Category: The Strip

On This Date: May 4, 2015 The Riviera Closes its doors

May 4, 2015
The Riviera Closes after 60 years

The Riviera Closes after 60 years

After barely 60 years on the Las Vegas Strip the classic Riviera Hotel and Casino will close forever today on May 4, 2015.  The hotel opened on April 20, 1955.  It was the first high-rise of 9 stories to open on the Las Vegas Strip.  The Riviera opened its doors on April 20th, 1955.  Liberace and his brother, George were the headliners and actress Joan Crawford was the official hostess.

The hotel had over 2,100 rooms and 110,000 sq. ft. casinoof gaming space.

In February of 2015, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority acquired the Riviera hotel and its land for $182.5 million. The hotel will be demolished to make way for a planned expansion of LVCVA’s Las Vegas Global Business District exhibit and meeting center project.

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Wall sized photo in the entrance of the hotel

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Front of the Riviera side from the Las Vegas Strip

 

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“No Ifs and or butts

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Valet entrance from Las Vegas Blvd.

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The Entrance of the Riviera from the Strip

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The Pool at the Riviera

 

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South side of the Riviera stretching from Las Vegas Blvd. to Paradise Rd.

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The Riviera having its 60th Anniversary

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Looking at the north end of the hotel from the Las Vegas Strip heading south

Photos by: LasVegas360.com
Date Taken: May 2, 2015

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On This Date: April 30, 1996, The Stratosphere Las Vegas Opens

April 30, 2015
Stratosphere Tower in Las Vegas

Stratosphere Tower in Las Vegas at 1,149 feet tall.

Stratosphere Las Vegas is a tower, hotel, and casino located on Las Vegas Boulevard just north of the Las Vegas Strip. Its tower is also the tallest observation tower, and the 9th-tallest freestanding structure in the United States, as well as being the tallest structure in Las Vegas.

The Stratosphere was conceived by Bob Stupak as an addition to his Vegas World casino. At the conception of the project, one of the planned rides was to be a giant ape that would carry riders up and down on one of the tower’s columns. The original plans envisioned the Stratosphere exceeding the height of the CNN Tower at 1,815 ft., making it the world’s tallest freestanding structure at that time. However, due to possible interference with nearby McCarran International Airport, and any possible flights that come through Las Vegas, the Tower’s proposed height shrank multiple times, bringing it to its current height of 1,149 ft. On August 29, 1993, the Tower caught fire while still under construction. No one was injured, but the fire forced repairs and rebuilding that led to numerous delays in the construction of the Tower.

For the latest information on The Stratosphere including rides, restaurants and bookings, you can check out The Stratosphere at World Casino Directory.

Photo By:  Timjarrett at en.wikipedia
Date Taken: November 2003

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On This Date, April 28, 2005, the Wynn Opened in Las Vegas

April 28, 2015
Wynn Hotel and Resort in Las Vegas

Wynn Hotel and Resort in Las Vegas

On this date, April 28, 2005, the Wynn opened its doors in Las Vegas. Wynn Las Vegas, often referred to as simply the Wynn, is a luxury resort and casino located on the Las Vegas Strip in Nevada. The $2.7 billion resort is named after casino developer Steve Wynn and is the flagship property of Wynn Resorts Limited. The resort covers 215 acres and is located at the northeast corner of Las Vegas Boulevard and Sands Avenue, directly across The Strip from the Fashion Show Mall.

The 614-foot high hotel has 45 floors, with the 2,716 rooms range in size from 640 sq ft. to the villas at 7,000 sq ft. The complex also includes a 111,000 sq ft. casino, a convention center with 223,000 sq ft. of space, and 76,000 sq ft. of retail space. Together with the adjacent Encore, the entire Wynn resort complex has a total of 4,750 rooms.

The resort has earned AAA five diamond, Mobil five-star, Forbes five-star, Michelin five star, and Zagat Survey Top U.S. Hotel ratings, as well as one Michelin star for restaurant Wing Lei. The Wynn and is considered to be one of the finest hotels in the world. Wynn Las Vegas and its sister property Encore Las Vegas collectively hold more Forbes five-star awards than any other resort and casino in the world.

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On This Date: April 24, 1950 Desert Inn Hotel and Casino Opened

April 24, 2015
Desert Inn aka DI

The Desert Inn Hotel & Casino in 1999

Desert Inn Hotel by the pool

Early photo of the Desert Inn Hotel by the pool

The Desert Inn was a hotel/casino that operated from April 24, 1950, to August 28, 2000. It was the fifth resort to open on the Las Vegas Strip. The property included an 18-hole golf course. Locals nicknamed the resort “The D.I.” or just “D.I.”.

The Desert Inn’s most famous guest, businessman Howard Hughes, arrived on Thanksgiving Day in 1966, renting the hotel’s entire top two floors and then later bought the resort when asked to vacate.

The Desert Inn has appeared in many movies including: The 1960 film version of Ocean’s 11 and last use in the film Rush Hour 2.

Photo by: LasVegas360.com and UNLVspecial collections

The D.I. Was imploded on  November 16, 2004. to make way for the Wynn and Encore resorts.

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On This Date: March 31, 2014 the Largest Ferris Wheel opened in Las Vegas – The High Roller

March 31, 2015
The-High-Roller-observation-wheel

The High Roller Observation Wheel Largest in the World with a 520 Foot Diameter

High Roller is a 550-foot tall  520-foot  diameter giant Ferris wheel on the Las Vegas Strip. It is the world’s tallest observation wheel, 9 ft  taller than the 541-foot Singapore Flyer, which held the record for the world’s tallest observation wheel from 2008 until 2014. After nearly three years of planning and construction it opened to the public on March 31, 2014.

High Roller Facts:

  • The High Roller tops out at 550 feet making it the largest observation wheel in the world.
  • In addition to its great height, the High Roller offers an immersive pre-ride experience for its passengers on their journey from ticketing through the wheel house complete with a lounge, to the wheel ride which features unparalleled views of the Las Vegas Strip.
  • The wheel structure boasts 7.2 million pounds of steel and 112 cables. Each cable measures approximately 225 feet, for a combined total of 25,256 feet.
  • The High Roller features 28 spherical cabins that hold 40 guests.
  • Each cabin weighs approximately 44,000 pounds and includes 300 square feet of glass.
  • The cabin windows are doubly curved and fabricated from four sheets of laminated glass.
  • Fabrication of the wheel began in late 2011 and took place in several locations across the globe including China, Japan, France, Sweden, Italy, Netherlands, Germany, Colorado, California and Las Vegas.
  • The High Roller travels at one foot per second and take roughly 30 minutes to make one full revolution.
  • The wheel is lit with more than 2,000 LED lights.

Photo By: Wikipedia Creative Commons

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Las Vegas Card Counters

March 27, 2015

Las Vegas Card Counters

Last year you may have heard of Hollywood megastar Ben Affleck getting in trouble for his card counting antics. Although the card counting in itself isn’t illegal, casinos do reserve the right to refuse card counters entry to the gaming floor, and can eject players whom they suspect them of card counting. As the professional player Anthony Curtis says: “the science [of card counting] is knowing how to do it; the art is being able to get away with it.”
Ben Affleck of course isn’t the first, nor will he be the last person to be ejected from a Las Vegas casino. This being the case we thought we would provide you with a list other gamblers that have found themselves in trouble for their card counting ways, or got away with remarkable winnings.

Keith Taft

Keith Taft isn’t one of the best known members of the card counting club, but he is one of the more interesting ones. Taft is one of the members of the Blackjack Hall of Fame, because of his innovative strategies for card counting that involved a whole series a different wearable computer devices over the years.

Taft unusually came from a very religious background, he first got hooked on the game of blackjack when on a family holiday to Reno. He received a token to gamble at Harrah’s Casino, he warily went into the casino, but as luck would have it the 3 hands he played were all winning ones! Taft was hooked, and from there on in he would study card counting, and even practise the game with his family. The breakthrough for him happened when he came to the realisation of why he should be doing all the card counting in his head when a computer could do the calculations for him.

Keith Taft

Keith Taft

This lead to the invention of George, a manually wired clunky 15 pound machine strapped to his chest, which attached for 4 switches hidden in his shoes which he controlled with his toes. The information of the dealt cards was then conveyed from the computer to his glasses where LED lights had been concealed. Who needs Google Glass when you have George right? Technically, this is one of the earliest pioneering forms of wearable tech, amazing when you consider that at this time in the early 70’s people like Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak were just dropping out of college, and hadn’t even begun to work on the first prototype of the Apple 1.

Eventually Taft and his crew got busted when their invention called Belly Telly. This involved hiding a camera in a belt buckle and filming the action, whilst a van with a huge satellite picked up the video feed, was discovered by a security guard. Although the law surrounding using computer devices was unclear at the time, the judge ruled that they be sentenced to 6 months in prison. Keith didn’t do time though. This incident also lead to the passing of legislation that prohibited the use of technology to aid gameplay.

Phil Ivey

Phil Ivey’s game was a little bit different from the standard form of card counting. Phil Ivey who is one of the world’s greatest poker players won £7.7 million ($11,490,000) playing a form of Baccarat at Crockfords Casino in Mayfair in London called Punto Banco. This is amazing when you consider that the game of Punto Banco is purely luck and requires no skill whatsoever. However, what the unsuspecting casino staff didn’t know that night is that Phil Ivey’s partner Cheung Yin Sun knew a skill called edge-sorting. Edge-sorting is a skill whereby the player notices imperfections on the back of cards, and memorises them to know what value the card has before it is turned over. This comes in very handy in the game of Punto Banco where a player has to guess which hand, the dealers or the players has a value that adds up closest to 9.

Unfortunately for Phil he would never see his winnings. Crockfords decided that what he was cheating, and therefore went on to withhold his winnings, and only returned to Phil his original £1 million stake. This decision was upheld by a Judge at the High Court and as such Phil won’t ever see his winnings.

Don Johnson

Although this man is technically not a card counter he is worth mentioning as his ‘lucky’ streak meant he walked away with $4 million from Caesars, $5 million from the Borgata, and $6 million from the Tropicana in Atlantic City. In one hand he won a staggering $800,000. The latter casino ended up having the 2nd lowest profits in April 2011 of any of the Atlantic City casinos. As a result the president and CEO of the Tropicana Mark Giannantonio got the boot a few weeks later. So how did he do it?

Well although he may not have been counting cards, in Tony Rodio’s words (the man who succeeded Giannantonio as CEO) “He plays perfect cards.” Don Johnson is very good at maths, and his method is based on calculating the odds against the house. What Johnson knows is that the best way to do well, is by running a smaller number of hands and paying attention to variation. As Johnson puts it the way averages work, the larger the sample, the narrower the range of variation. A session of, say, 600 hands will display wider swings, with steeper winning and losing streaks, than the standard casino charts. That insight becomes important when the betting terms and special ground rules for the game are set—and Don Johnson’s skill at establishing these terms is what sets him apart from your average casino visitor.

He knew how to play the casinos and get what he wanted from them to give just enough of an advantage over the house.

Although these people all managed to do something exceptional in their own way, they are the exception rather than the rule, card counting or trying to get an advantage over a casino in any form can get you into a lot of trouble, so before you start trying to mimic any of these methods, it’s best to weigh up the risks against the rewards. However, nothing can beat the thrill of beating the house, whatever the risk.

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