Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Terrible's Las Vegas Casino - Good Slots, Horrible Air, Edible Food!
Terrible's Casino - Las Vegas, NV
Click here for a room!
The Good: Great (reasonable) buffet, Great odds on slot machines, Interesting promotions
The Bad: Points take forever to accrue, Atmosphere
The Basics: Despite being one of the most dank and smoky casinos in Las Vegas, Terrible's loose slots and buffet make it worth stopping at!
Yeah, there's a place on earth people with compulsive personalities ought not to go. It's Las Vegas and after two years of visiting in the summer for my annual business (read: Star Trek) convention, I finally sat down at a slot machine this third year. Years ago, I studied Let It Ride and Craps, but I quickly learned that I did not have the money to ride out the ups and downs and table games were just not as much fun as playing against friends for $2.50 in pennies on a Wednesday night (which is how I spent my Junior and Senior years of high school). So, this year, I decided to actually play in Las Vegas, but most of my gaming was done on electronic slot machines (yes, they're video games that pay!) and I justified the entire gambling experience as an opportunity to review something new . . . and the freebies that I could get for signing up for various player's cards.
Yes, I went around Las Vegas for a week gambling with $5.00. The thing is, the reason I was able to survive a week of ups and downs at various casinos was that I started at Terrible's Casino and whenever I was down, I went back there. Yes, Terrible's became my Las Vegas ATM and with some discipline, it could be one of the best places to recharge while in Vegas.
It should be noted that this is the first of my casino reviews and loyal readers of mine will note that I have a new structure specifically for casinos (this provides a nice sense of regularity to the reviews and offers for easy side by side comparisons as I continue to rate casinos). For those who might consider Terrible's for the hotel half, please check out my review of the hotel here!
Terrible's Casino is located at the corner of Flamingo and Paradise Roads in Las Vegas, Nevada. The proper address is 4100 Paradise Road, Las Vegas, NV and internet direction sites like MapQuest have no trouble finding it. For those not familiar with the little desert oasis known as Las Vegas, Paradise Road is a block over from Las Vegas Boulevard, which is commonly known as The Strip. Las Vegas purists seem to like the Strip for the big, famous, obvious casinos, but it is places right off the strip (like off-Broadway) that often one finds better values and more character.
Terrible's Casino is not one of the largest casinos in Las Vegas, not by a longshot. What first got me into this little casino was that it advertised one of the least expensive dining options in Las Vegas and my first visit to Las Vegas, I was very concerned about making money (having arrived broke). The casino is spread over one and a half levels and the website for Terrible's claims there are a thousand slot machines in the casino. I would have guessed they crammed in about 750 in the Las Vegas casino, including the hundred that are upstairs near the bingo hall, bathrooms and buffet. There is a single strip of table games, mostly blackjack tables, in the middle of the downstairs casino area. The entire casino feels cramped as far as the layout goes and one has the sense that Terrible's was put together by a business major who was putting profit above anything close to comfort.
Add to that, there is a rather confined feeling to the entire casino; like most places in Las Vegas, there aren't windows. However, Terrible's Casino is poorly ventilated and has some of the worst air quality in Las Vegas. "Dank" is quite possibly the perfect description for Terrible's Casino. I loathe cigarette and cigar smoke and there is nowhere I spend time in Las Vegas that makes me wish Nevada was a nonsmoking state (keep the hookers, lose the smog!) than Terrible's. If you've ever seen Star Wars: A New Hope (reviewed here!), Terrible's is like the Mos Eisley Cantina. Dank, crowded, less music, (mildly) fewer aliens and lightsabers. The best reason to avoid Terrible's Casino would have to be that it heats up quickly, it is filled with smoke and it is likely to make one actually consider going to an oxygen bar afterward.
In my original conception of criteria for rating casinos, I thought I would include a brief section on the women of each casino. Not to cause my loyal readers who know my writings well to suspect I had abandoned my feminist devotions, I decided to scrap this, even though part of what many of the casinos in Las Vegas trade on is sex appeal. So, I'm couching this in "atmosphere" because who the casino is trying to appeal to is worth noting in a review. Terrible's seems committed to appealing to a middle aged audience that is present mostly to gamble. As a result, women serving drinks on the casino floor wear outfits that are essentially bathing suits with a suit coat over the top, making for presenting a fair amount of leg, minimal breasts and varying degrees of backside based on whether the coat has tails or not (I saw both).
Other notes on "atmosphere" (not literal) would have to return me to the concept of "dank" (which, frankly, none of the casinos I went to had women where that would be an appropriate description . . . well, not the roving servers, anyway). The wallpaper in Terrible's is a tacky neutral color and the lights are kept dimmed at all hours of the day, making for the feeling that one is gambling in a place that is inherently unclean. Seriously, bring some Purelle so when you're done gambling you can disinfect yourself; that is the mood set by Terrible's Casino. If one were to establish a casino based on a Puritanical sense of law and order, this might well be their vision; crowded, dark, sweaty; everything designed to make one feel shamed or dirty while gambling.
Gaming Options/Player's Club
Well, except the fact that you win at Terrible's*! Of all of the casinos I went to in Las Vegas, I succeeded the most at Terrible's on the slot machines. Conservative estimates put me at up $100 at Terrible's. Yes, that's starting with the $5.00 I entered Las Vegas with earmarked for gambling. Indeed, everytime I got back down to that $5.00 from losing at other casinos, I returned to Terrible's and worked it back up a little bit.
Here it is germane to mention I have a very simple gambling philosophy: I sit down at a slot machine with $5.00. I work it up to $10 or down to zero. Period. Unfortunately, sometimes, this strategy gets buggard by my actually winning (the last bet I placed at Terrible's, I sat down at "Crystal Enchantment" with my $5.00 and walked away with $25.00 three minutes later). Know your limits: I can afford to lose $5.00. So, when I am above that, I'll usually work it up or whittle it down to the next even $5.00. Have a strategy, know your limits: Terrible's Casino worked quite well for me with mine over the course of the week I was in Las Vegas.
Of course, I'm primarily a slot machine player and I have no shame in admitting, I tend to like the ones that are more video game-like, have more girly themes and/or fun bonus rounds. At Terrible's I found I had a real love of Crystal Enchantment, Mermaid's Gold (not so much Mystic Mermaids), and Alien. Yes, that's Alien as in based on the movie (reviewed here!) and I suppose that one's not terribly girly, but it is very much like a video game. My mother scored big on the Wizard Of Oz and the Alfred Hitchcock slot machine. Terrible's also seemed quite proud of the casino slot machine based on eBay (reviewed here!) they had recently acquired. Terrible's has somewhere between 750 and 1000 slot machines at the Paradise Road casino and hitting them first thing in the morning (6 a.m. - 10 a.m.) yielded consistent, reliable winnings for me*.
I jokingly called Terrible's my Las Vegas ATM.
For those who might be into games of chance and card games over the delightful, calculated reinforcement of video slot machines, there were approximately ten blackjack tables, two roulette wheels and two craps tables at Terrible's Casino. This is definitely a place trading on slot/video poker play. There is also a sports bar segment in one corner, but I pretty much avoided that (I found myself there once and was baffled by the lack of slot machines, so I left). As well, there is a Bingo hall upstairs that seats approximately two hundred people (I never saw it near that full) with thrice daily Bingo tournaments.
There is a player's club at Terrible's, easy enough to recall because of its catchy name "Terrible's Players Club." Signing up is easy, though the lines to this casino's player's club are almost always long from their 8 a.m. opening until closing. Usually, they only have two workers working there and it is not the fastest line to get through. Signing up nets the club member a free t-shirt or hat and they are given a coupon book as well. The coupon book offers such things as buy one, get one free buffets.
The player's club operates on points and points are derived from how much money one bets at the slot machines. Points are essentially equivalent to pennies - when it comes to spending, each dollar accrues a single point - and as a result, it takes forever to purchase anything at the casino shop with points. Instead, I usually cashed mine in to simply get a discount on my final Sunday brunch.
Signing up to receive e-mail updates yields bonus points, as does gaming on Thursdays and Sundays (3x points all day!). Terrible's Casino also offers interesting promotions, like a Cruise-A-Week Giveaway which club members get free entries into (or 1,000,000 points to simply "buy"), a free gas giveaway with drawings every Wednesday (Terrible's owns a bunch of gas stations around Las Vegas), as well as promotions in conjunction with the hotel. For those considering going to Terrible's, check their website out first; they almost always have buy one, get one free buffet coupons on-line and there's no good reason not to print out a bevy of them before going to Las Vegas.
* Winning is expressly, strictly not guaranteed.
Terrible's Casino in Las Vegas is not the property to go to for entertainment outside the fun of gambling. Rumor is they have live music each night from Tuesday to Sunday, but I don't recall ever hearing the music. This is pretty much the equivalent to a lounge singer or the Cantina Band, I suspect; it's not at all given priority.
Dining is THE reason outside loose slots to come to Terrible's and those are the two reasons I subject myself to the dank atmosphere of the place. For $9.99 + tax ($4.99 + tax for breakfast), Terrible's offers an all-you-can-eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner buffets. And for that price, you certainly get your money's worth (especially if you bring storage containers to stock up on!).
Breakfast is pretty much a standard breakfast buffet of eggs, sausage, bacon, sausage biscuits and gravy, crepes, cereal, hot cereals, fresh fruit, cottage cheese, breakfast burritos, and fresh made Belgian waffles (while you wait!). As well, there is an omelet station with perhaps the best omelet maker outside myself making omelets exactly as one requests. Seriously, this guy earns his tips! Sadly, the only juice options are apple, orange and cranberry, but there is the usual coffee, tea, cocoa and (I'm sure) liquor options.
Saturday and Sunday there is a champagne brunch at the dinner price and it is pretty fabulous.
Dinner buffet options are rotated each day and different nights have different themes. The only dinner that is more than the standard price is the Thursday night Seafood buffet, but even that is pretty extraordinary. Buffet options always include: salad bar, bread, soups, and desserts. On BBQ night, all of the options are meaty and smothered in gravy or barbecue sauce. The mashed potatoes are made with real potatoes and the various gravy options are all good. One night is predominantly Italian food (great meatballs!) and still another is like Thanksgiving diner.
The point here is that there's no reason to leave Terrible's hungry and truth be told, I only had two meals outside Terrible's in my week in Las Vegas for the simple reason that it was too good of a deal to not keep eating at the buffet there. It is, of course, not for those who are unable to metabolize fried foods as at least a quarter of the options each night are fried.
There is a gift shop at the Terrible's Casino and for the life of me I cannot remember anything distinctive about it, save that there were a ton of liquor bottles (full, of course) and that even gum seemed expensive there. Purchases may be made with either dollars or points and I didn't so much as purchase a cup of coffee there.
I tend to go to Terrible's Casino whenever in Las Vegas for the loose slots and buffet and it certainly lives up to its reputation on both. I imagine next year when I go back, my gaming there will be limited to when I go there to eat, though, mostly because I've discovered I like to gamble and the atmosphere other places in Vegas is better . . . even if the payouts aren't.
For other casino reviews, please check out my takes on:
Greektown Casino, Michigan
Mystic Lake Casino
For other travel reviews, please visit my Travel Review Index Page for an organized listing!
© 2012, 2008 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
Terrible's Casino - Las Vegas, NV
Click here for a room!