Sunday, January 13, 2013

eastside cannery promotion

The newest promotion is a section on  the website where we can earn points toward coupons, freeplay, free nights.  Pretty neat idea.  Some of the points are earned by playing games and those are a good bit of fun.  A few of the spots don't work for me or Lucky Pete, but most do.  Clicking every day builds up points.  I hope by my next trip to have some deals.

PS   This ended up being a dysfunctional and disappointing promotion.  See this post


Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Sam's Town tidbits

* great VP including full pay deuces and 10/7 DB.
* American Casino guide coupon gets a free buffet with 200 points of play once a year.
* Sam's is one of the few places left with Silver Strike machines although the new coins are not made of real silver.
* Boyd card means points earned here can be used at Orleans, Gold Coast, etc. and vise versa.
* Young at Heart promos do point multiplication and cheap movies once a week for seniors.
*  Easy and quick bus ride from downtown.  Start across from the Gold Spike and take the HDX.  The BHX is slower and the one you need late night/early morning to return downtown. But getting there takes about 16 minutes as do early trips back on the HDX Check bus schedules to see when it runs. 
* There are also free shuttles from Sam's Town to the strip and to downtown at certain times of the day. 
As you can see there is a bit of service to the airport as well, but flights have to match the couple of shuttle times.
If I stay up there on Boulder at the end of a trip I am more likely to take the 202 from Eastside Cannery to Terribles, roll my luggage into the buffet and sit with coffee and food and my journal until I need to head to the airport, taking the 108 from there at Terribles.   But I don't like hanging about in the airport.  Terribles positions me so that there is a predictable time in riding to the airport.
* Any free nights earned at Sam's Town can be piggy backed with paid nights at Eastside Cannery where there is no resort fee, free room wifi, nice views in quiet rooms, and (for seniors) $10 off the rack rate making these nice rooms as low as $30 with no play.  Then check in check out from or to Sam's  is just a luggage roll.
*  I better like staying at Eastside Cannery and playing at Sam's.  The 202 ends up right in their parking lot and waits while the driver has a smoke.  I like that at night time because it puts me at a stop that is safe and well lighted and uncrowded.  I can watch for the bus from the casino circle at Eastside Cannery and have time to get to it long before it leaves for the strip or I can come back from the strip and be dropped off in a safe and worry free spot.
*bus rides to the strip are long, about 45 minutes, but there are plenty of things to do on Flamingo as well along the way.  During the day, dropping at Terribles and walking to Tuscany, Ellis Island and then to the strip is nice.  Also, no second bus is needed to go to the Gold Coast area for that casino, the Rio and the Palms.
Here are eateries I listed along Flamingo, accessible on the 202.  Here are eaties I listed a year ago on a trip:
Weiner Schnitzel
Panda Express
Zoba's Mexican Grill
Chill n yogurt
REd Lobster
Buffet Asian
McDonald's classic
Olive Garden
Blueberry Hill Dine
Long John Silver
Raising Cane
jack in the Box
Mint india Bistro (Swenson)
Bucadi Beppo
Mortan Steak House
Bahama Breeze
Hamap of Japan
Fogo de Chao
McCormic and Shmick (across from Tuscany)
lawry's Prime Rib
Tuscany Cantina
Flamingo is fast becoming my new strip as the upscale renovations on the strip push me out of my $  comfort zone.
* I can envision a cash trip that starts downtown at the Gold Spike (WAX from airport and luggage roll) heads to Sam's Town (HDX from Gold Spike) heads to Eastside Cannery (luggage roll) Takes a night or two at Terribles (202)  to see the newly renovated rooms and then uses their free shuttle ride to the airport after checkout and breakfast.  Such a trip even with no comps should put average room prices at about $30 with anything above that depending on higher weekend rates. Cover the weekend with a comp somewhere and it makes a cheap trip.
* I've stayed at the Orleans a few days, rolled luggage down Arville to Flamingo (30 minutes- that day skip the treadmill) or taken the 104, and taken that 202 bus out to stay at Sam's Town.  Stays near Flamingo or downtown can be easily followed with stays at Sam's because both the Boulder Highway buses and the 202 Flamingo buses are easy to ride with luggage, unlike stip buses which are more crowded and not as easily to negotiate with luggage.
* A large popcorn taken to the Sam's town movies can be refilled on the way out and taken to the room for a snack later.
*  The pool at Sam's Town is open from 8 am to 10 pm all year around, and some report it is heated while LAA advisor says it is not.  It plays fairly decent music and opens in the morning for early swims.
* Best free show in Vegas and different every week.  Toast of the Town at 2pm on Thursdays.  Geared to an older audience and selecting the second string talent of Vegas, but they are often very good.  Comedy, dance, song, a live band, never know. Also free drawings for small prizes.
*  Rooms were basic but checking for bedbugs was difficult because the mattresses are wrapped and rewrapped and then wrapped again.  Forget looking at the seams.
*  I don't eat this anymore but the McDonald's had a dollar menu and the quarter candy machines dispensed those wonderful Jelly Belly jelly beans
*  Walmarts is just across the street as is a Bank of America drive up ATM.  So retrieving room snacks and money is cheap.
*  Fine, cheap morning poker tournaments that are not hard to win. However, the cash games afterwards seemed to have too tough competition and a dull and boring mix of surly locals with nothing much of interest to say.  For cash poker Eastside Cannery has a 2-4 limit I like better.
* Nice place to start a bus journey to Sunset Station (BHX) or a visit to Henderson (HDX)  I like the Sunset bus stop on Boulder as a place to switch from one bus to another for different itineraries after that.
* Itinerary might look like this on Thursday:  Sleep at Gold Spike.  Eat breakfast, perhaps the great blueberry pancakes but perhaps not on the new strict diet. Walk across the street and take the bus to Sam's for the morning poker tournament.  After the tournament play Deuces or 10/7 DB earn free Sam's town buffet. See Toast of the Town show.  Walk down to Eastside Cannery for 4 hours of poker which earns a free supper buffet, or take the bus to Tropicana and the 201 to the Orleans for Comedy at Big Al's and a bit of play there.  Take that Orleans free shuttle to Bill's and walk over to play poker at Flamingo until early morning and then ride the Deuce back to downtown.  Walk up Fremont to the El Cortez and check the poker game there.  Then walk  out the back door to the Gold Spike to sleep. Note that getting around Vegas with Sam's Town in the mix is not that hard on buses.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Luxury in Vegas is relative

At home I go to gamble at Turning Stone Casino in upstate New York.
I throw a mattress in the back of the van, cover it with my favorite bedding and a fine soft pillow.
I hook up my homemade curtains for the side windows.
To block any light from the rear window, I bring a bit of masking tape and a black piece of plastic trash bag.
For $25 dollars even on weekend nights, I can park my room in a campsite where I can fish bass in the morning, get wifi on the picnic table where I cook my breakfast, get hot showers in the outside bathroom just a few steps away.
I have electric to plug in my computer or my sleep apnea machine.
Real camping luxury.

I am treated quite well by the "staff" (one woman who owns it and her husband who maintains it,)  and no one minds if I roll in as late as 2 AM after a night of poker. I come in as quietly as I can on low headlights and minimize the sound of closing my car doors.
In the cooler months when I best like to go, the place is uncrowded.
I don't usually sleep in too long, but I never sleep in too long in the morning, and I may come back for a nap in the afternoon if it not too hot out. 

I have discovered in Vegas that there is hot water as well as heat or air conditioning right inside the room, and I don't need to bring my own bed or towels or my own soap or shampoo. In fact, there is so much shampoo and soap that I often can bring enough home for my next few camping trips. At the Gold Spike I can get wifi and a heated pool for a morning swim, and Turner Classic Movies is on the television. When I take a nap, I can shut out much more daylight than I can camping.
Vegas is livin' in luxury.
Any Vegas bed without bedbugs is an improvement on my van.

And when I can get that luxury for $25 a night or free, I have more money left over for gambling.
On my last 23 day trip my rooms averaged out under $15 a night, so compared with the camping that gave me another $230, enough for three nights of poker, even if I lose money on all three nights.
My entire gambling budget for the trip would be lost with no chance of winning were I to pay just $30 more a night for a Vegas room as some Vegas visitors like to do. 
In the campground I have to bring my own liquor. I never do in Vegas and I get the luxury of variety, following a Myer's rum with a taste of nuts and berries or a rusty nail. 

I like the luxury of Vegas. I don't often miss the camping except perhaps some of those early mornings when I can't seem to sleep and wonder what the bass are hitting on the peninsula of the campground. I sometimes miss being able to cook my own breakfast in the fresh, pine scented outside air, but I can get by with that sacrifice, especially since often in Vegas, my breakfast is free, and there are no dishes and no need to replenish the ice in a cooler for a cold morning drink but unlimited cold water with lemon served in every buffet as well as juices.
I know that Vegas could offer me even more luxury, but since I'm accustomed to camping out near Turning Stone, why would I need more luxury than the Gold Spike offers at a bargain price?

A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone. Henry David Thoreau ...

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Buffet line strategies

I have low tolerance for lines, but sometimes I will wait in them. I waited in the Caesar's buffet line before it became the newest wonder of the buffet world because the all day line pass was free to Veterans on Veterans day. There had been no line at Paris for breakfast where I showed up super early and arranged for the pass with my DD214. But I wanted to try Caesar's, as I had never been there. 
It is all changed now, renovated into a fancy new "in" eatery and getting about fifty bucks for supper.  I guess I won't be going.
I remember well the family just behind me on that day in November, a middle aged black woman and her three grown sons, all from Alabama. It was great! With a few compliments on her fine sons, and comments on how fine it must be to be traveling with all her children, (some were in the military and she rarely saw them) I managed to lead them into discussing how it was to grow up together and how much sibling rivalry. The banter then began and the animated stories showing how "Mom always loved you the time when.." never ended. As well as entertaining personal stories I also got a fine look at what it was like to grow up in Alabama. I got lucky that day. I could have doubled my line time.
Well, here is my list of strategies:

*  Apparently in large groups there is a possibility of reservations.  I'll check it out if I ever am in Vegas with a large group.
* Skip the buffet and make a reservation at a restaurant.
* Playing poker in some places will allow us to score a line pass. We can then walk into the buffet in the VIP line with those people who have earned the appropriate gem color of cards reserved for royalty in that particular casino. I did this years ago at Cravings, but I don't know if it still holds. The Golden Nugget after 4 hours of play, gives a line pass. The comp and pass can be taken late at night for the next day by asking for the date to be one day later.
* Some, (not CET I think) all day eating passes come with line privileges. Orleans is one. There for $24 a day we can just walk in anytime without anyone ahead of us other than a few in the VIP line and just show a rubber bracelet at we pass the cashier.
*Gamble enough to get one of those royalty cards in better gem colors than the low roller cards I carry.
* Ellis Island best strategy is to eat the steak special at 2 AM. Another is not to disappear, but just hover as they will put you ahead of the established numbers sometimes. A third is to take someone who is over 90. I went once with such a guest in the party. We drew attention to that by asking for a seat so she could "rest" while waiting even though she had her sneakers and had exhausted us walking everywhere on every day of the trip. In reality, I was the one who needed a rest. They seated us quickly at a table. Finally, go with the intention of playing video poker for a while and take a number.That is why Ellis Island has a line at the cafe, to capture a few more coins.
* Go to Vegas in August or early December. When there are fewer people, there are fewer lines.
* Search out buffets off the strip. I rarely find a line at Terribles.I suspect that the Station Casinos, as well as being very cheap, rarely have lines. I'm going out to them more this next trip.
* Go to the buffet at times when lines are much less. Weekdays are better than weekend days, hours between standard meals are better than routine times. I do this best at Foxwoods in Connecticutt where I have a free buffet pass with my bus ride. I have kept track of the best times to use it and I wait to go at that time. About 1:30 seems to work. Spice Market works that way too. Going just as the supper price will be imposed costs more, but will skip lines. Going to breakfast before they open will put you up front in most buffets and the time to wait is much less than once the place opens.
* Sit at the counter. This works well at the California Market Street Cafe and I once did it with 6 people. We cut a 30-45 minute wait just by going up and asking permission to eat at the counter. Solo it is very easy. My wife and I do it all the time. We saved 20 minutes here at our local Grannies breakfast place just last week where the line went out into the parking lot.  At Grannies we just hovered inside the diner until one of the counter eaters was leaving so two seats were in a row and then we asked if we could take those seats. Be ready to move immediately when you ask for a counter seat before the folks ahead of you realize that they missed the opportunity.

"Oh, would you have liked to have sat at the counter had it been offered? Well, it ain't ever gonna be offered, and since you could not think outside the box, Sparky, we rake in this pot. Just suck it up and stand in line. "

I used to do it at El Cortez and Golden Gate but I don't think there are counters there anymore. I did it at Cravings in the Mirage, but again a long while ago. I think it is a great solo strategy because it is entertaining as well as line breaking and you get great service because the waitress is right there all the time in front of you filling up your coffee cup and bringing the better hot sauce. I do it at the eatery at the Gold Spike although there is no line. I get better service.
* Line frustration can be aleviated by engaging folks around you in conversation. Just make some easy joke and then follow it with opening questions like, "Are we winning?" and before long you can collect some fine stories by asking the kind of questions folks ask here on the board to get conversation going, like the one that started this thread. In fact, just skim down the list of opening questions here on the board offered by bored folks who are at home "waiting in line" to get to travel to Vegas. Note the ones of interest, and use them in your next line.
Avoid politics and religion, although I have had great conversations on those topics as long as I remember to interview and not give any opinion unless asked and then just give it without any supportive argument.
(Believe me, you won't be asked! Or if you are you won't be asked to explain why you feel that way unless you are in line with me. Everyone who will talk about religion knows God personally and has a perfect sense of God's plan for the country and their insight is the only true insight. Also everyone knows exactly what Congress or the President should do about everything, and it always is something they are not doing, and it is always something very simple.)
And if anyone is Lutheran, I always ask about Prarie Home Companion as I love that show.
I recommend not saying or asking anything about health as those long descriptions of every operation or malady are deadly in a buffet line unless you like hearing effects of anesthetic on bowel movements just before you sit down to a bowl of chili. Sometimes it seems old people have nothing else to talk about except their operations, the operations of their friends, their medicine... well you get the idea.
But if you do get caught, ask about the far past. Old people were young once and they can remember that. Sports is great for men. Every man knows exactly how sports teams should be managed.
Since I don't like sports much, talking recipes works for me.
*Ask locals where there is a place to eat without lines and ask tourists where they get the bet food in their hometowns.
* At Disney, with kids. the lines were incredible. We developed an entire group of line games and that worked perfectly. In one game, each person offers a letter and the letters in that order must spell a word in their mind. The person who has to admit they can no longer come up with a word loses that round providing the person before them actually had a word in mind and spelled it correctly. The person who manages to finish a word gets an extra point. Bring a pocket full of dollars to substitute for points and the game can get really interesting. Collected money can be used to pay for the buffet or divided up evenly among the players when the game ends.
* Of course, the modern solution is just to bring a smart phone and move mentally out of the line and into the world of angry birds or email insults, or additions to this thread, or having conversations with long distance friends. In college I always brought a pocket paperback for the registration lines.
*In Vegas I often bring the American Casino Guide as dining reading, skimming possible coupon destination or reading about casinos in other parts of the county where I might have actually won money, and this will be interesting to most people in line. Just open the book and point to one casino and ask, "Would you go here?" and they will soon want to see the book. They will then share their sources of coupons. If they rant about how ridiculous coupons are, just excuse yourself and get into another place in line. It is a proven fact that folks who treat coupons with distain are apt to be latent mass murders.
* Nap. Yes, it is possible to sleep while standing up.
* Draw straws and have one of your party do the line standing. Maybe s/he eats for free for the service. Maybe it is just the default prize for being the first to run through the day's bankroll. In some places the line standing person can pay for people who are not there, get a seat, and late comers can just join later by coming in the exit. So, one good strategy is always come late. Tell the seating waitress that there are two more in your party but they had to go to the bathroom.Then call them and tell them that the table is ready, reminding them that they will be the ones expected to leave the tips.