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.  


TR snippets beg bugs

 had two bedbug sightings this trip, one in the Gold Spike and one at the Four Queens.  The first was more than likely a case of the hotel using a mattress pad after the bugs had been killed.  It looked as if dead bugs had caught in the rough texture of the small pad just above the mattress.  There was no other indication of any bedbugs, but any indication means I ask for a room change and I get it.
The second was more real.

I arrived at the Four Queens at about nine in the morning and they were willing to book me, but only had quiet rooms in the North Tower.  I was moving from The D and wanted to be able to walk it in two trips, so I abandoned my request for South Tower and took the North Tower.

Quiet is my one concern.

And Bedbugs.

I walked up without luggage and there were the little black dots in the crevice of the mattress.  I was really motivated to talk myself out of the first sighting of just two insects because I wanted an early booking, and I feared I'd lose that advantage.  Maybe I was overreacting to lint, I thought.  But I could not talk myself out of seeing a long line of the telltale black dots in the crevice of the seam on one side of the mattress.

So down I went for a room change.

I have been moved twice before, last trip in the Flamingo and then this one in The Gold Spike, and I exspected that the bugs would be treated like no big deal by management, and they would remove me without much attention to the issue.  Perhaps I would lose the advantage of my early booking and have to really pack to move from the D afterall because I'd need to store with the Bell Captain.

Not here.

Immediately the clerk set out to lock up a new room for me, but explained I needed to make a security report.  She took the issue very seriously.  In two minutes a security guard arrived.  I wrote a statement and signed it and my photo ID was photographed and added to the paperwork. 

He wrote down the number of the room I was going to. 

Clearly they would follow up and inspect that room after I left.

There would have been attention to my bags as well if I had spent the night with the bugs.  The guard said that they would inspect my luggage if it had been exposed.  I don't have much faith in visual inspection of luggage, but that is what they do.

As I was going to inspect my new room 1209, the guard was going to inspect the infected room 417, but he did not know I was directly behind him.

As we passed the fellow sitting security in the casino high seat, the guard mentioned where he was going and why.  From his tone I caught that he was skeptical of what I had seen.  So they must get false reports.

We were in the elevator together and talked about the problem.  He had encountered them in a high end resort property he managed in North Carolina, and said that they could occur anywhere, that they were common wherever there was a high turnover of transient visitors. 

He told me what I already knew, but everything he told me was true.

I liked him. 

He was down to earth and what he said made common sense.  I asked if I could watch his inspection.    He was happy to have me because I could show him just what I saw.

We did not do much of an inspection because what I showed him was plenty.  He said he thought they were eggs rather than live bugs, and he photographed one section of the mattress.  The next day I saw him again and he said he suspected that it was a case of poor housekeeping after the bugs had been fried by heat.
They treat there with high temperature heaters and fry the bugs and eggs and everything.

So, one more good note on the Four Queens.  They take bedbugs seriously, keep records, have an immediate inspection, follow up by checking where the guest goes next, and use the best extermination methods. It was the most attentive reaction to bedbug worries that I have encountered.  And their procedures were serious and attentive immediately, with the inspection happening just minutes after my finding and reporting the sighting and all was done in spite of the fact that my reporting may have seemed questionable to them.

This is already my favorite casino for gambling comps and how I am treated in general.  Their serious attention to my biggest worry when traveling just increases my respect.

Contrast the Flamingo where two trips ago I found bloodspots and put a live bug under a glass.  Their attitude was close to "whatever" and as far as I know nothing was written down or any report made. No one asked me to show them anything. No one took the new room number so they could look there later.

I really thought that after the Flamingomoved me, they would just remake the bed, replace the cushions which showed bedbug activity, and rent the room again.

It did not make me want to stay there again.

Don't confuse my finding bedbugs at low end properties with a widely held myth that like roaches, fleas, etc they are a result of poor cleaning.  They can be anywhere.  I only inspect low end properties because I only book low end properties.  Bellagio has had bedbugs, but I have not been there to see them.

Keep checking before you move in luggage.  I am getting more confident that seeing them is not rocket science.  These were clear. 

I do think that hotels like Sam's Town where the mattresses are so wrapped up in layers of mattress covers that we can't actually get to the seams to see what is there might be more difficult to inspect.  I'm more comfortable when I can just rip the bed apart and check the entire seam and see behind the headboard with my flashlight.  The headboards at Imperial Palace were light and lifted off the wall easily.  I liked that. No one is vacuuming behind the headboard, so if bugs are in the room, they will most likely  be visible there.  I always check with a little flashlight, but it is awkward.

Oh, I also sprayed my clothing and shoes that went in the infested Four Queens room although nothing looked alive there.  Just another precaution.

The spray is easy to pack.

Also, I think it is good to have a plan of action in case we miss them and sleep with them.  When we get home, nothing should come in the house until it is bagged and then all clothing and shoes should be put in a dryer and all luggage at least cleaned and sprayed.

In my case I have an extra chest freezer and I'd just bag my suitcase and put the whole thing in deep freeze for a few months. 

I read so many reports that say, "We hope we have not brought them home with us." and wonder why they have taken no precautions to make that a better bet.

Oh, speaking of betting.  To compensate me for my inconvenience and reward me for my attentive inspection,  the Four Queens had the  10/7 Double Bonus Progressive ( the best DB in the world) deal me a $1045 Royal Flush in hearts in the first five cards on the very next day.  Karma.

I've been saying that encountering bedbugs is a lot like catching a Royal. It seems that is more than an analogy. We go along inspecting and inspecting and the bugs never seem to show up, just as we keep tossing hand after hand.  Then suddenly the rare occurrence happens and our faith in ultimate possibilities is rewarded.

As I spend my $1045 royal winnings, I'll remember my luck at having it dealt to me and my luck finding those little buggers before I slept with them.

I like to think I apply a good strategy to both games.  But to win at a bedbug inspection and not take them home with me, perhaps saves me ten times the royal winnings.

TR snippet Riviera comedy

The American Casino Guide offers two free tickets to the Riviera Comedy Club.

I wanted to call to confirm I could go on a particular Saturday night. 

I started with the 800 number on the coupon and the menu of options would make a good comedy routine in itself, but I thought I had navigated pretty well and finally, after a number of choices of numbers I was talking to a live person.  At Ticketron.  And not in Las Vegas.  So that was useless.

So I looked up the 702 number in my American Casino Guide.

Same menu.

I hit zero.

Live person at the Riviera who directed me to the box office.

Easy confirmation that they were showing the show.

The show was great.  I had seen John Bizarre twice last trip.  He gets around a lot.  I like him, but I suspected I'd hear the same routine.  There were some stories that were repeated, but basically much of his comedy was new.  I could see him jumping around his repertoire and picking where to go next.  Also, his off the cuff interaction with the audience was just great. 

With him was a heavy, Jewish comic with a ponytail.  Perhaps someone knows the name.  I missed it.  He was good too.

As well as comedy, he asked people where they were from and he gave them their phone area code.  He got them all right.  He also had a fast and well memorized routine using car names as funny acronyms.  He had one for each kind of car.   
He must have a phenomenal memory.

So, it was a good show.

I saw a fellow at Sam’s Town Toast of the Town ask
people to give their mailing zip code and he told them
where they lived.  It is an interesting addition to a
magic act.

I walked from there down the strip to the Flamingo.  At ten PM on a Saturday night that was a great walk.  I don't think I've walked that part of the strip in a few years.  I loved the lights and the activity and all the sexy girls outfitted in lingerie.  I also started to notice pretty girls in dresses that swirled bright and interesting color in circles around them. One girl was walking with her boyfriend directly in front of me for a long while and I loved that look of swirling stripes that blended from color to color.  It was an incredibly windy night and her long hair whipped around her bare shoulders in various patterns.  She was all grace and beauty and just fine to watch.

Part of my enjoyment was that I had new glasses and they especially helped clarify things at night.  The lights along the strip were incredibly clear.  Encore in particular just looked wonderful with the tall sweeping lines and such a thin building reaching up to the stars. 

To settle my thirst I stopped and bought a large can of PEACE lemonade.  Just 50 calories and little artificial except a bit of sucralose which seems safe.  There are a number of varieties of flavors in most convenience stores including the Walgreen's downtown, that store along Flamingo on the way to  Koval with the 99 year lease and one of the stores along the North strip.  I like the green tea best. 

I try to get as much green tea in me everyday because there have been some good reports connecting green tea with longevity.

It satisfies. 

I even buy one to take up to the El Cortez poker room now that any good alcohol has been removed from the menu.  It cost a dollar, the same as a tip, and one can is twice the size of a can of coke.  I wish they had it in my neighborhood at home. We have Arizona brand with plenty of words I can’t pronounce.  Sometimes, some of their varieties are 210 calories. 

One interesting trivia note is that the bus stop in front of the Riviera is labeled "Riveira Bus Stop."  You can see that from upstairs in the Deuce.  I laughed.

I did not gamble at the zero wheel of roulette, in fact, I even forgot to use my matchplays. 
p.s.  That single zero wheel has not been removed. 12/12