How the Plaza Has Transformed Into a Top Poker House

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

On December 13 the Las Vegas Review-Journal ran a business feature about the resurgence of Downtown, and specifically the Plaza. As is typical with mainstream business stories, there were a bunch of numbers and broad-stroke assessments that supported the thesis, but not a whole lot in the way of detail regarding the moves the Plaza has made to reinvent itself. Digging deeper, here are a few ways the Plaza is seeking gamblers.

For starters, the players club offers the best new-member benefit in town with the $500 on Us loss-rebate promotion. On this program, you can have $500 in one-day losses returned. Hit something big and you keep the winnings; lose the $500 and get it back in free play. The losses are returned in two installments and there are some restrictions on which machines are eligible to play the rebate, but this is the best gambler’s deal in town right now.

Over the past year the Plaza has made a tremendous transformation to become a top video poker house. At the Omaha Bar alone, you can play four schedules with returns above 99 percent in denominations from 25 cents to $1, with the best being 9/6 Bonus Poker Deluxe (99.64 percent). And it gets better on the floor, with a selection of machines that pay more than 100 percent. Slot players will find old-style “coin-droppers,” as well as familiar games such as Double Diamond, Triple Double Diamond, Double Red White and Blue, and Triple Strike.

In the pit, two- and six-deck blackjack games pay the traditional 3-2 on naturals, and you can take up to 10X odds on craps. A cool new street-level “party pit” with floor-to-ceiling views looks out onto the Fremont Street Experience. The poker room is completely automated with machine games (no live dealers), and the Plaza also has Downtown’s only bingo room.

The good games are important, but a great casino doesn’t make it on the games alone (ask the Binions or the Gaughans). For quick bites there’s Pop-Up Pizza, the Beer Garden and the food court. Hash House a Go Go functions as a coffee shop, and Oscar’s remains one of the best-view steakhouses in the city. But the real deal in dining is Oscar’s happy hour. From 4 to 7 p.m. daily, several of the restaurant’s top appetizers are deeply discounted, including shrimp cocktail ($8) and steak tartare ($9), but the star of the show are the crab cakes. Normally $17, you get two for $9, and they rank near the top of the chart in crab-to-filler ratio. Drinks are also discounted, and ladies drink free on Thursdays.

And while just about every place else Downtown now charges a fee to park, the Plaza gives you the first 90 minutes on the house, which is just enough time to take advantage of that happy hour.

Anthony Curtis is the publisher of the Las Vegas Advisor and

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