My Observations from Exploring Downtown Las Vegas

My friend Kristina and I love strolling through the heart of Las Vegas. Every now and then, we make it a point to explore the downtown area, taking in the vibrant atmosphere. This delightful tradition of ours happens roughly once a month or every couple of months. As we embark on our expedition, we anticipate spending a leisurely 90 minutes on this captivating journey. The entire loop we traverse spans a little over three miles, allowing us to immerse ourselves in the sights and sounds of this bustling city.

During our visit on April 26, 2023, we thoroughly explored all 12 casinos in the vicinity and discovered several noteworthy transformations.

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Golden Gate

I remember the day vividly when we embarked on our gambling adventure at the Golden Gate. It was right around lunchtime, and as we made our way into the casino, we noticed that only a handful of tables were available for play. The enticing allure of the roulette wheel and the 3/2 blackjack games caught our attention, both with a minimum bet of $10. However, if we were in the mood for some thrilling dice action, the craps table awaited us with a slightly higher minimum bet of $15. Surprisingly, despite the atmosphere buzzing with anticipation, there was a noticeable lack of activity on the gaming floor.

Golden Gate has undergone a significant transformation as the sportsbook has been shuttered and cordoned off, making way for slots to occupy the space. Additionally, there are conveniently placed kiosks for betting purposes.


Circa, like many other casinos in the downtown area, experienced a lack of activity. The open table games had set a minimum bet of $10, except for craps, where the minimum bet was slightly higher at $15. Unfortunately, Baccarat and pai gow were not available for play. To make the most of our visit, we decided to use some of our $75 worth of monthly food comps at Victory Burger.


We made our way to Binion’s, our next destination on this adventure. To our surprise, the craps table had a minimum bet of $10, a departure from the $15 we had encountered on our previous visits. The same applied to all the other table games, which were now set at $10. It appears that the era of finding a $5 Let it Ride game at Binion’s has come to an end.

Golden Nugget

At all blackjack games on the floor, Golden Nugget now mandates a $2 side bet. The front pit, known as Lucky Cat, along with the other pits featuring standard 6/5, are subject to this requirement. It is worth noting that the Lucky Cat game, with a minimum bet of $5, carries an approximate house edge of 8.95%. On the other hand, the 6/5 game with a minimum bet of $10 has a house edge of about 5.5%.

During our visit to the Golden Nugget, I discovered that they offered a variety of poker pit games at a minimum bet of $5. Additionally, the game of craps could be enjoyed for a minimum bet of $10. As for roulette, there were two options available: one with a single zero (000) for $5, and another with double zeros (00) for $10. Given this scenario, it became apparent that playing the 000 roulette offered a more favorable outcome at the minimum bet, compared to opting for the 00 version.

Four Queens

Four Queens had a limited number of tables available, all requiring a minimum bet of $10. However, numerous blackjack, craps, and pai gow poker tables remained unoccupied.


In the heart of Fremont, a bustling construction scene has taken hold. The main bar, flanked by rows of video poker machines, now stands shielded behind imposing walls. As I strolled through the area, I couldn't help but notice the absence of a few tables from the casino floor; it seems they had fallen victim to this ongoing construction frenzy. From what I could gather, they were mostly blackjack tables that had temporarily bid farewell to eager players. However, amidst the chaos, one table stood tall, proudly boasting the title of the last of its kind in all of Las Vegas - the Texas Hold'em Bonus table at Fremont remains an anchor for poker enthusiasts.

Only two games, Craps and 3:2 blackjack, had a minimum bet of $15, while the other two games, Roulette and 6/5 blackjack, had a minimum bet of $10. No additional tables were available for play.

While exploring the various downtown casinos owned by Boyd Gaming, I stumbled upon a delightful revelation: the video poker games on the Aristocrat machines far outshine their counterparts on the Game King ones. In particular, keep an eye out for the enticing 8/5 Bonus Poker games, available at denominations of $1 and higher. Moreover, if you venture a bit further, you'll uncover an array of games boasting an impressive payout percentage of 98% or higher. These hidden gems can be found on the bar top machines, accompanied by the beloved Buffalo slot game.

The D

As I glanced at the D, it appeared just as it always did. The casino offered a variety of table games for patrons to enjoy. They had $10 00 roulette and 3/2 blackjack available for players to try their luck. If rolling the dice was more your style, you could bet on the craps table for $15. For those looking for a blackjack variant, Free Bet Blackjack with a 3/2 payout was offered at a minimum bet of $25. As I walked around, I noticed that the high limit room was open, but it seemed deserted without any players. They had both a $50 and $100 game, waiting for eager gamblers to join in on the action.

El Cortez

A notable alteration that took place at El Cortez was the reduction of approximately fifty percent of its coin-operated video poker games, which have now been relocated to the back room. The adjacent area to Subway has undergone a complete transformation, now exclusively housing newer machines equipped with ticket systems.

The table games at the casino had varying minimum bets. For roulette, the minimum bet was set at $5. However, if one wanted to try their luck at other games like single deck, double deck, or six-deck blackjack, baccarat, craps, Three Card Poker, or Ultimate Texas Hold'em, the minimum bet was set at $10. The casino was bustling with activity as players gathered around their preferred games, each hoping to make a winning wager. Whether it was the thrill of the spinning roulette wheel or the strategic decisions in blackjack, the atmosphere was filled with anticipation and excitement. The minimum bet requirements ensured that everyone had a fair chance to participate and enjoy the diverse offerings at the casino.

Video baccarat was discovered at the stadium, costing only $3 - a thrilling new addition! Additionally, the stadium boasts big 6, 3/2 blackjack, and 00 roulette games.

Downtown Grand

At Downtown Grand, a major transformation has taken place - the removal of all stadium games. The front area, which once housed an extensive setup, has been replaced with hybrid games located in the pit. However, even those hybrid games have now been eliminated.

I stumbled upon a delightful surprise during my recent visit to the casino. As I wandered around the bustling gambling floor, my eyes caught sight of a mesmerizing sign that read "Step it Up Blackjack" on a $5 blackjack table. Intrigued, I thought it was a new variation of the classic card game. However, upon closer inspection, I discovered that it was merely a side bet that could be made on the dealer's final hand. Fascinating! The casino also offered a variety of other enticing options, including $1 even money blackjack, open tables for $5 3/2 blackjack, craps, double zero roulette, Three Card Poker, and Ultimate Texas Hold'em. It was refreshing to see such a diverse selection of games to suit every gambler's preferences. The best part was that the Step it Up Blackjack side bet was completely optional, allowing players the freedom to choose whether or not to participate.

The Cal

The Cal has undergone a slight change, with the absence of the last two 10/7 coin Double Bonus machines. However, there still remains a decent selection of approximately 30 coin video poker machines. The majority of these machines offer 9/6 Jacks or Better, ensuring a good variety for poker enthusiasts. As for the gaming tables, the ones that were available included $10 00 roulette, $15 3/2 blackjack and craps, and $25 Face Up Pai Gow Poker.

Main Street Station

As Wednesday rolled around, the Main Street Station tables remained tightly shut, their surfaces untouched. Those coveted spots, which normally buzzed with activity, were reserved for just two shifts on the weekend—Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The rest of the week, the tables stood idle, gathering dust in their solitude. The casino itself, once a bustling hub of excitement, now stood mostly empty, its corridors echoing with a sense of stillness and quietude.


I spent the afternoon at Plaza, concluding our adventure there. Engaging in the thrilling game of full-pay Joker Poker, I relished the excitement it brought. Plaza introduced a fresh and intriguing game known as 235 Stud, but alas, I found myself perplexed by its rules. Unfortunately, the table for this particular game was not available at the time. As for the wagering limits, the most lenient option for blackjack was set at $5, while the six-deck games, roulette with double zero, and craps all required a minimum bet of $10. Opting for more exclusivity, single zero roulette required a minimum bet of $15. Lastly, if one desired to partake in the exhilarating game of double-deck blackjack, a minimum bet of $25 was required.