For instance, do you like high society or do you prefer more casual surroundings? Some people find the Bellagio too pretentious, while others would never gamble elsewhere. O'Sheas has a loyal following while others consider it one step above (or below) a gas station restroom. When making a list, the preferences of the author override everything else.
What I look for in a gaming pit may not be what you look for, and it's not feasible to take a scientific poll.
For the most part, gaming pits which bring me back tend to offer a combination of the following: uniqueness, intangible "look and feel", abundant eye candy, competent drink service, good odds, friendliness, comfort, and most of all ... fun.
Instead of being literal, rankings are simply fun and vicarious, so try not to read too much into them.
That being said, if there is a gaming pit on the list which you have yet to try, it may be worth a stack of chips and a few hours of your time. Who knows ... it just might become one of your favorites too.
1. Las Vegas Club Fetish Pit
"The Las Vegas Club? Never heard of it."
Don't feel bad, probably half of all Las Vegas visitors have never heard of this small property. Located at the far western edge of the Fremont Street Experience, this gambling pit takes the top spot because it has cheap gaming, good odds, above-average drink service, a stripper pole in the center of the pit, and the best dealer costumes in town.
While the dealers at most other properties wear the same costumes every night, you never know what you will get at the Fetish Pit, and that's half the fun.
This pit is new and does not yet have an established track record, but for my money, it's the gaming venue to beat at the moment.
2. The Tropicana Pool Pit
Swim-up Blackjack is a gimmick, but a fun gimmick nonetheless. I make it a point to play swim-up at least once every season, and it has yet to lose its silly appeal. When you are done losing all of your money (play until you lose so you don't have to babysit a wad of cash near the water), simply fall off of your seat and swim off into one of the most underrated pools in Las Vegas.
3. Planet Hollywood Pleasure Pit
This pit is just plain fun. It has a certain intangible quality that is hard to define, but overall, it feels a little more enjoyable than other Strip skin pits. It may be the high-quality women shaking their assets, the subconscious knowledge that it's not a chain property (yet), the music, or the fact that service and friendliness is typically above average. Since ownership of this property is slated to change in the near future, the Pleasure Pit may or may not retain its position, so stay tuned.
4. Imperial Palace Dealertainer Pit
Imperial Palace brought about the "Dealertainer" concept, and while a silly novelty, it's still a gaming experience that you will get Â©"Only in Las Vegas". It's not often that you can order Elvis or Michael Jackson to split your 8's, and it's even more rare to have them serenade you while doing so. If you really want to have some fun, take a seat at the MJ table, and when the waitress asks you if you need anything ... respond "Yes, I would like a glass of Jesus Juice mixed with propofol and a pair of MaCaulay Culkin's underwear." The only thing better than playing in the Dealertainer pit is getting kicked out of it.
5. Stratosphere Double Down Pit
The two most compelling reasons are right before your very eyes. What more do you need? Friendly and attractive dealers make this a fun place to play, and since it is adjacent to the Poker Room, you can satisfy most of your gaming needs in a 100 sqft area. The Stratosphere has lost visitor mindshare in recent years with the decay of the North Strip, therefore this pit remains one of the best-kept secrets in all of Las Vegas.
6. Caesars Palace Pussycat Pit
The skin pit that started it all.
Las Vegas is not a bastion of originality. To the contrary, we are an unofficial extension of Hollywood, complete with terrible movies which bear our name. Vegas comes up with virtually nothing of its own, and the town makes a living largely by copying the creativity of others. If something works in one casino, other casinos will hop on the bandwagon just as quickly as they can. This is exactly what has happened with the skin pits.
It would be unconscionable to champion the imitators without paying due homage to the originator. When the Pussycat Pit is cranking, it still ranks as one of the most entertaining gaming venues in Vegas.
7. Palazzo Gaming Pit
Many have tried the "open casino" concept, but the chosen are few. The Palazzo has one of the most inviting gaming areas in Las Vegas due to its wide aisles and bright design, and it is possibly the only casino in Las Vegas that would be suitable for a Claustrophobics Anonymous meeting. There is nothing wrong with the status-quo ... but the Palazzo provides a great alternative to dark, labyrinthian casino floors.
8. Sahara Pit/Dollar Pit
Yes, I said Sahara. Finally a pit that isn't predicated on the notion of overtly-attractive females. The dealers and waitresses in the Sahara tend to be on the more, uh, "mature" side ... but from a gambling perspective, the Sahara pit is easily the most "flexible". There are few other places in Las Vegas where you can spread a table bet from $3 to $5,000, and this range is what makes the Sahara a great pit for the middle-class. Although the $1 Blackjack isn't what it used to be (it has gone from 3:2 to 6:5), the pit still has a variety of $3 tables with standard odds. Given its equidistance from Downtown and the Bellagio, and its location on both the Monorail and Deuce, it's also one of the most convenient casino floors in all of Las Vegas.
9. Wynn Gaming Pit
As easy as it is to take issue with Wynn the man, it's hard to deny the quality of his casinos. The Wynn is the very definition of "nice", and the comfort and service is hard to beat. While not scantily dressed (they are considered "classy"), the women are usually in the 7-9 range, with a handful actually hitting the elusive 10. The attached Encore deserves a nod as well, although I still prefer the feel of the Wynn. Were it not for the guilt of playing here due to the tip stealing debacle, it would rate higher and I would play here more often.
10. Gold Spike "Sexy" Pit
The Gold Spike has what one might consider an "anti-casino" gaming pit. It's almost like gambling in your own living room while the girls next door deal your cards ... while your cranky mother-in-law stands around yelling at everyone. Consisting of only 4 tables and a unique level of informality, it became a favorite of mine when it first opened.
Unfortunately, there was an incident in June of this year. I brought 15 people to play in the property, and after arriving I was taken aside and scolded by the pit boss for not giving them enough notice so that they could call in another dealer. It's rare that a casino will give someone a hard time for bringing them business, yet this is exactly what happened to me. Not only that, but they greedily jacked up the limits to take advantage of our group and I've yet to go back.
That being said, the dealers are attractive and approachable, "profanity" is allowed, the normal limits are low, the odds are full, and the intimacy of the pit is something that goes against the grain.
Six months ago, I would have rated it higher. Under more competent pit management, it has greater potential, but as of now it is clinging by a thread to the last spot.