Vegas trip report (May '08)
nb: some of the links to the various casino sites have automatic music on their homepages, just an fyi
We had a couple of free tickets on Southwest
that my tenet had given us for x-mas (he's a flight attendant), and we had to use them before the end of June, so off go... early flight out of B-lo (6:30am), with a stop in the Windy City. We didn't have to get off the plane, however, so we got to move toward the front a little more.
I also had a stack of free drink tickets (over 30), but we only used a few on the way out because it was so early and I had to drive when we got in. This is a fairly significant value, as a drink/can o' beer was $4.
I got a car via a site that just reserves, not charges you ahead of time, and I think it was a mistake. When picking up the car the invoice didn't have a total, just a sneaky spot to initial that all the fees, surcharges, taxes, etc. were correct. I also fell for the "return the car empty" scam and paid for a tank of gas ahead of time. I guess
it's convenient, and I did think we would use more than we did, but next time I will not go for it. Anyway, the car ended up being almost twice what I thought I would pay (about $150 vs $80), so I think you are better off going with one of the travel sites that charges you upfront (expedia seems to be my fav).
So off we go in our red G6 (no door clicker and no key hole on the passenger side (!)-- couldn't let S. in first the whole trip, very annoying)-- to the Golden Nugget (http://www.goldennugget.com/home.asp)! They had a deal where if you came in on certain select Mondays and stayed for two nights you could get the third night free. I also paid $20 for vip check in and a guarantee on bed (king) and smoking (non) option. You also don't have to wait in line with the unwashed masses. Even though we gained three hours flying in, our room was ready even that early in the morning. Total on the room for four days/three nights: $170.
The view from our room:
First thing we need to do is eat, so we decide to use one of the coupons we got when we checked in (a little book of them) for the buffet. It was buffet-y. I use the $10 match play from the book on the craps table and win: up tick $20.
For those of you not familiar a match play is a coupon that you place with your bet where the house will pay you double if you win, but only take your bet if you lose. It has an expected value
of half the coupon/bet amount, less the overall edge of the game. In other words, I bet $10 + the coupon, and if I win I get $20 and if I lose I only lose $10. EV: just under $5 [$20 + (-$10)/2 = $5].
Hitting each casino for one hand of lva (http://lasvegasadvisor.com/)'s Pocket Book of Values (or pov (http://lasvegasadvisor.com/whyjoin-pocketbookofvalueslist2008.cfm)) and the American Casino Guide (http://www.americancasinoguide.com/Order/order.shtml). I highly recommend these if you have a car and some time in Vegas. It's free money
, and if you have never seen the city it's a nice way to force yourself to go different places and see things other than where you are staying on the strip/downtown.
Unless otherwise noted we use a buy-one/get-one coupon for all meals and buffets. This usually comes to no more than $14 for the two of us (dinner), often far less for lunch at somewhere like a Station Casino off strip.
We hit the Four Queens (http://www.fourqueens.com/) after lunch for a $10 in free slot play with sign up to their player's club. We try to find a video poker machine with a decent payout schedule (http://www.videopoker365.com/video-poker/deuces-wild/) (full pay if possible, obviously). We play Deuces Wild, as it is fairly easy to master. AG: +$6.25, Mrs.: +$18.75. We played a quarter machine, so it's $1.25 per pull. We count the pulls together so we don't lose count, in this case 8 for $10. Then cash out what's remaining. Wa la, free money! We have another coupon for free play here valid for existing player's club members (sometimes they are restricted to new sign ups), but they will only let us use one per day, so we will have to come back.
Off to the El Cortez (http://www.elcortezhotelcasino.com/), located in the East Fremont district (http://www.lasvegasnevada.gov/Government/7589.htm), a block east of Fremont. A bit sketchier of an area, but one they are attempting to gentrify a bit. The "Tez" has recently undergone some renovations. Look for the sweet buy one night for $30, get one night free coupon if you really want to stay cheaply! With in room quality increased this is an awesome play.
So $10 free play on the VP machines again: me +$10.00, S.: +$2.50.
On the way back we stop at the Fremont Steet offices above Walgreens to get another sheet of coupons they give out for free.
Craps $5 MP for S. at Fitzgeralds (http://www.fitzgeraldslasvegas.com/vegas/) on the way back (we only had one pov book at the time), but she missed: -$5.
We decide to drive out to the Cannery (http://www.cannerycasinos.com/Can_Home.html), who's theme is dear to my heart: pin up girls! We have three $10 mps there so we each played one on craps and win (+$20, +$20) and one on blackjack that S. got for signing up (I was already a member): +$20 again. A good scuffle. We also stayed for the b1g1 buffet, as it was now around dinner time (for us).
Now for some poker. We decide on the Golden Nugget, as we are staying there, and each have a coupon for a free $10 in the poker room. Min buyin is $100, so we each pay $90 for our $100 in chips. S. is trying to play a preflop/flop game a la Ed Miller (http://www.notedpokerauthority.com/category/short-stack-strategy). I decide I will do the same. Since we have 50bbs there will be a bit more flop play than having only 20, but she has been buying in on line for 50bbs, so isn't entirely uncomfortable.
We get seated at different tables. Mine was sweet, with at least four truly horrible players, and no one with any real skills. S. said hers wasn't as bad, but had one really awful player who made it worthwhile. Anyway, no cards and I blind down/small pot lose to about $35 before shoving ai fromt he bb over one of the donks with a big stack who limped into every pot except when he had a monster hand and would raise to around 12-15 x bb. There is some dead money in the pot after the two other limpers fold, and he calls me with K6o. Flop: 866. Turn and river are a needle: A, J.
S. busted out when she got tired of having her blind raised and came over the top w 99, but ran into QQ. I'm sure she gets the call w A8 and lower too, as she reported this guy was pretty bad.
She went to bed, but I rebuy and lose another $100. I wont bore you with the bad beat.
Poker: me: -$190, her: -$90. Poker sucks.
The next day we hit the East side of the Strip, as we have to pick up S.'s pov (yesterday was Memorial Day, and I was too stupid to order it ahead of time). We wen to the Rio's buffet (http://www.harrahs.com/casinos/rio/restaurants-dining/carnival-world-buffet-detail.html) for breakfast. It was TERRIBLE. really really bad. Weird, as they usually get decent reviews. Must be better for lunch/dinner, although it would be hard to be worse.
Over to the Palms (http://www.palms.com/) after picking up her book at the Huntington Press office (over behind the Rio). We hit the $10 MP on the pass line for +$20 each.
Across the street to the Gold Coast (http://www.goldcoastcasino.com/) where we hit again, this time only $5, so uptick $10 each.
Now for the West side of the Strip. Ellis Island (http://www.ellisislandcasino.com/) for a b1g1 early lunch. MPs first, AND they have a $5 match play on the place mats in the restaurant, so we double dip, one before and one after the meal. Net: me even, S. -$5. Our first real miss, and it didn't even hurt.
On down Flamingo to Terribles (http://www.terriblescasinos.com/home) for a $10 craps and a $5 bj play. I don't like to keep whipping out coupons on the same table, that's why we play the second one (if there is one) at a different game. Casinos
don't really like advantage players, and I don't think the edge gained by craps over bj is worth even a little heat (if you have a choice, craps is your best play with these: lower house edge, and
less variance). Nail em: +$30, +$30.
Across the street to the Hard Rock (http://www.hardrockhotel.com/), but we lose as S. throws snake eyes: -$10, -$10. Hard Rock has a sweet sign up deal where you get a fun book that has free play and another match play in it, so if you are not a slot club member yet this is usually a stronger play than just the one coupon we had.
Further East yet, to Boulder Highway.
First we hit Arizona Charlie's (http://www.arizonacharliesboulder.com/) for a $5 bj mp. S. wins, I lose, +$10, -$5.
Now the Longhorn (http://lasvegasadvisor.com/referenceguide-locationdetail.cfm?LocationID=39). Very small. You get a cookie when you sign up for the slot club. It's very friendly, and one place I have no problem using multiple coupons in a row at the same table. They have two MPs (each) AND a coupon that give you your first card as an ace in blackjack. The edge on this is over 50%!! Three hands of bj later and it nets out to +$30, +$30.
Over to Sam's Town (http://www.samstownlv.com/) for a hand of bj and a roll of dice, net: +$15 for S. and +$10 for me.
On our way back downtown we hit the Hilton (http://www.lvhilton.com/), one on craps, one on roulette
(each): +$40, +$40. Hilton is North Strip, a bit off to the East, sort of behind the Sahara, where we go next.
Sahara (http://www.saharavegas.com/) has an interesting deal where they sell you $50 in non-negotiable chips for only $40. Basically you bet these, and if you win they pay you in real negotiable chips that you can cash out. This has a huge unlimited upside, as you could keep winning for a long time using these, and squirreling away your real chips as you accumulate them. Last year S. did very well here. We also each have a match play coupon. Too bad we get killed. I don't think I one a single bet with the non-negotiable chips. Our match plays came though, however, and we only net -$18 for S. and -$10 for me. Disaster averted.
Over to Circus Circus (http://www.circuscircus.com/) for a similar deal ($10 gets you $15 non-neg.), a $10 mp, and some free play on the VP machines. We lose non-neg chips and our matchplay: -$20, -$20, but S. hits four dueces on the dime machine ($0.50/spin), worth 1,000 dimes! I am not so lucky: +$103 for S., +$4 for me when all is said and done.
We go over to Slots'a'Fun (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slots-A-Fun_Casino) for a free beer and margarita and some free decks of cards. Pass on the free hot dog. Slots
'a'Fun scares me a little.
Back downtown for the night, we hit the Tez again for another round of free play on the VP machines: +$18.75 for S., +$10 for me. The Fitz again for a fiver mp that I hit: +$10. Then the Four Queens again for our second round of VP free play: +$27 S., +$27 for me. << could be an error in the notes, as it seems unlikely we would have hit exactly the same amount. Looks like we had mp here too for S -$10.
I think we decided on the Fremont's buffet (http://www.fremontcasino.com/display.cfm?id=1090) for dinner. It's really pretty good, although you may feel like you stepped into a time machine a bit. Check it out with the b1g1 coupon.
Long day. S. wisely goes to bed and I decide to stay up a little. Over to the Plaza (http://www.plazahotelcasino.com/) for some $2/$4 limit in their tiny "room" (roped off area), just want to riffle some chips and drink some beer. So far so good when the close at midnight (lol): +$21 at limit holdem.
Should have gone to bed. I'm a bit drunk at this point. Over to Binions (http://www.binions.com/), where I stay with the 2/4 limit, but keep losing to a guy who pairs his weak ace kicker on every hand it seems. Game breaks up and I somehow find myself in a shorthanded NL game with four local pros and one fish. Game breaks up and I take my remaining stack and enter the late night donkament for $55. Out the first hand I played. No I don't remember it.
Over to the Golden Nuggets room. NL. Bad idea. I do, however, finally get all the money in the middle preflop w KK vs. the table donks AKo. Then, the dealer drops the deck for some reason. Floor rules that we have to split the pot, but comps me $10 to use anywhere in the hotel, gee thanks. Unreal. Someone buys me a tequila shot or two. That's all I really remember. I think I got thrown out after another rebuy and another shot. Total poker lose for the night (as far as I can figure it): -$272.
Hung over I sleep till noon, S. goes to the pool (which is really cool, it has a 20k gallon shark tank in the middle).
Shark free pics:
We go to the MGM (http://www.mgmgrand.com/gaming/poker-tables.aspx) late afternoon after lunch to play the only game I know of in Vegas that doesn't have a 50bb ($100) min buy in. Min buy-in at the MGM is $40. True short stack play. S. and I are at separate tables again. I blind through my first short buy-in, then the table breaks when the table donkey decides he has won enough of our money. He actually slowrolled me one time, but I think he was so bad he may not have know he had the best hand, and/or didn't understand why it was bad etiquette. I just gave him a friendly "why ya slowroll me kid, it hurts bad enough" as I rebuy again.
So over to S.'s table after mine breaks. She is kicking butt, having been up to over $250 at one point. Apparently we didn't discuss the "you probably don't want to play deepstacked poker and should quit if you triple up or more" part of the game plan. We are about to leave since we need to eat, but S. raises from the hj. It's folded around to the fish in the sb, who calls. The guy in the big blind just gives him an incredulous look and says something like "you better respect her raise man, trust me" (she is playing pretty tight). Then he looks at his cards and makes the call too. Flop comes down J82. Check, check, S. c-bets. Fish in sb is about to call but someone says "be careful" and he folds. BB who knows she is tight raises her. S. shoves ai and shows her QQ, as bb rolls over the set (88). Nine on the turn give her some more outs but the river bricks.
I cash out the $80 I had to grind up to (in for $160, 4x min buy), and we both leave at -$80 each.
We have to fly home, but not until 5:30pm, so we decide to hit the Venetian (http://www.venetian.com/) for some $1/$2. We parked at the new sister property, the Palazzo (http://www.palazzolasvegas.com/).
Pic of one of a lobby:
S. drops $100 right away with AK, so I peel off a bill from my br and she re-buys. A bit later that's gone too as she runs QQ into AA. I win $5. We go for ice cream and a hot dog (Haag (http://www.haagendazs.com/) and Nathans (http://www.nathansfamous.com/nathans/)), and even though we have b1g1 for both it ends up our most expensive meal of the trip at $15.
We have a few hours yet to kill, so we hit the Imperial Palace (http://www.harrahs.com/casinos/imperial-palace/hotel-casino/) and each go -$10 on a bj mp.
Still time, so we go to the Tuscany, which used to have full pay deuces, but apparently doesn't anymore. S. puts $10 in a vp machine anyway and plays for about 40 min before losing it while I sit in a 3/6 shorthanded limit game because I had a coupon for a free $10 with buy in. +$19 for me, -$10 for S. for our hour there before we head back to the car return.
Pro tip: if you are heading back to the centralized car return via Paradise Rd., stay to the left, otherwise you get routed through the airport.
All in all a very very successful scuffle for the trip, as you can see we almost never missed.
Hotel: $170 + $25 for interwebs access.
Food: $150 (although we didn't spend nearly that much, and I ended paying for S.'s pov and other things out of that money).
Parking (in b-lo): $32
gift for the guy who gave us tickets: $40
total cost: $571
Scuffle win: +$192 (me), +$268 (S.) = +$460
poker loss: -$515 (me), -$370 (S.)
net: -$323 + -$102 = -$425
Went out with $1100 br, back with $700 ($100 of which was S.'s Venetian loss). If not for the poker losses the vacation would have been very nearly free. Oh well.
So flying back we initially have to sit separately (we are technically flying standby on these buddy pass free tickets, and get on the plane last). It's a non-stop flight back, and we get in just after midnight. S. has to work the next day unfortunately.
So I end up sitting between a tiny cute 22 year old UNLV student and really big guy on my right. Her name is Desiree, and she wants to drink with me (see above free drink coupons). Weeeeee! This girl talked non stop for the entire flight, was very friendly and seemed like a genuinely nice person. Boundless energy. The guy sitting in front of us was an asshole, however, and actually turned around and said something like "Are you having fun? Do you want to keep in down a little" in a "I'm a dick" type tone. I offered to buy him a drink but he turned me down. Later in the flight he has his fingers in his ear and is squinting like he has a massive headache. It was awesome and I lol'ed. Anyway, the big guy on my right offered to switch seats w S., so he gets free drinks too now, as well as the guy sitting behind us who said he would have told the guy ahead of us to f-off.
So there I am sitting between the two hottest girls on the plane, drinking free beers with everyone (nice) around me. Life is good again in the end.