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Best of John G. Brokopp

Gaming Guru

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Downtown Vegas Does Have Its Privileges

18 June 2002

Experienced Las Vegas travelers know that there is more to the "Gambling Capital of the World" than The Strip. Certainly if you're a first time visitor, the world-renown stretch of neon castles in the sky is a must. But if you make trips to Nevada a couple times a year and have grown weary of the pedestrian and traffic congestion on The Strip, not to mention the tourist attractions, there are other ways to go.

One of the options is the Downtown section, a close 15-minute drive away. The Golden Nugget Hotel & Casino is the crown jewel of the properties, but there are many other attractive places from which to choose, all in close proximity to one another. The room rates are significantly cheaper than those found on The Strip and the gambling is more geared toward average recreational players.

The debut of The Freemont Street Experience a few years ago brightened up the Downtown section, which had been in bit of a state of decline as far as attracting the Las Vegas visitor and tourist trade. Downtown Vegas is a definite travel option in the wake of its renaissance.

About the only place to avoid is the once proud Horseshoe, which became legendary under its founder, Benny Binion, and his son Jack. The property, under new ownership, has been in steady deterioration the last few years and morale among employees is at an all-time low. Gone are the best craps games, the best blackjack, and the best snack shop. Even the display of $1,000,000 in cash where tens of thousands of tourists had complimentary souvenir photographs taken over the years has disappeared.

The play of average gamblers is much more appreciated Downtown than at the upscale Strip casinos, where $5 table games players and quarter video poker and slot players get lost in the comp shuffle. It may lack the glitzy shows and bigger-than-life attractions, but it's great for a change of pace for frequent Vegas travelers.

Terry Dorsey of Midlothian, a regular reader of this column, recently sent me an e-mail with a Downtown Vegas recommendation that I'd like to share with you:

"I just got back from Las Vegas on March 15. After many years of staying at the Rio I finally got tired of the destruction of their video poker. I stayed downtown for the first time ever. I have been going since 1987. After talking to some of my friends at the Las Vegas Advisor message boards I decided to try Main Street Station. I was most pleased. They definitely have a more laid-back feel to their property. I was happy my rooms were comped. My next trip in August is pre-comped. With only 420 rooms the long walks are gone. Check-in and valet was a snap. Take the bridge over Main Street and you are in the California, a sister property. So I may have a new home base. There is better video poker than the Rio, a few 10/7 Double Bonus machines and decent Double-Double Bonus Poker. Their 777 Microbrewery is great. Definitely a place to check out."

Thanks very much for your review, Terry.

Huntington Press of Las Vegas has just released its latest gambling book, The Slot Expert's Guide to Playing Slots, written by slot and video poker expert John Robison. Published in a convenient pocket-size format and retailing for $6.95, this handy little book contains the most current and comprehensive information for casino slot machine players. It discloses the facts about today's new machines: How they work, what they pay, and how to play them.

John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp
John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp