the "tour" you get the BS high pressure tactics to buy a timeshare.  The timeshare hustling is really annoying and is frankly offensive.  Basically every person that enters the PH casino or the Miracle Mile shops gets accosted by a timeshare hustler.  It's bad enough that I would consider not staying at PH again.  Here's a photo I took of the PH Westgate:

I have always wondered this about timeshares:  If a timeshare is a such a great deal and has so much value, why is there such harassment to take a "tour" and why is there such high pressure to buy a timeshare?  Seriously, if a timeshare at PH Westgate was such a good deal I would imagine people would be lining up to take tours instead of being hounded inside of PH.

Final thoughts:  I really like PH, but I fear PH will start a slow and steady decline now that Harrah's has its hairy hand all over it.  I can see PH being run into the ground just like the Flamingo.  It will eventually just become another low-roller cattle call hotel in the evil Harrah's empire.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Hotel Review -- Rio

Disclaimer: Since I live in LV, I don't stay very often in LV hotels. However, sometimes I will get a comp room or friends will visit from out of town, which gives me an opportunity to assess the hotel and room quality of the place they are staying at. Personally, I think it is somewhat difficult to write a review of most LV hotels due to the shear number of hotels, what people are looking for in a hotel in LV, the age of the guest(s) and the price of the room. Example: If you get a room for $20 at Imperial Palace you really have nothing to complain about. However, if you pay $125 for that same room on a busy weekend, then most likely you are getting ripped off.  So, anyway, use my review as just one piece of your puzzle when trying to figure out where to stay in LV. I call things as I see them based on my perceptions and biases, so keep that in mind.

I wrote the following review and attempted to post it on Trip Advisor. The review was denied by Trip Advisor without explanation. I contacted Trip Advisor why the review was rejected, but they never responded. I don't think my review of the Rio was overly critical or harsh -- especially reading some of the nightmare stories people have posted on Trip Advisor about this hotel.


The Rio is owned by Harrah's. It is their "mid roller" hotel of their properties in LV. It is an upgrade from the Flamingo, but not a Caesar's Palace. FYI: Harrah's is currently trying to sell the property.

The suites are very nice. My room was very clean, spacious, and well maintained. The suites have lots of space to spread out, a large bathroom, large closets, and small refrigerator. The room was about 2/3's of they way up and a had nice view facing north -- could see part of the LV Strip and Downtown.

Overall, this a nice hotel for a stay in LV. Everything you need is contained in this hotel and at night the hotel has quite a party atmosphere. The pools are very nice and well maintained. I would recommend this hotel to any traveller going to LV. There are a few things to be informed about if you decide to stay at the Rio:

Location:  The Rio is not on the LV Strip. It is completely by itself about a 1/4 mile from the Strip. Next door is the Gold Coast -- low roller, locals hotel. Up the street is the Palms. Walking from the Rio to either the Strip or the Palms is somewhat impractical. So you either need a car or have to take a taxi.

Gaming:  Since this hotel (for now) is part of Harrah's, it has the usual sucker rip off table games like 6/5 blackjack etc. Table minimums can be very high at peak times also. Though not as tight as it's LV Strip properties, Harrah's Rio is not very customer friendly in terms of machines and payouts. If you want better value on table games and machines, a quick walk next door to the Gold Coast can take care of that.

Bottom line: If you are looking for a self-contained hotel, with nice rooms and with a great party atmosphere, Rio is great selection.

Hotel Review -- Flamingo

Disclaimer:  Since I live in LV, I don't stay very often in LV hotels.  However, sometimes I will get a comp room or friends will visit from out of town, which gives me an opportunity to assess the hotel and room quality of the place they are staying at.  Personally, I think it is somewhat difficult to write a review of most LV hotels due to the shear number of hotels, what people are looking for in a hotel in LV, the age of the guest(s) and the price of the room.  Example:  If you get a room for $20 at Imperial Palace you really have nothing to complain about.  However, if you pay $125 for that same room on a busy weekend, then most likely you are getting ripped off.  So, anyway, use my review as just one piece of your puzzle when trying to figure out where to stay in LV.  I call things as I see them based on my perceptions and biases, so keep that in mind.

I wrote the following review about the Flamingo and attempted to post it on Trip Advisor.  The review was denied by Trip Advisor without explanation.  I contacted Trip Advisor why the review was rejected, but they never responded.  I don't think my review of the Flamingo was overly critical or harsh -- especially reading some of the nightmare stories people have posted on Trip Advisor about this hotel.


Flamingo Hotel is owned by Harrah's. It is a low roller, cattle call hotel on the LV Strip. It has a great location and is right in the middle of everything on the Strip. Cheapest rooms are just that -- cheap. Blue carpet, tube TV's, artwork from the 1980's. Pretty much the place needs a complete updating, but it is not thrashed. Flamingo is not a dump, but don't go there expecting some high end joint like Bellagio or Caesar's. If you want to party and have a good time, and don't care about their rip off casino games, then this is the place for you. 

Here's a photo I took from a room I was in at the Flamingo.  This room faced south and if you are high up enough, the view is pretty good.  The street down below is Flamingo.  The powerlines in the photo may have been removed since this pic was taken.

Here's some things to note at the Flamingo:

Check-in: Can be a disaster. Can take 45 minutes to an hour when busy. Sometimes they have only a few agents at the front desk checking people in. Can be very frustrating, especially if you have just sat on a plane for 4-5 hours!

Sports Book: At least 20 years out of date. Tube TV's, blurry/bluish projection TV's. Very cramped and very noisy because of all the machines in the area. Terrible vig on most sports. Bring some aspirin if you hang out in there -- you will get a headache.

Gaming: Terrible blackjack -- lots of sucker 6/5 games, shoes. Can have high minimums on all other table games. All machines are tourist rip off games. Harrah's knows this is your one trip to LV for the year and most people don't care or don't know (or both) about playable games, payouts, etc. Harrah's could never get away with this if this was a locals LV hotel, but since it is right on the Strip, they can get away with offering a lot of bad games to tourists. Beware!!!
Added to review as of this post:

Cheap Fun -- LV Strip

Low rollers like JH are always looking for comps, free play, or deals.  If you live in LV, you always are on the prowl for stuff like this.  Normally I have nothing positive to say about Harrah's and their hotels, but here's a greal gem on the LV Strip that is worth checking out.

Inside of Paris (Harrah's "secret" LBGT Hotel) there is a lounge called Napoleon's.  It's a very low key place.  Nice and comfortable, dim lighting, mellow atmosphere.  From 6pm-9pm them have a nice happy hour -- 2 for 1 on premimum draft beers.  I am talking good draft beer -- Fat Tire, Stella, Newcastle, etc.  The beers are 16oz and you get two for $6.00 -- that's $3 a beer.  That's not bad for the LV Strip, especially for a nice place like Napoleon's.

From 6pm-9pm the place is pretty slow, but they do have entertainment -- when we were there they had a guitarist playing rock cover tunes.  During this time Napoleon's is a nice quiet place to drink some cheap beers and get away from the LV Strip madness.

Starting at 9pm they have "dueling pianos."  Two very accomplished pianists will attempt to play any hit played on the radio for the past 60 years or so.  The two guys put on a great show and are really funny.  There is no cover charge for this lounge act.  You can just buy a couple drinks, relax, and have an hour or two of great "free" entertainment.  These piaists will play any song you request -- but of course you have to tip.  The more you tip the greater the chance your song gets played ahead of the other requests.  We spent almost 2 hours watching these dueling pianos and it was great.  Not only was the entertainment great, but watching the masses walk back and forth in front of Napoleon's was a show just in itself.

As a LV local, I tend to avoid the Strip just because of the crowds and masses of people. I also do not think there's a lot of value for locals on the Strip.  However, I will make an exception to Napoleon's.  If Harrah's keeps the present format of this place with the 2-1 premimum beers and the no cover charge for the dueling pianos, then I will be returning.  Napoleon's is just a great place to hang out, relax, and get some great entertainment without getting your wallet busted open.