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Reason I like Bovada #2:

Good Odds

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The odds are always against you when you gamble, so it pays to play at a casino that offers good odds. I spent some time looking for an online casino with good odds, and I found it in Bovada. Let me first tell you about the competition, though.

It's disappointing that most online casinos are greedy when setting the odds on their games. They think they'll make more money by setting the games tighter, so the player has less chance of winning, but they're wrong. Most gamblers eventually gamble away all their playing budget anyway. They're going to lose the same amount of money no matter what, the only question is how long it takes them to do so. And when they play at a tight casino and lose quickly, they're less likely to return.

A casino which offers good odds will make just as much money as a tight casino, because the players will usually gamble away whatever they deposit anyway, no matter what the odds. The only difference is that with better odds, they'll get to play longer before they go bust. And that means they had more fun in the process, and they're more likely to return.

Bovada is one of they few casinos that understands this. They offer games with good odds, knowing that if your money lasts longer, you'll be a happier, loyal customer. Among their offerings are:

  • Two blackjack games returning over 99.8%
  • Single-0 roulette
  • Full-pay Jacks or Better (99.54%)
  • Nine other video poker games returning over 99%

You don't have to play at Bovada, but wherever you play, make sure they offer odds at least this good!

All in all, I think Bovada is the best bet for U.S. players.

Try their blackjack for free.
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Gambling problem?
  1. Call the 800-522-4700 hotline or get online help
  2. See these horror stories.
  3. Know that Parkinson's drugs encourage gambling.
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free slots now

Gambling problem?
  1. Call the 800-522-4700 hotline or get online help
  2. See these horror stories.
  3. Know that Parkinson's drugs encourage gambling.

Free Las Vegas Attractions

(also see our separate pages about cheap thrills and paid attractions)

 Last update:  August 2011

Bellagio Fountains & Garden

"The most ambitious water feature ever conceived in terms of choreography, complexity and scale, the Fountains at Bellagio express the romantic spirit of the Resort. More than a thousand fountains dance in front of the Hotel, creating a breathtaking union of water, music and light. The display spans more than a fifth of a mile, with water soaring as high as 240 feet in the air. The fountains are choreographed to music ranging from classical and operatic pieces to songs from Broadway shows. Performances range from delicate and whimsical to grand and commanding, and each performance is uniquely expressive in its interpretation." (from Bellagio's website) The Las Vegas Sun says it has 1,200 nozzles, 4,500 lights, and cost $40 million to build. Shows begin at Noon on the weekends and 3:00pm M-F. Shows happen every half hour until 8:00pm, and then every 15 minutes through midnight.

Inside the Bellagio is an impressive garden area in a huge atrium.  Bellagio changes the garden with the season.  As I write this there's a July 4th theme with a massive Liberty Bell.

Mirage Volcano and Rainforest

"Every fifteen minutes from dusk to midnight, flames shoot into the night sky, spewing smoke and fire 100 feet above the waters below and transforming a tranquil waterfall into streams of molten lava. The volcano at The Mirage has been Las Vegas' signature attraction ever since the resort opened in 1989. The show is free to the public.

"Inside The Mirage's front entrance, you'll find a lush and verdant indoor rainforest housed under a 100-foot-high dome. Palm trees reach 60 feet above cascading waterfalls. Lagoons meander through a forest of rich tropical flora including bird of paradise trees, orchids and bromeliads. Woven into this waterscape is an artist's palette of beautifully colored, delicately arranged tropical flowers enveloped in natural sunlight. Water mists the area lightly throughout the day to enhance the atmosphere and help keep the plants cool. Six full-time gardeners spend over 240 hours each week to maintain the more than 100 different types of plants in the atrium. Over 300 fresh orchids and 1000 bromeliads grace the walkways." (from the Mirage's website)

Pirate Show at Treasure Island

For years the free pirate shows in front of the Treasure Island casino have been one of the most popular attractions on the strip. The show and showtimes are always changing, so see Treasure Island website for current info.  From TI's website:

"a clash between a group of beautiful, tempting sirens and a band of renegade pirates. Visitors will be awed by the music, dance, excitement and seduction in this modern musical-meets-action-movie spectacular. From daring swordplay to high-diving acrobatics and eye-popping pyrotechnics, the show is packed with countless thrills. But beware the sirens, temptresses of the sea. Now, no man is safe in Sirens' Cove. VIP viewing is available for Treasure Island guests. For the safety of all our guests and patrons, strollers are not permitted at the Sirens of TI show."

Moving statues at Caesars Palace

At the very end of the Forum Shops at Caesars is a free show with large, moving statues acting out a short play, running every hour on the hour. It's very popular, but the sound system is horrible: it's almost impossible to make out what the statues are saying with the intense reverb and the thunderous sound effects. It's something about the two offspring vying to be the successors to their father's throne, and he can't choose so he leaves it up to the audience, but then there's some big bird thing and everybody dies. The statue that's the son looks like Keanu Reeves when he's been startled by some headlights. Anyway, it's free, so what have you got to lose?

Fremont Street Experience

When the downtown casinos started losing lots of business to the new megaresort casinos on the strip in the early 90's they decided to fight back. They all banded together to come up with an attraction to keep people coming dowtown. Many ideas were floated, including a system of canals as in Venice, but they finally settled on the Fremont Street Experience: a huge metal canopy over Fremont Street, over five football fields long, and filled with over 12.5 million computer-controlled LED lights which faithfully reproduce video and animation.

The free shows happen every hour on the hour, starting at sundown and ending at midnight. It's easy to find: just go to Fremont Street and look up.  If you're on the Strip just hop on the Deuce or Strip/Downtown Express bus which go straight to Fremont.

If you saw the show before June 2004 and weren't impressed, check it out again: The upgrade added a bunch more lights and dramatically improved the resolution. I thought it was pretty cheesy before, but it's rather impressive now. (Visit the official website.) 

Hotel Architecture/Themes

Hotels on the Strip have invested billions to build massive structures that show off their themed architecture. Here are some of the more famous, in order from the north end of the strip to the south, with the theme or attraction is listed in parentheses.

  • Stratosphere Tower (thrill rides on top)
  • Treasure Island (pirate battles)
  • The Venetian (Venice; gondola rides; historians on retainer)
  • Mirage (volcano, tropical rainforest)
  • Caeser's Palace (Roman)
  • Bellagio (water fountains)
  • Paris (1/3-scale Eiffel Tower)
  • New York-New York (FaƁade is NYC skyscrapers, and Statue of Liberty)
  • MGM Grand (Hollywood)
  • Excalibur (Medieval)
  • Luxor (Egyptian; building is a large pyramid; it lights up at night)