Arizona Charlie’s Decatur
Arizona Charlie’s Decatur is found naturally on Decatur blvd. and can be reached via the US 95 Decatur exit. It has a medium sized hotel and a fairly large casino. It is not to be confused with the Arizona Charlie’s on Boulder which has a much more limited scope all around. Parking is easy to find and is in great abundance in the south area of the establishment with a smaller lot in the north.
Arizona Charlie’s was one of the very first establishments of its kind that was meant to exclusively cater towards the local population rather than out-of-towners. This is how it was envisioned from the idea’s inception: a hangout for locals featuring a low-pressure atmosphere and low-stakes gambling rather than a ritzy over-the-top establishment to draw in the tourists. Even its placement helped to further achieve this goal, being so out of the way in the middle of a random commercial district that few tourists have ever, or will ever have heard the name.
Arizona Charlie’s has not strayed very far from its original vision in 1994, still offering cheap video poker, low table limits, and the lowest prices on the best steak ‘n’ eggs you’re going to find in all of Nevada. Even the general atmosphere is conducive to the overall way that the customers are meant to perceive gambling there. This is not to say that it seems cheap or manufactured, it is just a much more low-key and less flashy establishment than any that you’d find on the Las Vegas main strip. There are still the big spenders that come in and play $5 blackjack games until their entire paycheck is blown though, and there are enough diverse attitudes that the staff is ready for just about anything these days.
In fact, this particular Arizona Charlie’s location used to send out buses to ferry over the octogenarians from the local old folks homes so that they too could participate in the fun offered by the cheap slot machines and card tables. Unfortunately for Charlie’s, these men and women may have been elderly but they still had their wits about them and were able to steal about 50 cents each from the house, and maybe even got away with a free drink or two if their medication would allow it. This is a practice that Charlie’s still continues to this day, however the people seem to be getting even crazier as the years pass.
The Naughty Ladies Saloon is one of the most treasured attractions at Arizona Charlie’s on Decatur. This show features a cabaret style performance from very good looking women and it comes at the best price available, free. When performances are underway, the music emanating from the venue can be heard throughout the entire casino.
The casino’s table games are all in one singular pit-type area which is located right in the middle of the building. You can play double deck blackjack starting at a $5 minimum which is sometimes changed to a $3 minimum if taking place on a slow day for business. There is also a shoe game which is available at a $3 minimum always, and this seems to be just about the most popular of all the games. Craps has 10x odds and comes at a $3 minimum but will sometimes be 5x odds with a $5 minimum when things are busier. This pit is also home to games like Pai Gow poker, Let it Ride, and Texas Hold’em, each with a $5 minimum. They also have roulette.
The selection for video poker here is considerably better than that of the Arizona Charlie’s on Boulder Highway. There are a few 10/7 Double Bonus and 10/6 Double Double Bonus machines and even NSUD in $0.25 denominations. 10/7 Double Bonus is featured in $1 denominations as well. However, when operating these machines players will earn almost zero slot club points. Then there are all of the other machines which you probably shouldn’t play if you don’t like losing, but they’re mostly there to pretty the rest of the place up and make it look more voluminous anyway.
Settling on the name AcePlay after a lot of different iterations, the slot club here is atrocious. The base return for the lowest level of membership (the most common level also) is less than a tenth of a single percent at 0.083% return. Even the sleaziest casinos will let you get away with a tenth of a percent. If you play the video poker you get even less return at 0.02%. If you want a little perspective on all of this math, spend a thousand dollars gambling normally at the slot machines and you’ll get back 83 cents in return. Gamble away the same amount at video poker and get back twenty cents. Basically, you can spend 5 hours and hundreds of dollars and walk away with nothing more than enough cash back for a crappy doughnut that tastes like it came from a Holiday Inn continental breakfast platter. You may also save up your points and after you’ve spent your first 10,000 dollars gambling you can cash these points in for the cheapest drink option available at one of the other hotels owned by American Casino & Entertainment Properties.
This is a game that deserves its own section, at last when it comes to Arizona Charlie’s. This is because it is the single most important and well maintained aspect of Arizona Charlie’s. It is also what makes it famous because it is the only 24-hour bingo establishment in all of Las Vegas. This means that they will always be calling bingo during thanksgiving, Christmas, Ramadan, Kwanzaa, the super bowl, during tsunamis. Whenever the date is whatever the occasion, you name it, and they’ll be playing during it at Arizona Charlie’s. And surprisingly, there is never a shortage of butts to fill those seats no matter the time or day or time of day. They also have free beverages.
There is no poker room in Arizona Charlie’s Boulder location. And with the way the poker room here in Decatur is treated it’s easy to see why they gave up on the poker room in the second location. Here at Arizona Charlie’s Decatur, the poker room is aimless, basically three or four tables smashed together haphazardly in a side room that probably once hosted illegal Taiwanese organ gambling, or janitorial equipment in a past life. In fact it can hardly be called a room, so much as an “area.” All of this aside, this area does seem to be somewhat densely populated, particularly on Friday (pay days for most people) so there must be something to it. Texas Hold’em is the biggest draw here.
They have Keno here, though probably nobody should be playing it since the chances of winning are so abysmally low.
Surprisingly enough, despite how good the food here can sometimes be, the prices are still rock bottom low. It’s kind of amazing what you can get with just a five dollar bill. With just a single fiver, you can go into the sourdough café for breakfast or dinner and come out having been filled with a tastily prepared New York strip, two over-easy eggs, two slices of toast, a generous helping of hashbrowns on the side, and even have money left over for the tip. This is of course referring to the famous steak ‘n’ eggs meal which can only be purchased at the Sourdough Café, a Vegas staple. Service isn’t so bad either and they can easily fix you up with a decent cup of coffee whenever you need one. In fact some people go out of their way to go to Arizona Charlie’s just to eat at the Sourdough Café. The one drawback of this place is that it’s often packed with seniors with lines stretching on for what feels like miles early in the day.
The “Frisco Market” buffet is the resident buffet of the Charlie’s hotel/casino combo. It’s actually not as bad anymore as some people may remember it once being. The food is actually edible now and is priced between $6-12 per meal, which isn’t so bad considering it’s all you can eat.
Ron’s Steakhouse is the resident steakhouse, since every casino needs one of these. Apparently Yukon Charlie didn’t do so hot, so this restaurant sprung up to occupy the empty spot. While the Yukon that existed here previous was wont to serve up delicious hearty slabs of steak with bibs on request, Ron’s has tried to class it up a little bit with a fancier product. Truthfully it doesn’t taste any better than the steak they used to offer at Yukon Charlie’s but the price hasn’t increased so much as to be out of the average common low-stakes gambler’s reach even after they’ve thrown away 90% of their paycheck on Keno.
Noble Roman’s Pizza and Subway are also options for those of you that really don’t care about how they’re perceived. And let’s face it, if you’re even reading this review and considering going to Arizona Charlie’s there’s at least some of this sentiment in you.
Also, though it’s not a main part of the establishment, there is a location of the Vegas Classic, The Original Pancake House no more than a few blocks down Decatur from Arizona Charlie’s. It may not be the fanciest restaurant, but they’ve never heard of portion control so you can pretty much gorge yourself on delicious tasting homemade comfort food without fear of paying too much for too little.
The hotel wasn’t the worst there is. And there’s not much to complain about then you’re only paying $37 a night. But as long as you’re determined to stick to the low-class places $37 still does leave some room for shopping around. There are some nice Motel 8’s where you may stand a chance of not being murdered in the middle of the night or contracting an STD from the door handle. If you value your peace, comfort, and life at the expense of a few dollars saved per night then Arizona Charlie’s is a great option for hotel choices.
Surprisingly the pool facilities at Arizona Charlie’s Boulder are much more well tended and much more extravagant than the pool here at the original location. Not that this pool is bad at all, that’s just all it is. And for those of us that are touring Vegas we’ve already come to expect more from our facilities than the bare minimum. You can take a dip in the Jacuzzi, or you can go for a swim in this pool, sized about average for a normal hotel pool. This is definitely a pool small enough for you to feel like you’re swimming in 50% child urine and 50% sweat though so it’s recommended that you don’t unless you have the driest of skin or the strongest of constitutions.
As a word of warning, for those that haven’t already gleaned this information from having read this review up to this point, there is nothing in this establishment that you might call refined. There is no aspect of Arizona Charlie’s that might be called first class, or even deigned second class. In fact if a casino could somehow be nominated for inclusion in the UN’s list of third world countries, this location of Arizona Charlie’s would be first on the list of nominees. The Boulder location would be second. With as much respect to the patrons as possible, Arizona Charlie’s was crafted in the beginning specifically to appeal to a lower class of people, and this is exactly who they attract most of the time.
Do not be surprised by the tobacco-soaked throaty hacking of a decades long smoker filling the air around you as you play slots. Don’t be surprised when you are dealt a hand of cards layered thick with grease from the gnarled fingers of the auto-worker who didn’t think to change his clothes before stepping out the night before. Try not to get too addled at the sound of a sweaty meaty fist pounding upon the thick reinforced glass of the slot machines every second by a guy who knows that the secret to winning is literally beating the machine into submission every time a new picture clicks into place. Do not claim you weren’t warned when you are browbeaten by the couple of wrinkled old crones in the corner during a bingo match. Don’t be too bothered by the eerie screech-like laughter from the possibly mentally deranged man at one of the video poker booths. But especially do not be surprised when complaints about the actions of other off-kilter gamblers go ignored by staff. You have to remember that though it may be off-putting to you, these are the people they deal with every day, the elderly, the drunk, the mentally ill, the homeless, and the people that are otherwise dregs on society save for the fact that they are spending money. Thus it is perfectly understandable that staff would ignore them in favor of letting them play so that they can rack up their bills and rack up their losses. Tourists, this place is not for you unless you’re absolutely determined to gamble as low stakes as possible for your duration in the city of sin or unless you’re perfectly okay with not getting the true Vegas experience. On the plus side, this means that Arizona Charlie’s will help you tone down from the action of the more hectic nights on the strip, just not in a way that you might want. You have been warned.
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