Bar Hall of Fame—Gamblers’ Edition

History, atmosphere, food selection, drink prices—these are among the things Vegas Seven considered when choosing a Bar Hall of Fame. But what about the gamblers? Players have different priorities, and some bars are superior to others when it comes to pay schedules, promotions and comps. The following is by no means a complete list off Hall-of-Fame-worthy gamblers’ bars, but it shines a light on what’s necessary to make it into the pantheon.

The best of the common bar video poker schedules return in the 97 percent range. You can bump that up by playing the 9/5 Jacks or Better game at Sonny’s Saloon, which returns 98.45 percent. Higher up the ladder, the west-side Durango Lodge offers a Deuces Wild Bonus schedule that returns 98.8 percent, and the same game is available up Durango Drive at Brewske’s (you have to find the 13-10 schedule). Better yet is a 9/7/5 Double Bonus game at Rounders on Buffalo Drive that returns a lofty 99.11 percent—darn good for a local bar.

These types of schedules are rare, so you’re more likely to get elevated returns with good promotions. The most valuable are usually associated with the ETT wheel, where you spin for bonuses when you hit select four-of-a-kinds. Most allow a spin for a designated card of the day. The best let you spin on all quads. Bars doing this regularly (during designated hours) include the Coachman’s Inn, Tommy Rocker’s and the Rusty Spur. Spinning on all four-of-a-kinds adds about 2.35 percent to the return, which means that even with bad schedules, you’re bumping up around a 99 percent payback. Other creative promos can also put you at more than 99 percent. One of my favorites runs from 7 to 9 p.m. on Wednesdays at Dean’s Place, where every four-to-a-royal gets a spin on the wheel.

As for comps, every place does free drinks, but the best comping bars also give you a free lunch. These deals come and go, but I’ve seen them recently at Home Plate, Ricardo’s and Sagos. The granddaddy of the comped lunch is Crown & Anchor, where you can order anything on the menu at both the east- and west-side locations for a $20 buy-in.

Another important bar perk is matchplay, meaning the bar matches your buy-in up to a certain amount, usually $20. More and more bars are now doing this with mailers to customers, ads in magazines, fliers in coupon mailings such as Valpak, or via text-message programs that you sign up for. Some of the more generous are Home Plate, Rounders, Sedona, Scooter’s and New York City Bar & Grill. It’s a shifting scene, so keep an eye out.

The best bars are the ones that combine these elements, and considering that, I’m going with Rounders and Home Plate as my two inaugural inductees into the Bar Hall of Fame for Gamblers. Do you have a nominee? Let me know. There’s always next year.