Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Tipapalooza! (Downtown & North Las Vegas Edition)

Fave Downtown Find: We rather regret the removal of almost all of the gaming from the Gold Spike to make room for big beanbag chairs and pool tables, leaving a few slots in one corner to retain the glittering "Casino" sign in more than name only. But! Walking out the back door brings you immediately to this winter wonderland: a nice open-air lounging area where easy chairs surround fire pits, there are outdoor games to play, and, of all things, an ice-skating rink beckons. What more could you ask? How about an Airstream parked there for some mysterious reason?

Downtown Hotel That's Feeding and Housing Us: The Grand moved into the building formerly occupied by the Lady Luck...anyone who stayed at the LL should instantly recognize the driveway at the valet parking entrance..and dolled it up real nice. It's those little extra amenities that show a hotel cares, and one of us especially appreciated the earplugs provided in our room. The Spread is a reasonably-priced deli, the Mob Bar has live entertainment Thursday-Sunday and a big-honking-screen TV for game night, and big photos of jazz musicians greet you as you step off the elevators. As a bonus, the Mob Museum is right across the street. What I really wanted to talk about though is this collage of casino dice that graces the hotel lobby, dice from all over Nevada, including such dear departed Vegas casinos as the Showboat and, yes, my beloved Sahara.

Casino That Really Won Us Over: Not only do new players get $5 in free slot play at the Cannery on Craig, but if you send the following three text messages to 99158...PERK, VICTORY, and CASA2...you get another $5 in free slot play, a $10 food credit at Victory's Cafe, and...uh, I think the third one signs you up for Atlantis Resort updates. Yes, the Cannery has gone promotion-happy, and we couldn't be happier about it. Sundays, Casa Cocina serves up all-you-can-eat tacos and a bottomless margarita for $9.99. On Thursday, Jan. 30, 250 base points or 30 table points will earn you a free six-pack of Dos Equis and a Dos Equis key ring. They have $3 single-deck, and the retro WWII-era look, with lots of vintage ad and poster art, is plenty entertaining.

Head North, Jazz Man: The Aliante, off 215-W and Aliante Parkway, is about as far north as we're going to go without saying "The heck, let's just go to Reno," but for jazz buffs, it would be definitely worth the trip: Jazz luminaries such as Diane Schuur and Eliane Elias are coming to their showroom. Jeff Kashiwa, who's appearing Saturday with his Sax Pack, is guest-hosting the Jazz Lounge program Friday at noon on 91.5 FM, and will be giving away tickets to his show! The casino is spacious and airy, with great line-of-sight, and $5 double-deck games. My player's club host was highly helpful and generous, handing out a magnetization-proof player's card holder and an Aliante license plate frame, although she did turn to her colleagues and say, "I did it! I finally got rid of the last one!"

Sisters: The Bighorn, on E. Lake Mead, is akin to one of our favorite Boulder Highway hangouts, the Longhorn, and save for the absence of a lounge stage or an attached hotel, replicates much of the same experience, including low, low blackjack limits with the most liberal rules for the player you can find in or out of town. Brian, anyway, extended his winning streak at using his blackjack match plays on this trip to 4-for-4 here (my record is holding steady at 1-for-4.)

Paydirt: The Silver Nugget is on the same My Points player's card program as two other casinos north of downtown on Las Vegas Blvd., the Opera House and Lucky Club, but it's the largest of the three and features that favorite of Vegas locals, a bowling alley. It also offers the Homestack Cafe, where homesick tourists can sit underneath a map of their home state while they order the inexpensive specials (even more inexpensive with two-for-one coupons from the American Casino Guide). I will give props to the Lucky Club for giving me both dice and playing cards on my ACG coupon instead of making me choose one.

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