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Archive for October, 2008

Top-Notch Ingredients Make BLT Burger Las Vegas a Sure Bet

Friday, October 31st, 2008

The Mirage's juicy entry into The Strip's upscale burger joints - BLT Burger - wins praise from our reviewer.

This is the first in our series of restaurant reviews where we’ll tell you if a place — new or old, glam or down-home — is worth your cash.  We’re so lucky here at RoyallyFlushed to have highly-experienced, well-respected guest writers who contribute terrific articles like this one.  C.C.

On the Strip, even fast food is flashy. Witness BLT Burger at The Mirage. Its part of Chef Laurent Tourondel’s high-profile restaurant group and if that long, shallow space feels familiar, well, it used to be the resort’s white tiger habitat.

Open to a busy corridor and with an ever-present wait line outside peering in, diners can feel much like the tigers must have. The darkish interior, dominated by a huge black and white photomural of the barren Nevada desert, is eerily cave-like. Customers with less than 20/20 vision must scamper outside to read the menu. No need to hurry back, though, while service is chipper, its tortoise slow.

Once things get going, it’s happy-time. This is rightfully uncomplicated food, but the ingredients are top-notch and everything is meticulously prepared.  For a purist delight, it’s hard to beat the American Kobe burger. Not cheap at $22, but the intensely beefy taste and texture coupled with a good bun makes it worth every penny. A Mediterranean-spiced lamb burger with puckery yogurt sauce is a fun walk on the wild side and the rare tuna burger is, well, so meaty you might just consider going for the less expensive regular burger.

If you’re not a carnivore, that’s okay, decent salads are available or, you could fill up on super-appealing sides like the addictive fried pickle slices, crispy sweet potato fries and sturdily-crusted onion rings.

Or, just skip straight to some of the most stupendous ice cream shakes ever shakerized. Granted, there are weird options. If you want such a thing, there is a “Twinkie Boy” for instance (don’t ask). But the chocolate is true flavored and the strawberry tastes like real right-out-of-the-patch strawberries rather than artificial flavoring. Better still, there are alcohol-fortified options (plus a full and inventive cocktail list).

BLT Burger doesn’t have quite the retro-cool vibe that Burger Bar at Mandalay Bay does, but it’s a great option for soaking up last night’s hangover or getting a good start on tomorrow’s.
BLT Burger (Mirage) on Urbanspoon

Location:  The Mirage

Hours:  Sunday, Tuesday, & Wednesday:11:00 a.m. – 2:00 a.m.
              Monday, Thursday – Saturday:11:00 a.m. – 4:00 a.m.

Dress:  Casual

Info:  702.792.7888

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New Encore Resort at Wynn Las Vegas Open for Reservations

Thursday, October 30th, 2008
The new Encore resort at Wynn Las Vegas.

The shining new Encore resort at Wynn Las Vegas opens in December.

UPDATECheck HERE for the latest on the grand opening of Encore at Wynn Las Vegas.

The new Encore resort at Wynn Las Vegas has begun taking room reservations for January 12, 2009 and beyond according to a recent press release.  The $2.3 billion resort is scheduled to open December 22 and a rumor is out that the grand opening may get tied into Steve Wynn’s late-January birthday.  Since P.B. and I always go to Las Vegas in January for P.B.’s birthday maybe this year we’ll be celebrating it with Steve Wynn.

Encore’s 2,034 suites will no doubt feature all the luxury and attention to detail that Wynn Resorts is known for when designing guest rooms.  The property’s resort suites will be more than 700 square-feet while Tower Suites clock in at up to 5,800 square-feet!

Wynn Encore, situated next to the flagship Wynn Las Vegas, will feature five “signature” restaurants, seven bars & lounges, a new “ultra-chic” nightclub and several new retail entities.  And, according to the press release, “A vibrant atrium and European-inspired pool area are centerpieces of the Encore experience and signature design elements include an abundance of natural light, a landscape of foliage and shimmering pools of water. Butterflies flirt over vibrant carpets, mosaic tiles and textured walls to draw guests into a playful juxtaposition between indoors and out.”

For reservations and a peek at the new room design, check out the Encore Las Vegas website.  (Click on the “reservations” tab at the bottom of the screen to pull up a photo of the new rooms.)

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Video Poker Variations – New Games & Popular Favorites Keep Things Interesting

Wednesday, October 29th, 2008
Play free video poker games at Action Gaming's videopoker.com

Play free video poker games online at Action Gaming's videopoker.com website.

As I’ve said before, when it comes to playing video poker, the original Spin Poker™ and it’s 20-line sister, Spin Poker Deluxe™, are two of my favorite machines so I found this article by John Brokopp at Casino City Times interesting.   

Mr. Brokopp says  — “There is one video poker hybrid, however, that has stood the test of time: Spin Poker, an invention developed a number of years ago by (who else?), Action Gaming and IGT.

Spin Poker was the first game to successfully blend the components of traditional video poker with those of multi-line video slot play and create something that appealed to both dedicated video poker players and slot players.”  Read more here.

The machines in the casinos I play at here in Arizona are ALWAYS busy — sometimes even attracting a line of would-be players waiting for machines to open up — so I know this is one popular game!

No doubt hoping to repeat that success, Action Gaming and IGT have introduced a couple of new video poker games and you can play them — for free (no money, no wagering, just fun) — at their popular website videopoker.com  Check out new games “Big Times Draw Poker™” and “Quick Quads™” poker.  And, for some great info on strategy when playing Quick Quads™, here’s a recent article by VP pro Bob Dancer at Casino Gaming that you should read.

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Vote for Best – and Worst – of Las Vegas in Annual “Trippies”

Tuesday, October 28th, 2008
Vegas Tripping let you vote on favs and failures.

Vegas Tripping lets you vote on favs and failures.

Best slots.  Best video poker.  Best table games.  Best cocktail waitress uniforms.  Worst buffet.  Worst casino.  Worst overall.  Vegas Tripping wants to know who – or what – you think should take home the prize in these and lots of other categories for the site’s 2008 Trippies Awards

Here are my choices — designated in boldface — in just a couple of categories:

  • Best OverallBellagio, Caesars Palace, MGM Grand, Orleans, Wynn Las Vegas –  Love the decor, Jean Philippe pastries, the Conservatory, the Chihuly ceiling in the reception area, the Lake Show, the restaurants, the pool – the whole vibe.
  • Worst Overall – Casino Royale, Circus Circus, Hooters, Imperial Palace, Tropicana – Smells bad, weird layout and I never win anything there plus it’s too easy to rag on the Circus.
  • Best Cocktail Waitress Uniforms – Caesars Palace, Orleans, Rio, Paris, Wynn Las Vegas – These outfits stick in my head.  Royal blue and boobs.  What more do you want?
  • Best Buffet – Caesars Palace, Bellagio, MGM Grand, Wynn Las Vegas, The Venetian – Beautiful food in a beautiful setting for beautiful people.
  • Best Signage/NeonFlamingo, New York New York, Wynn Las Vegas, MGM Grand, Caesars Palace – That flashing, clashing orange and pink just says “Vegas” to me.  I still remember my first ride down The Strip in the early-80’s (back when you could actually hit 35mph) and seeing that riot of glowing neon.  Sigh.

So, do your duty as a citizen or denizen of Las Vegas and go vote at Vegas Tripping.

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Head to Harrah’s Ak-Chin for this Super Promo

Sunday, October 26th, 2008
Harrah's Ak_Chin Casino gives players a "mystery multiplier" on Monday.

Harrah's Ak-Chin Casino gives players a "mystery multiplier" this Monday.

Just a quick Sunday “drive-by” post for players in the Phoenix area.  Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino in Maricopa has a terrific special promotion going on tomorrow – Monday – for Total Rewards Club (TRC) members.  Swipe your card at the Total Rewards center to receive a multiplier of 10x, 15x or even 20x on Bonus Reward Credits earned on play from 6 AM until midnight.  (The website reads 6 a.m. – 5:59 a.m. but I was told midnight when I called to check on details.) 

Be sure to swipe your card at the TRC desk BEFORE you begin play.  That’s also when you’ll learn your “mystery” multiplier. 

If you have any questions about this promo, be sure to ask a casino host or the folks working the TRC center desk. 

Good luck!

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How To Turn a $25 Coupon into $1200

Saturday, October 25th, 2008
While maybe not a fortune, Fort McDowell had $1200 waiting for me.

While maybe not a fortune, Fort McDowell had $1200 waiting for me.

Sounds like an infomercial, doesn’t it?  The funny thing is – it’s true!   It happened to me this week at Fort McDowell Casino in Arizona and it proves – again – why you should use your player’s club card.

Earlier this week, P.B. and I decided to head out to “The Fort” to take advantage of some coupons that came in our quarterly “Fortune Club” mailers – one for $25 in cash, another for free dinners.  After we turned in our cash coupons, we sat down to play at a couple of All-Star Poker™ machines.   I chose the Spin Poker™ option – my favorite game – playing Double Double Bonus in the 10¢ denomination and, on my third hand, hit for a couple hundred dollars with four 2’s and a kicker.  About 10 hands later, I was dealt the ace, king, queen and ten of spades…held the four cards… held my breath…and YES!  Got the JACK for royal flushes on three lines and $400 x 3 = $1200 (and a W-9!) 

With the free dinners thrown in, this turned out to be a profitable trip for us and all because of a $25 coupon.  I think it’s more than we made in the stock market this week and a lot more fun!

There were a lot of people at the casino that same night, many of whom were cashing in coupons so The Fort’s promotion is paying off in terms of getting people in the door.  It would be nice to think that they – and casinos everywhere – would continue to offer decent incentives to frequent players, especially in this economy.  Jean Scott has a couple of really good articles this week on her blog at Anthony Curtis’ Las Vegas Advisor.  In an interesting post from October 18, she talks about the different ways casinos can react to the economic downturn and in a second post from October 23; she outlines some “Slot Club Changes.”  You’ll see, when you read them, how the two articles are related.

From my own perspective, while local casinos have no where near the competition that Las Vegas, Reno or Atlantic City casinos have, I would like to tell them that offering decent club incentives would keep frequent players coming in – good economy or bad.  Don’t give me $5 or $10 to show up – at midnight – or other ridiculously-low, crazily-limited “bonuses.”  You’ll weather the storm and build player loyalty to boot.  Win, win.

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Halloween Parties in Las Vegas Offer Revelers Spooky, Sexy Fun

Friday, October 24th, 2008
Party all day and night at Harrah's Halloween Las Vegas.

Party all day and night Halloween weekend at Harrah's Las Vegas.

Okay, so you’ve decided to let someone else hand out the Kit Kats while you cash in on one of those great Las Vegas hotel deals I told you about yesterday and you’re heading to Sin City for Halloween.  Now it’s time to check out the coolest parties going at the hottest clubs on and around The Strip all weekend long.  Here’s a list of just some of the most popular events scheduled for Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.

Beginning Thursday, October 30, at NOON, Harrah’s turns their Carnaval Court into a huge outdoor Halloween bash complete with live entertainment, costume contests, Halloween-themed cocktails (no doubt tied into event-sponsor Bacardi,) psychics, tarot card readers and more.  The “Superheroes & Villains” party happens Thursday and Friday from noon – 3 AM each day.

Studio 54 at MGM Grand transforms their 22,000 square-foot club into a Halloween fright-fest for the week and especially for their 42nd Annual Beaux Arts Ball on Thursday and the “Nightmare on 54th Streetgala on Friday.  The Beaux Arts Ball is one of Las Vegas’ biggest fall bashes with lots of special guests, elaborate costumes, exclusive entertainment and more all benefiting the charity Golden Rainbow, a non-profit organization dedicated to assisting those living with HIV/AIDS in Southern Nevada. 

Taolloween 3 with guest DJ and mistress of ceremonies Tera Patrick takes place Friday night at hotter-than-hot 10,000 square-foot nightclub TAO at The Venetian.  This club, with its 40-foot balcony offering stunning views of the Las Vegas Strip, is one of the premier clubs in Vegas and has one of the longest entrance lines in town so plan accordingly.

New in September to the Las Vegas Strip and brought to you by the creators of TAO is LAVO at The Palazzo.  Their first Halloween party is creating major buzz by bringing in the cast of “Phantom – The Las Vegas Spectacular” from neighboring Venetian to host the club’s Masquerade Ball on Friday.

The Palms — the off-Strip, über-popular resort — is hosting events at its venues Rain, The Playboy Club, Ghostbar and at the rooftop Moon where guests will find J-Roc’s Halloween Bash featuring the popular “Girls Next Door’s” Bridget and Holly.  Costume contests abound – think “Best Sci-Fi” at Moon, “Best Undead” at Ghostbar – with more than $100,000 in cash and prizes to be awarded.

Saturday, The Orleans Arena will be the site of what event producers are calling the largest-ever Las Vegas Nightlife Party – The Fabulous Festival.  Outdoor stages as well as the indoor arena will be home to an all-night extravaganza combining dance, music, performance art and more.  You’ve just got to check out their website for the line-up of musicians, dancers and other performers – FabulousFest.

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Halloween in Las Vegas – Hotel Deals & Attractions

Thursday, October 23rd, 2008
Boo!  Halloween on the Las Vegas Strip will be a hauntingly good time.

Boo! Halloween on the Las Vegas Strip will be a hauntingly good time.

What’s scarier than a 700-point drop in the Dow but a lot more fun?  Halloween in Las Vegas, baby!   The city rolls out the blood-red carpet for grown-up ghosts, ghouls and goblins looking for some non-stop Halloween partying.   Costume contests, haunted houses and other sublimely scary events combined with terrific hotel deals up and down The Strip make Halloween in Las Vegas a very un-scary option this year.

Check out these best “pack your suitcase and go” Las Vegas hotel deals for Halloween weekend.*                 

                MGM Grand Halloween Blow-Out!   Rooms from $69 – $99 per night for a standard room or upgrade to the Bungalow King Suite for $89 – $119 per night.  WOW!

                New York New York – 20% off Room Rates Deal.  Park Avenue Deluxe room, one step up from standard and newly-renovated, for $66 – $118 per night.

                Bally’s – This center-Strip Harrah’s hotel has rooms in their South Tower at $69 – $119 per night.

And while you’re in Las Vegas, take in one – or more – of these special Halloween  events!

                Fright Dome at Circus Circus – Named one of the” Top 5 Scariest Attractions” by The Travel Channel, this event is not for the faint of heart.   Check out the “trailer” video showing killer clowns, flayed zombies and chainsaw-wielding woodsmen for a preview of what to expect. 

                Monster Mayhem at Town Square Mall – This scary site features three separate attractions including the “Morbid Clown Manor” (what is it with killer clowns?), the only-in-Las-Vegas “Aces and Eights Haunted Casino” and a haunted mansion.  (For an explanation of Aces and Eights, also called the “Dead Man’s Hand” in poker, check out this article on Gambling Blog

                 Castle Vampyre – Freakling Brothers Horror Shows — love that name! —  puts on this event at the Sunset Station Casino in Henderson. 

Tomorrow – Read about  Halloween parties scheduled at some of Las Vegas’ hottest clubs.

*(Rates were checked for three nights beginning Thursday, October 30 with check-out on Sunday, November 2 and were current as of 10/23/08.  Rates do not include taxes and other fees.  Book-by dates vary by property and offer.)

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There’s No Whining in Video Poker

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008
Cha-Ching!  A Triple Double Bonus Beauty

Cha-Ching! A Triple Double Bonus beauty for the video poker player.

Recently, on a visit to a local Arizona casino, I had the unfortunate experience of sitting next to a truly annoying fellow video poker player.

Let me set the stage.   I was playing my favorite casino game, a type of video poker called Spin Poker Deluxe.  I was playing the nickel Triple Double Bonus game and having some pretty good luck.  When dealt three low cards, I drew the fourth and a kicker and hit for a couple of hundred dollars.  That happened more than once in a short amount of time so I was up a nice sum and decided to increase my denomination to ten-cents.  A bit later, I hit on four aces with a kicker – on two lines – and that paid another $800 plus and I was up a very nice amount after that hit.  Not bad for nickel and dime play.

So, I should be having fun here, right?  Enjoying a rare “lucky streak,” something we all know comes and goes like the wind.   But, no, I had to be sitting next to someone who felt it necessary to whine and complain to his companion – LOUDLY and CONTINUOUSLY – that my winning meant “no one else would be winning anything” and that “the machines were fixed because only one person was winning” and other such nonsense.  Under different circumstances, I would have moved to another machine,  but, number one, I was hitting on this machine; number two, there were no other Spin Poker machines open; and number three, I absolutely refused to let this person bully me into relocating.

Scenes similar to this have happened to me before albeit not quite as annoying as this one.  So, to the guy who was making all the noise:  Here’s where a basic understanding of video poker — pay tables, the “RNG,” “expected return,” strategy, etc. – along with simple casino etiquette would have made all the difference.  Plus, in my mind, if someone spends all their time complaining about how bad the machine is or how badly they are losing then guess what?  Time to take a break or call it a day.  Unless you are a professional gambler and earn your living playing poker, a visit to the casino is supposed to be fun!   (And actually, if you are able to make a living playing video poker I’d have to think that actually would be pretty fun!)

Yeah, we all complain once in a while — the ace that got away, the royal flush missed by a single card — but to do so repeatedly and to blame the player who is winning?  Not cool.

In an upcoming post – some thoughts on casino etiquette.

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Gila River to Debut Exciting New Arizona Casino November 20

Tuesday, October 21st, 2008
Soon the ringing of slot machines will replace construction noise at the newest Arizona casino, Gila River's Lone Butte.

Soon the ringing of slot machines will replace construction noise at the newest Arizona casino, Gila River's Lone Butte.

When the clock strikes 3 pm on November 20, the newest Arizona casino will open its doors to the public at the Loop 202 and Kyrene Road near the Phoenix suburb of Chandler.   Gila River’s new Lone Butte Casino will offer gamers more than 120,000 square-feet of casino entertainment including 850 slot machines, live blackjack, casino bingo, and a host of poker games including Fortune Pai Gow Poker® Progressive, Let It Ride Three-Card Bonus® and Three-Card Poker®.

Slot machine aficionados will find both new casino slot games like eBay™ (see eBay™ photos here) as well as popular favorites such as Wheel of Fortune®, Star WarsTM, and Blazing 7’s.  Casino bingo players will be treated to a 750-seat state-of-the-art bingo hall with both matinee and evening sessions. 

And Gila River planners have made sure players won’t go hungry while visiting the new casino by offering six restaurants in the expansive $60 million facility.  Visitors can choose from Venona Chophouse, Café 24/7, Dick Clark’s American Bandstand Express, Tuscan Olive, Quiznos™ plus a quick-serve coffee shop featuring Starbucks™ coffee.

Looking for some live entertainment to complement your gaming?  Then visit the new Cascades Lounge evenings Thursday to Sunday for a variety of entertaining acts.

The Gila River Indian Community operates three Phoenix-area casinos including Wild Horse Pass, Vee Quiva and Lone Butte.  (The current Lone Butte casino at 56th Street will be closed prior to the opening of the new casino.)

Look for more updates on the opening of Lone Butte as we draw closer to the big day!

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Still Time to Make a Fall Date at Caesars Las Vegas with the “Divine Miss M”

Monday, October 20th, 2008
Bette Midler's show at Caesars wowed our reviewer.

Bette Midler's show at Caesars Palace wowed our guest reviewer.

Caesars Palace always manages to convince some of the biggest names in musical entertainment to pack up their bags and head to the Nevada desert for an extended run of shows and 2008 has been no different.   In a performance rotation that started after Celine Dion vacated Caesar’s Colosseum last December, Cher, Bette Midler and Elton John have been keeping audiences thoroughly entertained this year. 

Bette Midler especially made quite an impression on audiences and critics alike when she brought her concert act, “The Showgirl Must Go On,” to Caesars for the first time in February.  Reviewers called Midler a Las Vegas natural; the combination of Midler and the city a match made in heaven.  Even “The New York Times” weighed in with this positive review:  “That Ms. Midler is capable of instantly warming up a room this daunting and filling a stage this forbidding is a testament to her consummate skills as an entertainer.”

One of our guest writers saw Bette Midler’s show this summer and wrote this exclusive review for RoyallyFlushed.

“Among the revered music giants staking their claim on the Las Vegas Strip is superstar Bette Midler who wowed crowds during her summer appearance at the Colosseum at Caesar’s Palace

One of the biggest venues in Las Vegas — the Colosseum holds thousands of fans — seating nonetheless filled quickly and soon the lights dimmed for Ms. Midler’s appearance. While the majority of attendees were probably long-time fans of Ms. Midler’s music, a clutch of younger admirers like myself fully shared in the excitement of seeing her perform.

The show opened with a Imax-sized movie montage of a tornado ripping through Las Vegas which set the stage for the appearance of a gaggle of showgirls — complete with tights, plumes and heavily-bejewelled regalia — who were then joined by back-up singers, a live band, and finally, the petite Ms. Midler herself. She stands around 5’0″ but easily commands the stage with her dazzling attire and out-sized personality.

The glittering set complimented her various songs with different backdrops gently swooping in and out of sight as the show played on. Midler, who, in her sixties, can still move across the massive stage with the nimble footing of a much younger performer, delivers a show packed with irreverent  humor and pure musical talent. It was difficult for fans not to sing along to her more famous numbers including “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy,” “Wind Beneath My Wings” and “The Rose” to name just a few.

My companion and I were awed by the Divine Miss M’s pipes, still able to tear up those high notes. Her trademark humor dazzled the audience as she kvetched about the hard knocks life of a pop diva and mused about her own brand of Midlerian divinity. The star — never one to shy away from telling it like it is — spoke her mind on everything from the politics of Washington to the politics of the bedroom.

The ninety minute show proved that Ms. Midler still has the voice, the spunk, the wit and sheer talent to dazzle her audiences. We look forward to a return stint soon.”

Ms. Midler appears at Caesars on select dates from November 11 through December 31 with tickets available at the Ticketmaster box office

Also on the roster this fall:  Elton John brings his tour, “The Red Piano,” to the venue October 22 through November 9.

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Play FREE Slot Games Online Courtesy of Bally

Sunday, October 19th, 2008
Hot Shot by Bally Technologies is a smokin' game!

Hot Shot Progressive by Bally Technologies is a smokin' fun game!

Some of the most popular slot games in casinos across the country come from Bally Technologies and now you can play them for FREE online on your personal computer.  Video slot games such as the extremely popular Hot Shot Progressive® as well as both Playboy® and S & H Green Stamps® can be downloaded from the Bally Technologies site and played for free whenever you want a little casino-style fun at home or on the road.  Follow the link that says “Click here to play for free.”

Not only can you enjoy fun casino-style action but your points stay on the game so you can track your luck visit-to-visit.  To keep your play even more interesting, there’s a “chat room” available while you play so you can connect with fellow players if you wish.

Also, when visiting Bally’s site be sure to check out the “Players Center” section.  There you’ll find a Winners Gallery, current progressive Jackpot Totals, and a game-finder for locating your favorite Bally slot.  For instance, if you click on the Hot Shot Progressive logo, you’ll be taken to a page that lists — by state — the casinos that have that game available.  In Arizona, you’ll find this game at both Harrah’s Ak-Chin outside of Phoenix and the Desert Diamond casino near Tucson.

So if you’re between visits, have fun playing these “reel life” casino games!  Also, check out these fun DVD games at Amazon.com with favorites from Bally’s, WMS Gaming and more.  Specially-priced double-disc set Slots WMS Double Pack, or try these popular games — Slots From Bally Gaming.
More slots fun:

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