I spent month-long vacations in the stratosphere, and you know it's really hard to hold your breath -- Bruce Springsteen - Growin' Up
I wish I could spend month-long vacations in the Stratosphere. It's one of my favorite casinos. Why? Here are my top 10 reasons why the Strat is a great place:
10. Parking. Unlike many casinos, it's not a maze of confusing twists and turns. It's simple: drive up to the 5th floor, turn right, park near the elevator. Take the elevator to the 3rd floor to get to the casino. Which leads to #9...
9. Easy casino navigation. On more than one occasion, I've gotten lost in the bigger casinos like Caesars and the Venetian. The Strat is simple. Once you park and get to the 3rd floor (see #10 above), you take the escalator down to the casino, and it's all laid out for you. Even without a cell phone, you can find friends at the tables or machines.
8. It's like an old friend. It's familiar, it's funky, and it's fun. And unlike the Sahara, you don't have to smoke when you go inside. Of course, like most casinos, it helps if you do.
7. Cocktail waitresses. They aren't the most glamorous. They don't wear the skimpiest outfits. But they are friendly and they keep the free drinks coming, especially if you tip and are friendly to them.
6. Bathrooms. Generally clean, but more importantly, very accessible. There are two in the casino that are very easy to get to in an emergency (important considering free drinks as noted in #7 above)
5. The pit bosses. Generally good-natured and willing to comp you a little more if you play there a lot. Their type can be difficult, mean, and dismissive if they want to be. At the Strat, I've encountered some pretty decent pit bosses.
4. The craps box men. At the craps tables, there are no harsher box men in any casino. They are constantly on those craps dealers. I would hate to be them, but it makes them better. Dealing craps can't be easy. There's a lot of money on the table, and I honestly don't know how they keep track of it because everyone puts different bets down for different amounts. The box men at the Strat know their stuff and are very strict about how the game is run. That's good news for players.
3. The rules. All multi-deck games are 3-2 blackjack (are you listening, Harrah's? That's why I don't play in your casinos any more!). The other rules are good (resplit aces once) and there are plenty of $5 blackjack tables, even on weekends.
2.There is also always a $5 craps table available, too.
1. The dealers. At the tables, most dealers are fun, friendly and remember you. While this is true at many casinos, it's particularly true at the Strat. When I was there last week, one dealer (Gina) was all smiles and said she remembered me from "last time" which was months ago! She appreciates being a good dealer. She related to me that she understands how lucky she is to have a job during this economic downturn.
She said that it used to be different. When dealers got laid off or fired, they would just go to another casino. Not any more. Competition is tough, and it has really made the dealers appreciate their customers more. She gets it, and I appreciate that. Plus, she's a great blackjack dealer - very professional and yet very friendly. Kudos, Gina - I'll see you next time I spend my vacation in the Stratosphere.
That's my list. Obviously, I really like this place. It's undergone some changes, but Bob Stupak had a dream, and it was a good one. Viva la Strat.