One of the best perks of visiting casinos is the complimentary adult beverages while gambling. Though these aren’t technically “free” drinks since we’re spending money to gamble.
Drinks and cocktails add to the enjoyment of risking money while hitting table games or slot machines for many visitors in Las Vegas.
Drinking on the casino floor is almost the same as it’s always been, but drinking while gambling at most Las Vegas casino bars has changed recently.
The days of sitting down at a machine and drinking whatever you want, whenever you want are gone at most casinos. Most bars require a minimum bet and consistent play.
In addition to using drink monitoring systems, the casinos are limiting what drinks are available for players. Sadly, most casino bars only offer well spirits or bottom-shelf liquor for complimentary drinks.
Players looking for the best gaming odds know to skip the bartop games. The house edge on bartop keno and slot machines isn’t good.
The video poker paytables are often the worst in the casino. However, it’s easy to find out if the video poker odds at a bar are great, good, or tolerable.
The worst bartop video poker odds are still better than the slot machines or keno games available. Much like blackjack, the house edge for video poker is based on perfect play.
A 6/5 video poker game might have a 5% house edge – but that’s only when played with perfect strategy. It’s probably safe to say the house edge will be higher because of player mistakes if the purpose of gambling at the bar is to drink.
Playing casino games with the best odds is always a good bet for those just looking to gamble. The majority of people visiting Las Vegas are looking for a fun and different experience from home.
Finding the best combination of adult beverages and gambling at Nevada casino bars isn’t easy. There are no bars that have the perfect mix of great odds and drinks.
First, it’s important to prioritize what matters. There’s an art in finding the perfect bartop gambling experience in Las Vegas.
Second, it’s helpful to understand how to earn complimentary drinks. The real power in getting the best out of the experience is to understand how the system works.
Bartop drink monitoring systems
Most bartop games at casino bars use a drink monitoring system. Players often only receive a complimentary drink after inserting $20 into a machine.
Complimentary drinks will follow if a guest spends a minimum per game and plays consistently. The lowest bet to qualify for complimentary drinks is usually $1, along with steady play.
The days of making an occasional quarter bet for all the complimentary drinks are long gone. The drink policies aren’t awful as it doesn’t take more than playing the minimum amount required consistently.
The drink systems typically allow players to earn a complimentary drink every 15 or 20 minutes. Three drinks per hour should be enough to satisfy the needs of most players while gambling.
Some machines show the bartender a green light to serve a player or a red light when they don’t qualify. Other systems will give a player a ticket good for a complimentary drink.
Words of caution for drinkers at Vegas casinos
Las Vegas casino bars are full service for paying customers. Gamblers looking for complimentary drinks have fewer options.
The vast majority of casinos will only offer well or bottom-shelf spirits for mixed drinks. Many casinos use a well gun for spirits and don’t pour directly from the bottle.
Spirits from a gun can be as dirty as the casino allows. A dirty gun will change the flavor of the spirit. The difference is never good.
Additionally, not all casinos serve the same amount of booze in their complimentary drinks. The standard pour for a mixed drink is 1.5 ounces. Some casinos pour 1.25 ounces. There’s even one casino that supposedly only pours 0.75 ounces of booze for a mixed drink.
I’ll usually drink beer when playing video poker unless I know a casino offers quality spirits from a bottle. The casino can’t mess with a pre-packaged item.
Thankfully, after thorough taste testing and research, I’ve found there are a few bars that offer drinks while playing bartop games that are above and beyond the competition.
Best Las Vegas video poker bars with great odds and drinks
There are two casino bars that offer extraordinary drinks for video poker players. Chandelier Bar at The Cosmopolitan and Crystal Bar at Resorts World both have by far the best drinks for gamblers.
These video poker bars are for players who value atmosphere and great drinks more than having the best gambling odds. The house edge for these video poker games is about 5%.
Each drink ticket at the Cosmopolitan is good for a drink up to $18. This covers almost all vodka and most middle-shelf spirits for tequila and whiskey drinkers.
The Cosmopolitan allows players to compile tickets for even better drinks. For example, two tickets will get a top-shelf scotch or one of the signature cocktails like the famous Verbena.
If someone plays very fast or they’re playing with a friend, they can use four for a bottle of wine to drink at the bar or bring back to the room. No other casino bar offers this.
It should be noted that the sportsbook bar at The Cosmopolitan does not offer the same range of complimentary spirits and drinks.
The Crystal Bar at the center of the Resorts World casino floor has similarly great complimentary drinks for video poker players.
This bar will offer complimentary beverages up to $25. This will cover most mid-tier and some top-shelf spirits. Similar to The Cosmopolitan, this will also cover the signature cocktails at the bar.
The high-limit rooms at both casinos offer similar complimentary drinks, but the minimum bets are higher.
Lastly, there are a handful of video poker machines inside the Montecristo Cigar Bar at Caesars Palace. While players have to pay for cigars, the variety of complementary spirits is better than most at the casino.
This isn’t a bar for everyone. Since this bar is inside a cigar bar, players will likely reek of smoke.
Best bartop video poker odds
There are plenty of video poker players who value paytables over drinks. This makes sense for those who are simply looking for a complimentary beer while they play.
There are no “great” paytables at bartop video poker machines on the Vegas Strip. Casinos in downtown Las Vegas or off the Vegas Strip have the best offerings.
The Plaza in downtown Las Vegas has a great combination of paytables and environment. The Omaha Bar on the casino floor has multiple games with a 1% house edge or less.
More exciting is that the Plaza offers the same great paytables inside the Sand Dollar Downtown. This bar and lounge offer live music to go along with the great paytables.
In a perfect world, Plaza will also offer the great paytables at the new Carousel Bar that should be open later this year outside of the casino.
More off-Strip video poker options
Ellis Island is just off the Vegas Strip behind Bally’s (soon-to-be Horseshoe Las Vegas). The casino has a few bars that offer video poker.
There are ample casinos off the Vegas Strip with fair video poker paytables. All Boyd Gaming and Station Casinos properties have good video poker paytables.
The two operators combine for 16 Las Vegas casinos. Some of the properties from these operators include:
Green Valley Ranch
Red Rock Casino
I recommend referencing vpfree2 if paytables are the most important part of the experience when playing video poker. The community of this website has compiled the best video poker paytables and their locations.