Ep. 47 – Looking Back.

Jonathan, Lisa, Gary and producer Rich Johnson look back on the challenges of the past year: closing the hotel during the pandemic, figuring out how to operate once it reopened, dealing with ever-changing and often-conflicting rules and guidelines, and setting a course for the future.

All this as Plaza gets ready to celebrate its 50th anniversary!

Hosts: Jonathan Jossel, Lisa Melmed, Gary Vickery


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Ep. 42 – Oscar’s Dinners & the Chef Who Cooks Them

We’re departing from our usual format this episode to bring two guests and a small slice of one of our favorite events: Oscar’s Dinner Series.

Oscar Goodman, himself, is on hand to talk about the first dinner in 14 months, and he’s joined by Ben Jenkins, Executive Chef of Oscar’s Steakhouse. Ben talks about his career and the changes he’s made at Oscar’s.

Then you’ll hear highlights from the dinner, in which Oscar told stories about being in the movie “Casino” – and hosting the stars for a dinner at his house back in 1996. 

Hosts: Jonathan Jossel, Lisa Melmed, Gary Vickery


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Ep. 28 – Patrick McNeil, Faile

Is it a wolf? Is it a dog? You’ll find the answer to that question, and more about one of the huge murals on the North Tower of The Plaza from the artist, himself. Jonathan, Lisa and Gary dial up New York City and talk to Patrick McNeil, half of the art collective known as Faile. Patrick recounts the fun – and peril – of painting one of the three Plaza murals that are visible for miles.

Hosts: Jonathan Jossel, Lisa Melmed, Gary Vickery


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Ep. 25 – Sheriff Joseph Lombardo

Clark County Metro Sheriff Joseph Lombardo shares tales of growing up in Las Vegas, graduating from UNLV, joining the force and rising through the ranks until he was elected Sheriff in 2014.

He spent much of his early career patrolling the streets of downtown, so he’s a first-hand witness to the dramatic changes in the past decades. And he tells the story of his only encounter with Tony ‘The Ant’ Spilotro — which was quickly followed by an encounter with law enforcement! 

Hosts: Jonathan Jossel, Lisa Melmed


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The Ultimate Guide to Blackjack

It’s one of the most popular gambling card games in the history of cards. Whether you’re looking to make a buck or two your next trip to downtown Las Vegas or learn the basics, we’ve got you covered with our ultimate guide to blackjack.

If you’ve read our ultimate guide to bingo, you’ll want to keep reading to learn how to play blackjack.

What Is Blackjack

Blackjack is a card game with one or two standard decks played against a dealer. Often played with betting, the objective is to get as close to 21 without going over based on the total value of cards dealt to you. 

Each card played has a respective numerical value. 2 through 10 equal their respective values so a 2 of spades equals a value of 2. Face cards Jack, Queen, and King, have the value of 10 while an Ace can be an 11 or 1. Once you use an Ace as either an 11 or 1, you can’t switch it to a different value. Once you use it as one value, you cannot use it the other until you are dealt a new hand.

Blackjack Beginnings

In the United States, we call this game that’s part luck and part paying attention blackjack but across the world, it goes by different nomenclatures, often simply referred to as “Twenty-One.” For obvious reasons, the game got its name from its objective; moreover, to reach 21 points without going over and using the ace as an 11 or 1.

“Twenty-One” has been around as early as the 17th century. By the time it finally arrived in the United States, gambling saloons introduced betting to entice players. Originally, these dealers would give a bonus to anyone who had an ace of spades with a black jack, a jack of spades or a jack of clubs.

Nowadays, there isn’t a bonus for when you get the black jack paired with the ace of spades but the name remains. And it’s still pretty cool when you do. 

Blackjack Basics

Learning to play is easy and requires little skill. It does, however, does require a strategy and understanding of the rules. Here are some of the basics to playing blackjack.

You are dealt two cards to start. If you’re playing at a casino, you play against the “house.” Once you count the total amount of your cards, you can decide to do one of the following:

  • Hit: This is the most common action to take after you receive your two cards. If your cards don’t amount to twenty one, you can “hit” to receive another card. Making sure the next card doesn’t put you over is the trick, though.
  • Stand: This action means you think you have enough to beat the house. You could have a perfect twenty one or you don’t want to take the risk of going over. Examples to come.
  • Double down: This is an additional bet you make if you think you have a winning hand.
  • Split: This is a strategy when you receive two 11s and split the hand into two separate hands. You pay twice the ante but you might be twice as lucky with a double black jack.
  • Surrender: A player would surrender their hand if they see their hands and think they won’t win. This can only happen after the house looks at the cards they dealt. Surrender rules vary casino to casino so ask in advance.

You win your bet when you beat the house with the total count of your cards or if the house goes over. You lose when you go over or the house beats your hand. If you both get the same amount, it’s considered a “push” and you both get your original bets back. In some places, dealers win ties so make sure you clarify before you start playing.

However, another component to this game is called insurance. Insurance is an option all players have at the table after the house reveals an ace card. The dealer will ask if anyone wants insurance after he or she reveals their face up card to be an ace of any suit. This is a side bet that pays 2:1. When the house reveals an ace, it’s a high probability the next card the house will be a ten.

How do you know when to stand and when to hit? We’ll go into some well-known (and not-so well-known) tips in the next section.

Blackjack Strategies

Now you know the basics but do you know when to split or when to double down? Here are some blackjack strategies to consider the next time you head to the tables.

  • When to hit: As a general rule, players should not hit past 16. However, some might depend on the odds and the stakes. Always hit on 8 through 13 no matter what the dealer has.
  • When to stand: Always stand on 17. 16 stands against dealer 2 through 6.
  • When to double down: Always double down on 11s.
  • When to split: Most agree you always split aces and 8. Never split tens.
  • When to surrender: Churchill would say, “Never surrender!” But sometimes it’s the safer bet if it’s offered. Not all tables or casinos have this opportunity. Surrender on 16 if the dealer has a 9 through ace and stand on 15 if the dealer has anything other than a 10 face up. 

These strategies are just the beginning and are not a sure fire you’ll win but with a little luck and a little practice, you may get the hang of it. Expand your prowess even further by reading these in-depth strategy charts.

Where to Play Blackjack in Las Vegas

Every casino you enter in Las Vegas will have blackjack tables. Typically, some locations will offer a variety of bet minimums or even have more decks, increasing the house advantage.

As you research the places to play, take into consideration how much you want to risk to start. Some places are more strict on certain rules like whether the dealer hits on a soft 17, also known as H17 at the table. Hitting on a soft 17 means the hand contains an ace that is being counted as an 11. 

You’ll find some of the high bet minimums on the Strip but downtown has a lot of great locations for low bet minimums with big payouts. The Plaza Hotel and Casino has plenty of table games to choose from, including regular Blackjack, Double Deck Blackjack, and Free Bet Blackjack.

Double Deck Blackjack means you play against the house with only 2 decks and the dealer shuffles these decks at the beginning of each hand. This increases your odds in winning against the house. 

As the name indicates, Free Bet Blackjack allows players to play without betting but it comes with a catch. If the house gets a 22, all bets on the table push. This version is played with 6 decks, 3:2 odds, “Free Doubles” and “Free Splits.”

The Best Place to Play Blackjack Downtown

Whether you’re staying downtown or looking to party downtown, there’s no better place to play blackjack. Book a downtown hotel room and enjoy all that the Plaza and Downtown Las Vegas have to offer.

The Best Downtown Las Vegas Podcast

Are you looking for something to pass the time? Something entertaining yet informational to fill your eardrums? We have you covered at the Plaza with one of the best podcasts Las Vegas has to offer.

Discover the Downtown podcast that will feed your craving for the inside scoop about gaming, the growing arts scene, and everything in between. 

The Best Downtown Las Vegas Podcast

In January 2020, The Plaza Hotel and Casino present On the Corner of Main Street, a podcast about everything downtown Las Vegas and beyond. 

Have you ever wanted to know the behind the scenes of some biggest events in the Valley or what makes the gaming industry tick? Get your fix with exclusive interviews and insight with gaming industry leaders and entertainers. You can get to know local officials and everything there is to uncover in one of the fastest-growing destinations in the world.

With a myriad of exclusive and entertaining perspectives, special guests Plaza CEO Jonathan Jossel discusses topics range from gambling and events to new projects, but more often than not, where Vegas got her start and where it’s going next.

Hosted by locals and Vegas-insiders Lisa Melmed, Jonathan Jossel, Russell Aaron and Gary Vickery.

The Plaza Podcast Episodes

Since starting in early 2020, the hotel and casino podcast has featured a variety of eccentric special guests, including former mayor Oscar Goodman, the namesake of the best steakhouse in Las Vegas three years in a row.

Episode 1: It’s changing, trust me.

The pilot episode for Plaza’s podcast doesn’t disappoint. Plaza CEO Jonathan Jossel shares his journey in revitalizing the hotel and casino as well as meeting two important local figures shaping what Las Vegas Downtown is today.

“No better place to be than downtown on the corner of the main street.”

Listen to Episode 1 now.

Episode 2: A young guy making downtown better.

Continuing the conversation from last week, this episode talks about the steady growth of Downtown with the first special guest, Sam Cherry, developer and head of the City of Las Vegas Planning Commission.

Listen to Episode 2 now.

Episode 3: Well done… Weldon.

This week we welcome godfather of bingo, Weldon Russell. Hosts Lisa, Jonathan, Russell, and Gary talk with the legend and Vietnam Veteran and Plaza’s staple and popular entertainment, bingo.

Listen to Episode 3 now.

Episode 4: Oscar B. Goodman.

He’s not just the name on the steakhouse. Mayor and former lawyer for reputed mob members, Oscar B. Goodman joins the rest of the Plaza podcast crew and shares some never-heard-before stories about Sin City.

Listen to Episode 4 now.

Subscribe to On the Corner of Main Street

Don’t miss another episode and subscribe today. This Las Vegas podcast is available on iTunes and Spotify.

The Ultimate Guide to Bingo

It’s a ball game enjoyed by all that requires little to no skill but a whole lot of luck: bingo. Read our ultimate to guide bingo and learn where and how to play this timeless game of chance.

Where Bingo Began

The game got its name from Edwin Lowe and his posse who popularized the game and sold the first sets across the United States during the early 20th century.

Bingo has more history than just a game for grandmas and gamblers though. It has its origins in mid-16th century Italy where it quickly spread to France and Germany as players eventually added tokens and calling out numbers. 

As an alternative form of lottery, the French gradually began to add the squares and the coordinating numbered tiles. With their use of 27 tiles, this variation helped inspire the game we know today.

By the early 20th century, bingo emerged in the United States at carnivals across Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania. Spearheading the charge was Hugh J. Ward who would go on to compose the official rule book in 1933.

Edwin Lowe would make the most profit from this 2-dimensional match of fate, selling beans and 24 cards across the nation. Lowe originally called the game “Beano.” Legend has it that one of Lowe’s friends accidentally yelled out “Bingo!” instead of beano out of sheer excitement so the name stuck.

How to Play Bingo

Learning to play bingo is easy, and winning is possible as long as you’re paying attention. 

There are different ways to play bingo across the world, including:

  • Bonanza (played with 43 drawn numbers)
  • Bingo U Pick Them (similar to Keno)
  • Stallion Race (up to 15 players)
  • 30, 75, & 90 Ball (the amount of balls, aka numbers that are drawn)

For all bingo variations, participants will receive a ticket, card, or sheet with several numbered tiles on it. Next, a number will be called out from a bingo ball. These balls are chosen randomly. If your sheet or card has that number called out, you can mark it with a token or a designated approved marker. 

“Bingo!” is called out when you get a:

  • 1 line win (1 line is covered or marked off)
  • 2 line win (2 horizontal lines are marked off)
  • Full house win (all numbers are marked)

Some restrictions or other rules may apply so make sure you know before that first bingo ball is announced.

At the Plaza Hotel & Casino, players have the opportunity to win HOTBALL or CASHBALL. During the first game of a session, the first number pulled will be that session’s HOTBALL, meaning bingo on the HOTBALL number wins the posted jackpot. CASHBALL BONUS BALLS are awarded on the next four balls pulled during that same session.

Winning on the Hotball number and catching at least two of the four CASHBALL BONUS BALLS anywhere on your card, you can win up to $10,000 in bonuses.

To play bingo for money at a downtown casino, or any casino for that matter, you have to be 21 years of age or older. 

Where to Play Bingo in Las Vegas

Whether you’re a local or just visiting the valley, you’ll find a few options across the Las Vegas valley to satiate your bingo craving.

The Palace Station

A local place, the Palace Station casino offers 307 seats in their bingo rooms. 

South Point Casino

They offer 8 bingo sessions daily at their hotel and casino, offering jackpots every session.

Rampart Casino

Way off the Strip-beaten path and within the Summerlin area, you can try your luck at the Rampart Casino. They have large bingo rooms and sessions every day.

The Plaza Hotel & Casino

The only place where you can play the best bingo in Downtown Las Vegas, the Plaza Hotel & Casino offers options to win big or just have a good time. Located on the 3rd floor, the 280-seat bingo room gives guests six daily bingo sessions: 11 am, 1 pm, 3 pm, 5 pm, 7 pm, and 9 pm.

Super Bingo

Can’t get enough bingo and want to take your luck to the next level? Join hundreds of people from across the country for Plaza’s Super Bingo. Over two days, bingo contenders play over 60 games, competing in the tournament for the ultimate cash prize. 

The Best Place to Play Bingo Downtown

Whether you’re staying downtown or looking to party downtown, there’s no better place to play bingo, the classic game of serendipity. Book a downtown hotel room and enjoy all that the Plaza and Downtown Las Vegas have to offer.

Where to Watch the Madness This March

March may mean sunnier days in Vegas and a downtown St. Patrick’s Day party but it also means basketball madness. College basketball fans nationally gear up to watch the biggest tournament of the year. 

March is one of the best times of year to watch college basketball as the best teams in the country compete in a winner-take-all extravaganza. After the big football game in February, the basketball mania this March offers a whole month of watch party events across the country.

What Is March Mania?

This basketball madness happens in March, also known as March Mania. The tournament is played by 68 teams and holds 67 games over 19 days. It’s a jam-packed season that basketball fans go crazy over. 

In 2019, Virginia won against Texas Tech with a final score of 85-77. Last year was the first NCAA Tournament Championship for the Cavaliers. The college basketball teams favored this year include the Gonzaga Bulldogs, Kansas Jayhawks, Baylor Bears, and Louisville Cardinals.

If you’re in Las Vegas for the March tournament, you’ll want to find somewhere with large TVs and great drink specials to watch all the games.

Where to Watch March Mania Downtown

The Plaza Hotel & Casino in downtown Las Vegas is the place to go to watch the March Mania tournament. The viewing party will be held in The Plaza Event Center, which has 18 screens, 2 projectors, and plenty of seating space. Every TV will play the tournament so every seat will have a great view.

The March Mania Viewing Party takes place March 19 – 22 with doors opening at 8am. Drink specials include: 

  • Jameson shot $5
  • Guinness $5
  • Jameson Shot and a Domestic Beer $8

Pop Up Pizza will provide its world-class slices. 

To gain access to the March Mania Viewing Party, purchase tickets online today! A March Mania one-day pass is $20 and a four-day pass is $40. Each pass includes 1 koozie, 1 drink & 1 food item for each day.

March Mania 2020

Don’t another year of March Mania and get your tickets today. You could also enter to win the $24,000 March Mayhem drawing.

Stay the whole weekend at the Plaza by booking a hotel room downtown.

Las Vegas Demolition Derby March 2020: Get Down & Derby

It’s that time of year to get down and derby in Downtown Las Vegas. The Demolition Derby is back this March 2020, for the CASINO BATTLE ROYALE weekend event you don’t want to miss.

What is a Demolition Derby?

A demolition derby is a heated competition but with cars. This kind of competition includes an arena with usually five or more drivers. The last vehicle remaining on all four wheels his hence dubbed demolition king or queen of the derby. 

It’s important to note for the car lovers out there that the derby involves demolishing much older cars. Although originally from the United States, many other countries have adopted this raucous occasion of cars crashing into one another for sport.

What makes the derby especially entertaining is that it takes place not on a race track or road of any sort, but a muddy track, which acts more as an outdoor boxing ring. This tough terrain slows down the cars and makes it more difficult for them to ram into one another. It’s nonetheless a heart-stopping competition full of muddy mayhem.

History of the Demolition Derby

Demolition derbies started gaining popularity in the 1950s and became a standard event at fairs and festivals. In the 1970s, the sport’s popularity was at an all-time high and events were commonly held in large arenas and broadcasted on television. 

Nowadays, the derby has its subculture and is still popular in certain areas across the world. A demolition derby event will draw the attention of many fans, including drivers of all ages.

The Demolition Derby in March 2020

This 2020 Spring, The Plaza Hotel & Casino, with the help and expertise of Stirrin’ Dirt Racing, the largest demolition derby promoter in the west, is hosting the CASINO BATTLE ROYALE Demolition Derby March 26th through the 28th. Those purchasing single-day or three-day tickets can expect a full weekend of mud and cars. The family-friendly event will take place at the CORE Arena on the Plaza property.

What to Expect

The event will be open to children and a fun event for anyone looking to see some action! There will be two car classes, Mini Cars, which are 80s to 90s front-wheel-drive foreign and domestic cars, and Stock Class, which are stock built old Detroit iron cars.

You can also book a room and ticket combo to save on the tickets and stay close to all the action during the Demolition Derby this March.

Down and Derby Downtown

The Plaza Hotel & Casino is the place to be downtown. With a downtown hotel room at The Plaza, you’ll be able to go back to your room in between Demolition Derby March 2020 events to relax and refresh. 

You’ll also be close to all the entertainment that downtown Las Vegas has to offer, so you can keep on partying even after the demolition derby events. See all of our upcoming events and entertainment.

St. Patrick’s Day Party in Downtown Las Vegas

What better way is there to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day downtown than by drinking green beer, pinching people who aren’t wearing green, and catching a free fireworks show?

Where to Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day

St patricks day downtown las vegas

Downtown Las Vegas is a popular destination for locals and tourists to come and celebrate the day. People come together and celebrate with fun party games and a photo booth. 

Starting at 7 p.m., The Plaza Hotel & Casino will be celebrating the holiday under the green dome, which will be lit up with a St. Patrick’s Day theme.

RSVP today and bring your friends and family to enjoy live music and drink specials inspired by the holiday. Dance the night away under the dome and at 10:30 p.m. there will be a spectacularly green firework show.

If you’re looking for the best deal on drinks, The Plaza is offering drink specials starting with $5 Jameson or Guinness beer and an $8 Jameson shot with a domestic beer for the month of March.

About St. Patrick’s Day

Historically, the holiday was created in the early 17th century to celebrate the arrival of Christianity in Ireland. It is celebrated yearly on March 17th, the day that Saint Patrick died. St. Patrick’s Day celebrates the culture and heritage of the Irish and celebrations usually include parades, festivals, wearing green, and shamrocks. 

Traditionally, the restrictions on eating and drinking alcohol were lifted on St. Patrick’s Day, which has encouraged the tradition of consuming a lot of alcohol on the holiday.

Although St. Patrick’s Day isn’t directly an American holiday, we Americans just like the Irish, love any excuse to throw a parade and drink a lot of beer, so we adopted the tradition. If you’re looking for more activities to celebrate the holiday in downtown Vegas, you can see if you have the luck of the Irish and try your hand in the casino. 

This year, St. Patrick’s Day is on a Sunday, which makes it the perfect day to drink a lot, party downtown, and have a spectacular Sunday Funday.

The Place to Be Downtown 

If you plan on participating in the holiday shenanigans, book your downtown hotel room now. The holiday is widely celebrated in Las Vegas so be sure to book a room in advance to ensure that you can party on all night long. We have some of the best views and suites downtown. We’ll see you there in your best green outfit!