Doc
Doc
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Thanks for this post from:
smoothgrh
May 5th, 2010 at 9:49:11 AM permalink
There should be three introductory items for this posting. First, this is not really a review of an establishment, because I do not have enough exposure to give a proper review. It is just more of an anecdote of what I encountered.

Second, I have commented elsewhere that I like to collect a $1 souvenir chip from each casino where I play, and this hobby of collecting has led me to numerous casinos specifically for the purpose of getting the chip, with the actual gaming interest falling to a very distant second place. While this process can lead one to some fabulous resorts (think Wynn or Bellagio in Vegas, or the Greenbrier in WV on which I earlier reported), it also means that one eventually visits some absolute dumps. A few months ago, I became aware that the Silver Saddle Saloon in Las Vegas (a place I had previously not even heard of) has a couple of blackjack tables, so I added it to my list of “chips I might get some day.”

Third, although the Silver Saddle section of the forum has been, prior to this post, completely empty except for JB’s stickies, there have been a couple of threads elsewhere that have mentioned the establishment, in not so favorable terms. One is located in the section reserved for discussing the Western, and the other is a more recent thread under “Off-Topic/General Discussion” with the title “The shabbiest casino in Vegas”, which started out discussing the Poker Palace. Neither of those threads has much first-hand reporting on the Silver Saddle – it is just presented as a place worse than anything else being discussed, with a few third-hand references for further info. It was characterized as a Mexican cowboy bar with live music and a dance floor.

If you have not previously read those other threads, you might want to take a look at them to get an idea of how bad a place can be. In particular you might follow the link MrPapagiorgio provided in the Western thread to a 2004 article in the Las Vegas Mercury. It includes the intriguing quote: Looking up and down, she concludes, "You probably shouldn't go there. They might kill you."

With that kind of advice being the only thing I could find about the Silver Saddle, even this compulsive chip collector had serious reservations about the risks involved in trying to add that one to my set. However, on Tuesday 4/27/10, I found myself with some free time on my hands, my wife safely ensconced at a coffee shop at the Wynn, and the sun still high in Las Vegas. I figured that if I was ever going to venture into the Silver Saddle, this was the time to give it a try.

The Silver Saddle Saloon is located on East Charleston, just east of Fremont Street, which is not exactly the most chic section of the city. There is a parking lot to the east of the building, and there were fewer than half a dozen vehicles there when I arrived at 5:15 p.m. I recall seeing a couple of rusting pickup trucks, but nothing else stuck in my mind -- didn't see a Lamborghini being handled by valet parking.

Near the front door, there were a number of signs posted, almost exclusively in Spanish, which, as the bard would say, was all Greek to me. I eventually found a couple of lines that I understood. They seemed to suggest that the hours of operation had been cut back to M-Th 5 p.m. to 3 a.m. and round the clock F 5 p.m. to M 3 a.m. It’s hell what a bad economy can do to business at a nice place.

Since my arrival was just after the posted opening time, I went in to find the band doing their sound check at about 150 dB, one guy operating the sound board and a second apparently trying to keep the board from being tipped over by the acoustic energy, no one in any of the chairs around the dance floor, and no one at or even behind the bar. Obviously, I was a little early for the action.

I started to look for the rumored two blackjack tables, but I never found them. I heard a guy calling to me from the back of the room and went to see him. He was standing right outside the lone cashier window and had apparently been talking to the lovely young lady behind the bars. He was wearing a black T-shirt that said, “Security.” He asked me whether it was my first time in the place, and I told him it was. He explained that they check everyone who comes in, as a means of maintaining control, but I looked like I was an all right guy, so I apparently met his approval for entry.

I asked about their blackjack tables and when they were operated, directing my question both to the security guy and the cashier. They replied that because of the economy they only had dealers in on Friday and Saturday nights. I said that I had come in specifically for the blackjack because I collect souvenir chips. The security guy smiled and said, “So do I.” I told him I like to keep a $1 chip from every casino I visit, and he positively beamed, saying, “That’s what I do!”

I told them that unfortunately I would not be able to come back on Friday or Saturday night, because I was visiting from NC and would be down in Palm Springs on Friday night and in Laughlin on Saturday night. They both suggested that I could just buy a chip from the cashier to add to my collection. The cashier apologized that their $1 chip was really a metal token, and I explained that I had actually expected that. I did purchase the token, making it the second chip in my collection that does not represent a place that I have actually gambled – just a place that I tried to gamble but where they were not prepared to operate the game.

Side discussion: The first place like that was the Hyatt Regency at Lake Las Vegas a few years ago. I heard it was closing, so I went out there one afternoon before catching my plane home. They had their slots operating, but the tables would not open until after my flight time, so I bought that chip, knowing they would be out of business the following week, long before I returned. I experienced the third such occasion the day after I was at the Silver Saddle. I made the excursion out to Pahrump to get the Saddle West chip I was missing. Unfortunately, they were not going to open their tables until night, and staying around would conflict with the Terry Fator show for which I had already purchased tickets, so I bought the Saddle West chip also. Oh, the shame of not sticking strictly to the theme of “chips from casinos where I have played.”

Now back to the Silver Saddle: I told the security guy and the cashier that I had read about the place on the internet. They were excited to hear they were on the web and asked for the URL, but I couldn’t remember. I told them their place had been described as a Mexican cowboy bar. They both laughed and said, “Yep, that’s what we are.” I then told them that the description continued by saying that they had live music (obvious from the rhythmic concussion waves that were bombarding us), a dance floor, and Latino passions that lead to knife and/or gun fights most every night. They both laughed even harder and said, “That’s pretty much the way it is here.”

I then mentioned that since that was all that I could find out about the place, I had wondered whether it would be safe for me to even come in, being a white guy who doesn’t even speak Spanish. The two of them laughed the hardest then, saying that they didn’t either: “We’re just local Latinos, and neither of us speaks Spanish!”

I asked the security guy how the language issue worked with keeping control of a hot-blooded, violence-prone clientele. He put on his sternest scowl and said, “I don’t speak Spanish, but I give them ‘the look’ and they pay attention to me.” I guess it works, but the guy looked as if he weighed maybe 160 and that unless he knows martial arts that I couldn’t pronounce, he might have trouble breaking up a fight between two cheerleaders.

I left, and that’s the end of my adventure into the Mexican cowboy bar where the advice is, "You probably shouldn't go there. They might kill you." The next day, I had my coffee meeting with the Wizard and told him about it. He was not familiar with the Silver Saddle and commented that he didn’t think it was on his blackjack survey. He asked where it was located, I told him, and he said he would have to check it out some weekend when the tables are open. If this forum ceases to include postings by the Wizard, we will know that, “He probably shouldn’t have gone there.”

ruascott
ruascott
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May 5th, 2010 at 10:17:28 AM permalink
Thanks for the story Doc. Too bad you weren't able to go during 'prime time' though and get the authentic feel of the place, as well as some gaming.
pacomartin
pacomartin
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May 5th, 2010 at 10:17:41 AM permalink
The murder by strangulation of a prostitute in the parking lot of the Silver Saddle a few days ago should tell you that this bar can be dangerous. At the very least you know that surveillance is bad in the parking lot.

Although the odds are that middle aged white guy will be fine here, it is a step more dangerous than just going to a dive. You can go into the Western and you will probably just meet a lot of derelicts.

Silver Saddle has 37 slot machines and 2 blackjack tables that only operate on weekends (I did know that).

Another similar type of bar is Ultra New Town Tavern that (36 slots and two poker tables). Go north on Las Vegas Blvd from Fremont Street, left on Washington Ave, and right on F. Street. This is also a very tough neighborhood.






The 6 year old article in the Las Vegas Mercury was called Rough Bars .
DJTeddyBear
DJTeddyBear
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May 5th, 2010 at 10:17:41 AM permalink
Quote: Doc

If this forum ceases to include postings by the Wizard, we will know that, “He probably shouldn’t have gone there.”

Man! Talk about putting the Whammy on someone!

But that was funny...
Superstitions are silly, childish, irrational rituals, born out of fear of the unknown. But how much does it cost to knock on wood? 😁
Doc
Doc
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May 5th, 2010 at 10:53:15 AM permalink
Quote: pacomartin

Another similar type of bar is Ultra New Town Tavern that (36 slots and two poker tables).


Oh,gees, paco. Now you've got me wondering about my chip collecting strategy. I have no interest in slot parlors, so I never go to them, and that is irrelevant to chip collecting. I go to the California tribal casinos (missing chips from only a couple that I know of in San Diego, Riverside, and Imperial counties), but I haven't collected any chips from the California card rooms. Now you go and post an image of a chip from the Ultra New Town Tavern, which I had never heard of before, and it opens up a whole new category in Nevada. I'm not a poker player, so I'm not sure whether to pursue this area or not. It just plays havoc with my claim to having chips from every casino in Clark county.

I think maybe your comment, "This is also a very tough neighborhood," means I won't be going there or perhaps to any other adventurous gaming establishments.
pacomartin
pacomartin
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May 5th, 2010 at 11:01:42 AM permalink
Ultra is possibly unique in that it has poker but no table games. It is a very tough 'hood. A five bedroom home about a block away sold for $13,500 in January. It is surrounded by empty lots.

It also is one of those few dozen places that has an unrestricted license, but makes less than $1 million per year. If you make less than $1 million you don't report non-gaming income.

To repeat, a restricted license is 15 slots or less, and no table games, poker, or sports book. None of them have casino chips since they only have slots. There are over 2000 of these places in Clark county, and another 1000 throughout Nevada.

Most places like Ultra are inside the city limits, and are very old places. The city doesn't issue these kind of licenses anymore.

There are 177-182 unrestricted licenses in Clark county, and there were 149 in last year's abstract that made over $1 million per year in gaming revenue. Most of them just have slots

THE BEACH 365 E CONVENTION CENTER DR has 16 slot machines, so they went to the trouble to get an unrestricted license for just one additional slot machine. They may be planning an expansion.

I have a list of local's casinos that made over $72 million gaming revenue last fiscal year plus three casinos that opened during the year that will probably exceed that amount next fiscal year. The only one downtown now is Golden Nugget.
FleaStiff
FleaStiff
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May 5th, 2010 at 12:13:39 PM permalink
Quote: pacomartin

It also is one of those few dozen places that has an unrestricted license, but ...

So they are fully licensed as what I might term a "real" casino but do not have to have a 150 room hotel or alter their license in order to expand their "real" casino games. What economic premium that does involve? Do any have a good deal of real estate so as to be able to expand even if the neighborhood is presently less than inviting? Heck I'd expand into Bingo and draw in neighborhood women, even if they brought their .45s with them! One California Bing Room is in a dingy neighborhood but calls out numbers at the rate of one every four seconds and makes millions. I know the Gaming Board investigates New Owners, but already having a full license would be a plus for expansion: lighting, security patrols, ... make a mint! Are there limits on the number of licenses that will be granted? I know new licenses require that hotel.
ruascott
ruascott
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May 5th, 2010 at 12:34:33 PM permalink
Quote: FleaStiff

So they are fully licensed as what I might term a "real" casino but do not have to have a 150 room hotel or alter their license in order to expand their "real" casino games. What economic premium that does involve? Do any have a good deal of real estate so as to be able to expand even if the neighborhood is presently less than inviting? Heck I'd expand into Bingo and draw in neighborhood women, even if they brought their .45s with them! One California Bing Room is in a dingy neighborhood but calls out numbers at the rate of one every four seconds and makes millions. I know the Gaming Board investigates New Owners, but already having a full license would be a plus for expansion: lighting, security patrols, ... make a mint! Are there limits on the number of licenses that will be granted? I know new licenses require that hotel.



You thinking or searching out an investment? Maybe this forum should start a consortium to buy up an old locals place!
Doc
Doc
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May 5th, 2010 at 12:46:08 PM permalink
Quote: pacomartin

There are 177-182 unrestricted licenses in Clark county, and there were 149 in last year's abstract that made over $1 million per year in gaming revenue. Most of them just have slots


Do you know of a comprehensive list of places in southern Nevada (and elsewhere) that have table games (and chips)? If I don't have a complete set for a region, I would like at least to know what I am missing.

I have been using some blackjack and craps survey lists and a couple of on-line directories of casinos to identify chips I might get, but I am not sure those lists are complete or accurate. Last week I visited the Cahuilla Casino in Anza, CA because the CasinoCity web site claims that there are blackjack tables there. I could swear that the casino's own web site also said the same thing before I went there, but the tables have actually been removed. I griped about the out-of-date web site, and it was changed by the time I got home (unless I was mistaken in the first place).

My chip collection now represents 216 casinos, 118 of them from Nevada. Those 118 include 3 from Pahrump and what I think is a complete set from casinos in Clark county that offer blackjack and/or craps. Some of these are from casinos that are gone, and some are sort of duplicates but with name changes, like South Point/South Coast and Bill's/Barbary Coast. I didn't start collecting until 2003 and missed a few that closed before I got a chip.

On my recent trip, I attempted to get new chips from three casinos that I understood had changed names, but I came up empty each time. First, I had read (I think it was one of your posts, paco) that the "Las Vegas Club" is now actually "Vegas Club", in spite of the sign out front still including the "Las". The end-of-show announcement from the VistaVision does indeed acknowledge sponsorship from "Vegas Club". Unfortunately, the $1 chips they are now using, while a different style from the one in my set, still say "Las Vegas Club."

Second, I had read that "Slots-a-Fun" had changed to "Slots-a-Fun at Circus Circus", but they are now using the regular Circus Circus chips. Finally, after driving past Primm in January and seeing the big "Terrible's Primm Valley Resort" sign (or something similar), I took the exit last week and confirmed that all three individual casinos still have the non-Terrible's names on their fronts. I went into the Primm Valley Resort and confirmed that their chips are unchanged.
Roghaltz
Roghaltz
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May 5th, 2010 at 12:49:25 PM permalink
Great trip report. I think I will skip the Silver Saddle when I come out in June.

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