Three Plays at the Pool

We take inventory on the pools that are toptional, free and live gaming-friendly.

Caesars Palace’s Venus Pool

Another summer is upon us and daylife is still going strong. I remember when a pool party meant a cover band and hot dogs out by The Orleans pond—no cover, of course. These days, the scene is so complicated that you have to take inventory every May to know which pools are offering what it is you’re hoping to find.

Category 1 is live blackjack. For years the only poolside game in town was at the Tropicana, and that’s still the coolest setup of them all. But now there are 11 more venues to choose from: Caesars Palace, Encore at Wynn Las Vegas, Flamingo, Golden Nugget, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Rampart Casino, Mandalay Bay, Plaza, Planet Hollywood, Red Rock Casino Resort & Spa and Wynn Las Vegas.

Category 2 is “toptional,” which means tops are optional for women (some refer to it as “European-style sunbathing”). Entrance eligibility and costs are all over the layout, but these are this year’s players: Artisan (European Pool), Caesars Palace (Venus European Pool Club), Encore (European Pool), M Resort (DayDream, pasties required), Mandalay Bay (Moorea Beach Club), The Mirage (Bare Pool Lounge), Sapphire (Pool & Dayclub), Stratosphere (Radius), The Venetian (Tao Beach) and Wynn (European Pool).

All good to know, but most important is Category 3—the pools that locals can get into for free. Understanding that policies seem to change from week to week (you should call ahead to confirm), here’s the list of pools that don’t charge admission for locals 21 and over: Aria’s Liquid Pool Lounge (Thurs.), Artisan (Mon.–Thurs. with a two-drink minimum per person), Caesars Palace’s Venus European Pool Club (Mon.–Wed.), The Cosmopolitan’s Marquee Dayclub (Mon.–Thurs.), Encore Beach Club (Sun. before 1 p.m.), Flamingo’s GO Pool (Sun.–Fri.), M Resort (Tues.), Mandalay Bay’s Daylight Beach Club (Thurs. and Sun. until 2 p.m.), MGM Grand’s Wet Republic (Mon. 11 a.m.–6 p.m.), The Mirage’s Bare Pool Lounge (Mon.) and The Venetian’s Tao Beach (Mon.–Thurs.).

There are rules and restrictions attached to those 11 options. Following are seven more that I have a whole lot more faith in. These are the ones that told me, unequivocally, that locals are welcome “all day, every day”: Downtown Grand’s Citrus Pool, The Linq, Plaza, Sapphire Pool & Dayclub (if you don’t come in a cab), Silverton, SLS Las VegasFoxtail Pool and Tropicana.

Here’s one more consideration. Every year a few pools make a concerted push. They don’t always catch on and they rarely catch up to the big guys, but they’re looking for your business, which is a good thing. This year, that group is the Flamingo, Downtown Grand and Plaza. The Flamingo is running an interesting event with DJs and drink specials called Beach Club at Night from 7 p.m. to midnight on Wednesdays. Both Downtown Grand and Plaza are trying to capture the Downtown business with new promotions. These three might be worthy of special consideration if you’re looking for a deal.

Anthony Curtis is the publisher of the Las Vegas Advisor and