Sunday, December 30, 2012

Comparing Plaza gambling

I posted this on the Vegas Message board in answer to a question on Plaza gambling.  So I thought it worth saving here as boilerplate on that issue

I can't rate the blackjack games. To do that accurately requires a complete analysis of each of the rules and figuring the mathematics of EV that each rule variation adds or subtracts. Most players comment on the payout on blackjacks as that makes a huge difference. However, the number of decks, the rules on doubling, when you can split, surrender options all play a mathematical role in defining the best blackjack and then there are other considerations for card counters including how much spread they can get away with, how deep in the deck the dealer will go before reshuffling, and how much heat they get from the casino.
Most blackjack players also consider valuable the friendliness of dealers and the ease of the game as well as the collection of other players at the table. What I've read does not give the Plaza good points for customer service or having many people at the tables or in the casino.
Generally, nothing much competes mathematically with the El Cortez single deck five dollar blackjack. Once the best game was the Las Vegas Club liberal game with odd and unusual rules, but those days are long gone and that game is old history.

There are conflicting reports about what VP is offered. I can comment on only the quarter offerings. If the 10/6 DDB is there as one poster reported, that is a good play. Even when offering full pay in other sorts of VP, the Plaza can't compete with competitors downtown.

For example, the full pay JOB a MSS offers an added bonus scratch off card for every quad. That increases the EV. Also, it is one of the few places in Vegas where full pay JOB can be found at a bar. That adds to the pleasure of many. And to top things off the Board Head bar comps microbrews like the delicious black chip porter. And if it is your first visit in a while, running a bit of money through the machine can get you a free buffet at the Player's club booth with no point reduction. And the buffet is a great one.Tough to beat that offering for JOB.

I have conflicting reports on whether 10/7 DB is offered at the Plaza. Again, the scatch off bonus applies to MSS games but the absolute best of this sort of VP in the world is located in the back of the Four Queens. That full pay has a progressive royal. Also we can earn cash back on our play, it will generate weekend mailed comps of three nights in a row along with generous freeplay, and using the American Casino Guide coupon 500 points can be doubled once a year which in cashback is $12.50 just for handing in a piece of paper on the day of play. The freeplay can also be used on the DB machines. Tough to find a better play anywhere in Vegas.

There is not a full pay deuces game, but I don't think that there is one in downtown other than that nickle coin dropper at the D.

The 8/5 Bonus in the Veu Bar at the D (if that has not been renovated away) is still the best in downtown or anywhere in Vegas of that variety of game, having three progressive lines in the full pay table. I generally play if the quad bonus line is up high until it is hit, but last trip I was just trying to get enough play for five dollars in cashback before I moved on to other places when I hit both the royal and the straight flush bonus and each time was paid more than I would be paid had I hit the same cards at the Plaza.

In the old Plaza there used to be a live poker room that was good fun for limit players with good bonuses and fewer local regulars with a generous food comp. That is gone. Golden Nugget has a live poker room and with the ACG coupon offered by them, we can get ten extra dollars on our buy in. Playing live poker at Binions can get a poker rate for rooms at the Four Queens. Playing live poker at CET places on the strip can get free and reduced rate offers at CET casinos. No poker room at the plaza limits all those opportunities. So the Plaza really sucks as a live poker alternative.

The American Casino Guide does have a coupon at the Plaza for a matchplay bet, but the value of that is used up after one bet.

Most craps games are evaluated by how much free odds are allowed, table minimums, the field bet payouts, and what it costs in vigorish to buy certain numbers. It has been a while since I've paid much attention to the craps details, but it looks to me like the Plaza has decent rules, including downtown odds, except that there are not times when table minimums are below $5. For mathematical players it is to their advantage to make a $3 minimum bet and be free to put up more in free odds. Again El Cortez is mentioned as a good frugal spot to play craps as long as you watch the dealers who in many cases are learning. Main Street Station is hard to beat for ambiance. Some seem to like the loud and vibrant tables at the Four Queens and others here hate those tables. But if the Plaza is dead it will hardly be a place to play craps because much of the attraction of the game for most people is the rush that comes from a fast and furious community game. Here is a good review of craps tables, but again I don't know how current this information is

For the full thread discussion, a pretty lively one, check the full thread

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Some Orleans boilerplate

I wrote this up on the Orleans on a post recently and thought it worth saving so I could use it next time without rewriting.  Farther along there is a post comparing the Orleans to the Rio.  Linking to these two should actually cover just about everything I know about the Orleans.

Remember to add the $6 resort fee to each night in estimating, comparing and reporting hotel rates at the Orleans.
I like to stay around $30 a night so the offers of 3 nights and a slot tournament for $99 appealed to me. However, what looks like $33 a night is actually after fees and taxes $43 a night.
To add to the confusion, each time I've booked Orleans, Gold Coast, or Sam's Town on the B Connected site, I've been warned in fine print of the added resort fee, but in the end it was not charged and not due to any excessive play, just not on the bill.
I've asked where it was, but no one can give me an answer.

While most resort fees are a deal breaker, the Boyd fees have stayed relatively low and I consider them more on the side of places that have none, since so many casinos are now up to the whopping level of $28 a night.
However, "doing the math" as the resort fee apologists suggest is difficult at Boyd.
I find myself constantly in a brain glitch.
Lately all the Boyd casinos have had these $29 deals, but what that advertised special means at the Orleans compared to what it means at the California is a difference of over 20% on rooms advertised at the same price in the same sort of advertisement.

I can't comment much on the gambling, expecially slots. I had not read it had changed.
The 10/7 Double Bonus signature VP is gone and replaced with 9/6 DB. Don't play it!
How they manage to keep players at those machines is beyond me when 9/6 DDB is offered and generally just a couple machines away. Most of those I know who play VP there have moved to the 8/5 bonus offered now as the typical bar VP.
It is just too low pay for my bankroll.
The one I play and like is the nickle three play. 75 cents a pull for three hands. 9/7 DB with three royal progressives. Not bad.
I don't earn many comps with my low level play, but I get a couple nights free each trip which this next time includes weekend nights. I'm always conflicted whether to book the weekend or book the senior Tuesday.
I read that senior drawing money that is not claimed during the month all rolls into the final drawing on the last Tuesday of the month when they keep drawing until they give it away, so that is a great day to go for added senior value.
My buddy WildBill hit that drawing once for a few hundred dollars.
I also read the the live poker player's card is now the B connected card and integrated with all of it. Perhaps that will count a bit for some mailings.
And you will notice a huge improvement in the hottub. It is one of my favorites in Vegas. I am not sure about the winter months, but in the cold Aprils and Novembers it is a heated way to get some water experience. The pool is icy. Gold Coast is usually heated.

I agree that Boulder puts us out of the main action of the strip. However, I'm leaning more toward Eastside Cannery lately because with no resort fee and a great senior discount of $10 off rack rate just for asking, I get wifi in the room and a laundry for mid trip washing and directly across the street a Bank of America ATM with no fees. I don't play much there except live poker. For VP I go next door to Sam's Town. But for strip action, it is a 40 minute bus ride. I like that fine because for me
Flamingo is becoming my new strip. I stop along there more than I do along Las Vegas Blvd and the bus is uncrowded and the easiest bus to catch as it stops for a driver break right there at the Eastside Cannery parking lot.
I like the lounge music at Eastside Cannery too. Free or cheap and if I have to buy a drink to sit, I can get a dollar and a half Eastside Cannery brewed beer.
I was not impressed with Sam's Town rooms. I'm not fussy, but they were not anything special. I'll stay for free if they send me a few nights. I"d like it if they sent some weekend nights that I could then tag on to weekdays at Eastside Cannery for a long stay in the same location, just as I do downtown with the Four Queens and the D or Gold Spike.
I do like the Orleans for location. There is the free shuttle and there is also a direct RTC bus, the 201 for easily getting to the
Tropicana section of the strip.

If you like comedy, you may enjoy Big Al's club which has opened since you were at the Orleans

The rooms are just as you remember them. Larger and cleaner than anything in that price range in Vegas. Even when I move out furniture for bed bug inspections or to set up plug systems that include my sleep apnea machine I find the hidden places, behind the side tables, perfectly clean on a consistent basis.
It is also quiet. No rock bands, no train or car noises, no nearby motel parties, nothing. Sleeping is easy day or night.
The food is debated often here on the boards, but I find it fairly consistent.
I especially like the $24 full day buffet deal that comes with a bracelet for skipping the buffet line. With that I can just pop in and out for a bite of fruit, salad, coffee at anytime during the day as a break from playing live poker. I don't have to overeat once but can do a more healthy grazing.
And Al's oyster place does not have chowder on the menu, but they will make oyster chowder if we ask them.

Competition in live poker games is tough, but if I am staying there, I can sleep from 5 until midnight and play the late night and early hour games when the old local regulars are home and just tourists are playing.

That calling with your card seemed to work well for one poster, but try also joining the B connected site. Is is much easier to navigate than Total Rewards and both rates and offers are posted there. It is also a fine way to start the gambling at the time of the booking. You could win $6 a night if for some obscure and unknown reason booking on that site eliminates the resort fee.

Finally, although the Orleans is isolated from most things and walking very far from there at night is not advised, this pub is a great break from casinos with good beer, good food, and very comfortable old wooden nooks and crannies for sitting.

Potato chips are just decadently wonderful there

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Going to Vegas solo

This thread seemed to sum up the reasons for going to Vegas solo and I outlined some ways to create community that seemed to strike a good chord, so I"ll link to it here.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Free Coupons

A good discussion of free coupons as well as a list of links.  Watch out for the Rio buffet for locals as you need local ID.
The 24/7 magazine on line is a very good deal.  Solo tip is that the V show coupon gives 50% on the Vegas Review rather than just 2 for 1.  Always in the V give plenty of time for purchase and for finding the theater.  It is a long and confusing walk.
Currently I also like the Divinci exhibit coupon but I think it will be gone before I have a chance at booking a trip.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Cancellation Fees

In general, when booking hotels we expect free cancellation up until a few days before arrival and even late cancellation usually only forfeits one night's fee. However, taking that for granted without seeing it in writing may bring a surprise. Take the Easyclick travel site. Here is their policy:
Q. What is your
hotel cancellation policy?
Change or cancellation requests received by our
Customer Support 3 days prior to check in time (noon local hotel time)?
will be subject to 1 night's fee

Change or cancellation requests received by our
Customer Support 1 day prior to check in time (noon local hotel time) will
receive no refund

No-shows will not be refunded

I don't quite see the difference between telling them a couple days ahead or just not showing up, but they must want to spell out both scenarios, at least in the fine print. They probably know that their policies are rare.

Also, if looking at good deals at Terribles, even on the site which has no regular cancellation fee policy itself, I see that the best deals in price come with no refunds on cancellation. This is new to me. I saw these no refund options on the Super 8 Koval site, but did not encounter them before when pricing Terribles.

Many of us get last minute free rooms from places like the Four Queens. And all of us might have an emergency and need cancellation or make an initial mistake in a booking. It is always best to book directly with hotels, but even most discount bookings have come with generous cancellation (although rigid modification) policies.
Keep reading that fine print.


I think this is more a marketing tool of the discounter EasyClick and the cancellation fees are paid to them, not to the hotels in question. I see the same pattern in offers for El Cortez, cheap deals secured with cancellation fees.
If that is the case, it may just be a case of boilerplate posting where both possibilities are offered by the software they use to post deals.
So Easyclick might be a good deal a few days before we take possession of the rooms, maybe a good last minute deal once we are already in Vegas and cancellation fees are less of an issue because cancellation is less likely. Until then, when booking in Vegas, flexibility is essential as deals emerge all the time.
I'd be glad to hear from folks of other details on cancellation fees that apply even with early changes. Anyone know of any others?
The other downside of using discounters is they don't allow easy modification. So if you want to drop a day in a reservation, you need to cancel the entire reservation and rebook, usually at a higher rate than you found months before. Some casinos offer to match the price of the discounter, so it is good to call and do that whenever possible. That way you pick up the modification advantages.
Gold Spike on line bookings at their site that need to be modified can be, but the clerk won't always be willing to do it. If told no, wait and call again. Also stress that you would like to go there, but if you have to rebook, you can find cheaper deals. They can drop a day and still keep other days at the rate you booked.
I did hear from one clerk that the hotel will match other discount booking rates. I have not tried that yet.
Generally, I book in sets of 3 or 4 days even if I am going to stay six or seven. Two overlapping reservations can be blended usually very easily at hotels, but also one can be cancelled easily, leaving the other completely in tact. I have to plan flexibility because at the last minute I'll get the Four Queen mailings for 3 free nights, but I won't wait that long to book my backups. I leave the weekends as 3 day weekends and hope the Four Queens deals will match those. If not, wherever I book the Friday and Saturday I can add the third day usually cheaply as well. I don't like staying shorter than three days at any one place. Too much check in and check out.

Lately, I am feeling quite supportive of the way that Eastside Cannery is marketing and renting rooms. As well as all the free amenities: pool, wifi in the room, 202 bus service to the edge of the parking lot, no fee Bank of America ATM across the street, Claudine Castro Latin music late Monday night with Cannery beer at about a buck and a half so that sitting in the lounge is not an expensive night out, the most friendly live poker room management and an easy 4 hour play for free buffet, a $10 senior discount on rack room rates, I see that for the most part the rates over time change less than they do at other casinos, especially the Tues-Wed-Thurs $30 senior rates. So I am appreciative of their offers, although I wish the few full pay VP machines they have ( in the coin dropper room) would also disburse some points.

On another fee note. I've learned two new bits on resort fees. One is that although most of the bookings at the Orleans of comped rooms come with no resort fees, they do have some, usually those first timer promotions, that require a resort fee. And the clerk also told me that resort fees are required after booking on B Connected, although that has not been my experience at Gold Coast, Orleans, Sam's town. My cash bookings on B Connected for those places, while promising a resort fee, did not charge it. I'd appreciate any experience with this as well. (B Connected is the site you join using your player's card number that keeps track of Boyd casino offers and promotions.)

The second bit of news is that there is an "access fee" now for folks who have comped rooms with Station casinos, (or at least at Boulder station,) but want the free internet that usually comes only with a resort fee that is not charged on comped rooms. The access fee is just over $5.
It is this nickle and dime crap that keeps me from Boulder Station, compared with Eastside Cannery. The Eastside Cannery comes out cheaper if I am making a cash reservation, and were I to play enough for a comped room, there would be no wifi access fee to jump up and bite off a bit of my comp. I feel the same about airlines. Southwest is a simple booking and I don't have to worry about how I'll pack. And there is no cancellation fee their either, just a requirement to use the money on another ticket wintin a year.

Rio and Orleans compared

I'd go for the Orleans. My stay at the Rio included the sounds of those drums around the pool, two sets competing with each other. And one night they tested them at 2 AM just loud enough so the base kept me awake. The Orleans is uniformly quiet, especially the upper rooms.

The 202 running along Flamingo leaves from in front of the Palms and will take you to the strip from the Rio after the free shuttle to Harrah's or Bally's is done for the day. Coming back it is a hike to get into the casino, but the 202 drops right off in front of the Rio. You can also ride to Ellis Island, Tuscany or Terribles on the bus and skip the walk to whose places from Bill's after the shuttle. In fact, you can ride all the way to Eastside Cannery if you want. I think there may be a bus stop farther East than the Palms stop, but once I exited Rio and walked East and found that there were none East of the Rio. I walked all the way to the strip that morning.

The 201 running along Tropicana leaves from across the street from the Orleans and will get you to the strip at the NYNY MGM corner. The shuttle will drop you at Bill's on the Flamingo and strip corner. That flexibility is a decent plus as it allows you to access two highly desirable locations on the strip directly with no crowded buses or long walks along the strip itself. That 201 will also go out to the Pinball Hall of Fame, a popular side amusement.

If you just take these or other residential routes, a 24 hour fare is just $5 purchased with exact change from the driver upon boarding and stamped at the time of purchase so it is good for 24 hours. Technically, those passes are not valid on the Deuce or the SDX without a local ID. Some here say that they are never checked for local ID on strip buses. Also, early in the morning the buses might only come along Flamingo or Tropicana once an hour, so a schedule of the two routes printed and taken along is helpful and avoids a long wait at the bus stop. These buses also offer an inexpensive way to get out to the strip earlier than the free shuttles run, and the buses then come about every 15 to 20 minutes.

Also, a cab is very cheap to Orleans if picked up in the NYNY circle as it just has to go down an uncrowded Tropicana so you can't be long hauled. Be certain the cabby uses the meter. It has been a few years since I did that when it was $7, but I can't imagine it being more than $10. The expense of that one cab ride home late each night is usually covered by the savings on the rooms at the Orleans over other prices. If you have a B connected card look at the cost of the Orleans on their site after logging in. Prices are very good.

Parking is much easier at the Orleans than the Rio. My favorite spots are outside and to the left as you face the main entrance. It is a short walk then to the casino. All driving in that area is easy and free of traffic holdups. Using Arville to Flamingo to access Bill's for parking on the strip avoids strip traffic and gives great location and convenience. Bill's is small and access to the strip fast.

There is a fine laudromat on Arville as well.
I would not walk from the Orleans to the strip, especially after dark. Plenty of hookers and Wild Wild West is a place to avoid after dark. Often characters. In fact, I would not walk that in daylight. That being said I did go to Denny's at the WWW by car at 2 AM for a build your own breakfast. Tables were full of hookers on a break and having a late night snack. They were the more unattractive hookers I have even seen, but cheerful. I was with my grown nephew, however, so I did not have to deal with solicitation as did solo slot players in the Wild Wild West. This Denny's replaced what was once a wonderful diner with the best hamburgers in Vegas.

The walk along Arville to the Gold Coast during the day has always been easy and full of people and businesses. I have rolled my luggage along that route and stayed at the Gold Coast after the Orleans or caught the Flamingo bus to other casinos. There is an Arville bus, the 104, but walking is faster than waiting; I did take it one trip when my luggage was large and the day warm.

I have not tried that walk after dark. Since it is after dark, after midnight, that the shuttles do not run, that is the time you might feel isolated at the Orleans. I would not walk after dark from the Rio to the strip either. I don't like being confined on walkways where there is no escape were someone to accost me. But I go solo and I'm too old to fend off trouble. The same shuttle that takes you to Bill's will continue on to the Gold Coast, so before midnight you have a good bit of flexibility.

The room quality is very dependable at the Orleans. I would not expect to need to be moved for any reason and quiet is uniform. They clean in areas other places skip. When I do my initial bedbug inspections, moving furniture and such, I don't find old socks or Mike and Ike boxes and balled up tissues behind side tables or chairs at the Orleans. They keep the place very clean.
I find it easier to navigate and certainly the machine gambling has better odds there. The poker room deals good games, but difficult games. At the Rio there are only no-limit games. At the Orleans there are limit games and Omaha. But the Orleans competition is tough.

Also, I think the rewards system is more generous at the Orleans and much easier to understand than Total Rewards, although I use both. Orleans, Gold Coast, Sam's Town, Main Street Station and Fremont and Suncoast all share the same card and room offers are generous even on a small amount of play.

There is a $6 resort fee at the Orleans, so figure that in the math.
Seniors particularly like Tuesdays as the Orleans features point multiplication, cheap buffet, cheap movies, and for very little play a drawing for cash. Check on the website for Young at Heart.
I like Big Al's, the comedy club and it is usually not crowded and easy to get tickets even at the last minute. The American Casino Guide has a 2 for 1.
Al's Oyster House will make Oyster chowder if you ask (not on menu) and it is very good. A fine way to use up points. Al is a popular name at the Orleans.
There is free wifi at the coffee place and even plug ins if you get there when there is a spot.

The buffet is basic, but decent. And they did have a full day's pass that included a VIP line pass (bracelet) for very little money

This is especially a good bargain on those days when the buffet prices go up for some special, and since I like to graze rather than overeat at one sitting, having the bracelet meant I could, without lines, nip in for coffee and fruit between poker hands as often as I liked during the hours it is open. It is a great deal if you are going to spend a day at the Orleans and fine insurance for a time when you might get sick and want to just hang around rather than travel all over town.

Across the street from the Orleans is a fine little Irish Pub. Mostly locals The gambling there is not that great, but the potato chips with assorted dips is great as is a pint of Smithwick's. There are happy hour specials. The ambiance includes old fashioned nooks all in nice wood where you can have some sense of privacy. Sometimes has a voucher. Over a dozen of us ate Christmas dinner there one year and had fine food and a room all to ourselves for not much money. At times there is music. The people are all friendly.

I also think the Orleans has one of the best nickle gambling games in Vegas. They are banks of these in two places, one is not far from the buffet, heading right as you exit and on the other side of the casino corridor. They are nickle triple play with progressive royals and a 9/7 Double Bonus pay schedule. Lots of fun. My free room offers come from that play, for the most part. 75 cents a spin, with three hands each time is a great frugal game.

If you buy an American Casino Guide the Orleans coupons will pay for the book
$10 matchplay at Orleans
2-for-1 show tickets at Orleans
2-for-1 tickets to Big Al's Comedy Club at Orleans

Tickets to live events can usually be had even at the last minute with this coupon.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Why you should buy an American Casino Guide

Perhaps it helps to see a frugal guy's coupon itinerary.
I start out at a disadvantage because I don't rent a car and I go solo.
Still, I get my money's worth. The bus gets me out to the deals. Many places give me a solo deal as well.

The first coupon to use is the Ellis Island free play coupon. I don't always manage it, but I'll try to play so that my qualifying play also qualifies me for free bingo one morning. This is a tricky coupon because the redemption requires a wait after the qualifying play so I'll want to do this early in my trip. They have 9/6 JOB so I'm not playing short pay.
This year they did drop 4 free drinks, but they also have a matchplay coupon. Overall I'll make out because as Turtleman noted the drinks are free for players and I'm just not drinking much these days.

The entree coupon is good for a solo eater like me. And afterwards a short walk East on Flamingo lets me play the Tuscany matchplay.

The El Cortez $10 freeplay paid for the book last time.
It meant 4 free Myer's rums which I could not get at their poker table, but I could get playing penny slots.

Also, downtown I take a morning walk to play off matchplays and freeplay. So this year I'll hit both the Plaza and the Las Vegas Club, put a matchplay on the craps table for one roll and play the $5 freeplay in each place.
I'll walk through the Golden Gate to see if I want to earn 200 points. Usually I don't.

At the Four Queens I'll double my points one day, getting 500 more. It took me a while to get the idea of what that was worth, but actually 500 points is worth $12.50 in cashback. Here is how I found out.

I'll use the Golden Nugget $60 for $50 coupon at the live poker room. Last year I used it and played a few hours and left with a profit of $10. That I had earned with the coupon. I also left with $10 to use at the buffet. (ask after 4 hours of play. Late at night ask for it to be postdated)

I may use the El Cortez 2 for 1 room coupon. It can, by the way be upgraded to a 2 for 1 on Cabana as well. Just ask. I used to always use it to catch the nice free shuttle back to the airplane as it is a half hour and very predictable. However, I feel obligated to tip $5 so it is really not free and the WAX requires no tip and I'll already have a pass, so that will be really free. On the other hand, the El Cortez shuttle is convenient because I can leave my bags with the bellman at checkout and play poker right up until 15 minutes before I leave. Of course, that is another tip.

I'll use the MacKing coupon. Sometimes these can be had by just looking around the area of the show, but it is nice to save that hassle.
However, the best entertainment coupon for me is the Riviera comedy, 2 free tickets. I felt bad last time as I could not seem to give away the other one and it went to waste. The comics were great and it was not crowded. I think this is the best deal in the book.

I'll be at the Orleans for at least one senior day, getting the half priced buffet and the cheap movie and taking a chance on the drawing. Tuesday is Young at Heart day. While I'm there I'll use the $10 freeplay. If anyone is with me who is interested I'll use the Big Al's 2 for 1 at the comedy.

I'll be at the Gold Coast one day and play the JOB 9/6 until I get to 200 points for the free buffet. After I eat I'll play the matchplay there. I'll walk over and play the Palms $10 matchplay. I'll have to see what the buffet deal is there. I could play the fullpay deuces one day if I don't need too many points to use their buffet coupon.

When I head out to Sam's Town for the free show there on Thursday afternoons, I'll play the full pay deuces for 200 points and a free buffet. I'll walk across to the Longhorn and play that

When figuring the worth of a matchplay coupon, divide it in half and that will be very close. So a $10 matchplay over the course of many trips will average to be worth $5. There is the one bet where you have the mathematical advantage over the casino and that advantage is huge. So for frugal travelers who will play one session of the dice, it is a wonderful way to gamble. The one bet pattern also means very little bankroll is required, so even a terrible losing streak will not put you back much. It is a fine way to wander from one casino to another.
And the play 200 points for a free buffet also works to set a limit on bankroll. Once the comp is earned, I quit whether I am up or down. That limits my play.

I'll eat a few times at the Spice Market buffet. I think their lunch price is a bargain for a somewhat upscale buffet. So I'll use the 25% off coupon. Last time they let me pay with points as well.

I hope to take the WAX out to the Suncoast for a bit of poker one day and I'll grab the 50% off and eat their buffet.

There are other coupons I might use depending on who I might meet or who might decide to come while I am there. I like the 2 for 1 Human Nature deal.
If I get really broke, which is possible this trip, I'll ride out to where I can get to the Lucky Club and play that matchplay. I liked that little place.

But that trip I had free food as well and a local friend with a car.

So there is the my strategy. For me one book is easily paid for. Not two. Some of the deals go away when one person has a second book. The Gold coast deal and the Sam's Town deals can be used only once a year. If I went with my wife, I'd buy and easily get the benefit from, two books. When I go with my buddies we each have a book.

Thursday, September 13, 2012


I am going to let this thread be a call to anyone reading the blog to also gather information on the changes in rates and rules to be effective on October 1.

Note also in this thread the story of one rider who was put off the bus because he forgot to validate his pass before boarding. It was in a bit of a sketchy area and disconcerting, but actually the validation was quick and allowed him to reboard without waiting for the next bus.

It is a good reminder to validate passes before boarding. I forgot my last trip, but I wasn't caught.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Gambling News

A new technology is going to change the way folks gamble in Nevada.

Online gambling will perhaps affect the local poker players. I'm hoping it will keep the more skilled Nevada players home more often and free up more poker table seats for tourists. However, I know that the electronic tables did not go over at Excalibur, so that may not be a new pattern.

Meanwhile here in my home state there is an exciting ruling on the legality of poker games run by average people.  It would be exciting to have poker rooms around the state as they do in California. Right now New York has some of the worst gambling rules in the nation making most of the games huge rip offs, especially the bingo slots that are disguised as video poker.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

New Look

Well, I gave this blog a new look.
I set out wanting again to arrange a layout that would include some links to favorite blogs, expecially to Hallysmoms blog because she is so kind to this blog on her site and I have not been able to throw in a link.

So, now I have a list of link favorites with Hallysmom included. 

I also finished up a revised resort fee article for the 2013 edition of American Casino Guide, so I am happy to be published again in a real paper book in bookstores around the country. 

I also took a close look at my followers.  One writes in a language other than English.  Wow!  Amazing connections in this new age of internet. 

Who are you, Lisa Saunders?  I probably know you from one of the discussion boards, but I have not put your real name together with a posting name.  I'm curious.

I am anxious to  be in Vegas, but the money just did not stretch out far enough this year for another trip with all the other planned travels.

I did manage a few losing days at Seneca Niagara
and I head out to Foxwoods on the bus every week or so.  It is so cheap to go there.  My fourth trip is next Tuesday and totally I have spent $40 on these four trips, each with a 3 hour bus ride, a free $15 or more buffet and $15 in freeplay.  Foxwoods lets me use any points to pay for a voucher for my next bus trip.

By the time I get back to Vegas, it will all be changed.  The D is going through many renovations, The Grand will open soon, The Ling Project will finish up.  I won't know the old place.

Well, hope you like the peppers.  It is one thing I can still eat on the new radical diet. 

Monday, June 25, 2012

TR Snippet Met my son and daughter-in-law

One really fun event was being surprised by my son and his wife. They have two children and rarely get off together, but it just happened that everything lined up for them to take a few days in Vegas. My wife had to give me a hint that someone was coming because I was planning a trip to Henderson the they wanted me around Imperial Palace as they were staying at Harrah's. Still, I never guessed who it was even when he called me up on the phone pretending to be at work. Then he jumped me in the lobby of the Imperial Palace. He lives in Chicago and we don't see him enough so it was a real treat. Keith and I spent a couple hours playing cheap craps at Casino Royale and using my slow hedge system to reduce volatility as I was way down in backroll. We were lucky and we both made a bit of money. Photobucket Then one morning we met at Paris for a great breakfast. Photobucket So much fun to see both of them. Bernie was at a bad beat table and got the table share of $375. Not huge for the bad beat, but fun. It was at Bally's 3/6 game.

TR Snippet Hiking Red Rock

As well as riding a horse at Mount Charleston, I took a day and hiked Red Rock. I only did the easy walk in Calico Canyon, going in from the first pull off and walking until I had seen all the parts I like best, about half way to the second pull off, and then coming back. It was the best strategy as I did get tired and it was hot. The last hill on the second pull off is a tough climb at the end of the hike. I took three waters in although two is plenty. I met a woman half way in who had not brought water and she was delighted when I offered her a bottle. We took each other's photos, so I have a photo of me in the canyon. I especially like a certain rock cluster in the Calico Canyon walk because a decade ago I walked in there in August with some old friends I knew in college and I remember the feeling of the place and the companionship. On the way back I met this guy and he stayed around for a photo. Photobucket Clink this link for a slide show of the walk

TR Snippet Flamingo Pool Nazi

Poker playing comrade, Dave, told this story at the table.
Apparently, getting in the Flamingo pool is much like getting on the airplane.  There are bag checks and room key checks and no on who is not a Flamingo guest gets to swim there.
Once in, the rules are strict.
Lounge chairs are to be left in their exact starting spots.  Any movement is forbidden, and after one warning, should you move the chairs a second time, you can expect to be expelled from the pool.
In charge of enforcement is some woman who has attained the title of Pool Nazi.
It all sounded like a skit from Seinfeld, "NO pool for you!"

And older couple were enjoying their last day at the Flamingo pool.  She wanted to catch some sun, so he moved his chair four inches to the side to enable her to pull hers out and reverse it.  Then he moved his back.
No warning.
They were banished by the pool Nazi.

It seems the couple were especially nice folks, it was their last day, and they were out of bankroll.  He was so nice that he had bought a homeless man a meal. 
The expulsion embarrassed them and spoiled the last day.  Others were outraged and complained as well.

Compared to my experience at the Stratosphere and at Casesars pool, this is simple incredible.;postID=8147934047103769583

Dave said there was some complaint being made, and he expected the the pool Nazi might be demoted.   

Saturday, June 23, 2012

TR Snippet Four Queens reviewed

Okay, once again the Four Queens comes out way ahead as my gambling casino and not just because they dealt me a $1045 Royal in Hearts, but because of the deals and the way I was treated.
I booked twice for 3 night weekends.  Memorial Weekend was a free slot tournament and while I did not win, it offered two breakfasts as well as great consolation prizes.  I thought the beach bag would never get used, but I used it twice the week I was there, once to pack my clothes when I changed to use the Stratosphere pool and once when I used Caesars pool.  The heavy rope handles made it a fine bag to carry anything.  Also inlcuded was a mister and some sort of neck scraf that is supposed to cool off the wearer.  I should have tried it, but I kept forgetting.
Just having three free nights of rooms over Memorial Day saved me $159.  I was booked at the Super 8 for that price  and I thought that was a deal.  But I cancelled.
At the Four Queens I also received $80 in freeplay and spun a wheel for $20 more.  I lost it all chasing a $1145 Progressive Royal, but it was fine to have it to chase.
I took the North Tower this trip because I could be assigned to that room early and I found that the quiet rooms there were just fine.  They had everything I wanted: coffee maker, great TV, and even a fine look of wood in the furnishings. 
My second stay I started with a room with evidence of past bedbug activity in the mattress.  See that story here
The way I was treated makes me want to go back there.  It was no joke to them.

The Megabucks paid me nothing.  It was a $90 dead run and I could not even quit even.  Other times it has paid enough for me to quit.

I saw the Hammer magic/comedy and liked it.  I have seen it somewhere before.  It was very cheap and again they offered matchplays, but this time I forgot to ask for mine.

I ate once at Magnolia's and that was fine, a tasty prime rib.  I did not get the beer sampler as I had been drinking too much of the free offerings.  As a senior, I got a discount beyond what the card offered.  Others could get the same discount with a bus pass from the RTC. 
I wanted to try Hugo's but it did not happen.
There was never a line at the Player's Club of more than a couple people.  There was plenty of space at the 10/7 DB Progressives.  I keep thinking that these should be swarming with people as it is some of the best VP in all of Vegas, but it stays easy to get a seat.  I suggest a seat farther West along the wall a because in the center there is one slot machine that makes an amazing amount of noise, and there are too many people standing around smoking on the East end while they wait to go in Magnolia's. 
I am generally surprised at the Cashback for full pay video poker, and I am amazed that I can use my freeplay on those machines.
I also liked it that the TITO just locked up when the royal was dealt and put the $1045 right on my ticket.  No hand pay.  No tipping.  No one not paying attention to the reset royal meter would know I hit anything so I don't have to worry about drawing attention to the fact that I would soon pocket over a grand.

Once again I was booked at the D and then moved to the Four Queens.  The contrast in the rooms is dramatic when I do that.  Even the North Tower Four Queens rooms were much better than the unrenovated rooms at the D.

TR Snippet Al Molinaro's double

On prior trips my buddy Bill and I have gotten to know Al, a regular at the Flamingo poker room. He used to do commercials because he passed as a look-a-like Al Molinaro from The Odd Couple and from Happy Days. He met and worked with the woman who used to ask, “Where’s the Beef.”
I sat next to Al on two different days.
He quoted Shakespeare and spoke in German when a young German sat to the left of me.  He has a great memory for poetry.
But Al was rude. He is still mad about the war. He was in Italy and said the Italians hated the Germans where he was because the Germans were ruthless to Italians. I did not like his talk, but I don’t think the young German paid any attention.
Al is old, and his social filters are wearing thin.
I got him to sing a verse of, "Du, Du Liegst mir im hertzen" and sang along with him.  The young German had not heard that old song.
Al can't play long because he can’t sit too long on his hip.
At the freerolls Al had won two entries to World Series events, but thought he might be able to get $1500 for them.
He just can't play that long.
Once we were waiting for a freeroll and Al told me more of his life. He loved his wife, and he is proud that he was always faithful. She left him a certificate left after she died that praised him as a husband. He said it was more important than his doctorate.
He showed me photographs of his wife; it was a photo with some bit of filter that made it soft and silver. In the photgraph she was in a show girl bathing suit,
young and beautiful, a performer. She worked and put him through his doctorate. He showed me photos of his current girlfriend too, another beauty who is a young 83.
She sure looked good too.
In one photo she posed by a collector's car that was worth $350,000. Her husband had three or four and left them to her when he died.
Al had been reading the NY Times and talked about an article on a change in Argentina law that made it easy to legally change your gender.
It got him going on how much the world had changed in just these last few decades as compared to the lack of change for many generations before.

Al is one of those interesting characters that fill the poker rooms in Vegas.

TR Snippet- Lola's Louisiana Restaurant

I read about this spot and decided to try it.  I arrived before they opened, but they let me sit inside in the air conditioning and wait.  I think it opened at eleven.
I knew I wanted to try the bronzed catfish.  I am mixed in my tastes for catfish, some I like, some I dislike.  However, I wanted to take a chance because the reviews were so good.
This was not only the best catfish I have eaten, but one of the best fish dishes of any sort.  The grits were whipped with gouda cheese and seemed more like mashed potatoes and the sauce had a few wonderfully delicate flavors.  I've tried this now at home, but I can't quite get it right.  I like grits anyway, but I'd like to get this really creamy texture.  I pass on most white potato because of the fast to sugar carbs, but this would give me the potato experience with the slow moving carbs in the grits.
I had a table, but I could have eaten at the comfortable bar. 
The service was friendly and focused on making me happy.  The music was Cajun and some other mixed in and played soft enough for conversation.
I listened to a fellow at the bar giving the entire history of Main Street Station from Bob Snow until the present.
For dessert I had a pecan pie with gan mariner whipped cream.  It was just fine.
This place is located not far from the World Market Center.  I had a car, but I am certain I can find it by bus as well.  The entrance was confusing, but once in the right road it brings us up to the level of the restaurant.  Parking was ample when I arrived, but almost as full as the restaurant when I left.
So, Lousiana Aligator Mudgriff Dan, why weren't you with me, old buddy,  instead of dead?  Damn.

TR Snippet My stays at Imperial Palace


I have only stayed at the Imperial Palace twice before for one free night each time. Those times I found it acceptable. However, they must have redone these rooms at some point since then. There was nothing fancy, and the televisions were very old, so it would be somewhat disappointing to get sick and stuck in the room there, but other than that, I thought they were very nice.
Everything worked. The AC stayed on constantly. The water flowed and drained easily. 
The furniture was very tacky, but it was functional. Very clean. 
My check for bedbugs on my first stay found only totally clean areas and the headboards easily lifted off the wall, so that difficult examination was easy and set my mind immediately at ease. I asked for the same room and got it on my second stay.

The most annoying thing was the lack of lighting. For some reason the small light in the ceiling just after entering the door was missing. Three floor and table lamps were adequate, but not really good for finding things in dark suitcases. Lucky I always have a small flashlight or two.

I arrived for my first 4 nights later than I thought I would after a long day of waiting in the San Francisco airport for planes to get back on their schedules after a huge fog cancelled and delayed all flights.
I was tired out.
Three of us, all taking different flights, had driven two hours from Healdsburg, California, where we had been staying with family, waited most of the day at our gates, and finally got flights. Then, when I arrived,  I had gone up to the SSTT to get my 30 day bus pass, caught the SDX,  and rolled my very heavy bag in 102 degree weather down from the Paris stop. 
I won't do that again. 
It was difficult to get off the bus at the Paris with my luggage.  Every inch was packed.

So my stress may have shown when I arrived, but I was not impolite. I got the gruffest clerk I can remember ever having, and she had no sympathy for my wanting some quiet, but  told me that all that was left was a room facing the loud music which would blast until 4 AM.
Then she tried to get me to pay double for a quiet suite.
Tired or not, I am frugal.  I took the noisy option.
The first room was 1582. It had a great view, and perhaps being up so high, the music was less intense. However, I could not listen to music on the television because the dissonance drove me crazy. But I could sleep. 
The music was there, but it did not bother me much that first night. The AC and my sleep apnea white noise must have cancelled it out, or I was just too exhausted to care.
The next morning I got the clerk everyone wants to get, friendly, efficient, helpful.
I was rested.
I explained the problem of noise, and immediately the clerk went off looking for a room. There was none available at that point. Perhaps later.
"Well, here is my dilemma. I am coming again next week for 4 nights and again the week after for 4 nights. What should be my strategy for getting quiet when I come in for those bookings?"
She gave me a manager direct number and told me to call a day ahead of my arrival and explain the issue.
Then she went in to the computer again and locked up a room for me, so that at 5PM when I was done losing at poker, my room was all ready and I could relax in perfect quiet.

The second room was 763 which had the worst view, a flat, black rooftop and tall building, but pigeons came to play on that rooftop. I spent most of my adolescence watching pigeons in my coop, so for me this was a fine view.  I am more entertained by pigeons than by lighted buildings.
The move was simple because I was in the same Tower 5, and I could make a couple trips rather than pack everything perfectly.

I had wanted to be close to the Imperial Palace poker that offered cracked Aces, but the games have evaporated with all the old locals moving to the Flamingo. 
I don't know why. 
The room was moved upstairs and it killed the games. It is a fine location with an easier bathroom, but change sometimes causes live poker games to dry up, and this out of the way location would not attract tourists who just passed by and saw a game.
I even put my name on a list and had breakfast at the Imperial Palace buffet, a poor choice.  When I came back, my name was on the list and no one else.  I did not bother with that poker room for the rest of my trip.

I did call the manager the day before arriving for my second stay, and he put my need for quiet in the notes and that I requested 763.   When I got there, they gave me the same 763 again. This pleased me because it also meant I had less to worry in terms of bedbugs since only one other guest had used the room since I had slept in it the week before, so my odds were very good.
I am certain there are better rooms, but there were the entertaining pigeons and it was quiet.  I was happy.

My first stay I had a rental car.  The parking was really a maze.  It was hard just to find the way in to the lot.  Roads were closed.  Finally, I did find a place to park.  I was on a Blue Level 2.  But the elevator color coded the floor as purple. 
Very confusing. 
My second stay I did not have a car, so I did not need to find my way through the maze of back road parking, the confusing garage, the confusing elevators.

I hate having a car unless I am off the beaten path of casinos.

Later in the day of my second check-in I saw lines that stretched all the way to the back of the casino.  I estimated it would take 3 hours to reach the front desk.  I was happy to have missed all that by coming early, and to not have caught such crowds when I had first arrived.  However, I don't quite know what to do on my next trip.  I could leave my bags and come back late in the evening, but then I would get the noisy rooms for certain.

I cancelled my third check in as I had a better deal at the D anyway.  I had stayed double booked because I did not know what I might want.  I did not want to have to come in to a long line for booking.

Long line at booking will be the factor that most influences whether I stay at the IP again.  My live poker play gets me very good rates there, and it is close to the games I want, but I don't want a 3 hour wait for a room.   
I think that I'll be certain to stay downtown for the first part of my trip.  The bus trip to downtown is very simple, even with stopping at the BTC for my 30 day pass,  and the hotels don't have check in lines downtown. 

As I think ahead my frugality is being offset by the convenience of staying in one place for a good long while even if it costs me more.  It saves the repeated bedbug inspections, the packing and repacking, and if I concentrated some time at the Gold Spike, I know that I would enjoy the room, the generous pool hours, the wifi, the fine television with TCM as insurance for days when I am overtired or were I to get sick, and the general lack of crowds.
However, it means a bus ride to the better poker games at Flamingo.
The Super Eight will not give me as nice a room or as nice a pool, but it could be another long term choice with wifi, TCM, laundry, free coffee, good food right next door and an easy walk to the strip.
Well, by the time I go back the entire picture will have changed.  The bus fares will change.  The Imperial Palace will change.  And there will be more hotel options downtown.

Friday, June 22, 2012

TR Snippet Mr. Ed the Horse

Westie posted the Living Social coupon for the Kyle Canyon ride on Mount Charleston

that inspired me to try riding a horse again. I was on one once in the last 40 years on a Mexican beach. It was too small for me and I felt that and did not ride long, but down the beach a bit and back.
I called and asked all my questions, including how much of a strain my 220 pounds would be on an animal.
No problem, they told me. They would put me on a French cousin to the Clydesdale, a huge animal that was used to working hard.
I asked about falling. Was there a cliff to the side of the trail where I might die? No, I might get hurt, but I probably would not die, and most of the trail was lined with bushes that would cushion a fall.
The cost was $35, a real bargain for a 90 minute ride.
I was anxious about it. I hoped it was not going to be a bad decision. But I had to give it a go.
The trail wound along the edge of a canyon, climbing a bit at a time, then penetrating the canyon and then winding down again. The operation is fairly new.
It was not some high scale ranch operation at this site. There was an office the size of a large outhouse, and there was one building where the cowboys rested and stored gear, open to the air like a covering over a picnic table in a park. The rest was just corals of horses, beautiful animals of all colors and sizes.
Just seeing them was fine.
The workers suggested I might try the mule instead of a horse, but anxious or not, I wanted a horse, so out came Mr. Ed.
I needed a step ladder to get in the saddle, but it was huge. There was to be no chaffing of legs, inner thighs, bottom, even though I had forgotten and left my jeans in the hotel room. I was going to ride in shorts. This is not a good idea, but I did not suffer anything.
I went out for the ride at 3 PM and found that a fine time. The group that went out at noon was larger.
The trail only had two spots that required the horse to go down an incline. The rest was simply an easy, gradual ride. It would not be a ride for experienced horse people. There was no opportunity to gallop and basically we just followed our guide. The animals knew what to do for the most part. It was an adult version of those pony rides your Dad put you on at the fair. For me it was perfect and the highlight of my trip.
Mount Charleston itself was a delight. The desert gives way to mountains covered in Ponderosa Pine. It is entirely different from Red Rock where I had hiked two days before.
Ahead of me riding for the first time and chosing the mule was a fellow from Texas who is a professional photographer.  He was there with his family and was very friendly, although he told me he does not like the East Coast attitude he has experienced.  He liked me well enough.  Perhaps I broke his stereotype. 
He offered to send me the photo he took of me.  I'll try to post it, if he does.  I have another one and some of Mount Charleston, but I can't seem to get them here on this computer.  So, if you are reading this now, check back in a few days to see if I manage a photograph or two here.
I went to Mount Charleston for the entire day. The air was a bit thin, so my hikes in the trails were very limited. I found myself a nice rock in the shade, watched and listened to the birds, drank a bit of water and ate a sandwich. It was a fine change from the sound of machines.

The workers were all cowboys. It was a different culture. The cowboys were taciturn for the most part, but friendly in a gentle way. One young fellow grabbed a shovel and went to clean up something.
“Ya want some hep with that, Montana?” asked an older guy. Perfect, even the kid is named Montana.
I see on the website that one of the cowboys, perhaps the owner, died suddenly a week ago. I did not meet him, but perhaps I met his wife. So sad.

It was hot, but not as hot as Vegas. A cool breeze made it very pleasant. And unlike hiking, the horse was really doing all the hot work of it. We just rolled along in the saddles.
Probably the hardest part was when the horse would decide to eat a bush along the trail and needed some firm handling.
Mr. Ed never decided to do that, but then they fed him just before we went out on the trail.
I tipped $20.
I’ll go again for the full price of $70.
It is so fine to be 65 and manage to do something that I figured I had long aged out of doing. 

To see a slide show of Mount Charleston and the horses, click here.  I did not take photos while riding the horse.  The mountain and pine photos were all while hiking earlier in the day.

TR Snippet My review of the D

The D

I stayed for four nights in early June.
I liked the ambiance of the downstairs. It did not seem that different to me, just newer. I liked the feel of walking around in the morning. I suppose I will not if it gets super loud at night.
Upstairs there always seemed to be disruption. Twice they took out my deuces machine to lay new carpet and the Veu bar was also closed for some period of time. Once they just started to do the nightly cleanup and cleaned around those of us who were still playing. Then I noticed a more than average number of repairmen working on machines. I suppose having the old machines means that there will be more breakdowns. Somehow all of that detracted from the feeling of the place and decreased the ambiance of my play.
There were some really hot dancers downstairs in the evening. I enjoyed watching them. This new trend in Vegas is fine for me. It certainly attracts players and then sets them up to be distracted. I understand they are hiring more dancing dealers.


The worst news was to learn that the selection of drinks included only bar well drinks and the cheap beer. I tried the brandy and it tasted awful. This is what has happened as well at the El Cortez poker room although the slot players still get anything they want there. That kind of pinching to save money won't attract gamblers unless all the other downtown casinos slowly follow that pattern. It was such a contrast to my discovering the Flamingo Leinenkugel beer in the poker room as well as Blue Moon. I stopped gambling at Caesar's when they stopped serving good drinks in the poker room. If all the premium drinks go away in Vegas, I'll reduce my visits. I go to drink free and gamble. If I want to just gamble, I can do that at home.
On the other hand, Heineken and Corona will often satisfy what I crave in beer, and these were still at the Veu Bar, but not at the El Cortez poker room.


Upstairs I am playing a nickel coin dropper and there was no where there to cash out. I have to carry the nickels down the escalator and to the main cage. There was a cage upstairs, but it was always closed. This did not encourage me to play there.


It was long.
It did have the reported pay table where the normal Bonus Poker drops the two coins for two pair and as reported the middle of the table was not booted up as sometimes happens, so this pay table starts out at 86%, the absolute worst I know of in Vegas.
RF 250
SF 50
4A 80
4-2/3/4 40
4-5-K 25
FH 10
FL 8
3K - 3
2P - 1
J o B - 1
However, there is a Royal Progressive. So it never stays that low 86%. It probably never gets very high either.
Scattered around the downstairs was more VP than I had expected.
None of it was good.
Many of the bad pay tables seemed to follow the pattern of 8-5-4-3-1-1 on the bottom and a progressive on the top.
But the standard 8/5 Bonus paytable was easily found and that too would often have a Royal Progressive. Look under the Gift Shop sign, for example, I saw a quarter 8/5 DB with a Royal Progressive.
Some folks will still play at the bar.
Imagine being short by $2.50 every time you hit either the full house or the flush.
That really adds up.

I can’t imagine playing at this Long Bar when just ten minutes away at the Boar’s Head Bar there is 9/6 JOB and great alcohol, including Black Chip Porter, as well as some bonus money on every quad.
EV mathematics expressed in percentages sometimes seems a bit difficult for some minds to grasp. Luck seems more a factor in their thinking.
So factor out the luck and figure your short pay this way.
If you mark each time you hit the full house or the flush, and then multiply by $2.50, you can see in any session the difference in the amount a short paytable pays and what short pay does.
In some sessions where you never hit full houses or flushes, there will be no difference. In others, the differences will be huge. You will win less and lose more.
At the end of a few days you could buy a ticket to a show on the strip with the money withheld from your winnings.
There was at the D a dollar 9/7 Double Bonus with a Royal Progressive, but no DB is going to compete with the Four Queens 10/7 with Royal Progressive quarter game next door.
Which is where I play my big bucks.
But I digress.
Once you start comparing Long Bar games to those games that end with 8-5-4-3-2-1, you can easily find better plays.
Or check out White Hot Aces. It has the 8-5-4-3-1-1, but compared to the Long Bar, it increases the Straight Flush from 50 to 80, the Four Aces from 80 to a whooping 240, the quad 2/3/4 from 40 to 120, and the quad 5-K from 25 to 50. I don't have the software to run that paytable, but if you can be tempted to play away from the long bar, this might be an alternative to the Long Bar.
It would still not be the best play in Vegas.

Many of the machines downstairs were coin droppers and I expect those will be moved upstairs when that becomes the Classic Section. There was an 8-5 BP dollar coin dropper with a full pay schedule. There were also some Triple Double Diamond slots that were coin droppers, including a nickel machine. 15 cents a bet and a progressive that went to $1584.
I don't play those coin droppers much. TITO has made it so much easier for me to go to the bathroom every 7 hands. And the EV on a coin dropper is reduced by the amount I would tip on high hands to an attendant although the royal at the Vue is paid by attendant.

And yes, there were little plastic buckets to catch the dirty coins. But don't rush over thinking you will get a collector's plastic cup. The cups so far do no have D on them. They are a generic, rather boring white cup with a picture of royals and a slot machine. So, I did not steal one.

I saw more of the old classic slot formats than the newer video screen offerings, but my guess is that the new stuff, including penny slots, will replace the coin droppers as they are moved upstairs after the upstairs section is fully renovated.


It is there with a nice sun porch glass area, but it looks out on nothing, the side street between D and the 4 Queens and the day I was there it was mostly rock music. No free wifi unless your machine reads the Marriage is Murder password and then it is free. Or so said the clerk. The computer I take to Vegas is so slow and dysfunctional on internet sites that I was not able to try it out. The batteries don’t hold a charge for more than ten minutes. It is useless except to keep a writing journal of my days to post after I get home.

It did have a dollar menu section for the frugal days when one buffet won't carry us into sleep.


They had a single zero wheel with dollar chips. (okay, just kidding)
The dollar chip part is true, with a $5 minimum bet. I don't suggest you play this unless you don't mind playing the Long Bar Bonus. They are about the same in EV.


I saw a six deck game that pays 3/2 with a $3 minimum.


$5 Minimum. Field bet double pays double for 2 and triple for 12.

Everything did look very new and nice.

Upstairs was still the 8/5 Bonus at the Vue Bar with 3 progressives. Also, there is the nickel coin drop Deuces Wild full pay. It was frustrating that twice when I wanted to play these, the machines were gone to give them time to install new carpet. Both times were early morning hours. I did hit four deuces on the little nicklel machine, but I gave it all back and broke about even in the end on that machine. I don't think there is such a low risk nickel machine anywhere else in Vegas with a positive expectation payout like this one.
I never found an exceptional payout on the 8/5 progressive quad line at the Vue Bar, and only a slight progressive on the royal line. All the work around the bar may have substantially decreased the players and left the progressives low. My nephew hit quads once, but only got $37 dollars, just a six dollar bump from the beginning. I hit for fifty dollars twice last trip.
My wins on these machines came one day when I was trying to get my $5 cashback on checkout.
See that story here:


I have never been much of a fan of this eatery and I would not seek it out, but I read some good reviews of the hamburgers, and I had a two for one American Casino Guide coupon on an afternoon when I was hungry for a limited non buffet meal and too exhausted to want to walk out of the D for anything.
The burgers themselves were fine although I ordered medium and they were more like medium rare to rare. Few people were eating. The small fruit and salad bar did not come with the burgers. I had their special Foitz burger and a California burger. Assorted toppings were either on the burger or on a small plate for selection or rejection. I liked that system.
The service was fine except for the way they considered my coupon. I started ordering by saying I wanted to use my coupon and was told that would be fine. When I food arrived my waitress then remembered to check that the coupon was not just for the Fitz hamburger. I thought that it was a bit late to worry about that. Mine was good for both.
If you go with a coupon, check it out first with the cashier.
I was attracted in part for the kettle chips they once made, but while those are on the menu and while earlier they told me they had them, I could not get them with my hamburger. I settled for shoestring, but they did not make them really crispy.
I also tried the potato salad and found it the worst I have tasted anywhere in my entire life.


I somehow got five dollars freeplay, but it was the worst freeplay ever. Only a few machines were marked with the promo and it took me a long while to figure that out. Most of the ones that interested me did not honor freeplay. The machine I chose hit once for a dime in the whole play. I'd say that the only advantage to this promo is that anyone playing in the casino for cash can skip any machine with the "promo" sticker on it because those are certainly the worst plays in the house.
One ten dollar matchplay also came with the room. I took it in two fives and found a table where I could roll. I rolled forever on the first roll and hit eleven about six times. But I was just playing off the matchplay. I won the first matchplay and lost the second so I had the entertainment of the roll and five dollar profit.


Only some of the rooms have been renovated and it cost $30 more a night to upgrade to those, so this might be a place to try the $20 trick. Those are the rooms with new mattresses. We had the old thin mattresses that creates a rather hard sleep. Theoretically, this should have been a discomforting problem, but actually I was always exhausted and slept very well. My nephew left one morning at 4 am so we did an all nighter before his flight. I slept all the next day, getting up in the middle for some computer time and sleeping again until 9 PM. This enabled me to do a second all nighter of poker at Flamingo. I was fresh for that.
I was not as fresh the next day, but this had more to do with Sunset Wheat beer at the Flamingo than the mattresses.
The room was a standard bottom priced room. The sink drainage was a little slow. The television was an old one. The positioning of furniture was just nuts. The television was way over beyond the second bed and almost to the window. No one in the first bed could watch it. The round table had no nearby plug. I had to move it in between the beds to set up my computer.
2539 was the quiet I had asked, but the fine view of the mountains from the 25th floor was dimmed by the dark meshed screens covering the windows, like those on the Deuce buses.
I hate that effect.
I don't want to experience Vegas noir, especially when I am losing money.
The elevators moved swiftly.
I don't need to do much in the room except sleep and my nephew wanted only four hours or less of sleep, so I was rarely in the bed when I wasn't exhausted.
The location is a great for changing hotels. I get three free weekend nights at the Four Queens and the move is easy. I can even make a few trips if I want if the Four Queens books me early enough.


This place was fine to keep me from traveling the buses with heavy luggage and position me for easy transfer to the Four Queens. However, it was nothing I would seek out. I seeded it and I'll see if they actually give me a couple free nights for my next trip. Looking at the skimpy cost cutting they have done here, I expect future renovation will take away my incentives to play anything, and so after my next trip, this may be just a memory.
My favorite playing was at the Flamingo poker room, and I was booked at first at the Imperial Palace for about the same price, but all the construction on my first two visits made me leery of going there the third time. Also, I worried when I saw the check in lines were at times three hour waits and knew that if I avoided those by checking in really late, I would be stuck with a very noisy room.
It may seem laughable to say I might want to pay the big bucks for the Gold Spike, but that was my favorite place this trip. I love the pool and wifi would have been helpful. While there I even had one exhausted day when I just needed to rest and sleep and get fresh for the all out nights that my nephew would bring. The TCM channel made that a delightful recovery.
Reduced parking makes it a hassle for folks who come with a car, but for bus riders it is fine. The bus to Sam's Town is even closer now, right across the street.
However, it will be interesting to see how the D makes out. I guess the dancing girls make playing blackjack there popular. I can’t see how you can really watch a dancing girl and play any game.