Monday, June 29, 2015

September is now fully booked

The more I think about getting this settled, the better I feel.  My trip starts with a 40th birthday party for my son and so a meetup of 5 sons and assorted friends.   That will go just three days with everyone and then my wife, who rarely joins me, will stay out the week.  We cash booked the Gold Coast for all that time. The heated pool is a draw.  Inexpensive food as well.  We may have a car for some of it as the boys are planning a family trip out to Red Rock Canyon.  I often book the Gold Coast for the days of the trip I won't gamble.  Prices are good.  And in spite of not gambling there, they often toss me a couple free nights in an outreach mailer.  And at least one buffet there is free, the ACG coupon with 250 points earned.
I got the mailer today, and it reduced my weekend room expenses by $150.
I then have two freebies at the Orleans, over a Young at Heart Day, so I'll eat there for free and get a good taste of my favorite Nite Kings in the lounge.  The Young at Heart promos are now extended into the evening, and that will give more flexibility to my day, especially if I get a good multiplier on the swipe promo or win so I can keep playing.  There I just play the triple nickel progressives.  Good fun and not very expensive,  just 75 cents a pull.  9/7 DB is enhanced by the Royal progressives for each line and a huge one were I to get a dealt royal.
Then I do the Excalibur for one day and use up MyVegas points at the Aria buffet, so those meals will be free.

Then I stay at a  B and B on a small street just off Maryland near Flamingo. This will give me a chance to do laundry, relax if I want with no casinos.  Walk down to a local inexpensive show at the Onyx Theater.  Relax in a Jacuzzi.  I get a room with a private bath for $50 a night and so cover the expense of a weekend with no gambling.  This is a new experience for me.

I'll probably head up to Sam's Town for the afternoon free show and then over to Eastside Cannery for a free buffet and wine.  I may play poker in either place.   I probably will give the full pay nickel Deuces a run if there is a seat.  I understand they reduced them to just two machines.
Then Palace Station where I can do a buffet a day on MyVegas points and seed my play in dimes to see if that will generate any mailings or not.
Then Two nights at the D on a 2 for 1 rates, but higher than in the past because of the Life is Beautiful and the new policy of charging resort fee on the one paid night.  Coupons usually come with the rooms there and they get me a light free breakfast.  8/5 progressive Bonus will be the draw there with Golden Nugget live poker after 2 AM when the high hand awards double.
Poker vouchers with 4 hours of play  get me a cheap Golden Nugget buffet.
And finally 4 nights at the 4 Queens at casino rate, but with one night already paid by comp dollars from the last trip and a second probably can be reached by a mailer, in spite of the weekend being that Life is Beautiful festival.
This was not expected to be a frugal trip, and it may not be, because that first week will be a cash week in probably upscale strip places.  But given that extravagant beginning, the planning does seem to have generated a very affordable trip.
Now if I can just win when I gamble.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Colson Whitehead's book The Noble Hustle

I just finished this book.  I liked it.  Not everyone would, but perhaps more than liked other poker books.  It is nonfiction.

The Noble Hustle:  Poker, beef jerky, and Death

The tone of the book is set by the country the author imagines he comes from

Anhedonia   -  The inability to experience pleasure

This gives him one advantage.  He has a perfectly natural dead expression, a true poker face.

"We anhedonians have adapted to long periods between good news.  Out national animal is the hope camel.  We have no national bird.  All the birds are dead."p.47

"For the citizens of the Republic of Anhedonia, luck is merely the temporary state of outrunning your impending disasters."p.96

Here is background information

Colson is not writing a novel this time, although it reads like one.
Instead he is telling the story of being in the 2011 WSOP, not because he was a polished poker player, but because he was offered a free buy-in if he would write an article about his experiences.

This is not your typical poker book.  It is linquistically wild and fast moving with bizarre metaphor, allusion, and commentary.  He laughs at all of it, including himself.
At the same time, it is easy to identify with the poker stories. 
I don't much like the WSOP, where I experience  the game as a cross between a ProBass fishing tournament blended into a rather bad Hollywood flick, so for this book to keep my attention until the end is saying a lot.
But then I'm a frugal guy.
So is Colson in real life.
So I get him.

Ironically, I get him in spite of the fact that his style is one of a modern generation and not what usually appeals to me at all.   I don't ready too many book that flow......or should I say spurt like this one. 
I suppose partly I liked it because my son Frank liked it, read it, sent it for a Father's day gift. 

I also liked it because it was not an egomaniac book of directive instruction.  Here was a fellow like me, although much younger, caught in an adventure of poker playing.

It got a great kick out of his naming of stereotypical players:

Big Mitch is a potbellied endomorph in fabric-softened Khaki sorts and polo shirt, a middle aged white guy here with his wife, who was off dropping chips on the roulette felt according to her patented system."p.10

Methy Mike is a harrowed man who  had been tested in untold skirmishes....  If Methy Mike had been hitched, the lady had packed her bags long ago and if they had spawned, their parenting goals probably ended with making sure their kid didn't get a tattoo on her face, and they did not always succeed....Methy Mikes are on a first name basis with the bosses and dealers and cocktail waitresses, and you can count on a bit of catching up.....They are weathered by the sun, by their lifestyles, which you can only guess at, the underlying narrative of their decay, and resemble unfortunates who have been dragged on chains from the back of a beat-up van and left to desiccate in the desert....

And then there was Robotron, lean and wiry and hunkered down, a young man with sunlasses and earbuds, his hoodie cinched tight around his face like a school shooter or a bathroom loiterer...  Robotron is only here tonight because the Feds shut down all the US online poker sites.

He did not name old guys like me, but here is one he encounters:

"an elderly white man who bent over his chips, squinting through a magnifying attachment that barnacled on his thick specs like a jeweler's loupe.  Her pondered before acting, as if reviewing a lifetime of hands and confrontations, or fighting off a nap."

This fellow is really not much like me, but I've met him at the tables.

Here are some other bits I found worth noting:

"Gamblers and the lovesick want to bend reality.  But it's never going to happen.  If you woke the hell up, you'd understand that and stop chasing."

Like all poker books, some of the places he writes about have closed.  Showboat at Atlantic City, for example.  There is never much history in casinos.  They just don't last.

There is quite a bit about his reading to prepare for the game.  I have never found strategy books of much value.  I can't seem to absorb, remember and apply anything.  He seems to respect the Dan Harrington writings of which I'm not familiar.

Of course, I rarely play tournaments and not for big bucks but just for amusement or as freerolls earned by accumulated hours. 
So, his term for the blinds, Wave of Mutilation, does not affect my games.  In NL I like 1-1 games because the blinds really don't matter very much.  Often 1-1 is a post flop game.  I like that.  It is very different from the higher stakes games and from tournaments.

"I pity people who've never been to Vegas.  Who dismissthe city without setting foot on its carpeted sidewalks,  I'll forgive the sanctimony in the question, "But what do you do there?  The obnoxious self-regard are as American as smallpox blankets and supersize meals. "p.101

Since this is nonfiction, the people mentioned are not characters, but real folks.  Matt Matros plays a role in his adventure.

as do other unnamed players, like the woman who becomes his coach.

Here is a bit for the weekly poker game
"Everyone tilts, but he who tilts less, tilts best."

"SitnGoes were not, as I mistakenly thought, adult diapers for poker players, so they don't have to leave the table."  p.149

I enjoyed the reference to the Butterfly Affect which I think I first experienced with a Ray Bradbury story, but which does permeate the culture and certainly apply to our experience of poker.

Wild Bill once gave a seat up in the Flamingo to a pretty young girl who was just behind him on the list.  Within a few hands, she hit a royal flush for a Bonus payout of $1400.  It could have been Bill.

Or not, since randomness is more like a RNG than destiny.

I also like the idea that Colson knows his limitation.

"I would never understand the game the way they did, no matter how much I studied or hit the tables.  The part of the brain these guys used for cards, I used to keep meticulous account of my regrets."

This is exactly why I stay away from high priced tournaments and use table selection as my major source of advantage at the lower stakes and limit games.

"Our country disdains a risk reward game that millions of Americans play, then bails out Wall Street sharks who bet unfathomable sums.  I can only conclude that this contradictory status has little to do with the skills required for each pursuit.  No, for some reason, lawmakers just don't like poker." p.  163

 I suggest that the reason poker takes a back seat is the same reason it takes a back seat in casinos.  It is a lost leader.  Government now is like the mob.  They get their 'taste' by setting up negative expectation games and luring in folks to fleece.  It is the same reason that any video poker that pays over 100% is illegal in NY State.  It is not about disliking poker;  it is about liking taxation more than providing services.

One new concept for me was the concept of M and I thought it would help my tournament play, but I doubt I'll remember it.  I barely remember how to figure outs and I only do the math for chasing flushes and straights in a general way.

" To calculate M, you add the Big Blind, the Small Blind, and all the antes you have to pay into the pot each round, and the sum is how much it costs to play one orbit"

"Establishing table image is like when you stab the leader of the Aryan Assholes in the neck with a fork after your first day in prison: tellin' em how you do it back home." p.186

on the Fremont Experience:

"Tourists foolish enough to be ensnared by the promos for this crummy light show look up for a few minutes, and then it's over.  They drift away.  The night is young, the city endless, and there are so many more disappointments to savor before dawn."  p.  206

Talks about his poker knowledge slipping away Flowers for Algernon style.

Well, I don't know if I ever knew anything that matched the top of that curve, but I sure do feel the slipping of knowledge in every category. 
In two years I will have forgotten reading this book.  So, I'm happy to have these notes.


Thursday, June 18, 2015

Thinking again about Boulder in an answer to questions on Sam's Town

I like Sam's Town. They have some of the cheapest live poker tournaments in town.

These can really stretch out gambling dollars. The early morning tournament has about an hour of limit poker before the tough game even starts.

Sam's Town also spreads a 2-6 spread limit game, but it is pretty local dominated and can be tight or tough. Good players will feel comfortable enough. They have great bonuses. Playing early in the morning if the game is still going can be a great deal. I once woke up at 3 AM and went down to play. There were five of us and four of us just passed around the fifth loose and very bad player. Three people that morning hit cracked Aces and got paid on that.

Check the entertainment. Sometimes the Nite Kings are playing.

If you like older music and harmony, these are a class act. Wednesday's they are at the Orleans.

On Sunday's there is a free variety show in the afternoon at Sam's called Toast of the Town. It is different every week and again reflects older music, but is very much like an old Vegas review with music, perhaps a comic, perhaps an animal act.

Sam's Town has a bank of full pay Deuces, rare now in Vegas. There are some machines in quarters and some in nickels. Other full pay games are scattered around and some of those that are almost full pay have progressives that will get to full pay when they are high.

I have not been in the Sam's Town pool in a while but it was one of my favorites back a few years because it opened early in the morning, had a pleasant ambiance and music that was older and not the modern nasal whine stuff.

Walmarts is close so it is very easy to stock up cheaply with room snacks.

You can easily walk to the Eastside Cannery to see yet another casino, and while the Longhorn across the street from EC is a bit of a dive, there are matchplays in the American Casino Guide and the food there is basic diner type food and gets good reviews. A walk back to Sam's from EC is perhaps not a good walk in the early hours of the morning, but I do it without incident. Across from the Eastside Cannery is a Bank of America drive up. I walk up to replenish my gambling money.

The Eastside has yet another inexpensive buffet. Or it can be free if you join their site and play games or do puzzles so as to earn points toward food, free play, free drinks. I find I can grab two free wines and carry them into a free buffet almost every trip. There too are some full pay VP and good music in the lounge.

Eastside Cannery has an interesting poker room as well.

I think the 2-4 game has 6 bet on the river although I can't seem to confirm that on line.

Again it will be local dominated, but they are not all skilled players. If you like baseball, start a conversation at this table and they will talk forever.

Buses will work for getting to Boulder Highway casinos. Some require you to take two buses, but Boulder Station, Henderson Fiesta, Sunset Station are others are all accessible. If you are going to ride buses, start a thread with bus questions. City buses complement the shuttle so that you have good flexibility, even getting to the strip (although that is a 45 min, city bus ride) The Sam's shuttle gets you to Harrah's, but the city bus from the Eastside Cannery gets you to any destination along Flamingo, to Ellis Island for the steak special, to the Gold Coast and so to that free Boyd shuttle. Sometimes Sam's shuttle ( which is faster) is quicker because it just goes to Harrah's. Sometimes a city bus is the better deal. Check the schedule. Taking the 202 down Flamingo, even late night, to either Sam's Town or Eastside Cannery has never felt sketchy (like the BHX) to me.

The BHX gets you downtown. It rides through a pretty poor area and will put you on the bus with pretty poor folks, so for some the fellow riders may make it uncomfortable

Remember that all these bus rides are "residential" bus rides and cost $2 one way or $5 for 24 hours, or if you are over 60 and have ID, half that cost. Getting a bus ID downtown at the BTC is good once folks turn 60. But if you have a Medicare Card that will work as well.

More information on this thread:

other related links on food specials: ak-and-lobster

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Airbnb rooms for frugal weekend booked for September

Below this part of the post were my earlier thoughts on this place.

I decided to book the B and B tonight. Eastside won't have any mailings out until the middle of August for September. That is really nuts. Once again they lose me with inept management procedures.

The Eastside Player's Club would not check on the phone that they had my correct mailing information, some BS about having to see me in person. No other casino needs to do that just to let me know whether I will get an offer or not. I miss mailed offers all the time at the D and Four Queens, and they talk to me on the phone, tell me what I offers I have, and book my stay.
I stay at 4Q at the end of my September trip and the host person arranged for me to get casino rate and would even automatically apply the mailing to my stay if I wanted.
Such a difference.
By August those Air B and B rooms will be booked, so I just decided to book now.

Strange kind of booking at the B and B.
I was asked to send a photo for verification of what I look like.
Then I had to verify my phone number by having them phone call a code to me that I put in the booking application. Wild stuff.

I lose if I can't go for some reason. At least half the cost.  Generally, I never book unless I get totally free cancelation, but I understand that a small operation like this can't be so flexible.

And if my phone breaks, I will have issues checking in. 
But I am intrigued by this new adventure. I want to try it. If it goes badly, I know how to chuckle.

Also, I leave from a My Vegas night at Excalibur, go to the B and B for the weekend and then leave for a MyVegas Palace Station 3 night stay.
So that 109 bus is an easy way to get from casino to casino.
From Excalibur I'll take the WAX to the airport and the 109 right to the B and B at East Katie where I walk 5 minutes down the block to the address.

After I check out of the B and B, I'll take the 109 to the airport and then arrange for the free Palace Station shuttle.

This should be a relaxed journey with no difficult luggage issues and no standing at a bus stop at some strange bus stop with luggage.
I like the Ground Zero bus stop.

It certainly is easier than sandwiching in an Eastside Cannery stay between those two places. From Excalibur I would have had to take Tropicana and then the BHX.  Then to get to Palace Station it would be BHX to Sahara and the Sahara Express from there.    Not going all the way out to Boulder and back probably saves me about 2 hours total of bus riding.
It is good for bankroll. I'll take the money I don't gamble that weekend at the Eastside and pump up what I seed at Palace Station. I'm not seeding the Eastside if I can't get decent service on booking rooms with mailings.

The price for the B and B did go up to $103 for the weekend at the B and B. By hesitating I lost $10.

The Onyx Theater is very easy and nearby the B and B. I've been wanting to see one of their inexpensive plays, but from downtown it is a bit of a ride. Because their schedule is not figured past September 4th, I don't know what will be up (if anything) but it did attract me to this booking.
Hipmonk on a search now offers up Air B and B rooms.
Here is an alternative I never considered to cover an expensive Vegas weekend with no comps.

My September 18-19 nights with fees would be $90 total for both Friday and Saturday.

This was for a private bedroom/bathroom  in a complex just off Maryland and near Flamingo. The host recommended a car but the 109 bus was not very far away.
In the complex was a basketball court, tennis court, a Jacuzzi, pool and a sauna and a laundry. The renting included a private bath and shared a kitchen, living room, dining room. Free wifi with a printer.
There were plenty of stores nearby.

 I can see this would be very good for me going solo and not being in the room much anyway or it might be a good break midtrip.
checkout was a bit early, 10 AM. However I am always up early.

Booking it will depend on whether Eastside Cannery sends me a deal or not. I've been getting 2 for 1 at casino rate from them, and if I get that mailing for September18-19 I'll be set with the weekend at a cheaper price.
Actually, I'm booked at EC now for 18-19, but at for twice the cost of this Air B and B and since I am getting some mailings from them, I won't want to just stay there and not gamble.

And if I get caught in the squeeze between no Eastside Cannery deal and it is also too late for this Air B and B because it is booked up, I'll probably just go to Eastside anyway.

Otherwise, this is the best alternative I have found.   Pricewise,
it compares with those lowest of low prices, Hostel prices. I'm beyond the age when a hostel is attractive.
A $45 weekend night with no obligation to gamble is hard to beat.

It certainly beats rooms at the same price level like  El Cortez Pavillion rooms. There would be less privacy there with every other guest right outside the window and the maids also there in the morning, shouting and running their carts along the cement to create a sound like a small train.
 I'm in Vegas for 21 days. So I don't have that frantic need to fill every minute with some astounding sensual experience. I could use a break in the middle to do laundry, unwind, print up another free buffet at Eastside Cannery, etc.   And by the time I get there, I might be ready to sleep a day away, or perhaps even watch a bit of television. I'd be betting that the television will have Turner Classic movies or at least something without commercials. Vegas hotel television is the worst I have ever seen.   However, the bus will get me to places I like for gambling if I want to do that.

 I do like the frugal choices if I get what I want. This place will probably be quiet. There will be other people in other rooms, but I expect they will be perhaps even more respectful than the other people in the other rooms of the casino/ hotels I visit. This place I would expect to draw a visitor who even speaks in a quiet voice, and hopefully one who does not roll in drunk, yell in the hallway, steal my "do not disturb sign", and then slam the door. At least there will be no Fremont Experience noise, no block behind the 4 Queens with a Heavy Metal Festival starting practice at 5 PM on Saturday.

 And although shared,  access to a kitchen, living room, dining room might be a nice change.

The biggest down side is I can't stumble down in the middle of the night to play poker. But I can do that on the other 19 days of my trip.

By the 10th day of my trip, it would be fine to know I can do my laundry, a full load, in a machine and so get really ready for the second 10 days.
I like meeting strangers. I go to Vegas in part to do that.
I am generally solo. I like that too.
From strangers I can hear new stories. And there is so subsequent social obligation.

In Vegas I meet people on the bus, at the poker table, and I've met some great folks in places just like this in Costa Rica and in other bed and breakfasts around this country
I'm not certain if my search will work here as a link.
But I'll try;o=2015-09-20

To see more than one review you have to go to Air B and B.  16 people reviewed the place and all gave it 5 stars and added good detail.
All were pleased with the host and the state of the room.

Then again, it might be a bit like this.  Ya never knows.

Sunday, June 07, 2015

Comparing Boulder Highway casinos

I've stayed at Sam's Town and at Eastside Cannery.  The rooms at Eastside Cannery were nicer.  I like the floor to ceiling glass.  I especially liked a corner room, but they charge more for that now and I usually go for the cheap.  Having two walls of floor to ceiling glass was really amazing, however.
Eastside Cannery has no resort fee and will discount for seniors $10 off the posted rates. will also book that casino if you don't expect to play enough to have rooms comped on the way out.  I get the better prices at and can book much earlier than on the Eastside Cannery website.
Eastside Cannery's 2-4 game is fine, but pretty local dominated. Sam's Town 2-6 spread is also full of regulars. 
 Monday night at 10 PM Claudine Castro has one of the best Latin lounge acts I have ever seen; it is well attended by local Latinos.  Almost completely in Spanish.  I always meet friendly people when I go.  I get there early and save a seat at a table, and there is always some folks who want to share my table as the place fills up.  So I usually get to dance.  I took a board friend from the Netherlands out one year and that was great fun.  She felt that she was getting an interesting piece of American Latino culture.
Here are some reports on my last experience at the lounge:
Sam's Town has a resort fee.  I was getting some room offers on B Connected, but I don't anymore. 
Sam's town offers a bit more variety in gambling and shows.  They have the full pay nickel Deuces.  Eastside Cannery has some full pay quarter machines.  Sam's Town poker room is better attended with more variety.  Very good and inexpensive tournaments every day and an interesting 2-6 spread game. 
The 202 RTC bus as well as going across the street from Sam's Town, goes directly to the Eastside Cannery parking lot and the driver takes a ten minute break.  So coming home late at night, you can actually wait and see the bus from the circle in front of the casino and have time to walk across the parking lot to catch it.  So that makes it one of the safest stops late night.  I usually just walk over and wait and have never felt uncomfortable.  However, the 202 does not stop there all night long.  It changes route around 1 AM, so be careful or you have to walk to Nellis or take the BHX there.  The BHX does stop right in front of Eastside Cannery and I like that stop better than the one at Nellis as there are always sketchy characters at Nellis.  However, taking that BHX downtown late at night means seeing some rather sketchy characters.  And going out on it is a long ride.  The HDX used to stop at Sam's Town in just 16 minutes, but it altered its route.  That free Sam's Town shuttle is the best ride out, but not useful if you stay out too late.
If I am staying downtown, I often go out to Sam's Town in the morning for the 10 AM tournament (something like $25) poker around for the day there.  Walk down to the Eastside Cannery,  perhaps get a free meal at Eastside Cannery and take the 202 to the strip late night, walk around a bit to see the strip lights, or stop at Ellis Island for a late night steak special (no lines) and then I take the Deuce back downtown. I find that more comfortable than the BHX.
If I am at the Goldcoast, I take the 202 to Sam's of to Eastside for the Latin show.  It is a long ride out (45 minutes or so)  but it is a short ride back late at night because it stops less and there is less traffic.  It also drops right at the Goldcoast so there are no issues of safety getting on at Eastside Cannery or off at Gold Coast.
Across the street from the Eastside Cannery is a Bank of America ATM that I find convenient (no fee for B of A customers) for refunding my bankroll.  Also, the Longhorn is there.  From what I have read in reviews this is not a good place to stay, but the food is good and sometimes there are good matchplays.  Also, nearby is a Walmarts.  For both Sam's Town and Eastside the Walmarts offers a great place to stock up on room snacks. 

I did not stay there, but will in September.  I played very, very little, but have gotten some 2 for 1 offers.  When comparing prices, note that Eastside has no resort fee.  It also has free wifi.  If you go on the Eastside Cannery site, you can sign up and play some interesting puzzles and games that earn points for free food and drinks, matchplays, iced cream deals and some freeplay that is tied to a certain amount of play.  However, you have to bring in a printed voucher and redeem it within seven days.
Their buffet is basic, but it feeds me.  I like it better than Sam's Town on most days, but it has less options.  It does have some very interesting moon cookies, but I can't eat them anymore.  When I can manage a trip out there early in my visit I get a couple glasses of red wine with free vouchers from the webPass puzzles and carry them into a free buffet.
Sam's Town buffet can be had for free with minimal play and an American Casino Guide coupon, but only once a year.
Sam's Town on Sunday hosts a great old fashioned Vegas review show called Toast of the Town.  It is often called the best free show in Vegas.  There you will see different talent every week, some of it perhaps drawn from strip shows.  I've seen some amazing acts.  However, the focus is on a senior crowd.
I have not yet stayed at Arizona Charlie's but I expect one of these trips I will because prices keep rising everywhere else.  They are the cheapest in Vegas and have a great deal on two room "suites" for just a few dollars more than the basic rooms.  I expect the rooms are worn and a bit scruffy, but for the frugal traveler a great bargain.  I've only talked to a few people who have stayed there, all of them not at all fussy and all satisfied.
Once on Boulder there are plenty of places to visit.  The cheapest craps in Vegas is at jokers wild.  This is hard to access by bus, but easy with a car. 
has good food options, full pay VP at less than a quarter, and on some Sundays, it  hosts  that very funny German band, The Dummkopfs:
Other entertainment
Boulder Highway is more like what Vegas used to be before it went upscale.