Thursday, January 01, 2004

trip reports 2004

I am certain I must have gone at least twice this year, but only this one was posted

Date of Trip: December 07, 2004 to November 30, 1999

Hotel Stayed At: El Cortez/ Orleans

Report by: dewey
From: Averill Park NY

Dewey’s Trip report

This won’t be a consecutively narrated trip report. I enjoyed Las Vegas from
December 7th until December 26th and if I started out by describing in detail
my exact seat on Southwest airlines direct flight Albany to Vegas and the
weather, I’d have to write so long that I’d miss the flight for my next trip in
I’ll just try to touch on the highlights.
But it will still be long.
In Vegas there are just sooooo many highlights.

My first six nights I stayed for free at the El Cortez based on one day of play
last year. One offer came last summer and another just before I left. Included
in the second was a free steak dinner for two.

Oh, I know you would not stay there. But guess what? The rooms in the
newly renovated tower are as big and rich and comfortable as those in the
Orleans. Hard to believe? Try one. The mattress is so thick you have to jump
up to get on the bed.

Of course, I’ll never stay free again because I did not play there enough. Too
much smoke. Too many old people like me. At 58 I want to see across the
poker table beautiful young women who still have their own teeth. At the El
Cortez poker room (not a room at all but just a table flopped in the middle of
the casino) all I could see was the wrinkled skin of too many years of cigarette
smoke. I did win some money with a nice straight flush that a wrinkled old
woman bet into. And I won another hand when on a lark I played a seven-two
suited and hit a flush that held up. But generally it was too smoky to see my

Also, the 10/7 video poker is shrinking at El Cortez. The remaining machines
all deal the cards with one second delays, so a hand goes: This is a lot of fun in the early
morning when I am half awake and having my hot chocolate. The suspense
of each hand is delightful. But anytime after ten am the pace puts me back to

I played at the 4 Queens. They did not send me free rooms this year except at
times I could not go. Perhaps they will next year. Their 10/7DB was fast and
had an added advantage, a progressive royal that was $1,987. No.. I did not
hit it. Someone else did while I was there and then all the players cashed out
and went home.

I cashed out went over to the Golden Nugget to nurse my wounds on nice
new nickel 10/7 DB where the quads flowed like manna and I made back the
$200 I lost at the Queens.

Meanwhile Kid Pete, my 24 year old son, who had brought just $200 to
gamble for 4 days was hitting the Blackjack like it was butter. He played
progressively and won multiple hands, multiple times in a row. He was
starting to get rich, but I was worried. I invite him in December because it is
time to use up all those accumulated matchplay and coupons and that is a
great way for him to gamble on a low bankroll and with a huge advantage. I
taught him to hit and run like he did at the Hard Rock last year where a $10
free play netted him $82 at no risk. This year he would not run. If he won the
matchplay, and I think he did every time, he would stay and progress it.

He did fine at the Four Queens, but his real victory was at the Sahara where
we had gone for the $50 in chips for $40 promotion and $10 freeplay for new
signups. It got so I could not watch anymore; each time I visited his table he
was in some crazy hand.

First I visited and he had a $15 bet out. Way too much for his bankroll in my
opinion. Two eights came. He split. a third eight came. Split again and then
again on the fourth eight. They would not let him split his fifth eight, but he
doubled down against the dealers 6 and won all of it when another eight and
an over card busted the dealer.

The next time I visited he had kept his progression going and had nine $5
chips stacked for the upcoming hand. My stomach turned over. He was dealt
two aces. Without hesitation he reached for another stack of 9 chips to split
them, placing half his entire initial bankroll on one hand. And he won.

His table did not want him to leave as he was very entertaining, and they
believed he had somehow magically put the dealer into a busting mood.
Perhaps that is why they tolerated the last hand I saw him play.

He had just one chip and up came two queens. Laughingly he announced, “I
want to play with this one a little. I’ll split them.”

Oh, Pete, I thought. Not since John Scarne has this been good play.

“I want to get four queens,” he joked, “My favorite casino.”

Great, I thought. Now you have insulted the Sahara casino and made a play
bound to get you hated by every other player at your table.

But damn if the four queens did not show up all in a row and all hit with picture
cards and an ace. He won all four. and the dealer busted, so the table was
happy. In fact, they held on to his arm to keep him there as I dragged him
away with his profit.

Whether the kid was ready to go or not, I was. I had played my $10 freeplay
off one nickel at a time on Reel Em In and then kept my $7 profit after having
the fun of two videos. My only slot play of the trip except a limited number of
Megabucks pulls using the money I save all year by not buying lottery tickets.

Blackjack was like that for Peter the entire trip. When he did have a losing
streak, it was on a $1 at Nevada Palace so it hardly put a dent in his bankroll.
On the last day he was up $595 and planned to use the money for a
computer. We stopped at Terrible’s on the way to the airport to play off some
matchplays and grab a free T-shirt. He got caught again. I was exhausted.
He had run me into early morning gambling a couple times and we old guys
get up at 6 am no matter what. So I took a nap in the car.
When it was time to go, he woke me up and said with a laugh, “Well, I’m
up $75.” My stomach churned. I just knew he would do this, risk it all and
lose it just before the plane.
“You look mad,” he remarked.
“Hey, It’s your money.” I responded, not wanting to play the lecturing parent.
“I’m $75 up, “ he said again, and I guessed he was trying to tell me that being
up and going home was a good thing, regardless of how much was won or
“And that makes me $670 for the trip,” he added.
it was a good thing that we were going to the airport. Otherwise I’d have
killed him.

It was more work to get the rooms for the rest of the trip. I had made and
canceled reservations and finally had four overlapping reservations at the
Orleans, most of them for $20, four for free, Christmas eve and Christmas day
were more. I actually had mace one in the spring when for some reason their
HOT HOT HOT advertisement included a call for two free nights in December.
A few things need to be said here about booking. Book early with the hotel
and keep looking for deals. I got some rates directly off the internet. One I
needed to book using my mastercard. Some I got at discounters and then
called the Orleans so they would match my price. When you book with the
hotel, you can cancel when you get a better deal. Also, forget trying to sign up
for every card in Vegas. I did that and it was a mistake, especially since I did it
before I was retired and could go when the rooms were offered. As a newbie,
even with just a little play, you will get free room offers and never get them
again. So scatter your new cards. After five years going to Vegas, once five
times in one year, by last December I still had not got an El Cortez card. One
day of play on my new card got me six free nights for the next December. I
was glad to have saved that card because the week I took free was the
National Rodeo week and so many of my other places were not offering any
And don’t take a card unless they give you something. Now the come on is
$10 freeplay. That ain’t bad. Better than just a funbook which you can get
usually anyway.
The Orleans is a great place to stay. The rooms are large and comfortable.
The service is always perfect. People will go out of their way to please you. It
is even more wonderful when you draw together your friends and family to
join you. I managed to talk my wife into coming for a while this year and that
motivated her brother from California. I also drew my son and his love from
Chicago, and another son from Rochester. And there were lots of people from
the bulletin boards meeting too. When an old friend and colleague visited my
house and I told him about $20 rooms, he came with his fiancé. So it was one
big overlapped party, and I was often the tour guide.
I know many of you from this board were there and meeting, but I could not
make it. I did meet DoriFrankel and her husband Mel. What great folks! It
turns our they are relatives of a friend of my oldest son who I’ve known for
years. The kids were laughing like crazy. they though they were introducing
us, but we had bumped into one another at one time or another on this board.
And we bumped into one another often in that nice, cozy orleans
Even when we did not plan to meet up, we bumped into one another
because the Orleans is small and uncrowded.
In the morning we often met at breakfast. I never thought oatmeal cold taste
so good, but you try that Orleans oatmeal with fresh strawberries, brown
sugar, raisins, pecans all in little cups so you mix your own hot and sweet.
I decided since I was there for a long stretch I’d aggressively play DB 10/7
and see if a slot host would give me anything on my food or rooms. Well, that
was a mistake. Maybe because i just play quarters or I hit the royal and they
thought I had won enough. Anyway, they did not give me much. I may get a
little off the Christmas prices, but next trip they only promised me one comped
day and the rest at casino rate. That casino rate business is a laugh. If you
can’t beat that on the internet, your fingers must be lazy. so I learned that to
really get comped I need to play at a higher level and perhaps have a spouse
who plays with me.
Still it is a wonderful place to play quarter 10/7 DB. You can sit at any bar
and have a drink and play and listen to the conversation. I met other VP
players there and had good talks about the game. I sdaw the Royal that Mel
Frankel had dealt to him. he kept it up so we could see the hold buttons. I hit
a royal in hearts, saving 10-J-Q and throwing another heart away.
At the Irish Pub you can get comped a pint of imported Beemish stout and
listen to live music as you play. It does not get better than that.
Music in general is great at the Orleans. There was a fine band with two
Filipino dancers who were wonderful. One could be my daughter-in-laws
twin. Nick Conte came with that sexy Asia Kim flipping her long hair through
some fine jazzy numbers. You can go there with those free drink coupons in
the funbooks. I even took the coupons for two free beers at Brendan's and
carried the beers to the lounge. The Gold Coast has coupons for the Orleans
in their book too. And save the Gold Coast coupons. It is a great musical treat
to go over the the Gold Coast in the early afternoon and listen to the “Dixie
land Jazz Band” which does not play dixieland but everything from the swing
era and as well as I have ever heard it played anywhere. All the old folks
gather there to listen and dance. With a couple of free coronas and a couple
75 cent hot dogs from the sports area you have a fine lunch treat.

In my book it beats the new Haufbrau across from the hard Rock. The music
there was not very good and the food and beer while good enough were
overpriced. $10 a pint for beer when it is free is pretty hard to swallow. But
my wife liked it. I got a kick out of the long horn they set on a table and then
played twenty feet back on top of another table. Otherwise, I’ll take the Gold

I played two live poker tournaments, one at Luxor and one at Cannery. They
were fun but I did not get beyond the half way mark . I drove out to the
Cannery to use matchplays and a coupon for a Bonus for 4-K and take
advantage of the Bonus they have every day, but this year they do not have
the Bonus for any full pay poker like 10/7 DB. i did not notice that and hit the
four Aces almost right away. the guy paid me anyway just one time. so i took
my winnings and left.

I also went to Fiesta Rancho and loved it. They have 10/7 in Nickels and in
DIMES. They also have a great new skating rink, but my feet were bad and I
was afraid to try. They actually have on Wednesday’s a Senior Skate for $5
with skates included. Incredible! I’d love to stay our there but I don’t suppose
that will happen.

I would recommend planning a matchplay trip to Arizona Charlie’s, then
Fiesta and Texas Station in conjunction with a ride to Red Rock. I did not
make the Texas buffet which is a chili lovers dream. I did get a taste of both
Boulder Station and Sunset Station and loved both.

We spent a couple all nighters at the Nevada Palace playing dollar craps
where after an all night session of of dollar craps and blackjack, they will
comp breakfast. There I met my local relatives. They jeer at me constantly
about my gambling. It seems I don’t know that real craps players place all the
numbers and all the hard ways and maybe the eleven and the craps too. All I
do is pass and come bets sometimes combined with one dark side bet to
hedge the volatility. And you can imagine how much superstitious crap I take
when I make that one hedge dark side bet. I mention it is not really a “dark
side” bet but just a way to control the volatility. My relatives think that
“volatility” is what you have when you raise your voice in rage against dark
side bettors. In fact, they don’ t have any respect for my Tomski color coded
VP strategy sheets or my keeping track of wins and losses or my conservative
craps betting. One of them knows just when to gamble because her machine
( a short pay 7/5 Bonus) “calls” to her and tells her the Royal is due.

And she always wins.

Well, she does ask me for a stake every once in a while and is happy I don’t
ask her to pay it back, but if you ask her, she always wins.

The other local relative plays video poker in a progressive manner, betting
first maybe one quarter and then maybe three and then two. Even hitting a
royal with one quarter did not change her style. But at least she does not say
she always wins. What she says is that using matchplays and freemoney is
not “gambling.” I want to say, “not ‘donating,’ you mean” but I get tired of the

I work out my frustration with the dysfunctional and perpetually stupid by trying
to find those kind of gamblers at a live Hold em poker table. After a few years,
and hours and hours on the internet, my game has improved enough so I can
at least not lose, even if I don’t yet know all the tricks for winning. I do know
that you have to pay attention to the rake. If you are playing with a bunch of
tight old men and the pots are small and there is some other rake for some
special jackpot gee gaw or wheel spin, then find another casino. And be
careful if you find the Luxor. There the dealer who watches you play for a
couple hours can take a break from dealing and play against you while s/he is

We had two at the loose table I found.

Somehow playing against people who deal and study this game every day is
not my idea of fair competition. I got stuck at the Luxor because I liked a
promotion. Six hours of play over two days qualified me to play another three
hours in a “tournament” where in regular play any pot over $30 won a ticket
and the top ticket holders could get as much as $500 Just winning one pot
got you $60. And all the while we played the whole group was loose and
aggressive, trying to win more tickets than the others. It was a great
tournament. And I guess I would do it again, but I won’t play against those
dealers to get my time in.

Aladdin was a great new poker room. I played for ten hours and lost $3. Or I
won about $7 if you compute the fact that I tipped for free Hennesy with chips.
In 2 and a half hours I played only two hands other than my blinds. Those
were bad cards. In one of those hands I had a king high diamond flush which
might have lost to a full house if a local woman had not been betting 4 threes.
Whew! tough poker. But I did tease and joke and cajole
enough to pass the time and cheer up the group of poker faces. Then the
next night at the Luxor I sat next to the four threes woman from the Aladdin
and I got pocket threes and took the pot.

I played harder poker at the Orleans. That is a tough bunch. In addition I tried
to go up a notch there to a 4-8 game with a half kill. This means that
whenever someone wins two pots the price of poker goes up and the bets
become 6 and 12. Those kills killed me, and I lost $165.

My favorite poker games were at the Excalibur. They were little spread limit
games, one to three dollars. And people did really bet and raise a dollar.
Many of the players were new and had not played much Hold em. Perhaps
they had seen it on TV. I met lots of friendly people. The stereotypical table of
grumpy old men who look like they play poker as a way or relieving terminal
constipation is replaced at these low limit games by pleasant folks from all
over the world who are out for a good time. My last night I played seven hours
and was the only person at my table for whom English was a first language.
Across from me was this long haired knock out young girl who somehow
always seemed to have better cards than mine. I lost $6 if you don’t count the
free drink tips.
So what highlights have I missed?

Well, what I really missed was the first joint meeting of members from two
bulletin boards at the Orleans. My wife dragged me out for a massage at the
Palms right at that time. I have to keep her happy or she won’t go with me.
And no other woman will go with me either so......I went for the massage.
I just got a foot massage. I am not much for massages. Still it was a fine
experience. Some young sweet thing caressed my neck and head until I was
relaxed. Well, most of me relaxed anyway. And then she did my feet. The
only thing I did not like was when she started to tell me my circulation was bad
and I ought to get more massages. I go to Vegas in between doctor
appointments. At every doctor visit they tell me another part of my body is
bad. I don’t need another of those worries mixing up my fantasies during a
foot massage.

But it was fine.

Afterward, I hung out in the outside jacuzzi with my wife’s brother and told
poker stories.

My wife got a later massage at the Orleans and she said it was the best
massage she had experienced in her life. Maybe I should have skipped the

Well, my wife, who does not like gambling, took me to Mystere and La
Femme. Luckily i remembered my binoculars for la Femme. I need them to
see the faces clearly.

I loved both shows. That baby character in Mystere is a stitch! I thought
including the audience in the humor was well done. La Femme reminded me
of being young and watching those Laugh In Go Go dancers dance in the
patterns of lights. It was cool to see the roots of that tradition of body and light.

Too bad a massage does not come with a La Femme ticket. Then I wouldn’t
need binoculars.

Ain’t art grand!

I had the binoculars because my wife had also taken me birding for the winter
Audubon bird count on the edge of Death Valley. We did not see too many
birds. Perhaps “winter” might have been a clue or perhaps “Death Valley.”
But we did have fun getting up to the alarm at 4:30 AM and driving in the dark
past shadows of road construction and then on unpaved gravel roads out into
the middle of no where to walk in the desert. And actually we did see 100
migrating American Coots and the home of the almost extinct pupfish. My
buddy writes that I could have stayed home and seen a migrating American
old coot just by looking in the mirror.

I also saw two comedy acts. The act at Palace Station was fine, but i was glad
i did not pay money. They gave us free tickets the night before at the
Promotions Booth just for asking. The Vinnie Favorito downtown at Binion’s
was good. My kid and I sat right in front and he was great. He went after
members of the audience and joked off the cuff. Very talented. I had a
coupon from LVA that made the price $10.

Another of my five sons showed up the last few days and we played craps
together at the Sahara where he actually managed to use two LVA coupons
that get $50 chips for $40 cash. He had a small bankroll, so he played the
blue promotional chips on the pass line and I took some odds with my real
money. We had some fun. He rolled me into a profit and we left.

My wife and that son and I celebrated with a fine meal up in the Voo Doo
Cafe. It was not cheap, but the food was exquisite. We ate a special of
mackerel. We cook it at home all the time, but never have I had it taste as
good as that. We all shared a Witch Doctor table drink with the three straws
and then a chocolate desert where for $7 they covered a plate with three
chocolate orgasmic tastes. Eating fine food and looking out over the lights of
Vegas and the strip was very sensual.

Of course, the prices were better at Ellis Island. Twice we went and enjoyed
that great steak on a 2-1 coupon and then got a $5 matchplay besides. What
an incredible deal! They dealt dollar BJ too in the afternoon and I played a 9/
6 VP game there and won a little money.

They comp players with their microbrewed beer. Yummy! I asked about the
different kinds and the waitress brought me a generous taste of each one.

We ate there Christmas eve and had the nicest young Spanish speaking
waiter who was anxious to get off work and go see the fireworks. They kept
him working longer than he expected. Perhaps it was our dinner that held
him up. So I gave him a ten dollar tip. He must have thought I was strange
because I first wanted to use two coupons and split one in half and I wanted
my matchplays and then I gave away ten dollars.

But I am weird. I generally tip the housekeepers $2 each day I am in any
hotel. They are hard working and certainly deserve and can use that little
money. I usually bring the dimes that build up in my change and use those.
This year I found out that the Orleans has one coin sorter that will sort any
change you want. Even pennies. I brought $13 worth of unrolled pennies to
use at the Gold Spike, but instead I just took them down and exchanged them
for paper.

The last day I grabbed my cashback at the Orleans and the 4 Queens. My
wife picked up some more jewelry at the downtown Indian Store that has run
a half price sale now for at least five years. I bought a few cheap $2 Vegas
shirts and took my coupon to Spinettis chip warehouse to pick up a free
Dealer button for my home games. (They had some fine prices on chips by
the way - We caught the direct flight home to Albany,
New York. On the way my wife started reading the Lee Jones book, got out a
deck of cards and had me help her read the board for the nut hand. Hey,
there is hope for her yet.

In all my days in Vegas this December I was never down. With that nice heart
Royal padding my subsequent poor gambling, I did manage to squeak home
with a profit of $312 which I could double if I counted the pints of Beemish.
But I never count my comps in my gambling score.

My next trip will be in August with my Silver Strike collecting buddy in Florida.
He’ll do the SS convention and wheel and deal the week away. I’ll share his
free rooms, bring the 2-1 food coupons and play poker. No wives that trip.
Maybe I’ll see you there