Monday, December 09, 2013

An overview of the 15 day pass advantages

The fifteen day pass is all access for tourists as well as locals. The 24 residential passes are good for the SDX and Deuce for locals only with local ID.

Since the long term passes are primarily intended to serve the local community, and the RTC wants to get all the tourist dollars they can manage, they keep the passes out of the on strip Walgreen stores. They are not in the machines along the strip.
Most of us buy them at the BTC or at the downtown Walgreen's. Other locations are listed here.

Some take the 109 to Maryland and Flamingo and get them there. I have not done that. I think Albertson's is the place. It is good to call these vendors and ask if they sell the passes before you show up to buy one. Once in a while they run out and vendors change.

Some take the 109 from the airport to the South Street Transfer Terminal where we can buy a pass from a machine and get senior rate with the RTC ID. If you are staying on the South end of the strip, this is a good plan as long as you don't have large luggage and come at busy times when exiting the SDX is like swimming upstream against those pushing to get in.

Folks over 60 can get a half priced 15 day all access pass. Photo ID's are issued by the BTC during daytime hours and take just a few minutes. They are good for five years.
I think folks over 65 can show a Medicare card for proof of age. I have not done that. I always get the ID. To buy a pass from a machine like those at SSTT, and get senior rate, you need the RTC ID. There are no people working at the SSTT anymore. The BTC is staffed. I like buying the pass from a person better than trying to figure out the machines.
Staying downtown is advantageous with these passes because so many routes run from there. With the unlimited pass we can ride the strip buses, or use the WAX to avoid strip traffic and get dropped at Tropicana, or use the CX to avoid strip traffic and be dropped at Spring Mt, or go to the university, or go out Boulder Highway to any casino along that road, or plan a trip to Sunset Station or Fiesta Henderson, or head out to Texas Station and Fiesta Rancho, or ride to Suncoast. It just takes a bit of time to plan and figure out the routes and the schedules.

Here is a good place to start planning

Then linking up the RTC routes with the free shuttles offered in Vegas can eliminate much of the walking or traffic. Riding the SDX is generally faster and less crowded than riding the Deuce and these free shuttles can get you from an SDX stop to other locations.

Here is a good place to check those free shuttle routes and schedules and rules:

Sunday, November 24, 2013

So I'm not drinking much anymore

and neither are many of those old folks on the Vegas discussion boards.
How should we think about that?

Well, here is one of my recent reflections on that:

Perrier did it for me.
I always counted on $40 a day of alcohol to add value to my long hours of limit poker.
Then the diabetes.
I can't do many virgin drinks either, and the NA beer has too many carbs.
I can have a bit of wine which in moderation lowers the blood sugar, but most of the wine most places is pretty bottom shelf.
I've tried the trick of ordering pinot noir suggested by a wine guy on one board, but most places don't have it.
And I do have an occasional virgin bloody Mary. With five olives that makes a meal.
But I really got into Perrier with lime, especially in the joints that serve the large bottles.
I had about ten on one of my trips and a woman across the poker table (who must have thought they were alcoholic) said to me in that critical judgmental way common to uptight women addicted to mothering, "You sure are scarfing those down."
I got a kick out it.
I missed a good comeback, because I was initially so puzzled.
Next time I'm going to say, "Yeah lady, my one goal in life is to outlive my liver and Perrier brings eternal peace."

As for the absence of degeneracy. I find I can still be a degenerate, but without alcohol, I can remember the experience.

I am thinking of developing a table image of the late night drunk. I think I can do it if, after six hours of refreshing sleep, I arrive at the table at 2 AM for the Golden Nugget doubling of bonus awards, and, after awkwardly working my arthritic right leg around and in front of the chair, I complain of being so drunk I feel barely able see the cards, and then wonder out loud if I can get enough Perrier into me to sober me up.
It is true that I can barely see the cards.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Comedy from the last trip reviewed again

I saw a good bit of comedy this past trip.  Here is an overview:

Top of my list is the Riviera Comedy and not simply because there are free tickets in the American Casino Guide.  Actually, on this trip, poker buddy Wild Bill booked at the Riviera and had free tickets included with his room booking.  I wish this casino had decent VP or a poker room.  I’d stay there.  The Banana Leaf CafĂ© was another great diabetic and healthy food friendly spot, a great rare find in Vegas right there at the Riviera.  And there were even more antique pinball machines to play than last visit.

Anyway, I liked the way I was treated; the entire place was relaxed and easy, especially as compared to Sin City.

No extra charges.

No minimum drinks.

No overpriced drinks.

No hustle; no hassle.

Just a how can we help you enjoy your night out.

I only drink wine now and their merlot was twice as much as what Sin City gave and twice as good at just $6, not $9. Wild Bill also had a 2 for 1 drink coupon with his room for use during the show so for us it was $3.


There was more comedy here too than any of the other places.

They had three comics.  

In my book it gets top billing.  +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

LA Comedy at Bally’s.

This is my second choice and interestingly is also very cheap with Groupon or Living Social.  This time it was just $12 and no extra charges or minimum drink added to the cost.

Very nice venue.


Las Vegas Live Comedy

I got into this show free. I had bought a coupon for The Mentalist and after that show they let us get the far back seats for free at this comedy.  I think I was pretty tired and perhaps two shows back to back left me a bit unreceptive. 

Nothing seemed very funny.

Next to me was a couple with young teenaged kids.   I don’t quite get bringing them, but to offer a perspective on the jokes, the boy (probably 13) curled up on a few seats and went to sleep in the middle.  So much for the shock value.


Sin City

Okay, I guess I’m not giving them another chance at me on any future trip.  This is just a poor excuse for a comedy show.  There is the guy who introduces, and just one comic.  Most of the energy is spent at this theater making sure everyone has the minimum drink. 

Drinks start at $9. 


I had a $20 groupon with a drink included and was given the worst red wine I had the entire trip served in a flimsy and small half filled plastic cup. 

On the street near Excalibur this trip a guy was passing out “free tickets” to Sin City that look like bookmarks.  Be sure to take them if you see them, and then just use them as bookmarks. 

So folks wandered into Sin City for their free ticket, and then were told that the box office fees and the minimum free drink fee meant that for this “free” show it would be $15 per person. 

Cheaper than my groupon.  Still, it reeks of the bait and switch games this theater plays and have been played on me now two years in a row.

$15 is a decent price for a night of comedy and a drink.  This was half a night of comedy and half a drink.  But just the idea of the carny like selling takes any entertainment edge off this venue for me.

Other shows that include comedy:


Zumanity was pretty raw, but I found it very funny. 

O slapstick with the two guys on the houseboat was funny even the second time.

Free show Toast of the Town at Sam’s Club on Thursday includes two kinds of humor.  There are the jokes the hosts make, the bantering type of humor done in the lounge acts years ago.  Most of it is off the cuff and much of it is not very funny, but tolerable.  The Rat Pack these guys just ain’t. Then they will have a comic act some weeks and I usually like that comedy. 

It is the opposite of raw. 

Some of it is clever.  Some of it is a repetition of very old material.  But often I like the comics here better than when I pay somewhere else.  Free on Thursdays at Sam’s Town at 2.  Come a bit early, the space fills quickly.  Free stuff is given a few minutes before the acts.  Swipe your B Connected card in a kiosk to print a ticket.

The Mentalist at the V told a few jokes.  His mental tricks were pretty basic.  It is not hard to read someone’s mind when you give them a card to fill out before the show where they put down all the information you will pretend to elicit.

Jeff Civillico’s juggling act was full of humor.  He had great stage presence, and a very personable way with people.  This is such an inexpensive show.  I went because it was free (with a small ticket service charge) and it was much more than I expected.  Very entertaining and a very genuine fellow.  I’ll go again.

There was one dealer at the Venetian live poker room who when he heard we had just come from a comedy act, started doing Richard Wright jokes, these dry one liners, perfect for the time it takes to deal a new hand.  He was funny.


As for the comedy itself.  I’m not too impressed.  We saw John Bizarre for perhaps the 12th time and even with his material being somewhat old for us, we just enjoyed him more than some of the others.  See him if you can.  I laugh just thinking about his act. 

But much of the comedy depended on the word Fuuk spoken often and used to insure a laugh where the joke was mediocre.  I guess after teaching inner city kids for 35 years, I’m just not that entertained by Fuuck.  I’m not offended; just bored.  Sometimes it is like eating in a bad restaurant.

“Yeah, Morty, the fish is just a  little gone by….so use a spicy sauce.”

Then I am also tired of the race card.  Few of the jokes are clever.  Black comics seem obsessed with telling about white people.  Again, I’m not offended.  Just bored.

And half the rest of the jokes are about marriage and depend upon stereotypical marriage relationships (generally frustrated) to be funny.

I’m bored again.

Maybe I see too much stand up.  I keep looking for Steven  Wright, or for someone clever.

I lost the name of one comic at the LA show who was worth all the other comedy visits combined.  And most of his material could not be prepared and practiced.  He played off the audience, like Don Rickles, but without being as harsh and added in facial expression, accents, etc. so that he became a character from the audience. He’d pick up on people in the audience and make funny jokes in a quick and witty style.  In my face he saw C Everett Koop, Reagan’s surgeon general and that alone was funny if obscure to most of the audience.  Many people have pointed that resemblance out to me over the years.  Amazing that he would come out with that.  The guy died this year.

He was quick and funny and the humor was not harsh.  Nothing made us cringe.  It was not hard to be singled out. He’s make up whole stories based on how people looked.  It was amazing really. 

Okay, the joke I liked best is seasonal and fits my snowbird lifestyle. 

A guy living in Florida calls his mother in Connecticut and she urges him to come home for Christmas.

“Listen, son, in Connecticut we got snow for Christmas!  How you gonna have a real Christmas down there with no snow?”

“Ma, Jesus was not born in a snowstorm.  He spent his time walking with his friends on hot desert sand in his sandals, surrounded by Jews.  So I’m in Southern Florida; seems like true Christmas to me.”

Sunday, November 17, 2013

What limit poker is like for me

Again I found myself on a discussion board and writing a long piece, so here it is:

I like some loose guys at the limit table, but I don't want two or three capping preflop every time. And sometimes I suspect collusion if guys are capping on junk. I suspected it the last time I played at the Orleans.
Usually, collusion is saved for no limit tables, but there are exceptions.

Basically, there is a lot of yelling in all poker. Plenty of macho crap and plenty of attitude that asserts the speaker is the only one who knows anything.
I only have a bankroll for limit and that is pretty much all I play. There is less yelling there, but often someone feels like they know how the game should be defined and how the rest of us should have played. Let them talk. Collect information. Give none out. Don't justify your play because it gives them a peek into how you think.
If you feel you have to comment, just lie. Pretend to be what you are not.
Or ask a question.
"'So, are you saying that raising when I have a chance for an inside straight is not a good mathematical play because I always do that? it always seems that a straight is a pretty damn good hand to hold.""

Basically, the rules define the game, and what you call or raise is all up to you.
Table selection then becomes a big issue in limit games. Position relative to the loose guy is important as well. I best like being directly to his left, but sometimes being directly to his right can work too.
Being directly to his left makes your raise more powerful because the guys acting after you know it can be raised by manic guy again and then by you again so those limit draws that are so popular because they are cheap suddenly become potentially very expensive. So if you have pocket Aces, kings, or queens a raise may easily make it a game between maniac guy and you. That is what you want.

I made a lot of money in one limit game because the guy to my left either bet or raised every time. So, I could decide based on my cards whether to wait to raise and let his bet squeeze the other players or raise and let his reraise limit the field of competition. So preflop with pocket Aces I would raise and let his reraise limit the guys playing crap straight draws, but with Ace King suited, I might deicde to let him raise, then reraise when it got around to me.
And after the flop I never bet. I let him bet and then when It got to me raised or folded. He was rarely out of a hand.
It is pretty hard for one guy to actually buy the pot in limit. The bets are too small. Bluffing is almost impossible. He may be stacking up a lot of chips because he is aggressive and betting all the time and others are folding. But you just play the good cards when they still look good. It does not cost much to call with a second best hand if you know the guy often bets with a fourth bet hand.

You don't want to be playing just to the right of blind straddle guy (another loose idiot) and have to miss every free flop. You don't want to be playing the big blind against a guy who habitually makes a button raise. Sometimes if I get a lot of suited connectors and raise the blind often a big blind will get very pissed at me and perhaps change seats.
I raise suited connectors on the button when the table is filled with passive callers and I almost always raise all straddles unless everyone has limped. Against a straddle, I either raise or fold. After all, if I have playable cards I am now in a hand with three blinds and one of them may reraise his straddle on habit.
When I button raise on suited connectors, my $2 gets another $18 in the pot, announces I have high cards so middle straight draws are unexpected, and at most tables can get me a free card even if a guy flops a very good hand. He wants to wait for me to bet again and then raise. Instead, faced with a four card straight or flush, I check. Perhaps the free card makes my straight or flush, so I can bet the $4 round. In that case strong guy bets, thinking now I am on A-K and flopped nothing, and is very surprised when I raise. Confused really. And finally mad.
Generally, I take a guy like that and get him even madder. Here are some retorts:
"Hey, when I can't play well, I always try to play lucky." Use this one while raking in the chips.
"Any two cards can win. Thanks for the call."
"I just could feel that my straight was coming. Sometimes the cards just talk to me and I have to do what they say."
" 7-8 is my favorite hand and I raise it even when they are not suited because you'd be surprised how many times they will catch on the flop. 6-9 is very good too."
This last retort is very good if I have made a high card raise and it flops 7-8 and I mutter, "Wow, there it is again" and bet with just my high cards. A table that has learned that the two cards are my favorites may get out.

Sometimes on certain tables I button raise an Ace with a suited small card. I want to play it for the flush. Otherwise, I want to play it cheap. Again, I will often get a free card. And if an Ace flops I can check it and then see who bets the $4 round before I decide to call or fold. If it checks around to me after the turn, my Ace low kicker is probably a decent pair.

Also, keep in mind that your opponent wants to try to make your play predictable, and so that is the pressure of his complaint. That and his need to be an obnoxious know it all with firm ideas that he thinks everyone who is not stupid should agree with.
If he can get you to do what he thinks is the best play, then he can know when to stay or go.

Then too a good number of poker players are just pretty disgruntled folks who carp almost constantly about something.
They are annoying. They border on being sick.
The game is never good enough for them. Your betting is never good enough for them. What you say is never good enough.
So, say something that gets to them.
There is one regular at Foxwoods like that. Once I told him when he complained about the size of the pot he was taking in, "Look, there is no whining when you are winning."Another time he asked the dealer, "Don't give me any more good cards, they never win." and so when I beat him with high cards against some crap he played, I said, "Well, you should be happy because you got what you wanted."
he almost shouted.
"Well,you asked the dealer not to deal you any more high cards and so she didn't. You got your wish."

This grump syndrome is less true in Vegas where folks are on vacation and more true in local casinos around the country where the same guys play every day.

And there is some gambling addiction research that suggests some habitual gamblers really need to lose to feel right. They gamble until their money is gone. At a slot this is good for the house. At a poker table it is good for you.

Also, in 2-4 limit you want to have some action because without it, small pots passed around by players at the same skill level over a few hours will mean only the house wins. You want some loose player to build the pots and pay the rake even when they are clearly beaten. Then you pass the guy around.

Finally, if you play really good mathematical limit poker for too long at one table with the same people, your table image will impede your ability to win. When you bet out, they will all fold. It may mean you can bluff for a while on some tables, but you don't win as much bluffing here as you do on no limit tables and once you are caught bluffing once, you are done bluffing.
So one thing to do is play some junk cards in late position and if they flop anything, call and then make sure to show the junk with maybe a comment on how your favorite cards did not win. That will help balance table selection if you are tight and sit for long periods without getting in a pot. You want them to remember the junk.
Another thing to do is change tables often. Look for limit tables that just opened. In no limit you need plenty of time to access your opponents and you see fewer cards so that it takes longer. In limit most of the game is just playing good cards while they stay good, so changing tables does not mean as much work learning players habits, tells, styles, etc. You can quickly identify the guy who can't play and the guy who bets every hand. After a short while you can identify the rocks who only bet when they have the nuts.

One advantage limit has over no limit is that it is more of a social game. I played 10 hours of it yesterday and without some banter, some stories, some social interaction, some teasing.....with just ten hours of talk about why and who and what might have been called and how many outs someone had.... well, I like poker okay, but there are other aspects of life when strangers meet serendipitously that are interesting as well. At a no limit table I'm not going to get all the fishing stories that I gathered in Vegas last time or get to ask questions and talk to folks from all around the world. I like that part of the game just as if I go  to a bar I like some interaction, not just alcohol. In Vegas, it is amazing what happens in the conversations.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Advice to newbies

I wrote this to a Vegas newbie on Blonde's discussion board and since it is so detailed, I thought that I'd save it here as boiler plate

Hi Wendy,
Welcome to the board.

We all have our favorite ways to find and book  rooms.  Be certain that the discount sites like this one have a clean cancellation policy so that if you change your mind, you don't have to pay a penalty.  In most cases if you catch a deal early on and then want to just change one day, you have to cancel the entire booking and rebook for higher rates.

Also, many of them take all the money upfront, so you might be stuck waiting for a refund.

I like this search mechanism for bringing up three places and comparing.
When I can, I book with because they just take one night to hold the room.

I have not used the one you mention.

For many reasons it is better if you book directly with the hotel.  The cancellation policies are usually very good.  You can drop just one night.  And if you gamble a bit, they might comp your stay.

We can help you here if you read around a bit and decide on an area where you would like to stay.  Be sure to check the section where videos of rooms are collected.  Knowing whether you want to stay upscale or get by on the cheap is a huge decision.  Most newbies want to be on or near the strip their first visit.   Strip properties are pricier, but sometimes worth it.  Are you coming for a long time?  Where are you from overseas?  Here is a great trip report from folks from Germany
These folks rent a car.
Here is one from folks in Scotland.
These folks take the bus

Short trips booked on or near the strip will be filled just with walking.  If you want a bit of luxury, book right on the strip.  If you want access but want to save money, try looking at the Orleans.  Nice rooms, plenty to do, and a free shuttle or cheap city bus gets you to the strip, or a $10 cab gets you to the back door of Aria.

Once you have your air, have done your homework, know your exact dates and can answer the question of where you want to stay, come back here we can be of more help.

Also, be sure you know the resort fees that can easily be as much as $28 and not very clear in the offers but in fine print.  Here is a good list of those

that is updated regularly as these things change.
One common pitfall is people give Priceline a certain price and they search out an unknown hotel and they have to book blind without cancelation.  Well, if you wanted to pay $50 a night and Priceline assigned you to a nameless deal that charges that but adds $28 in resort fees, you got caught.  The resort fee is not reported in the charge or figured in the mathematics. Because they call it a different fee, it is to some extent invisible and ignored.

Also, be careful of phone conversations with people who don't speak much English hired on the cheap by these discount places.  I once booked 5 nights and when I got the confirmation she had booked me in the wrong month.  I had a good bit of money wrapped up in that booking for almost two months and had to shell out again for my actual month.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Webpass at Eastside Cannery

I'll add this note.  Today they misposted the fill in the blank so that it did not really reflect the quoted passage on the website and none of the words from that passage were actually missing.  I told them on Facebook.  I suppose others told them.  By evening they had made the correction.  Dysfunction follows their promotions.  But if you have patience, you can capture a hat and a buffet if you manage to be going to Vegas while those rewards are still alive in your Special Offers section.

Since I got some questions from a board friend on the Webpass and wrote it up in detail, I thought I'd repost my answer to Pluto here.  Keep in mind that MyVegas is infinitely better at giving great rewards and really knows how to process the redemption, electronically and with focus on the customer.  We took out $700 in value this past trip, using it all in just 3 days.  You would spend a lifetime getting that much value from Webpass Promotions.
On the other hand if you have a child at home who likes playing video games, these games are geared for children.  They are not gambling type games.  So set the kid up and let him play for a while, and then if the timing works out, grab a free buffet on your next trip.

Dear Pluto,

I would not fret about the elimination of any bus passes.  I heard it from my local buddy buddy, but I think he confused the signs about the elimination of the strip discounts for seniors with residential passes which happened a while ago.
He and his wife have soured on Vegas. 
It is really a shame.  I'm going to send him your last trip report and the one from Eva and Wolfgang, so he gets a sense of the opportunities he is missing.  Something strange happens to some folks who move to Vegas to live.  They lose their ability to explore.  They get jaded.  They never visit the strip again. 
My buddy was talking about how they can't afford the expensive downtown shows and I told him how my wife and I went to O and Zumanity for free and how the cheaper shows are good as well.  I did 9 shows this trip (two with my wife) and it cost me $52.  Even after I had him print my coupons at Eastside Cannery he did not join and use Webpass and he lives near there. 

Even if it did happen that only locals were allowed discounted long term passes, it would not be a bus deal breaker.  Full price for 15 or 30 day passes is still a decent deal.
I just don't think it will happen.
It is a real shame that they made senior citizen tourists second class riders on strip buses (with residential 24 hour passes) while improving their bus system at the expense of Federal dollars.  I am thinking that they won't want to do that for folks who stay for long stretches at a time.  If they do, I'm going to figure out a way to get a local ID.

You just go to the Eastside Cannery site and click on the Webpass icon and sign up.  I suggest keeping Facebook out of the signup.  You just set up a user name and password and you won't have EC with access to your Facebook.  There are games to play there too if you like that sort of thing.  If you do play the games, don't do well at them right away.  We collected quite a few points from improving our early low and seemingly braindead scores a little at a time, more than we would have by doing really well right away. This is for games where score is kept and points are given for beating your previous best, you want just to edge up the score a bit at a time.
After earning a certain number of points we bought into the "advanced" games using Cannery points and those were somewhat better and a good deal because you don't actually have to play anything to accumulate points.
Just clicking on them gets you 100 points each, so clicking through the icon menu of games can get 1800 points every day.
I collected so many points when the room and freeplay deals were still of value  that I only go in now and click on the main game, usually some pick-a-box kind of game, then I go find the two keys at the bottom of a couple pages they would like me to read, and I do the fill in the blank.  Sometimes I search out the fill in the blank on the site, sometimes I remember it as they repeat, but  most times I copy it and paste it into a search with eastside in the key words and the internet gives me the missing word.  Today the key word is "Latin."
So a free buffet right now is 18000 points and in a few minutes this morning I collected 2500.  They add up fast.  Make a separate account for each of you so that you double the benefits.
There are also month drawings for freebies.  These might just hit on a month you are going.  Mine don't and so I don't win when I win.
The free gift is a cap, but Eastside has a fine cap and slightly changes the design every little while.  It is always black with dignified logo lettering and worn backwards as my wife did this trip, it says Las Vegas on the strap.  It goes well with any black outfit.  It would not be the cap for August as it is well made, but it is great here at home in November.
Webpass is a local's focused program.  They get more benefit.
In the beginning this was a really generous program and they were actually giving freeplay, but now the freeplay comes after playing more points than I earn.  Frustrating is that once you buy an offer you can't return points that you don't use.  However, if I stay there, I might take along with me one of the freeplay coupons because I will play more. 
All that being said, if you buy an offer with points, redeem the printed voucher within 7 days, you have 30 days then to use the offer.  So next trip I'll probably go with the free gift voucher, free buffet, free 2 for 1.  I might even use the reduced rate room offer if I decide to stay out there, but frankly I got better deals right on the website.  By the way seniors get a $10 reduced rate just by asking.  There is no resort fee.  And the views are spectacular.  Each trip I think I'm going for a corner room again, but then I go for cheaper places downtown, but Sam's and Eastside have more to draw me now and the strip has less.  I also think it might be a place I can meet my dysfunctional relatives by just sitting with my novel in Sam's Courtyard for a couple nights and asking them to find me.
When I stayed a few years ago

In those days I could ask for a corner room and get it if they were available.  Now it costs more money, but I am still thinking of doing it, as the tub is wonderful.  Other benefits for me to the area:
  • Claudine Castro late night Latin Lounge Act on Monday
  • Sam's Toast of the Town show free on Thursday
  • East bus to the strip (long 43 minute ride) because the 201 gives the driver a ten minute break right at the EC parking lot.
  • Bank of America drive in machines (I walk through) right across the street.  No fees for money from my account.
  • Walmarts right across the street for snacks or any needed stuff.
  • Longhorn Casino.  This place is supposed to have good cheap food, I just never run out of buffet cheapies or freebies, so I don't get there.  They have three American Casino Guide Coupons in the 2014 edition.  The newbie signup points almost equals a free meal. 
  • Sam's has the 200 points will earn a buffet in the American Casino Guide. 
  • ACG has other coupons along Boulder (Boulder Station, Arizona Charlie's, Club Fortune) 
  • Down Boulder on buses you can access Jokers Wild for the cheapest craps in Vegas when they offer it (call first)  or Club Fortune for a decent poker tournament and $5 freeplay with ACG.

Boulder used to be a good spot to get a bus to Sunset Station, but now going from downtown takes half the time because the HDX changed its schedule and no longer stops at Sam's Town.
Maybe it will change back. 
It is a long bus ride from downtown to Sam's Town now, just as long as from the strip.  However, there is the Sam's Town free shuttle and that cuts the time.  I can never get organized for it.  It runs about every hour and fifteen minutes taking just 20 minutes from the California or a half hour from Harrah's.

Just give yourself time for long lines and dysfunction.  That really frustrated me last trip.  Now I just go with it.  They don't do the Webpass electronically.  They do put in their freeplay offers electronically and just a very small amount of play in October generated a $12 freeplay in November so if you straddle months when you come and go to the EC the first week you are in Vegas, you may have some additional freeplay by the end of your trip.

Sunday, November 10, 2013


This was an unusual trip for me.  I am a frugal traveler and when I go to Vegas the room is less important than my ability to stay for 20 or more days. 
This trip my wife was coming along for a week and for four days we were having a fine meetup with her rarely seen brother and his wife from California.

So the first week of the trip was to be much more upscale:
  • Rooms that stressed comfort
  • Cabs not buses
  • Visiting more than gambling
  • Upscale restaurants rather than cheap buffets
  • Visits to some parties Elizabeth's brother attends as part of his work.
The last 12 days of the visit I was solo and frugal again.  In fact, I spent just $149 for my hotel rooms those 12 nights, much less than one night at the Trump Tower, and instead of $45 entrees, I picked my way through veggies and fruit and eggs and soup at buffets that both met my diet needs.  The buffets I supplemented with Walgreen's mixed nuts and fruit in the room.  This allowed me to eat well for about $13 a day.
I saw O and Zumanity with my wife for free on MyVegas, and then I saw 7 more shows solo for total cash of $57.

I came home with $450 profit, and I calculate that except for tips I spent under $250, and my split of the Orleans rooms with Elizabeth was $105, and my bus transportation cost just $18, so even adding in tips, it was a free trip this time.  My wife picked up most of the expenses of the upscale week and her brother picked up the cabs and would have done more if we had let him.  He is a generous fellow.  My air was free on my Southwest charge card. 

To follow my experiences and thoughts look for "TR Snippet" introducing a topic. 



Who says two wrongs don’t make a right.    Half way to Albany I realized that I had forgotten my phone.  I could not turn back as I had to drop the van with my son and then get to the airport with Elizabeth on time.  So, I just got depressed thinking how difficult it would be to coordinate anything with my Vegas relatives, my old high school locker mate, my poker buddy, or my wife and her brother.  Damn!!!

 When my wife arrived, she said she had not noticed it there on the dresser.  That was my hope.
In the security line a woman was on the phone apologizing to someone that she really did in fact have her phone, that she had put it in her purse.

 Well, that was worth another check.  In my right shirt pocket I found my phone.  What a relief to be an idiot once again!
My son brought my van and I dropped him home.  On the way I blew a tire along the highway.  I called my wife and she called triple AAA and also came out to my site.
Of course, I was not prepared.  No working flashlight.  Not enough light to read the emergency flare directions.  I just took guesses. 
I had no idea where the spare tire was located.  It turns out that it is mounted under the van and a special tool cranks it down.  Good thing it had air. 
The Pakistani guy who came out with his truck knew just what to do and also how to be kind to an overtired old guy.  I tipped him $20 because he was so kind and paid so good attention to details.
I bought a tire the next day for $154.

TR Snippet Dewey goes upscale

Most of you know I travel extremely frugal on my solo trips to Vegas.  However, travel with my wife is just the reverse.   For gambling, she does not like more than just a small taste of penny slots in a quiet venue.  She is not a great fan of buffets.  She likes upscale hotels because the room is a big part of the trip for her, in Vegas or other venues.
She comes perhaps once in five years for part of my 20 plus day trips.  Generally, when she is with me I don't gamble much, and we concentrate on shows and good restaurants.  We have separate money, and she treats for the expensive stuff, so actually I get a really great deal.  For the same airfare I get a week of fun with her and then a couple weeks on my own or with other gambling friends or Vegas local relatives or folks from discussion boards and this trip I spent time my old high school locker mate who I've seen just three times since 1963 when we graduated. 
This trip Elizabeth and I  met up with my wife's brother and his wife who also love the luxury end of life.  He treats often and easily, and that is fine as well, but I would not want a reputation as a freeloader, so we have to negotiate.   They do drink more than we do.  I am cut way back since my diabetes to just red wine and rarely do I want to pay restaurant prices for that.  Jim has a summer place in Heldsberg CA so he knows good wine.

So, my first week was upscale this trip.  And then I had 12 days of fugal solo.  It was ideal really.  I'd love to do it again.


TR Snippet My hotelsx


I always like these rooms.  I wish they had more video poker that was playable.  I'd stay there more often.
With my wife, for three days it was a fine compromise between frugal and upscale.  But she told me next trip we will go more upscale, perhaps the Aria.
It also fit in well with tickets to O and Zumanity and Bellagio and Aria buffets.
We went to McMullen's one night for a Swithwick's and just missed the two for one happy hour advertiser special.  Off the diet potato chips were a great treat.
We had really rich and decadent oyster chowder at Al's.  It was expensive, but a great treat.
The rooms are always comfortable and quiet.  The pool was warm enough in mid October for me and the Jacuzzi was great for my wife.
She just wants to avoid the noise of the casino next trip.  Aria was very quiet when she played her penny slots.


This was my wife's choice driven by her brother Jim's  choice, and I think it was a great one.  Folks wanted to avoid the noise and confusion of a casino and this place is quiet and smoke free.
Actually, my wife was a bit disappointed and thought for the expense it should be somewhat better.  I think disconcerting was that the clock could not be set. 
We tried.  The bellman who brought our bags tried.  Then the maid tried and then she brought in a maintenance fellow who tried. All failed.
The next day we called maintenance and a fellow came who tried and I could see he was as lost as all the rest of us, so I said,
"You know, we don't really need all the whistles and bells.  If you could just switch this out for a ten dollar digital K-mart clock,that would be enough.  I just need to be able to check the time when I wake up in the middle of the night."
He said he could do that.
"Great!  And while you are here could you try looking at the coffee maker because the coffee plastic slides they left us do not fit this coffee maker."
He told me that it was an older model.
So, when we got back from our outings that day we had a clock and a new coffee maker.  I would think that might have been done with no requests from us and just as part of the daily maid service.

The bathroom was huge in this place with separate areas for everything.
I liked the oversized tub for my soaks.  Fashion Show Mall was just across the street and at Bath and Body Works I bought some organic salts called Stress Relief

and it did wonders for my psoriasis over the trip.
To took tubs at the D and at the Four Queens,
but the best bathtub was the large one here in the Towers.

I also liked the breakfast area.  We could have breakfast and sit and talk as long as we wanted without any feeling of being rushed. 
The pool was comfortable.
There was a shuttle to the Wynn and to Caesar's that usually was easy to access.  One time when we came back by cab from some adventure, there was a huge line.  No line every affected our travel.

We walked to the Wynn.  It is an easy walk.  It is ugly.  Whatever Wynn planned and abandoned has left a field of rubble.  But it was easy enough to walk it.

Normally I care little about the room.  When I am awake I am either writing on the word processor or getting ready to find a poker game.  But with my wife the pace slows.  I don't gamble much.  So when I am awake, I like comfort.

That being said I can't say I'd recommend this place.  There must be many better alternatives for folks looking for upscale. 
My wife says that next time we should look at the Aria for the upscale portion of the trip.  So I better get playing that MyVegas for rooms as well as food and shows.

For my solo 12 nights I stayed downtown and paid $149 total with tax for all my rooms.  That was much less than one night at the Trump Towers.


I always love the Cabana rooms, but I'll try not to stay on the ground floor next visit.  I had a good deal, two nights for $50, but I had a rotten first night.  I didn't like the first floor because I feel like I was right on the sidewalk.  Sometimes I could hear a word or two as people pass; I did not  feel tucked in and off the street.    I only like the first floor because it is close to ice and requires no elevator. 

I was tired my second night, and I expected that when I rolled in at midnight, I'd go right to sleep.  Instead I stayed awake. 
I began to worry about going to the Four Queens around the Life is Beautiful celebration.  Perhaps I'd be blocked from walking over to the casino due to closed streets.  Perhaps someone would ask for a $100 plus arm band just so I could access my next hotel. 
I was particularly anxious after talking to the El Cortez poker guys.  The EC poker room was to be closed that weekend.  Folks needed to enter using just one door.
I called the Four Queens, and they were not at all helpful and barely courteous. I find that so rare at that casino.   The clerk did not know what streets might be closed. The city had not told them anything,  she said. She could not say how I should make the walk.  She was useless, and it was the wrong hour to pass me on to anyone else in the casino.
She did try to talk me out of walking altogether.  In her mind with luggage it was a long walk and should be avoided.  Every once in a while I get advice from someone who gives advice I don't need. She was really an idiot.  Finally, she did seem to know that the cabs would be working, so I could cab it.
That did not help my anxiety.
Finally I did sleep some, but I knew that I would not be able to go all day with enough energy to enjoy the bull riding that night at the campus, and so I gave that up and never did get to see it. 
I should have gone to the Cabana desk and asked.  The next morning they did know what streets were closed and assured me I would have no difficulty.  I needed merely to walk North for one more block on Ogden and then South to the Four Queens.  Fremont Experience was not being closed.  Even if the woman at the Four Queens had told me just that small  bit of information I could have slept easily.
I am still angry with her.  I should have taken her name and written a complaint.

One other nice feature of these Cabana rooms is the free candy and fruit in the lobby.  I can't eat much candy, no more than one M and M, but each time I passed I could grab a banana or a pear.  These, with some Walgreen's nuts make a small meal.  I had two pieces left when I went to the Four Queens and they went with me. 
For a guy eating light most of the time and healthy as much as possible, these paid for the upcharge in the rooms over Pavillion or Vintage.
I am frugal and I don't need much, but I need more than Vintage or Pavillion.
Also, the Cabana refrigerator is just fine for cold drinks. 
I read of people catching these rooms for $20 a night, but I have yet to find those deals.  I'd like to.  I don't try to play for any comps here at the El Cortez, as I do at the D, and the Four Queens, so it lets me concentrate my bankroll in places where I get comped.
I did play some coin dropper 10/7 VP at the EC.  I really do like these old machines because the cards come very slowly, and so the experience of the anticipation of possibilities is much increased and so the pleasure of playing.
Years ago just $1000 run through the VP would score an offer of three nights and two rooms.  Those were the good old days.


Negative comments have been written on discussion boards about the D, but it still is one my favorites downtown.  The room was equal to the Four Queen's room except that the Keurig coffee maker makes coffee in the room too expensive while the Four Queens lets me make a pot of about three cups totally free.  I was prepared for the D;  I brought along Melita screened canisters

and used coffee collected at other hotels in my many travels along with cinnamon.  I intended to get some fancy coffee, but I had so much collected over travels and stored in my suitcase that I just used that.  Four screened canisters cost about ten dollars.  A tea bag placed in the screen brews a nice cup of tea.  I keep one screen for tea and one for coffee and that way the two did not blend as they do in some in room coffee makers.
My buddy in Springville NY has screened canisters with different colors, but I just let the tea bag stay in the tea canister until I wanted the next cup of tea.
Coffee is easy to get from the maids at the Four Queens.  I don't take housekeeping, but I do catch them in the hall, remind them I don't want service, and ask for coffee.  They are very accommodating.

The D $20 resort fee I have read about seems really crazy.  I understand the game they play with that on the discounter sites so they can look the cheapest, and so they get more money per room with less going to the discounter.  However, I play video poker just enough for 2 for 1 nights up to four nights per month.  I booked before the resort fee, but when I checked in the clerk said that my offer would not have incurred a resort fee, regardless of when it was booked.  So call and check and see what the deal is if you get an offer.  Or call and see if you have an offer.  I don't always get the mailings, but if I call, I get the 2 for 1.
It does not seem to take very much play to get a two for one offer. And it seems that they are using the resort fee just to get good placement on the ranked lists of Vegas hotels.  It may be that any offer would exclude the fee. 
In contrast, last trip my offers at Sam's Town have added their resort fee to paid nights, but perhaps there the free nights are scattered throughout the month and not offered as 2 for 1. 
As for the D elevators, I have no idea what folks are talking about who complain about how slow they are.  I did not wait long at any time and the wait was always based on crowds rather than the speed of the elevator. They were full of people checking out and coming in at noon when I got my room, but I got up and down from the 24th floor quickly and easily. 
The Four Queens actually had slower elevators than the D.  But again it seems of little concern.  I liked them better than the speedy elevators at the Trump which went so fast our ears popped.  Others disliked this as well.
They extended my stay for free  until 1 PM at the Four Queens, so I could book the D room and look for bedbugs without rolling luggage and then come back for my luggage once I was satisfied.  The D rooms looked pretty clean.  I vacuum better at my house, but the rest was fine.
The mattresses looked new and I could easily access them to check for bedbugs.  They have that same ridge of material on the mattress as I find at the Four Queens and that is where the little devils would gather were they around, so I think the checking is easier.  I do check everywhere. 
No signs this trip. 
The light by the bed had two plug areas that easily accommodated my sleep apnea machine.  The counter desk had one for my computer. 
The Four Queens had two desk chairs; The D only one.
The D view was compromised by that damn screen over the window holding the big stockinged leg.  I hate the experience of noir in such views, but I don't much do the view anyway, so it is not a deal breaker.  Mine was also obstructed by patches in the screen.  Very tacky look.

I only had the really loud noise of the casino first floor downstairs when I walked out and it might be avoided by going out the back entrance rather than through the casino.  Otherwise I used the elevator to get to Floor 2, the Vintage floor. 
To get back late at night I either braved the noise to see the pretty dancing girls or used the escalator to go directly to the second floor and then the elevator to my room.
Oh...okay.... I almost always braved the noise to see the pretty girls.  It is like a strip club without the dollars required as tips and not lasting forever.
It was average casino loud upstairs on the 2nd floor, even at the bar, but the music was all really old rock and roll, even some Elvis, and delighted me. They have a great Boze system and I heard parts of lyrics of some very familiar songs  that I have missed over 50 years . 

Actually, the noise of the machines around the full pay progressive DB video poker in the Four Queens and the shouting of the craps shooters and the hooting of some idiot woman at the blackjack table who must have thought every little win worth celebrating....all these bothered me more than any noise at the Vue bar.  It is at the Four Queens that I am considering playing with noise reduction earphones or ear plugs on my next trip. Or I can I play during quiet hours there.
I do suggest playing at the D along the bar close to the street entrance unless it is very cold out and the opening of the door is bothersome.  That gets us far enough away from the noise of the Sigma Derby which can jar on nerves a bit. 
I love the little D cafe.  It is perhaps my favorite for a light breakfast and usually one of those is with a $5 coupon.  I get poached eggs and mixed fruit and it comes with delightful rye bread and a really gormet taste of jam. 
I ask for cinnamon for the berries and use what is left in my room to add zest to my coffee.  I had a ten dollar voucher and grabbed supper, but it is not a place to easily eat supper on my diet. 
I tried the Southern field green salad and it was one of the most delicious meals I have eaten, with tender bits of beef tips, wonderfully grilled eggplant, delicious greens, and a very tasty brown dressing on the side.  The rolls were just wonderful small rolls with a crisp outer covering.  However, it must be loaded with sugar or the two rolls I ate may have been too many carbs because two hours later my blood sugar had spiked. 
Also, with play, I see that I build up food comps separate from my cashback comps. 
If they keep the resort fee off the offers and keep the good paytable at the Vue bar, I'll choose this place every trip. 
This time I was very smart.  I booked my three nights of weekend in October (free) at the Four Queens, then 4 nights at the D, then 3 nights of weekend in November(free) at the Four Queens.  I get just 3 nights a month there but weekend nights are included.  Moving luggage from one to the other is absolutely the easiest move in Vegas.  Out the back door right near check in, across a dead end street and in the other door.  If I needed to, I could have taken three trips with no great discomfort.
And early checkins are very common if rooms are available in both casinos. 
No early check in  fee. 
No hassle. 
If they have a room ready, you get it.
More often now at the Four Queens I don't get early check in because I lock up a room to have later that is my pick.  I like the South Tower rooms that end in 26, so that I am at the end of the corridor and have no neighbor on one side.  This is quieter and yet I can play TV at 2 AM and not bother anyone.

So I left my things packed at the Four Queens and played some morning poker at the Golden Nugget, had breakfast and got to the D around noon.  I checked into the room, collected my keys, did the bedbug check, all without luggage.  Then I went back, retrieved my luggage, and had a straight shot at the room.
There was a noise at the D that I really dislike.  It sounds like a small alarm and perhaps it is, but the source seems to be outside. It probably would not bother most people, and with the fan on in the room, I could not hear it.  I used my noise reduction earphones while on the computer and that took most of it away.  I read while soaking in a bath and there was no noise there.
It does not wake me from sleep, but the white noise advantage of a sleep apnea machine covers most small annoying noises.  And one interesting trip is that I just pull the covers up over my head.  I never liked the stuffiness of that for sleeping, but the apnea machine brings in fresh air from outside my little cocoon.  It works.
So it did annoy me, but it was not a deal breaker.
I also could just barely hear folks in other rooms here.  So it is not the most quiet of rooms.
And I don't seem to manage end rooms the way I can at the Four Queens.  Otherwise I like The D  just fine.

I also am going to try to get bathtubs on future trips. 
Soaking my psoriasis every day with some stress relief bath salts I got from Bath and Body works in the Fashion Show Mall really made a difference in this annoying skin condition.
Both the D and the Four Queens had a bathtub.  It was not as large as I might like, but I could read for a half hour and get most of my spots under water and in the salt.  I am thinking again of the huge bathtubs in the corner rooms of the Eastside Cannery.  Perhaps I'll pay the extra bucks for a couple nights there next trip.
I think all the rooms had a safe.  I know I used the safe at the Four Queens and at the D.

Since staying I read this comment on a discussion board:
For an extra 5 or 6 bucks a night you can get a corner king (larger room, refrigerator, and a sleeper sofa) well worth it. I got it using the $20 trick but in all honesty the price would be about the same just to book it.

The entire discussion of the D is here:



TR Snipper - Life is Beautiful Festival

This even sure made me feel old.  All the music was unknown to me.
Diabetes food restrictions make the gourmet food choices an impossible adventure.
So I did not pay $100 plus for an armband just to get on the property.
Most of the festival goers seemed college aged.  I'd like very much to be them again, but here I am and old, fat, psoriasis scarred remnant of a man.
"Sir," they would call me.

Fremont was not closed.  I worried about going from El Cortez to Four Queens and rolling luggage along closed streets.  I worried into the night, sleepless at the El Cortez Cabana. I called the Four Queens and that made it worse.  So rarely do I get anything bad at the Four Queens, but this woman just raised my anxiety with her ignorance and her insistence that it was insane to think about rolling my luggage between the Cabana rooms and the Four Queens, much to long a journey.
What was she thinking?  I never told her my age.
She said the the Festival had not informed the hotels of what streets were closed.
Well, that turned out to be a lie.
And it was 2 AM.  I did not want to go to the El Cortez cabana clerk.  I should have.  They had a fine map that showed all the closures and she assured me that I'd not have to walk far to find a road over to the unclosed Fremont Street.

The biggest problem with the Festival for those of us too old to enjoy it was that no one had many answers. 
Bus stops were moved, and the drivers did not seem to know much more than I did.  I guess I need a phone app, but so far I have not given in to getting a smart phone.  I think I will before my next trip. 

I was lucky to book the Four Queens over the weekend with comped rooms.   Room rates were very high. 
Also parking was expensive everywhere.  One dealer at the Golden Nugget told us that she pays $69 a month for parking, but she had to pay $20 extra for one day. 
It surprises me that folks would not just park at the BTC and take one of the buses in and out of downtown. 
The El Cortez closed their poker room and all of their entrances except one.  That news raised my anxiety too.

I figured that the inability to find cheap parking  might keep locals out of the GN poker room, and it did seem to do that to some extent.  I was unlucky in cards, but the pots were huge for those with good flops. 
I played until after midnight and got the $10 voucher for breakfast at the Nugget. 

I stayed in the downtown area that weekend because I thought the buses might be packed, but perhaps they were not. 
For the BHX one morning I walked up to the stop near the old Western on 8th and Fremont, but that was closed, so I had to walk up to Maryland. 
I don't much like that neighborhood.  I did not want to do that coming back, and thought I'd just ride the BTC and catch another bus there, but the BHX dropped me downtown near Fremont.

I suggest that if you are asking where to get off on your way to the El Cortez, you ask where to get off close to the Fremont Experience rather than close to the El Cortez.  Near Fremont the neighborhood is fine.  It may be a longer walk to the El Cortez, but it won't raise the hackles of your streetsmart hairs.

I met two women participants in the festival over the week at the poker tables.  Both thought it was fun.  I also watched a girl from Scotland who came for the festival and to meet friends.  Three girls were a great entertainment on the bus and had I such company for the festival, I'd have gone. That story is here: 

At my age I need a young guide to such events. 
Still the food would have been too tempting.

I guess having such a festival is a great idea for the downtown.  But for me, it was pretty much all an annoyance.  Man, I sure am old.

TR Snippet - Discussing Mark Twain at the Venetian

While I tossed away and folded hand after hand, an old local and I discussed American literature:  Steinbeck, Joyce Carol Oates, Twain, London, Steven King, Poe.  It wasn't a detailed discussion with critical depth, but he had read most of the books.  He presented the idea that Twain is banned from some school libraries.  I told him that for 20 years I taught Twain in the inner city to my honors classes and they ate it up. 
But again perhaps times are different now.  We certainly had long discussions of racism inn those classes, and the idea that audience changes over time.  I also had great backup material especially one video that describe Jim as the first multi-dimentional Black character in American literature. 
No  student was ever forced into reading anything in my classes that offended them, but no student ever objected to Twain.  I could always offer substitutes and alternative assignments, but my Black students knew my love and respect for Black literature and they loved the freedom to argue that Twain was a racist.  Few argued very long.
Huck of course is the character they can best identify with.  He could have come from their neighborhood.
And they did get that great irony when Huck is guilty about not turning Jim because of the way he has been raised in a racist society.  That single part of the novel is perhaps the best way I know to teach irony and to point out that sometimes an author has a character purposely be oblivious to the truth that the author  wants the reader to understand.  Similar is Scout's descriptions in To Kill a Mockingbird.

 Well, it distracted me from a game in which I could only play the best cards in best position. 

TR Snippet - Live Limit Pokerx


I always played at Flamingo in spite of the large rake.  I thought the number of loose tourists overcame the additional rake.  I only need one extra person calling pots I win when they should not to overcome the rake.  Then too I liked the dealers there who knew me.  And I knew some of the regulars.
However, I did not even play once there this trip.  They dropped all the bonus pays and concentrated on a city wide bad beat.  This is always a long shot and only good if a tourist happens to hit the cycle when lower quads need to be beat.  Otherwise it is just $2 more out of every pot. 
Limit poker won't sustain that. 
Now also the hourly comps earned per hour are less valuable because all the CET buffets jumped their prices. 
Finally, resort fees at all properties and the end of the Quad as a frugal choice as well as the steady erosion of room offers reduced the benefits of playing to nothing.
One of the goals this trip was to find other places to play regularly.  I did some exploration, but I still have places to try.
I learned that M Life points do not expire like CET points. So that means I don't have to go every six months or get a charge card or get a buddy to play for me on my card. 

I probably would like the MGM games.  I did not get to try them this time.
Both of these are much more accessible from downtown with the WAX dropping right at Tropicana.
I did like the Nugget downtown and Sam's Town.  I played there often.  And there are other games to explore in the future while I look for a home.

I noted that Brian is still a brush. I like him. They had a tournament but did not have a 2-4 game and of the times I was there.
I heard from local friends at Sam's Town that folks are disgusted with the EC game and the casino was struggling to keep it alive.  Mostly locals play the limit games in both places, so they determine the life or death of the poker room.  One particular complaint was not having full tables.

I was sorry not to be able to get Wild Bill out there for a game as he is a real baseball aficionado. The last time I was there all the regulars at the table talked and bet baseball and Bill would have enjoyed the chatter. 

As for me, I'd rather have the pretty girls who show up once in a while at the Golden Nugget.  I'm not a big baseball fan.


I liked the 2-6 game on one visit here did quite well.  It was full of loose tourists.  One even paid me $20 to vacate my seat so his buddy could play.
The second visit was a disaster.  There were a few bad players when I first arrived, but I never was in a hand with them because my cards were so bad.  Then the table filled up with local regulars Perhaps coming in to see the football and enjoy the high hand promotion each quarter. 
I was licked and I knew it. 
I retreated, having lost $125, my largest Limit loss of the trip. 
They rake $5 for the house and $1 for promotion here.  That is pretty high. Sam's town rakes just $3 for the house  and $2 for promotions. 
I am still not really finding a game I love consistently.  I guess the Golden Nugget 2-4 when high hand promotions are up (2 AM to 2 PM) is the most comfortable. 
No limit just does not seem to work for me in Vegas, and I often get tired out and could not play it tired even if I found a game I liked and could afford.
Then too, in a town where I might play with folks from all over the world, the 2-4 games offer opportunity for social interaction.  NL games rarely have much good story telling, just bits on "outs" or "junk" or "rivers" and such.  I like the poker, but it is after all the same game over and over again whereas the lives of strangers offer infinite variety.

I liked staying downtown, waking at 3 AM and wandering down to the Golden Nugget game with enough time to earn a $`10 breakfast voucher.  It will certainly be part of my upcoming trips.  They told me that they would honor the ACG coupon about once a month.  I just had one this year.  For a while, some regulars were abusing this and the breakfast voucher, so they don't change breakfast voucher dates anymore. 
That is a disadvantage.  Most comps earned in most rooms go on a card and can be used anytime.


They have a 2-6 spread which I like, but it is local and regular dominated.  I walked in and saw my old friend Kevin and a group of the local players there. 
The game confused me. 
I just thought some of the betting was strange.  Once a fellow with the nut hand did not bet the river.
They did say that they all played with one another regularly, and they seemed to be there more for the cracked aces than to take each other's money. 
They gave me too much respect, perhaps because Kevin had greeted me, and so I bet on the come and second best and generally stole pots with a $4 bet. 
I scooped up a few pots early on, but my profits drained away.  I left with about $27 profit and a good visit with Kevin.  I like the room and the game, but I don't understand the betting, and I give everyone respect. 
One interesting hand was playing J-Q with just one opponent and drawing out a straight to crack his Aces, but it was before they paid any bonus, so he just lost.  
I'm not certain he was very happy with me. 

Kevin came in to the poker room again on my second night, but he did not stay because he was annoyed that they had opened a third table while still having two empty seats at the first two tables and some of the seats filled with props.  They do fill tables with props to keep games going.  This practice reduced the odds of Cracked Aces.

On that second visit Bob Reynolds was there and my buddy from home, Wild Bill, sat next to him.  They talked horses the entire time.  Bob had his handicapping software right there and went over some of the races with Bill before the Breeder's Cup race. 
It was neat to connect them, two guys who love the ponies.
The game this night was fine.  There were two people who bet poorly, one who complained about the game because it was not a no limit game. 
I love to play with no limit players on a limit poker table.  It always annoys them and puts them off their game.  They just don't get it. 
I had pocket Aces once, but they won, and so I did not get the $100, but collected a small pot.  
I had made $39 when Bill decided to head back to the strip to watch the girls parade in Halloween costume.


I played well here on my first visit.  Generally, I was very tight/ aggressive.  There were a bunch of braggarts speaking both English, German, Polish and overbetting. 
I did not get too many good cards. 
My best hand was K-J which did nothing on the flop and I just decided to try the trick of raising on the button.  The turn gave me nothing. All checked to me and I checked.  The river looked like it gave no one anything.  They checked to me again and I took a stab and bet the $6, stealing a pretty good pot.  One guy's comment let me know that he had bet A-K.  It was a foolish move that paid off by luck and the fact that I bet out only once in an hour. 
I played next to Jackie Gaughn and it was the day before his 93rd birthday.  He is terrible.  He splashes every pot and the only disappointment is when he catches an unexpected river card and takes the pot.
Other times I noted that, at least in the evening, it is not only rock hard locals but some tourists and newbies to the game.  However, they end the game around 2 AM, staying a little while longer if it is full, but ending still before the late night fish can really splash the pot.
Jerry had one of the high hands each day I was there.  He played to my right the last visit and tried to bet me off my pair of kings with a big $6 on the river.  I called against my better judgment, and he had nothing but 2-9.  I was surprised he had even played such crap.  He bet the entire way.
He is a good player.  He just took me as a fellow who has more sense than I actually have. 

I am sorry they don't play beyond 2 AM, as I suspect that the regulars would wander over to the Golden Nugget for the double bonus promotion and leave the rest there for me.

Since they double the bonus hands from 2 AM to 2 PM, quite a few regular locals show up about 9 in the morning.  They play a very tight game.  No one raises preflop.  They want to be able to see the flop as easily as possible and to connect with possible bonus hands or fold. 
They play well.  If you bet third best against them, someone will win or you will collect a very small pot.
On the Saturday of the Life is Beautiful festival I thought perhaps the high cost of parking would keep the locals away and the tables would fill with festival going tourists. To some extent that may have worked, but not enough to really change table selection.
On that Saturday one guy just bet or raised whenever the spirit moved him.  His pal was drunk and misread his hand or tried to push us off on the river. 
I called with pocket queens on the river and took a huge pot with just queens holding up.  Another local named Tony had the nut straight and did not raise the drunk.  The drunk had misread his hand and had a pair of kings, or he was just that bad a player. Tondy missed the raise because he was sure they were splitting the pot. 
Tony chewed over and over his not raising what he expected might be a chopped pot.
I flopped 4 tens for bonus, slowplayed while people bet into me, missed the raise on the river because the better was after me and checked.  Still had a good pot and $50 bonus.  Good too as my final profit for the session was $45, just the amount left of the bonus after a $5 dealer toke.

Another time I had one hell of a morning.  Two hands that I had before the river became hands that everyone shared on the river.  Once I had the nut hand on the turn, Broadway. 
I had the queen. 
I raised and was called. 
No one had a queen, but one showed on the river, the board played,  and the pot was split four ways.
On my last hand I had two pair on the flop and bet it.  I was called.  The river was a king and my opponent held pocket kings.
So I lost $100 that session. 

In the beginning there were just a few of us and the rake was 50 cents and a dollar for bonus.  We played one big blind.  Nice.  The rake is $4 with a dollar for the bonus.  The rake at Monte Carlo was $5 and $1.  Although the pots were small, I think it was still a good game.  Chopping was common.
I lost a had when I bet second best, a ten with a queen kicker.  The flop had been an Ace and my opponent had checked that Ace and bet it when the ten came. 
The guy who called my bluff once only had a pair of sevens.  He just was not folding 
I should have known. 
I tried two bluffs and both failed.  I only tried twice, and I thought showing both would set me up to be called on river bets. 
A woman sat next to me, but she was a bit annoying.  I asked her about the Life is Beautiful and whether it was worth the $100 to $140 armband entrance. 
She justified it in a defensive manner. 
I then asked details, and she continued to argue it was a good deal, without answering any of my questions about what was free inside and what required more payment. 
I hate to talk with people who have attitude but no facts. 
Later she complained that she had turned around, and when she turned back her cards were gone.  I doubt that happened, as she was in an end seat.  However, I showed her my card protector and told her the advantage of using one. 
She was not impressed. 
An injustice had been done. She did not want to take precautions that it would not happen again, but just to complain about it. 
And she had not really realized the problem until we were in the next hand. 
I like it when women join a game, but she could have stayed out.  I hate to play with whining folks just looking for a reason why they are victims.

Wild Bill and I played one night at a table that was very loose when we joined, and then gradually the worse players lost.  I did well but lost three times to pocket Aces when I held pocket kings, pocket queens, and pocket nines that went to a full house.  I bluffed one hand with K-Q and my opponent said that he put me on A-K and he had a smaller Ace, so he folded after my river bet. 
I did not tell him I bluffed. 
I just said that I thought I had him beat which was a lie, but then this is poker. 
However, I lied so poorly that I knew that the bluff would have to be my one and only river bluff.

My worst session was across two tables one morning and I left down $260.  In each case there were two preflop reraisers, so it was expensive to see the flop. 
The game then has the flavor of bingo. 
I had pocket Aces twice in a row and only won once.  
My first hand (before I had table information) was 6-9 of hearts in a preflop that was not raised.  It flopped so that an 8 would give me a straight to the 9, and I foolishly got squeezed after the flop and then had to call the raises on the turn because there was too much money in the pot to not try for an inside straight with the 9 as definite advantage. 
Well, I should have known from the raises that two 8's were out there already. 
The hand cost me $20.
I switched tables and it did not help.  I got killed.  Here I played with John from the UK who I know from my last trip and three Australians who I have played with before.  All are good players.
One maniac, a Black fellow, talked the whole game about what he knew about all our hands, even sometimes when he did not have cards.  I did not care because the cards he put me on were wrong 90% of the time, but he was sure he was a grand poker player and knew it all, even after the repeated ATM visits. 
Finally, he left in a huff with no money.
Then the second maniac tightened up his play to match the table of rocks. 
For some odd reason this fellow brought five racks of chips to the table and stacked up all the money. 
What was that about? 
Perhaps he thought it would intimidate new players. 
He too was a know-it-all.  I love running into Latinos at the table because maybe I get to talk about Central America or speak some Spanish, but this guy was an exception.  I finally had to just ignore him because he just went on and on and on,  and I could not understand him.  It was not his lack of English;  it was the weird things he argued.
Dennis from Ohio was there.  He is an old guy who generally wears a suit coat and must stay in Vegas a long while when he visits because everyone knows him. 
He is good humored and a fine player.
He bluffed me off a pair of nines when four hearts were on the board but he had nothing. He showed the bluff. 
I knew that he would not bluff for a long while after that one.
My kings went to trips twice.  Once I lost with lower kicker.  Once with pocket kings my opponent caught broadway on the turn and raised my bet.  I paired the board with a 4 on the river for the full house and he paid me off, but knew he was beat when I bet out.

Pots got small. 
It was too late.
I packed up and left.  The high hands were all down anyway.  Perhaps Saturday is not the morning to play.

Here are the notes I took that day:

Jim and I went to the Venetian to play 4-8 poker.  We caught seats right away at the same table and had a great few hours of banter with each other and some on the table who were not too serious.  The dealers were very friendly and it was a tourist crowd.  They were not terrible players, but they were not very good. 
Jim plays much better poker than I do and has much more experience, having played in the World Series and at many card rooms around California where poker card rooms are as commons as McDonald's.  This is unlike New York where the best gambling we can seem to build are rip off gambling machines with fake video poker.
He did well in the beginning and was well ahead of me.  My hundred dwindled down to about forty when I was dealt pocket Aces.
Jim was not in this hand. 
I bet aggressively. 
The flop came three hearts and I had the Ace of hearts.  The turn came an Ace, so now I can only be beat if someone has the heart flush already.  That did not seem likely.  No one raised me at all.  The river was a heart and I showed the nut hand and collected a nice pot that put me back over my buy in. 
The pots were large enough to offset a lot of small drains.
And the rake caps at four dollars with no bonus dollars taken and with the last dollar not raked until the pot is sixty dollars.  So while most casinos advertise a ten percent rake, but always take more, the Venetian advertises a ten percent rake, but often takes less.
Slowly I made some money, and I seemed to feel myself in the groove of the game.  Talk with Jim entertained me between hands.  Then the cards went a bit sour for both Jim and I.  After playing tight for a long while, I noticed that my table image was giving me too much respect with guys folding their own bet outs if I raised. 
So I started to steal, especially if I missed on the river and had nothing. 
Once I stole three pots in a row with nothing.  I never got caught.  I felt like I was my poker buddy Gregg back in the old days.
Jim and I were only in two hands together.  In one I held K-Q and flopped two pair.  I checked, Jim bet, and I check raised him with quite a few others in the hand.  By the river it was down to just Jim and I.  I was sure I had the pot, but I checked anyway.  He almost bet into me with his K-3 two pair. 
Had he done that I could have teased him all day about trying to get greedy when I was giving him a break.   As it was, I just teased about check raising him.
The other hand we were in together I had 7-9 of hearts on the button.  I raised to represent other higher cards and perhaps get a free card.  Reraises were unkown in this game so the raise filled the pot with lost of money.
The flop had both an Ace and a King.  All checked to me and I could feel their weakness. 
So I bet again, representing those high cards.  One guy and Jim called. 
On the turn I still had nothing, they checked around to me, and I checked, figuring I was lost. 
On the river I had nothing, but they both checked to me and looked weak. 
So I bet, and they both folded.  It took Jim a while to try to decide whether to dump his pocket 8's, but he did.
So, as well as a stolen pot, I had another hand to tease him about.
It is fun for me to have beaten him because he is such a better player. 
In the end I was up a hundred and twenty eight dollars, and he was even to the dollar. A good day of poker. 
I figured that half my profit was due to bluffing.
Before we really needed to leave, I sensed the change in the table.  New players were tighter, pots cut to half of what they had been, and I had that frustration of playing with all good players.  My button raises would take out both blinds.  I am following my instinct on table changes. 
So, I cashed out.  Jim was a few minutes behind me, but I felt good too about trusting that instinct and getting out with my profit before it drained away. 
Elizabeth shopped at the Fashion Mall while we played and had some quiet time.  She was very kind to free us up cheerfully.

Wild Bill and I got in a game at the Venetian on Saturday night that was full of aggressive players.  Most of the hands were won with middle straights on cards that did not connect at first.  One woman bet and raised everything she held.  More bingo.
I was lucky in two hands.  I got a free river and pulled the wheel on a hand I should not have played.  I held 5-7 in the big blind, asked Sherri the dealer to pick up the mental image of the card I wanted.
"I am thinking of a card, Sherrie," I said.
She flopped 6-8-9 and I said, "That is just perfect...could not be better..." and I was so not believable that a guy bet into me with two pair when the river tossed up the third spade and I feared my straight was dead. 
I could not believe he had bet fourth best hand. 
"I told you I had made the perfect hand on the flop, " I said.
But, of course, he took my banter as  bull and  as Bill pointed out, I had disengenously asked for "a card,"   so they all put me on a pocket pair. 
Sometimes the best bluff is to tell the truth.

In the end I lost $45 and decided the game was too rich for my blood.  I like a flop game, not one with so many preflop raises from folks with way too much money and cards why should really fold. 

Overall, I am happy to be out of the CET raking machine.  If I keep to my idea of leaving games that seem a poor selection for me and going to play when some bonus promotions are in effect, I think I can more than break even. 
And that is what I like.
Even more pleasant for me is the interaction with people from all over the world, the collection of their stories, and the tavern party like atmosphere of limit poker.


Mention Bob Reynolds and hook up with Bill.
won at the 2-6 limit where I saw Kevin and played with the regulars at Sam's.  It was a strange game.  I took a bunch of pots with some aggressive play early on and then tightened up when the cards did not come.   Their play was very complicated and based on what they knew of their opponents.   They did strange things on the river, like not bet because they knew no one would call, not even a $2 value bet. 
I was included perhaps because I knew Kevin.  Otherwise I would have been an outsider.  Then I also clearly knew about poker other places and about resort fees.  One woman thanked me for keeping her out of downtown this weekend.  It amazes me how insulated locals can sometimes be about what is happening in  Vegas.