5/29/2021
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Offers gaming, accommodations, dining and entertainment downtown on Fremont Street. Downtown Las Vegas gambling. There is not a single Las Vegas Strip casino that can make that claim. El Cortez spreads the best blackjack game in Las Vegas. It is a single deck game that pays 3-2 on blackjack and allows double down on any two cards. Some of the best craps odds can be found in downtown Las Vegas. Main Street Station spreads 20 times odds. The California Hotel & Casino is one of 11 downtown. The 2014 winner of the “Best Locals Casino,” as voted on by readers of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the El Cortez draws a sizeable locals crowed. Built in 1941, the El Cortez is located on Fremont Street in the trendy new Fremont East District.

Downtown Las Vegas is home to the Fremont Street Experience. The Fremont Street Experience includes the Viva Vision in its canopy, where shows on massive TV screens are presented at the top of each hour. Fremont Street was converted to a pedestrian mall in 1994. Besides Viva Vision, there are concert stages, a zip line, and many unique shops. Just east of the experience is an area known as Fremont East. Fremont East includes several one of a kind restaurants, bars, and clubs.

While Downtown Las Vegas is redeveloping, the poker scene is slowly dying. In each of the past two years a downtown poker room has closed. The Plaza offered a small poker room. After a $35 million remodeling project that closed the hotel and casino for months, the poker room did not reopen with the grand reopening. Fitzgerald’s also closed their poker room recently. The entire casino was rebranded into The D. Neither poker room was a major factor in the poker world, but any time a poker room closes it leaves fewer choices for poker players. There are currently three poker rooms operating in downtown Las Vegas. While the Nevada Gaming Commission recognizes The Stratosphere as a downtown casino, we have included it in our North Las Vegas Strip report.

Binions – The Binion’s Poker Room offers players 10 cash game tables. There are an additional 30 tournament tables located in a separate area of the casino. The tournament tables are only used during the Binion’s Classic. The main games offered at the poker room at Binion’s are 1/2 No Limit Texas Hold’em and 2/4 Fixed Limit Texas Hold’em. Binion’s offers three tournaments each day. Start times are 10am, 2pm, and 7pm. Each summer, the Binion’s Classic kicks off with games that include No Limit Texas Hold’em, Pot Limit Omaha, Pot Limit Omaha High/Low, HORSE, Seven Card Stud High/Low, and Omaha High/Low.

El Cortez – El Cortez is home to a tiny 3 table poker room. This poker room offers no tournaments, only cash games. The main cash game is a 1-6 spread limit game. One highlight of the El Cortez Poker Room is the presence of Jackie Gaughan most mornings and afternoons. Jackie Gaughan helped build Downtown Las Vegas. He currently calls the top floor penthouse at El Cortez home.

Golden Nugget – The Golden Nugget Poker Room is the most active poker room in Downtown Las Vegas. With 12 cash game tables, it is also the home to the largest cash game room downtown. The Golden Nugget only spreads one game, a 1/2 No Limit Texas Hold’em game. There is no buy in cap at this game. The poker room at Golden Nugget offers six tournaments each day at 11am, 3pm, 7pm, 10pm, 1am, and 4am.

The Golden Nugget is also home to the summer Grand Poker Series. The Grand Poker Series offers two tournaments each day in the $200 buy in range. One daily tournament is No Limit Texas Hold’em, while the other game is always a non hold’em event. These non hold’em events are typically Omaha, Stud, and draw games.



If you can take one look at a photograph of Downtown Las Vegas in all its vintage glory, and still tell me The Strip can hold a candle to what Sin City used to be, I can’t help you.

Despite my personal inclinations though, pale imitations of European landmarks paired with faux luxury at sky-high prices does appeal to a certain crowd. It must, with most of the 42 million visitors who made the trip to Las Vegas last year confining their entire experience to The Strip.

And hey, I don’t mind seeing a cool show like Absinthe, superstar talents like Celine Dion, or the latest culinary masterpieces from Michelin Guide acclaimed celebrity chefs. Who doesn’t, right?

What I won’t do anywhere on Las Vegas Boulevard, however, is play video poker.

Simply put, The Strip is where video poker bankrolls go to die. Thanks to corporate consolidation within the gambling industry – MGM Resorts and Caesars Entertainment combine to operate 17 of the 30 casinos lining The Strip – players are left to the mercy of the house.
As you might suspect, casinos in the Silver State aren’t exactly known for their merciful ways. After all, they didn’t haul in $11.9 billion in gambling win last year alone by taking it easy on players.

Video poker players bear the brunt of it too, because the ubiquitous Game King machine from IGT allows casinos to tinker with the pay table as they see fit.

Instead of offering a video poker variant’s “full pay” table – or the precise payout structure that creates the game’s highest payback percentage for the player – most casinos on The Strip reduce key payouts.

By changing the 9/6 full pay table in Jacks or Better, for example, the game’s standard 99.54 percent house edge falls off a cliff:

Jacks or Better Pay Table Comparison

TABLEPAYBACK
9/699.54 percent
9/598.45 percent
8/698.39 percent
8/597.30 percent
7/596.15 percent
6/595.00 percent

Playing basic strategy a 9/6 version of this video poker classic offers a perfectly reasonable – and even beatable when comps are factored in – payback percentage of 99.54 percent. That leaves a house edge of only 0.46 percent for players to overcome, which is right on par with the best skill games like blackjack.

But as the payouts are downgraded – through slight adjustments to the key pays on a full house and/or flush – Jacks or Better becomes nothing short of a travesty. If I wanted to battle against an unbeatable house edge of 5.00 percent, I’d splash around on a pure game of chance like double-zero roulette, not the ultimate strategic thinker’s game Jacks or Better.

And this pay table conundrum affects all the other variants as well whenever you play on The Strip:

Best poker room on fremont street view

Deuces Wild Pay Table Comparison

TABLEPAYBACK
25/15/9/5/3/2100.76 percent
25/15/11/4/4/399.96 percent
25/16/10/4/4/399.73 percent
25/15/9/4/4/398.91 percent
20/12/10/4/4/397.58 percent
20/12/9/4/4/397.06 percent
25/16/13/4/3/296.77 percent
20/10/8/4/4/395.96 percent
25/15/10/4/3/294.82 percent

Double Bonus Poker Pay Table Comparison

TABLEPAYBACK
10/7100.17 percent
9/7/599.11 percent
9/6/597.81 percent
9/6/496.38 percent
8/594.19 percent
7/593.11 percent

Double Double Bonus Poker Pay Table Comparison

TABLEPAYBACK
10/6100.07 percent
9/6/498.98 percent
9/597.87 percent
8/596.79 percent
7/595.71 percent
6/594.66 percent

To get a taste of how hostile The Strip has become for sharp video poker players, just realize that you can no longer find a single full pay Deuces Wild machine and its famous player edge of 100.76 percent – anywhere on Las Vegas Boulevard. Not a single machine mind you, even in the best high-limit rooms where whales typically get the best odds in exchange for dumping serious sums. Fame and fortune slot machine.

Even so, I know there’s plenty of players out there who are cut from my mold. Maybe it’s nostalgia over the good old days, or just the frugal nature of grizzled veteran gamblers who prefer savings over spectacle, but Downtown Las Vegas still calls out to a significant segment of the video poker community.

Who am I kidding… it’s mostly due to Downtown’s abundance of full pay machines covering all the most popular variants.

Best Poker Room On Fremont Street

On that front, this is a piece dedicated to the five best places to play video poker on fabulous Fremont Street in the Downtown district.

1 – The Plaza Hotel & Casino

An iconic fixture of the Downtown skyline since 1971, the Plaza has the highest payback percentage on Fremont Street thanks to its low-limit 1-Pair Joker Wild machines:

The Plaza’s Best Video Poker Options

VARIANTFULL PAYBACKCOIN DENOMINATION(S)
1-Pair Joker Wild100.65 percent25¢, 50¢
Double Bonus100.17 percent25¢, 50¢¸ $1
Double Bonus Plus99.76 percent25¢, 50¢, $1
Bonus Deluxe99.64 percent25¢, 50¢¸ $1, $2
Jacks or Better99.54 percent25¢, 50¢, $1, $2
Bonus Poker99.17 percent25¢, 50¢, $1, $2, $5
Deuces Joker Wild99.07 percent25¢, 50¢, $1, $2
Double Double Bonus98.98 percent25¢, 50¢, $1, $2

The beauty of video poker at the Plaza is variety, as you’ll find more than 225 machines covering 10 different variants – almost all of which offer full pay tables.

2 – California Hotel & Casino

If you prefer the value-packed action found at Boyd Gaming properties, the California is your home away from home when playing Downtown.

Along with full pay Double Bonus and it’s sweet 0.17 percent player edge, video poker at the California spans the spectrum from nickel stakes to five bucks a coin:

California’s Best Video Poker Options

VARIANTFULL PAYBACKCOIN DENOMINATION(S)
Double Bonus100.17 percent25¢, 50¢, $1
Not So Ugly Ducks (Deuces Wild)99.73 percent5¢, 10¢, 25¢, 50¢
Super Double Bonus99.69 percent25¢, 50¢, $1
Triple Double Bonus99.58 percent25¢, 50¢, $1
Jacks or Better99.54 percent25¢, 50¢, $1
Loose Deuces Wild99.20 percent$1, $2, $5
Bonus Poker99.17 percent5¢, 10¢, 25¢, 50¢, $1, $2, $5
Double Double Bonus98.98 percent25¢, 50¢, $1

3 – El Cortez Hotel & Casino

The Strip keeps adding new casinos every year, but if you want to play at the oldest continuously operated gambling hall in Sin City, the El Cortez is the ticket.

Constructed in 1941, the El Cortez looks and feels like you’ve gone back in time to a bygone era. That antique vibe can be found in the video poker parlor too.

El Cortez’ Best Video Poker Options

VARIANTFULL PAYBACKCOIN DENOMINATION(S)
Double Bonus100.17 percent25¢
Super Double Bonus99.69 percent$1
Double Deuces Wild99.62 percent25¢, $1
Triple Bonus99.59 percent25¢
Bonus Deuces Wild99.45 percent25¢
A-C-E-S Bonus99.40 percent25¢

If you couldn’t tell, Bonus-based games are the specialty at El Cortez, so head here to hunt for those high-paying four Aces with a kicker jackpots.

4 – Downtown Grand Hotel & Casino

Originally opened in 1964 as the Lady Luck Casino, the newly renovated Downtown Grand is like a little slice of The Strip transported to Fremont Street.

Best Poker Room On Fremont Street Chicago

Except for the full pay video poker machines, that is, which are led by the relatively obscure “Super Aces” version of Bonus Poker:

Best Poker Room On Fremont Street Map

Downtown Grand’s Best Video Poker Options

Best Poker Room On Fremont Street 2017

VARIANTFULL PAYBACKCOIN DENOMINATION(S)
Super Aces

(Bonus Poker)

99.94 percent25¢, 50¢, $1
Jacks or Better99.54 percent25¢
Bonus Poker99.17 percent25¢, 50¢, $1, $2, $5
Double Double Bonus98.98 percent25¢, 50¢, $1, $2, $5

In case you’re unfamiliar with Super Aces, this game is just Bonus Poker with a premium jackpot payout of 2,000 coins (on a max-bet) when you land four of a kind in Aces.

Conclusion

Best Poker Room On Fremont Street Las Vegas

Best Poker Room On Fremont Street

Downtown Las Vegas is where it all started, from Benny Binion hosting the first World Series of Poker, the world famous $0.99 shrimp cocktail, and 100x Odds bets on the craps table. Legends were born there, million-dollar bankrolls were built and burned through in a day, and the world’s gambling capital emerged like an oasis in the Mojave Desert sands. The old drag on Fremont Street has seen better days to be sure, but if you’re a sharp video poker player, historic venues like the ones listed above are the most beautiful sight in Sin City.