Las Vegas: What to Know About the Gaming Scene
Las Vegas is a destination a lot of world travellers hit at some point in their lives, for one reason or another. For adventurous types it tends to be more about some of the surrounding parks and hiking trails, or a tour of the Grand Canyon nearby. For leisure seekers it can be about the luxurious resorts and their unlimited amenities. As we all know though, Las Vegas is most famous for its casino gaming scene.
Whether you’re a seasoned card shark or a world wanderer taking a break to indulge in some conventional entertainment, this Vegas casino scene can make for an interesting stop. But there are some things you’ll want to know if you’re going to handle it right.
You Should Learn Before You Go
Simply put, the Vegas casinos aren’t for newcomers. If you’re not clear about a given game’s rules, or how the odds work in a given situation, you’re setting yourself up to take a beating. And while you may get a friendly card dealer or fellow traveller now and then who’s willing to show you the ropes, this is far from a guarantee. That doesn’t mean you’ve got to be an expert; plenty of beginners have a great time in Vegas, and some of them even get lucky and make a bit of money. But understanding the basics — the rules of the games you’re interested in and how to read the odds — makes for a better time. And it doesn’t take that long to figure these basics out (though regrettably, just watching Rounders and The Hangover won’t quite get you there).
The Slots Are Still Popular
Here’s something you might not know: Slots have long been the biggest money makers in Vegas. And while you may see a headline now and then about young tourists not taking as much to these types of games, they actually remain some of the most popular games in Vegas. This is partially because of convenience, simplicity, and variety; these games are easy to play, and they come with all sorts of varying themes and styles. Another reason for slots’ enduring popularity, however, is that while they may not offer the best odds (we’ll cover the games that do below), they can produce some of the most lucrative winnings. When Gala Spins took a look at the biggest slot jackpots around the world, they found that several of them are still in Las Vegas. To provide a few examples, the write-up highlighted a “Megabucks” jackpots at the Excalibur that once paid out $39.7 million; a “Money Vault” slot at the Bellagio where a U.S. marine won $2.8 million; and another “Megabucks” game at the Cannery Casino where someone won a $21.1 million prize. So, while it may be true that some younger Vegas visitors find slots old-fashioned, there are still many who are drawn to them for the potentially lucrative payouts.
Blackjack & Craps Have the Best Odds
This point more or less speaks for itself, but it’s still helpful to know if you’re going to be navigating the Las Vegas gaming scene. Poker and slots may be the most famous games for the most part, but they’re also more difficult if you’re actually trying to win. Roulette has good odds as well, if you’re betting that the ball will fall on black or red — but that’s a low-stakes bet, and if you make a more ambitious wager involving the roulette wheel’s numbers as well, the odds go down. Blackjack and craps, however, can give you odds close to 50%, provided you know what you’re doing. Both games have learning curves; blackjack is about more than just trying to hit 21 with your card values, and craps can look like absolute nonsense for 15 minutes until you get the hang of it. But neither is ultimately too complex, and if you know your stuff they’re the games that’ll give you the best shot at earning (or who are we kidding, lucking into) some winnings.
The Iconic Poker Rooms Are Iconic for a Reason
The poker rooms of Las Vegas are almost like extravagant mini-casinos within the giant resorts. They’re where people retreat to play this most revered casino game, often in fairly elite (or at least wealthy) company. And the best of them are fairly iconic in their own right. Trip Savvy looked at the best poker rooms and included the Mandalay Bay, the Bellagio, Monte Carlo, the MGM Grand…. These are resorts that, beyond their general appeal, are specifically known for their poker rooms. But don’t let that draw you right to them automatically. These are legendary poker rooms at least in part because they’re where the most competitive players go. That doesn’t mean you can’t find a game with lower stakes or less seasoned players — and these poker rooms are worth a look. But it’s still a good idea to know what you’re getting into.
There Are Regular Video Games Now
Finally, as you navigate the gaming scene in Las Vegas, you should also keep your eyes peeled for some newer offerings that are more like conventional video games. Las Vegas has been experimenting with skill-based games, largely as alternatives to the in-person slots that, as we implied above, aren’t as appealing as they used to be. It’s a bit unclear where you’ll find these games at this stage, or what, precisely, they’ll be. But the idea of skill-based video games tied to casino activity is an exciting new prospect particularly for a lot of younger Vegas travellers.
So there you have it. As was mentioned above, there are plenty of reasons to visit Vegas or the surrounding area besides the games. If you’re passing through and want to see what this legendary casino town is all about though, these tips should help you to get the most out of the gaming scene.
Cover by James Walsh