Friday, July 24, 2020











Monday, August 31, 2015

Silver Sevens

from American Casino Guide Vegas Values

Silver Sevens: New Member Scratch Card. Guests that have never registered for an A-Play Club Card account with Affinity Gaming may receive a new member scratch card at the A-Play Club upon signing up. Win prizes including drinks, comps, gifts, free slot play with the chance of $1,000 cash. Receive $2 Free Slot Play or 1,000 points for providing a valid email or cell phone. Maximum of (1) one redemption for each device. “Like” us on our Silver Sevens Hotel & Casino Facebook page, “Follow” us on Twitter, or add us on Instagram and receive 400 points. New members can also participate in a swipe & win at the kiosk after earning 250 base points. Can win anywhere from $5 Free Slot Play up to $500 Cash. (Replaces all former new member promotions and is ongoing until further notice.)

Friday, August 21, 2015

Likq's new 1-1 game coming in the reopened poker room

Near the end of August there will be a poker room once again at Linq.
They will try a 1-1 NL game.
Here is what I think about that game.

I'm not an expert and the variation in poker is largely a factor of who sits at the table.
That being said. 1-1 is basically a low stakes 1-2 game with a smaller minimum buy-in.
In some places the minimum is as little as $20 and the maximum $60. Linq advertises a minimum of $50. I don't know about max. I think in Vegas most 1-2 games have a minimum of $100. If the max is unlimited at Linq, then some of the advantage of the lower blinds goes away for frugal players.

In theory 1-1 should not play much differently than 1-2. In practice, I've found it attracts folks who don't aim to make a lot of money and don't play as well as 1-2 players, often loser players who are out to have fun. That might also be local rocks who play every day on small bankrolls and play for freerolls and food comps and the odd chance to find a table with 3 or less fish.
It might mean tourists who would play 2-4, but like no limit if the by-in is more affordable.
It attracts players who want a bit more action, who don't want to wait an hour for the playable hand.

Sometimes 1-1 becomes a flop game. It is almost an understanding at such times that no one makes preflop raises.
Almost every round the minimum of $1 is called until the flop.
Few preflop raises. Hardly any preflop reraises.
I am much happier with a flop game. That means it is more like 2-4 limit in play. In fact, if you best like playing after the flop, this no limit game offers a bargain because it always costs at least $2 to see the flop in any limit game. Here you might see the flop for just $1.

Folks will play more hands because it may only cost a $1. Those who don't like chasers won't like this game. Those who like permission to chase a bit and to play more hands will like it.

Button raises to see a free card (a common technique in limit poker) will often work in this case as well. So if you play J-Q on the button and make a small preflop raise (in some games even a min raise of a dollar,) you might get table respect even from those who have flopped two pair. They wait for you to bet again so they can raise. But you check and get a free card. So, if K-A comes on the flop, you can just check and see the turn for free. If this works on a particular table, it gives you permission to play even middle connectors or hands like K-X suited on the button. And if you catch, you are not limited when betting the turn/river as you are in limit poker.

It also means that you might see a lot of your blind hands for free. Both blinds are $1, so even the small blind sees the flop for free if there is no preflop raise. So you play more hands.

In this game tight players are less likely to get blinded to death. They have blind bet two hands out of 9/10 but they see the flop for free, so all of a sudden their 2-3 off suit has flopped the wheel.

Of course, what can be a rather tight game until the flop with some selection of players, can become a maniac game with players pushing all the time with another group. It depends on who sits down. What is a game requiring less bankroll to play, can become a game that it is easy to bully. I don't much like that game, and I won't play it. I generally watch a game before I take a seat. I leave a table if it evolves into a game of maniac bingo.

Bluffing power is reduced especially at a new table. Everyone has just $50. It is harder to bully with that.

It is hard to get a lose enough limit table to overcome the huge rakes the casinos now take. This game helps with that as well. Pots are generally bigger than 2-4. You generally won't end up passing around winning post while the house takes a third of the money out of each one.
That being said, if you get stuck at a short table with 6 rocks and see no pot every approaches a size to offer much of a profit and no one plays second or third best, then it is time to get up and leave. Join a loose 2-4 with all seats taken. Join a newly opened game. That happens at Mohegan. I move from 1-1 to 2-4 depending on how much action is at the table.

Finally, if you do have the best hand and accurately put your opponent on something less, you can more often get them to call their second or third best hand than you can in 1-2.

Again. Every table is different depending upon who sits down.
I play with a limited bankroll, so this 1-1 cuts my entry buy-in in half. I can more often play this game than 1-2. In Vegas I never play 1-2.

Also, the social aspect of the game may be better. NL is generally all about poker: poker faces, poker mathematics, poker macho attitudes, sun glasses, uptight and sometimes unhappy opponents.
2-4 in Vegas offers another value. It is like sitting down at a bar with strangers and striking up conversation. Serious poker players want nothing to do with talk or stories or joking banter.
2-4 players are just there for the fun.
1-1 is somewhere in the middle. However, those of us who appreciate the social/story aspect of the game may find that 1-1 attracts people who can have a discussion that isn't limited to "outs" and strategies. In a city where people come from all over the world, a poker table of storytellers is what I'm looking for.
And I like it when the pretty girls outnumber the old grumps


postscript added when a board poster liked the above information:

Just pay good attention to the other players before you sit down at a table. Look at their chips stacks. The 1-1 games I play have buy ins from $20 to $60 or $50 to $100. This one is $50 to $300. If players come and most buy in for $300 then it is just a 1-2 game with one lower blind and much farther from limit poker than the game might be had they limited maximum buy in to low roller amounts. I did not know the $300 MAX when I posted that long post you quoted. I'm sorry Linq went with that option.

That large MAX buy-in can fundamentally change the game, adding back in the bluffing and bullying aspects that don't come in those smaller MAX games. Hopefully, the dedicated no limit players will still be attracted to the 1-2 games where there is tighter play and less chasing, less preflop limping and more preflop options to push out low chipped guys. Many limit players hate playing at a table with many low chipped players because they can't read a $40 all-in bet, can't go over the top to push out.

Of course, some MAX buy-in players will still be hopping in and out of the 1-1 while they wait for seats at the games they really want to play, and they may hop with large buy-ins and destroy the low roller aspect of the 1-1. That happens in limit games. But limit is so much different that often good limit players have an advantage over the no limit players because of the amount of chips opponents have has much less importance in a limit game.

I suggest you watch the games a while. If you see little preflop raising (or only min raises) and see that chip stacks are fairly low, then it might be a good game for a limit player. Even if one player buys-in for the MAX, it won't be bad because you can stay away from that player.
However, this game won't be like the games where all-in losers have to start with low chip stacks and work their way up slowly with good play. If you see players losing all-in bets and rebuying for large amounts, go back to limit. If you buy-in for $50 and a good all-in bet doubles you up, but others are matching you by just pulling more dough from their pockets, then quit after you double up.

Oh, one other thing. Don't drink alcohol when playing this game. Drinking at a limit game, once you have a good feel for the game and sense of the table is not much a problem. In fact, at games filled with good tight players, free alcohol is perhaps the only way in a 2-4 to get enough value to overcome the rake. And if you are a good limit player, a bit of drink and acting out may give you a better table image than you could ever fake. I have often won more drunk because folks would call me and pay me. But drinking in no limit is suicide, especially if you are new to the nuances. You have to be attuned to so much more in no limit and the drink reduces those perceptions. And mistakes in NL are much more costly.

Another fun move out of limit poker with little $$ risk is to try those Plaza tournament games on the electronic tables for buy-ins from $5 to $15. Those are low roller dreams and will give you a sense of no limit, although tournament play is a bit different from no limit cash game play if you want to get in the money.
For some those games seem like internet poker, but I don't see any truth in that argument; there is not much comparison except that it is electronic. No one is home in their underwear. No one is playing while on the phone to a fellow player sharing information. No one is playing with some computer program that helps decide options. The entire ambiance of the casino is around. Pretty women pass. At the Plaza you may have live jazz just across the casino floor.
The social aspect is alive and well. No one is home alone.
There is still plenty of interaction with other players, often times more because there is no dealer to butt into every player conversation. Lower rake, no tip, no chance to bet out of turn, no difficulty in seeing how much opponents have, no misdeals, much less calling of the floor for arguments over who said/ did what and when, no prematurely revealed cards, no need to have a card protector, no dropping of chips, and no sharing of every live germ any player carries with them. ( Chips are the dirtiest bits in casinos.)    

Friday, August 07, 2015

A thread of thoughts on the Four Queens

Plenty of discussion of the new comp system at the Four Queens and my thoughts about moving on.

Early check in fees are not at Mlife

Okay, I did get a chance to call the Luxor, and there is no early check in fee or late check out free (often you can extend an hour) It is based on availability. They did have a fee policy, but they discontinued it.
There is a fee if you want to arrange a guaranteed room check in early. That is $20 and that is what is listed on their internet site. But if you just stumble in from the airport at noon and they have a room, you are good to go to it early.
If you move from hotel to hotel in Vegas pack a small bag with medicine, VP strategy sheets, swimming trunks. Then if they can't check you in early, you can check your luggage and still do what you want.
Board friend Joe wrote about the Downtown Grand. They checked him in and said they would phone him when the room was ready. They did that, but at the time there was a line of 25 people just so he could get his key.
So, hope to check in early; if they  have available rooms at Mlife you get them.

I usually call and extend my checkout time an hour at no cost. That gives me less time to have my luggage with the bellman at the next spot. In fact, if I have any travel time between casinos, I check out at say 1PM  and am at the next place fairly close to check in time.
The rules at Mlife are not the same at CET.

 I know of a fellow, for example, who was staying for a convention at the Rio with his wife in an expensive upscale room and wanted to downgrade for a few more solo nights after she went home. The room was ready, but they wanted $20 for him to move his luggage to it. He talked them down to $10. 
Checking luggage with the bellman is great, but it does require a complete and careful packing up.
I've been booking the D and the Four Queens back to back most of my trips. It is a very short walk, so I walk over with no luggage and do the bed bug check.

Then I pack out some things, put them in the next room, and then go back for other things. There is no requirement for fitting everything in the suitcase perfectly. Often I make three trips. Both places will put me in as soon as the room is ready unless I want a particular room at the Four Queens.  In that case, I often do have to pack carefully and wait. Sometimes it is worth the wait for the room of my choice.
Once the D put me in at 9 AM. No issues. No fees.

That probably won't happen at Mlife places. Some report being charged before noon.  But noon or after they should pop us in an available room with not early check in fee.

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Why I eat at buffets

Since I go to Vegas for 20 plus days each trip, savings add up, so I'll add the frugal notes.
Buffets are generally good value because they provide the drinks for free and the tipping is rarely the 20% I leave at a restaurant. 
Getting the lunch price is great.
Going into some at lunch time and just waiting for supper offerings is another frugal trip.
Buffets are a more easy comp.  The comp covers the entire bill and it is not compromised by having to leave an incredible tip.  If I score an upscale restaurant comp from gambling worth a decent amount of money, the tip is easily double the price of an entire buffet.
My last trip I ate on an average of $11 a day, eating generally one buffet a day ( not at the Orleans on senior day when two are free) and just having a bit of healthy food in the room,
There are more often specials focused on the buffet.  So on Veteran's Day I'll eat two buffets for free just with my DD-214 from long ago.  Last year I had breakfast where I stayed and lunch at Paris.  Call and ask if you are a Veteran.  Oh, and not one of those places actually examined my DD-214.  But don't lie about it, unless you want to run for public office.  However, if you don't have the form, just say you are a Veteran and it probably will work.
Personally, I am overweight and diabetic.  I control the diabetes only with diet.  The easiest place to do that is at the buffet.  Trying to figure what they will give me at a restaurant and bargaining the high carb sides for broccoli is an enormous pain.    The simplest foods of the cheaper buffets keep my sugar right around 100 in Vegas.  With the walking it is really a health spa for me.
Someone mentioned the sugar free desert.  These don't come in restaurants much.  In the buffet there is usually at least one thing I can eat that ai don't eat otherwise, even at home.  Otherwise I don't eat pie or cookies or pudding.
If I am worried about my sugar that day, a buffet can be an all I can eat lettuce, raddish, spinach onion event. 
Stop thinking you have to eat every you can to get full value.  You have value if what you pick would cost more ordered separately in a restaurant.  Two good salads and some soup make the buffet break even, and if you try the soup and hate it, you can take a different soup. 
This week my wife ordered a $30 plus fillet mignon and it was so terrible she sent it back.  The cook said it was fine.  They did not comp her meal.  She was not that hungry and she just took a bit from each of our plates.  Four of us.  Each ordered appetizers.  I disliked my pasta fasule.  None of this would happen at the buffet.
I also like the ability to combine foods as I want them.  I can make soup with all sorts of ingredients and flavors.  I can do what I do at home, mix up thinks, taste, add other things until I get the recipes just right.  I don't have the spice options.  Sometimes I bring my own hot sauce or cinnamon for coffee.
Certain buffets are better than others for certain diets.  The diabetes put me off my much loved Main Street Station buffet and into the Golden Nugget.  There I love making a breakfast of smoked salmon, capers, tomato.  That might be all I eat. 
I can make a hamburger with no bun on lettuce.
But even at Main Street station I can fill up on soul green collards topped with Hawaiian pulled pork and manage that in the diet.
I can more easily control portions in a buffet than in a restaurant, taking large portions of the right foods that are unlimited and getting perhaps just one small piece of potato that I never eat at home. 
My favorite is Red Rock.  There I had a wonderful meal because they had about four different kinds of roasted vegetables and I actually ate three deserts and did not affect my blood sugar.  That is a record.
I also travel solo and the buffets offer other opportunities.
At the Orleans, at my free breakfast, my first full day in Vegas I was in line and three women from Calgary and Alberta who were just behind me. Their talk was so perky and funny, I listened in and made some comment. They were so open and friendly that by the time we made the buffet, they had invited me to eat with them.
They asked about music.  I told them about the Nite Kings.  So we spent a few hours there together as well with some great talk and some dancing.
I have dined with a whole table of French folks, a fellow who did tax advice for a famous Japanese baseball players, a few teachers, a cute little Pilipino woman and her husband. 
Like the bus, the buffet line is a social event. 
Sometimes I have a free passes, so I ask if there is anyone in line who wants a free meal.
When I do stay solo, I pull out my journal and take trip report notes.  I am much more comfortable doing that in a buffet. than a restaurant.
Wine with the meal in a buffet can usually be brought in from where I last played.  At Eastside Cannery I have coupons for free wine at the bar and carry in two glasses to eat a free buffet on my voucher. 
Also, the poker and other gambling is the big draw for me to Vegas, and next the shows.  At home we go our to eat for recreation.  In Vegas I want to do something I don't do so much at home.
Finally, although some of the all day buffets are ridiculously prices,  the Orleans all day buffet is just $27 for the whole day (not 24 hours but all day)  You get a little bracelet and come and go without lines by using the VIP entrance.  So, you can go four or five times if you want, go just for coffee and fruit or just for a bowl of soup.  I would do this more often except I always book the Orleans for senior Wednesdays with an added $10 added to the comped rooms.  I liked it when I played poker there.  I could stay at the game and wander is for a bite and then go back.

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

What paying resort fees on 2 for 1 at the D did to my frugal thinking

At the D high level gamblers who get full comps pay no resort fees.
However, mid level to low rollers lost a comp this year.
Last year resort fees were waived on a 2 for 1 mailed offer. Now, they must be paid on the cash night portion. So, for low rollers, this was about a 50% reduction in comp. The D is still a decent deal most of the time, but I concentrate my play to preserve my bankroll over these 23 to 25 day trips and to get the most EV for my play.
I like to low roll somewhere and get decently comped.
The D's decision to toss in a hefty resort fee was in part to raise hotel rates for those who don't gamble. Now, they've decided to raise them just a bit more for those who gamble moderately.
Then too I loved that nickel drop full pay deuces and I'd play it for hours between the times when the 8/5 Vue bar Bonus progressives were not in a player friendly place. I was entertained, my mind challenged, at real nickel rates. No longer possible. That machine is gone.
Finally, some nights the D has rates as low as $16, so even with the resort fee, the 2 for 1 mailing is a great deal. However, the LIfe is Beautiful and other festivals push up room rates downtown. I only used 2 nights of the offer during this year's September time and the rates were $34 a night , so $56 with resort fee. $28 a night does not reflect much EV gained by gambling.
In fact, in November I booked 3 nights for $28 right across the street at the Fremont using the American Casino Guide coupon (buy 2 get one free, no resort fee, no gambling daily score to maintain)
There are similar coupons for other downtown properties.
My strategy for the next 2 day trip will be to cut back on play and see how little play at the D will still generate the 2 for 1 offer and to look for other places where moderate play might capture more comps.
Playing nickel triple play at the Orleans on senior Wednesday is probably the best bang for my buck.
The 9/7 with progressive DB is a more dependable VP than the D 8/5 Bonus.
I'm low rolling there with more entertainment for my risk. I get three lines for 75 cents a spin rather then one line for $1.25 a spin. I get two free buffets, reduced movie tickets, $10 free food added to my 2 free nights, drawings, The Nite Kings, a much nicer room, a heated pool ( my son and I braved the D pool last November and were pleased for the polar bear experience but it can't compare with the Orleans pool)
 Then last year right in the middle of the day Orleans gave out $5 to anyone with a player's card who stood in a short line.
And their elevators are efficient.
 And somehow my Orleans play must be affecting Gold Coast offers. Last year I got 2 free nights. This year I got a nice mailing with reduced rates. I don't play there except for a bit of diversion, $20 here or there. I don't worry about daily play averages. So why they cut in half the B Connected rates is well beyond me, but I'm glad that they did it when a family meetup (most of them staying at Bellagio) made the Gold Coast the only reasonable choice.
Also, points I earn with just a bit of play at Boyd casinos can be used so many places. D points can be used just at the D in the café. I love the café, but gambling more than I need for breakfast gives me points I won't use.
Since I figure my gambling bankroll as the difference between my other expenses in Vegas and what they might be in other places in the world, I want to reduce expenses as much as possible. In one sense, I want only to gamble with their money.
I know that my situation is a rare one, and that my low rolling seems ludicrous to many Vegas visitors. But to put room rates in perspective, last year in November I was in Vegas for 25 days (4 at the D) and spent $9.25 a night on average for room costs (resort fees, taxes, everything)
It was a losing trip. I lost $928 gambling.
However, by keeping expenses down it still is a lot of fun and a grand vacation for very little expense. Being retired I have much more time than money and I sit home some days when I'd like to travel because the money isn't there. But the money to travel to Vegas is always there for a low roller like me.
Details are here

Actually, when I budget in not using my car for 25 days, not going grocery shopping, etc even a losing trip to Vegas saves me money. Thanks Jean Scott.

Saturday, August 01, 2015

El Cortez thoughts
There is more going on at the El Cortez.  They are closing the cafe and blending it into the Seigel upscale restaurant.  I think it will mean a return to the good upscale food, but an end to the good downscale prices.

Also, you can eat while you play
From a news release: El Cortez players can enjoy the luxury of Gambling Gourmet, game-side dining, which allows guests to no longer worry about deciding between dinner and winning. Guests can enjoy the great food El Cortez has to offer without ever leaving the casino floor. Gambling Gourmet is available every day from 7:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.

The biggest personal loss for me was the closing of the poker room.  It was an interesting and very cheap spread limit game like no other and over the years I came to know the dealers well and some of the regulars. 
Although many of the regulars I enjoyed years ago were banned.
Action Jackson was one.
And some died.
Jackie came down every day and splashed the pot with his strange, loose play.  It was sad to see him go down hill over the years, but fun to be at a table with him.  I don't suppose that will come back. The room really was a playroom for old Jackie, a place for him to enjoy a game with folks who loved and respected him.
The last renovation of the café, a few years ago,  also took out a favorite of mine.  Since I go solo, I loved the old bar stools where I might end up eating with one of the fellows I had just played against at the poker game.  The renovation created islands where solos eat alone.  Now I guess it will be just tables of some sort and perhaps upscale.
I don't usually eat upscale, but I did like the Flame and often there were good deals.  So I'm looking forward to seeing what the new restaurant is like and how they blend that into the café menu.  I wonder if there will be any good deals.  I doubt it will be the cheap café prime rib that was served.
Every one of these Vegas renovations of late takes out the inexpensive deals and replaces them with good food at a higher price.  But for me personally, since the onset of diabetes, I tend to eat more at the Golden Nugget buffet because I can get foods that fit the diet.  Playing poker there, I get ten dollars off.
I am pretty easy on frugal rooms, but I've given the Pavillion rooms up.  It is hard to find room for the computer.  The noise from the wrap around walkways can wake me up, especially if napping in the morning when the maids shout at one another and run their carts along the concrete sounding  like little trains right outside my window.
Vintage rooms are cheaper than Pavillion, but are an acquired taste.  There is no elevator (although there is a way to take the elevator up to a certain Pavillion floor level and then go in an unmarked door and have just a few stairs down to the Vintage hallway. It is much easier than luggage carried up the huge staircase. Sorry, I can't remember the floor.    I was annoyed with dueling televisions on my last attempt to stay there and thin walls.  I'd call these rooms a taste of old Vegas.  
There are some large Vintage suites tucked in up there somewhere.  They are not offered in booking, but you can get them, sometimes for no money for upgrade.  Many have written liking these. Sorry I can't find details and I haven't stayed in one.  
I love the Cabana rooms, but not on the first floor street level where street noise from walking and talking people is right outside the window.  I guess sometimes there is noise from some bars nearby, but I have never been bothered.  I love the classy feel of these rooms, the wild green color, the refrigerator, the choices on the television, the free fruit in the lobby.  I don't see the walk outside as worrisome (there is always a guard) or long.  However, there are three levels of these rooms and many have found the cheaper levels very tiny for their needs.  Again, I am solo, so I don't care. There are some great deals on the smallest of the Cabana rooms every so often.
Now, some of my information may be dated, but here are some photos of the Cabana rooms from an old TR

Here is a more recent review'll+Never+Believe+What+An+Extra+$10+Gets+You+At+El+Cortez

The Tower is quiet, comfortable, perhaps a bit dull.  The rooms are very much like Orleans rooms.  The bed mattresses are just great, huge and thick.  Also these are right in the casino.  Years back they still had small screen televisions.  If that matters to you, ask and see if that has changed.
Sometimes Tower does not cost more than Pavillion.  I booked three nights over upcoming Halloween weekend and the Tower offer was the same as the Pavillion offer.  I'm printing that out, however, as it was from a new discounter and I'm wondering if I will have difficulty on check in.  I read some negative reviews.
There is a daily resort fee of  $9 plustax.  There is also a fee if you book more than 7 nights in a row.  It is a strange unique fee.
The casino itself has some advantages.  I don't much like gambling there solo, but a group can have a great time.  Craps is some of the best in Vegas, often three dollars with ten times odds.   I just read they have fifty cent chips for paying off those 6/8 place bets,  Roulette was cheap.  There is not as much full pay video poker as there used to be when JOB 9/6 was everywhere.  Just before Dancer did a VP workshop there, they installed some full pay JOB at his insistence.  Just after he left, they pulled them out.
There are still some 10/7 DB and some other good plays.  There were still some coin droppers. 
I think there are decent Deuces, but they have in some cases odd pay tables.  Scroll down and see Mike actually write that he is not sure of what to call some of the El Cortez games.
There were also some penny slots that actually  took a bet of a penny.  When they pulled back on good booze at the poker game a few years ago, I played off ten dollars in freeplay at 3 cents a pull and drank four Myers rums for a profit of $6 at cashout.  I guess the American Casino Guide coupons from the El Cortez are no longer part of the book, but that $10 freeplay was one of the better deals.
Right next to the elevator going to Pavillion rooms is one of the most unique old fashioned slot experiences perhaps in the world. 
There are a few slots that actually work with slots inside, antiques.  They pay pretty well.  They take a coin like a silver dollar available at the cashier.  I play every trip just for the feel of olden days before even my time.  They do measure points and start the turning of the reels with electricity, but the results are based on actual slots catching the grooves inside as they spin. 
The Sinatra impersonator I saw last time in the upscale bar was just great.  If you like fancy drinks, I'm told these are done by a good mixologist and at reasonable prices compared to other fancy drink places.  I miss the old lounge where I could meet people and walk in with a comped drink from the poker room and find plenty of room to sit.  But I see how it is an upscale improvement.
The El Cortez would like to join that Freemont East revolution, but frankly I don't see too many young folks there.  I went once to a young folks gathering in the outside courtyard and it was packed with upscale youth.  I was perhaps the oldest guy there.  But in the casino were my peers.
They did have plans to have a pool, but I don't see those developing. 
There is more and more thematic reflection of the mob.  I'm not too nostalgic about the mob.  Today their tactics would be called terrorism.  But folks love them like they love pirates and wild west bandits. 
My poker buddy had a "talk like a pirate" poker game.  I came with a Somalian dictionary for some modern pirate talk.  However, if you are nostalgic about old Bugsy... this is the place to go.  In the really upscale, one of a kind, suites there is even one surrounded by desert scenes where you can sleep in safe luxury and imagine where the bodies are buried.
When I first started gambling, the El Cortez was one of my favorites with good comps and frugal deals.    It is not a place I invest in or seed for future trips.  I do that at the D and at the Four Queens.  There have been folks noting the loss of long time established comp patterns.  Some of my friends went there exclusively with a host, and that all backfired.  They don't go there now.
I do use them for cheap nights that I pay money for in between my comped nights downtown. 
It is a great place to park a rental car. 
And while it is not in the heart of the Fremont Experience, it is in right there for Fremont East, so especially for the young who like that scene, it now has good location.  I never minded the walk.  Now that is upscale as well.
 The biggest personal loss for me was the closing of the poker room.  It was an interesting and very cheap spread limit game like no other and over the years I came to know the dealers well and some of the regulars. 
Although many of the regulars I enjoyed years ago were banned.
Action Jackson was one.
And some died.
Jackie came down every day and splashed the pot with his strange, loose play.  It was sad to see him go down hill over the years, but fun to be at a table with him.  I don't suppose that will come back. The room really was a playroom for old Jackie, a place for him to enjoy a game with folks who loved and respected him.
The last renovation of the café, a few years ago,  also took out a favorite of mine.  Since I go solo, I loved the old bar stools where I might end up eating with one of the fellows I had just played against at the poker game.  The renovation created islands where solos eat alone.  Now I guess it will be just tables of some sort and perhaps upscale.
I don't usually eat upscale, but I did like the Flame and often there were good deals.  So I'm looking forward to seeing what the new restaurant is like and how they blend that into the café menu.  I wonder if there will be any good deals.  I doubt it will be the cheap café prime rib that was served.
Every one of these Vegas renovations of late takes out the inexpensive deals and replaces them with good food at a higher price.  But for me personally, since the onset of diabetes, I tend to eat more at the Golden Nugget buffet because I can get foods that fit the diet.  Playing poker there, I get ten dollars off.
I am pretty easy on frugal rooms, but I've given the Pavillion rooms up.  It is hard to find room for the computer.  The noise from the wrap around walkways can wake me up, especially if napping in the morning when the maids shout at one another and run their carts along the concrete sounding  like little trains right outside my window.
Vintage rooms are cheaper than Pavillion, but are an acquired taste.  There is no elevator (although there is a way to take the elevator up to a certain Pavillion floor level and then go in an unmarked door and have just a few stairs down to the Vintage hallway. It is much easier than luggage carried up the huge staircase. Sorry, I can't remember the floor.    I was annoyed with dueling televisions on my last attempt to stay there and thin walls.  I'd call these rooms a taste of old Vegas.
There are some large Vintage suites tucked in up there somewhere.  They are not offered in booking, but you can get them, sometimes for no money for upgrade.  Many have written liking these. Sorry I can't find details and I haven't stayed in one.  
I love the Cabana rooms, but not on the first floor street level where street noise from walking and talking people is right outside the window.  I guess sometimes there is noise from some bars nearby, but I have never been bothered.  I love the classy feel of these rooms, the wild green color, the refrigerator, the choices on the television, the free fruit in the lobby.  I don't see the walk outside as worrisome (there is always a guard) or long.  However, there are three levels of these rooms and many have found the cheaper levels very tiny for their needs.  Again, I am solo, so I don't care. There are some great deals on the smallest of the Cabana rooms every so often.
Now, some of my information may be dated, but here are some photos of the Cabana rooms from an old TR

Friday, July 24, 2015

Frugal Booking getting harder

With the improvement in the economy and the upsurge of downtown, those of us who go to Vegas frugally and ride buses have harder challenges finding cheaper places to stay.
I was a great fan of the Four Queens, but they pulled back quite a bit on free nights. The same play that got 3 nights (even weekends) now gets buy one get one, and that promotion is no good if there is a festival or the casino has a tournament. I have a mailer for buy one get one and booked 4 nights at the end of September, but the Life is l̶o̶u̶d̶ a̶n̶d̶ c̶r̶o̶w̶d̶e̶d̶ Beautiful festival means that none of the four nights count as the free night offered on the mailer. Others report similar frustrations with Four Queen restrictions.
It is hard to really know what that means, however, because of the new comp$ program. For example, although I ate at Magnolia's every chance I could last year, I left with $40 in unused comp dollars that expire this fall. That is a free night in my 4 night stay.
Oh, by the way. If you use any coupon at Magnolia's, you can't use comp $ to pay the bill. However, if you stay there and put the cost of the meal on your hotel bill, you can use comp $ at checkout.
Also, note that one of the best coupons in the American Casino Guide is the Four Queens double point coupon. If you double the max, 500 points, and get 500 points, it is a great deal. It used to be worth $12 in cashback. I'm not sure now, but it is still good.
The D now charges the $20 resort fee on a 2 for 1 room for the night that is paid.
One of my favorite bookings was the D back to back with the Four Queens because check in/check out was so easy.
I guess that one is getting away from me especially with the loss of the coin dropped full pay Deuce machine that kept me entertained between good progressive numbers at the Vue bar VP.
So, it may be time to seed other spots. One of interest is the Fremont, still with no resort fee, using the ACG buy 2 get one free coupon. I'll try that in November. Of course, I could only do that once a year, but there are similar deals at other Boyd places downtown. Using that coupon might be a good way to get some cheap rooms and then seed the casino with play for future offers. Boyd offers seem to be keeping pretty steady, although I do hear of Gold Coast offers being cut back. I get the same offers from the Orleans, and using them on senior day, get a pretty good deal playing tripleplay 9/7 DB in nickels with royal progressives.
I'm only willing to play VP in any super aggressive way if the pay tables are good and the comps good as well.
I can be entertained just playing live poker with no house advantage, especially with the Golden Nugget offering double bonus hands (and perhaps soon $2 an hour comps) after 2 AM to 2PM and The Plaza offering the frugal poker player's dream tournaments where one might play for a couple hours and listen to live jazz and get free drinks for a $15 buy-in.
Two other venues are attracting me.
First, Arizona Charley's Boulder is always one the cheapest in a search and for just $5 or so extra the double room "suite" can be had. Things might be a bit scruffy there and it is out of the way, but those are good prices and other Boulder casinos are not far away, even Skyline which is like old Vegas with nickel full pay VP, good food deals, and the Dumpkof's band on Sundays.
Next is something completely new to me. Hipmonk searches now include Air B and B offerings. I've booked one in particular for September because for $101 total I covered a weekend. For that I get my bed and a private bath. I also get to do laundry in the middle of a 23 day Vegas trip. Shared areas are living room and kitchen. There is a tennis court and Jacuzzi and perhaps a pool.
While the one I booked is quite a ways off strip, it is very near the 109 bus route. That is one of the buses that serves the airport. It is also near the 202 serving Flamingo, and of course, for you car renters, it is easily accessible.
I'll let you know how it works out. So far, the posted reports are just fine.
One downside is that it is not completely free cancelation.

And of course, with Stations taking MyVegas points that is a great way to book a room for free. Even the resort fee is covered on weekday rooms. I'll be seeding Palace Station in September. I have three free nights booked. I want to see if I can get any future offers just playing dimes. I can play all day on dimes, even if I lose. Food is cheap. And there is a free shuttle to and from the airport. So, I booked the Air B and B back to back to Palace Station because the 109 will get me to the airport from the B and B, and the free shuttle will get me to the Palace Station and back to the airport, where the WAX will get me downtown for my next 6 nights.

Of course, to gamble from the B and B is harder. Still, I just can't see seeding and aggressively gambling just to get room offers that are equal to these sorts of offers where no gambling is required. And I can book the B and B for a week if I want without watering down my daily average of coin in.
Then I can go play a bit of live poker, or see free shows, or do whatever. And it costs the same for housing.

MyVegas and rising prices also had me take a good look at Excalibur. I got one weekend night there for the resort fee and paid for another at $70 plus resort, and then got 5 weekday nights at $22 plus resort fee. When I booked this was just $22 I see it is up $6 more dollars now, but I expect they will honor my booking. This is more than I like to spend, but it is another week long stay in one spot with no gambling required. The 2-6 at Excalibur and Monte Carlo is a very attractive poker game. The 3-6 at Monte Carlo was soft last year. But the best times are late night after the local rocks have gone home to their families, so to really take advantage of softer tables, I need to sleep nearby. I also love a lazy river with no tube first thing in the morning as exercise. Monte Carlo will let me do that, even if I am staying at Excalibur, for $10 and that is worth it for me. I also heard the the Excalibur concierge might be able to make a deal with Monte Carlo some mornings so I get in free. I guess when I drop $10 for a hour or so in the lazy river I have moved on from frugal travel, but with all the downtown places getting more and more expensive, that may be what I do.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Plaza requests advice

A host from the Plaza on the Vegas Message Board requested suggestions for improvements, focusing on no early checkin fee and a shuttle to the airport.

Here is my response:
Are there early checkin fees at the Plaza now?
Early check-in fees are one of the most annoying fees in Vegas.  Why any hotel/casino would want to annoy people on their way in is beyond me.  My buddy stayed in an upscale room at the Rio with his wife (who was on convention) and booked a few subsequent solo cheaper days in a cheaper room.  He had to talk long and hard just to get the "early check-in fee" reduced to $10 from $20 and he was right there in the hotel the entire time,  just changing rooms. 
He won't do that again.  He was pretty mad and he didn't gamble there either.  If you have no early check in fees, I'll let him know and perhaps the next convention he will go from the Rio to the Plaza.
Low rollers who in mailings get a couple free nights because they focus gambling dollars on just a couple days at a hotels have to hop from place to place and so staying downtown is more appealing.  I do that now with a focus on the Four Queens and The D, but I gamble in both.   Changes at the D may have me looking for another second choice.  Were I to catch two free nights at the Plaza, or even a 2 for 1 offer, I'd want to stay just two nights and focus my bankroll on those.  I would pay to stay somewhere else for the rest of my downtown stay.  Early checkin is a great convenience then.
 Say, I did not gamble at Main Street Station, but just used an American Casino Guide coupon for 3 nights at a reasonable rate.  Then I rolled down to the Plaza with my bankroll on a 2 night mailing. I'd want to be able to leave MSS, roll down, and check into the Plaza with no early check in fee.
In fact, I might not want to meticulously pack to make the move, but come down with some luggage, check the bed for bedbugs, check in, and then go back for the rest of my stuff  That makes packing very simple.  It is what I do now between the D and the 4 Queens.   Sometimes making a few trips with a rolled bag is less bothersome than carefully packing everything once, especially if my bags are going to sit with the bellman.  Then I have to have my swimming gear, my gambling sheets and coupons, my meds all in a day pack to wait the 3 hours for a room that is just sitting there.   I would say that at the D and at Four Queens about 90% of the time I get early check in. 
And this might also happen.
With my bankroll in my pocket and one small piece of luggage I walk over early from MSS paid rooms to see if rooms at the Plaza are ready.  Perhaps they are not at 11 but will be by 12 or 1.  I am free to start gambling and wait an hour or so and ask again.  My luggage is still accessible in my MSS room if I really need something. 
So, free early checkin encourages me to book a hotel that offers it, and brings in my gambling money early.
Here are other things that would attract me :
1.  Turner Classic Movies on the television - I used to book at the Plaza just for that.
2.  More offers that waive resort fee.  It just feels good not to have to pay it.  It is the D charging resort fee now on the paid night of 2 for 1 mailings that encourages me to abandon them.
3.  A coin laundry like the Plaza used to have.  I'd book with you in the middle of every trip.  I'm going out in September to an Air B and B primarily for that amenity.
4. Any improvements in the pool.  That attracts me to the Plaza as well because I do like to swim every morning.  The Orleans and the Gold Coast have heated pools when I go in the fall.  I love that.  The D and the California have pools of ice water.  My son and I did the D pool  in the fall of last year.  It was a polar bear experience.  If a heated pool were one of the amenities of a resort fee, I'd not complain about paying it.

I think the WAX does take care of many folks who don't carry much luggage and are mobile. I use it.  However, I also used to book El Cortez at the end of my stay because I liked the easy ride to the airport.  For some travelers having luggage lifted and packed and transported is a huge benefit.
From the casinos point of view I think a shuttle would attract folks who don't get around so easily, folks who would stay and gamble at the Plaza.  I remember my ex mother-in-law going to Vegas, staying at Main Street Station, and never leaving the hotel.  While I can't understand that, she was satisfied.
Nice to have you here asking. Nice to feel the Plaza wants our business. Everything is becoming so impersonal in many venues. 


Sunday, July 12, 2015

Strategy for getting rooms comps for low rollers

If you concentrate your play downtown, only let that casino know that you are there on the days you are playing at your top amounts. Stay out of it the rest of your trip. Don't do just a $20 one day at that place. Don't use your Player's Card for a discounted meal. Then you will look like a higher roller than you are.
Check to see that each casino has your correct mailing address and email.
And then call. I often get comped at the Four Queens and at the D without ever seeing an offer in the mail. At the Four Queens you ask for the VIP line and whoever is the host of the hour will look you up. At the D the clerk at reservations will look you up.

I'm not exactly sure how Boyd does what they do, but I only get offers at the casinos I play in. My triple nickel play at the Orleans gets me a couple free nights every six months. My almost nothing play at the Gold Coast where I often rent for cash but don't play much gets me casino rate offers. That may not seem like much, but I booked my wife and I at the Gold Coast as the cheapest place near a son's birthday party and on B connected the weekend was $150 each night. I was stuck in that location so I booked it on B Connected. Last week I got a mailing and saved myself $150 on that weekend using the offer in the mailing of $75 a night. Sam's Town, Freemont, California, Main Street Station all seem independent to me, except that once in a while they must share information as out of the blue I'll get some offer, usually one I can't use. I do some low level play at Sam's Town and that used to generate offers, but now it does not. For a while MSS liked my low level play and then the same play generated nothing. So I don't play there anymore. Next trip I'm seeding the Fremont to see if they will see me as a pretty new guy. All my play is VP quarters. Next trip I'm trying a lot of VP dimes at Palace Station to see if I can get some deals there that I can link up with MyVegas free nights.

I also managed a Four Queens casino rate for the last weekend in September (when I could find no cheap places at all anywhere downtown because of the �������� ���� c̶r̶o̶w̶d̶e̶d̶ a̶n̶d̶ l̶o̶u̶d̶..... ������������������ ����������������. It inflated all the room prices.) by talking with a host on the phone. Talking with a host at the Four Queens to check on mailings, I learned that even when their mailings came for September, I could not use them for that Festival weekend, but she checked me out and gave me casino rate, again much cheaper than just booking, even at a discounter site.

One frustration is that if you get comped two nights and then buy three more you will not be able to focus you play as a low roller on that visit for the next one. That is the low roller Catch 22. The Four Queens in a comped offer will give me extra nights for $24, but if I stay there for 6 days on my same bankroll, I won't get the best offers on my next trip. High rollers get all the nights and anytime they want and every month if they want. Low rollers get a 2 for 1 or a couple free and that probably won't be every month.

One trick is to add three nights ot a 2 night comp on a discounter, and then hope the casino does not notice. I was advised that because they are on separate computer systems adding three nights at the Four Queens by using Binions poker rate would not show up on my playing average on the Four Queen card. The trick is to concentrate play on the comped nights and then don't play on the paid nights.
Or you can hop from place to place.
Downtown, since you can roll luggage from one place to another, hopping from place to place is another strategy. I like hopping from the D to the Four Queens because it is a very short walk so I don't really have to pack as I can make three trips and both places are pretty good about early checkins with no fees if they have the rooms so that gives good overlap time for moving luggage. The Boyd Shuttle between the Gold Coast and the Orleans will take luggage, so that is another fairly easy move. I go for over 20 days each trip. I gamble mostly in places I only stay in for two or three nights. I pay cash in places where I won't gamble at all, using MyVegas and/or found deals. That way I am not hopping all around all those 20 plus days and I can concentrate play in the places I want to revisit on a comp.

That system gives me money to play a bit of live poker at the Golden Nugget. Live poker gets nothing in comps. Once in a while there is a slightly discounted rake. Or I might play the cheap live tournaments at the Plaza electronic poker tables. Again, that play would not get me any offers.

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Poker Downtown

I think GN is the better room. It depends on the promotions, but there usually are more tables there and better table selection. I think the GN attracts more tourists, but all the limit games have some daily regulars. I think Binions pays $2 a hour still for playing. That really makes a difference if you are playing long days. Your $10 food comp at GN will not improve after 4 hours. You might better go eat and go to Binions. Also, the GN comp is just for the day it is issued, unless it is close to midnight. So, I always ask after midnight and then have the voucher for the entire next day. If you go to the buffet, this voucher is a line pass. Go to the VIP cashier. I once skipped 20 people waiting for breakfast.
There are no longer an kill pots offered and rarely a 3-6 limit, just 2-4, but that is a great game to play for the bonus money.
American Casino Guide has a coupon that will get you $60 in chips for $50 buy in. That goes a long way for paying for the book and downtown makes a great place to make a matchplay run, one of the few kinds of frugal gambling where you have a huge advantage.
Also, at GN note the time you start play. After 4 hours of play you can have a voucher for $10 off food. They don't track you with a card. Generally, I ask about the promotion when I come in even though I know about it. Asking helps them remember who you are and when you came. Ask when you arrive because they are in the process of starting logging by player's card and will offer $2 an hour. The fellow I talked to said that they would expect those rules by September when I go next. I'll love that mostly because points can be used when I am hungry, even a week later.
From 2 AM to 2PM the progressive high hands are doubled by the casino. So I once got paid $600 on quad jacks. Pay attention to what those progressives are paying. They will encourage players to play more hands in limit games. Hands like 2-6 clubs. If you have the Ace high flush, look for the straight flush possibility. It might be there.
As I remember bonus pays required $10 in the pot. Someone correct me if it is $20. Ask when you go. If you are playing limit with a pocket pair, keep in mind the bonus. Find something to say if you need help to get the $10 in order to win $50 or a lot more. Don't be obvious. "I heard it is snowing in Paris" might work with the right folks, especially if you laugh about it before hand. "Dealer, could you spread the pot?" also is a classic tip off. Good sportsmanship says that if someone calls your quads just because they got it that you needed more in the pot for a payout, you return their bet to them at a later time.
Two cards in your hand must play. I don't think one can be an Ace kicker with trips flopped. Ask that question, or someone here will know.
No cracked Aces.
Offer 4 daily tournaments.
1-2 is a $100 min and no max.
And please use a card protector. I hate that whining when someone tosses their cards on your winners and so it all gets mucked and the pot goes to the other guy who was not even going to call you. It happened to me in my last game. There sat the guy's mistossed cards on top of mine. However, my nice smiling Greek God face was in between them and the dealer just snatched up the mistoss and I won $33. I see it at least once every Vegas trip. Drunks don't throw straight. Guys angry at randomness act like little boys, and old guys with arthritic fingers just miss the target. In the first or last seat this also protects you from dealer mistakes in pickup.

Folks either like or hate the electronic machines at the Plaza, but they do allow for frugal tournaments. The disadvantages are obvious. The advantages are that no one can act out of turn, there is no dealer to tip, you easily know what your opponents hold in chips, there never is confusion on reading the cards. No dealer mistakes. No card protectors needed. No need to watch for prematurely revealed cards by the dealer or the player. No need to call the floor, put the card back in the deck to be reshuffled after someone is missed in a betting round. In my last session an entire flop had to be picked up and reshuffled fro some dealer error
So you can drink and listen to the music and watch the passing girls and not have so much to watch in your opponents. The tells are sometimes different.
Also, you are not handling chips which are some of the dirtiest bits of disease spreaders in the casino. Nor will arthritic hands knock over stacks that old back-issue bodies have pain picking up.
I am amazed that they still offer these cheap tournaments. All poker rooms tend to be lost leaders, but these machines can't make much for the casino. I never played a cash game there, so I don't really remember if the rake is also really low. I'd play there just for the experience. I don't expect they will be there for years.    

Monday, June 29, 2015

September is now fully booked

The more I think about getting this settled, the better I feel.  My trip starts with a 40th birthday party for my son and so a meetup of 5 sons and assorted friends.   That will go just three days with everyone and then my wife, who rarely joins me, will stay out the week.  We cash booked the Gold Coast for all that time. The heated pool is a draw.  Inexpensive food as well.  We may have a car for some of it as the boys are planning a family trip out to Red Rock Canyon.  I often book the Gold Coast for the days of the trip I won't gamble.  Prices are good.  And in spite of not gambling there, they often toss me a couple free nights in an outreach mailer.  And at least one buffet there is free, the ACG coupon with 250 points earned.
I got the mailer today, and it reduced my weekend room expenses by $150.
I then have two freebies at the Orleans, over a Young at Heart Day, so I'll eat there for free and get a good taste of my favorite Nite Kings in the lounge.  The Young at Heart promos are now extended into the evening, and that will give more flexibility to my day, especially if I get a good multiplier on the swipe promo or win so I can keep playing.  There I just play the triple nickel progressives.  Good fun and not very expensive,  just 75 cents a pull.  9/7 DB is enhanced by the Royal progressives for each line and a huge one were I to get a dealt royal.
Then I do the Excalibur for one day and use up MyVegas points at the Aria buffet, so those meals will be free.

Then I stay at a  B and B on a small street just off Maryland near Flamingo. This will give me a chance to do laundry, relax if I want with no casinos.  Walk down to a local inexpensive show at the Onyx Theater.  Relax in a Jacuzzi.  I get a room with a private bath for $50 a night and so cover the expense of a weekend with no gambling.  This is a new experience for me.

I'll probably head up to Sam's Town for the afternoon free show and then over to Eastside Cannery for a free buffet and wine.  I may play poker in either place.   I probably will give the full pay nickel Deuces a run if there is a seat.  I understand they reduced them to just two machines.
Then Palace Station where I can do a buffet a day on MyVegas points and seed my play in dimes to see if that will generate any mailings or not.
Then Two nights at the D on a 2 for 1 rates, but higher than in the past because of the Life is Beautiful and the new policy of charging resort fee on the one paid night.  Coupons usually come with the rooms there and they get me a light free breakfast.  8/5 progressive Bonus will be the draw there with Golden Nugget live poker after 2 AM when the high hand awards double.
Poker vouchers with 4 hours of play  get me a cheap Golden Nugget buffet.
And finally 4 nights at the 4 Queens at casino rate, but with one night already paid by comp dollars from the last trip and a second probably can be reached by a mailer, in spite of the weekend being that Life is Beautiful festival.
This was not expected to be a frugal trip, and it may not be, because that first week will be a cash week in probably upscale strip places.  But given that extravagant beginning, the planning does seem to have generated a very affordable trip.
Now if I can just win when I gamble.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Colson Whitehead's book The Noble Hustle

I just finished this book.  I liked it.  Not everyone would, but perhaps more than liked other poker books.  It is nonfiction.

The Noble Hustle:  Poker, beef jerky, and Death

The tone of the book is set by the country the author imagines he comes from

Anhedonia   -  The inability to experience pleasure

This gives him one advantage.  He has a perfectly natural dead expression, a true poker face.

"We anhedonians have adapted to long periods between good news.  Out national animal is the hope camel.  We have no national bird.  All the birds are dead."p.47

"For the citizens of the Republic of Anhedonia, luck is merely the temporary state of outrunning your impending disasters."p.96

Here is background information

Colson is not writing a novel this time, although it reads like one.
Instead he is telling the story of being in the 2011 WSOP, not because he was a polished poker player, but because he was offered a free buy-in if he would write an article about his experiences.

This is not your typical poker book.  It is linquistically wild and fast moving with bizarre metaphor, allusion, and commentary.  He laughs at all of it, including himself.
At the same time, it is easy to identify with the poker stories. 
I don't much like the WSOP, where I experience  the game as a cross between a ProBass fishing tournament blended into a rather bad Hollywood flick, so for this book to keep my attention until the end is saying a lot.
But then I'm a frugal guy.
So is Colson in real life.
So I get him.

Ironically, I get him in spite of the fact that his style is one of a modern generation and not what usually appeals to me at all.   I don't ready too many book that flow......or should I say spurt like this one. 
I suppose partly I liked it because my son Frank liked it, read it, sent it for a Father's day gift. 

I also liked it because it was not an egomaniac book of directive instruction.  Here was a fellow like me, although much younger, caught in an adventure of poker playing.

It got a great kick out of his naming of stereotypical players:

Big Mitch is a potbellied endomorph in fabric-softened Khaki sorts and polo shirt, a middle aged white guy here with his wife, who was off dropping chips on the roulette felt according to her patented system."p.10

Methy Mike is a harrowed man who  had been tested in untold skirmishes....  If Methy Mike had been hitched, the lady had packed her bags long ago and if they had spawned, their parenting goals probably ended with making sure their kid didn't get a tattoo on her face, and they did not always succeed....Methy Mikes are on a first name basis with the bosses and dealers and cocktail waitresses, and you can count on a bit of catching up.....They are weathered by the sun, by their lifestyles, which you can only guess at, the underlying narrative of their decay, and resemble unfortunates who have been dragged on chains from the back of a beat-up van and left to desiccate in the desert....

And then there was Robotron, lean and wiry and hunkered down, a young man with sunlasses and earbuds, his hoodie cinched tight around his face like a school shooter or a bathroom loiterer...  Robotron is only here tonight because the Feds shut down all the US online poker sites.

He did not name old guys like me, but here is one he encounters:

"an elderly white man who bent over his chips, squinting through a magnifying attachment that barnacled on his thick specs like a jeweler's loupe.  Her pondered before acting, as if reviewing a lifetime of hands and confrontations, or fighting off a nap."

This fellow is really not much like me, but I've met him at the tables.

Here are some other bits I found worth noting:

"Gamblers and the lovesick want to bend reality.  But it's never going to happen.  If you woke the hell up, you'd understand that and stop chasing."

Like all poker books, some of the places he writes about have closed.  Showboat at Atlantic City, for example.  There is never much history in casinos.  They just don't last.

There is quite a bit about his reading to prepare for the game.  I have never found strategy books of much value.  I can't seem to absorb, remember and apply anything.  He seems to respect the Dan Harrington writings of which I'm not familiar.

Of course, I rarely play tournaments and not for big bucks but just for amusement or as freerolls earned by accumulated hours. 
So, his term for the blinds, Wave of Mutilation, does not affect my games.  In NL I like 1-1 games because the blinds really don't matter very much.  Often 1-1 is a post flop game.  I like that.  It is very different from the higher stakes games and from tournaments.

"I pity people who've never been to Vegas.  Who dismissthe city without setting foot on its carpeted sidewalks,  I'll forgive the sanctimony in the question, "But what do you do there?  The obnoxious self-regard are as American as smallpox blankets and supersize meals. "p.101

Since this is nonfiction, the people mentioned are not characters, but real folks.  Matt Matros plays a role in his adventure.

as do other unnamed players, like the woman who becomes his coach.

Here is a bit for the weekly poker game
"Everyone tilts, but he who tilts less, tilts best."

"SitnGoes were not, as I mistakenly thought, adult diapers for poker players, so they don't have to leave the table."  p.149

I enjoyed the reference to the Butterfly Affect which I think I first experienced with a Ray Bradbury story, but which does permeate the culture and certainly apply to our experience of poker.

Wild Bill once gave a seat up in the Flamingo to a pretty young girl who was just behind him on the list.  Within a few hands, she hit a royal flush for a Bonus payout of $1400.  It could have been Bill.

Or not, since randomness is more like a RNG than destiny.

I also like the idea that Colson knows his limitation.

"I would never understand the game the way they did, no matter how much I studied or hit the tables.  The part of the brain these guys used for cards, I used to keep meticulous account of my regrets."

This is exactly why I stay away from high priced tournaments and use table selection as my major source of advantage at the lower stakes and limit games.

"Our country disdains a risk reward game that millions of Americans play, then bails out Wall Street sharks who bet unfathomable sums.  I can only conclude that this contradictory status has little to do with the skills required for each pursuit.  No, for some reason, lawmakers just don't like poker." p.  163

 I suggest that the reason poker takes a back seat is the same reason it takes a back seat in casinos.  It is a lost leader.  Government now is like the mob.  They get their 'taste' by setting up negative expectation games and luring in folks to fleece.  It is the same reason that any video poker that pays over 100% is illegal in NY State.  It is not about disliking poker;  it is about liking taxation more than providing services.

One new concept for me was the concept of M and I thought it would help my tournament play, but I doubt I'll remember it.  I barely remember how to figure outs and I only do the math for chasing flushes and straights in a general way.

" To calculate M, you add the Big Blind, the Small Blind, and all the antes you have to pay into the pot each round, and the sum is how much it costs to play one orbit"

"Establishing table image is like when you stab the leader of the Aryan Assholes in the neck with a fork after your first day in prison: tellin' em how you do it back home." p.186

on the Fremont Experience:

"Tourists foolish enough to be ensnared by the promos for this crummy light show look up for a few minutes, and then it's over.  They drift away.  The night is young, the city endless, and there are so many more disappointments to savor before dawn."  p.  206

Talks about his poker knowledge slipping away Flowers for Algernon style.

Well, I don't know if I ever knew anything that matched the top of that curve, but I sure do feel the slipping of knowledge in every category. 
In two years I will have forgotten reading this book.  So, I'm happy to have these notes.


Thursday, June 18, 2015

Thinking again about Boulder in an answer to questions on Sam's Town

I like Sam's Town. They have some of the cheapest live poker tournaments in town.

These can really stretch out gambling dollars. The early morning tournament has about an hour of limit poker before the tough game even starts.

Sam's Town also spreads a 2-6 spread limit game, but it is pretty local dominated and can be tight or tough. Good players will feel comfortable enough. They have great bonuses. Playing early in the morning if the game is still going can be a great deal. I once woke up at 3 AM and went down to play. There were five of us and four of us just passed around the fifth loose and very bad player. Three people that morning hit cracked Aces and got paid on that.

Check the entertainment. Sometimes the Nite Kings are playing.

If you like older music and harmony, these are a class act. Wednesday's they are at the Orleans.

On Sunday's there is a free variety show in the afternoon at Sam's called Toast of the Town. It is different every week and again reflects older music, but is very much like an old Vegas review with music, perhaps a comic, perhaps an animal act.

Sam's Town has a bank of full pay Deuces, rare now in Vegas. There are some machines in quarters and some in nickels. Other full pay games are scattered around and some of those that are almost full pay have progressives that will get to full pay when they are high.

I have not been in the Sam's Town pool in a while but it was one of my favorites back a few years because it opened early in the morning, had a pleasant ambiance and music that was older and not the modern nasal whine stuff.

Walmarts is close so it is very easy to stock up cheaply with room snacks.

You can easily walk to the Eastside Cannery to see yet another casino, and while the Longhorn across the street from EC is a bit of a dive, there are matchplays in the American Casino Guide and the food there is basic diner type food and gets good reviews. A walk back to Sam's from EC is perhaps not a good walk in the early hours of the morning, but I do it without incident. Across from the Eastside Cannery is a Bank of America drive up. I walk up to replenish my gambling money.

The Eastside has yet another inexpensive buffet. Or it can be free if you join their site and play games or do puzzles so as to earn points toward food, free play, free drinks. I find I can grab two free wines and carry them into a free buffet almost every trip. There too are some full pay VP and good music in the lounge.

Eastside Cannery has an interesting poker room as well.

I think the 2-4 game has 6 bet on the river although I can't seem to confirm that on line.

Again it will be local dominated, but they are not all skilled players. If you like baseball, start a conversation at this table and they will talk forever.

Buses will work for getting to Boulder Highway casinos. Some require you to take two buses, but Boulder Station, Henderson Fiesta, Sunset Station are others are all accessible. If you are going to ride buses, start a thread with bus questions. City buses complement the shuttle so that you have good flexibility, even getting to the strip (although that is a 45 min, city bus ride) The Sam's shuttle gets you to Harrah's, but the city bus from the Eastside Cannery gets you to any destination along Flamingo, to Ellis Island for the steak special, to the Gold Coast and so to that free Boyd shuttle. Sometimes Sam's shuttle ( which is faster) is quicker because it just goes to Harrah's. Sometimes a city bus is the better deal. Check the schedule. Taking the 202 down Flamingo, even late night, to either Sam's Town or Eastside Cannery has never felt sketchy (like the BHX) to me.

The BHX gets you downtown. It rides through a pretty poor area and will put you on the bus with pretty poor folks, so for some the fellow riders may make it uncomfortable

Remember that all these bus rides are "residential" bus rides and cost $2 one way or $5 for 24 hours, or if you are over 60 and have ID, half that cost. Getting a bus ID downtown at the BTC is good once folks turn 60. But if you have a Medicare Card that will work as well.

More information on this thread:

other related links on food specials: ak-and-lobster

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Airbnb rooms for frugal weekend booked for September

Below this part of the post were my earlier thoughts on this place.

I decided to book the B and B tonight. Eastside won't have any mailings out until the middle of August for September. That is really nuts. Once again they lose me with inept management procedures.

The Eastside Player's Club would not check on the phone that they had my correct mailing information, some BS about having to see me in person. No other casino needs to do that just to let me know whether I will get an offer or not. I miss mailed offers all the time at the D and Four Queens, and they talk to me on the phone, tell me what I offers I have, and book my stay.
I stay at 4Q at the end of my September trip and the host person arranged for me to get casino rate and would even automatically apply the mailing to my stay if I wanted.
Such a difference.
By August those Air B and B rooms will be booked, so I just decided to book now.

Strange kind of booking at the B and B.
I was asked to send a photo for verification of what I look like.
Then I had to verify my phone number by having them phone call a code to me that I put in the booking application. Wild stuff.

I lose if I can't go for some reason. At least half the cost.  Generally, I never book unless I get totally free cancelation, but I understand that a small operation like this can't be so flexible.

And if my phone breaks, I will have issues checking in. 
But I am intrigued by this new adventure. I want to try it. If it goes badly, I know how to chuckle.

Also, I leave from a My Vegas night at Excalibur, go to the B and B for the weekend and then leave for a MyVegas Palace Station 3 night stay.
So that 109 bus is an easy way to get from casino to casino.
From Excalibur I'll take the WAX to the airport and the 109 right to the B and B at East Katie where I walk 5 minutes down the block to the address.

After I check out of the B and B, I'll take the 109 to the airport and then arrange for the free Palace Station shuttle.

This should be a relaxed journey with no difficult luggage issues and no standing at a bus stop at some strange bus stop with luggage.
I like the Ground Zero bus stop.

It certainly is easier than sandwiching in an Eastside Cannery stay between those two places. From Excalibur I would have had to take Tropicana and then the BHX.  Then to get to Palace Station it would be BHX to Sahara and the Sahara Express from there.    Not going all the way out to Boulder and back probably saves me about 2 hours total of bus riding.
It is good for bankroll. I'll take the money I don't gamble that weekend at the Eastside and pump up what I seed at Palace Station. I'm not seeding the Eastside if I can't get decent service on booking rooms with mailings.

The price for the B and B did go up to $103 for the weekend at the B and B. By hesitating I lost $10.

The Onyx Theater is very easy and nearby the B and B. I've been wanting to see one of their inexpensive plays, but from downtown it is a bit of a ride. Because their schedule is not figured past September 4th, I don't know what will be up (if anything) but it did attract me to this booking.
Hipmonk on a search now offers up Air B and B rooms.
Here is an alternative I never considered to cover an expensive Vegas weekend with no comps.

My September 18-19 nights with fees would be $90 total for both Friday and Saturday.

This was for a private bedroom/bathroom  in a complex just off Maryland and near Flamingo. The host recommended a car but the 109 bus was not very far away.
In the complex was a basketball court, tennis court, a Jacuzzi, pool and a sauna and a laundry. The renting included a private bath and shared a kitchen, living room, dining room. Free wifi with a printer.
There were plenty of stores nearby.

 I can see this would be very good for me going solo and not being in the room much anyway or it might be a good break midtrip.
checkout was a bit early, 10 AM. However I am always up early.

Booking it will depend on whether Eastside Cannery sends me a deal or not. I've been getting 2 for 1 at casino rate from them, and if I get that mailing for September18-19 I'll be set with the weekend at a cheaper price.
Actually, I'm booked at EC now for 18-19, but at for twice the cost of this Air B and B and since I am getting some mailings from them, I won't want to just stay there and not gamble.

And if I get caught in the squeeze between no Eastside Cannery deal and it is also too late for this Air B and B because it is booked up, I'll probably just go to Eastside anyway.

Otherwise, this is the best alternative I have found.   Pricewise,
it compares with those lowest of low prices, Hostel prices. I'm beyond the age when a hostel is attractive.
A $45 weekend night with no obligation to gamble is hard to beat.

It certainly beats rooms at the same price level like  El Cortez Pavillion rooms. There would be less privacy there with every other guest right outside the window and the maids also there in the morning, shouting and running their carts along the cement to create a sound like a small train.
 I'm in Vegas for 21 days. So I don't have that frantic need to fill every minute with some astounding sensual experience. I could use a break in the middle to do laundry, unwind, print up another free buffet at Eastside Cannery, etc.   And by the time I get there, I might be ready to sleep a day away, or perhaps even watch a bit of television. I'd be betting that the television will have Turner Classic movies or at least something without commercials. Vegas hotel television is the worst I have ever seen.   However, the bus will get me to places I like for gambling if I want to do that.

 I do like the frugal choices if I get what I want. This place will probably be quiet. There will be other people in other rooms, but I expect they will be perhaps even more respectful than the other people in the other rooms of the casino/ hotels I visit. This place I would expect to draw a visitor who even speaks in a quiet voice, and hopefully one who does not roll in drunk, yell in the hallway, steal my "do not disturb sign", and then slam the door. At least there will be no Fremont Experience noise, no block behind the 4 Queens with a Heavy Metal Festival starting practice at 5 PM on Saturday.

 And although shared,  access to a kitchen, living room, dining room might be a nice change.

The biggest down side is I can't stumble down in the middle of the night to play poker. But I can do that on the other 19 days of my trip.

By the 10th day of my trip, it would be fine to know I can do my laundry, a full load, in a machine and so get really ready for the second 10 days.
I like meeting strangers. I go to Vegas in part to do that.
I am generally solo. I like that too.
From strangers I can hear new stories. And there is so subsequent social obligation.

In Vegas I meet people on the bus, at the poker table, and I've met some great folks in places just like this in Costa Rica and in other bed and breakfasts around this country
I'm not certain if my search will work here as a link.
But I'll try;o=2015-09-20

To see more than one review you have to go to Air B and B.  16 people reviewed the place and all gave it 5 stars and added good detail.
All were pleased with the host and the state of the room.

Then again, it might be a bit like this.  Ya never knows.

Sunday, June 07, 2015

Comparing Boulder Highway casinos

I've stayed at Sam's Town and at Eastside Cannery.  The rooms at Eastside Cannery were nicer.  I like the floor to ceiling glass.  I especially liked a corner room, but they charge more for that now and I usually go for the cheap.  Having two walls of floor to ceiling glass was really amazing, however.
Eastside Cannery has no resort fee and will discount for seniors $10 off the posted rates. will also book that casino if you don't expect to play enough to have rooms comped on the way out.  I get the better prices at and can book much earlier than on the Eastside Cannery website.
Eastside Cannery's 2-4 game is fine, but pretty local dominated. Sam's Town 2-6 spread is also full of regulars. 
 Monday night at 10 PM Claudine Castro has one of the best Latin lounge acts I have ever seen; it is well attended by local Latinos.  Almost completely in Spanish.  I always meet friendly people when I go.  I get there early and save a seat at a table, and there is always some folks who want to share my table as the place fills up.  So I usually get to dance.  I took a board friend from the Netherlands out one year and that was great fun.  She felt that she was getting an interesting piece of American Latino culture.
Here are some reports on my last experience at the lounge:
Sam's Town has a resort fee.  I was getting some room offers on B Connected, but I don't anymore. 
Sam's town offers a bit more variety in gambling and shows.  They have the full pay nickel Deuces.  Eastside Cannery has some full pay quarter machines.  Sam's Town poker room is better attended with more variety.  Very good and inexpensive tournaments every day and an interesting 2-6 spread game. 
The 202 RTC bus as well as going across the street from Sam's Town, goes directly to the Eastside Cannery parking lot and the driver takes a ten minute break.  So coming home late at night, you can actually wait and see the bus from the circle in front of the casino and have time to walk across the parking lot to catch it.  So that makes it one of the safest stops late night.  I usually just walk over and wait and have never felt uncomfortable.  However, the 202 does not stop there all night long.  It changes route around 1 AM, so be careful or you have to walk to Nellis or take the BHX there.  The BHX does stop right in front of Eastside Cannery and I like that stop better than the one at Nellis as there are always sketchy characters at Nellis.  However, taking that BHX downtown late at night means seeing some rather sketchy characters.  And going out on it is a long ride.  The HDX used to stop at Sam's Town in just 16 minutes, but it altered its route.  That free Sam's Town shuttle is the best ride out, but not useful if you stay out too late.
If I am staying downtown, I often go out to Sam's Town in the morning for the 10 AM tournament (something like $25) poker around for the day there.  Walk down to the Eastside Cannery,  perhaps get a free meal at Eastside Cannery and take the 202 to the strip late night, walk around a bit to see the strip lights, or stop at Ellis Island for a late night steak special (no lines) and then I take the Deuce back downtown. I find that more comfortable than the BHX.
If I am at the Goldcoast, I take the 202 to Sam's of to Eastside for the Latin show.  It is a long ride out (45 minutes or so)  but it is a short ride back late at night because it stops less and there is less traffic.  It also drops right at the Goldcoast so there are no issues of safety getting on at Eastside Cannery or off at Gold Coast.
Across the street from the Eastside Cannery is a Bank of America ATM that I find convenient (no fee for B of A customers) for refunding my bankroll.  Also, the Longhorn is there.  From what I have read in reviews this is not a good place to stay, but the food is good and sometimes there are good matchplays.  Also, nearby is a Walmarts.  For both Sam's Town and Eastside the Walmarts offers a great place to stock up on room snacks. 

I did not stay there, but will in September.  I played very, very little, but have gotten some 2 for 1 offers.  When comparing prices, note that Eastside has no resort fee.  It also has free wifi.  If you go on the Eastside Cannery site, you can sign up and play some interesting puzzles and games that earn points for free food and drinks, matchplays, iced cream deals and some freeplay that is tied to a certain amount of play.  However, you have to bring in a printed voucher and redeem it within seven days.
Their buffet is basic, but it feeds me.  I like it better than Sam's Town on most days, but it has less options.  It does have some very interesting moon cookies, but I can't eat them anymore.  When I can manage a trip out there early in my visit I get a couple glasses of red wine with free vouchers from the webPass puzzles and carry them into a free buffet.
Sam's Town buffet can be had for free with minimal play and an American Casino Guide coupon, but only once a year.
Sam's Town on Sunday hosts a great old fashioned Vegas review show called Toast of the Town.  It is often called the best free show in Vegas.  There you will see different talent every week, some of it perhaps drawn from strip shows.  I've seen some amazing acts.  However, the focus is on a senior crowd.
I have not yet stayed at Arizona Charlie's but I expect one of these trips I will because prices keep rising everywhere else.  They are the cheapest in Vegas and have a great deal on two room "suites" for just a few dollars more than the basic rooms.  I expect the rooms are worn and a bit scruffy, but for the frugal traveler a great bargain.  I've only talked to a few people who have stayed there, all of them not at all fussy and all satisfied.
Once on Boulder there are plenty of places to visit.  The cheapest craps in Vegas is at jokers wild.  This is hard to access by bus, but easy with a car. 
has good food options, full pay VP at less than a quarter, and on some Sundays, it  hosts  that very funny German band, The Dummkopfs:
Other entertainment
Boulder Highway is more like what Vegas used to be before it went upscale.