Bingo At The Plaza
At the western end of Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas, you'll find The Plaza Hotel And Casino. It's undergone a major renovation in the past few years, and while it certainly shows its age in spots, it also has a lot to offer. Specifically, it's the only place in downtown Las Vegas where you'll find a bingo hall.
Located up two escalators and across the way from a salon where girls cut hair while wearing lingerie, the bingo hall has an old fashioned, functional feel to it. The series of long tables and the caller station at the front of the room are fairly standard issue as well. The only thing that's likely different from a neighborhood charity bingo parlor is that this is the fastest called bingo I've ever played.
At the Plaza bingo hall, the callers blast out the numbers so rapidly that most "blue hairs" go elsewhere. Sure, you likely won't see many 20-somethings here either, but when comparing the experience to a three hour session back home, you'll definitely be wondering why it takes them so much longer.
The sessions are different from the everyday, too, in that each of the 12 games is a variation on the required pattern. Instead of the standard five across, down, or diagonal, you'll be searching for a small crazy kite, a triple postage stamp, or a large diamond outline. Don't worry : the shapes are shown on the nearby electronic boards, and you can find a handy chart here at Fuzzy Navels, too.
If, on the other hand, your worries revolve around not knowing the bingo-speak or whathaveyou, just tell the cashier you'd like, "one tan paper pack, one bonanza, and one dual daub, validated." You'll play all the games, you'll pretty much win the most if you win, and you'll spend less than $20!
Here's how that order breaks down:
- "one tan paper pack" tells the cashier that you want to play on paper (as opposed to sitting and watching a computer play bingo for you), and that you want the tan level of payout. In short, the color of your pack determines the amount you can win. Tan pays the most, so one of the "tricks" that the casinos use is to give away the lower paying packs as an incentive to buy more. For example, if you buy 4 blue packs, the Plaza will give you 2 free blue packs and 2 free bonus packs. If the person yelling "Bingo!" is playing on a blue pack, the casino only pays out $60. If the person yelling "Bingo!" is playing on a tan pack, the casino pays out $240. Either way, the game is over when someone yells "Bingo!," so it's in the casino's best interests to have that person be playing on a blue card. More blue cards in play increases the odds that a blue card will win.
- "one bonanza" tells the cashier that you want to play the final coverall game of the session. It's played on a separate piece of paper, and some of the numbers are marked before the session ever starts. As soon as you sit down, open up the tear strips on the side of the square pack and mark the numbers lit up on the electronic boards around the room. When the bonanza game starts at the end of the session, you'll already have those numbers marked and be closer to the near mathematically impossible mega win. (You'll win big if you cover all the spaces in 50 numbers or less. It's nearly mathematically impossible, but it does happen from time to time.)
- "one dual daub" tells the cashier that you want to play Game 7 where each bingo space has two numbers in it. You only have to mark one of the two numbers to count that space as complete. It's another coverall game and is played on the single, separate green card.
- "validated" tells the cashier that you want to play the cashball. At the beginning of the session, the caller will pull out a number. If this is the winning number for someone later in the session, that person "wins on the cashball" and gets a large payout. For example, if the caller pulls B14 at the beginning of the session and in game 3, someone yells "Bingo!" when the caller says B14, he or she gets the extra money if the pack was validated. Once someone wins on the cashball for the session, it's no longer in play for the remainder of the session, so you've got to be first!
Some other very mathematically improbable side bets exists as well, such as "Super Letter X" and "Super Coverall," but with "one tan paper pack, one bonanza, and one dual daub, validated" you'll already be playing those games without paying more to chase a near impossible win.
After purchasing your cards and selecting a seat, you'll need to visit the vending machines to pick a dauber, too. They come in a range of colors and can be had for $1.00 for the Plaza branded ones or only slightly more for other options. Vending machines nearby also sell chips, cookies, and the like, for normal convenience store prices (around $1.25). Fountain Pepsi products and coffee are available for free via a self-serve area as well. You won't, however, find free cocktails here. In fact, you won't find a cocktail waitress here either. — Of course, you can bring your own from downstairs if you want.
Each session lasts around an hour, and on the night Jamie and I went, we both won one of the games. I was the singular winner and therefore got $240. Jamie won at the same time as some other folks, so the prize was split : $60. Splitting the pot is always a bit of a bummer, but you really can't complain at more than tripling your money, even if it could have been more if those others hadn't won at the same time!
At The Plaza Hotel & Casino
In Downtown Las Vegas / Fremont Street
11AM, 1PM, 3PM, 5PM, 7PM, & 9PM Daily