It’s bar-issue time, which means I get to dish on my favorite bar subject: The best gambling deals at local taverns.
For the second year in a row, my top recommendation from the previous year is no longer operating. Player-friendly Home Plate was recently sold and is closed pending a remodeling. Also departed is a double-royals deal at the Stage Door, which leaves the east side of the Strip with just a single representative in the list that follows (if I’m missing a good game on the east side, make me aware).
Going in, it’s helpful to understand that at about 90 percent of non-casino bars, the best video poker schedule available is 6/5 Bonus Poker, which returns just 96.87 percent. And that’s if you can play the game perfectly (which you can’t). Keeping that 96 percent number in mind will clarify why the returns at the spots listed below are noteworthy. Unless otherwise specified, the returns listed are for quarter play.
At Sonny’s Saloon behind Fashion Show mall, select machines with 9/5 Jacks or Better return 98.45 percent, and a $100 bonus on royals raises that to 98.5 percent. Slightly better, Durango Lodge and Brewske’s—both near Durango Drive and Spring Mountain Road, offer a 13-10 Deuces Wild Bonus game that returns 98.8 percent. Taking it up another notch is Crowbar at Flamingo Road and Rainbow Boulevard, where the combination of 7/5 Bonus Poker and a wheel spin for quad 5-Ks returns about 99.5 percent.
Even better than good schedules are the meal-comp offers at Crown & Anchor East or West and Sagos on Fort Apache Road; at all three places, playing $20 gets anything on the menus. Also comping lunch is Downtown’s Courthouse Bar & Grill, albeit via a different (and nonguaranteed) method, as you have to hit a four-of-a-kind to get fed. Another strong comp-style play is the free video poker tournament on Saturdays at Money Plays, where $200 in cash is up for grabs, and there’s no qualifying necessary to play.
Back to Sagos: This is a bar that deserves special consideration for its overall program that includes good bonuses and mailed offers. The good news is Sagos recently bought Kilroy’s at Spring Mountain and Decatur. Aside from a $20 match-play for joining the players club, there’s nothing special there yet. Still, I’d categorize this one as a strong prospect.
All good deals, but if there were a Gambler’s Bar Hall of Fame, my pick this year would be Shifty’s. Whereas most big casinos won’t deal 9/6 Jacks or Better, a schedule that returns 99.54 percent, Shifty’s at Sahara Avenue and Valley View Boulevard offers it on its $1 games. For quarter players, there’s 7/5 Bonus with a $1,199 royal paying 98.4 percent. The last time I checked, Shifty’s threw in a bottle of wine for a four-of-a-kind. Now that’s a Hall of Fame play.
Anthony Curtis is the publisher of the Las Vegas Advisor and LasVegasAdvisor.com.