Two Way Hard Three | Las Vegas Casino & Design Blog

All Articles for Category: About Vegas

July 25, 2012

Render Quality Control Unto Caesar

Posted by daveschwartz

Attention to detail.

On paper, everyone agrees it's important. Like being "goal-oriented," it's one of those generic hallmarks of a good manager. In theory, it all makes sense: people should sweat the small stuff if they want the big stuff to turn out correctly. In practice, though, there are plenty of reasons why attention to detail is honored more in the breach than the observance: time (or lack thereof); conflicting priorities; lack of quality control; loss of ownership over a project.

After the jump, I'm going to talk about one small instance of a critical lack of attention to detail, and what it all might mean.

April 6, 2012

Crystal Balls and Financing Details

Posted by daveschwartz

We learned yesterday that all of the financing details for the soon-to-open SLS Las Vegas are in place. Well, actually, they aren't, and that's what makes this interesting.

March 10, 2012

I wrote this in 2006...

Posted by daveschwartz

and, though the article was never published, I sure would like that middle sentence back. See the guilty party after the jump.

March 7, 2012

The UnVegas Vegas

Posted by daveschwartz

Fighting gusts of 30 mph on my morning run a few minutes ago, I thought to myself,"I feel bad for people who came here expecting sunshine and palm trees." And I started to muse about other things that visitors to Vegas don't expect when they get here. Then I figured, "Why not share this with everyone?" After the jump, you can see 5 unVegas things that you can see in Vegas.

I'm very happy today to have a post from a guest writer, Paolo Mello.

Many of you will undoubtedly know Paolo from Twitter, where he posts as @paolomello. You'll also find him contributing to comment threads here and at where his username is 'middleclassbuzz'.

Paolo is a Nevada native and Vegas expert, currently living in New York City. In this excellent piece, Paolo muses on the future of leadership at Las Vegas gaming companies.

You'll find his text after the jump - enjoy!

February 7, 2012

Stars, Diamonds, and Service

Posted by daveschwartz

I've been spending a little time at the M Resort, partially for a column you'll be able to read in Vegas Seven this Thursday, and it's gotten me thinking about star/diamond rankings. What use are they, and what exactly do they do for you, the paying public?

January 13, 2012

The Las Vegas Strip: Progress in FY'11

Posted by daveschwartz

Yesterday I wrote a few reports for the Center for Gaming Research summing up the financial performance of the "average" casino on the Strip, in Downtown Las Vegas, and in Reno. Because people here like talking about the Strip more than, say, Reno/Sparks, I'll break down the Strip results for you.

January 4, 2012

The Las Vegas Hilton: Looking Back

Posted by daveschwartz

Yesterday was a momentous day in Las Vegas casino history. There was no closing of the doors (or taping-up of notes) or implosion, but one of the real stalwarts left the building. The Las Vegas Hilton is no more. Yes, the building is still there, along with the employees, and you can still book a room (for now, at least) and roll dice, but the name has been removed in place of the oh-so-exciting "LVH--The Las Vegas Hotel and Casino." After the jump, I'll recap the history of the property, hitting the high notes and a few low ones.

January 1, 2012

Biggest Story of 2011--Six Nominees

Posted by daveschwartz

Hunter's already taken a look ahead at 2012. While I've still got a few hours left in the first day of the new year, I'd like to take a look back at 2011 and talk about six candidates for "Las Vegas Casino Story of the Year." These are the stories that I think most defined the year and, when historians look back at it, will be the ones that get the most attention.

December 23, 2011

Nevada Online Poker: What Just Happened?

Posted by daveschwartz

Yesterday, the Nevada Gaming Commission adopted regulations that will pave the way for online poker play--for real money--in the state. After the jump, I'll break down exactly what the Commission passed and what it means for gambling, both in casinos and online, in the state of Nevada.

December 21, 2011

Steelman's Passion for the Strip, Atlantic City

Posted by daveschwartz

Yesterday I did the second in a two-part series of interviews with Sarno Award-winning casino architect Paul Steelman. After the jump, I'll talk about what I found most enlightening in the conversation.

December 16, 2011

The purpose of casino retail

Posted by daveschwartz

Why do casinos have shops? After all, every dollar that's spent buying stuff is money that's not spent in the casino. Prompted by a recently-announced closure, I share a few thoughts about what casino shops should do for the rest of the operation...after the jump.

November 23, 2011

What the (LV) H?

Posted by daveschwartz

The Las Vegas Hilton has a new name...and a not very creative one. I'm going to have some fun with this one. More after the jump.

November 21, 2011

The case for free casino wifi

Posted by daveschwartz

I'm still thinking about the Cosmopolitan's decision to pull its free wifi, and I've come to believe that casinos should offer free wifi, at least on the casino floor and other public areas.

Keep reading after the jump, which shouldn't take too long to load, unless you're sitting at a slot machine and stuck with a 3G connection.

November 16, 2011

Freebie Bye-Bye Blues

Posted by daveschwartz

A little while ago, the Cosmopolitan eliminated its free wifi. After the jump, I talk about the broader significance of taking away what has already been given.

October 24, 2011

Happy 91st birthday Jackie Gaughan

Posted by daveschwartz

Along with well over a thousand other Las Vegans and Downtown visitors, I had a piece of cake today to celebrate the 91st birthday of local casino legend Jackie Gaughan. After the jump, I'll talk a little about the man and his considerable legacy.

October 21, 2011

The mob & casinos: time heals all wounds

Posted by daveschwartz

Mulling the Las Vegas Mob Experience while writing yesterday's post on the Tropicana, a little incongruity that had been nagging at me for two weeks suddenly game into focus.

Hopefully that nags at you enough to keep you reading after the jump.

October 20, 2011

Tropicana shuffle: Panic or business as usual?

Posted by daveschwartz

In the past few days, I've done a few media interviews, including one for KVVU Fox 5, on the Tropicana's current situation. I figured that I might as well write up my thoughts for the record.

I will do precisely that...after the jump.

October 19, 2011

Comps: Atlantic City Vs. Las Vegas

Posted by daveschwartz

A story recently appeared in the Atlantic City Press talking about the apparent rise in comping at Atlantic City casinos. I wanted to compare the AC casino comping (big) picture with the Vegas one, and will do so just after the jump.

October 2, 2011

A Mini-Vegas time capsule

Posted by daveschwartz

A little while ago, I had the pleasure of doing a few guest lectures at San Diego State University (Go Aztecs!). While I was down there, I took my family to Legoland and was amused to finally see the MiniVegas that's been built there.

You'll get my blocky explanation right after the jump.

August 25, 2011

Follow your nose: 5 Strip smells

Posted by daveschwartz

Not to be outdone by the serious investigative journalism going on over at VegasInc, I'm back with another in-the-trenches look at one of the lesser written-about sides of Las Vegas: its unique odors. In particular,, I focus on five (5!) smells you might encounter on the Las Vegas Strip.

More after the jump.

August 19, 2011

Your high roller demands?

Posted by daveschwartz

Most of us plebeians can only guess at the perks available to mega-high rollers at Las Vegas casinos. Twenty-four hour butler service? Dinners personally prepared by celebrity chefs? Carte blanche to do anything, say anything, be anything, as long as your credit holds up?

Take a glimpse behind the curtain and into a high roller suite after the jump.

August 17, 2011

Thoughts on Linq

Posted by daveschwartz

I've already shared some of the details that were released at the press conference, but I'd like to talk more about some of the things the speakers said and share a few of my thoughts.

I'll linq you after the jump.

August 17, 2011

Linq details: Straight from the source

Posted by daveschwartz

I went to the Linq press conference today. I'm going to write up some of my thoughts and answer a few questions, but first I wanted to share some of the press kit with everyone, since it will answer some questions.

All the fun after the jump....

August 10, 2011

June Nevada numbers: Good news!

Posted by daveschwartz

Earlier this morning, the Gaming Control Board released the June 2011 Gaming Revenue Report. That's like Christmas morning for gaming numbers geeks. After the jump, I'll share some of the highlights and my analysis.

August 9, 2011

The Letters of Las Vegas!

Posted by daveschwartz

"New media" is often rightly maligned for being unable to devote the resources to chasing important stories that traditional media can. It's easy for anyone to listen to a quarterly conference call and offer their opinion on what the suits are doing wrong (or right). But how many local bloggers have the time and patience to sit through humdrum municipal hearings? Or the expertise and contacts to do hard-hitting investigative journalism?

Well, this new media explorer (and, full disclosure, Nevada Press Association (2nd place) award winner)wants to try his hand at the kind of serious news piece that one of our local dailies has been treating its online readers to. Since we've already covered the most dangerous intersections, the best free attractions, and the five unique pools on the Strip, I want to share with you a news story that is truly relevant and not at all content-free link-baiting: the letters of Las Vegas.

What are they, and what order are they in? Keep reading after the jump to learn the hard truth. Hey, if you're reading this from the TWHT main page, you'll only have to click once, not 15 times, so give it a shot. And if you came straight to the post page, you're already here, so enjoy as I use a technique made famous by ransom notes to reveal, in their full glory, the letters without which Las Vegas would be something else entirely.

July 24, 2011

The Cosmopolitan takes it to the streets

Posted by daveschwartz

Late last week, the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas unveiled its latest secret weapon--a purple truck. Since its existence was confirmed on Twitter, speculation about its true purpose has been running high. Would it dole out free indie rock and hipster glasses to the unwashed masses of Las Vegas? Would it spontaneously curate streetside happenings? Or would it actually do something useful, like provide free shuttle service? As usual with marketing promotions that want to go viral, it was shrouded in mystery.

Well, word has it they've been active this weekend, and I ran into the Cosmopolitan street team quite by accident this morning.

To learn what's going on with the purple truck, continue reading after the jump....

July 21, 2011

Five (5!) Potential Strip Protest Marches

Posted by daveschwartz

If you love those Las Vegas Sun slideshow-riffic stories (15 intersections of certain death! click now!), you might like this quick, numbered list of potential future events that will likely never come to pass but may give you a chuckle.

On the heels of this morning's delightfully-sequined astroturf "angry showgirl" march to protest resort fees, I started pondering what other marches protesting other indiginities or inconveniences of today's Vegas I'd like to see. My brain stopped working after five, so that's all you get. If you've got any ideas, feel free to add them in the comments.

I'll continue to delight you after the jump.

July 5, 2011

UPDATED: Safety on the Strip

Posted by daveschwartz

Perception vs. reality.

In Las Vegas, the former is often more important than the latter.

Case in point: the vast majority of those who come to town to gamble don't leave winners. Most of them know it coming in; if it were any way else, how could casinos afford all of the fountain shows and ultra-luxe trimmings? They don't build them because people are carting money away, after all.

But most people have the perception--or at least the hope--that they'll get lucky, or at least have a swingin' time ending up broke. So, despite millions of visitors proving that regression to the mean is a money-making concept each year, people continue to gamble in Vegas--and buy lottery tickets, pick ponies, and visit casinos around the world.

When deciding what to do for fun, vacationers have no problem choosing perception over reality.

That's worked to Vegas' advantage, but what happens when perceptions shift from fun to fearful?

In less than two weeks, there have been two homicides on the Strip, each involving previously-unacquainted passers-by. Neither was a regrettable but could-have-happened-anywhere case of domestic violence spiraling out of control. Both happened when visitors to the Strip got into confrontations and decided that pulling a knife was the only solution.

These two fatal stabbings have been amply covered by the local dailies but haven't gone national...yet. But let's say the violence continues to escalate on the Strip, and fights, stabbings, and shootings become more common. It's only a matter of time before bystanders start getting caught in the crossfire.

Let's say one of them is an international visitor--say from Germany or Britain. The foreign press would have a field day with it, much like the murder of German tourists in Florida in the early 1990s or the recent slaying of two British tourists, also in Florida.

The LVCVA's bet big on international visitors. If safety becomes a concern, it's safe to say that they're not going to coming.

There are plenty of theories why crime rates rise and fall. Back in the 1990s, when crime rates in New York City were plummeting, many credited the broken windows theory for providing the key to turning around the city's out-of-control crime. In short, broken windows proponents believe that when small crimes--graffiti, fare beating--go unpunished, it creates an environment that breeds more serious crime by suggesting a breakdown in public order.

Could the Strip be due for some broken-windows style policing?

I don't know if there's a direct correlation between the free-for-all atmosphere on the Strip, with hustlers, buskers, and unlicensed vendors aggressively encroaching on pedestrians, and the recent uptick in violence on the Boulevard. But it seems a reasonable assumption to make. Now might be the time to redeploy Metro to crack down on the kinds of "quality of life" offenses that make the Strip seem like a lawless wasteland instead of a free-wheeling party zone.

I'm not an expert on policing or criminal justice, and I can't tell you definitively what the solution to the breakdown of order on the Strip. But when Metro Sergeant Tom Jenkins told me, point blank, the situation on the Strip is the worst he's seen in his 17 years on the beat, I became convinced that more people should listen to what he's saying.

We've got a career law enforcement officer telling us something needs to be done to clean up the Strip. Perusing the blogs and message boards on the subject, we've got plenty of visitors and potential visitors who are concerned for their safety on the Strip. And now, within less than two weeks, we've got two homicides on heavily-trafficked parts of the Boulevard.

What's it going to take before Clark County Commissioners and Metro leadership start taking this problem seriously?

Update: 24 hours, following another homicide, this one inside a Strip casino, Metro has announced it is shifting resources to beef up its presence on the Strip.

July 1, 2011

A tale of two (soon to be former) Hiltons

Posted by daveschwartz

You might have read that the Las Vegas Hilton's days as a Hilton are numbered (if my calculations are correct, there are exactly 183 of them left).

Today we learned that the the Atlantic City Hilton has already lost its licensing agreement with Hilton Hotels and Resorts and must change its name, ASAP. It's not clear exactly when the agreement lapsed, but the property has begun rebranding itself as... the ACH.

Check out the website if you don't believe me.

The ACH name is obviously a placeholder. The property is currently for sale and there's absolutely no excuse to go through the effort and expense of a bona fide rebranding. At this stage, it adds nothing to the purchase price, so why bother?

Hopefully someone buys the property, invests some dollars, and gives it a thorough makeover and a new identity. For some reason the name "Seaside" is jumping out at me as a good one. It's rooted in one of the things the place has going for, its location. But they'll probably plug it into the Vdara hotel name generator and get a random string of consonants and vowels that has no tie to history, geography, or aesthetics.

The Las Vegas Hilton isn't changing signs yet, but it's going to have to do the same thing by the end of the year. Here things are a little different. The property isn't, to my knowledge, for sale. Right now it doesn't have a lot going right, but you can't find a better location for business travelers: adjacent to the Las Vegas Convention Center with a monorail that can take you to the Strip if you don't want to wait for a taxi. So I don't think it'll close--there has to be someone who sees the upside in the place, even if Colony hasn't had the best of luck with it.

So assuming that the Las Vegas Hilton isn't closing, what is it going to be called on January 1, 2012? Here are a few possibilities:

1. It affiliates with another national hotel brand. Hyatt? Wyndham? La Quinta? In any event, it wouldn't exactly bring pizazz to the property, and frankly it would be boring.

2. They go back to the future and rename themselves the International and go for a funky midcentury modern retheming. I'm seeing a Mad Men meets tiki bar vibe. Which might not make sense, but it does to me.

3. Return, hat in hand, to Cedar Fair and get a new Star Trek: The Experience open. This time, retheme the entire property to match: you could call it:
A) Star Trek: The Hotel Casino
B) Quark's Gambling Hall, Inn, and Resort
C) The Risa Suites (free horga'hn with checkin!)
D) The Final Frontier Casino Resort

4. Paradise Casino Resort: that's the street it's on, at least.

That's all I can think of...they've definitely got their work cut out for them. I'll stick with the International as the favorite, unless they just license another brand name.

In the LVRJ article, I talked about what Hilton Hotels might do next. Yes, they've got several properties around town, but they're not exactly convenient on the Strip or the kinds of destinations that would incent your loyalty program members. So it seems like they will be affiliating themselves with another casino.

Assuming that the MGM and Caesars properties are off the table, what does that leave them?

Wynn is already working with Pinnacle, though I don't know whether that would rule out an alliance with a purely hotel brand. LVS has Intercontinental. Cosmopolitan has Marriott.

That leaves the Tropicana, Treasure Island, Riviera, and Stratosphere.

My money would be on the first two--they'd both benefit from the added database. The Riviera, with new owners, is in flux right now. The Stratosphere is also a possibility, though I'd say it's way behind Tropicana and Treasure Island.

Let the speculation begin.

June 28, 2011

Little Vegas insider moves

Posted by daveschwartz

Everyone wants to feel that they're a Vegas insider. It might be something as basic as knowing that the airport connector isn't the most direct route from McCarran to the MGM Grand, or it might be something as esoteric as being able to quote, from memory, the names of all of the bouncers at every Vegas nightclub.

Basically, it feels good to know that you're doing Vegas right. There are so many rookie mistakes to be made (and hey, even locals make them all the time) that it's great to know that you didn't waste your time or get ripped off.

After the jump, I'll share a few secrets that probably won't help you save money and might not even be that fun (hey, some of them might actually inconvenience you a little), but rest assured, they will make you feel like a real insider.

June 27, 2011

Joe Magliarditi new Palms prexy

Posted by daveschwartz

I just got this press release via email:


Palms Casino Resort has appointed Joseph A. Magliarditi as President.

In his role, Magliarditi will oversee all hotel and casino operations for the 1,300-room resort destination.

"We are thrilled to have Joe as part of our team," said Palms owner George Maloof. "We look forward to him being a part of the Palms' continued success."

Magliarditi brings more than 18 years of hotel and gaming experience to the Palms Casino Resort. An accomplished senior gaming executive, he most recently served as the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. Before the Hard Rock, he held the position as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for the M Resort and Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Marnell Sher Gaming, where he operated the Edgewater and Colorado Belle in Laughlin. Previously, he served as Vice President of Operations of the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino and was also Executive Vice President, Chief Operating Officer of TRIRIGA INC., an enterprise software company.


Magliarditi was pretty new at the Hard Rock when the ownership change forced his departure. I interviewed him last year for a profile in Vegas Seven. After the jump, I'll share an excerpt.

June 14, 2011

Sahara sneak peek II

Posted by daveschwartz

Here's the second half of my pictures from a liquidation.

Read after the jump for more photos from the Sahara's liquidation sale. Everything--and they mean everything--must go.

March 28, 2011

Riviera financials show North Strip's plight

Posted by daveschwartz

Riviera Holdings Corp, the company that owns the bankrupt Riviera casino hotel on the Las Vegas Strip, recently released its annual report. The company had a rough year, and a look at the financial reports from the last few years sheds some light on why the casino's in such trouble, and why the Sahara is closing.

(more after the jump)

Today, we're introducing something new:, a site for one of a kind Las Vegas media content.

First off, who's we? is brought to you by Steve Friess and me. So, what the hell is it?

As part of Steve's job as a journalist, he frequently ends up with great content that can't be used in a story - maybe it's too long or doesn't fit the narrative arc. Sometimes these gems end up on The Strip Podcast but some of it never sees the light of day. is a way for us to share more of this content with you.

The first thing you'll notice is that it's not free. We want to be able to produce more of this content in the future and to help facilitate that, we're charging a nominal fee. In addition to the Web site, the content will also be available for sale inside of Vegas Mate, through a future update. The site is launching with a single item but eventually, this will expand to include additional videos, audio and more. Purchase is handled via PayPal.

We premiere with a Wynn Las Vegas tour featuring both the updated guest rooms and the Lakeside Grill, given by interior designer Roger Thomas and hosted by Steve. To get a sense of what you'd be paying for, there are two trailers available for viewing on the site.

Right now, this is a bit of an experiment and we want your feedback. Too long? Too short? Too expensive? Too boring? We want to know. There's an email link right there on the page or feel free to leave a comment here. There's also a support email address for any technical problems you might have.

As for the site itself, it's quite basic and intended just as a placeholder (don't judge!) A full site will come, in time.


November 28, 2010

The Admiral's Week In Review: 11/22-11/28

Posted by Hunter

It's Sunday so it sounds like a good time to do a quick weekly update. First off, Happy Thanksgiving to all those folks in the US and Canada. For me, Thanksgiving is always a refreshing chance to spend time with family without the commercial trappings of other holidays and this was no exception. In translation, that means I worked the entire weekend.

We had a a little bit of pre-trypto fireworks on Tuesday when Steve Friess and Mike Dobranski engaged in a little back and forth over how much they both like to eat great food (that was the topic, right?). I'll let you read the thread on VegasTripping, which does a pretty good job of explaining the ups and downs.

The most interesting part of that conversation is something that's a constant topic for me - the corrupting nature of free stuff from Las Vegas casinos. Once you get to a certain point and draw a certain number of tourist eyeballs, these doors start to open. This is a topic we discussed in the special Vegas Gang episode interview with Chuckmonster and is something that the Vegas Internet Mafia Executive Board discusses from time to time at the monthly meetings in our secret clubhouse atop The Harmon.

For my own part, I've taken free rooms and meals, though it's by far the exception, not the rule - I spend thousands of dollars a year on hotel rooms, food and other entertainment on The Strip. I've always done disclosures when writing about anything I got for free. That's a good baseline but in thinking about this more, I've decided to go further. From now on, anytime I get something for free from a Las Vegas casino, I'll let you guys know (either here or on Twitter), even if I don't plan to write about it. I think that should tie up that last potential loophole. I don't know what the specific policies are on other sites but perhaps they'll start to do something similar. I think it makes good sense and I certainly have nothing to hide and now you know what to expect without any question. Moving on...

In what is becoming a semi-regular thing, the Sun writes about something that many of us (including the Vegas Gang) have been discussing for ages (love ya Liz!) - that the pedestrian access to CityCenter sucks big time. Shocker! Next, we'll read that their big, fancy Elvis show isn't doing too well - egads!

Do you have $5,600 and and a burning desire to see Jay-Z whilst hanging with Las Vegas' finest? A limited number of complete, three-day packages are available for the New Years shindig at The Cosmopolitan. Yeah, that's a metric shit-ton of money but hey, it is New Years and the folks at the Cosmo have turned back the balance on your Citibank card to 2007 levels. If you can't cough up the dough, you could always low-roll it at Aria and then just watch on the big-screen marquee. Tell Jimbo we sent ya.

There's a pretty neat story in the New York Times about the super-hardcore swimmers they source for shows Le Reve and O. I feel asleep the first two times I saw Le Reve but it sure does sound like a lot of work. Oh, 'O" is good too.

Oh, and last but not least, this blog, the (brand new!) parent site, the podcast, my ridiculous Twitter account and Vegas Mate for iPhone were all nominated for Trippies. First off, a big thanks to everyone that wrote us in. When the polls open, we'll post all the details about voting. Everyone knows I'm a sore loser so let's not embarrass papa, ok?

I'm working on a post dreaming about the future of slot machines which should go up this week. I've also got about half of a story on Aria's suckage done but that topic is starting to feel pretty tired to me so it's hard to be enthusiastic about finishing it. We'll see. I spent the whole weekend working on The App so I'm pretty tired.

Have a great week,

October 16, 2010

SIMPSON ON VEGAS #008: Jeff's Best and Worst

Posted by Hunter

Jeff's back and this time he's started up his own little 'gaming hall of fame/shame', picking the top and bottom of Las Vegas' operators for the past decade.

Would you rate 'em different? Reply in the comments.

May 20, 2010

Las Vegas Public Transportation For Tourists

Posted by Hunter

I'm adding this article into the next version of Vegas Mate but it looks very useful so I decided to publish on the Web as well.

Read after the jump to get the low-down on public transportation options, from our very own mike_ch.