Monday, September 26, 2011

Orleans Gaming

However, in our enthusiams, we do need to remind people that these games simply make the Orleans playable. They don’t make the gambling stand out. We would not search the place out as a hidden gem of gaming.

If we check this survey, we can see that this sort of craps is the median for Vegas

http://wizardofvegas.com/guides/craps-survey//
If we check these comparisons, we can see that with all the rules figured in the computation, Orleans comes out again pretty average for Vegas.  Perhaps it will more often deliver a $5 game.

http://wizardofvegas.com/guides/blackjack-survey//

At 040% it is playable, especially compared to some strip properties or abominations like 6:5 , but not outstanding, like the El Cortex single deck game with a house advantage of 0.19% Huge difference between these two games.

And while 8/5 Bonus Poker may be considered “full pay” and may be welcome in this current trend to downgrade VP, it is also pretty average in Vegas and nothing compared to the advantage once possible in their signature game, 10/7 DB which they downgraded to unplayable. I would not call 8/5 Bonus “best” in any sense. "Basically playable" comes to mind. “Average” again comes to mind. We would not go out of our way to search out the 8/5 Bonus at the Orleans. And while it may be a bit more rare to find it at a bar, there are plenty of places that have it and some that have it better at the bar. The Vue Bar at the Fitzgerald’s, for example, has it and tops the low full pay off with three progressive lines.

And when they did downgrade the DB in December 2006, they made it 9/6, a game you really should run from.

So, just looking at the math, the Orleans gambling is just okay. Nothing to stand up and cheer about, but if you enjoy the ambiance, the gambling is endurable in short sessions.

Live poker too is average because the fine ambiance and friendliness of the room is often offset by the dominance of local folks who play and play well there everyday with each other; their experience grouped together around your table can makes the game tough to beat. For softness of game, strip live poker is better.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Orleans pros and cons

pros

* Rooms are probably the best in that price range.
* Always quiet.
* Location is away from noise and confusion, but well connected to the strip. There is the free shuttle that goes to the Flamingo corner and the city bus that goes down Tropicana to theNYNY corner or farther to pinball hall of fame. shuttle to Gold Coast with Palms and Riothrown in the ride.
McMullen's Irish Pub (click)is right across the street. Can you say Smithwick's? Great potato chips and dips.
* Great pool in season. Great hot tub anytime. Clean workout room.
* Free wifi in the coffee shop near the check in, and even places to plug in.
* Resort fee has not been charged when I book on B Connected or for comped room specials.
* 9/7 nickle three play Double Bonus with progressives.
* great oatmeal at the Cafe with lots of stuff to add
* Buffet- good all day deal that lets you skip the line and pop in and out as many times as you want. Grazing then replaces overeating.
* Al's Oyster place where oyster chowder is off the menu, but will be made for you if you ask
* comfortable and friendly poker room
* I can wheel my luggage to a laundromat. It is a long walk, but safe down Arville.
* I can wheel my luggage to the Gold Coast. Longer walk,but great for booking those two back to back.
* great aligator door handles
* good shows at good prices for guests and sometimes free


cons:
* $6 resort fee
* gutted the great 10/7 DB they once had and replaced it with 9/6 DB that suckers in those who don't know there is 9/6 DDB.
* no other really decent VP unless some progressive is high
* Not many places to walk to after dark.
* tough local competition in the poker room.
* eliminated silver strike machine



more comments here:
http://www.vegasmessageboard.com/forums/showthread.php?p=554636#post554636


First time playing live poker

I play mostly limit, so some of my responses may be geared toward that game.

Many places you play will have a different set of bonus awards. Some have bad beat jackpots. Some have high hand awards. Some have cracked Aces or even Cracked kings. Some have so many hours for a free tournament.
At Flamingo last year I was in a $2000 tournament with just 4 hours of play. We split at two tables and everyone got a black chip.
Because in limit you are trying to overcome the rake, you need to never miss a high hand or other bonus payout.

Ask about these bonus awards, so you know before you play. The most common one to miss is cracked Aces, where you are beat and just toss in your cards rather than show that you are beat with pocket Aces, and so you lose $100 from the house.
This bonus in limit even changes how people bet. Pocket Aces won't raise preflop to push out anyone since the award might be more than the pot and will require a minimum in the pot to be awarded.
In no limit I make certain every new player knows about Cracked Aces. If the bonus is $100 and they follow you to the river and you bet $50, they will call just to get the bonus. I have had guys fold the Aces rather than call my river bet, show them, and then they learn they just lost $50. And I lost $50 too.

Unless you have some complicated comp formula combining slot play and poker play, always swipe your card.
At any Harrah's now Caesar's place they will track you and you can get free rooms for the next trip. You can play at O'Shea's and still get a choice of free rooms at Harrah's. I did that. Next trip I have two free nights and one at $30 just due to poker play. And a look at the credits I have right now tells me that I have $15 to put toward the last night so it will end up being free as well.

Some places you have to be certain to swipe out when you leave or you get nothing. Even the dollar an hour comps add up over time.

Don't talk about possible hands unless you hold cards and then watch what you say. Don't read the board. Don't say, "Wow, someone could have a straight flush."
Don't act out of turn.
Don't be afraid to ask if you are unclear what a player did. Don't shout to the player. Ask the dealer. It is the dealer who has to know what is what and will make any calles in a decision. The player needs to make certain the dealer knows when there is a raise. Say you are in a limit $2 round and someone ahead of you pushes out a red chip and mumbles. Ask if that is a raise before you act.
"Did he raise or just call?"

Watch string bets. Say what you are doing before you do it. "Raise, fold, call" are great words. Raise is the most important of the three. If you say, "raise" in limit it is clear how many chips you are putting in the pot. If you say "raise" in no limit then you must announce how many chips are going to be bet or move them all at once. A great habit is to set up your bets and then move them in one motion.

Use a card protector. Some players will by accident or on purpose toss cards on your cards. If they are covered, then the dealer can sort it out. If not, you lose your hand. This is especially important when sitting either side of the dealer. S/he may pick up your hand easily by accident if it is unprotected.
Protect your hand. Develop a way to look at your cards that blocks your neighbor from getting even a glance at the suit. This is one of the biggest differences between on line and live poker. So many times players reveal their cards because they look too often and don't cup their hands over the cards. You can't pull the cards back from the table so you need a way to look. Watch the other players.

When you win a pot, turn your two cards over and make sure the dealer understands you are the winner. I usually put one finger on each card until the losing hands are mucked by the dealer. If the dealer tries to take them before taking other hands, I say, "I have the straight flush" and push down on the cars, holding them in place for a reread.

Otherwise your winning hand can be misread by even the best of dealers, swiped up quickly, and then, oh, well... the best you can do is protest a bit and see if the buy collecting the chips will split the pot.

You can change seats usually fairly easily. You ask the dealer and most places they give you a button that says seat change. You may want to do that for some strategic reason, like getting to the left of the wild raiser. In limit don't play immediately right of a habitual straddle player. Basically, this will kill your bid blind. You will never see a free flop.
You can change tables some places as long as they can keep them fairly even.
You can request to play with a buddy and some places will try to make that happen. Let folks know what you want.

If you have a problem, don't argue a lot. Ask the dealer. If you don't like the dealer answer, ask that the floor be called. Again, just present your case or questions calmly and whether you get the ruling or not, say thank you. Don't tell the dealer or the floor how the rules ought to be. But don't be afraid to ask for clarification. At worst, you then know what not to do next time.

If you play limit and like kill pots, great. You may find them in some casinos.
Make certain you know in a kill pot who acts last. Patterns change. And if you don't like kill pots and are playing in a no kill game and you are the only one who does not want to change. Tell that to the dealer. Yes, you will be unpopular, but in most cases the game can't change to a kill game unless everyone wants a kill pot. consider your bankroll, not just peer pressure.

When you are on a seating list waiting for a game you can often watch the game you hope to join. Sometimes the dealer does not communicate an empty seat to the floor. You can do that. Just walk back to where you signed in and let them know there is an empty seat on table number XX. If you are next in line, this can save a ten minute wait.
You can call ahead to get on seating lists at some casinos. You might like carrying a list of poker room numbers and calling to ask what is being spread and if they can put you on the list.

Watch for free food. They might bring in cookies at the Imperial Palace but they might not tell you, and you can have one while you wait for a seat too. You should never, ever be shy about cookies

Monday, September 19, 2011

How I pack

I start making lists when I start booking, at least 6 months in advance.
Often I pack for Vegas while unpacking from some other trip, even with a month or so inbetween. I do laundry, and repack Vegas clothes right then. This precludes me forgetting the kinds of things I want to pack for every trip. I especially want to set aside certain shirts that are easy to wash and will dry quickly and are light against the Vegas heat.
And it saves last minute laundry.
The travel steamer takes out the wrinkles well enough for me. And they are going to be there even with stuff packed last minute.

I am going to pack the largest suitcase the plane allows.
I have a good sense of what 50 pounds is, and I weigh at home, but in the bag goes an empty light bag and if I have gotten too heavy and have to, I repack at the airport as SW still lets me take 2 bags free. Usually I weigh in at 49 lbs.
The light bag will be good for anything I buy or win in Vegas, so my plan is to keep it empty until I come back. Generally, I finish my trip with ACG coupon at the El Cortez and shop for souvenirs downtown. The free shuttle eliminates the hassle of the extra bag for a bus ride to the airport. Next trip I ended at Harrah's, so things will be different.
I carry-on my computer and my sleep apnea machine, drugs, some coupons, kindle and maybe change of underwear /socks.
Since I am going on one plane with my luggage, I don't expect it will get lost. It never has on SW to Vegas. On other travels I once was up to lost luggage 5 trips in a row as well as stolen stuff going into Mexico.
The lost stuff showed up, but a couple days later.
Once, flying into Madrid for a month in Spain, it was good that I had changed from driving immediately out of Madrid North, to staying a few nights first as they delivered the next day easily since I was still in Madrid.

Anyway,
After I arrive in Vegas, I put my carry-ons into the extra suitcase space and have one bag to roll on the buses or between hotels.
I am alwasy going for at least 14 nights. My next trip is 22 nights. And I am moving from freebie to freebie or cheapo place and either rolling luggage or taking the bus.
It has to be easy. I found the large bag easier than packing light because the wheel base is wide and rolling never twists my wrists.
If SW starts charging I'll give up luxuries and go super light. One advantage to that would be using the Deuce/SDX to go between hotel and hotel.
However, for now, having the computer and apnea machine in the rolling bag rather than strapped on my back makes the longer rolls, say from Orleans to Gold Coast, much easier.

I make sure to unpack and repack my wallet so I have my senior bus ID and American Casino Guide ID, but I don't have my local grocery store advantage cards.

Things I pack include:

  • small bag clips to clip window shades closed
  • small travel one cup coffee maker, my own coffee, tea bags
  • ceramic coffee cup- I like my own
  • small travel clothes steamer.
  • trail mix for plane, but mostly for room.
  • 3 mil plastic bags for clothes in case I encounter undetected bed bugs and need to seal up stuff before decontamination.
  • plastic bib and clip to keep my shirts free of stains
  • blinders for a nap on airplane
  • airplane noise reducing earphones for airplane and sometimes hotel naps and for computer
  • ear plugs for loud music concerts or swimming.
  • Old CD movies or short stuff, like George Burns old shows.
  • small jar of Louisiana hot sauce.
  • Cheese and cut apples for the plane ride. cheese keeps pretty well and leftovers will be great in the room.

I have given up taking shaving cream. It seems to make messes. I use a mixture of soap/ shampoo and lotion and it seems to work fine. I don't shave much anyway, just a bit above the beard.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Booking.com and hotels.com thoughts

I have used them. I like they do not take all the money upfront. So they are the only discounter I use to book early deals. Usually I end up cancelling and rebooking as I find better deals or free offers. They support easy cancellation.

This year I booked the El Cabana suites for November, making a five night reservation and another 3 night reservation. It was just as the El Cortez was starting the "resort fee after 7 nights" policy.( ya know, to get rid of all those cheapskate, brokeass, small potaotes, flea gambler like me as well as the flocks of homeless crowding into the Cabana rooms for the $34 dollar a night specials)
So I was booked with confirmation when someone at the El Cortez told booking.com that the EC would not honor my second booking. I liked how booking.com got in touch with me, offered explanation, gave me people to follow up with a phone call, and were clearly as annoyed as I was with this midstream change in policy and reversal of a confirmed booking.
Then the EC was just limiting booking to 7 nights. Soon afterwards, I guess they decided that they had to do too much oversight and they just passed the extra fee of $25 on for any booking over 7 by a person or a spouse in a single calendar month.

That way they did not set adrift any person's bookings that slipped through the net, but they still did not have to honor the original agreement of price.


Booking with a discounter always adds a middle man, but in my view booking.com passed the middle man test.

Oh, also they had a problem with a calendar on one of their pages. I wrote them. They wrote me back, wondering if I was making the mistake. So I walked them through the problem, and very soon it was fixed and they thanked me.

In contrast, I have written about 8 emails and made phone calls to Hotels.com/Expedia in reference to the way they handle the Gold Spike. Basically, they collect the "resort fee" up front, but won't admit it. They call it a "service fee" Then in the fine print it says that the "resort fee" (equal exactly to the "service fee") will be collected by the hotel. Well, I have asked Gold Spike over two years about that at least a half dozen times. The Gold Spike does not collect any resort fee from Hotels.com or expedia booked people because that fee already has been collected.
I trust the Gold Spike version of reality. It actually hurts the Hotel.com sales because if booking.com matches the same price, it looks cheaper.

So when compared with Hotels.com (and I like their service fine in most cases) booking.com also does not collect the $9 a night resort fee up front either. So you can book for insurance of price, and then look for direct booking deals, but not have hundreds of dollars tied up in the first booking.

Also, I may be imagining this, but every call to booking.com has me taking to someone who might even speak English as a first language. I would never book at Hotels.com on the phone. Once they canceled one booking, made another for the wrong month, and then I booked what I really wanted. Meanwhile they held up a thousand dollars and told me that it might take a full billing period for my credit card to be credited. Hey, it takes a few seconds to be charged.

Now here is the disadvantage of all these discounters. You may be able to cancel without a fee (not so by the way at i4vegas, they charge you) However, you can't catch a sale one month for say 7 days and then drop 2 of those days and keep the same price. You must cancel and rebook at what then will probably not be sale prices.
So I quickly switched to the Gold Spike when I caught a better deal I booked 9 nights in a row (take that El Cortez bean counters) and then I got 2 free nights at the Orleans. I wanted to drop to 7. The rooms I booked for $12 plus resort fee on that day were $80 and on a sale day later were $45. But after a bit of a hassle, the Gold Spike dropped the last 2 nights but let me keep my rate. In May I did the same with Sam's town. Booked on B -connected for 9 nights at $10 a night, and twice dropped nights to end up with just 6 when I got free rooms in other places.
So, whenever you can book directly.
Even then, the best strategy for long bookings is to book in bits of 2 or 3 nights and have a few connecting reservations. Then you can cancel one of those easily, right on line, with no confusion, if you get late free offers.
Finally, if you use any discounter, call the hotel directly a few days before you are going to arrive and confirm they know you are coming and confirm the dates so that they agree with what you booked. This means that if they have to communicate with the discounter because the paperwork has been mixed up (three mix ups in my experience) it will not be done in line at the check in when you are tired and waiting for a room, but while you are still home. Once I was in the middle of the desert driving to the Stratosphere from California and I called from there to confirm. Good thing. They had no record of me coming. Three hours later when I got to the Stratosphere all the paperwork was clear and check in was easy. The lines were huge. It would have been a nightmare.
Actually, I try to confirm a couple weeks after booking and I confirm again just before I go to see that my confirmation phone calls have not been confused

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Senior Bus Passes after 9-11

email to Vegas bus company after 9-11


Please be careful to research the details of your answers.  I will be sharing them with discussion boards, with the press, and with AARP.

My concern is exactly how the RTC affects senior tourists.

In particular:
1. Which reduced fares are no longer accepted on the Deuce, SDX.  The website says the 30 day pass is still all access. Information on your Facebook site recommended I buy the 5 day pass and use it with no ID requred, and anecdotal traveler data suggest that the 5 day pass is all access and recommended tourists use that pass and no ID would be required. Did that change yesterday?
2. How does a tourist get from the airport on the WAX and then down the strip?  Is s/he required to buy two passes?  Will the WAX bus driver sell a 24 hour pass that is not residential only and good on the SDX as well?
3..  Since these changes apply only to tourist travelers, what can you say about the RTC intention to create two classes of senior riders, locals and tourists?  Since stimulus funds are being used to overhaul the Las Vegas bus company, how is it fair to charge out of state users twice the price of locals? How does it promote the use of the buses by tourists?
4.  What route would you suggest for the tourist who will now ride the buses from downtown, but want to ride on a residential pass? What would be the safest bus stops at 1 am in the morning?

Any other light you might throw on this issue would certainly be helpful as I inform my readers and others of these new changes and their affect on trourist seniors.

Thanks

Sunday, September 11, 2011

laughlin notes

This day trip includes Hoover Dam


http://freevegastours.com/ - Laughlin free trip includes the Hoover Dam.

Destination.com has a coupon I printed for a free trip just to Laughlin.


More possibilities here:


http://vegasonthebus.blogspot.com/2011/07/laughlin-bus-tours.html

general boilerplate


Watch the water taxi. It is not the same old ride for $5. Reports lately have the driver adding extra fees depending on where he is going. So a person I know gets on (when Tony is driving) with a handicapped person, boarding at the Golden Nugget and off for Harrah's. Tony charged $16 because he went to Riverside before turning around. Then he charged another $8 to get back to the Edgewater. He claimed he was charging so much due to the huge crowds and big demand. There were two people on board. River Palms is still a wasteland. They ripped out a whole floor in anticipation of an upgrade involving other businesses and the deal fell through. The beds there, however, have improved. VP has been downgraded most places. The Aquarius is an exception. They are trying to market as not changing value or getting into the room price wars. Many people like this spot. I found it nice, but I hit an unvacuumed room and did not like the isolated pool in the hot sun with no chance for shade. At Riverside I love the Watchman store and am addicted to buying watches there. This week I was wearing the one that looks like turquoise and silver, but is not. I saw this for over $100 in Zion. Good deals on unique watches, especially if you buy 4. The live poker is both very good and very tough. Often you are playing the same players. There are lots of bonus awards because they rake $2 to give back in promotions. The rake itself caps at $3, so it is the same as Vegas but better value. There are few no limit opportunities. The popular game is a 2-6 spread limit game that is a lot of fun. I've encountered the most tourists late at night in the 2-4 at the Colorado Belle.  
Cracked Aces are a favorite and the bonus changes depending on place and time. The Riverside had $500 bonus for blacked Aces cracked for a few hours on Sunday afternoon. Because of the downgrading of VP I won't give them a week anymore, but I go up on the free bus for a day. Destinations.com has a coupon that makes it completely free for the direct to Laughlin and back, one day only. Others charge $5 or $10 and you may be on the same bus. There is one route that includes 20 minutes at the Hoover Dam. I may try that one this time. [URL="http://freevegastours.com/"]http://freevegastours.com/ [/URL]- There is an Inn and Out Burger joint across from Colorado Belle. I know you are driving out. Others reading may want a bus. Rivercity runs one and you can go round trip from Terribles or the airport for about $100 and drop or pick up from any casino in Laughlin. Stay away from their competitor as they will cancel if you are the only passenger. Rivercity often gets their leftovers. The driving is easy, however, once you get away from Vegas except for Searchlight where there is a speedtrap. I think it goes down quickly (one sign) to 30 miles an hour. Don't coast;brake. The cop is waiting to boost the local coffers. Having a car is a definite benefit. Walks can get very long. Some speculate that the nearby Indian casinos are giving better value and helping the Laughlin recession. At any rate those casinos are hurting. I saw rooms at the Colorado Belle for $7.77 this past month. 2 for 1 buffets all over the American Casino Guide. Many are new. Most do not split for solo at 50% but Harrah's used to allow that. Have you card with you as they do look. Gandma's Sunday buffet, one of the best meals in the World, is gone. The upscale restaurant is still there, but pricy. Watch the dress code if you are too casual. I always liked the free dixieland band that played in the casino near the door of the Colorado Belle. It was hard to find a seat, but no one bothered folks sitting on machine chairs and the music was just great. Comedy is the same as it is in Vegas. Often they get the same acts. This is an easy free ticket for a host to give out. Okay, that is all I know.

Board Discussions on Laughlin here:

http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowForum-g45964-i292-Laughlin_Nevada.html


update:   Just heard the great Dixieland band is gone from the Colorado Belle and that the poker room at the River Palms is being moved to the Tropicana.  Edgewater no longer has a room.  All the games are at the Colorado Belle.


Thursday, September 08, 2011

And speaking of small potatoes- Newest coupon deal


http://www.rtcsnv.com/transit/tiyot.cfm



Okay, coupon lovers.  This is a real deal.  I have not called every place on the list, just the Four Queens, but they have been working on this for about a year and it is just now implemented.
Good for locals and tourists.
Good for any pass, from 24 hour pass on up.
Of course, you need to be 21 and have a Four Queens player's card.  You go to the promotions booth with your bus pass to get all that taken care of.
Good at even the most expensive eateries at the Four Queens or at Binions.

And while it is not good with other offers, it may work when you charge the bill to the room and then write it off with a food comp and in that way stretch a food comp.  I did not ask this.

I'd still call ahead to other places before I went just to be sure and it can be cancelled at any time.
I talked to Vinny at food and beverage at the Four Queens, a most delightful woman.  She invited me to stop in and say hello when I am there in October.