Exploration Notes of the Southern Las Vegas Strip

During our latest survey of the Las Vegas Strip, we made our way to the south end on a sunny Monday, specifically on June 26. Our objective was to explore and assess the various properties and establishments that contribute to the vibrant atmosphere of this renowned area. The Strip, known for its dazzling array of entertainment, dining, and accommodation options, never fails to captivate visitors from all walks of life. On this particular visit, we focused our attention on iconic establishments such as Excalibur, Luxor, Mandalay Bay, and Tropicana, each offering its unique blend of excitement and luxury. Additionally, we made a stop at the stylish Oyo, adding to the diversity of our survey.

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Excalibur has undergone some exciting changes since our comprehensive evaluation of the premises. A while back, they introduced a spacious stadium gaming section, enhancing the overall entertainment experience. Notably, the blackjack tables were relocated from their initial position to the previous poker room area. This strategic move not only optimized the layout but also allowed for a more dynamic atmosphere within the casino.

During our previous four visits to Excalibur, we noticed that they only have one standard 3/2 blackjack table available for regular play. Interestingly, the minimum bet for this table varied across our visits. The first time we visited, the minimum bet was $25, while the other three times it was set at $50. As for the other table games, they all had a minimum bet of $15 except for Face Up Pai Gow Poker, where the minimum bet was $25.

The introduction of pai gow poker at Excalibur is a recent addition, as we had not come across this game at the venue since 2016. This card game has taken the place of Let It Ride in the pit area.


During my recent visit to Luxor, I noticed a slight alteration in the atmosphere. The most noticeable change was the introduction of several $10 tables offering 6/5 blackjack and 000 roulette. In previous visits, I had encountered $10 craps and the intriguing game of crapless craps, but this time the minimum bet had increased to $15. The poker pit games also required a minimum wager of $15.

I remember spotting a blackjack game in the pit that had a minimum bet of $500 and a 3/2 payout. It was quite the find, considering that all the other blackjack tables only paid 6/5. Interestingly, I've come across this particular $500 game before, but it was always vacant, no one seemed interested. What made it even more intriguing was the fact that the dealer had to hit on soft 17. It dawned on me that at the same time, one could have played a similar game for a lower minimum bet of $25 at Excalibur or $50 at Mandalay Bay.

The Luxor casino has temporarily suspended its high-limit tables, which are typically accessible only on weekends. It seems that the establishment has implemented a new minimum bet requirement of $500 for these tables.

Luxor Hotel and Casino

Mandalay Bay

At Mandalay Bay, inflation is wreaking havoc in the pits. I couldn't believe it when I saw that the minimum bet for all the poker pit games, such as Three Card Poker and Ultimate Texas Hold'em, had skyrocketed to $25. Even the popular games like Craps and crapless craps were not spared from this price surge. To my surprise, the tables were completely devoid of players, perhaps deterred by the steep minimum bet. As if that wasn't enough, the prices for Face Up Pai Gow Poker and 3/2 blackjack had doubled, now standing at a whopping $50. It's a tough pill to swallow for avid gamblers looking for some affordable fun.

The cost for the 6/5 blackjack games was $15, while the double and triple zero roulette tables had a price of $20.

$100 will cover the cost of playing High-limit blackjack and European Roulette, which offers both double-deck and six-deck blackjack games where the dealer stands on soft 17.

I must emphasize that out of the three MGMs I mentioned earlier, the video poker at Mandalay Bay is undoubtedly the finest. When it comes to the $1 denomination, you can find games that offer a 98% payout, while at $5 and higher, you can enjoy games that provide a 99% payout. Additionally, it's worth noting that there is an incredible bar game at the sportsbook called 8/5 Bonus Poker, which boasts a remarkable 99% payout. On the other hand, Excalibur and Luxor offer significantly inferior games at almost every other denomination. To put it simply, the bar games at both Excalibur and Luxor are either 96% or even worse in terms of payout rates.


As I strolled through Tropicana, it struck me how empty the place seemed. There were hardly any gamblers to be found on the sprawling casino floor. The meager selection of open pit tables included a $10 roulette table, Heads Up Hold'em, and 6/5 blackjack. Craps, on the other hand, required a minimum bet of $15. Amidst the limited options, I spotted a solitary $25 double-deck blackjack table operating under the 3/2 payout rule. Unfortunately, both Three Card Poker and Fortune Pai Gow Poker were off-limits, their tables vacant and untouched.

Since 2019, I haven't seen the high-limit tables open. It's been a while, and I've been wondering when they'll finally be available again. Not to mention, I highly doubt you can find the stand on soft 17 $100 game unless you specifically ask for it. It seems like a rare find these days.

During my recent visit to the Tropicana, I stumbled upon what could easily be described as the most disappointing high-limit video poker games I have ever encountered. To my dismay, these unfortunate machines were strategically placed between the pit and the high-limit slot room. Upon closer inspection, it became evident that the returns on these games were a mere 93 to 95 percent, which is rather disheartening considering the vast array of options available. It is worth noting that the specific games offered were the underwhelming 7/5 Double Bonus and the lackluster 6/5 Jacks or Better. As if that weren't enough, the denominations for these subpar machines ranged from a hefty $5 to an eye-watering $25. My advice to anyone seeking a truly rewarding video poker experience would be to steer clear of these particular games at all costs.

The Tropicana bar offers unbeatable 99% video poker games for just $1 and $5, including popular options like 15/9 Deuces Wild and 9/7 Double Bonus. Keep in mind that this exclusive opportunity is only available during nighttime.


Oyo's offerings remained consistent in the pit, with Craps and roulette available for $5. Blackjack options included $1 even money, $5 6/5, and $10 3/2 versions.

At Oyo, I discovered that the bar is where you'll find a handful of $1 denomination video poker games that pay out at an impressive 99%. It's hands down the best spot for video poker enthusiasts. Interestingly, the floor only boasts four video poker machines in total, but disappointingly, none of them offer pay tables as favorable as the ones at the bar.