Thursday, May 20, 2010

Vegas Trip April 2010

The following posts all reflect my 16 day Vegas trip this April.
I first posted snippets on narrow topics like Red Rock or Hotel comparisons that will appear in Discussion boards as single focused posts.
Then follows the daily narratives of what I experienced written as journal entries while I was in Vegas
And yes they are long and detailed and rambling, but my primary audience are folks collecting details from discussion boards planning a trip.
And the audience is also me planning my next trip after I have forgotten the details of this one.
Skim reading is the skill to employ here.
I welcome all your comments here, critical or otherwise, but if you come from a discussion board, you will have more interaction if you comment back on that board.  These posts are meant as a resource for those boards and not as competition.  So it is better to leave your comment on the discussion board thread that provided the link to this blog.

If you came here directly, then by all means leave a comment and I'll answer here.
You can choose the anonymous comment option, but please give me more than a letter to identify yourself.  I have more than one reader with the initial C beginning the first name.
Comments will always  have to be approved by me before they are posted, so there is some delay.  The need for this is simply because after all these Vegas losses, I just am not up to advertising for odd Chinese drug salesmen or folks who seem obsessed with finding ways to enlarge the penis.  I'm not into drugs other than free Myer's rum at the El Cortez and I've been perfectly content with my penis for 63 years, thanks.  In fact, I find it much more reliable than my poker skills.
So anyway when I review comments, those spam comments just don't get posted.

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Vegas 2010

I guess I did not update this thread.
I went to Vegas irrationally worried that the Super 8 or Vegas Club would have bed bugs.
The only place I would evidence was the Flamingo.  There were blood lines in the couch cushions.

They moved me twice without inspecting what I found.  I suspect they rerented my room.  Odd response I think.  I the first room I trapped a live bug under a glass, but no one wanted to look at it.

While I came with powder and 3 mil plastic bags and dis-solvable bags for laundry, I found the best defense was my flashlight.  I kept my luggage in the bathtub overnight the first couple nights until I could be sure.  When I got up to to to the bathroom, I rechecked the bed with this little two inch LED flahslight I bought at Home Depot.
Super 8 was very accomodating as I explained my fears at the desk.
Vegas Club also was sympathetic and told me they had not had any problems in the North tower.

All in all I was much more relaxed than I thought I would be, and clearly got my rational mind into the set that this could happen in any hotel and the smaller, cheaper places might even be better at accommodating my fears as expressed at the check in desk than the big places.

The cleanest hotel, behind headboards and furniture, was the Gold Coast.  Everything was vacuumed.  Now did that mean that it was easier or harder to check for bedbugs?  I don't know.  It seemed easier.  It certainly was easier to check for blood lines, but perhaps harder to check for discarded casings.

I have decided that while they can appear anywhere, they are least likely in off strip hotels that cater ot middle America and not as much to world travelers.  Other countries are the source of most infestation so avoiding the hotels that attract that tourist is probably a good bet.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

TR Snippet review of Ellis Island and Super 8

This may repeat some of the information in other snippets, but I liked the way it flowed on a reply on one thead so I'll use it again.

The price of the steak special has nothing to do with the quality. It is a come on to get people in the place. And it works. During normal eating hours the cafe draws a good crowd and you may be asked to take a number. So they get the gambling started during the the waiting time.

A microbrew or a root beer comes with the meal now. I was amazed at the size of the beer they brought. For my taste a red wine goes better and I have used the 4 free drink coupon in the ACG to get the drinks and then carry what was left into the restaurant. No one cares. But if you like beer, this is value.

All that being said something put me off my steak special this last trip so I understood the mixed reviews of this meal. However, it may just have been me. I generally get the special in the early hours of the morning to avoid the lines, and this was a graveyard meal after a losing session. I expected it to cheer me and it did not. The steak seemed just a tad dry. The green beans were tough.

I went back on an ACG coupon a couple days later and used it for the prime rib (no coupons can be used on the steak special) and had a fine meal. The garlic green beans were tough the day of the steak special, but fine the day of the prime rib. Over the years I must have eaten a couple dozen steak specials and never been disappointed before.

Both potatoes were good. I had a baked with the special and mashed with the prime rib. The portion was huge.

All that being said the place won't compare with actual gourmet big buck cuts of beef. It will fare just fine in comparison with Outback. I don't do the expensive steak house experience in Vegas. I ate on $8.39 cents a day (plus tips) this trip including room snacks. One fancy steak meal would double my frugal food budget.

I'll be eating there more often on my next trip because I tried out the Super 8 next door and was very pleased. Small rooms, but I am solo and the amenities were fantastic. I have sleeping issues so good TV really helps. I like Turner Classic Movies and they have it and twice as many other stations as well, including three HBO. There is free wifi in the room. I used it. I used it in the guest laundry room too where I did my laundry at 3AM when I could not sleep and was on line all the while the clothes washed and tumbled. That was the easiest laundry time I ever had in Vegas. I put the place in the middle of a 16 day trip. Coffee makers in the room brew hot water for the teabag I bring from home and put in the ceramic cup I also bring.
I did not try the pool. It was small and basic.

I did not use the free transportation to/from the airport either but I saw the vans and plenty of folks did use them. There was a group of musicians and all the instruments were in the van.

There were also pilots and stewardesses in between flights.

The Iceland ashes hit and one group of German tourists could not go home. In spite of being very full, the Super 8 extended their stay at the $40 rate they had negotiated.
Parking was easy.
The folks at the desk could not be nicer.
I have great fear of bed bugs ( which can be anywhere) and I explained this as I checked in. They listened sympathetically and assigned me a great room 3045. Inspection showed no activity, current or prior. (Flamingo moved me twice before I passed on the room there. Blood lines in the couch.)
In the lobby was a small machine that dispensed cups of fancy coffee and hot cocoa. This was a nice cup to take out in the morning as I walked to the strip.
They said next trip they would negotiate 7 nights with one free so that the average cost would be around $40.
I caught a good weekend rate on Priceline, but cancellation was without any refund. I called and for a few dollars more caught a AARP rate that allowed normal cancellation without penalty.
I expect I'll start my next trip there once I save up another bankroll and get over being beaten to death at the poker tables this trip.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

TR snippet- Rooms and Locations

TR Snippet- Hotels and Locations Review

I planned my trip to be closer to the strip and hopefully play poker with tourists rather than local regulars. I also wanted to avoid the buses because with all the new routes I did not really know how the buses were going to run.

Always a delightful room, especially for free. They dug back about four years to offer me this room as I have not been there since they eliminated the 10/7 double bonus.
I intended to try the pool, but I never made it.
I did got down to Seattle Coffee and use the free wifi. That was just great. I did not even buy coffee. It was listed as an amenity on my $5 resort fee.
Two free nights and $10 in free food offset the resort fee. I have to check my records too as I may not have been charged the fee.


April is such a pleasant month and I wanted exercise, so I decided to walk from the Orleans to the Gold Coast. It took me a half hour and was very easy in every way except the sound of racing engines so close.
I did notice that the laundromat on Arville is closer to the Gold Coast than the Orleans and I would roll a suitcase up there and do my laundry in pleasant weather when staying at the Gold Coast.
This was one of my favorite spots: Afternoon jazz band, great location for getting to other casinos, fine buffet with redeye gravy for breakfast, and a small, uncrowded pool with warm water. I also used the Fitness Center and liked that it looked out over the pool. Fine machines. Everything was uncrowded. Of all the hotels this one was the cleanest. My sleep apnea machine needs to be plugged in so I see behind the unmoved furniture and the bed bug inspection has me looking behind the headboard. Everything here was clean.
They have a $3 resort fee, but it was no on my bill. I did ask about it and the girl said that it probably had been booked wrong, but I booked on line using my B Connected card. Others report the fee dropped on comped rooms.


I was very hesitant about booking this place. No matter what the logic that bed bugs can inhabit anywhere and cleanliness is not the issue, I had read that they had some incidents (ironically while hosting an exterminators convention) and I worried. So I brought up the issue with the desk clerk, explaining that I took medication that lowered my immune system and I feared that bed bug bites might be big trouble for me. He was absolutely the most accomodating fellow of my entire trip. He game me room 3045 which he said was used the family of the manager when they came to town and which had a brand new bed. He also told me that whenever this happens they throw away everything.
I knew these rooms were small with just one queen bed, but I found this place delightful. No maze of hallways and the amenities were really incredible and without a resort fee. I did not try the little pool, but they have one. I did use the wifi and the great television. Three HBO channels and Turner Classic Movies, which satisfies me, as well as many other stations. The best television in Vegas.
So I had my sleeping issues at 3 AM. I packed up my dirty clothes and went to the laundromat right there in the hotel and did my laundry. I brought my computer and was on line all the while my two loads washed and dried. It was such a treat and it set me up half way through the trip to have plenty of socks and underwear and choices of shirts.
It was quiet.
I had a coffee maker so I could make my morning tea and use my ceramic cup. What a treat that is!
In the lobby was a machine that dispenses coffee, hot chocolate, something vanilla, and other hot drinks. I took one with me every time I left the building. Also int he lobby was a large screen television and during one rainy morning I just hung out and waited for the rain to end while I watched someone cook food.
I did not need the free transportation to and from the airport or a place to keep my dog with me, but all that is available at the Koval 8 too. They said that they would negotiate a rate of about $40 a night if I stayed for a week next time and I may very well do that. I forgot to ask about cancellation policy, however. I would need to be able to cancel without penalty.
With Ellis Island right next door for food and the strip a short walk this is a great location.
I could build my Flamingo/ LV Boulevard part of my trip around the Super 8 and the Gold Coast and be very content.

My treat to myself was five nights at the Flamingo where Harrah's had comped me two nights on my poker play. I looked forward to being right on the strip, to having a wonderful pool, and to being able to easily find a poker game.
I then filled in my 16 nights with two free at the Orleans, three fairly cheap at the Gold Coast, a weekend at the Super 8 and another at Vegas Club, and my final two nights at El Cortez where I always end my trip on an ACG coupon so that thirty dollars gets me two nights and a free ride to the airport.
As it turned out my least favorite stay was the Flamingo.
It started badly when my inspection for any sign of bedbugs showed a clear blood trail under the couch cushions. There was a live bug there also. Perhaps this was not a bed bug and the activity was old, but most places throw out the beds and furniture after an infestation. I moved and they let me.
However, I was a bit shaken and then I saw another blood trail in the second room I called again. They moved me again, but they weren't nice this time. They had given me early check in and now the desk clerk told me that if the third room was not satisfactory I would have to wait until check in, which she quotes as 4 PM. She was testy.
I just said, "I understand," but what I thought was that if the third room showed the same blood trails, I was out of there, comps or not and off to perhaps Eastside Cannery or back to the Super 8.
The only pool open was like ice and the weather turned cold as well, so I swam two days, once in a crowd of folks filling the chairs and eating the grilled hamburgers and once almost by myself when I just could not tolerate the icy water nor tolerate the cold air even for reading by the pool. When the lifeguards are all dressed in sweatshirts and wrapped in blankets it is not a day to swim.
The hot tub was delightful, however, and I stayed in that a long while the second day.
The grill looked wonderful, but it did not help me as I struggle not to eat too much to smell all that fine cooking meat. So what would clearly be a perk for most visitors was a difficulty for me.
The room itself was basic. I understand that were I to pay for a GO room, I'd have done better, but I am always frugal, so actually it was no different than my other hotels except it lacked a coffee maker. I missed that as I brought my own tea and a fine ceramic cup for early morning.
Part of the issue around my careful bed bug inspection is that it is made more difficult if out of the way places are never cleaned. Behind one table in one of the rooms I left was an old sock and a couple months of dust and dirt gathered around it. I don't really get what is so hard about vacuuming behind the furniture once a week.
My sleep issues were compounded by the fact that I could not keep a Do Not Disturb sign. Apparently the kids staying on my floor were collecting them for their college dorms and mine disappeared every day and had to be replenished. The maid was great and took care of me, but it was just one more hassle I did not need.


Here was another worry on the bug issues. I know this place is in decline and has had some incidents. I was concerned.
I booked for $29 on a weekend using this search engine which sent me to Priceline.

I love this site as it gives me the top three picks for my dates.

When I called to confirm, they asked me if I would like to upgrade to the North Tower for $5 a night and I jumped on that. I am still unsure when they charged me the $5 and they may not have included it anywhere. I expected to pay it to the hotel on checkout, but I did not.
Turtleman has said often that the North tower is a value secret in Downtown and he was right. My room was fine. The couch had one spot of wear, the rug had a coupld spots and they had taken something off that was wall mounted and left four small screw holes, but everything else was clean and comfortable. The television sucks. Plaza had TCM last time. Not here.


I generally love the El Cortez, but it did not come up to good standards this time and did not compare well to the others of the trip. The shower door made noise. The hot water was tough to regulate. I missed having a table. The doors require slamming to close and that can be heard in the rooms.
I did like the new elevator with key entry to the fifth floor. That feels more secure. They look great too with all the wood inside.
I probably could have been moved, but I spend most of my time there at the poker table anyway.
The price is right. Two nights for $30 with a free ride to the airport.

While there I walked down to Krispy Kreme for the free wifi and bought coffee (which was wonderful) and a doughnut (quite a treat) Sitting outside in the morning along quiet Freemont was just perfect. The wifi was fast and easy with no hassle connecting.

Monday, May 03, 2010

TR snippet - Hiking in Red Rock

Generally I ride the bus in Vegas, but I decided to rent a car for one day and spend the day at Red Rock. It was a good decision.
Only renting for one day meant that the Crash Waiver was worth the price. Rental, waiver, and taxes gave me a little Hundai for $50. The waiver relieved me of some of the anxiety I have about the loopholes in converage.
The route to Red Rock took care of the fears I have about being on Vegas roads with tourists who do erratic things and drunks and racing idiot kids or missing a sign on a fast moving expressway. Taking the Blue Diamond highway early in the morning from the new car rental facility (two rights and a left put me out on Las Vegas Blvd going South and the Blue Diamond was easy to find) took care of my total inability to go anywhere without getting lost..
I guess the Blue Diamond used to be an escape into undeveloped dessert, but that has changed now. Developments and malls are along much of this route. Still, it was easy driving and I loved the approach to Red Rock as one off the Blue Diamond road and on the Blue Diamond cut off, there were increased views of the colorful canyon rocks.
The ease of the driving also made it easy for me to stop along the way out. At Subway I got a tuna sub for my lunch in the Subway. At Target I got half a case of water for $2.50 and some juice and iced tea to keep in my room over these five days. At Bank of America I got some money to replace what I have lost without cashing my Traverler's checks.
On the way home I could have visited the old town at Bonnie Springs. I did take a drive through the town of Blue Diamond and was sorry that the tiny library was closed on Monday but delighted to see this little place that so far has resisted development. I could live there. Then an uncrowded McDonald's gave me an hour of free wifi for the price of a nice cold drink.
Finally, the highway goes right by the Silverton, so I went in to shop for fishing tackle and equipment at the Bass Pro where I think that I have actually seen the boat I want to buy. Called a Pond Prowler it offers me two high fishing seats to keep my wife's knees from cramping, a mount for the motor at both ends, the ability to rig the boat for rowing, a rear plug that can be pulled so rain can wash through, and a price of just $855 which includes electric motor and battery. I have been trying to figure out what to buy for three years now, so this was a great find. There too I shot the lazer rifles and watched the targets spin and spent some time admiring the large fish tank.
Well, this is a report Red Rock so I had better get to the Canyon itself.
April seems the perfect time to visit the canyon. Every other time I have gone to Red Rock it has been hot weather. The sun was warm, but there was a cold breeze that just cooled us down. There were plenty of folks who knew this already because the turn offs were full of hikers and rock climbers.
Calico Hills is my favorite stop. I always have to remind myself to linger there because it is one of the first stops and it just seems I should be moving on. Actually, the trip would be worth it just for the red colors and all the swirls of Calico Hills. I thought about doing the hike there, but I had my mind set on something a bit more challenging and had Ice Box Canyon in my mind. I was fairly sure that I could not do both.
The fine thing about the way Red Rock is constructed is that you can just drive around, drive around and stop at the marked turn offs. Walk in a bit at each turn off, or choose long hikes. To just drive through takes 30 minutes. I was to spend 5 hours poking around.
While the turn off parking areas were full of cars, I did not see or hear many people. It felt uncrowded. There were times when loud talking seemed to drown out the voices of the rocks, but for the most part I could find places and times when for sound there was just me and the breezes with a few bird calls.
Even eating lunch in a picnic area at Willow Springs was relatively quiet. I chose a picnic table set back from the others, and once I got rid of a group that just seemed to hand their waiting to get in their white van again, it was quiet.
It seemed this one fellow was chatting up a girl. He was European; she, American. I guess I understand the drives of love in the canyon, but I also feel a bit annoyed by people who come all this way, stand at the food of all this beauty, and ignore it to have conversation. Why come?
At another stop there was an arrogant biker girl who had to tell her entire party every bit of wherever she had biked before, and of course make all the other trips seems superior to this one. Her biking companions must have wanted to see her wobble and slip over a cliff.
I remember at an Indian reservation in New Mexico the guide pointed out some large rocks far in the distance and told us that they could speak to one another and that while the White man might not hear them, his ancestors and perhaps some contemporary shaman could hear them talking. Well, Nature does not speak to me quite so intensely, but even if it did, some of those who come and look and walk around me would never hear them. Some cannot hear much more than the sound of their own voice.
I liked thinking that here would be a canyon of beauty on which no cell towers would be erected.
In most cases I could escape the noise of the other tourists simply by walking in a bit. Unlike Vegas, Red Rock Canyon offers the visitor plenty of places to sit down comfortably. I used them.
The day before I had been totally exhausted but determined to see the fountains at Bellagio. I can't sit up on those stone fences. So that left the sidewalk, and I took a spot directly behind a fellow huckstering;
"Watta, watta, watta, one doughlar
ice cold watta."
My mind drifted a bit.....well, okay, I fell asleep"
And then when the time finally came I listened to the water dance to the opera.
At Red Rock, when I tired, I simply sat down and let the breezes cool me. And even short walks produced new perspectives.
At Turtlehead I found an easy section of rock to climb and quite a variety of multicolored views. Above and to my right was the huge grey Turtlehead itself, then an off white section, and to my left the jagged, sharp looking mountains with that red stripe. All this while I sat on swirls of the eroded and sculpted red rock near a bit of green moss that managed to find some life.
??Here too is the Excelsior Stone Quarry where the Big Devil engine promised profit from quarried stone. It reminded me of places I had seen in Italy where they cut out marble. The Big Devil worked, but there was still no profit in this stone and all of the efforts to retrieve it ended in failure. No attempts after 1912.
The Canyon was more full of life than I had remembered in the hotter times although there were not as many wildflowers as I had hoped. Death Valley was having a record 20 year bloom and I had thought about going, but I have been very tired this trip and did not want such a long drive.
My favorites were ??? small trumpet shaped red flowers which appeared in many locations. Also there was a small purple flower that was very common. Some of the greenery seemed fresh and alive, but the flat cactus in many spots seemed somewhat parched.
At the highest points, like on top of the rocks that formed Ice Box Canyon, were some pines. I wonder how they seeded up so high. What a struggle to maintain life.
I saw plenty of small warbler like birds?? one two foot orange and black snake, and dozens of little lizards scooting in and around the rocks int he trail. At Willow Springs there was were some chipmonk like fellow who probably do get a bite of food from the tourists who eat there.
At Willow springs I ate my tuna fish sandwich.
My major achievement was my hike into Icebox Canyon which is labeled as difficult. I skipped the last small and most difficult bit of it, but I did reach the mountain springs. The hike is like walking a dry and rocky stream bed and going in it is all uphill. I only had to negotiate on tough climb down, but then I skipped the tougher climbs.
For me this is more arduous hiking than I have done in years and I was quite pleased to feel in good enough shape to make the walk. It was thrilling. Also, going into the Ice Box Canyon was a slow change of perspective. In the beginning it is flat and open. Gradually the canyon walls tighten in on the view so that coming back at first just offered the view of one section of red rock (Calico Hills I think) and then gradually expanded until the view was wide and of much of the canyon. Before completely descending I sat a long while on one inviting rock and sipped my water, felt the breeze. Some dark cloud cover reduced the intensity of the sunshine. I enjoyed the feel of all of it and enjoyed the sense that I had managed a good long walk, two hours of stepping on and about rocks. It still feels very good.
In one sense a day in this Canyon is like being in an art gallery. I had forgotten my camera, and probably could not catch the exact bits of aesthetically pleasing shape and color and delightful contrasts.
At one point I looked up into rock, surrounded with deep blue sky peppered with wonderfully white clouds. In another spot were ancient hand prints, art in the rocks that might be as old as some of the oldest inhabitants.
In another spot the rock looked like a gigantic tongue.
Lost Pine Creek offered what is called a remnant biotic community where what is growing reflects what has been there for a million years, in part maintained by fire.
In another spot ancients roasted agave for food.
All in all, a delightful adventure and a fine contrast to the sound of machines and music and the cacaphony of voices along the strip.

TR Snippet - Wifi

I was hesitant to travel with my computer in past years because I thought it was an advertisement for theft like fancy jewelry.  I also did not want to lose the information in the computer. 
I solved the first problem by buying the cheapest laptop and the second by keeping almost everything of value "in the cloud" as they say. 
My main word processor is Google Docs so none of my written documents are stored in my computer.
Most of my written reflections are on my blog.
My email is yahoo and hotmail.

So I lose none of this if someone takes my computer. 
I do have some photos stored that I periodically back up.  Having the computer in Vegas actually gives me a backup for any photos taken there so that everything is not stored on camera discs which can be so easily damaged.

More and more now, except in Vegas, hotels have fee wifi.  Airports are getting it as well.  Many coffee shops have it.  Even McDonald's in many places (including Vegas) may offer it.
In between wifi, I write up drafts on my computer based free word processor Open Office where I also put copies of all my Vegas notes for the trip.  That way I can access plenty of information even if I don't have wifi in my Vegas hotel room.

I used to print out pages of notes I had collected from discussion boards and sites.  Now that is just copied in the Open Office section as well.

Television is so terrible in Vegas.  When I am up unable to sleep or bored or broke for the day or just don't feel up for much, the computer offers me great entertainment.

Trip reports are so hard to write from scratch or notes after arriving home tired and with all the home routines to accomplish.  Being able each day to record adventures and reflections was very helpful.  I might write first on the computer based word processor Open Office and then just quickly cut and paste whenever I had an hour somewhere of wifi.  Many of my friends were astounded to get long detailed letters while I was in Vegas.  I just wrote them during sleepless times and cut and pasted into the yahoo during wifi times.

So here are places I tried free wifi in Vegas this past trip.

Of the six places I intended to find wifi, five worked. 

TERRIBLES did not work for me and I tried it in many locations. The host at the cafe called and asked for the name that those in rooms use and I put in Terrible's, but I could not connect there or near the gift shop or anywhere. Perhaps I needed to be in the room.

TUSCANY at Marilyn's cafe was just as I remembered it, uncrowded in the early morning and easy with even opportunity to plug into power.  Unfortunately I had both forgotten my wire and not used it to charge up my computer in my room overnight, so my walk up to Maryilyn's  was mostly a waste as my battery faded. 
However, great location for an organized person.


This was a great spot.  I was there again in early morning and it was uncrowded.  There are tables and there is a counter that looks out over the casino.  Were it to be crowded there are some benches as well just outside the coffee shop.  I did not buy anything.    
This was listed as an amenity attached to the $5 resort fee, so I figured I had paid for it. And later, when it was clear that the Orleans did not actually intend to charge me any resort fee, well, it was too late for coffee.  
No one bothered me.  
When I stayed at the Gold Coast I came up on the shuttle as well.  I never used it for long, just long enough to get caught up.

SUPER 8 KOVAL - next to Ellis Island
This was the best.  Works right in the room.  Also worked in the laundromat at 3 AM when I could not sleep and figured no one else would be washing clothes.

MCDONALD'S -  on way back from Red Rock.  I only rented a car for one day to hike Red Rock Canyon.  I took the Blue Diamond Highway and highly recommend that route over all others.  I can't remember exactly where but somewhere along that route, on my way home, I stopped at a McDonald's and bought a drink and had great free wifi.  The drink was in a huge plastic cup which I found very useful for the rest of my trip.  Held a good bit of home brewed iced tea in the room and was so much more convenient than those little cups they give for fee in hotels.

I loved having my computer even when I did not have wifi.  I could write up my day.  I could draft my email messages and have plenty of time to write all I wanted.  Then when I connected to wifi it was just some quick cut and pastes and I could email friends and family quickly before my battery lost power.


I was staying at El Cortez.  I wake up before seven every morning as an old age habit.  It is a fine time to play video poker, but somedays I don't want to start using my bankroll that early in the day.
I walked down to Krispy Kreme and they were open.  Perhaps it was seven by then.  I got delicious coffee and some special doughnut that was decadent and delicious.  I set up a fine spot outside under the canopy and had an hour of free computer time. Krispy Kreme was not crowded at seven in the morning.
It was a fine setting.
However, bring a mouse pad because the tables are wire mesh and will not sustain a mouse.

TR- Snippet- The Gambling

This was the worst trip of my life for gambling.
It is making me totally reevaluate my poker play.
I lost almost everywhere I played, even at the old El Cortez.
And yet I thought for the most part I played as well as I knew.

I did win at a game of tourist calling stations at Excalibur. If I could find these games, I could win; it was 2-4; I also seemed comfortable at the 4-8 at Venetian. I think the 8-16 with only a $2 rake draws the regulars and locals and better players so the 4-8 was similar to what I am used to at Foxwoods in the afternoon.
I just don't have the bankroll for no limit. I was comfortable playing my first day at MGM but my $100 dwindled and I replenished a bit at a time until my buy in was over $400. Then I got most of that back. Finally, in two hands I lost it again. That kind of loss each day of a 16 day trip is just too much for me to bear, so I did not play NL again. No use playing with scared money.

Both the small spread games I love, O'Shea's and El Cortez, took me down as well. I was ahead, but over time it was eroded. O'Shea's now has two blinds, so waiting for premium hands is not as easy.

I was really stupid one day and got caught trying to break even at Megabucks and dropped $240. That is really out of character for me.

The VP never really connected. Some days I broke even, but all week on 10/7 I never hit aces, twos, threes, or fours let alone a royal. I had a great afternoon chasing a progressive in nickels at the Orleans. One royal had risen to over $500. But I lost $200 on that 9/7 DB triple play.

My matchplays did not win me much. $25 at the Westin on blackjack gave me a nine to the dealer 3 so I doubled down and lost. I hit at craps at the Sahara with another $25 Matchplay, so that broke me even. Most of the small matchplays I lost. No net gain of more than $5.

All in all in 16 days I dropped $2766. More than any other trip. This meant that even with all the room and food deals and free air the trip cost me $216 a day plus tips of a few dollars a day, which is what any other vacation would cost, but it has depleted my entire gambling budget and precludes me going to Vegas any time soon.

The real question is whether I want to go. Perhaps these poker games are just too hard to bother going all that way. I won at the Imperial Palace on a string of good cards, but listening to the talk of the players, all regulars and the talk of one dealer who was playing, made me pick up my winnings and claim exhaustion. Other than me there was one tourist fish. And this is a 2-4 at Imperial Palace. Where have all the tourists gone? One theory is that so many folks are unemployed in Vegas that those who can play good poker do that for a living, or as much of a living as they can manage.

So I am confused by all of it. I was way overtired as well and could not seem to often get rested enough to quit gambling and indulge shows. When I consistently wake up in Vegas at 4 AM there is not much to do. And most of my afternoon naps were more stare time.

Well, my first day home I took $216 off our little small stakes poker game. Vegas does tighten up my play. However, this seems to argue that I should just stay home and play more home games.

The Bucket, a discussion board pal I met in Vegas, argues that gambling is cyclical and it will come around again. He is a baccarat player, and for that random game, he is right as he would be for craps as well. But losses over 16 days in live poker mean that I am doing something very wrong.

TR Snippet- How not to buy a ticket and other bus stuff

 I had planned this trip so as not to depend much on the buses because everything was so new.  I wanted the routes and procedures to be sorted out before I tried too much and to see how the new ACE would work.

I liked the ACE route.  I rode it Saturday night and found it fast, easy to board, uncrowded.  I like seeing the times lit up right at the stop.

I learned the Deuce is still going downtown as well.  Folks were just too confused by the new route.  I don't know if it goes up to Palace Station or not yet.  I'll have to find that out.

I also learned that the upcharge when used on the ACE is only good for 2 hours.  So seniors cannot bypass the full 24 fare unless they only have one ride on ACE after buying a general market pass for $2.  The Deuce takes a $1 upcharge for each ride.

Well, here are my bus trips:

Finally, one day I was headed for M casino, using the Deuce and then the free shuttle from the Fashion Show Mall.
I should have started in front of Paris and used the ACE, but I walked North and ended at a Deuce stop North of Flamingo.
There was a machine there, but it was a Deuce machine. I put my senior ID in the slot. It did not read it, but printed up these instructions:

"Push your card all the way in."

So I did.

That was a mistake. The Deuce machines are only for credit cards. They don't bring up senior reduced rates. My card was stuck.

After a while a bus came and I told the driver. It took a while for her to call, but finally she said it would be three hours before they came to open the machine and even then I could not get my ID back until I went downtown.
Amazing. My photo is on the card.
Since I was going downtown the next day to stay, I just cancelled all plans for the M and went to the Venetian to play poker and lose $475.
It just was not my day.

The next day I went to the Downtown DTC. I expected a hassle, but they had my card right there in a box full of other cards which had been lost as well, perhaps many of them in the Deuce machines.

Well, a good lesson.
The following day I walked down Freemont and turned the corner at Neonopolis to catch the ACE at the stop where I used to catch the Deuce.
This time my bus ticket machine skills were fine. I had the right machine. It took my senior card and rejected it on the first try, but I turned it around and then it was fine. Once validated I was able to pick my fare. I choose the 3 day senior citizen fare ALL ACCESS fare because it is just fifty cents more than the 24 hour full price ALL ACCESS fare. They is no senior deal on that rate.
In the past I had used machines at the DTC and found them almost impossible to read, but these new machines are large print and clear. Very easy.
Once my fare was selected, I could then put in my charge card and pay for it. The process was easy. It is nice not to have to always be checking to see that I have the correct change.
The first bus was the C LINE. I was surprised to see it at this stop and I'll pass on that information. Certainly, by the time I go back to Vegas, the new DTC will have changed routes again, but for now it is easy enough to board this bus here and hit the strip at Fashion Show Mall. After that it head out??
I liked the ACE bus, but for me it still felt like a bus and not as much like a train. I rode to Paris, walked down Flamingo to the Westin to play a matchplay coupon, and then took the Flamingo bus to go to the meet at the Palms. It was all quick and easy.
Coming back on the Flamingo bus we were held up by an accident around where the expressway and Flamingo meet. Annoying, but I was happy again not to be driving.
At Paris I just missed one ACE, so I went in to use the restroom. Such wonderful little French sinks!
Coming out I saw an ACE pull in and here is the cool thing about this bus. I just hustled and jumped on the back door. Unlike the other buses, there are three doors to board and no ticket to show.
It was uncrowded on this Saturday. Some young tourists jumped on with not tickets to head to Casino Royale and we passengers explained the system to them, so they got off around Wynn to buy a ticket and head back on the Deuce.
I liked the comfortable back seats. These are very different than bus seats.
One local was talking about the buses. He was beginning to chart when it was likely to encounter a ticket inspector. To the tourists he said that they could just watch to see if the uniformed inspectors got on the bus and exit the rear door. From this fellow and another I got the idea that some locals would look for loopholes in the inspection process. He said that he did not expect inspectors at that time of night on a Saturday.
I had encountered three security people on my ride out and I got to witness how the process worked. During the ride from downtown one checked us all. One woman had a pass that was probably incorrectly stamped at her workplace and he questioned it, let her go, then asked to see it again when a more knowledgeable inspector came on the bus. I can see that since a machine no longer reads the tickets there will be such problems and perhaps eventually they will issue some hand held electronics to read bar codes on tickets.
While I rode I talked to a local next to me. He was annoyed that the location where he once bought his monthly pass no longer sold them. The only way to get them was to do to one location. I told him that he could buy them through the mail, but that would mean he would have to pay ahead of time and he was another fellow living paycheck to paycheck. Well, I said, you will only have to do that one time and he agreed.
He told me that he and others had gone down to the bus company and protested this change. He hoped that it would solve the problem.
While they were there, they also argued that only tourists should pay fares. Fares should be free for those who were going to work. Ironically, the tourists who has hopped without a ticket on the ACE on Saturday night said that the buses should be free for tourists.
I did not ask whether in their cities the city bus was free. I suspect it cost more than Vegas buses cost.
But once again I was reminded that everyone feels that in some way their class should be accommodated.
Perhaps, I should not talk since my class of seniors does get great accommodation, but I also think that there is a time for celebration around these new buses and there needs to be some of that as well.
One of the three inspectors had done a short rant on seniors who get too many privileges. It annoyed me because I had asked him what the upcharge price was, $2 or $3. I had heard $2 but thought I saw $3 on the machine.
"I know about life," I told him. "What I was asking was about the upcharge." He said nothing, but one of the other security guys said that it was $2 and that is what the website says as well.
Later when I told about getting my senior ID stuck in the machine, he was interested and did not treat me like a joke.

Along with these two security fellows was a security girl.  She was telling a story of a woman who was on the ACE with the wrong ticket and who had her purse snatched.  She accused the guard of taking her purse and it annoyed the guard.  So she was told to leave the bus and pay the upcharge.  She had a $2 senior ticket like mine.  The girl seemed to indicate that she would have gotten the woman to her destination for no extra charge except that the woman verbally abused her.  There is a lesson in this.  For the most part the officers will accommodate during this learning period.

TR Snippet - the food

I knew food was going to be a struggle for me this trip.  I had decided to lose some weight before I went and ended up loosing 35 pounds.  Then I wanted to continue to keep it off, so I hoped not to indulge as I usually do the rich food at the buffets.  
I would treat myself with much more than I was having at home on this very strict diet, but I did not want to eat too much.
And that worked, but it made me nervous and the tension seemed to take the joy of uninhibited eating away from the trip.  
It also limited my free drinks.  I had a couple nights of Myer's Rum, but I also had long stretches when I did not drink.
So I came home weighing the same as I did when I left.
My expenses were great.  My average daily expense for food over the 16 days was $8.39.  That helps with the gambling losses.
Planet Hollywood Spice Market -  I used points for the Sunday brunch.  That was a mistake.  The food is the same as every other day but the price is double. Still I did enjoy the food there and ate two other times.  I know the value trick now.  Get in line so as to clear the register before 11 AM at the breakfast price and then just wait for the lunch offers.  I used destination coupons for $5 off when I paid for the buffet.
I especially liked the Middle East section.  The tandori chicken was wonderful as was the lamb.  I am going to make the stuffed tomatoes at home.  
The smoke salmon was good but no capers and no horseraddish.
Tempura shrimp was very crispy, but I better liked it when taking a bit of the large whole shrimp so as to get more taste than the crunch.
The Orleans gave me $10 in free food.  I just charged to my room and it came off when I left.  I had a fine steak and eggs graveyard special and ate at the buffet.  I like the food there, especially for free.  I also treated myself to oyster stew at big Al's.  That is just so good.  I had a coupon for 10% off.
I ate at the buffet for breakfast, but wanted a salad and found that at 10:30 they served some salad.  There is two salad areas that are very small but they also offer different foods.
I overpaid at the Chinese Noodle place for a chicken/mushroom soup.  Small portion and a price equal to most buffets.  But it got me back to my poker game quickly.
Gold Coast
I like the Gold Coast buffet, especially the red eye gravy in the morning.  This time I also found the chorizo and eggs just a wonderful taste.  I was only disappointed that crispy bacon was hard to find. 
Main Street Station
I ate two buffets on points and one discretionary buffet awarded at the Player's Club the day after I gambled a good bit away at VP.  The kalua pork was a disappointment.  I always mix it with the collard greens and top it with Chinese noodles, but it was too bland.  Too bad.  The stroganoff was good as were many of the other choices.  I love eating there. My server Carol advised me again not to order the cranberry as it is just 10% juice, but to order the orange juice instead. I laughed because she told me the same thing last visit.  She was a great server.  The iced cream topping have new dispensers so that the butterfinger crumbles come out with just a twist.  Very nice.
I had trouble again ordering two eggs over easy and wanting toppings.  They always want to do an omelet or mix the egg up.  I want a runny yoke.  Finally, the joking chef sauteed mushroom and onion and gave that to me on the side of the eggs.  
Ellis Island
I was disappointed with my steak special, but it may have been me more than the steak.  The beans were very tough.  A couple nights later I used my 50% off coupon for prime rib and enjoyed that.  They severed plenty of aujus which makes the meal for me.  The mashed potatoes came in a huge portion.  I rarely eat white potato so that was a treat as well.


I had a free breakfast on points. I was treated very well in the cafe and the cheap breakfast was very good, pancakes, eggs and crispy bacon for a bit over $2 in points.  I did not get a chance at the Tequilla chicken I always like.

Eastside Cannery

I used the 50% off ACG coupon and enjoyed the buffet. 


I love the $5 tuna sandwich on a picnic and bought one to eat at Red Rock as I was traveling the Blue Diamond Highway.  It was perfect on a picnic table with all those wonderful rocks looking on. 
That same day in Target I got a half case of water for a bit over $2 and plenty of good inexpensive snacks for the room. I got a good bit of value with a one day car rental.

Salvadoran Restaurant 
 The food was not as good as I remember and the prices were higher, but there was plenty of drama.  My waitress burst into tears over something one of the regulars did or said ( I lost the Spanish) and another of the regulars went in search of the culprits who then aplogized and everyone was happy in the end.

El Cortez Cafe

It was a mistake to eliminate the fine diner counter they once had at Careless Kitty's.  There are still just as many solo diners, but now there are lines and a few solos get a seat in a section with a bench on one side and a chair on the other.
The food was good.  I ate the king cut prime rib one night on a poker comp so it cost $6.  Board buddy Matt bought me a dinner of steak and shrimp another afternoon and that was very good.

Krispy Kreme
Well, I did eat a doughnut and have some coffee in order to use the free wifi.  Amazing doughnut.  Good rich coffee.  No complaints.  Nice to sit out on Freemont in the early hours of the morning and be on line.


TR Snippet- Human Nature

I had not read a negative review of Human Nature, so I expected a good show; however, this group of four simply excited and delighted me in every way.
Even when I love a show, I tend to find some weakness or error or shortcoming. Not here. Their perfectly blended voices complemented by energetic Motown moves, which were simple yet made complex by variety and error-less synchronization. A bit of talk celebrated their rise without seeming arrogant and reported genuine delight without wallowing in the sappy. When they took the show off the stage an on to tables, they engaged the audience without feeling intrusive.
And while my expectations were high before the show, my seats ( a bit too close up and a bit off to the left I thought) worried me. I had bought the VIP seating because faces are very important to me. But as I waited for the show, talking with another poster from a Vegas discussion board, I had second thoughts about not trying a tip for a better seat.
My worries increased when the loud Motown started the show and speaker seemed to be inside my left ear and vibrating my eardrum. I happily remembered an earplug left in my wallet from my plane ride noise reduction efforts, and that worked perfectly, and I could stop wondering how to do Motown moves and clap with one finger in my ear.
The audience did participate. We were taught one Motown move for "Stop in the Name of Love" and encouraged to get on our feet and dance, and we did. That stretching and moving added to our comfort level and made us feel a part of the action.
Some of their moves had been taught by the Temptations and by Mary Wilson of the Supremes. Smokey Robinson sponsored their success and the acapella version of his OOH Baby Baby has to be one of the best single vocals I have ever heard.
Also the contrast between loud Motown (the band was phenomenal) and soft acapella harmony avoided that feeling two thirds through a show of being jaded by the same sytle music.
Being 63 did not hurt either. This music was from my teens and while I was more folk than Motown during those years, we all listened to whatever topped the charts and I found I knew the words to all the songs. I felt like a kid again.
The boys help with that because the Soul Traine reminds us that they started in high school together. I also had two sons in show choir who started their own acapella group with friends, and this sound brought back those memories as well.
I never can remember all the things I hear at concerts, but here are a few:

  • Ain't No Mountain High Enough

  • Just my imagination

  • Soul Train

  • Mr Postman with just voices and piano

I was not at all ready for the show to end. Generally, no matter how good the music is, just at the end I feel a bit of weariness. When I left this concert, I thought I could easily come back the next day and not be the least bit jaded.

American Casino Guide hint

I like to travel with the whole casino book and just remove the coupons as I use them.  This is not an easy task.  In the past I have used a ballpoint pen to make an impression in the paper so that it will rip straight.  This past trip I took one of my plastic throw away shavers and broke off a piece with one blade exposed.  Using the plastic as a handle I could easily cut a line between coupons and then the coupon rips out of the book easily.
And the little razor piece fits easily right in the binding of the book itself.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

El Cortez days

It is not very far to the El Cortez from Vegas Club and the roll is much easier in April than in August when I did it last. I love the sidewalks all sloped for luggage or bikes or powered wheel chairs.
I could not get an early room so I left my bags with the bellman. I did not really check in until about seven. I just stayed at the poker table, stayed even, and drank Myer's rum. It was comfortable. Over the course of my El Cortez stay I was not to win at that poker table, and once I lost a good bit, but that is where I lived as long as there were at least six players. Less and I cashed and came back later. I played next to Jackie for a while, but I did not get cards to beat him or anyone else.
The games blend together. Dealers were all familiar except Tia who remembered me, so I must have seen her. I found her very attractive, her long dark hair.
Carol was there and Chris and Joe. Karen I just said hi to on my way to check out, so I never had much time to catch up.
I did hear that Action Jackson has been in the midwest dealing and playing.
Many of the players I knew, but they were not my favorites. I like the Spanish fellow, Pepito I think. I am not fond of the grumpy Eskimo who is always sour about everything, a ranter. I don't enjoy the constant talk of Marine guy, Rick, who is a bit scary. In my last game I had a cute little Cambodian girl named after a flower, perhaps Champey. She is a dealer at the Four Queens and Rick was chatting her up so intensely that no other conversation was possible. She was polite, but not interested and complained about him a bit when he went to the bathroom.
I was sorry not to have more time to ask her about Cambodia, and about her experience here. She was a cutie.
I did go up and ask the brush Jimmy if he did not have a jacket she might use as she was very, very cold and shivering constantly. He lent her a nice fleece, Joe's coat. She never knew I had asked. I'd have liked the credit, but there was no getting that in the conversation as Marine guy Rick just talked a constant rattle.
On my right was a German fellow from Munich. He had been there the day before and won the high hand with four Aces. It seemed odd that a fellow from Germany was spending so much time in the El Cortez rather than touring the strip. He was friendly and I played a bit with my German. Das Schwein shleif for example was what I might say if I lost. I had a plastic pig as a card protector.
One other player had a rubber pig as a protector and so there were plenty of pig jokes and banter. It was a good bit of fun.
At other games I saw mostly the players who don't have so much fun playing. There was the old fellow who is the rule czar, a good player, but very serious and mad at any deviation from the rules. He called the floor because one young fellow did not use a cup holder. He told me on day as I exited the elevator that the game was full, as if I should just give it up. I put my name on the list.
He and a woman he knew were constantly muttering if the played hands were not what they thought should be played. I did not have energy for them. They would talk as if I was not there and be critical. Finally, one time I had enough, so as I collected a huge pot which I had hit on an inside draw (with two overcards) I spoke down the table to them:
"Ya know, it's not about the money. I just play those cards so I can hear you grumble. That's worth all the losses."
He did not laugh, but she thought it was a great line as did the table, and after than they had little to say about my loose play or perhaps that was one of the few hands I played loosely anyway. 
I liked setting them up to think I was loose so they called my bets.
However, I did not win here either.
It was a week of not winning.
This old good player had been in Germany in WWII and he spoke a bit of German to the German fellow as did a few others at the table.
I missed the days of Action Jackson.
I did play next to a fellow who was almost blind and help him figure when it was his turn, and how to manage to get to the bathroom. He and I hit is off. He was a good no limit player, but not good at this game. He lost. He is the only person to try my Myer's rum with lime and like it. He thanked me for introducing him to a new drink. He thought it was like scotch which made me wonder if his taste buds matched his eyesight.
Once he was annoyed at me. He started talking about the new television hit
which I knew nothing about because I never watch such television. I should have been more respectful of that conversation. On my ride to the airport I saw the store that is attracting attention. Reality shows sure generate a good bit of interest.
I like reality, but I find it on every corner.
Generally in television I like narrative fiction and no commercials. And buying stuff has little interest for me unless it is a Florida thrift where things are a quarter.
Our Brooksville friends who show us around the thrifts every year would be great for a reality show.
I can't quite get why folks are so attracted to these shows. Why would they need reality on television when it is right out their doorway? Are they unable to romanticize their real experiences? I have been romanticizing Vegas for a couple decades now.
Also at the El Cortez, a board member, Matt met me and bought me a fine dinner of steak and shrimp while we exchanged information. He was a lot more knowledgeable than I am. He pointed out the older slots by the elevator as some of the oldest in Vegas and I was going to play a bit there, but never got the chance. On my way back to the airport these were recommended by the shuttle driver too as the best payers in the casino. The one I wanted had a low large jackpot and that always means there are more low pays. I am sorry to have missed that.
Thanks for the steak and shrimp, Matt, and all the interesting information.  I wish I had taken notes.
I did not miss losing money at something any day I was there.
And that is tough to romanticize.

But there is more to consider. Overall, I was just too tired much of the trip to take advantage of all that was offered. I spent too many early morning hours wondering just what to do, not wanting to gamble but up at 4 AM. I was then unable to nap and so unable to go to all the shows I would have liked, or hand comfortably in a lounge and listen to live music.
All in all this was my most disappointing trip. I liked some days, but Vegas did not offer what it used to offer and the poker losses were just very devastating to my ego.
The Flamingo was very disappointing because it was my first real stay on the strip and I did not like it. It was too cold to swim and the water was like ice even on the warm days. The maze of corridors confused me. I was so happy to get out of there and go downtown again.

Next trip I am going to the Super 8 and the Gold Coast.

I don't know exactly when I'll go back, but I don't think it will be soon. Perhaps next April.

Vegas Club days

Vegas Club narrative

The upgrade to the North Tower was well worth the extra money if in fact they are going to charge me that amount. I thought the hotel got the upgrade money, but no one collected anything from me. I'll have to check my credit card statement.

I loved my room. It had some minor flaws, but I agree with Turtleman that this is the best kept secret in downtown.

I took a nap and woke up at 11Pm ready for some late night poker. Exiting the elevator I walked straight into a night club. Wow!! Playing was a great R and B group. Next Movement was the name and they were clearly talented. The place was packed with African Americans, more than I have seen in Vegas since I used to see Huck Daniel's review, but these were out for some clubbing and not performers on dark Monday. I watched a set and really enjoyed the community and the music. Imagine, at the Vegas Club.

First El Cortez game.
I sleep from 4PM until 11PM and then wander Freemont Street Experience a bit. It hopping.

Walking the Experience I see two light shows. One is the music developed for the summer of love. It remind me of flower children and the feelings I had when I was young. The other features Bad to the Bon and I like it less.
In one of the gift stores I buy one deck of Sahara cards and find that these orangish red backed cards are not marked with black pen,so I buy all they have. Gregg will be happy.
I go back to the room, but the band is on a break. I leave my cards, hat, jacket and scarf. Finally some decent weather.
So by the time I poke my way up to the El Cortez it is about one AM but there are two poker tables going. I join one and do well for a while and then I just lose as I have been doing this entire trip.
This was an ideal game. Dave was very loose and he would follow any bets right through the six on the river if he had even a pair, and sometimes he would be with nothing at all. I have played a long time tight as a rock so I try isolating him after he bets if the two folks acting after him fold. This works so well I can do it with any high pair I want to play, but I then have to call until the river with or without improvement.
I don't get so much improvement, but when I win a couple of hands with a second best hand, folks who folded to the rock now start to call me at least when I call, so I will get paid on my flushes or straights.
I just don't get so many cards.
I get pocket Aces and isolate Dave and me but he flops two pair and beats me.
In the end I lose more than I win and feel again that all this thinking and strategy isn't making me any money. Maybe I am a fool afterall.
I have four rums and that is very good. I catch up a bit with the dealers who all remember me but think I am from Chicago. Jimmy, the floor remembers my name as soon as I come in.
A new dealer named Tia is quite delightful to look at. All the players have friendly ways. One is Cuban. I have played with him before. He speaks Spanish to an older woman he calls Tia. He helps her play as well, but no one seems to care. I like it because she bets only one or two chips even on really good hands. When she bets one or two but should have bet 3, he shakes his head and mutters, so I know she has good cards.
Generally I fold when she bets but on one hand I get drawn into an inside straight draw when I have K-Q and both are overcards. I hit the straight on the river. She has a smaller straight, but she just calls me. The table groans.
Two people leave mad. One young fellow has been grumping for a long while and in his last all-in hand I river Queens full of Aces. This is the nail in his coffin and out he storms. He should have been glad not to have more money to bet.
I feel very comfortable, but I play too long. I don't want to quit while Dave is there feeding the pot, but finally I head back to the hotel to sleep.

I played poker at the El Cortez all night and had some rum and good conversation, but I ended down about $100.

On Saturday I could not nap, so I talked the Main Street Station Player's Club manager into a fine discretionary buffet with no reduction in points. I had played plenty the day before.

I had kalua pork again but it is not the same flavorful recipe it used to be. The stroganoff was good. They have a new way to dispense the topping for iced cream. I love butterfinger and now it is easy to put on a small sundae.

Carol the server gave me the cranberry lecture again. She says that it is only 10% fruit juice and recommends the orange juice. She is right too. I tipped double.


This was the day of the Blonde board meet and I rolled in from the poker in the early morning, called and talked to Elizabeth, and then tried to nap. I did not sleep much and finally got up and planned my day.
Finally, I was going to ride the ACE bus and see how it felt. I also wanted to play off some matchplays.
So I went up the Westin to play off a $25 Matchplay.
a matchplay at the Westin takes a good bit of patience. You have to go to the
Player's booth and get a card. Then you have to show your card to the dealer and the pit boss. Then you have to show the ACG card, take it out, make certain it is signed.
Some places make me feel like a welcome guest even though I only play one coupon.
This place made me feel like I was trying to take advantage. Well, I was. But if the casino wants to have more than four people gambling on a Saturday afternoon, once they have lured me there with this coupon, they should be friendly, not a bureaucratic nightmare.
I played a $25 dollar matchplay. I caught nine, the dealer caught 3. I doubled down. I caught nineteen; the dealer 21. No one expressed regret.

I was an hour early at the Palms, so I played my first Texas Tea of the trip, playing the whopping amount of two cents a line and three lines. It kept me entertained.
Ratfink and his wife were around but we did not yet connect.
Then finally there was a bunch of familiar faces and up we went to Loser's suite.
What a nice gathering. Plenty of conversation. Some on gambling; more lot on dogs. Plenty to drink and eat and plenty of banter and laughter. This is a good group Blonde has collected. She will collect more. She does not do all this for money, but just for the love of the community and the sharing of information. Nice. Refreshing. Her speech was genuine, touching without being sappy. Her theme suggested that somehow we have been doing her a favor by joining up when the opposite is true.
Well, anyway, I am not much for meets, especially when I have had only about an hour and a half of sleep in the last 24. I did not feel my perky self, but I am happy I made this one.

Finally, I had to think about sleeping. I took the Flamingo to the ACE. The bus left just as I arrived so I went into Paris and used the bathroom. Those cute sinks. I came out to find another bus there and I hopped on the back and rode to Sahara to play off another $25 matchplay. I am done doing them at blackjack.
In just a few minutes the ACE came back. I could see the schedule and know when it was coming. It was two minutes late. It dropped me back downtown and I watched a bit of the group Next Movement. Such fine R and B sounds and so amazing to have them right there on the way to my elevator and with no cover charge.
Vegas Club let me stay until noon for checkout. And then I was off, rolling the luggage to El Cortez for the last two days of the journey.

Flamingo days

I have not been keeping up very well with just a running narrative while here at the Flamingo. Red Rock and Human Nature were the highlights of the time. The gambling has been losing and most disconcerting is that I don't think I have been playing that badly.
I did get some cards last night and won some hands at a 2-4 table at Imperial Palace, but except for two guys all the others easily would have outplayed me in any contest. All knew one another and one was a dealer with lots of experience. This is not the competition I want. So I went home.
Earlier a Canadian guy had dominated and overbet the OShea's game, "betting on representation" as he called it and talking every minute. He was obnoxious but friendly enough and I just could not beat him. I lost money and left after he did and the pots diminished again to practically nothing.
He was playing for Guinness, he said and was pretty drunk, ordering one after another, but because he bet everything, he was difficult to beat. He caught good cards and seemed to have them when he was raised or called.
I played there between a dealer's wife who I liked and another woman I keep bumping into from San Diego who is very friendly and attractive. She was up meeting her sister. So it was a friendly game with some talk of Vegas.
I was in bed by 7:30 trying to squeeze something watchable out of the bad television and I fell asleep, woke up and put on the mask and then slept a good night. So I am rested. It has been hard for me to be rested this trip and that keeps my out of the late night games.
I went back to the Spice Market buffet yesterday and enjoyed basically the same treats I had at the Sunday brunch for much less money. I have not managed the buffet deals as well this time. I was in line a bit late and so did not get in until after eleven so I paid $5 more for the lunch menu. The trick is to get in line early enough to catch the breakfast price and late enough to get the lunch food. Next trip I'll remember.
At Venetian I seemed to do well at the 4-8. The game was conservatively played and it reminded me more of the Foxwoods game with a few bad players and a few really good players and the rest like me. I may try that game again tonight if I still have energy. When one game broke, another continued and at that table sat a girl with hundreds of dollars in chips in front of her. There are no high hands or bad beats there so she much have won those playing all day. Her chip stack made her seem invincible. I got lucky and beat her on one hand when I caught a queen full house. I confused her by checking the turn. This was a mistake except I thought it might get her to call the river, or had she bet I would have raised. I don't know what she held.
I really don't know how to think about the poker. I have only found my ideal game once while here. Most of the games have not been with poorly playing tourists. Perhaps the thrill of sitting down to play after watching television is over.
The trip is complicated too because generally I am up for indulging food and alcohol and this trip I am more focused on not gaining back the weight I lost. Then too my sleeping just does not contribute to easy poker play.
Finally, the Flamingo has just not delivered the delight I expected. I'll be glad to leave. I tried swimming yesterday and could only bear the water for ten minutes. I soaked in the fine hot tub and listened to a fellow from Australia tell a couple from Canada how to tour London and go to some rock concert extravaganza. I liked that, but it was too cold out to sit and read and they expect more cold today as well so I am debating whether to head for the zoo or not. I expect that I would be warm enough there in layers with my coat and scarf, so perhaps I'll head out soon.
Then the bed bug business added to my discomfort. I am more relaxed about it now seeing that an inspection can determine whether there has been any activity, and after a few days in a room without getting bitten, I can get my luggage out of the tub and being to relax and expect no surprises. The fact that the source is a traveler means that no infestation just happens from down the hall, the way a flu bug might work. I suppose that I need to find more long 5 night stays at fairly good prices and quit jumping from hotel to hotel. This makes downtown appear a good bet again especially since my napping has not very often extended my gambling day. I do wonder if the Super 8 has weekly rates. With the free transportation from the airport, that might be a good spot to stay, combined with Terribles for a couple of coupon nights before heading downtown.
Or if the Gold Coast starts giving me good room deals, I'll book there as I did like the food, the video poker, the music and the access to the strip on Flamingo and Tropicana.
The Venetian looked fine at night again. I like going there when it is dark. What a strange moving walkway! I remember going on it one time when it was iced up and the little hill of metal required some sliding.


Walked up to the Tuscany for wifi but I did not have enough juice for reading long. I failed to bring my wire or I could have plugged in there in Marilyn's cafe.

There were no crowds. Things were very quiet with only a couple people having breakfast.

Played and lost two match plays
down $15
Played and tied at Ellis Island
Then played too much video poker but at the last minute caught four kings and two hands later help 8-10-Q of hearts and caught the straight flush.
So now I am $5 ahead

But not for long. Thursday was a frustrating day. I lost $475 at 4-8 at the Venetian and I lost my senior ID when I made a mistake and put it in the machine that dispenses tickets.
After waiting for the bus and talking to the bus driver I found out it would be 3 hours before anyone would address the problem and then I still would have to go downtown to retrieve my ID.

The game was fine. My cards were not. I kept thinking that I could win and feeling very comfortable with the mix of players. But I kept losing.
My last hand I went on tilt. Bets were gradually capped and I had pocket fours. I stayed with it. The flop gave me a set. There was not much betting after that, but I lost on the river when the fourth heart made the Ace and King high flush. That was enough, the icing on the cake.

Played with friendly people and liked the general pace of the game. The opponent I worried most about generally folded if I raised. Once we went head to head. We each had three queens but he had the bigger kicker.

So I guess this ends my huge passion for poker. Something I don't understand gives me repetitive losing streaks and this is the second Vegas trip that has resulted in huge losses. Add to that my new diet sense of not indulging the food and alcohol as well as my sleeping issues and I am just not having such a good time coming to Vegas anymore. Tough to admit as it ends a long passion with this place, but I have not had so much fun this trip.

I was in my room by nine but I was up watching very bad television until 2 and then someone called me on the cell at 5. I will be tired today. I guess I'll just head out after a shower and go downtown. Vegas Club might have an early room for me.

Days at the Super 8 on Koval

I was still tired for most of this weekend.
I liked the Super 8 because of all the amenities: the laudromat, the free wifi, the good television.
Also the check in fellow listened to my concern about bedbugs and put me in 3045, the room that he said the manager's family uses when they visit the hotel and that just got a brand new bed. It was really fine and comfortable.
One night I could not sleep and so I did laundry at 3 AM. I could take my computer to the laundry room and go on line while the clothes washed and dried. This is a fine place to come mid trip.
I liked the coffee machines in the room as well as the machine in the lobby that served a variety of coffee and sweet hot drinks. Nice touch.
No winnings this weekend.
I am still tired out too much.

Days at the Gold Coast

I was exhausted by the time I got back to the Gold Coast and so I watched a little television and went to sleep. Of course that means I am awake again at five, but Elizabeth called just after I woke up. Jay is installing the new window and the air conditioner so he had a ton of questions.

I was considering a cab to move from the Orleans to the Gold Coast, but once I saw that with the extender opened on the new suitcase both my sleep apnea machine and my computer fit into the suitcases even with their cases, I decided to try walking.
It was an easy walk.
At one point I passed a 104 bus stop, so there is a bus that travels on Arville and that is good to know. I rested a few minutes, but my 24 hour pass from the day before ran out of time and so I just decided to walk. It was a good decision. No bus passed me.

The trip was easy. Arville was as I remember it, but the laudromat was really close to Flamingo and not an easy walk from the Orleans. I was considering on a future trip walking with my dirty clothes in my roller suitcase, but I think that is more practical from the Gold Coast than from the Orleans.
The neighborhood is very street friendly. The few people I encountered were polite. One young Korean girl on a bicycle on the sidewalk actually stopped and got off to give me a free roll around a pole. I thought I was in another country and thanked her. She smiled.
There was no one else much on the walk. There are mostly businesses along this stretch and parking lots. One fenced in lot was full of security guards and a Constable drove out of that area. There were a bunch of school buses; perhaps it is a school.

The only disconcerting thing was the noise of the traffic moving so close and so fast. I was again happy not to be driving here in Vegas. All along the route were fine sidewalks and those great suitcase ramps that Vegas builds into the sidewalks so that it is no effort to roll a suitcase.

I wondered about going down Rochelle and I'd like to check to see if that actually connects to the Palms. I did avoid the Flamingo corner by going into the Palms parking lot. I liked being away from the street traffic.

I was laughing that I probably got more exercise by doing this than I did in my morning workout at the Orleans. I could feel some of the weight of the suitcase on my arm and switched up a couple times, but it was not at all uncomfortable. I wondered if pulling the extra weight burned off more calories than my time on the treadmill. How odd we are to walk and run and climb for no purpose and spend the rest of our lives trying to get the parking spot within steps of the supermarket entrance.

So I we delighted to have this new frugal experience in Vegas to add to my collection. I saved $10. That paid for supper.

The sleeping issues are the hardest. Here I am up long before there is much to do and I'll be tired again later. I am hoping that I can get a nap in the afternoon today and head down to Oshea's or perhaps the Imperial Palace in the evening. It does convince me that I do need to plan a hotel close to where I want to play late night so that I can get a good afternoon nap and this Gold Coast is a perfect location.

room comparison:

The Orleans room was by far the nicer of the two, but this one is perfectly adequate. I have no view here, but I did not ask for any either. I do like being on the first floor as it means a quicker trip on the elevators. Everything seems smaller here. The corridor is more narrow, the room is smaller, the bathroom is small too.
I did not notice the art on the walls at the Orleans. Generally I find the wall decor of hotel rooms rather tacky and uninteresting, but this is different. I am certain none of it is expensive, but the scenes all depict a man on horse, often in a Mexican setting and with a pack animal along with him. In one the rider moves through a field near a line of small trees and in the background is a huge cathedral. In two others he moves down a street in a quaint Mexican town with small and dull adobe, and in one that is very different, he climbs up a winging trails above hoo doo like mountain plateaus. Justin Neisck is the artist. I like the feel of the prints, the sense of quiet movement with animals. It is always the same rider.


Ahhh. I had my fine breakfast here at the Gold Coast. I am still being careful to eat mostly fruit and vegetables, but I did have my red eye gravy and biscuit and it was as tasty as I remember. And speaking of comida sabrosa two tastes in the Mexican offerings were absolutely wonderful. One was a scrabble of chorizo and eggs and another was the corn soup posole. I loved both but had just tastes of each.
Again there were two small salad stations at the breakfast buffet and again I missed that there were two with different offerings. Also, at the dessert section there were blueberries and in another spot a few kinds of yogurt and a granola for topping. So I had plenty to eat. The vinegar is not balsamic or malt, but it was fine and I dribbled drops of tabasco along with it. Contrary to what I said about perfering Cholua, in this recipe I liked the tabasco.
It may be that in some of may tastes I am put off by intensity. I know that I did not eat yogurt for a long while and then found that a spoon or two as topping on fruit is very good. Also, I mix my juices with water.
I ended up with $37 in comps on my Coast Card, so all my meals here will be free. Breakfast was $5.99 so I can eat five of them for free.
Next I check out the pool and the workout room. The sun is out today and it is warming up. The water was fine. Perhaps it is heated. I like the setup. From the workout room the pool is visible so if the television is not entertaining perhaps a few bikinis can get the mind off the exercise. I also turned on the television and caught a Yankee game against LA. I am not a sports fan, but baseball and exercise seem a fine blend.
I did not last long on the stepper, but did twenty minutes on the treadmill and then swam the circumference of the pool 16 times before my bladder said it was time to get out. In the pool were two Asian girls talking a mile a minute in some version of French, I think. I enjoyed the cadences, the feeling again of being not in Vegas but traveling the world, and the playful, vacation attitudes of these two young women. So my swimming was not too boring. There were three women in bikinis and one was getting a foot rub and making the appropriate sighs. There was also a very overweight woman with plenty of physical issues who tried the pool but found it too cold. She had watched me swimming and I could see she wanted to try. I felt bad for her.
I think I have kept my weight off so far. The scale in the fitness center here showed I had lost 20 pounds since yesterday. Had I known that they had such a scale, I might have skipped the work of the exercise; however, I weighed myself after the exercise, so there it was. Once again my timing was off.
I had intended to go up to the strip earlier, but got attracted by all these adventures. Now I think I will catch a set or two of the jazz boys, perhaps drink a beer, and then try for an afternoon nap that would enable me to play poker tonight at OShea's or the Imperial Palace into the late hours of the morning.

It will get into the 80's tomorrow. Summer is here.

Jay talked to me about the work of the installation of window and air conditioner. It is going well and he is over the brink of the place where he is wondering how exactly to do it and has cut the hole and now sees how it will go. I am very excited to be able to abandon the old portable airconditioner.


I napped a bit and then played poker all night. I started at the Imperial Palace where two fellows were using the button and regular straddles every time they had a chance. My blinds were useless then, but I thought myself in fairly good position to take advantage of the bigger pots whenever I had good cards, but that was seldom. The game did not last long and I went to O'Shea's and had a fine night of poker, but ended down about $200. So this has been a trip of one loss after another. I think it may be time to spend a day at the zoo.

I drank a good bit of Myer's rum and did enjoy the party atmosphere. To my left was a fellow from Brazil and his friend from Madrid, so I got to practice some of my Spanish. He taught me a few gambling expressions, but of course I have forgotten them now. So hard for me to learn anything at this age.

To my right was a doctor, a radiologist from just north of Toronto. He was friendly and interesting. He thought we would be pleased with the new Health care bill.

The time went quickly and I could not believe how fast the night was gone. I would have like to have some profit to show for it.

At home Elizabeth reports that Jay is finished and everything looks just great. It was fine to get the free window from Gregg as that saved us a couple hundred dollars and now I can get busy putting in the book shelves.


Well, that all nighter wiped me out so I slept much of the day. The rum also dehydrated me so I drank ice water and sat by the pool. I did not work out but I did swim for quite a while and watched the bikinis and other interesting people by the pool. I read through a Vegas magazine, and some of the shows are mildly interesting, but so far nothing catches my imagination.

I did spend a second day listening to a few sets of the Classic Jazz band here. I miss the leader who must be on a vacation, and then at five yesterday the trumpeter also left, so I gave it up. What I heard was really great, however. There are lots of new faces in this band and they are all improvements. I just love the sound of these obscure old swim numbers and love watching the old people practicing dancing. Last night there was a young couple who were very good and did amazing things with their arms. Elizabeth would have loved watching this.

In between I played video poker and won back all I had lost on previous days here and ten dollars in addition. I had four 4's dealt to me and holding 2-3-4 of spades hit A-5 for a straight flush. I would have loved those dealt 4's on the double bonus three play, but I was content not to lose.
I had a pretty good poker session with locals here in the poker room, but they were tough to win much money from. Finally, I misplayed a hand by betting my full house into a larger one. I folded it before it got too expensive, but it cost me a bit first. fives and eights on the board. I have a five and one woman has an eight and another fellow actually has an 8-7 and catches his 7 on the river. I was stupid and made a raise. This was a 3-6 kill pot hand. I don't seem to mind the kill pot hands in this 2-4 game where there are not aggressive raisers.

I heard today that the Venetian is capping at least some of their rakes at $2 to attract business. I will have to walk up and try playing there.

Today I pack up and head out to the Super 8 on Koval for the weekend.

I tried the evening buffet with my ACG coupon last night, but it was not very impressive. I ate a bit off my diet as I had done from breakfast so yesterday was not a good dieting day.