Diggin’ The D

David G. Schwartz recently wrote in this magazine about Derek Stevens, the man behind the transformation of Fitzgeralds to The D (“The Man Behind The D,” April 19). As Schwartz explained, the name comes from the downtown location, the name of the new owner, Derek Stevens; and Stevens’ hometown—Detroit. But it could also stand for Deal, because there are some good things going on—or I should say, still going on—down there.

The upstairs Vue Bar has always been an inexpensive place to get a drink, with $2 Heineken drafts leading the way. But what would they do with the fancy new Longbar downstairs? Prices are surprisingly good there, too, with several draft beers—including Rolling Rock, Stella, Heineken, Blue Moon, PBR, Bud and Bud Light—going for $3-$4 for domestics and $4-$5 for imports. Mixed drinks start at $5.

You’ll find dining deals in the Courtyard Grill and the value-gourmet room, Don B’s, but the best food play is tied to a long-running gambling promotion. At the back of the casino is a single bank of eight 25-cent video-poker machines where you can get a comped steak dinner in the Courtyard for hitting any four-of-a-kind. This is essentially an “insta-comp” for hitting the quad, which happens once in 420 hands on average. Factoring the comp value into your total result means that you’re gambling at better than a 100 percent expected return.

That’s not the only good gambling deal here. In fact, The D is one of Las Vegas’ best video-poker casinos for low stakes. The aforementioned Vue Bar, for example, offers what are likely the city’s best bar-top quarter machines. All have three-way progressive meters on the royal flush, straight flush and four-of-a-kind, and they’re almost always high enough to yield a theoretical return greater than 100 percent for skilled players—and often high enough that they can be beaten even by video poker hacks. On these machines (and the “steak machines” discussed above), the best schedule is 8/5 Bonus Poker.

Even nickel players can get an edge at The D. Between the sports book and Vue Bar, there’s an upright nickel machine with a schedule known as 17/10 Loose Deuces. There’s only one, and no signs tout its payback, but this schedule has a 101.6 percent return—it’s one of the few of its kind in Las Vegas. And there’s more to come: The whole second floor is being converted to a vintage-Vegas theme, complete with coin-dropping slots and, believe it or not, one of the last remaining Sigma Derby (horse racing) games.

Contemporary music now pulsates through the joint and the (very hot) Golden Gate-style go-go dancers will soon be in residence. Soon, the only reminders of the stodgy old Fitz will be those good deals. I like it.