It’s been half a decade since Las Vegas pools began turning into nightclubs. Or day clubs, rather. There have been some false starts (remember the stripper pool at the Rio?), but all in all, daylife has made it over the hump. Just look at the ads in this magazine and you’ll know what I mean. But how important is it really that DJ-this is playing here and Resident-that is playing there? Well, sure it’s important—but none of it means much unless you know your pools first. Most of the questions I get about pools fall into three categories: Which ones are topless, which ones have blackjack, and which ones can I get into if I’m not a hotel guest?
There are nine “toptional” pools (that term, by the way, is one of the best things to come out of daylife): Artisan (Naked Pool), Caesars Palace (Venus Pool Club), Encore (XS Pool), Golden Nugget (a designated area in the Tank), Mandalay Bay (Moorea Beach Club), the Mirage (Bare Pool Lounge), Rio (The Voo), Venetian (Tao Beach) and Wynn (Sunset Pool). Most charge a fee, some (Artisan) don’t, and Wynn is restricted to hotel guests only. Pick your target and call for the details.
Blackjack in the pool was a huge story when the Trop debuted a special swim-up table in the 1980s, but it took awhile for others to follow suit. Today, 13 casinos deal poolside blackjack: Caesars, Cosmopolitan, Encore, Flamingo, Golden Nugget, Hard Rock, Mandalay Bay, M Resort, Palms, Red Rock, Stratosphere, Tropicana and Wynn. While almost all are next to, not in, the pool (Hard Rock’s are both swim-up, as is Fortuna Pool blackjack at Caesars), they all have specially equipped tables to deal with weather conditions, mostly wind.
Nothing matters if you can’t get in, so here’s the all-important list of casinos where at least one pool is open to the public: Aria, Artisan, Bally’s, Caesars, Cosmopolitan, Encore, Flamingo, Golden Nugget, Green Valley Ranch, Hard Rock, Hooters, Luxor, M Resort, Mandalay Bay, MGM Grand, The Mirage, Palazzo, Palms, Planet Hollywood, Rampart, Ravella, Red Rock, Rio, Rumor, Silverton, Stratosphere, Sunset Station, Tropicana and Venetian.
Most of these have fees—and they can be steep. But of the 29 on the list above, seven charge no admission for locals. They are Artisan, Flamingo, Hooters, Palms (except Fridays), Rumor, Silverton and Venetian’s Tao (weekdays only). You have to be 21, and you should call ahead to confirm the policy, but as of now, locals get pool passes in these places.