Wizard
Posted by Wizard
Apr 04, 2010

Introduction

   

Bally's Las Vegas is part of Harrah’s Entertainment set of hotels. It originally opened as the MGM Grand in 1973 with 2,083 rooms (now known as the North Tower), and was the largest hotel in the world at the time. In 1984, a second tower with 732 rooms (known as the South Tower) was added — four years after a fire in 1980, which killed 85 people (the hotel only closed for 7 months after the fire). The hotel had a Los Angeles movie theme when it opened. In 1986, the Hotel was renamed Bally's when the Bally’s Entertainment Company (the same company that makes pinball games) bought the hotel (the MGM then shifted to the Marina Hotel). After a number of corporate takeovers from Hilton and Caesars Entertainment, the current ownership took over the hotel in 2005. Bally's advertises the Bally's theme as “Stay Classic.”

Bally's Casino resort is located at the southeast intersection of Las Vegas Boulevard and Flamingo Road, and is directly across the strip from the Bellagio. The Paris Hotel (another Harrah's property) is connected to Bally's via a concourse. Bill’s Gambling Saloon is located on the North Side of Flamingo Road across from Bally's. The hotel rooms are spread out over two towers: the original 26-floor L-shaped North Tower which opened in 1973 with its latest renovation in 2004, and the mainly non-renovated 26-floor South Tower that opened in 1984.

Room sizes are 450 square feet and go up from there. The South Tower rooms are called “Classic” and are substantially cheaper than the North Tower “Deluxe” rooms. There are also “Grand Suites” in both towers that are roughly double the size.

   

According to the Nevada Gaming commission, the casino is 66,187 sq feet, roughly 40% the size of the current MGM Grand’s at 156,023 feet. There is a shopping concourse in the basement level of Bally's that also houses the spa, pool, and sportsbook. The permanent shows at Bally's are Donn Arden’s “Jubilee!” (topless Showgirl Revue) as well as “The Price is Right: Live”.

Hotel

We stayed at Bally's from April 2 to 4, 2010, over two nights. The room was booked directly through the Bally's Las Vegas web site. The Bally's website offers a low rate guarantee. For the South Tower, the going rate was $79/night for Friday and Saturday night and $45 for the Sunday night. North Tower Rooms were $30 more per night. South Tower Grand Suites were $40 more/night, while the North Tower Grand Suites were roughly double the price at $245/night. All prices do not include the 12% Nevada hotel tax.

As mentioned in another review, when booking a package online, particularly with Southwest Airlines, the hotel rates are much cheaper than the online rates. For example, three nights at Bally's was priced out at only $40 more than the airfare alone.

That said, both my wife and I are Harrah's Total Rewards members. The last time we played at a Harrah's property was when we stayed in the Paris in January 2009. We are low-level players, meaning that we normally play $5 - $10 craps, $10 - $15 blackjack games, and 25¢ video poker player. When we used our player cards with an offer that we could use online, we were offered an entirely comped rate for all three nights at the South Tower. This shows the value of the Total Rewards Card—we got a free stay. Harrah’s online booking system offers you the best rate at all of its Las Vegas properties, enabling you to select from its entire inventory of hotel rooms at the best available rates based on you and your companion’s player’s card activity.

 

The lobby at Bally's is a long hallway adjacent to the main casino. There is a line that is Wendy’s style (single line). There is also a separate line-up for the Total Rewards premiere members. On the Friday afternoon when we arrived, there was a fairly long line of about 40 patrons, but the line moved very fast and we were served within 10 minutes.

At Bally's, we used “the $20 trick”, where one folds a $20 (or larger) bill between your credit card and your ID in order to bribe the front desk clerk into giving you an upgrade. The agent upgraded us to a North Tower room on the 14th floor, which is substantially better than the South Tower room initially offered (a $60 value), despite the room being comped for the length of our stay. We received a coupon booklet offering a few discounts at Harrah’s sister properties (2 for 1 for the Eiffel Tower ride at the Paris, $5 discount off the Le Village Buffet, and other discounts for shows and food at other Harrahs properties).

The north and south towers are in opposite directions from the check in. The South tower elevators are in the southwest corner of the casino while the North tower elevators are at the northeast corner of the casino. Both paths, of course, take you through the casino.

Room

       

The Bally's room is a standard hotel room, on par with pretty much any decent hotel room anywhere. It was 450 square feet, with a washroom on the right, carpeted hallway, a king bed, a comfortable blue art deco couch, a desk, two chairs and a coffee table. There were two night stands and a standard clock radio in the room. The television was a standard 25” tube set.

The bathroom has a single shower/bath. Bath furnishings were minimal: shampoo/conditioner (combined), and bath lotion, facial and bath soap, as well as two glasses and an ice bucket. There was no mini-fridge nor coffee maker, but there was a hair dryer and in-room safe ($3 per day). The view from the room faced north with a good view of the Harrahs, Palazzo and Wynn complexes to the north as well as the back of Bills and Imperial Palace. The monorail was below, and you could hear the rails clanging each time they passed by.

 

The bed was not particularly comfortable and had a noticeable sag in the middle. Pillows were very small and difficult to sleep on. The bathroom toilet ran every few minutes which forced us to close the door. Room temperature was controlled by a fan, loud enough to drown out all of the external noises. We did not hear any noises from adjacent rooms nor from above.

The carpet, bedding, and bathroom showed a bit of wear and tear but was adequate. The bathroom shower had a low shower head forcing taller people to bend over when showering. There was no odor of smoke in the room as the entire floor was smoke-free.

Maid service was adequate once a day, usually coming in the late afternoon. The room was cleaned very well. You could purchase snacks and get ice down the hall from a centralized vending section.

Pool

     

The pool at Bally's is accessible from its underground mall. Nowhere in Bally's literature does it mention the underground mall, but it is a pleasant promenade running from the Casino to the pool and features a convenience store (at resort prices), restaurants (Sbarros, Ichiban Sushi), and the pool area.

The pool area was a pleasant surprise. It was fairly quiet with palm trees surrounding the area. It is when you walk around the gigantic pool area that you can understand how this hotel was once the largest in the world. The monorail does pass through the pool area but it is unnoticeable. There are also tennis courts adjacent to the pool area, available to Bally's guests. There are two pools — a very large central pool, four feet deep at the shallow end, going to twelve feet at the deep end. The smaller pool catered to tots and is only two feet deep. Both were heated to about 80 degrees. Deck chairs were plentiful and comfortable. Bar service was frequent and you could go to the “On the Rocks” bar and get your own drinks. There is also the Terrace Café, which was not open at the time. There were only a few patrons there on a Sunday afternoon. The facility, for the quality of the hotel, was quite surprisingly nice. There was no Jacuzzi that we could see.

Restaurants

Bally's has seven restaurants.

   

We ate at Al Dente, Bally's Italian restaurant. The restaurant was not busy for a Friday night, and we were able to be seated right away. Al Dente offered a $25 prix fare three course meal that included a glass of wine, appetizer, entrée and dessert. I had a Caesar Salad, Lasagne Al Dente, and Tiramisu. The Caesar salad was different, in that they served the romaine, dressing, anchovy and croutons separately, making you do the work yourself. I enjoyed it. The Lasagne Al Dente was a small portion, baked separately, and was good, but not traditional. The tiramisu was quite boring and not particularly fluffy or great. My wife had Spaghetti and Meatballs, which was fairly good. We think it was a good value.

We also ate at the Tequila Bar and Grill, a Mexican restaurant. It was rowdy that Saturday night, with younger patrons drinking $18 1/2 gallon margaritas out of a fish bowl. I had Taco salad while my partner had the ½ chicken dinner. Both were okay and a good value for the price.

As well, for lunch, we had Ichiban Sushi in the downstairs mall. Though the sushi and sashimi were fresh, we found the whole experience lacking in taste: too much mayo in the California rolls. Prices once again were reasonable.

Bally's has two cafes to pick up coffee and light snacks: Nosh, which is next to the South Elevators, and the Java Coast, across from the check in.

Here is a list of restaurants available at Bally's Las Vegas.

  • Bally’s Steakhouse — Bally’s premiere steakhouse; steaks max out at about $42 which is reasonable for the location.
  • Al Dente — Italian cuisine. The chef isn’t afraid to experiment. Good value.
  • Tequila Bar and Grill — Mexican; cheap drinks; specials feature a $1 margarita and $1 tacos.
  • Sidewalk Cafe — Offers an inexpensive breakfast buffet and cheap sandwiches all day long.
  • Ichiban Sushi — Sushi chain restaurant. Located in the downstairs promenade.
  • Sbarros — The pizza chain. Located in the downstairs promenade.
  • Nathan’s Hotdogs — The hot dog chain, located in the downstairs promenade

Gambling

According to the Nevada Gaming Control Board, the casino is at 66,187 square feet. As of December 2009, the casino has 1,057 slot machines, 57 table games, and 10 poker tables. The casino is located at the ground level of the casino. I didn’t feel cramped in the casino. However, the casino felt old: The carpeting looks old; the slot machines are mostly old, and the felt on many of the table games needed to be replaced. On the bright side, the air was fairly clean with only a whiff of dingy smoke from time to time.

The table gaming area is in a sunken area in the center of the casino with all games being accessible from three corridors. The casino features 4 craps tables, 7 roulette tables, 23 twenty one games (including Switch and a number of 6-5 blackjack games), keno, three card poker (paying 3 for a flush), Caribbean Stud, Let it Ride, Pai Gow poker, Crazy 4 Poker, and Casino War.

Limits were quite low for the duration of the stay. $10 Blackjack, Pai Gow poker, and roulette were available. All other games were available at $5 during the day. Limits were higher in the evening.

On weekend nights, the “Party Pit” is active. There is a DJ and a scantily clad woman dancing. The Indigo Lounge (next to the walkway to Paris) was hopping with a busy dance floor playing mostly 80s and 90s hits with a live band and another scantily clad dancer.

Mostly, this casino caters quite nicely to middle class and middle-aged tourists. Since Bally's has been around since the 80s, the property still attracts regulars.

Blackjack

   

Most blackjack tables are available at the $10 denomination. Unfortunately about ½ of the games (11) offered were 6-5 blackjack with a house advantage of at least 1.45%. There is one Switch table available and one $25 double deck game offered (but with stingy rules: hit soft 17, no double after splitting, no surrendering). All of the remaining ten games were mostly offered at $10 but went up from there (depending on time of day): eight deck games, hit on soft 17, double after split, late surrender.

Craps

The craps games offered “strip” odds (8 for 1 for hard 4 and 10, 10 for 1 for hard 6 or 8, but only 30 for 1 on the 2 and 12 and 15 for one on the 3 and 11, and only 2x odds on the 12 on the field. The Fire Bet is offered. Max odds are 3-4-5x. The game is $5 during the day and $10 at night.

Roulette

 

Bally's has seven 00 roulette tables. Limits ranged from $10 to $15.

The Wizard wanted me to mention that in the history board on the picture above the same number hit 6 out of 15 times. He says the probability of that is about 1 in 15,800. If you don't consider the bottom four numbers, it hit 6 out of 11 times, for a probability of about 1 in 172,000.

Pai-Gow

Bally's has two Fortune pai-gow poker tables with limits ranging from $10 to $25. Banking is available but not offered.

Sportsbook

   

Bally's Sportsbook is located, strangely enough, downstairs from the Casino in the mall beneath. The facility itself is gorgeous, with 200 individual TVs and workstations in theatre type seating. This allows gamblers to look straight at the large TV displays without being interrupted by passer-bys. The Sportsbook is very modern with a bar at the top of the theatre. The unfortunate thing about the Sportsbook that it is not connected to the Casino and is difficult to find, because it is an absolute gem.

Poker Room

Bally's has a small but very busy ten-table poker room in the middle of the casino, offering low limit ($2/4 to $5/10) and no-limit Hold'Em games. The Poker room was added as an afterthought after the game became popular in the 90s. Because the room is in the center of the casino, players will find it exciting as they are surrounded by the ambience of the casino, while gamblers who do not play poker will think that the room is out of place, as poker rooms are usually tucked away in a corner of side of a casino.

Video Poker

vpFree2 states that the best $1 or $.25 game is 7-5 Bonus Poker at 98.01%, as well as a number of 25¢ 9-6-5 Double Bonus at 97.81%.

Slots

 

Bally's has a variety of slots available from penny slots to the high limit slots (which start at a $1 and go to $25). There is a section of machines labelled 98%, but surprisingly they were not being played much. Most of the slot games looked tired with few newer machines available.

Total Rewards Club

Total Rewards is Harrah’s Player Card reward system. Points are earned both through your table game play and your slot play. The rate of table game earning is very low. In fact, for my six to seven hours of playing table games, including Craps, Blackjack, and Switch, our points were worth only $3. This is because the accrual rate for table games is extremely low. However, Total Reward’s value comes when booking future stays, as this level of play still warrants future offers for very inexpensive hotel rooms which is something you don’t get with other player card promotions.

The Wizard covers how Harrah's Total Reward program works in more detail in his Harrah's review

Our Own Gambling

We played Craps, Pai Gow Poker, Blackjack, Blackjack Switch, Let it Ride, Caribbean Stud, and some Video Poker. While our own luck was up and down, we witnessed a straight flush dealt at our Caribbean Stud table, and we met a person who hit a royal flush on the Let It Ride table the previous night.

Summary

Bally's Las Vegas is a value resort, with an excellent location at the center of the Las Vegas strip. Rooms are clean, but are lacking amenities. The beds and pillows are not comfortable, and at least in room 14081, there is a runny toilet. However, for the price of the room at less than $50 on a weekday night, these rooms are reasonable. The casino is tired looking but offers reasonable limits and play. Video Poker and slots are stingy.

There are a lot of areas for improvement:

  • Add more comfortable pillows and bedding in rooms to make sleep more comfortable.
  • Fix plumbing problems.
  • The in-room safe should be free.
  • Update the casino to make it look newer (new felts, replace the carpet)
  • Advertise pool and spa services more, as both the pool and spa seemed underused for their quality.
  • Enlarge the size of the poker room, and move it away from the central part of the casino, as it ruins the continuity of the gaming floor.

Many of the downsides of the casino can be overlooked because of its reasonable prices and location. However, the property could do much better with these simple improvements.

Acknowledgement

The Wizard would like to thank Nikkia Carter for modeling in some of the pictures above. Nikkia invites you to visit her MySpace page.

Contact Information

Address: 3645 Las Vegas Boulevard, Las Vegas, NV 89109
Phone: 877-603-4390
Web site: ballyslasvegas.com

 

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Games at Bally's

BlackjackDecksMinMaxSoft 17DADASRSASurrTablesCSMParty Pit6/5 BJVideoH. Edge
Blackjack6 3 500 H YesYes No No 1-NoYesYes1.99842
Blackjack8 10 2000 H YesYes No Yes 10NoNoYesNo0.56926
Blackjack8 10 2000 H YesYes No Yes 7NoNoNoNo0.56926
Blackjack6 25 5000 S YesYes Yes Yes 2NoNoNoNo0.28507
Blackjack2 25 2000 H YesNo No No 3NoNoNoNo0.60225
Blackjack VariantsDecksMinMax
Double Attack BJ 6 10 500
Miscellaneous# of TablesMin BetMax Bet
Big Wheel 1 1 100
Poker variants# of TablesMin BetMax Bet
Crazy 4 Poker 4 5 500
High Card Flush 1 5 200
Let It Ride 2 5 500
Mississippi Stud 2 5 200
Pai Gow Poker 2 15 5000
Texas Hold'em Bonus 1 5 200
Three Card Poker 8 5 500
Ultimate Texas Hold'em 2 5 200
Baccarat# of TablesMin BetMax Bet
Baccarat 1 25 5000
Craps# of TablesMin BetMax BetOddsField12Video
Craps 4 5 5000 3-4-5 x Double No
Craps 1 3 500 2 x Double Yes
Roulette# of TablesMin BetMax BetRulesVideo
Roulette 4 5 200 00 No
Roulette 1 3 6900 00 Yes
Video PokerRankAvg ReturnGrade
Video Poker66 95.52% D-
Video KenoRankAvg ReturnGrade
Video Keno49 90.37% C+