Monday, May 25, 2009

Ilopango Salvadoran Eatery in Vegas

Located in the plaza at 3430 E. Tropicana open 9am to 9pm
This plaza is across Pecos from the plaza where the Pinball Hall of Fame is located

Here is the menu:


1. Casamiernto Chorizo Asado y Crema
Rice, beans, Sausage, and sour cream

2.Huevos Rancheros
Eggs in ranchero sauce

3.Ejotes con Huevo Casamiento-Queso
Scrambled eggs with green beans, cheese

4. Huevos con Jamon
Scrambled eggs with ham

5. Huevos con chorizo
Scrambled eggs with sausage

6. Plantano - Frijoles y Crema
plantains - Beans and sour cream
7. Plantano- Frito Solo
plantains by itself, fried


1. de queso
2. de queso con loroco (pungent spice from El Salvador)
3. de queso com frijol
4. de queso con chicarron (fried pork rinds)
5. revueltas
queso, chicharron y frijoles
6. de arroz
7. de ayote (squash)
8. de loroco con queso

A pupusa (from Pipil pupusawa) is a thick, hand-made corn Biscuit-like flat bread (made using masa de maíz, a maize flour dough used in Latin American cuisine) that is stuffed with one or more of the following: cheese (queso) (usually a soft Salvadoran cheese called Quesillo), fried pork rind (chicharrón), squash (ayote), refried beans (frijoles refritos), or queso con loroco (loroco is a vine flower bud from Central America). There is also the pupusa revuelta with mixed ingredients, such as queso (cheese), frijoles (beans), [1], and chicharrón or bacon. Pupusas are similar to tortillas and especially to arepas.

Antojitos Salvadorenos

1. Yuca con Chicharrones
Uca root with fried pork rinds

2. Tamal de Elote con Frijoles y Crema
Sweet corn tamal with beans and sour cream

3. Chilate con Nuegados y Platano en Miel
Warm atole with plantains in honey

Chilate con nuegados is a hearty but simple local specialty. Chilate is masa mixed with hot water into a thick, pasty drink. (In Mexico it's called atole.) On its own it is quite bland, but the idea is to eat it with the nuegados (sweetened fried yucca and cinnamon-spiked, syrup-steeped plantains).

4. Pastelitos de Carne o Pollo
Little pies with chicken or pork filling

5. Pan con Chumpe (pavo)
French bread with shreaded turkey

6. Tamal de Puerco o Pollo
Pork or chicken tamale

7. Empanadas de Platano (leche or frijol)
Plantain turnover.


Served with rice, salad, and French fries

1. Camarones Rancheros
Shrimp in Ranchera sauce.

2. Camarones al a Diabla
Shrimp in hot sauce

3. Camarones empanazados
Breaded shrimp

4. Mojarra Frita
Fried ocean perch
Mojarra is also commonly used in Latin American countries as a name for various species of the Cichlid family including tilapia.

5. Fillete de Pescado emapanizado
Breaded filet of fish


Platillos Salvadorean
Salvadorean Dishes
Includes rice, beans, soup or salad and hand made tortillas.

1. Salpicon
Chopped cold beef with herbs

2. Bi9stec Encebollado
Steak with fried onions

3. Chile Relleno (puerco o queso)
stuffed bell pepper with pork or cheese

4. Carne Guisada
Beef stew

5. Relleno de Pacalla
Pacalla Stuffed with Cheese, vegetables

6. Carne Deshilada
Shredded beef

7. Milanesa
Breaded steak

8. Chuleta de Puerca (Frita o Entomatada)
Pork chop, fried or sauted with tomato

9. Lomo de puerco Asado
Grille pork loin

10. Chuleta de Res (frita o entomatada)
T bone steak fried or sauted with tomato

11.Pollo Encebollado
Chicken with onion, bell pepper, and tomatoes

12. Carne Asada
Grilled steak


Located in the plaza across Pecos from the plaza where the Pinball Museum is located, this little spot served me one of the nicest breakfasts of my trip. I was the only gringo. There was a large table of men sitting more than eating and I wondered if they were looking for day work. My waitress was a pretty young girl. Passing through was a heavy older woman with smiles. She had a cane and wore a loud colorful dress.
This is not an expensive restaurant interpreting Salvadoran food for gingos. It is the kind of place I often ate in costa Rica or Mexico. Small, with diner tables, maps of Central American countries on the wall and two televisions going in Spanish. One was a heavy romance complete with some good sex scenes and an overly dramatic attempt at suicide. The other television presented the news.
I loved it all, but the food was the best and I do not even know the names of all the tastes. No one asked me how I wanted the eggs. Next time I will say, but they were fine. The rest was great. There were at least four tastes: a serving of gallo pinto which was blander than the Costa Rican variety with that special sauce, but still so good I did not know if I wanted any Tapatio hot sauce or not. One chorizo. Not the Mexican variety of ground up meat but a fat link that tasted more like Spanish chorizo. I loved it. One mixture of potato and vegetable wrapped in corn silk, like an empanada with no pastry. Something I can't remember. With all this came two of the most wonderful, hot circles of bread. I drank horchata, listened to the Spanish banter, watched the overly dramatic soap opera and just had a pleasant morning emersed in Central America. I'll be back there again. Pupusas are on sale for 99 cents on Wednesday. There were many foods including the soup of seven seas. Much of the menu was in Spanish but most was translated and there were pictures of some of the foods on wall.

Monday, May 18, 2009


The following posts reflect details of my last trip to Vegas and Laughling April 22 to May 5. Instead of the usual sequential trip reports common on Vegas discussion boards, I've divided up my observations and travel notes so that anyone planning a trip to Vegas might skim for the information in a category of interest.
Photos are included in a few of the snippets. Clicking on the photos will make them huge.
Those posts with May dates are my final versions. I tried posting some information from Vegas in April, but it is more rough notes without photos.
Comments to any of the posts may be most easily made by clicking on "Comments" on the line below any TR snippet post, and then choosing the Anonymous option, but please put some sort of identification in the text of the comment (like discussion board handle and board name) so I know who is commenting.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Cliff's barbershop and Western museum

The swinging doors to Cliff's

I finally bought a haircut at Cliff's barbershop, located just a few doors down from the Pinball Hall of Fame, Pecos and Tropicana.
Cliff was a fine, gentle fellow. He fussed with the cutting, gave me a fine beard trim, and was deft with the razor.
Packed in the room is a wild assortment of odd antiques and curios reflecting the American West.
When I asked to take his picture, he actually twirled a foot long pair of scissors until they clicked to a close at his pose by the chair. It was great fun.
Cliff used to cut the hair of the stars in Hollywood.
If you decide to say hello or have your haircut, tell him Dewey says Howdy.

TR snippet - Cat bus


While fares on the bus are often less than just the tip after a cab ride, often overlooked by travelers in Vegas is the fine bus system available for very little money. Sometimes those who do venture on to a bus find themselves crowded into a Deuce strip bus and in high traffic. This discourages them from looking into the ease of the many other routes that are almost never crowded.
From downtown the DTC generates most of the local Vegas routes so being in Vegas without a car is less limiting.

Most exciting this trip was the change in the way old folks get reduced fares. After 62, we can get an identity card that lets us on the bus for really low rates and cuts in half the cost of extended passes. A three day pass that includes Deuce riding at no extra cost ends up being $7.50 with this card.

However, the identity cards used to be mailed to our houses and take two weeks to arrive. This meant you could not use them for the first trip.
This procedure is changed. I went the DTC to get mine this trip and they immediately took my photo and printed the card for me. It is good for five years. I was thrilled. I'd be riding the bus anyway, but these reductions mean that while the bus rates have gone up this year, my expense has gone down.

On the change for the worst side is a new policy of buying bus passes from the machine rather than from the window. This means that carrying correct change is important even when going to the DTC as the bus passes at some point will no longer be sold by the folks at the window. We will have to purchase them from the machine or from the drivers directly.

With my new reduced fare pass I rode the bus out to the strip and back for a total of $3 and saved that drive home late a night with a couple of rums in me and twelve hours of tiring poker play. I don't like to drive at night.
I rode the 108 out to the strip and transferred to the 201 for Excalibur to avoid Deuce traffic, and found that comfortable although it is a bit odd standing by a deserted lot with Southwest planes flying overhead while waiting for the Tropicana. I don't know if that would feel comfortable after dark. A fellow came out of the fenced in area rolling a suitcase. He knew exactly where there had been a hole cut in the fence. This would be a bit disconcerting after dark. The bus folks were as entertaining as always and the Deuce coming back early morning was quite comfortable even from as far up at Tropicana.
However, my second night I tried riding it home around midnight and that was terrible. There was so much traffic we were stalled actually a couple of us talked the bus driver into letting us off the bus and I walked down to Flamingo and played more poker until the midnight crowd had gotten home.


My new love of the Eastside Cannery may offer me full escape from the Deuce, but if I play late at night at the Excalibur, I will probably want to walk to Flamingo and then ride back from there.

Leaving the Eastside Cannery in daylight I will probably walk to Tropicana (about a mile) and catch that bus.

I have not ridden downtown yet from Boulder but I know that one bus will take me there as well. So my next trip may include an airport 108 to Flamingo and a Flamingo bus to the Cannery. The bus lets out right at the Cannery parking lot.
At the end of my journey a Boulder bus to the El Cortez avails me of the free shuttle back to the airport.
If I do decide to put Laughlin in the mix next trip, it is helpful that the Laughlin River City Shuttle picks up at Terrible's right on Flamingo for easy access to the Eastside Cannery as well.

One added bus tip is to bring a warm shirt. Sometimes the air conditioning was just making the bus uncomfortably cold.
It is a good idea to bring a warm layer along to the casinos as well. The poker rooms can be air conditioned and drafty and you never know when some cold weather might blow up.
We had one morning in downtown when the winds were very strong and everyone walking along Freemont Street in just tees and shorts was very uncomfortable.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

TR snippet - live poker

I want to learn to play no limit, and I want to play more on the strip. I liked the Poker Pro machines at Excalibur. They are a perfect place for me to continue learning no limit and moving up in my play. There has been a number of arguments back and forth on machine dealt poker, but for me there is no question that it is a better game and I expect it will catch on. It certainly is a great way to begin to manage the complexities of no limit after playing primarily limit for years.
Here are the advantages”
1.First it is a low stakes table. Small fifty cent and dollar blinds and a max buy in of a hundred. If too many maniacs dominate then this is a bad place to play, but my experience is that the better players and those who like large pots go to the larger staked games.
2. The ease of putting a few hundred on a card and then replenishing the small losses so as to stay at the hundred max is a great advantage. I did not have to ask a dealer to sell me ten nor did I draw attention to the fact that I was replenishing to keep my stack as high as possible.
3.I did not have to visually count chips of other players or the pot. That math was in front of me in numbers and I could quietly consider it.
4.No tip. That means an extra dollar or two every winning pot.
5.Faster hands. Not as much chance of getting bored and playing something other than the best hands.
6.No out of turn betting, no false folding, no betting in the dark, no tricks.
7.No dealer jumping in to every conversation.
8.No virus infested chips or cards exchanging hands around the table. This game avoids the spread of disease. Swine flu, avian flu, any colds are less of a risk.
9. Setting the auto muck, auto chop, and auto no straddle sure saves me a lot of time. When it is time to chop, it just happens. Since I am never going to show my cards, the auto muck also saves me any problems. Asked what I had, I can say anything I want. I can't be peer pressured to show the cards.

I have a small Indian carved fish that works great on those screens, even better than the edge of a player's card. This sure beats my arthritic fingers trying to move chips. No chips on the floor to search for.

I played the 1-2 game and lost a good bit of money there, much of it on this hand.
I have played for an hour without betting.
I bet on a hand and everyone folds.
Two hands later I slow play trip fours when the turn gives up the third club.
I am on the button and all check to me.
I bet $100 to represent that I have caught the flush and push out other trips or drawing flush players. No one showed any flush strength so I put everyone on no flush at least yet.
One player raises me all in, another $150 so I know that he has slow played the nut flush.
I think about it and give it a shot. I call.
He says, “I got you” and shows his ace jack clubs thinking I did honestly represent. I show my fours. But the river gives no presents so I thank folks and head home.
I'd play it the same way again, but I want the numbers to be smaller.
Around the fifty cent dollar game, the cost would have been a great deal less. No one would be so stacked as to be able to trap me for as much.
My brother-in-law tells me I made lots of mistakes on this hand, including not betting my trips immediately. No limit is different than limit.
My all in calls on the 50/ dollar game were generally when someone bet in to me. My ace-king caught ace-king on the flop and a fellow with ace-queen put me all in. My pocket kings in spite of being bet preflop and bet when a king flopped were put all by a fellow with king-jack who lost three times in all in hands to me. He was truly terrible. After this one, he left. These are the games I would prefer to play.

Added to the fun of poker was a promo event called strip poker. They brought in a stripper at the time of the tournament and every time a certain number was eliminated, she took off a piece of clothing. She was great. She ended with bikini top and pants but the dance along the way was very entertaining. I had a better view than the tournament guys.
The hourly comps were not posted very efficiently. The fellow remembered me and gave me enough to almost cover the buffet, but nothing had showed in the computer by the second day. Don't count on eating the same day you play for comps.
I played with a Canadian who had played in the Montreal casino. This is a delightful three hour ride from my house up through the Adirondack Mountains and I have a buddy to visit along the way who might be talked into coming along. It seems they have the same machines with a four dollar rake in a nonsmoking environment. So that is my next local destination. It will be especially nice in the summertime. Rooms are not very cheap in Montreal, but on my last visit I found a bare bones place that seemed reasonable if I can remember where it was.

I played with one local who is there every day. He was very good and gathered $600 at the one hundred max game. I was never in a hand with him long. We talked and he recommended a book. He was friendly although he was the guy to beat at the table.


I love this place, but I did not play there my entire stay downtown.
My first session left me $9 ahead.
It went like this.
I was in a great mood, especially after a few Myers rum and lime cocktails.

I put a dollar on 9-6 offsuit just to please son Peter who enjoys that terrible hand, and then decided to call a $3 raise because everyone was in the hand. It flopped a full house, sixes full of nines, and a good player with pocket aces bet after I checked. Just calling him seemed to reveal some of my strength, so I bet out ahead of him after the turn, but he raised me. I reraised. Nothing helped him on the river, but he still called my $6 bet and then grumbled that I'd called his preflop raise with 9-6 offsuit.
He was right to grumble.
It was not negative toward me, just the frustration of getting caught in one of these low limit plays that never should have been made. I looked like a loose idiot when I gushed over how it was my favorite hand and I always win with it.
“I believe you” the old fellow said and I knew that he was wishing he would be there for more of my foolish play and certain that next time he would certainly take me.
With that as a really fine table image, I was sorry to see the table change to all good players, some aggressive, and force me to change tables.
I could have used that favorite hand myth later when I had pocket aces and nines or sixes flopped and strengthen my push out bet with just one little reminding comment, like “ Wow, this always amazes me.”

I had played a bit loose against Q and another loose young player who liked to bluff back at Q, and I think I might have solidified a table image as a loose player when I stayed with both Q and the kid to win a hand with A-K although I caught no pair.

But I was at the other table by the time I tightened up and I don't think that my reputation followed me.

I never was down more than about $8, and once I was up about $40. Then it got so that I would not get paid for good cards even well played. My six dollars on the river pushed out guys with hands. The players were shy if I bet. Those behind me watched for clues that I would come in for the dollar to decide whether to play or no.
It was time to go.
I had played at this new table too few hands and I was seen as a rock, and a rock they did not personally know.
I finished out waiting for 2 AM and the end of the bad beat for that day. One fish left and others wandered too. A new bad beat would stay, but they knew they might not be around for the next 2 AM game.
As well as Tom, the older Asian fellow who is predictable, a fellow with a Scandinavian accent played. Ben I think. He is loose and calls too much. He is a bit like Bruce at our home games.

Missing was the infamous Action Jackson. Jackson had gotten into some trouble a while back and been banned for a while, but the dealers thought he would be back today and had made peace and promises. There was no lack of laughter about Action. He is a legendary character well remembered and if I don't see him in my play today, I'll have to come up later in the week to have a game with him at least once.
The next day I did play one 17 hour session with only breaks for the bathroom and one break to take Action Jackson to supper. He has been down on his luck and is not the character at the table that he once was. But we had a good visit and he seemed pleased to be treated.
Many of the other players I have come to know over the years were there and I was up and down, but I ended well with $161 profit. I had a daily high hand of four aces for maybe ten minutes before a straight flush kicked me out.
The rum was good as always as were Karen and Albert and everyone, really. It is like coming home again to play there.


Unfortunately for some reason I thought I wanted to play other places and I chose the Nugget. I won't again.

I cannot ever win at the Nugget. I don't think I'll play there again. I even managed to avoid killpot games this time and still I lost. No memorable hands. Most of them would be of bad hands. In the beginning I had pocket aces and ace-king often. Some of these paid and others cost me money.
I do like that the Nugget will reduce the rake. We had to play with short tables and I am tired of doing that. But if we asked the rake was reduced. The problem is that soon there would be seven and then six or five again and we had to ask again. Nothing is automatic. I asked every time, but it was work.

Normal rake is 4 and 1
Six person rake is 2 and 1
Five person rake is 1 and 1

This is a great improvement over Tunica games. Some Harrah's like Bally's in Vegas have 5 and 1 rake and will not reduce.


Here was a poker room that was often short players. There was no hesitation on rake reduction. Asking was a requirement but there was no whining from the floor, no hemming and hawing, no waiting. This fellow made fair and fast rake reduction and that kept me in the game during the slow periods.
The redistributed bonus rake is $2 however, so that made the hands expensive anyway even if that money was to go back to the players.
One night there was a tall girl named Selina who was not pretty but did have a very graceful shape and a friendly good humored way that kept us entertained. The rest of the players were just locals with not much to say. They were friendly enough, but not in the Vegas party mood I sometimes enjoy.
One day there was a young Black fellow who was a very aggressive player. He left and when he came back I motioned to the seat to my right. He continued betting aggressively, but often now had me raising him immediately and getting the play down to just the two of us. Since he raised often with very little strength, this was good strategy. In this session I also tended to catch inside straights that developed from my high cards. It was wild. For a while I dominated the table and folks folded when I bet. Luckily I did not get caught bluffing much. It was a good run until this fellow left. He was easy going and just chuckled at my “ridiculous” play and outstanding “luck.” This was some of the best position I had all week.


I should not have been playing. I was very overtired, at the end of my trip, with my mind on driving to Denver, and I payed more attention to the passing people on the strip than the game.
Unlike the usual limp in and call stations, the table was full of the most arrogant, young no limit want-a-bees trying to make this simple spread limit game their personal drama show.
I won a hand with pocket eights.
Then I got them again and raised in middle position.
I put my reraiser on a straight by the turn so when the river gave me a full house, I did not pay enough attention. I reraised a couple times before I woke up to the fact that the one opponent left was not just overbetting a weak hand, but had something.
Actually, he woke me up. He must have thought I was a total idiot because with his higher full house based on pocket kings, he offered to go all in with me, a rather stupid thing to do most of the time on a limit table.
I declined.
That frustrated him.
I was glad.
I put him on quads and immediately called his bet. When he beat me, he sneered out, “You lose!!” which I though more ridiculous than my terrible play. I left.

What I don't know is what to do if someone offers me that all in option when I have the quads. If I agree, can they back out? It is a limit game. I think that in all cases I'll just play the limit patterns although it might mean a long betting session. For one thing, the fellow offering this at a limit game want the thrill of the no limit bet. Why not frustrate them for no reason. It might put them off their game.
It seems safer than having the fellow figure out what I have and then back out of the all in bet. I think that I may say to him,
“Look, I may indeed follow you down to the end of your bankroll, but I prefer the limit rules because they give me a chance to rethink my bets each time. Perhaps there is something I have missed.”
And then when I show the nut, he can be even more tilted.
Well, that is all good fantasy.
The truth is I played like an idiot and it cost me an extra fifteen dollars I might have saved.


The draw here is that they put $2 on your Harrah's card which can be used anywhere. The last Harrah's poker comp I collected from the Horseshoe outside Chicago I used for the Paula Deen buffet in Tunica. This is of great benefit.
The drawback is that the place has to be the most crowded poker area I have ever seen. I was tucked back into the back after telling a surly fat kid that yes, he would have to get out of his chair for me to get to my seat.
I was the only preflop raiser and that made me immediately unpopular. Unfortunately it did me no good. I lost when my pocket queens were beat by pocket aces twice and then my pocket kings were also beat. It was an expensive night.
There was a very beautiful, long legged blond across the table who with lips like Angelou Jolee and I did enjoy watching her various expressions after I folded hands.


I had a host and rooms at the Edgewater. The poker game there is a 2-4-6 game that I like very much. The poker next door is a 1-6 spread game with a full kill and I also like it. Both games have only a single $2 blind and rake just $3 for the house and $2 for an assortment of bonus or bad beat hands. You have to get those clear before you start. Hardest to manage were the aces cracked at the Colorado Belle. At certain times certain aces paid a hundred or even two hundred but a certain amount of money needed to be in the pot. Not knowing what that was could be trouble.
And don't expect to get any help from the dealers.
Those at the Edgewater suggested we might ask the dealer to spread the pot so it could be counted. But the Colorado dealers were not so helpful. One dealer, Phil, really got testy about collusion issues one night when I was a bit under the pints of microbrew and perhaps a bit too forthright about this stupid pot rule.
One fellow at the table had lost his $100 when he bet just $2 post flop and everyone folded. It depressed him. He gave no hint when he bet $2 and I suggested that he might have asked how much was in the pot, but Phil jumped all over me. Technically he was right, but his attitude rubbed me the wrong way and before we were done, I had made him pretty mad because I turned to the person along side me and said this was a stupid rule.
I think that when I talk to another player between hands it is none of the dealer's business. But Phil figured he had to counter argue.

I can get intense in presenting arguments to folks who are more interested in emotional loyalty than any real exploration of the facts. I don't ever insult. I simply present the counter argument strongly. So while Phil needed to take a break to cool off, I was not in danger of being sent home.
I find that it often happens that the dealer expects to be the expert on everything. He is so used to explaining and enforcing rules that he gets the idea he also knows the answers in any discussion and will butt in to conversations with an attitude that shuts down conversation just because folks don't want to rile him.
He is the expert on sports, the expert on video poker, the expert of craps odds. Or so he thinks. Often he does not have a clue outside his limited little poker table world.
That was what was happening here. I understood and was ready to follow the rule, but mentioning to my neighbor that it was not a rule in many casinos around the country, and that I thought it a stupid rule, elicited such dealer ire.
I find that one advantage to Poker Pro machines. There is more freedom of speech around the table as well as much less to question or argue about in the game.
Maybe the Colorado Belle will try some of these machines. Certainly, if they think the machines will give them more money for less expense, Phil's loyalty won't help him keep his job. Casinos understand that they have only bottom line numbers, no friends.

The next night I caught the black aces. I had four tight opponents. I waited until the turn and then I took a long time and counted the chips myself. I counted twelve.
No single chip had been raked in the dealer slide.
That is always what they tell you to look for.
I counted three times and I got twelve each time. I bet my four chips hoping for one caller. Two players folded and one more called me and he won the hand of twenty chips. The dealer then counted the chips and there were exactly twenty.
I asked her if she would have counted the pot had I asked her to during the hand and she answered,
“We have decided not to answer that question.”
Well, I thought, then I have decided not to tip the $5 I would usually tip on a $100 bonus. If the dealer is my enemy, then I am not adding more to the tip than the minimum for each dealt winning pot of any substance.
Perhaps old Phil had broadcast the precious night's discussion. I don't know.

At the Edgewater the dealer there kept drawing players who did not know the game well enough to tip at all. Two nights I took it upon myself to bring those newbies up to the courtesy of the game, always first saying that I was not telling them what to do, merely telling them the custom. Each player was fine about it. One asked me to remind him each time, and so when he won I said, "don't forget your dealer," and he was grateful as was the dealer.
So there is it.
Most of us, dealers and players alike, know that the casinos are not our friends, but our opponents. We band together as much as we can and when the dealer does have to enforce a rule, it is done gently and often with a bit of apology that this is the house rule, and they are bound by it. The good dealers do that.
I like those dealers.
The arrogant dealers can earn their minimum wages and keep their attitude.

I did not say to dealer Phil that this casino that he so boldly defended would without hesitation replace him with a dealing machine if that would give them more money. I did say that the casino was not my friend and I believe that. There may be friendly and generous casino employees, but there is no casino whose goal is to be my friend.

I liked playing in Laughlin, but most of the time I was playing with locals who knew one another and probably divided up guys like me. At the Belle I played for a while against a fellow they called Cowboy who divided me from my money in a skillful limit game strategy almost ten years ago. I remembered him well. I told him and thanked him for the lesson. I was happy to see him at the table again and feel I had a much better chance at winning. He was a nice fellow. At the table too was his brother.
It is better for me to seek out players who don't know much about what they are doing in the game.
The games at the Edgewater were often full of those players, but then as the weaker players disbanded in would come a half dozen guys who all knew each other, perhaps with over buttons, and the game would change. I tried to escape then and live to play another day.

One weak player left with a good bit of my money and that of others as well. He was 84 and he knew poker, but did not know beyond his home games. He was aggressive. He acted two seats after me and for a bit I could reraise his almost automatic raises and trap the rest of the table into facing my good cards. But then he started to reraise me too and that defeated the trapping plan. He was very lucky taking pots on the river. Players called him with very little since he might bet a pair to the river and then they lost to him when he caught another pair. He was a sweet old guy, one of those I taught to tip the dealer. He made mistake after mistake in betting and never knew how much was called for. He got very lucky or he would not have been at the table with us very long.

I think I am too frantic to play and so I just play whatever game is dealt and try to adjust my play to the players rather than pick the tables I want. I need to concentrate more on table selection and be content not to play at all at certain times. Bill and I did leave the Edgewater and head to the Belle one time when the table changed dramatically.


An interesting promo at the Tropicana got at least some players in at seven thirty in the morning. The casino splashed the pot with chits and the player who won the most of those every hour got $50 from the house. I did that once and it was a good bit of fun. It did not loosen up the players much, but it did let me pretend to loosen up when I played odd cards one time and showed. Then I got paid on my good cards. That was a good morning.
The players however, were very good and tough to beat. They all knew one another. There was one fellow who was very tight. He got annoyed when I pushed him off one hand without a hand worthy of a raise. It was a button raise to put money in the pot for a flush draw. These were good players so such bets confused them and I have found that such bets often win big even when the flush or straight comes as they stay confused and expect a pocket pair.
One player carried a little Goofy and a little Donald Duck. He was a bit easier to beat. He once called a push out river bet I made when all I had was ace high. I never did understand that.

I liked these players but I always felt that they were more comfortable with each other but a bit distant from me. Not unfriendly, just talking as if I were invisible.

High hand awards seemed a bit on the low side. Just $25 for quads with two in the hand. They do have twenty four hours of aces cracked and a wheel to go with that promo that has mostly smaller pays, but does have a $500 possibility. Guys were under betting their aces in order to get a chance to spin. I think that is silly. The idea is that you can continue to bet them and the spin will take the edge off the loss when they are cracked. Every other dollar amount on the wheel was just twenty dollars. However, I like playing with guys who underbet their pocket aces. It might be different if every cracked ace was a hundred dollars as it was sometimes at the Belle. No bad beat at all here. They still rake $2 so I am not certain where that goes. Perhaps that was why they could afford a couple hours of no rake games. I have feeling they are not the most popular poker room on the river.

I think the comp was $1.25 an hour. I earned enough for a free buffet which I used one morning before we left. I'd play there again.
The manager of the poker room also sponsors his own promotion on his own money. He drops a little coin in the pot and the winner can exchange it for a gift. One woman received a bamboo plant. It was a friendly gesture.
One player, Alex, comes for a week every month and said he gets free room offers in the mail although he only plays the live poker. Perhaps the comps on the card generate mailings. Perhaps next time I can get some free rooms for poker play too.

That was what I hoped for at the River Palms, but they discontinued the policy. Bill and I ended up not playing there at all during our stay. We went up to play and there were just four people playing with tournament chips and they were dealers waiting for players to return from supper.
We saw the comedy and there was not many more when we came back to check up again. I can't imagine what they were thinking when they gutted the comps there. The place is so far from anything that it is a handicap to stay there and the rooms have been reported as unclean at times with few towels.
It was delightful to be so centrally located at the Belle and Edgewater and I would not go back again to the River Palms now if they did have free rooms for poker play. I'd use my host Janelle if my play allowed me that option.

Here is one of my write ups from my days at the poker table:

Saturday poker was lots of fun. At the 2-6 table there were some loose aggressive players. I did not get many cards and folded most hands, but I'd have gotten paid as some of the river showdowns after aggressive betting were weak hands. They managed to win money, however, and I did not. Over a few hours I lost $5.
Some of that may be due to the fact that I got wired and talkative.
Mohave, a favorite Vegas board posting friend, was at the table and I was so excited to see him that I talked too much I expect and that may not have been good for my table image and it may have given the opponents too much information. I may also have been too lose. Mohave was disciplined and a rock. I stayed away from hands with him.
Also, I did not like the young aggressives. One was rather full of himself. The girl was good looking but had a bite of an attitude that diminished her appeal as well.
Usually I enjoy all sorts. Not this time.
I did like this really good older player with a European accent. He was probably the best at the table. He was soft spoken and kind. He told me how I had misplayed my pocket black aces by raising them in the usual fashion. There was a hundred dollar pot for busted aces and I eliminated players who would have gone to the river and beat me. I usually do not adjust my play for bonus awards, but I agree in this case it would have been the right play, especially later when the bonus went to $200 for cracked black aces. I did not get them an a chance to play better again this night.

I did get them at the Edgewater 2-4-6 game a couple hours later. I don't know if they had a cracked aces bonus, because my aces were good to the river and people paid me. The very next hand I got them again and the flop came ace-ace-rag. I had teased the woman next to me and I kept the tease up, basically claiming I had pocket aces again. Perhaps that helped me get called to the river here as well. The bonus for this quad ace hand was $25 and the pot was enough, a rare pot for four aces.

This 2-4 table was the poker players dream, full of loose poor players who paid well for good cards. I could not bet anyone off anything there, especially one older woman who would bet third high pair on the river where the bet was six.
Next to me was a pretty Asian woman with a rose. She was a terrible player, but good looking and a pleasant personality. She was a little drunk.
I did very well here and then two women left and our table was combined with four players who were regulars with over buttons and an entirely different style. I lost money to them. Twice I lost with pocket queens to pocket kings. One hand I held A-Q and two queens flopped so I just stayed quiet and weakly called. The better was a fellow who had not played a hand and I expected he had another queen. On the river he and I were the only players left and I bet the six as first to act hoping I had put him on just the trips. He only had a pair of tens and so he folded.
I soon left because I knew that I would lose to these players unless I managed very good cards and was lucky. I wanted to keep some of my winnings.

Friday, May 15, 2009

TR snippet - Food in Vegas and Laughlin


As much as I like the CANNERY EAST, I just did not explore the food there. They do not have a buffet until around September, but poker players thought the restaurants were good. I had a cordon blue panni sandwich at the deli and I would not have another. It was dry and tasteless. I was treating relatives while there and went to places where they felt comfortable.

SAM'S TOWN buffet is not what it once was, but I got plenty to eat there. I took four relatives and they seemed to enjoy themselves too. I miss the old days when it ended with a visit to a homemade chocolate store. What a fine buffet it was then. We all got plenty to eat however, and I used up one of my coupons.


Located in the plaza across Pecos from the plaza where the Pinball Museum is located, this little spot served me one of the nicest breakfasts of my trip. I was the only gringo. There was a large table of men sitting more than eating and I wondered if they were looking for day work. My waitress was a pretty young girl. Passing through was a heavy older woman with smiles. She had a cane and wore a loud colorful dress.
This is not an expensive restaurant interpreting Salvadoran food for gingos. It is the kind of place I often ate in costa Rica or Mexico. Small, with diner tables, maps of Central American countries on the wall and two televisions going in Spanish. One was a heavy romance complete with some good sex scenes and an overly dramatic attempt at suicide. The other television presented the news.
I loved it all, but the food was the best and I do not even know the names of all the tastes. No one asked me how I wanted the eggs. Next time I will say, but they were fine. The rest was great. There were at least four tastes: a serving of gallo pinto which was blander than the Costa Rican variety with that special sauce, but still so good I did not know if I wanted any Tapatio hot sauce or not. One chorizo. Not the Mexican variety of ground up meat but a fat link that tasted more like Spanish chorizo. I loved it. One mixture of potato and vegetable wrapped in corn silk, like an empanada with no pastry. Something I can't remember. With all this came two of the most wonderful, hot circles of bread. I drank horchata, listened to the Spanish banter, watched the overly dramatic soap opera and just had a pleasant morning emersed in Central America. I'll be back there again. Pupusas are on sale for 99 cents on Wednesday. There were many foods including the soup of seven seas. Much of the menu was in Spanish but most was translated and there were pictures of some of the foods on wall.

Poker opponent Action Jackson has been down on his luck so I used my comp and at my suggestion, I treated him to a nice prime rib dinner which was big enough for him to take home a second meal for the next day. I loved it. I chose the huge one. With $5 off the bill was $20.
The conversation was less than happy. I don't like to see these larger than life characters living on the very bottom edge and not really knowing where the next rent is coming from. Most of his storied this time were not happy ones.


Dining solo one can't go wrong at the counter of the Golden Gate. I was swinging in from an all night poker game and I was hungry. Prime rib at 4am before bed. Not my usual old retired guy pattern.
The cooks and waitresses were really into the late night banter. It was so entertaining and right there in front of me. The prime rib was wonderful. I love that place.


I enjoyed everythingI sampled for breakfast. Since the lines were short I had the chief cook me two over easy eggs and then just dribble the mushroom, onion, peppers on top. It was fine, but at home I cook those a bit first. So next time I will borrow some mushroom and onion already cooked or some of the nice mixed peppers in the pepper and sausage.
The only thing I don't like at the MSS buffet is the hot sauce. Like many other places they serve Tabasco and I prefer the Louisiana sauce.
The sticky buns are really excellent. The price was good $7.53 with the tax. That is about as cheap as any place. I see the the Fitz serves a meatless two egg, potato, toast for two dollars. So that might be a light breakfast. However, that dollar shrimp at Golden Gate is the best light snack. Perhaps that is not served until lunch.


I ate at the Nugget Buffet but it cost me $8 even with my ten dollar poker comp. It is more expensive on Saturday because they give this free, cheap champagne. I hate that stuff. The food was good, but only worth the $8. Because it was a brunch, it had foods other than breakfast foods. I enjoyed that. I tasted a fine piece of prime rib, some barbecue pork, and two helpings of smoked salmon with capers, tomato, but no horseradish sauce. I had plenty of fruit including some really good grapefruit. I finished with a little ice cream cone.


Bill and I ate the Ellis Island steak. They give out a beer but won't give a diet soda. Seems odd. I drank two red wines I carried in with me after using the ACG coupon at the main bar, and I used the free root beer as dessert, but it was not as good as I remember it. The meat was just as nice and the garlic beans were great only the portion seemed more reasonable than those piles of beans that used to come out. I went off my no white carb diet and had a baked potato which was just okay.


I ate a free senior buffet and the buffet is as good as ever. It certainly beat any of the standard buffets I sampled over my two weeks. They had four flavors for topping biscuits, including red gravy. I had not had that one and enjoyed it. I did not wait for the station cooked eggs but they had that as well. The fruit was better than average. Vegas buffet fruit is often rather bland. This was very sweet. The bacon however, was not very crisp. It is a hard task to find really crisp bacon in any buffet and there is no way to be sure to find it twice in a row. I enjoyed this breakfast and it gave me a good meal under my belt for my drive up to Green River Utah on my way to Denver.


I always tried to go at least once every trip for the barbecue and especially for the chili. Once they served four flavors of chili and I could make a meal just on those tastes.
Now I guess they might have two of them on Thursdays, but they do not make them every day. The barbecue too did not seem as tasty as it once was. It is a good buffet if I happen to be there for some other reason, but I guess I am going to abandon that area. Too many other places to go.


I know this is given a very bad review in most writing and there were foods that tasted awful, especially the broccoli and sweet potato. Still there were many choices and some of the tastes were just fine.
Deep fried shrimp and chicken were both good.
Cheese ravioli was wonderful.
Grapefruit slices were the best I have had. Not bland.
They offered chocolate milk, nice pecan pie, and butterfinger bits for the iced cream.
At the asking price, it is over priced, but with comp coupons bringing it to under six dollars, I thought it was fine.

I was not overly impressed with this buffet, but my buddy Wild Bill thought it was great. He loved the pot roast and raved about it. I did not have anything that tasted bad, but also nothing that tasted wonderful.
I had eaten the Salvadoran breakfast so perhaps I just was not hungry enough.
I did love the pinapple in the fruit mixture and I loved the soft yogurt ice cream because it came in more flavors than the usual and there was carmel topping. With that I had a small chocolate chip cookie that was okay.

I went for breakfast on a poker comp and found crisp bacon. That was good. They allowed ice cream then as well and had some toppings too. Nice breakfast food.


This was a good meal. I had enough points left from last trip to pay for Bill and I and we both had great food. I especially liked a creamy seafood dish which over vegetables made a real treat. I tossed I a few shrimp too. I did not eat much shrimp or crab since I get that often and concentrated on the other dished. I did try some cold spicy shrimp. Very tasty. I also thought the cold crawfish was very good and I have just come from Louisiana and eaten it there and been disappointed in other Vegas places. The ice cream lacked toppings. They need a dish of butterfinger pieces.


With the host comping my chicken wings and the play comping pints of microbrew I found this a good place to play the 8/5 Bonus game I usually avoid as low pay. I do have to be careful to play a bit slower and drink a bit faster if I want the EV to remain high. I loved the ambiance. The music was great. The one night I really overdid it, I ended up ahead on the VP as well but too drunk on three pints to play good live poker next door. I had a great time. Bartender Mike told me stories of hot peppers he had met and indulged and of his uncanny ability to suffer the hotest with impunity. If you go in there tell him Dewey said hello. I'll be going back there again. The wings were really very, very good and my buddy Bill enjoyed the hamburgers as well.


Oh, my what food! This was twenty five bucks and well worth every penny. They had the free champagne I hate but they also had make your own bloody Mary. Foods included some wonderful escargot, fine lamb chops, large cleaned shrimp, fresh oysters, and a dozen more wonderful tastes including flaming deserts created by a chef set up to do bannana or other fruit flaming liquored treats. This was an amazing taste experience. Add to that the management of the eaters. Reservations are required and folks flow into the room in an orderly manner, taking tables when they are ready. A waitress makes certain all drinks are delivered and anything needed is provided. Lines are very short. I'll come back for this.

TR snippet Gold Coast room

I stayed one night and enjoyed the location as I always have. However, my room was not maintained well. One bedroom lamp lacked a bulb and did not work when I switched bulbs. This was annoying as I use a sleep apnea mask and need to turn a light off once the mask is settled. Again I could have asked for repair, but when I have just one night and needed to get out early the next morning, I want the time to play not monitor repairs. My bathroom sink here too was incredibly slow. I don't quite get it why maids can't do a quick check of rooms and then have them repaired. At any rate this and that damned $3 resort fee which made this the most expensive night of my trip, turned me off again to staying at the Gold Coast even with the low prices.

They have changed the casino quite a bit since I was there. The jazz band which is my favlorite Vegas music, is now in the main performance area and their old area is totally remodeled. The Cortez Room is moved to the end of the casino and the poker room is set off from the casino floor.
I liked the changes, but room wise this was not the old Gold Coast I remember where things were kept up without input from guests. I reported it to the desk as I checked out but I did not see her make any notes or punch any buttons or apologize.
I think I am more attracted to the new and well kept rooms at the Eastside Cannery for a good bit less money and the same strip location a bus ride away.

TR snippet - Laughlin hotels


We caught these nights on i4laughlin for just $11 each. The rooms were very comfortable and we enjoyed our stay. The pool was very nice. Two small Jacuzis. It did not open until ten in the morning, however so I missed swimming and played poker. Very fine desk in the room for my computer also. Clean and new looking. Comfortable beds and accessible electric plugs.


With the help of our new host Janelle, recommended by Linda Boyd, author of a great little VP book called, The Video Poker Edge my buddy Wild Bill and I had river view adjoining rooms and that was such a treat. It was easy to wander in and out whenever Bill and I were in the room, and easy to leave a note under the door. These rooms are basic, but fine. I had a slow running sink and the fellow was up in minutes and cleaned it out for me.
I liked the large pool and the generous hours. The water was still too cold for me so I only went once. It was open longer than the Tropicana pool.
We had a river view and were entertained at times with boats and water skis.

It was delightful to stay for four nights in a row one place. That would seduce me into using the host for future offers. Also it was nice to have food comped for a change even though it was not much that we charged to the room.

I liked it that play in both of the sister casinos counted toward our stay, unlike play in say Main Street Station and California. And I liked the central location to Laughlin. The buffet food was not so hot, but the Boiler Room food was fine and the microbrews a treat a well.


WildBill also spent a day golfing while I did laundry. He went to the Laughlin Ranch course in Bullhead City and on the way there I located a nice laundromat that took a credit card instead of change and had an attendant to helped me with how to use the machines.

TR snippet- adjusting focus

Each of us who have traveled back to Vegas a number of times have gradually narrowed our planning, using our past experiences to focus our trip so as to meet our personal gambling/show/comfort agendas, and often we know exactly where we are going to book next time, even the exact room number. We look for our traditional happy places.

Mine has always been:
Use the bus
roll luggage between the free spots downtown with bus access to anywhere
try to take a trip to Laughlin
end at the El Cortez for the free airport shuttle
take a large suitcase full of stuff and carry home more than I took by taking a soft bag. Southwest still has free checked bags.

However, this last trip has amended my traditional patterns in these ways:

I play in general less video poker than I used to. I know that I play well (even here in Vegas I can use Dancer's tutor on my laptop to test the hands I wonder about) but I just am hitting losing streaks so that I am paying a lot for my “free” rooms.
If I do play, I'd like to play less money, quitting earlier.
Currently I try to keep my daily gambling average up so I feel playing small amounts in my favorite venues downtown: MSS and 4 Queens might erase my chances for free room mailings.

MSS sends me regular mailings. 4 Queens says I am just short a bit of play for the mailings they used to send. Reading about their comp policy it seems that as a player is established as a regular over time, they require more play.
Well, 4 Queens, I'll wait until the economic crisis loosens your mailings up a bit more, and you are willing to lure me in again.
The irony is that these two places are the best place to play VP, but I skip playing a few twenties there, so as not to spoil my daily average.

This trip I seeded the Cannery with VP play and lost enough for free room mailings for my next trip if they are generous at sending them. I suppose if I stay there for five nights with two comped, but my play does not average what it did for the two nights of this trip, I will be in the same comp bind as I am with the downtown venues, but as long as those wonderfully upscale rooms are just $30 weekdays, I think I will let the daily average rest wherever it does. I loved this Cannery, but could not be a high roller for five days in a row.

I also seeded Laughlin's Edgewater with host Janelle, my first VP host. She was suggested by Linda Boyd, author of a great little VP book called, The Video Poker Edge My buddy Wild Bill and I got adjoining rooms comped by Janelle.
Having a host did seduce me into more slot play. Megabucks beckoned to me. At the Edgewater, the best pay tables of VP did not earn points for comps or cash, but the cash flow did count with the host toward our comped rooms.
However, I do need to think about how much I want to play over many days. Laughlin hotel rooms are worth about twenty dollars a night on weekdays. Perhaps I'll just get the weekend comped next trip and pay to stay the rest of the time.
I did like the Edgewater/Colorado Belle location and the flexibility of being able to play in either casino and be monitored by one host for both.


I still like playing at the El Cortez downtown, but the rest of downtown games have little appeal. Replacing them is the low fifty cent/dollar blind, one hundred max Poker Pro machine no limit game at Excalibur. I am ready to give that game more of my time and see if I can learn to win at no limit.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

TR snippet-Eastside Cannery

Written in the hotel room in April:
Okay, okay,,,,, I give up the radical frugality. I surrender to luxury. I have been to the Cannery East and had room 1401, top of the casino and in the corner so that the wall to ceiling glass made a spectacular view in two directions.
I'll be back there.
$30 a night now.
If they raise prices, I'll cry.
Here is a hidden gem of a spot. What a discovery!
Lucky Pete and his wife Carol recommended I try this place. They are frugal coupon folks as I am, and usually well planned, but they were without a room in Vegas and saw the huge sign that new rooms were just $30. Carol told me to ask for a corner room, but I forgot. I merely asked for a room as quiet as possible and I did not ask for view either.
I got both. I'll ask next time.
I am on the fourteenth floor and two of my walls are glass floor to ceiling like some fancy NY city penthouse. The view is spectacular with mountains in one direction and the strip, downtown and more mountains in the other. These are long views and very different from other hotels views closer into town.
I am watching the lights come on and the sun set over a mountain. It reminds me of the view from the Stratosphere where I often went to see that change from day to dusk to dark and the difference in the colors and patterns and sense of things when the lights come up.
This room would be a vacation all in itself.
Lucky Pete's wife Carol told me that she did not want to leave the room and I see why. I am reading the room service menu and thinking breakfast here and I never do that.
Nor do I ever take a bath.
I don't think I have had a bubble bath in two decades. Yet, as I showered after my nap, this extra wide bathtub with the circular shower curtain that is out of the way and these contoured to the body elbow rests looked inviting. It is the most comfortable bathtub I could imagine. I got my book SALT by Mark Kurlanski and just soaked. Then I used my new footbrush ( one dollar at the Christmas Store) to brush and defoliate. This is a great tool. Four different kinds of surfaces to scrape and sand away old skin and built up foot gunk. Feels great!
Just as an aside, Kurlansky's two books, SALT and COD, are great for traveling because you can read just a few pages and get some interesting historical narrative or focus. His books are world history as filtered through mankind's search, processing, and regulation of cod or salt.
In the bath I was reading about the salt mines in Russia and Poland and how terrible it was to be sent to work there. Also there was a photograph of wooden carts behind camels transporting salt. Wild.

The room also has a thirties looking reading chair. I am laughing because the chair at the Golden gate was cheaply made and one of the legs came off as soon as I moved it. I could have had it fixed, but I hate waiting for maintenance or having anyone in my room but me. I rarely get the daily service. I just call in the morning and cancel for the day and grab something from the maid in the hall if I need more towels.
I could not possibly need more towels here. They are plentiful and everywhere.
The decorative theme is squares and rectangles. If I look around at lamps and bed backings and even the wall art, I can see that shape is everything here. The curtains are large rectangles of gray and purple. The hallway carpeting is a wonderful jumble of all sizes and colors of rectangles. Carpeting here in the room is stripes which still create long rectangles. They make the room look incredibly long. It is a huge room
Every so often there will be some curve like the arms of the chair or the lamp on the desk.
I have just left one of the smallest rooms in Vegas (Golden Gate) so this is quite a change.
Outside the evening lights are emerging. I can see the houses and the land and the mountains but everything is decorated with little bulbs like Christmas light strings and a few small signs are lit with lights that recreate movement.
The sky is lit by the setting sun and the mountain sets up a dark outline against it. Clouds pick up the colors and swirl the shapes. It is wonderful because there is so wide a window and such a panoramic view.
All this light and yet I napped well earlier this afternoon with little sunlight making it through the curtains. I do clip them with dollar store bag clips, but I only could find one clip this time. I need more for these expansive windows.
Boulder Highway traffic passes without any noise here.
I am enjoying this.

The table for my computer is about four feet by three feet. There are two chairs. The cleaning woman at the Golden Gate said the biggest complaint about the renovation is they eliminated the little table and chair. I told her I used the bed as a table but I did not tell her I took out the top shelf of the cabinet and made the bed into a table, setting that board holding my computer and mouse on the chair when I slept and back on the bed when I awoke.

Here I have all the space I need.
The Longhorn across the road is lit up.

The counters are all granite. The one outside the bathroom is about seven feet long. There is just one sink, but two distinct sections including two towel bars. The little bar like counter that sticks out is a very nice touch both in looks and function.

I am beginning to consider coming here each trip and using the Tropicana bus to get me to Excalibur for the poker I enjoyed. There is a bus also for downtown and of course Sam's next door has shuttles too for the strip and downtown.

Now the view is more lights than land. I cannot make out separate houses. The cars are more lights than vehicle and colors emerge from the places along boulder Strip. The lights in the strip hotels far way become visible also. And the sky above the mountains is tinged with the last of the days red.

I had been looking for some local bus access to Excalibur as the Deuce heading downtown is just too impractical at certain times like last night when I actually got off the bus and walked the rest of the way to Imperial Palace where I played poker into the morning to wait for the traffic to clear out.
I like a good local bus route. No crowds. With my new senior citizen pass the rides are dirt cheap even with this year's fare increase. Seven fifty for three days unlimited is cheaper than what I was paying. No extra charge for Deuce rides if I chose that option.


Wow. The air is very clear this morning and I can see all the buildings on the strip clearly and then the cluster of buildings that is downtown.


I had to leave the curtains open here my last night. I woke up too early, 4 am, a fine time to call home where it is 7am. While I talked to Elizabeth, I watched the changing patterns of the lights. 4Am light patterns was dominated by the the street lights. Houses were visibly darker. Off in the distance I could see the lights of the strip.

Gradually the lights gave way to morning. Something in the air makes the strip skyline view much more visually accessible this morning. And I can see the nooks and crevices in the mountains behind the strip casinos. I look directly at Flamingo or Tropicana, a straight shot to the strip and what looks like a simple bus ride.

I did not use the pool. The buffet opens in September. I was not impressed with the deli, but other venues for food seem pretty interesting. Last night I took my relatives to Sam's Town buffet next door and that seemed fine. It is not as good as it once was, but for the price it was good and one was free on POV.

There is 10/7 double bonus here and I can play it in nickels or in dimes or quarters. I like that very much.

TR snippet - El Cortez Golden Gate

My first two nights downtown I stayed at the El Cortez on ACG coupon in Pavillion rooms.

I guess no one except me would chose the Pavillion rooms over the tower. I had that option as I had both the POV cabana coupon for $45 and the Pavillion ACG for $30. Maybe if I wanted a table for the computer.

Generally, I was content to save the money and I like the short walk outside to see the neon before I go to bed. I also like the ease of carrying in luggage from the car and parking right near the same elevator. Perhaps when I am coming on the bus again I'll change up. Certainly I'll use the POV sometime this year to see what the cabana rooms look like unless one of the other musketeers in my coupon group uses it.

I have stayed there often on my journeys to Vegas, usually to take advantage of the free shuttle back to the airport and always to see again the old downtown crowd at the live poker table.

Friday, Saturday, Sunday at the Golden Gate for $20 each booked directly on their web page.

I liked it. It is cozy and comfortable and still has a bathroom of old tile and faucets that reminds me of my youth. There is something to be said for that.
I arrived early and was very pleased with the manner in which I was greeted and treated. They had a room for me and there was no need to store my luggage.
I never like the parking here because it is valet only and I can't go to my car when I would like. But I was going to leave my car anyway and use the bus for travel until it was time to head out to the Boulder strip so I just left it.
I know the rooms are very small, but they are nicer than when I was here before the renovation. I was comfortable. The bathroom still looked like a bathroom from the 30's and I like that look. The walls were still too thin so that hall noise bled into my room as did the noise from the Freemont, but I did not expect to be in the room during those hours. I had forgotten to ask for quiet. If I were training the maids, I'd train them in using quieter voices. The shouting was unnecessary for communication and it woke me
Part of the renovation was a better television than I remember and a long cylinder pillow for propping in bed for reading. Also the clock was equipped with an ipod player. The electrical was better wired as well. What I missed was the removed table and chair as I brought my computer, so I took out a shelf from one of the cabinets and set that on the bed. A laptop set on top of a bed may over heat the computer.
I moved a large comfortable chair out for access to my new bed table and one of the legs slipped off. It was a poorly made chair.
I did not ask for it to be fixed, but just propped it up and left it.
I made the mistake of telling the cleaning person in the hallway that I would not require service the next day instead of calling. I was napping in the afternoon when they woke me up by a phone call to ask if I wanted service. The woman apologized. It is what they do if you don't make that perfectly clear, even if the do not disturb sign is on the door.
They don't have a green approach to towels. I did not need or order new towels, but they were put in a plastic bag and attached to my door knob. The second day I requested no towels.
So there were some minor annoyances, but overall I like this little place. I love coming off the elevator and going back in time a hundred years. I also loved the twenty a night weekend price I got right off their site. While I checked in some young couple came in looking for a room and were told that the hotel was totally booked.
The new easy chair for reading replaces the small table and chair in the older rooms.
I moved it and created a makeshift desk.
The bathroom was pretty much the same. I like these old faucets as they revive old memories
Old fashioned full power shower heads deliver some force of water. I am not sure in this age of green concerns that this is an advantage.
Radio complete with ipod player
The new look in lighting decor is more fifties than thirties.
hallway mirror for self portrait

The Golden Gate still gives a nice stationery
And thankfully, much of the beauty of wood grain is still in the remodeled rooms

Here is a SEpt 2009 review of the Golden Gate and the area

I stayed at the Golden Gate 3 weeks ago. It was my first time staying downtown. I thought it was a great deal (I also paid $19.06). The rooms are clean and like everyone said, a bit on the small side. The beds are great, you get a nice LCD TV, a coffee maker, ice & vending machines on each floor, and you get Neutrogena toiletries. I would gladly take this room over the room we got at Hooters. You get this weird key/key card thing to open your door. You get the feeling that the room won't be that nice because the hallways are pretty plain and the doors are really small (I guess people were smaller when the hotel was built), but once you get into your room I think you'll be pleased. Oh, there's free WiFi. Actually there's a ton of it since the place is so small I also detected the signals from Golden Nugget, Vegas Club, and Plaza in addition to Golden Gate's own WiFi. You could also get the pay per use one from the gift shop next door if you really wanted. The staff is friendly. There are old photos everywhere. If you see one you like, you can order a print at the front desk.

I guess the cons are that because it is so small they need you to check out on time since they need to get your room ready for the next guests. Check out is at noon and I dawdled a little and had a knock at my door at 12:15. The incidental charges hold they put on my credit card was a little high. $149 for 2 nights even though I was only paying $19.06 a night. There's no room service or charging to the room so I guess the only way I could have used that was to make a bunch of phone calls or steal something.

Our rooms were second floor, facing the Fremont Street Experience. If you close the curtains the noise isn't as bad as you would imagine. On the other hand, if you want to watch the show, the windows do open. With the curtains closed, I could not hear the show over the TV or with music playing on my laptop. The only time I really got annoyed was one night when they decided to do sound checks at midnight (they were prepping the Christmas show). I guess you could ask for a room facing away from Fremont Street if you plan to sleep early.

I couldn't hit much on the newer video slots, but the older $1 reel slots were pretty good to me. There didn't seem to be much VP selection so I didn't really play as much VP as I usually do. They have an electronic sports betting machine hiding in the corner. The slot club was pretty good. I joined awhile ago to get the shrimp cocktail discount, but did not really put any points on it until this trip. There's not much they can comp since they just have the deli and the diner. You can redeem your points for freeplay, food, or some neat Golden Gate trinkets. A free shrimp cocktail coupon is really easy to get. I'm not sure how you get their funbook, they just gave me one, but it is very good if you can get it.

Being near the Vegas Club and Plaza is also cool. I was impressed by the changes I saw at both places. Vegas Club had some of the newer slots that I wanted to play (Golden Gate's selection is limited by their small size, but the small size also meant much better cocktail service). I'd gladly stay at Golden Gate again, but from what I've heard they don't really mail out too many offers since they're so small. If Vegas Club or Plaza give me a good deal, I might give them a shot. I had a lot of fun at both places.

As far as food goes, Bay City Diner is one of my favorite diners and they have awesome dinner specials, but I was a little disappointed by their breakfast menu. It was much more limited than I remembered in the past. Shrimp Bar and Deli is always good for something quick to eat. Don't worry if you see a long line, they move people through real fast and probably half the people are just going to get a shrimp cocktail anyways. You can also get soup, chili, hot dogs, salads, and sandwiches. The sandwiches are surprisingly good.

Vegas Club and Plaza both recently opened new restaurants. Tinoco's Kitchen moved to Vegas Club from their old location. They have a full service restaurant and a take out counter. It has pretty good reviews on Yelp and was on my to do list, but I didn't get a chance this trip. Firefly opened at the Plaza. It is worth going to for a drink and to check out the view. The sangria is awesome. However, it is expensive if you have a healthy appetite (two sliders cost $7.5). I was willing to give it a shot due to the good reviews of its other location and because I do like tapas, but I was disappointed that the menu did not have a lot of traditional Spanish tapas items. Not only did the menu has egg rolls and mac and cheese, but the way many of the items were served in a manner not conducive to sharing.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

TR Snippet-Plane trip to Vegas

It is incredible to me that I can be awake and totally refreshed at 5 AM just as I am every single day at home. How does my body know it is 5 AM here in Vegas? And what am I doing awake and refreshed after playing poker and other assorted games until almost 3AM?

But here I am ready to go find some breakfast.

The plane ride was a mixture of delightful napping ease and long and tortuous noise. I had fine seats. On the way to Chicago I was alone in my row and from there to Vegas I had a delightful traveling companion, a twenty year old Filipino girl who now lives in Chicago, but has lived in Texas and in Vegas. She works in financial services selling investments. She was friendly and perky, and we were good companions. We knew when to stop talking and grab some quiet time and some sleep.

Which is more than the folks behind me knew. Two raspy voiced women spent the entire journey interrupting each other with there intense raspy voices and shouting over each other simultaneously about every nasty bit of gossip they could remember or create concerning their mutual women friends. These women were from Chicago as well, but they were annoying and the one who had so misued her voice over her thirty some years of life that the nodules in her throat had been erased was the worst. She broke into my naps and day dreamin.

A twenty sometime sat in the end seat next to them and his bud sat in another end seat one row up and just across the isle from me. This spiked haired too full of himself spent much of the trip shouting to his pal who behind me and that shouting was just about two feet from my right ear. It made we wonder whether my desire to sit near the rear so as to easily get to the lavatory was a wise decision after all.

Anyone who knows me knows that I am not interested in sports. Well, these two knew every single fact about every baseball and hockey player and applied those facts in the way sports talkers do, with the hidden theme that as well as the factual trivia, they speakers knew exactly what should be done by each player, his coach, the team manager, the people who designed stadiums. And if reality was not enough, they also had plenty to say about exactly how to design and play fantasy baseball teams. It was awful for me. Son Dan may have like this banter, but I suspect even with his interest in such topics, his patience with the volume and tone would have annoyed him as well.

The kid next to me sucked alcohol as if he was not going to Vegas and drink all night at clubs. His diction was well spiced with “awesome!” and “dude” and even “rock on” which I thought someone had made up for the old Rocky character in the Brit sit com “As Time Goes By.” I can't imagine anyone in the aircraft liked this crowd, but we were quiet about it.

And then the four of them, the know it all boys and the raspy voiced women, found that they had some Chicago DePaul University athletic director in common and gushed on about her and everyone they might know in that network or in greater Chicago. The women, who may have been trying to pick up these young boys for a bit of a Vegas fling, invited them to some sporting Chicago social event where this athletic director would be accessible and the thought of meeting here had them fawning “thank yous” until the whole thing annoyed me. Once I went to the bathroom just for some peace and quiet and I stayed a bit longer than I needed to. In fact, I wished I could ride the rest of the route in the bathroom.

Conversation shifted. Now it went to proud militancy and the women's outrage against some young people the women knew who must have had some anti military attitudes. Well, they raked those kids over the coals for a while. It seems the fellow behind me was in the military, probably the guard, and so the women who were trying to get in good with the boys gushed and fawned and vented outrage and wound this fellow up so he went into a long Rush Limbo rant celebrating everything Bush did, justifying Iraq, and comparing our need to go to battle in Iraq it to the need to fight the Japanese and the Nazis.

I tolerated his rant better than the rest of the dribble because he had been in Iraq, I guess as part of a National Guard or Reserve unit. It is hard to go to was and come home and know that it just was a stupid war. Most everyone else agrees with that now, even conservatives who still supported it when there was no weapons of mass destruction.

I think at one point I actually heard old raspy voice say this would not be over until Sadam was dead. I suppose she meant Osama. Did she know the difference?

So I was going nuts and it was very hard to sleep. In the back it was endless repetitions of “Oh, my God!” and “ I am NOT kidding” while next to me was “awesome” and “duuude”

Later at the baggage claim I was again next to these young guys and they were trashing those two women they treated like new found best friends on the plane. What hypocrites! This was same guy who had told them he'd buy them mimosas all night if the slow river at the MGM was working ( the women managed to give the boys their phone number by asking if they would check to see the status of the slow river for them)

The sweet Filipino girl did sleep some. She brought her plug in music and that must have helped. I was jealous. At the drink break, she gave me an empanada her sister had made and I enjoyed it. She had a huge bag of them on route as a gift to her family/friends in Vegas. I was on her good side as soon as I mentioned some of the Filipino dishes that Bernadette's family makes. I think I won the day with ponsit.

The car rental went smoothly. I have the cheapest little Kia because I have it rented for almost a month. $597 at Alamo. I had to initial and sign my life away. I am personally responsible for this car and they won't bill my insurance company or my credit card. I think there is an Alamo rack where if there is any damage, they stretch you until you pay up. I hate car rentals.

The GPS took me the expressway to downtown and that was fairly easy. I would not have taken the expressway at night without it. Traffic was light, but there was some road construction that made lane decisions difficult. The GPS taught me a better exit than the one I use at Main Street Station. To get to El Cortez it is better to take the second downtown exit and end up right on LV Blvd.

Check in was a breeze and after a shower and change of clothes I was playing poker again at my favorite table. The floor person and Albert the dealer greeted me by name. I knew over half the players at the two tables and remembered how they played as well. So when the tough aggressive guy who took me down when I played with Keith last year joined the table of already very good players, I moved to the other table. It was a good move too.