Saturday, December 06, 2014


Just wrote a review for a board question and thought it might be a good one to keep here for future reference:

I have stayed at both Eastside Cannery and Sam's Town. Eastside Cannery offers better rooms in my opinion. I love the views from those floor to ceiling glass walls. If you get a corner room, the whole experience is just grand. However, I think they cost more money than when I had one.
This is a five year old set of photos and evaluation, but it stays in my memory.

Also, to be noted here is that they have a new renovated webpage that earns points toward free food and drink.  It is much more interesting than the old page.  I have more points now than I'd ever use up going as I do just one time a year.  But it is fun to do the crossword puzzles and play other bits.

I have stayed in the regular rooms and liked them although the view is less spectacular.

I just am too fugal to book there. I think about it. Then I get a better deal somewhere.
However, seniors will get $10 off the rack rate by calling and asking.

The VP is pretty amazing. Over near Marilyn's look for full pay.
including rare games you just will find few places in Vegas. The JOB is very unusual.

Live poker is a fine limit game of 2-4-6, but it is dominated by locals and a bit tough to crack.

My favorite part is the Monday night Latin show, Claudine Castro on Monday nights. I go there every trip.

The Webpass games on the website will give you some free drinks and buffets and other things depending on what they offer. You do have to print the voucher before you leave home and present it to the Player's Club within 7 days. However, I actually got a couple free wines at the bar and brought them in early to the lounge and just let them sit. That night I did not have to buy a drink. You don't have to actually play games if you just check in and do the key search and the puzzles, etc. Points add up.

The 202 city bus will get you to the strip and back in 30-45 minutes each way, and it just sits at the edge of the parking lot while the driver takes a break. Just watch the time. The last 202 bus that hits the EC comes just before 1AM. I went to the EC from the Gold Coast last trip and it was an easy ride, especially late at night when there was little traffic on Flamingo.

Walmarts for food snacks is across the street.
BankAmerica for fee free withdrawals ( if you have an account) is also across the street.

I like the buffet. It is basic, but there are things I really enjoy there, including Cholula on the table if you ask and moonpie cookies.
Last trip I got two free wines at the bar and carried them into a free buffet for supper.
I never eat beyond the buffet, but I've heard good things about the other choices as well and the Webpass has some great deals sometimes if you have enough points.

There are plenty of promotions. Some days earning a few points will get a free buffet

Sad Passing of Jack

Board friends become important to those of us who plan Vegas on a daily basis.  I lost one this week.

Condolences, if you knew Jack, can be posted on the site below:

As a MyVegas fellow player he was also my Facebook friend where  I knew him as Joey Smith, and he played often and shared his winnings with us.  Part of the frugality of my last trip was due to his sharing on MyVegas.

Plenty of sadness on the discussion board posts today.


Wednesday, December 03, 2014


I posted this on a Vegas discussion board and thought it worth keeping as boiler plate

Resort fees are charged to enable the casino hotel to raise the price of the rooms and get the full value of the raise in price even when the room is booked at discounter sites.  The discounter gets a piece of the price of the room, but none of the resort fees.
They are charged as a mechanism to sort out the gamblers from those just visiting Vegas.  Many places charge no resort fee for comped rooms earned by gamblers.  Others will negoatiate the resort fee after substantial play.  So, it becomes another carrot on a stick to encourager folks to play more.
They are also used as an incentive to encourage upgrading.  Casinos and hotels will often drop the resort fee when upgrading, so the customer has one more reason to spend a bit more.
It is true that if no one paid them, they would go away. 
However, clearly the market has spoken.  The CET experiment in advertising "no fees" to attract customers failed.  That seems to suggest that at no time in the near future will folks actually stop buying because of resort fees.
Personally, it hit my own frugal booking for 24 night trips pretty hard.  Live poker play at CET before resort fees got me decent room rates (below resort fee prices now) and that all dried up. 
Adding just one pay night to my comped two nights at the Gold Coast cost more than it would have without resort fees.
I paid on average $9.25 a night for my last 24 night stay, so a $28 resort fee pushes my average 300%.  Folks who are paying $375 a night for a room see only a slight percentage increase.
That being said I spent 5 nights on the strip when I paid only the resort fee, 3 using MyVegas and 2 using one of the CET coupons for Planet Hollywood.  This was very frugal since the resort fee is the same cost on weekend nights and a resort fee only room offers more value Friday and Saturday than on weekdays.  Also, the MyVegas room at Mandalay Bay and the Planet Hollywood rooms were pretty amazing.  MB would have cost $375 the night I stayed.  In addition, I did find an amenity that was worth the resort fee price in all strip locations.  PH had a heated pool.  Monte Carlo and Mandalay Bay each had a lazy river that opened early enough for me to swim mornings on my one-nighters.  I hate exercise, but this was a delightful workout for an old guy.  With no tube swimming while being zipper around was actually the best exercise I've had.  Along with al the walking and rolling of luggage and healthy food choices at the buffet, I dropped my diabetes sugar numbers.  And I could not get that sort of exercise anywhere else, because water parks are filled with kids.  These lazy rivers were heated and empty at 8 or 9 when they opened.  I will certainly do the MyVegas resort fee only room specials again and I have to think about whether the advantage to my health demands I stop being so frugal and spend the money (and resort fee)  on rooms at Mandalay Bay.
At any rate, I have to think that MyVegas and those CET friend and family promotions are easier to market with resort fees kicking some value back to the casino even from a guy like me who never gambles a slot machine or low pay VP at strip joints.
Nothing will keep me from visiting Vegas.  If money is tight, I may gamble less.  I may round out my trip at Arizona Charlie's on Boulder where $38 will buy me a two room suite but not a lazy river.  Certainly, I save the resort fee by gambling at full pay VP and poker tables that at least at times are filled with tourists.  The best limit poker I played was late night 3-6 at Mandalay Bay and 2-6 spread (and Pineapple) at Monte Carlo and that was always very late at night when to be comfortable I needed to slip into a nearby bed. 
VP in New York state equivalent to what I play downtown in Vegas is actually illegal because it pays over 100% with perfect play.
It is rare that I don't hit enough fully paid full houses and flushes in a day of VP to cover any resort fee.  It certainly covers that charged by the Gold Coast and Orleans or Sam's Town.  In strip casinos I never play any of the machines.
This past trip in 25 days I lost $928.  That is more than covered by what I saved in hotel rates.  Food expenses were under $12 a day.  Entertainment gave me 13 live music or staged shows for an average of $7.  My 14th was a Chris Angel ticket at $87 to go along with my son.  I can't go anywhere cheaper.
My transportation was $38 total for 25 days.  At home it costs me $40 in gas and tolls  to drive one day and back to the nearest local casino where the food comps are less and the drink comps are coffee or soda only.
Two buddies joined me for a week.  They live not far from me, but actually they are so busy at home with work and family, I rarely see them.
There was a blonde board meetup and conversation with a couple dozen people I often write with but only see in Vegas.
I met, talked and danced with  an amazing collection of people from all over the world.
My son from Chicago joined me took me out to Red Rock. be with him one on one without interruption was a very rare treat.
No local casino gives me that kind of social life.
Finally, it was cold here and I was swimming there.  I rarely needed more than a very light jacket and generally, to cover after dark bus stop waiting, I just stuck my new MyVegas Palace Station tee shirt in my cargo pant pocket and that was plenty of extra warmth.  That precluded leaving my jacket in some casino.  The cargo pant pockets automatically go with me when I leave, even if I leave drunk or tired.
These benefits easily outweigh the frustration of resort fees.

Sunday, November 23, 2014


NOTE:  There are a long list of TR SNIPPETS.  So when you reach the end of the first page, I'm not done.  Look to click on the small printed " older posts" at the bottom right hand corner and that will give you the next page of the report.  The trip report ends when earlier posts are no longer labeled TR SNIPPET.
While similar topics are grouped together, there is no attempt at putting them in a sequential order.

Well, it was a losing trip.
25 days from October 21 to November 14, 2014

However, it was a cheap trip.

When I start with an average hotel rate of $9.25 cents a night, I have some flexibility in gambling bankroll.

I stayed at the Orleans, Monte Carlo, Mandalay Bay, Planet Hollywood, The D, Four Queens, and The Gold Coast bouncing from deal to deal, but being in one of these three general areas for large blocks of nights: The strip, Downtown, The Boyd places. This made the check in/ check out fairly easy.

I don't get too excited about the rooms. Mandalay Bay and Planet Hollywood put me in upscale rooms. The D room was actually better than the Monte Carlo room. The worst room was one visit to the Four Queens. At the Gold Coast I paid an extra $10 so all three nights would be in a “premium” room and that seemed fine to me. I have never caught a scruffy room at the Orleans.

However, for the next trip I may choose to increase my nightly hotel expense, and have more breaks from where I feel I have to push the video poker in order to seed for the next trip.

I did cut back a bit on gambling half way through the trip, and still managed (with my son's help) to effectively seed my usual places and a few new ones.

I traveled with a 30 day all access RTC pass at the senior rate of $32 and added in free shuttles and trams when I needed them.

The weather was perfect. Summer held on in Vegas for a long while. A few nights I needed a light jacket or warmer shirt. Some nights just an extra tee shirt pulled out of the cargo pant pocket was plenty.

I was home before it turned cold.

On November 14, I was swimming outside at the Orleans.

The people I met, poker buddies, old friends, board friends, and strangers gave me much pleasure.

The highlight was some father/son time with my oldest son Frank. Really a magical time.

Also I enjoyed an unplanned reconnection with my old gambling buddy Lucky Pete and his wife Carol after a year or so or no communication. That was especially nice as well.

I went dancing at the NiteKings lounge on Wednesdays at the Orleans and at Marilyn's Lounge for the Claudine Castro act on Mondays at the Eastside Cannery.

The gambling was fun if sometimes a bit nerve wracking. In quarter 10/7 DB VP the whole trip I never caught 4 Aces, Deuces, Treys, or Fours, a straight flush or a royal except for 3-3-3-3 at the Eastside Cannery once.


Nickles were better.

The poker was not very satisfying.

I lost $928 in the gambling, ate on under $12 a day, and saw 14 shows, lounge acts, comedy, etc. for $178, a figure skewed by an $87 ticket to go with my son to Chris Angel.

The shows were fine. I best liked seeing Kelly Holmes at the Italian Social Club, 40 is the new 20 at the Riviera and MacKing at Harrah's.

The only downside is that I was perpetually tired and still had trouble sleeping. It is an issue at home, but in Vegas where I am not always around my hotel for a nap and have at times to consider the schedules of other folks, it was crippling.

Otherwise, until the very end, I was healthy. At the end I ruined one foot hiking and dancing and caught a cold I'm still fighting.

What is magical is the diabetes numbers. Ironically, Vegas is a virtual health spa for me. The buffets let me make reasonable choices and the constant walking, the swimming in lazy rivers with no tube or in heated pools, all of it dropped my blood sugar to normal levels and gave me a 6.0 on my A1C at the doctors when I came home.

I can't do a 25 day trip report in sequential detail or I'd lose the few readers I have. I do Snippets. They follow this introduction and are labeled TR Snippet and titled so that a reader can skim and follow by topic the issues that might be of interest.

Hope you enjoy the writing.




Vegas is the most frugal trip I make these days. I used to visit Costa Rica, going solo for a month at a time, and spend very little, but my other trips now are usually not solo trips, and traveling with my wife, we have to upgrade hotels and food and all expenses compared to what fully satisfies my solo jaunts.

My goal is to consistently break the popular stereotype of Las Vegas that all visitors are losers, and to come home a winner. If I don't win at the gambling at full pay machines, then I hope to win by leveraging food, room and show value out of the gambling.

It is the Jean Scott approach.

I can't win great piles of money, but I can consistently hope that each trip will be inexpensive or if I am very lucky, free.

So here are the stats for this trip:

Airfare – free on my Southwest charge card

Hotels – 24 nights booked at an average of $9.25 a night.

Food and drink – Averaged less than $12 a day with the upscale Aria/Monte Carlo/Planet Hollywood prices offset by the Orleans/Gold Coast/Veterans Day/Eastside Cannery freebies.

Transportation - $35 for the bus plus $8 for one purchase error.

Gambling loss - $928

14 Shows. Lounge acts and movies - $178. (13 of them averaged out to $7 each, but the Chris Angel $87 ticket to be with my son skews the math.)

To get a sense of how much gambling impacts the cost of the trip, just taking the gambling losses and adding them to room costs makes the rooms $48 a night on average, so this was still a bargain trip, with all the value of the other events; it was a “losing” trip, but a frugal one just the same.

Food is less of an issue for me now that I can't eat much of anything and the buffets are the easiest venues. At home I struggle with almost all restaurant adventures and am constantly caught with blood sugar spiking surprises. The surprise in Vegas is how much variety I can eat, how many treats I can enjoy, and how easily my blood sugar numbers drop to normal. I don't go in search of the gourmet Vegas adventures because I can't, and solo eating also changes the fun of eating upscale while buffets often offer opportunities to dine with interesting strangers.

Lately it just has not been practical for me to go to Vegas more than once a year. That also reduces my cost. The air miles are there for me, those American Casino Guide coupons good only once a year are ready for every trip. MyVegas loyalty points easily add up to freebies over a year.

I don't keep track of tips. They add to the cost of the trip, but I think of them as my way of redistributing a bit of my money to the working poor rather than expenses, and I don't keep track of them because I don't attempt to be frugal when tipping.

Still, tipping at buffets is generally less than tipping at restaurants because the buffet price is very inexpensive and drinks are included in the buffet price and so even a 20% tip will be less in dollars and at buffets 20% is overly generous. So I would argue that even tipping in Vegas is a better value compared to other places visited.

I also only tip when I actually use room service or check out of the room, so that reduces my tipping housekeeping over the course of the trip.

Finally, I spend less in Vegas when I go than I spend at home living my normal lifestyle. The stereotype is that we go on a spending jag to Vegas where money doesn't matter, and then make it up back home. However, the true impact of Vegas on my monthly budget is negligible.

Vegas does spoil me for local gambling jaunts. No gambling I do as a one or two day road trip from home is as frugal, as rich in value, or as satisfying as being in Vegas.


When I say I go to Vegas for 24 nights, folks are amazed.

One of the questions they ask is whether I have enough funds to gamble that long.

Well, I don't gamble all the time. I try to get some nights when I don't gamble at all. I had five nights on the strip and just played Monte Carlo 2-6 spread for very low losses.

I spent most of the time in MyVegas rooms swimming with no tube in the lazy river. It was the best workout.

However, my 8 nights downtown, going between the 4 Queens and the D did require gambling if I was to continue to get the good mailers.

I did fine for the first part of the trip, being just about even when I hit downtown. The wonderful but volatile 10/7 at the Four Queens just killed me. NO Aces, Deuces, Threes, Twos and very few quads. One time I went through $100 in just 15 minutes while waiting for the WAX.

I'm hoping I played enough to cover my next mailing, especially since they seem to be rolling back the deals. If they go from 3 to just 2 nights, I'll be sorry, but perhaps just staying two nights is more sustainable in my bankroll on a losing streak.

I pushed hard one night when the Royal was high.

I did the same at the 8/5 bonus at Veu Bar in the D when the royal and the straight flush were high. The fellow next to me hit the straight flush which paid well over $200.

I did the same when one of the nickle royals was $430 at the Orleans. I quit when it was hit as two were at the bottom.

My son came in and played on my card at the Four Queens, the D, and seeded the Plaza. He also played at the Boars Head at Main Street Station. While he played, I just watched and coached him on strategy.

That helped. I could watch him and have a good bit of fun while checking his play. He also played a while on the Deuce machine, a coin, dropper at the D. It was a new game for him, so we brought the sheet, checked the right plays, and had a good time bantering.

He lost.

When I played my money one early morning I hit for $125, getting the Four Deuces. So that helped reduce the drain on funds.

I think I pushed through enough play at the D for the 2 for 1 mailings because I got $10 cashback and have gotten mailings after a trip where I had to play more just to get above $5 cashback.

I am going to think about how many nights I want to be comped when that includes the obligation to play. My nightly expense for this trip was on average $9.25 a night, but perhaps the play required is just too much for my bankroll if I go on a losing streak.

I had four nights at the Orleans with enough bankroll to seed it for next year. But I have lost offers after low play trips there.

My November stay was back to back with three nights at the Gold Coast. I paid $42 for one night which was my most expensive hotel bill. The other two were free, and that included a $10 fee to upgrade me to the premium room.

The ease of taking the free shuttle between coast properties makes this a tempting choice for next year. I could pay for three nights at the Gold Coast and not gamble. Then the nickle triple play at the Orleans do not take a great deal of bankroll even when I lose.

I am thinking about Palace Station. I hate the resort fee being so high, sometimes almost 50% higher than the roomrate, but I could play dime VP there all day long and not go over my bankroll. I wonder if after a trip of constate dime play I could get them to drop the resort fee.

I liked the poker room as well. They had a 2-4-6 game and a 2-6 spread limit, both my favorites. The 2-4-6 only had one $2 blind. This makes for less small blind specials and means that I would only have to be in one hand for each button go-around.

Where the Palace Station is positioned makes it accessible from on the bus. I liked that Sahara Express bus. There seemed plenty of room there for my luggage. I could easily go from downtown to the Palace Station and back. And the 104 that runs by the Orleans is not too far West on the Sahara route and would make fine transfer either way. So, perhaps if I decide to pay for nongambling section of my next trip, I'll stay there. I certainly missed a good many of the things on my list that were not gambling.

I used to think that I could lose $2000 on any trip and it would be no real loss. The math supports that because I save that much on rooms and food, on cheap and free food. However, I think now about being more comfortable in a losing trip by being down just $1000 and perhaps I need to look where I buy cheap rooms and don't have the gambling obligation.


I'm a great fan of the benefits of this game associated with Facebook.

I don't much like playing slots, so I just accumulate chips every time I'm on the computer. When I get over 2 million I play at 20,000 a pop and that makes the time tolerable.

I am in a unique situation because I have many gambling Facebook friends from the various boards as well as family who play and share.

When I collect chips I also do all the sharing bits, so my friends get benefit of chips from me at a regular benefit.

The buffets I used to focus on are much more difficult to use. The free ones now require a stay in an M Life hotel. Son Frank did get to use an Aria 2 for 1 without such a stay, but he did not get to use freeplay.

I've focused on taking the rooms. This trip I took three nights on the Strip: Monte Carlo-then Mandalay Bay- then Montecarlo once again. I thought perhaps that this would be more of a hassle than it was worth, but it was actually very easy. The tram from Excalibur is very easy with luggage and the short luggage roll to it and back was not that great a hassle.

I don't gamble much on the strip because the VP is so terrible, but I do like both the 2-6 spread limit poker games and the 3-6 game at Mandalay Bay, especially in the late night hours when the locals go home and there are just a few tourists.

I also am quite willing to pay for the Aria buffet. I think of it as a great treat. It is one of the places where the food is healthy and my choices don't affect my diabetes.

In addition, this trip I discovered the Lazy Rivers. Enjoyed before there are tube folks, as soon as they open in the morning, is great exercise if I swim those rivers. It really did a job for me. An hour in that river and I felt muscles were used that are rarely used at all. It does more for upper body, but then the walking common in Vegas does the legs and such so I get a good walkout without being bored.

I expected to see some shows the nights I was in that area, and I almost went to see Jimmy Buffet, but I ended opting for the poker and just seeing a Buffet clone group on the steps outside Monte Carlo. I am cynical of “improvement” but the new frontage of Monte Carlo and I think of NYNY when it is finished that puts more people outside and builds a small amphitheater for a band is just grand. Behind the band is the strip and the changing people. I listened at dusk and so I saw the strip change from day to lighted night.

When I go solo, I go frugally, but if I can ever convince my wife to go with me for a week, she likes no gambling and upscale rooms. I got a good sense of the lowest priced Monte Carlo room and that is nothing to bother with. However, Mandalay Bay put me in a fine deluxe room and that was wonderful. However, rack rate there is between $325 and $375 which seems a bit much even for my wife.

Still, I am probably the worst MyVegas market for M Life and yet I'd say giving me a free night here and there may have sold some rooms for then at other times in my more upscale life.

The problem of moving luggage, or at least my huge bag, packed with my soft bag and all my airplane carry on is very hard on strip buses. The Deuce is generally too packed. The SDX is impossible to exit because there are a stream of aggressive folks trying to enter.

However, the WAX serves this area of the strip and that is a fine bus, built for luggage.

And most of the buses on the 201 Tropicana route are not bad. So, I started my trip at the Orleans for two free nights, got over any jet lag, then took my three one lighters and finished with two nights at Planet Hollywood, not really much of a luggage roll from Monte Carlo.

I did have to use the Deuce to get downtown from Planet Hollywood, but it was not that bad and wherever I land once I get on, I have a long ride to wiggle my way into one of those seats facing the exit door. Those are easy. Often my luggage fits out of the way in a space right next to those seats.

Finally, although I did pay resort fees for those “free rooms” they covered Thursday- Friday- and Saturday, which are the most expensive days to cover in a long trip.

I would say that I booked these at a very good time. Going solo made the check in/check out much easier. And there was no early check in fees. Check out was eleven. Each morning I called and extended that until noon. I used the Lazy River and had a good buffet before I rolled out to the next place and by 1PM most of these hotels have rooms.

I added two other rewards to the M Life. I got a free Tee shirt from Palace Station. Again this was great advertisement. I have not been there in over a decade and I liked it very much. For one thing, if I scale back on my level of play, I can play dimes there. That is my comfort level because my risk of ruin on a full pay machine is lower even if the machine is volatile.

I got the free Tee Shirt, but the gift shop that gives them is just not ready for MyVegas redemption. The one they give away is not the one in the photo anyway. It is a really sad shirt with nothing about Palace Station on it. However, they let us upgrade and for a dollar I got a really fine shirt with Palace Station logo plastered on the front. It was the only XL shirt anywhere.

The two free buffets worked great. We came on a Sunday and had missed that the voucher is not good for Sunday brunch. We made the mistake, but the Player's Club woman issuing the voucher also made that mistake, and once it is redeemed, it is only good for 48 hours.

Well the clerk at the buffet counter called someone and got permission to give us the Sunday Brunch for just a small upcharge, the difference in value from the daily charge. That was fine.

The damned resort fee at Station casino usually makes them deal breakers for me, but perhaps I'll try them next trip anyway and see what kind of play it takes to have the resort fee comped. We played a bit there, so I'm hoping perhaps for offers. I know the cheapest rooms are not very nice, but solo I'm not too fussy. I want to go frugal, but I can't go all free if I have to pay for it in quarter play because the variance will melt away my bankroll on losing trips.

The ease of redemption on M Life rewards is really fine, but tickets to Chris Angel were casino specific and had to be redeemed at the Luxor. That was unexpected for us. My son had a free ticket and I bought a companion for $87. These tickets racked for $130 so that seemed a fine deal. The show was just okay. I think he was disappointed. But he decided too late to catch a better show.

Otherwise, the redemption is smooth. For hotels it is done right at the hotel desk and I found that better than having to get to the casino so early before the show.

I also have collected some rewards at the Eastside Cannery on their Webpass site. They are just mostly free food and drink, and if I am lucky, a hat. But I must print them and get to the East side Cannery with 7 days of arrival in Vegas and I can't print any others that might come free. No printing is required for the M Life.

Once redeemed at the Eastside Cannery those vouchers are good for 30 days. I don't play much there, but I go for the Claudine Castro Latin lounge act late on Monday night, so I like a free buffet when I got and some wine to have with the buffet or to carry into the lounge. I don't then have to buy much.

I don't play the games on Webpass anymore at all. Just a check in adds enough points over a year to get those cheap benefits. The good ones go too quickly. I'd have to hit them just right on the day before my trip.

The American Casino Guide is my major source of coupons although there were some mailed to me and some at check in at the D as well as in some of the Vegas advertising books left in the room or on racks around town. I pay attention to piggy backed show ticket deals where one show will offer a deal for the next in the same venue or nearby. However, this trip I did not actually take advantage of any of those deals.


  • One of the best coupons is the point doubler for the Four Queens which doubles points up to 500. Play first and then go to the counter. Play does not have to be on the same day, but does have to be in the same “trip”
  • Magnolia's 2 for 1. The frustrating thing about this coupon is that we can't use it with any other deal, even the lucrative new system of comp dollars. However, if we have the reduced price charged to the room, we can then use the comp dollars to pay for it because all the hotel sees is the dollar amount.
  • Riviera comedy is still two free tickets. No fees. Easy.
  • MacKing Comedy now has a tax added to the cost of the drink and show package so the free American Casino Guide coupon will get you a seat for $15. That being said, this show is worth that cost. The wine was not bad either.

Young at Heart day at the Orleans is full of coupons and giveaways. Twice I got $5 just for standing in line.


Generally, I use the city bus and the free shuttles and trams.  Of course, I miss the fun of interpreting and pricing what a cab might cost.  The bus is $32 once for the entire trip.

From the airport to the Orleans:

Simply used the WAX and then the 201. I caught it this time at Koval, but I did not like the resident pan handlers at that stop, so next time I'll go back to the NYNY stop which has more riders and a regular security check just for the comfort of it.

From the Orleans to the Monte Carlo:

This was easy enough on the 201 bus, but it was a bit crowded. I was lucky to position my bag at the exit door for easy exit once we hit the stop at Tropicana Casino. Once off I took the elevator to the bridge by MGM, but their elevator is still out of order, so I used the escalator down and then up on the way to NYNY. I took the elevator at NYNY down and rolled my bag to Monte Carlo. There is still construction at NYNY, but it was not congested as I remembered it had been last year, and Monte Carlo seems to have finished renovating the front of their casino, adding an outside tavern. There is still construction in the rear of Monte Carlo.

It was a long roll once inside the casino. I had to go all the way to the back to find the lobby and that was not easy.

I did tire out with the travel, but I did not find it difficult or exhausting. I had wondered since planning if I was being a total idiot doing these one night stands. It turned out it was fine. But remember I am in Vegas for 24 nights and have plenty of time to just go along from one adventure to another. These frugal deals, like MyVegas, make a long trip affordable. Also, planning activities at each spot makes it easy. At Monte Carlo I'll eat at Aria and play poker. I'll swim. That will be about it. I won't be walking out on the strip unless I find a good show at a good price reasonably close. I was happy to do the all nighters early in my trip before I was exhausted.

From Monte Carlo to Mandalay Bay and back

This was easier than I anticipated. The tram from Excalibur to Mandalay Bay is very comfortable with luggage and unlike the tram between Monte Carlo and Bellagio, it is not hidden in the recesses of the casino, but right there as you cross the intersections by bridge.

Coming back it drops short of the intersetion but I still found that tram and a luggage roll a fairly easy move from casino to casino on these MyVegas one night stands.

The Deuce with Luggage

This needs to be avoided when possible, but the SDX is no better. The Deuce is very crowded, but if I can position myself and my luggage in the seats facing the exit door, most of the time it is a fairly easy exit. Just next to those seats is a fine spot where even my large suitcase slips out of the way. The trouble is when some stubborn guy insists on standing in the doorway and I have to push around him.

Folks are not supposed to stand in the doorway area, but they do.

The problem with the SDX with large luggage is that while we are exiting, frantic folks are coming in the very same door.

I had two rides on the Deuce, one from Planet Hollywood to downtown and another from downtown to Caesar's too get the 202 to the Gold Coast.

Boarding at Paris I had some issues with space going downtown and it was really packed by the time we got there, but everyone had to get out, so there is no real rush.

Coming uptown I found the boarding very easy at Neonopolis where the bus has not yet filled up. I positioned myself in those seats facing the exit and was fine.

The luggage roll from Caesar's Deuce stop to the 202 is a long roll. It was a crowded street and it was difficult to negotiate.

Some guys in transformer costumes did not like my aggressive rolling.

You are going to kill someone with that suitcase” they said.

I can only try,” I answered back flippantly.

I wish I had said, “Just think of me as a different shaped transformer in costume. Want to tip me to have your photo take along with me?”

More locals who think they own Vegas, I suppose.

Panhandlers in costume should think twice before being too critical about others causing difficulties for walkers.

I wondered why they thought I should have to watch the people behind me. I do fine with those in front of me, but I don't have a rear vision mirror. Certainly anyone can see that my large suitcase if they are behind me.

It made me mad as you can tell.

I want to use the WAX to access the strip as often as possible, especially with luggage, but I also like taking a few days at the Gold Coast and then the Orleans back to back.


Going from the Gold Coast to the Orleans was a snap.

The driver asked me if I wanted to put my large suitcase in the back of the bus and I agreed.

What a treat that was.

The fellow was old and I tried to do the lifting myself, but he was very stubborn. He said is was 75 and a good bit stronger than I was. My friends think he did it to ensure a tip, but I think he just was proud of the good shape he was in. At any rate, his friendly way sure made me feel easy about moving from one casino to the other. I'll book that way again.

Orleans to the Airport on the last day was easier than I expected. I did not have a WAX schedule and could not access the internet on my stupid old computer, so I left with too much time and arrived at the gate a full two hours before the flight. Then I fell asleep and almost missed the boarding.

By next trip I expect to have a Smart Phone and move up into the 21st century. Then I can get an app that tells me exactly when the bus is coming.

Normally, I print out schedules before I leave, but all the times changed after I got there.

Well, I was ready anyway. Tired and limping I was happy to get rid of my heavy suitcases.

The nonstop home was about 40 minutes early. What a treat that is!


Over the course of the 25 days I lost $928, so it was a losing trip.

Primarily my play is full pay video poker, usually 10/7 DB and live limit poker. I find the live poker harder and harder so I play for fewer hours, leaving tables where I feel there is no chance to overcome the rake.

I like the Golden Nugget live poker games especially from 2 AM on as then they double the high hand awards, but I did not hit a high hand award this trip.

I played the cheap poker tournaments on the Poker Pro machines at The Plaza and the cheap poker tournaments at Sam's Town. I only cashed once, but I think that would have brought me even had I not tried a $60 tournament at Treasure Island.

The quarter VP was very dry. I hit some things in nickles, like the Four Deuces in that coin dropper at the D, and one day came out ahead at the Orleans, but for the whole trip in quarters, played heavily at the Four Queens I never hit a quarter royal, or 4 Aces, Deuces, Threes, of Fours except for 3-3-3-3 at the Eastside Cannery.

I also hit 3-3-3-3 on JOB to bring me a $15 profit when playing an American Guide Casino coupon for a free buffet after 200 points. It hit really on the second hand I played after earning 200 points just to even up the cashout amount. As well as the buffet and $15 that play earned me a free seat in the video poker tournament, but I did not finish in the money.

Most frustrating was to catch my first natural straight flush on the Deuces wild nickle machine at the D. Had I caught it just steps away and a couple hours earlier at the Vue Bar at one point the straight progressive was four times the usual payout. Oh, well.

It took a long while to see a straight flush, but I did hit in nickles at the Orleans and just under 20 hands later hit again right there. Another ironic hit.


October play

I only play the nickle 3 play DBVP 9/7 progressive and had a good time with it, ending $32 down, a loss washed away by just the value of the three free buffets I enjoyed. But I do the gambling math separately.

My intention is always to play enough to keep getting these mailers and I did that on three visits, so on first my check out day I skipped playing, hoping perhaps that day would not figure in my daily average.

I play the basic strategy, but do adjust a bit when the progressives seem high. Then I hold all 3 to the Royal most of the time and skip worrying about the 9 penalty to determine how to play suited K-Q and just play it by itself. I still play the high pairs over 3 to the Royal. I need to figure that mathematics out at various levels of progressive. Luckily the one Royal I hit was caught by tossing away JJ for 10-J-Q of clubs. I'd do that for J-Q-K as well, but not for three to the Royal when one is an Ace. At some point that is the better play, but that point is different for A-Q-K as the point for A-Q-10 so I really should spend some time mapping it out. Then too with three progressives, there would have to be a way to determine how the higher progressives balance the lower progressives. I guess I should take the added values and divide them by three, checking that number on a chart to see when the three to the royal was the better play.

The royal I hit paid $300 or 50% more than most nickle royals.

And in that session I was dealt 7-7-7-7 and I saved A-A-A and caught one more Ace on two of the three lines.

Those hands gave me a profit.

Wild Bill says we have to be very lucky to win on those machines, but I think the math says they are just fine.

November play

I played all solo this time and really chased one 450 plus royal for two nights in a row. The first night it hit, and I quit. The second night I had to quit at 3:30 AM just because I was too tired and it was my last night in Vegas, so I had packing, swimming, buffet, bus riding and plane catching in the morning.

I was so tired at the airport I almost slept through the boarding of my plane.

I lost money overall, but not if the value of the free buffets is figured into the formula, let alone the comped rooms or the delight I took finding the Nitekings playing or swimming as late at November 14th outdoors the morning I was leaving.

And I do love playing those video poker games. They are great fun. I don't tire of them easily.

I played so much that last night that I began to think that $200 in a nickle three play pretty much sets up enough bankroll that risk of ruin is small. I did not do the math on that, but it just felt about right. I'd go up and down and up and down.

The oddest hand was to hold a Queen and on the top line catch A-A-A-A.

A dealt royal would have been worth over $4,000 in the large progressive. That would have been very nice.

The machines are comfortable, easy to find near the buffet and smoke free. There is a linked bank somewhere that allows smoking. Sometimes the locals take all the spots, but I had no difficulty this trip. Wild Bill plays there with me. He did not have luck either.

On Wednesdays we swipe for a point multiplier that goes through 7 PM that day. One day I got 12X and another 15X. This is an enormous multiplier for video poker. It did me well as I continued through the week, giving me plenty of free food and some reduction in hotel price at the Gold Coast.


My poker gambling took a hard hit at this game on my first one night stay at Monte Carlo. At first, with the locals who came for the football high hand promotion I held my own, but later with loose tourists I just could not seem to get a break and over about seven hours I lost $300. I gave the game up when a fellow joined who really liked to raise.

So my score at the end of 3 nights in Vegas is a loss of $333.

I did drink a bit of wine. Perhaps that hurt my game. Usually, I do better with alcohol making it easier to be patient. The other players were friendly and fun. I was rather quiet for the last couple hours, concentrating and playing my best. I don't think I was very loose either. Still, I got beat down and except for two players I really think that I was as good or better than the others at the table. The pots were large enough to get my money back if I just could have caught enough power to stay in comfortably. I think I lost with my one full house of the evening. I won with my one Ace high flush against a couple little straights, but I did that on the river chasing a flush when the pot was too big to fold. So that was lucky.

I did like the room and most of the promotions. It seemed to me I got a lot of value for a $4 capped rake and a $1 bonus rake. From 1-5 they have a cracked Aces promotion, and I'd be drawn in by that, but there is this quirky rule that the winner must have played both cards in his hand in order for the cracked Aces loser to get paid. Strange and very frustrating. Even the brush did not know of the rule at first when I asked, but with another player reporting hearing this from a dealer that afternoon, he looked it up and sure enough it was there.

I played there two nights later and it was a much softer game. When we were down to three late night they negotiated just a one dollar rake. I talked the other two into playing pineapple and we had a grand time, picking up two other players into the early morning. It earned me enough hours for an entry in the freeroll the next weekend.

I did not realize that freeroll chips are determined by how many hours were played with more chips given for each hour over the minimum. That, and the fact that I faced tough regular locals made it a much harder tournament than the old Flamingo freeroll I used to play. They paid high, but I was eliminated early when my trip kings were beat by a flush.

I like this game, but not when there is a promotion like the football that draws in the regular locals. They are too tough for me. Late night tourists work better.


I played the 3-6 here and enjoyed it. I had slept from 5 to midnight and so I think that gave me a good edge. I won $129.


This used to be one of my main places to play 2-4 limit poker. Ask dealer Dave who continues to remember me.

Then they lost me when CET started charging resort fees that watered down any room comps from poker play.

And on top of that the poker room changed the way it was run and I hated the changes.

The changes are now reversed to what they once were.

Rake is $5 and $1 but there is a bad beat that can be hit if quad sixes are beat. As I understand it that does not change, so I won't arrive to find the qualifying bad beat is K's or better being beat.

They do still have a freeroll for a certain number of hours.

And once again they have some high hand payouts.

So I perhaps should have been attracted to the spot, but I went just once or twice. I did just okay. I did not have the fun I used to remember, but then in addition to losing any room deals, the diabetes has me not drinking beer and the Flamingo poker room comped some great beer.

The old dealer I loved, Steve, is retired. Dave is still there and laughing at my antics, but I don't know too many of the others. Pauline from El Cortez works there now. She did not remember me.


I played twice at the Eastside Cannery 2-4-6 limit game. It is a difficult game played mostly by locals who play very tight and well and all know one another.

Each time I was waiting for the Claudine Castro Latin Lounge Act on Monday nights.

The first time, there were just five of us. I flopped a full house and so did an old fellow to my left. I checked and called. I checked and called the turn. I checked and then raised the $6 river.

Normally, I'd have raised earlier, but these players are easily scared off a hand. I did not know he had a full house.

Mine beat his.

Just a few hand later the same thing happened.

That time I had sevens full of Aces and he announced tens full of sevens, but the dealer noticed he only had sevens full of tens and I got the pot.

You mean I get a full house twice and still can't win?” he asked incredulously and then he left in disgust.

My second visit I left $50 down. I just knew I was not going to make any money that night.

I played video poker and was mad at myself for getting so far down where I was not staying. Finally, I hit 3-3-3-3, a nice hand on 10/7 Double Bonus and I quit just down $12 for the day.


This continues to me my favorite 2-4 game, and we managed to play it this time with a half kill that helps redistribute the money of loose players and overcome the rake. I like playing from 2 AM until breakfast because high hands are doubled and opponents are often drunk or tired. I did that only a couple times, once getting the benefit of my American Casino Guide coupon for $10 of free chips.

Here is one day there:

I expected to have a fairly early bedtime, but just kept staying at the poker table.

Bill was there.

The lawyer like woman with the arguments on bus passes was there.

A guy knicknamed Rio I had met last year who lives just outside my hometown of Buffalo joined the table, and a regular old guy named Jack was there, stacking his chips in huge twin tower columns.

We were a good ways into the night when the game was going to break and players be scattered. I suggested was play 3-6 and there was some other interest, so the 2-4 became a 3-6 with a half kill of 4-8.

It changed the game from one of no fold em Hold em to more like true limit with a few people still playing too loose, me being at time one of those.

The worst loose hand I had was when for some unknown reason in last position I played J-3 suited and then bet the 3 when it flopped. I had three callers. Both the turn and river were checked, so I just bluffed. It would have worked too if I had not misread my hand. I actually had J-2 suited. It might have worked anyway if my third caller was not so loose that she called me with her pair of 3's and won the hand.

I did catch some good cards and win some good pots. Right hear the end I had four to the diamond royal and was hoping the river might give me a $500 bonus, but I did not even river another diamond. The very next hand I took pocket Aces to trips on the turn and was again hoping the river might give me a bonus, but not Ace came. However, that time I won because the river did pair the board 5's and my opponents folded when I bet.

A few hands before I left I was down $8, but when I did finally go at 2 AM I was down $24 which seems the rule of my play this trip. That meant I had gambled hard all day from 10AM until 2PM and ended up ahead exactly $5. Well, as a fellow player reminded me, winners can't be whiners.


This downtown casino is attempting a comeback and doing what they can to attract gamblers. They boosted their video poker up to full pay.

They have a section of Poker Pro poker machines like those that excalibur abandoned.

These machines do not collect much of a following, but I actually like them better than tables with dealers and chips. Everything is controlled. So the woman I beat out of a tournament at The Plaza could not toss chips for a call watch me ready to call, and then say raise, a string bet that she got away with at the Golden Nugget. Bets are in order. Everyone acts in turn. There is no question who checked and who did not.

The rake for a cash game is much smaller than a normal table and there is no dealer to tip, so every pot won gets an extra dollar or more.

Right now they have tournaments all day that are too cheap to keep going, but just great for low bankrolled players. There did not seem to be just maniacs dominating either. It played like poker.

Poker buddy Slink told us the Plaza was offering these incredibly cheap poker tournaments, some as low as $3. Son Frank and I played one that we could play for $5 or double our chips for $15. We doubled.

It was a fine game with all sorts of mixes of players and most folks having a good time. It is played on the Poker Pro poker machines in an effort to get people used to the machine. I've always liked the machines and my bankroll was dwindling. Son Frank is not a great player and did not want to gamble away too much. So this was perfect.

We both played for over 2 hours. I played for two and a half, betting lucky when I was down. Once I took a huge pot with A-2 when the river gave me the wheel. My main opponent went all in with a Broadway draw and a poor player called with a pair of 4's. So I would have won as long as the river did not make their hands bigger than Aces, but the five cinched it.

Most of the night I got Ace small. It frustrated me.

One other hand I remember was K-Q off. A fellow went all-in with very few chips. He had Q-10. Two queens hit the flop.

Also I had 7-8 and an inside straight draw. I called after the flop just a small bet. I caught the river for the nut straight. A woman who probably had the small straight called my healthy bet which put her all-in. Another opponent folded.

If anything, I think that I value bet more than I needed to on this table.

I did play a fine, tight game. At times I was worried that I would just drain my chips away.

I had J-9 from the blind, and the flop gave 9 as high card with little crap with it.

I bet.

My opponent moved all in with a small straight draw and I called, figuring him for a 9, lower kicker.

He was a very loose player.

I had him beat until the turn when he caught his straight. It may have been a poor bet on my part, but had I almost doubled up on that hand, I could have let the others fight it out and had a good chance at being in the money.

At any rate it was a good bit of fun poker for very little money.

The clerk said the cash games are starting to take off. She explained the rake and other details. If I remember it raked a max of 3 with 1 for the promotions.

A fine jazz band played my kind of music. It was wondertul to be sitting player poker and listening to their great sounds. On the break the pumped in sounds were decent as well. None of that whinny nasal modern stuff with indeciperable lyrics.

I'd definitely play there.

I expect by the time I get back there may be only regular games offered and not these dirt cheap tournaments.

Plaza video poker:

Offerings include 9/6 JOB at the bar with Guiness as a comped beer. I surveyed a bit and found both 10/7 DB and 10/6 DDB, the last one is truly amazing to find. I did not look for Deuces

A a five dollar buy in the max buy in was $15 and I played for two and a half hours. My son stayed in almost that long. I made a move and lost to a draw on the turn or I'd have been in the money.

The ambiance is music from a three piece jazz group or piped in music from my generation, not the new whining nasal stuff and not so loud that thinking is impossible.

I liked this place and I may stay there next trip if they keep it similar to what it is now. However, by next year all might be changed.


I like their inexpensive morning $23 tournament.

After quite a few days of waking up early wishing I could go back to sleep and feeling tired most of the day, I woke up one Friday feeling well rested.

I was downtown and decided to go out and play the early morning tournament at Sam's Town. I came 15 minutes late, but the first hour is limit poker, so I did not get much of a disadvantage. The cost was $23.

During the entire tournament I played just 3 hands to the river and those were not memorable.

But during the play some fellows told me the 1 PM tournament was very good on Fridays and weekends.

So I caught a fine free buffet and went back for that game.

There were four tables and twice I expected to go out because I was so far down and the blinds were going up. I remember going all in with J-8 of spades and getting lucky on the river, catching the flush.

When we got down to the last table, I still was very poor in chips.

There started to be talk of chopping, but the guy who was second chip leader wanted to stay and play because he had come 2000 miles to play poker and wanted as much game as he could get.

He was very polite about it and perhaps a bit embarrassed. One local argued that from that time on it would just be a “push fest” and not real poker. One other argued that there was another tournament coming in two hours. And someone or another proposed a chop every other hand.

I lost half my chips.

There was onE woman there with just $40 left to the left of the fellow who wanted to play and it may be that he did not want to see her eliminated, but at any rate, finally, for some reason he agreed to chop against his better interest and in my favor.

So I collected $132 minus a $5 tip, my first tournament win in a long while.

Then I went to play full Deuces. Friday at Sam's was 7X points for VP, and that seemed good although it seems to me that there is some way they figure that which reduces the benefit. I can't remember the details.

I played a long while and was as much as $60 ahead, but in the end, again according to the pattern of my play at this stage of the trip, I lost $25. So I wished I had played nickles.

The most memorable hand was being dealt five Aces.

I got a good share of Deuces and quite a few trip Deuces but never the four of them. And once I had four to the natural Royal, but did not even catch the flush.

I like the 2-6 spread limit game but whenever I looked the tougher regulars were playing and I decided to play full pay Deuces instead.


I did not play long at the 2-4-6 game here, but long enough to feel I liked it. It is certainly frequented by locals, but they also spread the 2-6 spread limit game and that may draw the more difficult players. The 2-4-6 had only one $2 blind. I certainly like that. And we could play out of racks, something I like very much and is rarely tolerated.

I'll be back.


I played a $60 tournament here in the afternoon with my buddy Wild Bill, but it was a mistake. He and Slink had played a week before and the competition was week, but this game was very hard. I was out fairly soon, but I doubt I would have done much at the final table had I stayed long enough to see.

I won't play that one again.


I don't want to give the impression I never EVER play slots.

I just don't play them often.

If I'm thirsty and bored and out of bankroll, I'll play slots for pennies. Even if I have time to waste I might do that.

Wild Bill and I had time to waste at the Riviera, and so we played a bit.

I found this game called Hot Rolls.

It was similar to this one

It is basically a Bazing seven old fashioned slot with a very unusual Bonus round.

Three symbols have to catch, one on each reel. If two catch the third reel slows down for the drama. I like that.

If all three catch then you get a pair of dice to flick with your fingers and so many Bonus points for each roll. The virtual dice fly all over the screen and bounce and so it is somewhat like craps.

Playing for pennies with Wild Bill I just seemed to be hitting and I think I left a couple dollars ahead.

So, the next time I went to the comedy, I decided to play that slot again. This time I extravagantly went up to a dime a spin, 5 lines at 2 cents a line.

Well, no luck this time.

I almost quit when I was down ten dollars, but I just felt something and continued until I was down $15 and then it was not fun anymore.

I played Texas Tea mostly to remember my old buddy Jerry who loved that slot. I had watched him play in Vegas and at Foxwoods.

Jerry plays mostly slots.

I remember once I tried to teach him the idea of wonging the slots that for a time would build up a small bank, and when it reached a certain point, the advantage of playing just one coin until the bank was broker was with the player. It was a very frugal way to play.

One Vegas trip I walked up and down the strip, wonging the firecracker Honeymooner slots and the Piggy Banking slots. I kept track of all my gambling, and at the end of my stay I'd won $12 doing that. Now, I'd played craps and blackjack and video poker that week quite a bit. When I came to head home, I was ahead for the trip, by exactly $12, the wonging winnings.

Well, that day at Foxwoods Jerry was a slot player, so he wasn't going to be a frugal wonging guy. He had to play full coin and the machine was hot and paid him a profit of over $700.

Of course, he bought me lunch and gave me all the credit even though he had not really listened at all to a word I said. I'd given him a new lucky slot.

So I play Texas Tea for pennies.

I tried it at the Four Queens when I was tired one night and that machine was very unsatisfying. The sound was off.

So, one day when I did not want to really gamble I walked up to play off my $10 freeplay at El Cortez from the American Casino Guide and that Texas Tea I enjoyed. Once I played it for 2 hours, drank four Myers Rum and then cashed out for $6, so it has memories. That time the old poker room was still going and the dealers and players would come out to chat on a break from the game. It was sad to see the old poker area gone, and Jackie gone.

Well, that Texas Tea was fun but it was a short $10. I suppose I upped the bet. I wasn't drinking, so I did not have to stretch it out and the armadillo, although much more entertaining than the armadillo they had hired for the Four Queens machine seemed to lack some of the charm he had once expressed when I was into three or four Myers rums.

I wandered down to this slot:


I usually play a few dollars in it because it is the last of its kind. There is no random number generator. The reels do use electricity to start the spin, but after that they are truly “slots” with a mechanical pin going into a slot to determine the outcome. These are antiques. When they are gone there won't be anymore.

So I bought a $20 roll of dollar coins at the cage and decided to run them through ($2 a spin) just once and just quit.

At the end of 10 spins I had $120, a profit of $100. Of course, I had to keep spinning until I lost. The next spin lost and destroyed the mathematical beauty of a $100 win by giving me just $98 profit, but I did not feel bad about that at all. I cashed out and walked back downtown.

I see that in the new American Casino Guide the $10 free play coupon is gone. So, I suppose if I play the pennies and Texas Tea for drinks or memories, I'll have to use real money.

Well, I think I'm crossing the El Cortez off my list anyway. The $3 craps seems to be gone.

Perhaps they will now attract just the upscale gambler and not guys like me who go in frugally and only leave money if we get too loose by mistake.


What I don't know for next time is whether I want to be gambling so many days as I was this trip, or pay for some cheap rooms (Arizona Charlie's out Boulder for example) where I don't intend to gamble and have more time for museums and birding and poking around many of the places I missed for music or shows or such.

I don't want to set myself up so that any trip incurs a huge loss of bankroll. On the other hand, I like having good chances to have a winning trip like an earlier one I had when I hit two quarter royals.

Just one quarter royal would have made this a winning trip.

Well, I have some time to consider all this. I probably can't go until next October and my wife is lobbying for another kind of trip even at that time of the year.

We'll see.

I hate giving Vegas up.