Built in the 40s and still looking "Old Vegas", this is one of the last bastions of the classic look and feel of the town. The casino is old school classy with low ceilings, nice lighting, plenty of shiny surfaces and just the right mix of old-timers, low-rollers, youngsters and those folks you only find in Vegas.
Coupons Available for El Cortez Vegas:
$10 free slot play for all club members, 50% off at The Flame Steakhouse, Two-for-one hotel rooms on weekdays. (Click Here For More Info.)
Room Quality: The tower rooms are spacious, clean and comfortable, but the bathrooms are a bit cramped. Actually, these are some nice rooms. They are as nice as almost any downtown, except the bathrooms. And if you want a really cheap room, snag a "vintage" room, they are single queens above the casino, or a Pavilion room which have outdoor entrances and are above the parking garage, but offer more space than Vintages, are fresh and can have two queens. The elegant Vintage suites are perhaps the best deal in town with a giant room with a sofa and sitting area for mere peanuts. The hotel is a few hundred feet outside of the Fremont Street Experience in a safe, quickly gentrifying area. If a regular room at the El Co isn't nice enough for you, you can try the South Beach-flavored Cabana Suites in a separate building across the street. They have way more style than substance, but nice bathrooms and iPod docks. They are intended for a younger, hipper audience. And they better be hip, because if they aren't, the lime green, black and white color theme is just plain ugly. Like it's trying too hard.
Service Quality: Fair. They are usually friendly, and they treat you like an adult. If you have special needs or prefer being babied, stay away from this place. Check in is quick, although not as pleasant since they got rid of the portrait of Jackie Gaughan and his late wife. On-site services are limited to a barber shop.
What You Get Bottles of in the Bathroom: Shampoo, conditioner and the ubiquitous soap. If you're feeling decadent, indulge yourself with the personal-size bottle of hand lotion. Barely enough to keep you feeling fresh.
Clientele: Regular folks. Because the building looks unglamorous, and there's no Canadian acrobat show, the El Co draws a crowd that is serious about gambling, not looking at fancy volcanoes and fountains.
How's the Pool? What pool? There's some scuttlebutt about a pool in the plans, but for now you'll just have to splash around on the concrete.
Table Games: The classics are here. Blackjack, craps, roulette, mini-baccarat. The pit is smaller than it once was, but has a lot of roulette and enough blackjack. Two craps tables are present with one usually going.
Bet Minimums: $5 Pai Gow, mini baccarat, and $3 blackjack that still pays 3:2. Craps is usually $3, and the 10x odds are still a great deal. Quarter roulette can be spinning on four wheels and it is available for the brave soul willing to throw away a couple bucks on a high-risk wager.
Machines: From a nickel on up. They have good nickel and quarter video poker, plenty of full pay, and thanks to renovations, there is actually room to move around now.
Cocktails? Fair to good, but lousy in the early morning hours. Table players get better cocktail treatment, and since much of the clientele is so tight with a buck, these waitresses remember to come back to anyone tipping.
Who Gets Comps? For people playing ten bucks or higher there might be something. Dinner in the coffee shop is the easiest comp. Jackie's Club Cortez is decent, about equal to the good off-strip programs. Food and room comps are pretty easy, especially mailings for free rooms. Be sure to sign up, at least to get the sign-up freebies.
Cafe Cortez: Cheap late night and breakfast specials. Otherwise mediocre food, with the exception of Mr. Porterhouse, the 14 oz. slab of meat. And who doesn't want to dine with Mr. Porterhouse, so long as he remembered to take his medication? The menu isn't as basic as it once looked, but it's still just a 24-hour coffee shop (except on midweek nights when it's got a very limited latenight menu). You can still eat fairly well for under ten bucks.
The Flame Steakhouse: It's not quite elegant, but it's definitely old-school and the prices are right for a good meal. Big Alaskan crab legs can be had cheaply, and stone crab is flown in during the season. Everything is a la carte, which is a sneaky way for a joint to make a meal look cheaper than it is.
There are also a Subway, Seattle's Best Coffee and Dreyer's Ice Cream in case you're getting sick of the classic Vegas feel and want something you can get almost anywhere else in the U.S.
Barbershop: On the second floor there is a barbershop where you can get your hair cut, or watch others get their hair cut. Depending on the style, this can be really fun. They also have Playboy magazines in there.
Old Vegas: This is still one of the best places to enjoy Old Las Vegas, so walk around and soak it in. In the pretty main bar, enjoy live piano played with class by Bob Williams. The building is the oldest standing casino in Las Vegas, and the ambience is from days gone by.
Number of TVs: 12 for race and 10 for sports, every one of them those newfangled flat screens that are sweeping casinos off their feet.
Number of Seats: About 40 for race bettors and 20 for sports. Your shoes have more padding than the chairs, so you might as well stand.
How Many Betting Windows? About six, with an electronic board for sports scores and slate for race results.
Free Drinks? You bet. A free drink coupon for every $10 you bet, actually.
Snack Bar? No. The Subway is actually pretty far away. It's a good chance to build up an appetite.
Minimum Wager: $5 on the games, $2 on the ponies.
Other Notes: Enjoy the old-style atmosphere while you marvel at how much more pleasant the newer sports books are for watching games. The beauty is you can bet here where the vig is lower, then watch someplace fancier, and nobody will know any better.
Number of Tables: Three. Usually for Hold 'Em, although one is supposedly for seven-card.
Comfort of Chairs: These chairs are about as comfortable as a Yugo, but with more headroom.
Closed Room or Open to Casino? Not only is it open, there is no room. It's tucked into an alcove on the casino floor, next to slots and tables. It's pretty noisy!
Game Spreads and Limits: Hold-em 1-3-6. Games are going most of the time.
Beginner Games or Classes? There are no beginner games, but there are a large number of loose or bad players in the games that will give pots to a solid, tight beginner. The 1-3-6 spread game is conducive to loose-passive play.
How Crowded is the Room? The tables almost always have an open seat for Stud when it's open, but the Hold 'Em fills on the weekends. Weekdays you can probably get in pretty quickly.
Comps? Free drinks while playing. There is no casino rate for rooms, but they're cheap already. They will comp you $5 in the coffee shop if you play a few hours.
How Good Are the Players? Below average. Well, there are some locals (including former El Co owner Jackie Gaughan) that may clean up, but the reason most of these people are here is because they aren't good enough for other rooms. Games are usually pretty slow and the betting is low. You'll see lots of people bet to see the flop, but they won't be there for the river.
What Else Do I Need to Know? This is by no means the ideal room to play poker, but if you don't intimidate easily you will find some easy pots to be had. The rake is 10% but capped at $2.50, and that's low.