Casino lovers holiday gift ideas

Saturday, December 3rd, 2011

Every year we run some short posts giving our readers some fun ideas on gifts for the casino aficionados on their holiday giving list.  Here are a few of our top picks available from or you can check out some of your local stores for similar items!

best home slot game lobstermania

IGT Slots put some of our favorite games into this home version including Lobstermania and DaVinci Diamonds.

Best home slots game — IGT Slots: Lucky Larry’s Lobstermania

IGT strikes gaming gold with this fun in-home slots game that includes such favorites as Cats, Carnival of Mystery (love this game at Caesars in Las Vegas,) Frog Princess and Stinkin’ Rich.  At less than $20, it’s a great deal for those who want to play, not pay!

Best Cross Body Bag for Women — Cole Haan Bailey Bag

Here’s the dilemma — as much as you (or the woman in your life) love toting around that jumbo purse/suit

case/carryall, it just isn’t very practical for a day at the casino.  Do you keep it on that sticky shelf between machines or clutch it to your body like you’re protecting the family jewels?  And, please, don’t even think of hanging it off the back of your chair!

Solution:  enter the Cross Body bag which — just as the name suggests — smartly and compactly sits across the chest holding valuables and necessities in neatly and stylishly.  We couldn’t believe the price on this beauty (less than half the regular price!) and it comes in a gorgeous shade of lipstick red as well.  This doesn’t have to go in her stocking…it can be her stocking! Love it.

Also, be sure to check out our extensive Gift Guide here.

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Get your girls to Vegas — Tips for a ladies-only getaway

Thursday, March 24th, 2011
Louis Vuitton store at Crystals Las Vegas

We love Louis! Even if it is just window-shopping the posh purses at CityCenter Las Vegas and this two-story Louis Vuitton shop, the brand's largest store in North America.

Something we read on VegasChatter today made us get off our blogging butts and write this post we’ve been meaning to do for ages.  While most of our trips to Vegas are geared around couples, we do indulge in the occasional “Girls Getaway” and that agenda is a whole lot different from any we follow when the boys come along.

Here are just a few suggestions – tried and true – of what to do on your next (if you happen to be female) girls trip to Las Vegas.

1.        We love to get our girlie on with a visit to Sephora at Planet Hollywood’s Miracle Mile Shops.  Better yet, book a FREE make-over and you’ll leave there looking like a million bucks.  And yeah, just try not to buy any of the fabuloso stuff they use to create the new you.

2.       Speaking of the Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino, you’ll definitely want to spend some time traipsing the circular mile-plus path and hitting such fun stores as H&M, Betsey Johnson, BCBG MAXAZRIA, Urban Outfitters, kitchen specialty shop Sur La Tab and our fave shop for cheap Vegas T-shirts, ABC Stores.  (There are actually two of them in the mall.)  Leave time for a stop at Fat Tuesday’s Daiquiri Bar where we highly recommend the Banana Banshee and the Mojito.  (Word to the wise, drink too many of the latter and you won’t be able to movito away from the bar.)

3.       When we travel with the boys, we find ourselves at lots of casino buffets – big fat breakfast and lunch buffets.  While that’s fine for those trips, we really appreciate relaxing with the girls over a more refined meal – one that includes servers who, well, serve us.  With that in mind, check out these girlie favorites:

  • Serendipity 3 in front of Caesars Palace – Just look for the pink and white striped awnings and be sure to order the Cotton Candy Martini.  Need we say more?
  • Payard Bistro inside Caesars – The tiny jewel box of a restaurant serves some of the best breakfasts in town.  The one that gets our morning going in the right direction is the Eggs Benedict on Croissant.  This is the real-thing:  perfect Hollandaise sauce, gently poached eggs, lean salty ham and the BEST croissant on the planet.
  • Society Café at Encore – Yes, we know lots of guys like it but, really, take one look at all the frou-frou and fluff and it just screams gently whispers “Ladies-Who-Lunch” at you.  The classic Tuna Nicoise and the fruit-and-nut laden Grilled Chicken salads are both fresh and, gulp, good for you as well.

4.       No Las Vegas girls weekend is complete without this stop:  Lunch or dinner on the Strip-side patio at Mon Ami Gabi restaurant which fronts Paris Las Vegas.   This  Vegas favorite combines the BEST people-watching opportunities with a menu sure to please the fussiest of groups (you know who you are) along with a front-row seat to the Fountain Show at Bellagio.  Toss in a  thoughtful wines-by-glass list, the must-have profiteroles for dessert AND superb service and you’ve got a spot to make everyone happy, happy.

5.       Last stop, window-shopping at Crystals, the retail area of CityCenter, then onto ARIA Casino Hotel for our one big blow-out dinner of the trip at Sage.  This funky yet sophisticated purple-and-gold outpost of Chef Shawn McClain is the most under-appreciated fine dining spot in Las Vegas.  Really.  The food is phenomenal and the service is excellent.  The Roasted Day Boat Scallops with braised Oxtail/Wild Mushrooms/Salted Caramel Reduction (quoted from the menu) is one of the best scallop preparations we have ever had – anywhere.  Start with the Foie Gras Custard  Brûlée and end with any of the chocolate-centric desserts and you’ll leave a happy camperess.  By the way, Sage now features Absinthe service, something we are definitely going to try during our next visit.

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Prop bets, Mario’s balls and the world’s best Buffalo chicken dip

Friday, February 4th, 2011
Mario Batali's meatballs for sandwiches and pasta

Meatballs by Mario.

We love football — especially betting on football —  and no game is more fun to bet than the Super Bowl.  Flat bets are great but what we really love all the crazy “prop” bets that are circulating  this time of year.  How long will it take Christina Aguilera to sing the National Anthem?  Will Fergie show up to perform at half-time dressed as a Cowboys cheerleader?  Yep, those are just a couple of the bets available at offshore betting sites like  In Vegas, where Nevada gaming regulations restrict prop bets to those directly related to specific game statistics, there are still plenty of “off-road” opportunities.  Check out this article at National Football Post on the five best prop bets for this Sunday’s big game. For more info, check out these lists on as well — Super Bowl Prop Bets, Steelers and Prop Bets, Packers.

Now on to part two of our headline — Mario’s balls.  So we’re watching “Good Morning America” last Friday and they’re doing a special segment on what to serve at your Super Bowl party and the chef du jour is Mario Batali of New York’s Babbo and Las Vegas faves B&B and Carnevino fame.  He suggests making, among other things, meatball heroes for the big day.  The recipe looked so good and we were so intrigued (mix the meat for 10 minutes!) that we just had to make them ourselves.  We are here to tell you that these are the BEST meatballs on the planet. Really.  We made a huge batch to have with pasta or serve on sandwich rolls but honestly, we simply want a big bowl of them topped with a little homemade marinara and a sprinkling of pecorino Romano cheese.  Here’s the ABC video on Mario Batali’s meatballs plus the meatball recipe.  (Use panko breadcrumbs in place of the fresh ones.)

And last, here’s an appetizer we make every Super Bowl and always get back rave reviews and an empty serving dish.

The Best Buffalo Chicken Dip

  • 4 boneless chicken breasts (about 2 lbs)
  • 1-12oz. bottle of Frank’s Hot Buffalo Sauce
  • 2- 8oz. packages of cream cheese
  • 1 cup each of Ranch and Blue Cheese salad dressings
  • 8 oz. shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Poach chicken breasts in enough water to cover for 30 minutes or until done.

Drain and when cool enough to handle, shred chicken then combine with the hot sauce.

Spread in a 13×9 baking pan.

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

In a sauce pan, combine cream cheese and both dressings, stirring until smooth and hot.

Pour mixture evenly over chicken.

Bake uncovered for 20 minutes.

Sprinkle cheese on top and bake uncovered for another 10 min.

Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Serve with tortilla chips, crackers, celery sticks (or just a big spoon.)

Have a great Super Bowl Sunday!

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Hit the jackpot with these unique gift ideas for slot machine players

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010
Crazy Diamond slot bank gift for slot machine players

The Crazy Diamond Slot Bank is a top-seller this holiday season.

We posted ideas for buying gifts for poker and card players so time to give you some hints on what to get for the slot machine fan on your list.  There’s still time to order these items from and have them under the tree on Christmas morning.  And don’t forget — if none of these ideas floats your boat there are scads more in our Gift Guide storefront.

pashmina shawl from AmazonThis is, by far, my fave gift for women, myself included…hint, hint — a cozy Pashmina-style wrap for those chilly casino floors.  Really, I’ve been in meat lockers that are warmer than your average casino.  In a luscious solid color, posh print or smooth neutral, this is a great gift item for travelers as well.  (Sure beats those skanky-looking airplane blankets.)

Maybe we have a skewed sense of humor but we love this hoodie! The BusyBodies Slot Machine Hooded Sweatshirt simply makes us smile every single time we put it on. Win or lose, it’s a great gift for a dedicated slot machine player.slot player sweatshirt gift from amazon

iPod nano from amazonRedesigned for music and Multi-Touch, the Apple iPod nano is smaller and lighter than ever. You can clip it to your sleeve, jacket, or running shorts and keep your favorite songs at your fingertips. There’s even a built-in FM radio so you can tune into your favorite game while you play the machines.

Top Gift Idea — Here’s a cool way for your slot machine fan to save up for that next trip to the casino — the Crazy Diamonds Slot Machine Bank. This large-scale replica features a chrome bevel and tray, a jackpot bell and a flashing light. This is our best-selling item for 2010.

ARIA Resort & Casino at CityCenter

Book a stay at the ARIA Resort and Casino and you'll be in the heart of the exciting new CityCenter Las Vegas.

Last but not least, how about a trip to Vegas for the casino lover on your list?  We can’t think of a better gift than a three-night stay at the Bellagio, Caesars Palace or one of CityCenter Las Vegas’ newest spots — the ARIA Casino Resort or Vdara Hotel Click Here for the Best Las Vegas Hotel Deals!

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Casino-themed holiday gifts to make them smile

Wednesday, December 8th, 2010
Poker hoodie gift from Amazon

This "Powered by Poker" hoodie would be a great gift for any card player to find beneath the Christmas tree.

Looking for gifts for casino players?  We’ve got lots of ideas for you.  From stocking-stuffers to more substantial offerings, we’ve picked gifts for slot machine players and card players – ones we know they will love.  There’s still plenty of time left to shop online and we’ll be posting some of our fav picks from’s extensive gift catalog right up until the bitter exciting end of this year’s holiday shopping season.

Best Gifts for Cards and Poker Players:

Whether you are just learning to play poker or looking for advice on advanced strategy, this is one of the books to own and read.   Harrington on Hold ’em is one of the few books players agree on — it’s a five-star guide to winning the game of poker.  One reviewer says,  “This book paid for itself immediately. Some of the fundamental concepts in this book seem extremely obvious once they’ve been pointed out to you, but cost real money until you grasp them.”

Buy this Christmas stocking for the card player.Instead of a stocking stuffer, how about the entire stocking?  Accented with a royal flush, this Playing Cards Christmas Stocking will definitely make any card player smile come Christmas morning.

Hand held Texas Hold 'em video game from AmazonA fun little goodie to put into the stocking: this World Series of Poker Texas Holdem Handheld Video Game.

Here’s a colorful addition to any Christmas tree and especially one belonging to a poker player — this holiday ornament representing stacks of poker chips.

Poker chip ornament from Amazon

Home poker parties continue to be all the rage these days and this Poker Platter With Aces is a perfect gift for entertaining. An optional set of Poker Snack Plates is also available. Poker serving platter gift from Amazon

Want more gifting ideas for casino players? We’ve assembled a huge variety of gifts to choose from in our storefront Casino Gifts Guide. (Don’t miss the cute ornaments featuring the poker dogs.  Yep, those ubiquitous “Dogs Playing Poker.”)

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Bellagio gardens dazzle in summer finery

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

A visit to the Bellagio Conservatory and Botanical Garden is always near the top of our list of best free things to do in Las Vegas and last week’s stop didn’t disappoint.  This summer’s display is filled with whimsical creatures, psychedelic mushrooms, over-sized garden tools and a collection of bonsai-styled olive trees — a setting that would make Johnny Depp’s Mad Hatter feel right at home.

If you are heading to Las Vegas this summer be sure to check out this fabulous free display.  If possible, be there once the sun goes down as the gardens become even more beautiful when decked out in a custom lighting display that off-sets the night sky above.

Tip:  No stop at the Bellagio is complete without a visit to Jean-Philippe Patisserie for a perfect Napoleon, raspberry tart or fondant-adorned mini-carrot cake.

Enjoy these photos from this summer’s display at the Bellagio gardens.

Bellagio gardens summer display

Crazy mushrooms at Bellagio garden display VegasFloral display at Bellagio gardens

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A room with a view — the Bellagio Las Vegas

Monday, September 14th, 2009

A stunning view of Paris Las Vegas as seen from our 25th floor room at the Bellagio.

A stunning view of Paris Las Vegas as seen from our 25th floor room at the Bellagio.

“Where to stay in Las Vegas” — Hotel Review — The Bellagio:

After our recent three-night stay at the Bellagio, we’re happy to report that the resort remains one of the best hotels in Las Vegas. From the perfect center-Strip location to the recently-remodeled rooms; the posh selection of shops and restaurants and the sophisticated casino; the Bellagio is a worthwhile splurge for Las Vegas visitors.

We’d recently heard rumors that the Bellagio – open since 1998 — was showing its age but if so, we certainly didn’t see it in the maintenance of the hotel or the room we were given. Our room was luscious and restful: sage green, soft golds and creamy ivory tones in the bedding and upholstery were set off by the dark woods used for the furniture and bath vanity. Adding immensely to our enjoyment of the resort was the magnificent view of the Strip and the Bellagio fountains which we had from our 25th floor front-and-center perch. The biggest complaint we had about the room was the small outdated TV but since we don’t spend much time on vacation watching the tube, it wasn’t a huge issue for us.

Bellagio restaurants

We love the restaurant selection at the Bellagio: Olives by Todd English (read our review of Olives here); Palio for a quick breakfast; the decadent Jean-Philippe Maury patisserie; the Bellagio’s own buffet plus the sunny Café Bellagio overlooking the pool and the Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Gardens are a few of our favorites when in town.

The pool complex is perfect for a sunny summer day and offers lots of shady spots courtesy of the many trees and well-placed umbrellas.  Pool aficionados may want to reserve one of the large cabanas ringing the main pool.

A “Best Bet” on the Strip

With its great location, plush surroundings plus all the amenities of a AAA Five Diamond Award Las Vegas hotel we can confidently recommend the Bellagio to our readers looking for a posh Vegas getaway. Take a Virtual Tour of Bellagio here.

The new CityCenter construction provides a back-drop to the Bellagio's pool complex.

The new CityCenter construction provides a back-drop to the Bellagio's pool complex.

A comfy king-sized bed plus soft colors make for a restful stay at the luxurious Bellagio Las Vegas.

A comfy king-sized bed plus soft colors make for a restful stay at the luxurious Bellagio Las Vegas.

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Nighttime is the right time to see the Bellagio’s divine garden display

Friday, August 7th, 2009
Simply magical.  The Bellagio gardens shine after the sun goes down.  (Photo & all content property of

Simply magical. The Bellagio gardens shine after the sun goes down. (Photos & all content property of

No matter how busy we are during our trips to Las Vegas, we still never miss the chance to see what gorgeous seasonal display the Bellagio has in store for visitors to their remarkable Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. We definitely consider it to be one of the top free things to do on the Las Vegas Strip.

For some reason, we always seem to be at the Bellagio during the day but because we spent two fabulous nights there this trip, we were able to visit the famed Bellagio garden at night and see it in all its evening finery. If you have never seen the garden at night, you really should make a point of going because it truly is a different experience once the sun goes down.  You can see from the photos how the ambiance changes day to night.

This summer the display features some popular design elements used in the past including colorful hot air balloons floating overhead and a pair of father and son bears made entirely from greenery. New this year: a brilliantly-lit Ferris wheel with cars brimming with sunflowers; a glass “green house” with aviaries featuring flocks of rainbow-colored birds like lorikeets and parakeets; and whimsical over-sized tin cans pouring forth glowing cascades of water.

The current display will be on view until September 14 when the theme changes to one featuring autumn leaves and harvest time colors.

Daytime reveals colorful balloons and a green house filled with exotic birds.

Daytime reveals colorful balloons and a green house filled with exotic birds.

Dancing waters accented with LED lights put on a show at night at the Bellagio gardens.

Dancing waters accented with LED lights put on a show at night at the Bellagio gardens.

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Top 15 Cool Things To Do On A Hot Vegas Day

Tuesday, May 12th, 2009
The adults-only GO pool at Flamingo Las Vegas is a tropical oasis in the summer.

The adults-only GO pool at Flamingo Las Vegas is a tropical oasis in the summer.

It may be hot outside but Las Vegas offers lots of great attractions all summer long and you don’t have to break a sweat to enjoy them.

1.  Tour Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay Resort And Casino.  Cruising through the more than 1 million gallons of seawater can’t help but make you feel a whole lot cooler.

2.  Order TWO scoops of super-rich, intensely-flavored ice cream at Sugar & Ice at Wynn Las Vegas.

3.  Enjoy a frozen, fruity concoction while lying poolside at any of the city’s fabulous “ultra-pools.” We enjoy the surprisingly hidden tropical gardens and pool complex at Flamingo Las Vegas — complete with real pink flamingos.

4.  Sip a cold beer inside the Fontana Lounge at the Bellagio while watching the fabulous fountain show taking place just outside.

5.  Wander the wide halls of the Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood then stop for lunch at the beach-themed Hawaiian Tropic Zone restaurant (complete with bikini-clad servers!) (more…)

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A Big Win at Harrah’s Ak-Chin

Sunday, May 3rd, 2009
Poker Buddy scores with a double Royal Flush for a cool two grand.

Poker Buddy scores with a double Royal Flush for a cool two grand.

P.B.:  “Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino is announcing their Alaskan cruise contest winners tonight.  Do you want to go out for it?”

Me:  “Not really…I’m kinda’ tired today.”

Three hours later —

Me:  “Okay, I got my second wind.  Let’s go out and see if we won a cruise.”

P.B.:  “Yeah, let’s go but I don’t want to play too much.”

Me:  “Nah, me neither.”

Two hours later —

See above photo!  Poker Buddy hits for $2000 on a quarter Triple Play DDB video poker game.  Dealt four to the Royal Flush, he pulls the queen twice for TWO Royals.  Cha-Ching!

Hmm, maybe we should not “want to play too much” more often?  (No cruise by the way.)

Got any stories you wanna’ share?  We’d love to hear them so tell us about your big wins in the comments section of this post.

Want to practice your video poker strategy for free online?  Just go to to play your favorite games on the ‘net’s largest non-wagering video poker site.

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Mother’s Day Gift Guide

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

Piazza Day BagMother’s Day gift-giving.  ACK!  Just the phrase strikes fear into the hearts of mere mortals.  Well, fear no longer.  Here’s our Mother’s Day gift guide — from women who love to play — featuring the perfect gifts for all the women in your life.

1.  Check out this very cool eBags “Piazza Day Bag.”  We love the summery violet color, all the zippered pockets and compartments (perfect for holding our players club cards!) plus the adjustable shoulder strap makes it very easy to carry.  It’s an eBags award-winner and at $49.99, it’s a great deal for a good-looking organizer bag Mom will love.  (You can check out other colors when you visit the eBags site.)


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Come Back, Please. We Miss You. Really.

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Interesting.  The casino offers that have been filling my mailbox the past couple of weeks.  Casinos I haven’t played in for months (and really didn’t even spend much money in when I did visit) are sending me bigger and better players club deals/coupons/promotions seemingly every day. One mailer went as far as saying — in big, bold letters — “We Miss You!”  (Wow, how can you resist such a plaintive appeal?)  To sweeten the deal, a couple of $15 coupons accompanied this particular “love letter.”  And, actually, quite a few of the offers I’ve gotten are enough to get me to visit these casinos.

In addition to great room offers, free shows and merchandise giveaways, I’m also noticing quite a few more tournaments and promotional events for both slot and table game players.  Even the offers recognizing my April birthday have better incentives such as the $25 in bonus birthday play from — thank you, very much — Casino Arizona in Scottsdale.  (A side note:  Casino Arizona’s April giveaway is an umbrella.  These are the same people who gave away mittens and a scarf earlier this year.  Hmmm, someone needs to tell them it rains here just about as often as it gets cold enough for mittens and a scarf….)

Also interesting, a number of the offers are coming to me from the casinos via my email box.  Sending offers through email makes so much sense.  Got rooms to fill in a hurry?  Put together a quick email and send it to thousands of club members within a matter of minutes!

So, what does this all have to do with you?

  1. Always, always sign up for a players club card even when you don’t plan on playing a lot.  A casino can’t send you offers if they don’t know who you are and where to find you.
  2. Do not throw away the mailers unopened.  Who knows what goodies await inside?
  3. Sign up for email notifications from the casinos.  You’ll get some great last-minute offers.
  4. If you live somewhere it rains a lot, I’ve got an umbrella you can have…. Spring Sale- Last Week to Save up to 30% at! – Expires by 4/13/09

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