Saturday, May 31, 2014

Are You A Legend Or A Classic?

Want a chance to play against some of the great tournament poker players of all time? Your chance is coming up June 7-9 when Binion's hosts the Legends Classic Series, featuring a pro team of truly legendary names, WSOP champs and bracelet holders among them: Tom McEvoy, T.J. Cloutier, Kathy Liebert, Greg Raymer, Lon McEachern...the list goes on.. The qualifications are simple: (1) You're 45 or older, and (2) You have the $240 buy-in. It's billed as a Seniors event but their motto is "45 is the new 50." Or, in my case, "Needing $240 to buy in is the new Broke."

Friday, May 30, 2014

Pasties for Posterity

The sign catches your eye as you're about to pass the Emergency Arts building at 520 Fremont: This way to the Burlesque Hall of Fame. Set inside a nook adjacent to The Beat Coffee House, this museum's permanent exhibition, Spectacular, Erotic, and Slightly Shocking: A Timeline of the History of Burlesque, displays photographs, posters, memorabilia and wardrobe items (some signed by the performers themselves). Turn the corner and you'll find a poster advertising a mother-daughter act headlining John Waters starlet Liz Renay (of Blackenstein fame). If you're into more serious history, there are displays on women of color in burlesque, and dancer associates of Jack Ruby who testified in the wake of the JFK assassination. This temple to the ecdysiast arts deserves your support, and as luck would have it, the Burlesque Hall of Fame 2014 Weekender is coming to The Orleans June 5-8, featuring the 57th Annual Striptease Reunion and the 24th Miss Exotic World Pageant. Your chance to mingle with the "Titans of Tease," as past years' souvenir programs have put it. Meanwhile, drop a bill in the donation box or visit the gift shop.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

A Pawn My Word

One of the top free attractions on N. Las Vegas Blvd., Gold & Silver Pawn is surely the world's most famous pawn shop, thanks to being immortalized on History Channel and, now, parodied in the comedy revue Pawn Shop Live, which debuted at the Golden Nugget before retooling for a move to the Riviera. At peak times you can expect to wait in line just to get inside the shop. Those hoping to catch sight of the TV shows' star personalities are likely to be disappointed, although a few years ago my friend Steps managed to have her picture taken with Chumlee, so you never know. That same visit I
picked up a DVD of Prime Cut for a few bucks, but you won't find such low-level hock-shop fare there today. If you're shopping for coins or funky antiques, you're in luck. Yes, you can find items for sale that were featured on an episode of Pawn Stars: 19th-century barbed wire, anyone? If you have a few grand to blow, there are signed and numbered limited-edition Picasso and Chagall prints hanging in the back of the store. 1873 boxed edition of Jules Verne's Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea? Check. 1866 copy of American Card Player: A Lone Hand, Featuring Euchre, Whisk & Bazique Card Games? Check. Tony Curtis's autograph? Check. The shop is open 24 hours, but if you're dropping by desperate to hock something in the wee hours, that means a walk-up window is available. If they're not in the market for what you're selling, they'll readily recommend another shop, or in some cases one of the specialists who appear as consultants on their show.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Meanwhile, Back at the Rancho

Dropped by the Fiesta Rancho for what turned out to be the last of the Senior Tuesday slot tournaments and learned of the following changes. Starting next week, the free 50+ slot tournament will move to Wednesdays and merge with the rest of the Station Casinos' Senior Wednesday events. At Fiesta Rancho, you'll still find it at the entrance to the Ice Arena. Meanwhile, Mondays will be video poker tournament day, next to the Sports Book. Both events are free to Boarding Pass card members, and both run from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Freerollin' at Harrah's

Harrah's recently offered me two free nights along with $50 in free play, so off I went. Sure, "free" meant I still had to pay $18 a night in resort fees, but since I cashed in $53.75 on my slot play, as the Underwear Gnomes would say: "PROFIT!" I had a very nice room with a flat-screen TV, ethernet-cable internet, and a TV in the bathroom! Although I still haven't figured out how that one turns on. At hotel registration they also handed me a coupon book with buffet and restaurant discounts, two-for-one show tickets, free play and match play at sister casinos, and a free Million Dollar slot pull. On the latter, you could win a $20 dining credit or up to $100 in free play; I'm always happy to collect the Harrah's shot glass you win no matter what. Dining options include Kerry Simon's KGB (Kerry's Gourmet Burgers) and a Ruth's Chris Steak House (mmm...broiled in butter). Entertainment options include the Million Dollar Quartet, Mac King's afternoon comedy magic show (which this attendee heartily enjoyed), and The Improv at Harrah's, where Charles Fleischer, the voice of Roger Rabbit, just finished a stand. Harrah's is a bit of a labyrinthine maze to navigate until you get used to it, but the low-ceilinged casino is always buzzing, as is the Carnaval Courtyard outside. 

Monday, May 26, 2014

All's Well At The Cromwell

During my recent stay on the Strip, I found a 20-cent slot ticket for The Cromwell in the elevator on my way down. So off to The Cromwell it was. The ghost of the Barbary Coast, which formerly stood in The Cromwell's place, looms large over the casino, which is all red velvet drapes, red leather panels, and red chandeliers, with slinky cocktail waitresses winding their way through. Superstar chef Giada Di Laurentiis is opening her restaurant Giada here, while on the rooftop is the next big thing in nightlife (and daylife), afterhours impresario Victor Drai's namesake poolside club festooned with palm trees. I have what may be an invitation to an event there later in the week, so perhaps I'll be able to report back my findings. In any event, Drai will never have to worry anymore that his legacy will be the Weekend at Bernie's movies.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Spinnin' at the Riviera

I dropped by the Riviera Saturday for my weekly try at their free slot tournament, and out front what did I spy but this lovely wheel available for a spin to anyone who happened by. You have a chance to win free Comedy Club tickets, two-for-one show tickets, free drinks, $5 in free slot play, or a drawing entry for a Riviera getaway. And just for waiting in line, you get a nice batch of coupons, including a free drink, two-for-one entrees at the Wicked Vicky Tavern, $10 match play, two-for-one Comedy Club tickets or $10 off on show tickets. The coupons are good all the way through Labor Day, too. Well worth your time, I'd say.

Oh, and the Saturday free tournament? I rang up 19,500 points, which for the second time was enough for me to slide into 10th place and win $75 in free slot play. This time I was able to run that up to $60.25 in cold, hard cash, about $10 better than last time. Even though I played the video poker machine at the opposite end of the row from last time, the ticket printer still jammed on me a couple of times. The tech who came to fix it told me the machines are a little old. That's all right, as long as I still get my sixty bucks out of them. For my faithful readers who are keeping score, that means I've won a total of over $300 from entering free slot tournaments in just the past few weeks, so playing these might just have turned out to be one of my better recommendations. Ya think?

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Vegas Days Gone By: Past Their Expiration Date

Many years ago, on one of my many jaunts to Vegas, I saw a billboard advertising a "Gentleman's Club" called The Library and its "Gorgeous Librarians." Now as we all know I'm a huge fan of libraries so naturally this piqued my interest. I never managed to make it over to this off-strip club during its heyday, and was saddened beyond description when I passed its location on Boulder Highway and saw it had been closed for apparently some time now. I swear that only a few months ago two of the neon "GIRLS!" on the sign were still lighting up, but if so  one of them has since flickered out. I shall never know the answers to my burning questions: Did the showgirls really dress up as librarians? Were the walls of the club lined with bookshelves? For some reason I picture row after row of leather-bound volumes.

Friday, May 23, 2014

"Dog Star"? You Can't Be Sirius!

City Hall shows its commitment to the arts with displays of painting, sculpture and ceramics throughout the structure, but never more so than right now. For those science fiction and fantasy-minded among you, the second floor gallery is hosting an exhibit titled Little Green Men, which invited 18 different artists to examine themes of alien contact. The evocative pieces range from moody to nostalgic to playful, among the latter being a display case filled with ceramic teapot-sized steampunkish alien creatures and/or robots, "Dog Star" (which puts a decidedly Schultzian spin on the Russian mania for Laika figures), and an extraterrestrial reworking of "Dogs Playing Poker." Sci-fi fans, fear not: Pulp cover art of lascivious BEMs is represented. The show runs through July 14. 

Meanwhile, the lobby is home to a second show, Oneiric: The Language of Dreams, through July 17, with paintings and sculptures from 15 artists plumbing our favorite rapid-eye-movement state. Again, the theme called forth images reminiscent of fantasy art, and there's some overlap between the artists represented. Elsewhere in the building, you can find the Earth Day Youth Art Exhibition, and a 150:1 scale model of the Stratosphere tower courtesy of ITT. Don't forget to stop off at the Cultural Affairs office on the fourth floor and get your parking ticket validated; that'll cover two hours of free parking at the City Hall parking garage across the street. That affordsyou a lot of perusing time.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Saturday: They Play Real Good for Free!

Memorial Day Weekend celebrations kick off in a big way on Saturday, with no less than three free concerts for Vegas celebrants. The Cannery hosts its Summer of Fun Kick-Off at 4 p.m. featuring Kathy Young, The Tokens, Bill Pinkney's Original Drifters, The Happenings, and Izon Eden. The latest offering from the Clark County Ampitheater free summer jazz concertsThe Sax Pack featuring Jeff Kashiwa, Steve Cole and Marcus Anderson, gets under way at 7 p.m. Finally, The Fremont Street Experience presents a free show by pop duo Karmin, at 9:10 p.m. Max out your musical mojo and try to catch 'em all! I dare you!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Fortune Favors The Few

As faithful readers will no doubt recall, I've long had a soft spot for Club Fortune, even if it is one of the more difficult casinos off Boulder Highway to locate. Just remember: When you get to the street that's Horizon in one direction and Racetrack on the other, just turn onto Railroad and keep driving. You'll see their sign come up pretty quickly. It's worth the drive, depending on your starting point, as this week's edition of THE SUNDAY has a coupon for $5 in free slot play, good through the end of the month. Current or new player's card members are aligible. While you're there, the lounge has live entertainment, and poker room promotions include "Splash Pot" Tuesdays, throwing an extra $20 into the pot every half hour.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Livin' La Viva Las Vegas

Today marks the 50th anniversary of one of the 20th century's epochal milestones: the release of Viva Las Vegas. To celebrate this cinematic ode to bright lights, fast cars, leggy redheads and swivelin' hips, we suggest taking in a free Elvis tribute show, and mid-week what better choice than Big Elvis, who's become a fixture at the Harrahs piano bar? Pete "Big Elvis" Vallee performs three shows on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, at 2pm, 3:30pm, and 5pm, and as far as Elvis tribute artists go, they don't come any bigger.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Hi, Hi, Mr. American Pie

Vegas nightspots have been playing host to celebrity DJ's lately, with everyone taking a spin from Nick Cannon and Li'l John, to Christie Hefner and Paris Hilton. So how can you resist dropping in at the Beauty Bar tomorrow night (Tuesday, May 20 at 8 p.m.) when Rookie of the Year star Thomas Ian Nicholas performs, with resident DJs Biz-E and Munkey. Need another reason to go? Okay: It's nickel beer night.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Get Out Your Daubers

The Cannery has joined the ranks of those casinos offering free bingo sessions to you early risers out there, with one free paper pack for the $1000 bingo sessions at 9:15 a.m. on Thursdays. Meanwhile, Texas Station has new times for its free $1000 bingo sessions: Sundays and Thursdays at 9 a.m., and Mondays at 5 p.m. 

Saturday, May 17, 2014

As Joe-Bob Briggs Always Says...

"The drive-in will never die." Not in Las Vegas, anyway, where the West Wind All-Digital Drive-In keeps the carloads coming in the age of high definition. Showtimes on its five screens currently start at 8 p.m. Tuesday is Family Fun Night with admission of $5 per person (normally $7), although children ages 5-11 get in for a buck and younger kids get in free. At those prices, what better way to entertain that passel of young'uns? It's located at 4150 W. Carey Ave., just east of Rancho and behind the Fiesta. (Which reminds me of the Fiesta Drive-In back in El Paso, Texas. Although it ended its days screening X-rated movies. Which was rather awkward for anyone building subdivisions in the hills behind it. I once interviewed two city councilmen who dared each other to stand at the entrance polling customers on what they thought of a proposed zoning ordinance, an enterprise that was doomed to failure, as was, sadly, the Fiesta.)

Friday, May 16, 2014

Impure Thoughts

Pure, the popular night spot at Caesars Palace, will be closing after Memorial Day weekend for an extensive remodeling by its new owners. But first, the club will celebrate with one last Pure Tuesdays Industry Closing Party. The black-tie gala starts at 10:30 p.m., Tuesday, May 20th. As for the club's future, the remodel is scheduled to wrap up early next year. Beyond that: The answer is not clear.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Save the Fish

You don't have to go to the Neon Boneyard to see a historic Las Vegas neon sign (although as always, we recommend it). Near the intersection of Desert Inn and Maryland Parkway is Davy's Locker, the self-proclaimed dive bar that's stood since 1968, when it was opened by famed boxing referee Davy Pearl. Sadly, the sign's neon is on its last fin, and save for one little patch is hardly lit at all. The Davy's staff is raising funds to repair the neon and keep it lighted, before the property owners decide to take it down. Give now.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Getting Dotty

If I ever need a light, it's comforting to know that I'm never very far from a Dotty's, where I can dash in and grab a handful of matchbooks at the bar while nobody's looking. I could also order a bite from the kitchen or grab a snack from one of the jars of snack crackers and nuts they put out for players. Dotty's has won over locals with its slot promotions, cheap cigarettes, and bar service, to the extent that even without counting the Hacienda takeover, the Valley has almost 70 of these little slot parlors...or taverns, as they'd no doubt prefer to call them. This is a bone of contention with the big casinos in town, which argue that Dotty's gets far too much of its revenue from gaming to be regulated as a tavern rather than a casino. Clark County commissioners recently held a hearing in light of rules changes they're considering that could drastically affect Dotty's business model...not to mention the scores of  video poker bars you find on nearly any corner throughout greater Vegas.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Nutty Exhibitionist

Jerry Lewis is coming to South Point for three nights starting May 30, but if you can't wait that long to get your fill of the funnyman, an exhibition of his photographs is on display at UNLV's Marjorie Barrick Museum through August 16. The photographs ... impressionistic captures of lights at night ... are accompanied by classic Lewis film and theater posters, while two video monitors on opposite ends of the hall run documentaries on his life and career. To put the cherry on top, the museum is running a Jerry Lewis Film Festival with a new title each Thursday night at 6 p.m., starting with The Nutty Professor this Thursday (May 15) and wrapping up with Frank Tashlin's classic Martin & Lewis satire, Artists and Models, on September 11. Like all the best things in life, it's all free.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Oops! I Did It Again

This Saturday afternoon, I posted my best score yet at the Riviera free slot tournament, over 20,000 points. When I checked the winning scores Saturday night, I discovered that yet again, I had finished in 10th place for the second time this week. In this case that won me $75 in free slot play. Even though I picked what was evidently not the loosest Deuces Wild machine I'd ever played, I was still able to transform that into $49.75 in cold, hard cash. Which reminds me, I could probably pay for Britney tickets now. I'm telling ya, folks: Free slot tournaments. They're just giving the stuff away. (Saturdays, 1 p.m.-5 p.m., at the Riviera.)

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Photo Op at the Riviera

So, if the Las Vegas sign is the number one photo destination for Vegas this the second? Here at one of the entrances to the Riviera is this bronze monument to the stars of Crazy Girls, the long-running topless revue at the venerable casino. Apparently it's considered good luck to rub the statue as you head for the tables. From the look of things it's a wonder these poor girls have any butt left. One day I listened to a couple of art student types praising this work for its tribute to the female form in all its splendid variety, particularly in the gluteus region. (Sorry, I can't even hear the song title "Londonderry Air" without snickering.)

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Photo Op at the Vegas Sign

If there is one obligatory picture every tourist in Vegas needs, it's one standing in front of what is surely the most famous single sign in the world, the one that greets northbound drivers on Las Vegas Boulevard as they hit the outskirts of the Strip (technically, and ironically, not actually part of the city of Las Vegas). The design is by Betty Willis, whose work is immortalized in the Neon Boneyard, and who left the design in the public domain as a gift to the city and the world...and to every manufacturer of Vegas souvenirs everywhere. If you're considering manufacturing anything that would look better with the Las Vegas sign on it, knock yourself out.

Until 2008, thrillseekers took their life in their hands dashing across Strip traffic to get near the sign, but now there's a parking lot in the median so you can pull over to grab the money shot. The only entrance is on the southbound lanes of Las Vegas, a little ways south of Russell Road. You can try to find a slack time to strike your pose, but otherwise you'll wait in a long line to get on the grassy knoll beneath the sign, because in addition to the carloads of shutterbugs, tour buses stop here regularly with a load of passengers. Others are content to stand off to one side and grab their pictures and/or selfies from a respectful distance.

If you want to be at a really respectful distance, there's always the replica sign on Boulder Highway, although unless you snap a shot as you drive by, you really would be taking your life in your hands trying to run up to it.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Mo' Money Fo' Nothin'!

As faithful readers will no doubt recall, I got myself all excited last week over winning $25 in a free slot tournament over at Palace Station, so I decided hitting the free slot tournament trail was probably a good idea.

Today I dropped by South Point after work to hit their Senior Slot Tournament. Your score doesn't even get recorded unless you can break 2,000 which I rarely pull off, so I was feeling a little hopeful when I managed to come in just shy of 3,500 points. The staffer who took my score suggested I come back after 6 p.m. to see if I made it into the money. "Usually the low score is around 6,000," she said, "but it's been really slow today."

It seems Dennis Bono, whose free afternoon talk show packs them in on Thursday afternoons, canceled this week's taping due to Mother's Day commitments or some such. Well, Dennis must be a hell of a draw, because when I stopped by South Point again hoping that maybe I'd limped into the money and scored fifty bucks, it turned out I'd made 10th place and pocketed $200 in cold, hard cash.

Just goes to show: Don't pass up these free chances to make real money. You never know when circumstances will conspire to throw the odds in your favor. I'm still a little in shock over what I can only view as a kind of freak accident, but God Bless You, Mr. Bono.

Heck, I'd already been excited about my day after winning a quarter at South Point's video poker and finding 11 cents in change people had dropped next to the "Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas" sign.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

It's My Party

Suncoast is Boyd Gaming's outpost in the general vicinity of Summerlin, just off Charleston on Rampart, but it's worth heading westward if you have a hankering for some of the big names of yesteryear. This weekend we're heading there to catch the "Legendary Ladies of Rock & Roll," none other than Lesley Gore and "Little" Peggy March. Performing there in the coming weeks are Broadway legend Ben Vereen and off-color comic Bruce Bruce. Thanks to Boyd's casinos, I've caught acts I'm not sure I expected to see in my lifetime; at sister property The Orleans I caught shows by Dion and Neil Sedaka. Acts coming to The Orleans soon include Sinbad, Air Supply, and NPR's "Wait, Wait" staple Paula Poundstone.

And if you're looking for bargains? The American Casino Guide includes a 2-for-1 coupon for the Orleans Showroom, and when those are gone, some of the free magazines touting Vegas attractions include 25% off coupons for selected shows at the Orleans as well. If you're a local, Boyd Gaming's monthly mailing included a two-for-one offer for shows at the Orleans and the Suncoast.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Age Before Beauty at the M

If you're one of those few who didn't notice (Population: Me), back in December, M Resort at the south end of the Strip jettisoned its Magine Rewards card program and joined the Marquee Rewards program, which means now you can also use your card at selected Hollywood Casinos throughout the country, not to mention at the racetrack in Hobbs, N.M. As if picking up your new card weren't incentive enough for you to make the drive, Wednesdays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., the M is hosting a Senior Slot Tournament with a total of $7,500 in free slot play to give away; your first entry's free. If you stick around to earn some points on your card, you can also qualify for Wednesday's Senior Prize Drawings, with prizes ranging from hundreds of dollars in restaurant comps to your choice of $2,000 in cash or free play.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Best Practices Update

I made the money in a free slot tournament! I took second place in my session at last Wednesday's Station Casinos free senior slot tournament, which was enough to put me on that day's leaderboard and win me $25 in cold, hard cash at Palace Station.

Even better, I found a quarter in the parking lot on my way back to my car. That's even better than the 20-cent slot ticket I found lying on the carpet at the Gold Coast the next day.

So don't give up heart if you haven't won yet at the free slot tournaments. You have 52 chances to win a year, multiplied by how many free tournaments you can enter every week (a number which keeps growing).

While you're at it: Your Can Club card is good for a free swipe every day in May at the Cannery, for a free entry into their Stars and Stripes Collect and Win game.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Heads Up: Another Free Suds Alert!

If you grab this week's edition of The SUNDAY (or if, like me, you grab an armload of them), look in the back: You'll find a coupon good for a free pint at Banger Brewing at 450 Fremont, right on the doorstep of the Fremont Street Experience. It's good until the end of May, too. Just the thing to while away that half hour you'll wait for them to develop that picture of you posing with a million bucks at Binion's down the street.

Sunday, May 4, 2014


And why wouldn't you? Well, apparently enough Las Vegans did just as this sign asked, because Adult Superstores won the "Best Adult Store" category in the Review-Journal's "Best of Las Vegas 2013" competition. Not to be outdone by the Raiding the Rock Vault which showed its appreciation with discounted tickets in April, Adult Superstores is rewarding fans for their loyalty with 50% off everything at every location throughout all of the merry month of May. You can't beat that with a stick, and if you can, I don't want to hear about it.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

This Pie Rocks

Picked up this tip from a fellow attendee of the Capriotti's Pub Crawl: The third Wednesday of every month, Pizza Rock at 4th & Ogden (over by the Downtown Grand) hosts a Fan Appreciation Party with complimentary libations from the alcohol sponsor of the evening. April's party featured Jameson Black Barrel and free drinks from 8-10 p.m. To keep apprised of each month's events, be sure to be a fan of the Pizza Rock Facebook page. I mean, sure, right now they're promoting the Pizza Rock Mother's Day Brunch, but keep your eyes peeled. 

Friday, May 2, 2014

Learning to Crawl

Being no stranger to pub crawls, I was delighted to accept an invitation to attend Desert Companion magazine's second pub crawl, last night at Town Square. In all we toured four bars and restaurants, each of which served up a different concoction using the sponsor's tipple, Davolos Tequila. The efficient organizers shuffled our three groups off to English's (great hors d'ouerves), Double Helix (Grey Goose swizzle sticks!), Tommy Bahamas (that was one tasty beverage), and finally to Brio, where we arrived to find desserts laid out on the table (cookies and brownies), but surprised when that was followed by pie. Pizza pie. The staff started bringing us thin-crust pizzas and just wouldn't stop. Dear to my heart, the DC staff also held giveaways, with Town Square gift cards and restaurant gift certificates. I even won a $10 credit at English's for answering some movie trivia, to the surprise of no one who knows me. Were I you, I would certainly keep my eyes peeled for the next event from #DCPubCrawl.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Hitching Post

Sure, there may be plenty of Denny's locations in Las Vegas, on and off the strip, where you can grab that free Grand Slam on your birthday. Still, none can match this beauty at Neonopolis, just across from the Fremont Street Experience. Not just because of the cool lattice-work exterior. Not just because it's a Denny's with a full bar, either. No, in an area of downtown that sports 17 bars within one block, you can't consider it all that unusual.
No, what makes this Denny's unique is its own wedding chapel. Yes, if requested, the staff will clear the tables from this cozy little nook and you can say your "I Do"''s right here. If my sources are correct, they'll also serve you a wedding cake...built out of pancakes. Next step: Honeymoon Over My Hammy?