Funny thing about bars: They don’t often change their concepts, styles, pricing or target audiences, but they do change their strategies when it comes to gambling. Certainly the onslaught of Dotty’s, Lola’s and Joanie’s video poker-centric “lounges” has had an effect on what competitors are doing. But it’s simply the nature of this game that things will change—and they’ve changed quite a bit since I did this roundup of best bars for gamblers a year ago.
It’s not every day that something goes from best to gone, but that’s what happened at Bar 702. After making a big deal of its super-loose schedules on the TV show Bar Rescue last year, 702 was sold and no longer offers video poker. A few others, notably Sonny’s Saloon, have downgraded formerly good schedules, but there are plenty of positives to discuss.
A new player is Shifty’s at Sahara Avenue and Valley View Boulevard, where you’ll find the rare 9/6 Jacks or Better schedule with a return of 99.54 percent and 8/5 Bonus Poker returning 99.17 percent, both at the dollar level. At quarters, the best game is 7/5 Bonus with a $1,199 royal flush, which pays 98.42 percent. You’ll also find good returns at the west side Durango Lodge and Brewske’s, where 13-10 Deuces Wild Bonus pays back 98.8 percent.
While schedules that yield static high returns are best, lesser schedules can also be good when the accompanying promotion is strong. For example, at the northwest bar Edge of Town, players spin the bonus wheel on all four-of-a-kinds from 1 to 3 p.m., 7 to 8 p.m., and midnight to 3 a.m. daily, and all day on Sundays, which elevates the returns on the best games to above 99 percent. Similarly, the Stage Door, just east of the Strip on Flamingo Road, pays double on royals from 1 to 9 a.m. every day, raising the payback to 99.15 percent.
You can still get a comped lunch for a $20 buy-in at Home Plate, Ricardo’s, Sagos and both Crown & Anchors. Sagos also offers its comp for breakfast and is a strong bar for promotions of all sorts. While not as good as a full comp, Johnny Mac’s on Boulder Highway in Henderson discounts wings and other items by about 50 percent for players.
Best of all is Home Plate on Blue Diamond Road. While the schedules are standard issue, this place promotes like crazy. There are late-night bonuses, weekend drawings, a free pizza buffet for players, a $20-rebate program and a powerhouse promotion that pays $50 for the first quad hit after 8 a.m. to set the card of the day. Mix it all together and you’ll almost never be playing at a low return, giving Home Plate this year’s Gamblers Bar Hall of Fame nod.
Anthony Curtis is the publisher of the Las Vegas Advisor and LasVegasAdvisor.com.