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New Tropicana Hotel / Casino

Author: Stuart Mendelson

This is it -- the one casino/hotel in Las Vegas where I will be staying and playing on all my future trips to Sin City.

I admit that the rooms are not at the level that you will find at much fancier, and considerably more expensive, hotels on The Strip, but who really goes to Las Vegas for the hotel rooms anyhow? It is the casino which is the big attraction and in my opinion The New TropicanaThe New Tropicana has the others beat by a mile.

If this is your first visit you will be eligible for one of the best gambling bonuses I have seen anywhere. Just sign up for the Players Club and plan to play on three consecutive days. You can even do this if you are staying at a different hotel. Should you, at any point on your first day, find that you have lost $200 on the slots, stop immediately. Go to a special machine they have and swipe your card. You will immediately find that 25% of your losses will be credited back to you. The next day, you will get another 25%. On the third day, you will get the remaining 50%. In short, your entire first day loss will have been refunded.

True, the money must be gambled again, but each time you win you can cash out the winnings and continue playing on the credits. This is true even if your "win" is a loss (if you are playing for $1, for example, and hit for 90 cents, you can cash out that 90 cents).

Moreover, whenever you play -- be it on the slots or on the tables -- you will get bonus money credited to your card. Now, to top it off, win or lose, in addition to the bonus money you will also get comp credits towards your hotel bill. I spent a week there, had pretty good luck and kept running the same money through over and over and by the end had gotten enough comp credits to pay for 5 of my 7 nights in the hotel. (The bonus money and the comp credits, unlike that first $200, are not limited to your first visit.)

Another thing that I truly appreciated is that unlike all the other casinos on The Strip, the New Tropicana still pays 3-2 for blackjacks -- the others have reduced it to 6-5 -- and has $5 tables, while most hotel casinos on the Strip often have $15 minimums.

The New Tropicana (it is on the site of the old Tropicana but has undergone major refurbishing) recently joined the Hilton DoubleTree chain and if you are a frequent traveler that is a major plus for you. If you have not already signed up for the HHonors program, do so before going to the Tropicana. You will get 15 points for every dollar on your hotel bill (if booked directly with either the hotel or the HHonors website) and these points add up quickly for free stays at any Hilton chain hotel.

If you are not only an HHonors member, but a top tier one (Diamond), your benefits are even bigger. For a start, you will check in to the hotel in its VIP Lounge, avoiding what can be a long line at the reception desk. When you get your Players Club card, you will be automatically upgraded to Tropicana Gold Status and get bigger bonuses, and you will get free breakfast vouchers for you and anyone staying with you for your entire visit (that saves you $20 per day per person).

I greatly appreciated all of the above, but for me the big attraction was the size of the casino. It is large enough to offer whatever you want but much smaller than the mega-casinos you will find at other Strip hotels. This gives it a much more intimate atmosphere, far less noise, and very friendly dealers who soon get to know you.

Of course, if you miss the din of a larger casino, you can always walk across the street to the MGM Grand and play there for a while -- but if you are like me, you will soon head back to the Trop.