A Gambler’s Tour of America – My Favorite Places to Play Slots, Video Poker, Blackjack, and Roulette

Two US Casino Fronts

I wish all of my favorite casino games were available under one roof. I’d take the slots from one casino, combine them with the table games available at a different casino, and then mix up all of their best restaurants and amenities and create my own perfect gambling venue.

Unfortunately, in America, most of my favorite games are hundreds or thousands of miles apart. I like to play slots in New York City, video poker in downtown Vegas, blackjack in Connecticut, and roulette in Oklahoma or Atlantic City. That’s because each of these places have something special to offer people who prefer those games.

This post is all about my favorite places to play my favorite games. The idea is to inspire people to try out new games or to travel a little and try gambling in a new place. The American gambling industry is so widespread and so varied, you can have completely different experiences playing the same game in different casinos.

My Favorite Place to Play Slots – Resorts World New York

My first trip to Resorts World New York was a scouting expedition for a piece of writing I was working on. I’d found out that the average return to player for all slot games at Resorts World New York is 95.05% – that’s the highest such average of any casino in America.

How high is that? The average for casinos in Pennsylvania, for example, is right at 90%. Neighboring New Jersey, famous for Atlantic City’s boardwalk casinos, averages 91.41%. An average RTP of 95.05% is high, and it demands a visit from American slots fans, especially those who are looking for games that give the casino a smaller edge.

Outside of Las Vegas, few casinos have as many slot games as Resorts World – 6,500 according to their website, and I believe it. They’ve got a separate video poker parlor as well, so every one of those 6,500 machines is a slot machine. They have a high-limit section, too, for those of you that want to spend $10 or more per spin.

Resorts World is nice beyond just the wide variety of relatively loose slot machines. I love that I can take the subway straight from NYC to Aqueduct Racetrack and then get on a shuttle bus that takes me straight to the casino.

The Sugar Factory dessert bar is also a perfect match for gambling – why hasn’t anybody else thought to put a giant candy and dessert shop on a casino floor before.

I don’t have any ridiculous win stories to share – my own slot play at Resorts New York has been pretty typical. But I do love the wide variety of slot machine games available and the nice setting you find here.

My Favorite Place to Play Video Poker – Sam’s Town in Downtown Las Vegas

Yes, I love Vegas. Of course I do. It’s designed to be loved by people like me. Give me a couple hundred bucks and a bunch of video poker games, keep the Sprites coming, and I’m a happy man.

The last time I played video poker at Sam’s Town Hotel & Casino I drew a wild 5 of a kind and won $400, so I guess I’m a little biased.

But that’s not why Sam’s Town is my favorite place to play video poker. It’s because they’re the only casino I know of that still hosts a full-pay Deuces Wild video poker game. As in literally you won’t find this game anywhere else in America besides one little section of this one little downtown Vegas casino.

Why full-pay Deuces Wild? It’s simple. That’s my favorite video poker game. When played according to basic strategy, it yields a theoretical return of 100.71%, meaning theoretically you have an advantage against the house.

You have to work a lot harder to get an edge against the casino in blackjack. Following a little strategy chart on my phone is easy, and the casino doesn’t care that I’m doing it.

Video Poker Machine

You won’t get a seat at the half-dozen available FP Deuces Wild machines here during peak times, so I like to go at like 4 AM on a Tuesday, when I have all six machines to myself.

Sam’s Town is fine for a downtown Vegas spot. It’s clean, and even at peak times it isn’t overcrowded. The floor is pretty big – 120,000 square feet – but the number of games has dwindled. I counted 28 live dealer table games on my last visit, and I’d say they have about 900 slot and video poker games all told.

But I don’t go because the place is charming, or because I like the food – though I like the breakfast buffet at Firelight Buffet that starts at around 6 AM. I go because I like the full-pay Deuces Wild games that you’ll find here and nowhere else.

My Favorite Place to Play Blackjack – Foxwoods Casino

I want to start with an honorable mention – I love playing blackjack at WinStar World Casino in Oklahoma. I live pretty close to it, so that’s one reason I like playing there.

But I also like the sheer size of the place and the fact that they have lots of 3:2 blackjack games. However, I can’t name WinStar World my #1 place to play blackjack because of the $0.50 fee for each hand. Totally kills any advantage I gain with good strategy.

Foxwoods Resort & Casino is a great place to play blackjack because of the high ratio of 3:2 to 6:5 for blackjack games. Seriously, if you’ve played blackjack in Vegas or Atlantic City recently, you know how rare a 3:2 game is these days.

I also like playing real money blackjack at Foxwoods because of the number of table games on offer – 250 at last count, with dozens of them dedicated to blackjack games. Of course, you’ll find stadium-style and single-player machine blackjack games, though most of these now pay 6:5 and I avoid them unless I just want to kill some time.

I don’t play much blackjack over $10, and Foxwoods has several $5 and $10 tables, though you can find higher-limit tables, and VIP high-limit blackjack games are also available.

Because Foxwoods is a massive complex, you’ve got like three dozen restaurants and chains to pick up food and drink from, with a huge range of available cuisines and styles. I’m not going to list them, just know that you’ve got everything from high-end sushi to Auntie Anne’s pretzels.

If you’ve never been to Foxwoods before, know that it’s a bit labyrinthine. There are technically four casinos on-site, and the amenities and gambling floors are all kind of broken up and spread out all over the place. Having a map helps.

My Favorite Place to Play Roulette – Harrah’s Atlantic City

No listing of the “best place to play roulette in America” is complete without a discussion of American vs. European roulette games. For advantage gamblers, there’s no reason to play the worse-odds version of the game, the American wheel with an addition betting space that gives the casino a much bigger edge. However, I understand that some people don’t care which wheel they play on or what the relative odds are.

All that said, I really only play single-zero (European) roulette. Atlantic City is a great place for people looking for European roulette games, since almost every casino in town has a Euro table. As far as I know, the only one that doesn’t is the AC Hilton.

I chose Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City because I think it’s the most lowkey of the big gambling halls in Atlantic City. I don’t like the Trump properties or the AC Hilton, so I tend to stick to Harrah’s or maybe Caesars. The other thing I like about Harrah’s AC for roulette is their $5 table minimum. Most AC casinos have a $10 minimum.

European Roulette Table

If you come to Harrah’s to play roulette, understand that the single-zero tables move around a lot, and I can’t even really tell you where to look for them. I know they operate up to 10 roulette games at a time sitewide, and that only 1 of them ever uses a single-zero layout.

Here’s some free advice if you find yourself at Harrah’s and want to take a break – check out Aunt B’s ice cream parlor, just east of Harrah’s on Brigantine Blvd. Huge portions of awesome homemade ice cream that isn’t super soft like so much Atlantic City ice cream. Just trust me.

Final Thoughts

Different games require different things. A slot machine player is usually a very different kind of person from a blackjack fan, and the games have different requirements that highlight different skill sets.

Sometimes it helps to match the casino where you find yourself to the game you want to play. It’s probably not a great idea to play slots in West Virginia, where the average return is around 88%. By the same logic, I can’t justify playing roulette on the Vegas Strip, where you won’t find a single-zero roulette wheel to save your life.

Match the game to the place where you’re playing, and you’ll be more entertained and potentially a little more lucky.