At one point, downtown Las Vegas was *the* place to go for the best odds on slot machines, video poker and table games. That has changed somewhat in recent years. It’s still a better option than ‘The Strip’ but as the downtown has been upgraded in quality it’s started to attract tourists and locals downtown for other reasons. That’s good for the city but not necessarily good for gamblers. Since many properties can attract visitors in other ways they don’t need to rely on competitive odds and player friendly rules.

For many years, Binion’s Horseshoe was known as the center of the universe for poker and blackjack players. That’s no longer true, nor is it true that you can wander into any downtown casino and find good odds on video poker and slot machines. It’s getting almost as difficult as finding superior odds on ‘The Strip’ though on balance you’ll still find better games downtown than in the more heavily traveled tourist area.


Downtown Las Vegas is a very entertaining spectacle and particularly on a weekend night. You’ll see all sorts of strange characters along with concerts and the ‘Fremont Street Experience’ light show. There’s plenty of excellent restaurants and bars and the entire experience has been dramatically upgraded from a couple of decades ago when your primary concern wasn’t finding the right place to gamble but to avoid being knifed.

For many years, the downtown casino scene was dominated by the Boyd Casino group but as they’ve placed a greater emphasis on their properties outside of Nevada that has started to change. There’s quite a few casinos that are independently owned and operated and these often are the best places to gamble. The reason for this is simple–they don’t have a network of other properties promoting them and sharing marketing like casino club cards with them. For that reason, they have to get people in the building ‘The Old Fashioned Way’ by competing on the basis of player friendly rules and fair odds.


–Four Queens: The Four Queens might be the closest thing to an ‘old school’ Las Vegas experience left downtown. Their gourmet dining room Hugo’s Cellar has changed little since the days of ‘The Rat Pack’ and still maintains a very high level of quality in both food and service. There’s a microbrew inside that has the added bonus of being ‘cigar friendly’. You’ll also find some of the best paying video poker games anywhere in the city and certainly downtown. You can usually find full pay games in Deuces Wild as well as Jacks or Better, Bonus Poker and its variants and Jokers Wild. It does seem like there are more of the newer ‘gimmicky games’ than a few years ago but in my opinion the 4Q is still the place to play video poker downtown.

–The Plaza: The Plaza is one of the most historic casinos in downtown Las Vegas. It was once owned by casino industry legend Jackie Gaughan and has other distinctions during it’s lifetime. It’s been the neighbor of the train station and bus station and for a long time housed the studios of 50,000 watt AM radio giant KDWN. It closed for awhile but has been reborn as a boutique property with the requisite upgraded bars and dining rooms, a William Hill sportsbook that ranks as one of the best downtown and a reasonable selection of full pay Deuces Wild, Jokers Wild and Jacks or Better video poker games.

–El Cortez: Another venerable downtown property that was also once owned by Jackie Gaughan, the El Cortez has upgraded its offerings without losing it’s traditional vibe. The Siegel’s 1941 restaurants is one of my favorite places to eat downtown and the sportbook is run by the Stations Casinos team. It also has some of the best paying video poker and slot games downtown. In fact, the El Cortez has won several local awards for ‘best paying slots and video poker downtown’. Definitely not as ‘swank’ as some of the other properties downtown but more often than not you can find a good deuces wild video poker game to play.