Dude, There Are Monkeys Everywhere At SLS Las Vegas

Blackjack Monkeys Everywhere
Blackjack Monkey

SLS Las Vegas has monkeys everywhere. I love monkeys. There are 5 different monkeys on each blackjack table and the dealers wear vests with monkeys on the back. There’s no way that someone who loves monkeys like me won’t go a little crazy after looking at them for a while.

Bad (fun) things can happen with the combination of too many moneys and too much scotch. A friend emailed a conversation that I’ll very likely have…because there’s a monkey everywhere you look.

Marc: “c’mon, (sitting on an Ace), hit me a MONKEEEE…BLACKJACK, FUCK YEAH MONKEY!” 
Pit Boss: “Sir, you can’t use that language here…”
Marc: “Dude, There are Monkeys everywhere, it’s ok” 

This will happen in a couple of months. Here’s another Blackjack Monkey.

Blackjack Monkey At SLS Las Vegas
Blackjack Monkey

SLS Las Vegas Preparing For Douchebaggery

SLS Las Vegas Men's Room Sign
Men, read this.

Yesterday when I shared my first impressions of SLS Las Vegas I mentioned the following.

Since the casino is so tight (spatially) the mix of testosterone, booze and drugs seems like a toxic mix for disaster.

I forgot that I took this picture in the men’s room on Friday. Maybe it was sitting in my subconscious. Clearly SLS Las Vegas is aware that the nightclubs will bring a certain element to the casino and is preparing for the worst case scenario.

I’m going to guess that this sign is a signal that we won’t be seeing Johnny Football partying at LiFE or one of the other nightclubs.


First Impressions Of SLS Las Vegas

SLS Las Vegas Carpet
SLS Las Vegas Carpet

My first impression of SLS Las Vegas is positive but not perfect. Nothing is perfect as far as I’m concerned. I’ve already detailed some of the flaws from the first few days of business in a separate post.

1. The Setup

The pre-opening moniker SLS Las Vegas used to describe the property was “affordable luxury”. That set up for the hotel to be fancy on a budget. For example there’s no way to make Ikea furniture feel luxurious but it can look nice. With that in mind I went in with limited expectations.

2. Casino Layout

SLS Las Vegas Casino
SLS Las Vegas Casino

I care more about the casino than most of SLS Las Vegas. The floor plan is only 60,000 square feet. If you ever visited Sahara this is 20,000 square feet less. The floor plan is small, which is fine but there are choke points that make it almost impossible to go to certain parts of the casino. The high traffic walkway by table area near the players club and The Griddle is tight and will always be busy. There are similar choke points on the slot floor that will be impossible to walk through because machines are packed so closely. Just scope out areas before sitting down at a table or machine.

Layout aside there are ample 3:2 blackjack games for $5 and $10. Craps has $10 minimums. There is decent video poker and all new slot machines. I dig all of this and wouldn’t mind gambling here. US Poker has a breakdown of most of the games.

Parts of the casino floor seem dark and that can make the tight casino feel almost claustrophobic on busy nights. This feels like a casino I’d visit during the day more than at night.

3. Umami Burger – Sportsbook – Beer Garden

Umami Burger Entrance At SLS Las Vegas
Umami Burger Entrance

This is the part of the casino I was most looking forward to. A sportsbook that serves good burgers and good beer? This might be heaven. It is and it isn’t. This isn’t a sportsbook.

Umami Burger a sports bar/restaurant with a patio and a place to bet on sports. Burger prices are between $12 and $15. Not too bad for the Vegas Strip. Draft beers are around $9-10 and bottles start at $5. There are no drink tickets from William Hill for sports bets as of opening but I think that will change. If you drink/eat at the video poker bar your drinks will be comp’d while you have money in play.

Umami Burger Bar At SLS Las Vegas
Umami Burger Bar

I really like this as a restaurant. Like I said in Vegas Chatter this is a good sports bar/restaurant but it’s not a traditional sportsbook. It should be packed with sports fans for big events but expect to see kids and families in the mix on other days. Even thought it’s not a traditional sportsbook this is my favorite spot at SLS Las Vegas.

Note, you can still sit and watch games without spending any money. However, if there are paying customers for Umami Burger you’ll politely be asked to leave if you’re not spending money.

4. Dining and High Priced Drinks

Buffet Monkey At SLS Las Vegas
Buffet Monkey!

Most of the food at the restaurants are fairly priced for the Vegas Strip. They’re not cheap and they’re not out-of-bounds. Early reviews are positive and my Umami Burger was great (more detail soon, I can only write so much).

Be aware that most of the drinks are expensive compared to the food prices. My Umami burger was $12 and my Rogue Dead Guy would have been $9 if I wasn’t playing video poker. Cocktails at Cleo and other restaurants are in the $14-$15 range.

If I’m out for a night on the Vegas Strip these priced won’t bother me much but some will be/have been upset about this.

5. Rooms Are Pretty But Small

There’s only so much design can do to mask that most of the rooms are 300-500 square feet. For comparison the bathroom at The Palazzo is about 300 square feet. The rooms look nice and they’ve been designed to maximize the small size. Don’t be surprised by this.

6. Vibe – Day

SLS is being marketed to two customers and you can see that with the vibe during the day and at night. During the day you’ll see more older, low-key, gambling customers. The vibe will be a mix of older locals, tourists and weekend visitors from LA just waking up or going to sleep. The locals marketing should make SLS one of the top strip hotels for locals. This is when I’ll be visiting most often.

7. Vibe – Night

Things change when the sun goes down. There are 3 nightclubs so you can expect younger crowds. This crowd generally doesn’t know how to gamble and can be loud and obnoxious (#GOML). Since the casino is so tight the mix of testosterone, booze and drugs seems like a toxic mix for disaster. Hopefully security keeps things under control. Chances are you’ll never see me at SLS on a weekend night.

8. Parking

SLS Parking Garage Warning

Self park is easy to navigate and the garage has wide lanes. This is rare for an older parking garage. I will self park at SLS until I hear of problems with crime in the garage. I valet when the self park isn’t convenient to the casino (like Planet Hollywood) but prefer to park myself. I dig this.

Overall Impression

My overall impression of SLS Las Vegas is positive. I’d probably give SLS Las Vegas a B grade. It passes what I like in a casino but it’s not perfect. There’s good gambling, a good burger joint, nice area to drink outside, seemingly good restaurants at fair prices and an independent coffee roaster.

On the flip side the casino can feel claustrophobic, the rooms are small and there’s potential for an explosion of personalities on the weekend.

I look forward to exploring SLS Las Vegas more often as time goes by to see if it’s better or worse than my first impression.

SLS Las Vegas Carpet Is Pretty Awesome

SLS Las Vegas is a highly stylized and designed property. The casino and hotel combine to have some of the most outrageous and intriguing carpeting that you’ll see anywhere in Las Vegas.

Here are 5 samples of carpet you’ll find throughout the property. This is only a fraction of what you’ll find throughout )I have are a few more on Facebook).

1. Frank Sinatra – You’ll find this when you enter the hotel from valet. This is awesome.

Frank Sinatra Carpet At SLS Las Vegas
Frank Sinatra

2. Welcome To Las Vegas Postcard – This is located towards the hotel rooms. It’s pretty cool to see a vintage postcard as carpeting.

Welcome To Las Vegas Vintage Postcard Carpet at SLS Las Vegas
Welcome To Las Vegas

3. 26th Floor – This is just general hotel hallway carpeting. It’s not what you’d normally see on the floor of a casino hotel.

26th Floor Carpet At SLS Las Vegas
26th Floor Carpet

4. Hey There – This is located in the valet entrance near Sinatra.

SLS Las Vegas Casino Carpet
Hey There

5. Horsie! – This giant horse is located just outside of the Congo conference room. It’s an interesting design touch to continue random ideas all the way into the conference area.

Horse Carpet at SLS Las Vegas
Hey Horsie

Searching For Flaws At SLS Las Vegas

SLS Las Vegas Carpet
SLS Las Vegas Carpet

I like SLS Las Vegas. I might like it a lot but it’s too early to tell. Like everything in life SLS Las Vegas has some flaws. During the week I’ll going a bit deeper into the things I like but I want to touch on some things that I’ve seen and heard that stand out on the less than awesome side.

These are just meant as a heads up for visitors and not a take down of SLS. You can’t judge any business on 2 days of operation.

SLS Las Vegas has already started to address some complaints from the first two days of business (beer prices for one) and it will be interesting to see how else they handle early complaints.

Dark – The casino is kind of dark. There’s little natural light and what light they have isn’t very bright. I didn’t spend much time in the casino so I’m not sure if this is a sleep inducing kind of dark or if it creates some intimacy. If you like natural light hang out near the Vegas Strip side. There’s a blackjack pit near the Vegas Strip entrance and Umami Burger has light from the beer garden.

Tight – Even though there are less 200 less slot machines than the Sahara had the slot floor can be tight. If two people are playing back to back in some areas it may be impossible to pass. When The Griddle or The Code booth are busy the pit of blackjack tables becomes uncomfortable. I’m not sure this can be fixed so these are just spots that I’ll avoid.

Hidden Buffet – The buffet is on the second floor and there’s limited signage that I can remember pointing people there. The setup is nice if you like a buffet but you may have to remember that you want it. I think it’s great to have the buffet on the second floor as it will keep kids/families out-of-the-way from the rest of the property for a while.

Drink Prices – Drink prices across the board are kind of insane. Most draft beers (a good selection) at Umami burger are around $10 or more. Cocktails at other restaurants are $14-$15. A bottle of soda (no fountain drinks) at Umami Burger is $5(!). Large Iced Coffee at The Perq is more than $5. These are more in line with Vegas Strip luxury hotel prices than a middle tier hotel. Umami did drop a bottle of Stella Artois from $8 to $5 last night so it looks as though SLS Las Vegas will offer some options to the prices.

Trying Too Hard - I like a lot of the design touches on the main floor of SLS but some have mentioned that it comes across as trying too hard to be cool. It’s almost as if there’s too much design effort which comes off as obnoxious. To each their own.

Small Rooms - You should know the basic rooms are some of the smallest on the Vegas Strip. If you’re not aware of the size it will bother you. They try to mask the small size and bad views with design but the bones are the bones.

In The Hood – You’re kind of in the hood when you’re outside of SLS. There are plenty of security guards on and around the property to remind you of that.

Slow Elevators – The building is old and the elevators haven’t been replaced and have been getting wonky already. This was a problem for some people in the garage over the weekend. On my Friday tour the World Tower elevators didn’t want to close. In their defense we had to be over capacity with too many people.

Here are links to pictures I took over the weekend if you’d like to get an idea of what SLS Las Vegas looks like.

11 Nuggets of carpet

Umami Burger/Sportsbook/Beer Garden

Friday – A boatload of pictures from all over

Saturday – Just a few casino pics


Lion’s Share $2.4 Million Jackpot Hit At MGM Grand Last Night

Lion's Share Jackpot At MGM Grand Gets A Winner!
Lion’s Share Jackpot Winner!

Some time around midnight last night MGM Grand tweeted that somebody had won the $2.4 Million Lion’s Share jackpot that’s been building for 20 years. That tweet has was deleted when I woke up this morning. It used an old picture not showing the winning pull so it didn’t seem legitimate anyway.

Questions were flying on twitter whether or not the Lion’s Share jackpot was actually hit. At 12:24, while at the opening of SLS Las Vegas, the usually reliable Norm Clarke confirmed that a couple from New Hampshire did win the Lion’s Share jackpot.

Well, there goes my retirement plan.

People would stand in line to play Lion’s Share at all times of the day for their shot at the huge jackpot. There have been rumors that the winners of the jackpot would receive the actual slot machine but here’s no confirmation of that.

If you played Lion’s Share simply because it was an old game, you can head towards the sportsbook and play Sigma Derby. If you’re looking for a game with a big jackpot (but really bad odds) you can head over to a MegaBucks slot machine at any casino.

Photo: Vegas Message Board

Here’s Some Pre-Opening Video Of SLS Las Vegas

SLS Las Vegas Casino Bar
SLS Las Vegas Casino Bar. I hate renderings.

I’m heading out to SLS Las Vegas in a couple of hours and will share pictures and info from the press conference and property tour on twitter and instagram. In the meantime here are a couple of PR videos to show and tell you about the newest hotel on the Vegas Strip.

SLS Las Vegas Property Tour – Shows what the casino, restaurants and rooms look like. This video is actual footage of SLS Las Vegas (thankfully) and not a crappy rendering video. The audio was wonky for me so crank up some jams, it’s 4 minutes long.

Sound bites from SLS Las Vegas Partners: Sam Bakhshandehpour, Philippe Starck & Jose Andres talk about their excitement for the property. I didn’t watch this video because I don’t need to hear how excited they are and how this will change Las Vegas forever.

Tweet ya later!

Jay-Z, Magic Johnson And Now Sam Nazarian

Sam Nazarian SLS Las Vegas Sahara Photo
Sam Nazarian

At a licensing hearing for SLS Las Vegas a couple of weeks ago it was noted that Sam Nazarian’s  SBE only owns 10% of the hotel opening this week.

Stockbridge owns 90 percent of the SLS Las Vegas while SBE Entertainment owns the remaining 10 percent but does not have any voting rights.

This surprised and confused many people as Sam Nazarian has been touted for “Shaking Up Las Vegas” since SLS Las Vegas was announced.

In just three months, on August 23, Life will open as the centerpiece of Nazarian’s new SLS Hotel and Casino. It’s where rowdy bachelorettes and drunk conventioneers will buy $1,000 bottles of champagne while aerialists perform overhead. 

Yes, SLS Las Vegas is being touted as Sam Nazarian’s hotel despite his company’s small ownership stake. As I’m writing this there’s a hearing for SLS Las Vegas’ gaming license where it was clarified that SBE/Nazarian “work for Stockbridge” and that technically Rob Oseland will really be running the ship day to day at SLS Las Vegas..

Sam Nazarian is a figurehead and spokesperson. He’s the famous name that SLS Las Vegas can use to market itself. In today’s media landscape this small ownership stake by a spokesperson should come as no surprise to anyone.

Jay-Z owned less than 1% of the Brooklyn Nets when he was called an owner. Magic Johnson owns the Los Angeles Dodgers but owns less than 3% of the team.

Even though calling these people “owners” seems like false representation it isn’t. They are “owners” hired as spokespeople. Jay-Z (especially) and Magic Johnson bring a cool factor and little more to their businesses interests. This arrangement benefits both parties as it offers something neither would have without each other.

Nazarian and SBE offer almost the same thing to SLS Las Vegas but they actually bring some kind of business portfolio to SLS Las Vegas. That’s probably why they own 10% and not less than 3% of the business.

Photo: Review Journal

Sam Nazarian SLS Las Vegas Sahara Photo
Sam Nazarian


Gold Fish 3 Slot Machines Hit Red Rock Resort

Gold Fish 3 Slot Machine At Red Rock Resort Las Vegas
Gold Fish 3 Slot Machine

There aren’t many slot machines that make me feel more like an old lady than the Gold Fish series. In part I don’t play the Gold Fish slot machines for this reason very often. The other reason I don’t play Gold Fish very often is that I haven’t liked any of the slots in this series since the original release.

Before grabbing lunch at Red Rock Resort yesterday I noticed that they recently installed a bank of Gold Fish 3 slot machines by WMS Gaming. The game has been out for a while but I haven’t seen it before.

There were two women playing (go figure) and their games were making lots of noise so I figured that I’d drop a bill in and see how the game was. Gold Fish 3 is fun. There are lots of bonuses to keep the game going and the game is big, bright and loud. All features I enjoy in a slot machine.

I enjoyed the original Gold Fish slot machine but haven’t liked any of the games since and stopped playing the series all together. I will definitely play Gold Fish 3 again. Check out the promo video below.

Spy Vs. Spy Slot Machine From WMS Gaming

Spy Vs. Spy Slot Machine From WMS Gaming
Spy Vs. Spy Slot Machine

I saw this Spy Vs. Spy slot machine from WMS Gaming at G2E last year and wasn’t very excited by it. I think that it’s because I don’t have a strong bond with the Spy Vs. Spy theme. Watching the video for the game is actually making me rethink how I feel about the game.

Spy Vs. Spy is a reel slot machine that uses video for bonus rounds really well. I don’t think I’ll love the game but it looks much cooler than many of the slot machines that have come out recently.

Check out the video and game details below. Will you play Spy Vs. Spy when it hit casinos?

The SPY Vs. SPY theme utilizes a unique battle mechanic where the game is always in one of two modes: WHITE SPY or BLACK SPY.

Watch as the Spies fight to land in the “versus” location, the center position of the rightmost reel, to take control of the game, and put it in either WHITE SPY Mode or BLACK SPY Mode.

Collect WHITE Spies in WHITE SPY Mode, or BLACK Spies in BLACK SPY mode, to pay and increase the meters above. Landing a WILD in “versus” location will pay and increment all top screen meters. Choose your spy in the free spin bonus and get a multiplier if your Spy wins.

Featuring a round top with glass over an incandescent LED monitor, and a clear LED panel that allows full visibility of the reels, this low-denomination Blade stepper theme is sure to catch your attention- no booby-traps needed!