Friday, July 24, 2015

Frugal Booking getting harder

With the improvement in the economy and the upsurge of downtown, those of us who go to Vegas frugally and ride buses have harder challenges finding cheaper places to stay.
I was a great fan of the Four Queens, but they pulled back quite a bit on free nights. The same play that got 3 nights (even weekends) now gets buy one get one, and that promotion is no good if there is a festival or the casino has a tournament. I have a mailer for buy one get one and booked 4 nights at the end of September, but the Life is l̶o̶u̶d̶ a̶n̶d̶ c̶r̶o̶w̶d̶e̶d̶ Beautiful festival means that none of the four nights count as the free night offered on the mailer. Others report similar frustrations with Four Queen restrictions.
It is hard to really know what that means, however, because of the new comp$ program. For example, although I ate at Magnolia's every chance I could last year, I left with $40 in unused comp dollars that expire this fall. That is a free night in my 4 night stay.
Oh, by the way. If you use any coupon at Magnolia's, you can't use comp $ to pay the bill. However, if you stay there and put the cost of the meal on your hotel bill, you can use comp $ at checkout.
Also, note that one of the best coupons in the American Casino Guide is the Four Queens double point coupon. If you double the max, 500 points, and get 500 points, it is a great deal. It used to be worth $12 in cashback. I'm not sure now, but it is still good.
The D now charges the $20 resort fee on a 2 for 1 room for the night that is paid.
One of my favorite bookings was the D back to back with the Four Queens because check in/check out was so easy.
I guess that one is getting away from me especially with the loss of the coin dropped full pay Deuce machine that kept me entertained between good progressive numbers at the Vue bar VP.
So, it may be time to seed other spots. One of interest is the Fremont, still with no resort fee, using the ACG buy 2 get one free coupon. I'll try that in November. Of course, I could only do that once a year, but there are similar deals at other Boyd places downtown. Using that coupon might be a good way to get some cheap rooms and then seed the casino with play for future offers. Boyd offers seem to be keeping pretty steady, although I do hear of Gold Coast offers being cut back. I get the same offers from the Orleans, and using them on senior day, get a pretty good deal playing tripleplay 9/7 DB in nickels with royal progressives.
I'm only willing to play VP in any super aggressive way if the pay tables are good and the comps good as well.
I can be entertained just playing live poker with no house advantage, especially with the Golden Nugget offering double bonus hands (and perhaps soon $2 an hour comps) after 2 AM to 2PM and The Plaza offering the frugal poker player's dream tournaments where one might play for a couple hours and listen to live jazz and get free drinks for a $15 buy-in.
Two other venues are attracting me.
First, Arizona Charley's Boulder is always one the cheapest in a search and for just $5 or so extra the double room "suite" can be had. Things might be a bit scruffy there and it is out of the way, but those are good prices and other Boulder casinos are not far away, even Skyline which is like old Vegas with nickel full pay VP, good food deals, and the Dumpkof's band on Sundays.
Next is something completely new to me. Hipmonk searches now include Air B and B offerings. I've booked one in particular for September because for $101 total I covered a weekend. For that I get my bed and a private bath. I also get to do laundry in the middle of a 23 day Vegas trip. Shared areas are living room and kitchen. There is a tennis court and Jacuzzi and perhaps a pool.
While the one I booked is quite a ways off strip, it is very near the 109 bus route. That is one of the buses that serves the airport. It is also near the 202 serving Flamingo, and of course, for you car renters, it is easily accessible.
I'll let you know how it works out. So far, the posted reports are just fine.
One downside is that it is not completely free cancelation.

And of course, with Stations taking MyVegas points that is a great way to book a room for free. Even the resort fee is covered on weekday rooms. I'll be seeding Palace Station in September. I have three free nights booked. I want to see if I can get any future offers just playing dimes. I can play all day on dimes, even if I lose. Food is cheap. And there is a free shuttle to and from the airport. So, I booked the Air B and B back to back to Palace Station because the 109 will get me to the airport from the B and B, and the free shuttle will get me to the Palace Station and back to the airport, where the WAX will get me downtown for my next 6 nights.

Of course, to gamble from the B and B is harder. Still, I just can't see seeding and aggressively gambling just to get room offers that are equal to these sorts of offers where no gambling is required. And I can book the B and B for a week if I want without watering down my daily average of coin in.
Then I can go play a bit of live poker, or see free shows, or do whatever. And it costs the same for housing.

MyVegas and rising prices also had me take a good look at Excalibur. I got one weekend night there for the resort fee and paid for another at $70 plus resort, and then got 5 weekday nights at $22 plus resort fee. When I booked this was just $22 I see it is up $6 more dollars now, but I expect they will honor my booking. This is more than I like to spend, but it is another week long stay in one spot with no gambling required. The 2-6 at Excalibur and Monte Carlo is a very attractive poker game. The 3-6 at Monte Carlo was soft last year. But the best times are late night after the local rocks have gone home to their families, so to really take advantage of softer tables, I need to sleep nearby. I also love a lazy river with no tube first thing in the morning as exercise. Monte Carlo will let me do that, even if I am staying at Excalibur, for $10 and that is worth it for me. I also heard the the Excalibur concierge might be able to make a deal with Monte Carlo some mornings so I get in free. I guess when I drop $10 for a hour or so in the lazy river I have moved on from frugal travel, but with all the downtown places getting more and more expensive, that may be what I do.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Plaza requests advice

A host from the Plaza on the Vegas Message Board requested suggestions for improvements, focusing on no early checkin fee and a shuttle to the airport.

Here is my response:
Are there early checkin fees at the Plaza now?
Early check-in fees are one of the most annoying fees in Vegas.  Why any hotel/casino would want to annoy people on their way in is beyond me.  My buddy stayed in an upscale room at the Rio with his wife (who was on convention) and booked a few subsequent solo cheaper days in a cheaper room.  He had to talk long and hard just to get the "early check-in fee" reduced to $10 from $20 and he was right there in the hotel the entire time,  just changing rooms. 
He won't do that again.  He was pretty mad and he didn't gamble there either.  If you have no early check in fees, I'll let him know and perhaps the next convention he will go from the Rio to the Plaza.
Low rollers who in mailings get a couple free nights because they focus gambling dollars on just a couple days at a hotels have to hop from place to place and so staying downtown is more appealing.  I do that now with a focus on the Four Queens and The D, but I gamble in both.   Changes at the D may have me looking for another second choice.  Were I to catch two free nights at the Plaza, or even a 2 for 1 offer, I'd want to stay just two nights and focus my bankroll on those.  I would pay to stay somewhere else for the rest of my downtown stay.  Early checkin is a great convenience then.
 Say, I did not gamble at Main Street Station, but just used an American Casino Guide coupon for 3 nights at a reasonable rate.  Then I rolled down to the Plaza with my bankroll on a 2 night mailing. I'd want to be able to leave MSS, roll down, and check into the Plaza with no early check in fee.
In fact, I might not want to meticulously pack to make the move, but come down with some luggage, check the bed for bedbugs, check in, and then go back for the rest of my stuff  That makes packing very simple.  It is what I do now between the D and the 4 Queens.   Sometimes making a few trips with a rolled bag is less bothersome than carefully packing everything once, especially if my bags are going to sit with the bellman.  Then I have to have my swimming gear, my gambling sheets and coupons, my meds all in a day pack to wait the 3 hours for a room that is just sitting there.   I would say that at the D and at Four Queens about 90% of the time I get early check in. 
And this might also happen.
With my bankroll in my pocket and one small piece of luggage I walk over early from MSS paid rooms to see if rooms at the Plaza are ready.  Perhaps they are not at 11 but will be by 12 or 1.  I am free to start gambling and wait an hour or so and ask again.  My luggage is still accessible in my MSS room if I really need something. 
So, free early checkin encourages me to book a hotel that offers it, and brings in my gambling money early.
Here are other things that would attract me :
1.  Turner Classic Movies on the television - I used to book at the Plaza just for that.
2.  More offers that waive resort fee.  It just feels good not to have to pay it.  It is the D charging resort fee now on the paid night of 2 for 1 mailings that encourages me to abandon them.
3.  A coin laundry like the Plaza used to have.  I'd book with you in the middle of every trip.  I'm going out in September to an Air B and B primarily for that amenity.
4. Any improvements in the pool.  That attracts me to the Plaza as well because I do like to swim every morning.  The Orleans and the Gold Coast have heated pools when I go in the fall.  I love that.  The D and the California have pools of ice water.  My son and I did the D pool  in the fall of last year.  It was a polar bear experience.  If a heated pool were one of the amenities of a resort fee, I'd not complain about paying it.

I think the WAX does take care of many folks who don't carry much luggage and are mobile. I use it.  However, I also used to book El Cortez at the end of my stay because I liked the easy ride to the airport.  For some travelers having luggage lifted and packed and transported is a huge benefit.
From the casinos point of view I think a shuttle would attract folks who don't get around so easily, folks who would stay and gamble at the Plaza.  I remember my ex mother-in-law going to Vegas, staying at Main Street Station, and never leaving the hotel.  While I can't understand that, she was satisfied.
Nice to have you here asking. Nice to feel the Plaza wants our business. Everything is becoming so impersonal in many venues. 


Sunday, July 12, 2015

Strategy for getting rooms comps for low rollers

If you concentrate your play downtown, only let that casino know that you are there on the days you are playing at your top amounts. Stay out of it the rest of your trip. Don't do just a $20 one day at that place. Don't use your Player's Card for a discounted meal. Then you will look like a higher roller than you are.
Check to see that each casino has your correct mailing address and email.
And then call. I often get comped at the Four Queens and at the D without ever seeing an offer in the mail. At the Four Queens you ask for the VIP line and whoever is the host of the hour will look you up. At the D the clerk at reservations will look you up.

I'm not exactly sure how Boyd does what they do, but I only get offers at the casinos I play in. My triple nickel play at the Orleans gets me a couple free nights every six months. My almost nothing play at the Gold Coast where I often rent for cash but don't play much gets me casino rate offers. That may not seem like much, but I booked my wife and I at the Gold Coast as the cheapest place near a son's birthday party and on B connected the weekend was $150 each night. I was stuck in that location so I booked it on B Connected. Last week I got a mailing and saved myself $150 on that weekend using the offer in the mailing of $75 a night. Sam's Town, Freemont, California, Main Street Station all seem independent to me, except that once in a while they must share information as out of the blue I'll get some offer, usually one I can't use. I do some low level play at Sam's Town and that used to generate offers, but now it does not. For a while MSS liked my low level play and then the same play generated nothing. So I don't play there anymore. Next trip I'm seeding the Fremont to see if they will see me as a pretty new guy. All my play is VP quarters. Next trip I'm trying a lot of VP dimes at Palace Station to see if I can get some deals there that I can link up with MyVegas free nights.

I also managed a Four Queens casino rate for the last weekend in September (when I could find no cheap places at all anywhere downtown because of the π˜“π˜ͺ𝘧𝘦 π˜ͺ𝘴 c̶r̶o̶w̶d̶e̶d̶ a̶n̶d̶ l̶o̶u̶d̶..... 𝘣𝘦𝘒𝘢𝘡π˜ͺ𝘧𝘢𝘭 𝘧𝘦𝘴𝘡π˜ͺ𝘷𝘒𝘭. It inflated all the room prices.) by talking with a host on the phone. Talking with a host at the Four Queens to check on mailings, I learned that even when their mailings came for September, I could not use them for that Festival weekend, but she checked me out and gave me casino rate, again much cheaper than just booking, even at a discounter site.

One frustration is that if you get comped two nights and then buy three more you will not be able to focus you play as a low roller on that visit for the next one. That is the low roller Catch 22. The Four Queens in a comped offer will give me extra nights for $24, but if I stay there for 6 days on my same bankroll, I won't get the best offers on my next trip. High rollers get all the nights and anytime they want and every month if they want. Low rollers get a 2 for 1 or a couple free and that probably won't be every month.

One trick is to add three nights ot a 2 night comp on a discounter, and then hope the casino does not notice. I was advised that because they are on separate computer systems adding three nights at the Four Queens by using Binions poker rate would not show up on my playing average on the Four Queen card. The trick is to concentrate play on the comped nights and then don't play on the paid nights.
Or you can hop from place to place.
Downtown, since you can roll luggage from one place to another, hopping from place to place is another strategy. I like hopping from the D to the Four Queens because it is a very short walk so I don't really have to pack as I can make three trips and both places are pretty good about early checkins with no fees if they have the rooms so that gives good overlap time for moving luggage. The Boyd Shuttle between the Gold Coast and the Orleans will take luggage, so that is another fairly easy move. I go for over 20 days each trip. I gamble mostly in places I only stay in for two or three nights. I pay cash in places where I won't gamble at all, using MyVegas and/or found deals. That way I am not hopping all around all those 20 plus days and I can concentrate play in the places I want to revisit on a comp.

That system gives me money to play a bit of live poker at the Golden Nugget. Live poker gets nothing in comps. Once in a while there is a slightly discounted rake. Or I might play the cheap live tournaments at the Plaza electronic poker tables. Again, that play would not get me any offers.

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Poker Downtown

I think GN is the better room. It depends on the promotions, but there usually are more tables there and better table selection. I think the GN attracts more tourists, but all the limit games have some daily regulars. I think Binions pays $2 a hour still for playing. That really makes a difference if you are playing long days. Your $10 food comp at GN will not improve after 4 hours. You might better go eat and go to Binions. Also, the GN comp is just for the day it is issued, unless it is close to midnight. So, I always ask after midnight and then have the voucher for the entire next day. If you go to the buffet, this voucher is a line pass. Go to the VIP cashier. I once skipped 20 people waiting for breakfast.
There are no longer an kill pots offered and rarely a 3-6 limit, just 2-4, but that is a great game to play for the bonus money.
American Casino Guide has a coupon that will get you $60 in chips for $50 buy in. That goes a long way for paying for the book and downtown makes a great place to make a matchplay run, one of the few kinds of frugal gambling where you have a huge advantage.
Also, at GN note the time you start play. After 4 hours of play you can have a voucher for $10 off food. They don't track you with a card. Generally, I ask about the promotion when I come in even though I know about it. Asking helps them remember who you are and when you came. Ask when you arrive because they are in the process of starting logging by player's card and will offer $2 an hour. The fellow I talked to said that they would expect those rules by September when I go next. I'll love that mostly because points can be used when I am hungry, even a week later.
From 2 AM to 2PM the progressive high hands are doubled by the casino. So I once got paid $600 on quad jacks. Pay attention to what those progressives are paying. They will encourage players to play more hands in limit games. Hands like 2-6 clubs. If you have the Ace high flush, look for the straight flush possibility. It might be there.
As I remember bonus pays required $10 in the pot. Someone correct me if it is $20. Ask when you go. If you are playing limit with a pocket pair, keep in mind the bonus. Find something to say if you need help to get the $10 in order to win $50 or a lot more. Don't be obvious. "I heard it is snowing in Paris" might work with the right folks, especially if you laugh about it before hand. "Dealer, could you spread the pot?" also is a classic tip off. Good sportsmanship says that if someone calls your quads just because they got it that you needed more in the pot for a payout, you return their bet to them at a later time.
Two cards in your hand must play. I don't think one can be an Ace kicker with trips flopped. Ask that question, or someone here will know.
No cracked Aces.
Offer 4 daily tournaments.
1-2 is a $100 min and no max.
And please use a card protector. I hate that whining when someone tosses their cards on your winners and so it all gets mucked and the pot goes to the other guy who was not even going to call you. It happened to me in my last game. There sat the guy's mistossed cards on top of mine. However, my nice smiling Greek God face was in between them and the dealer just snatched up the mistoss and I won $33. I see it at least once every Vegas trip. Drunks don't throw straight. Guys angry at randomness act like little boys, and old guys with arthritic fingers just miss the target. In the first or last seat this also protects you from dealer mistakes in pickup.

Folks either like or hate the electronic machines at the Plaza, but they do allow for frugal tournaments. The disadvantages are obvious. The advantages are that no one can act out of turn, there is no dealer to tip, you easily know what your opponents hold in chips, there never is confusion on reading the cards. No dealer mistakes. No card protectors needed. No need to watch for prematurely revealed cards by the dealer or the player. No need to call the floor, put the card back in the deck to be reshuffled after someone is missed in a betting round. In my last session an entire flop had to be picked up and reshuffled fro some dealer error
So you can drink and listen to the music and watch the passing girls and not have so much to watch in your opponents. The tells are sometimes different.
Also, you are not handling chips which are some of the dirtiest bits of disease spreaders in the casino. Nor will arthritic hands knock over stacks that old back-issue bodies have pain picking up.
I am amazed that they still offer these cheap tournaments. All poker rooms tend to be lost leaders, but these machines can't make much for the casino. I never played a cash game there, so I don't really remember if the rake is also really low. I'd play there just for the experience. I don't expect they will be there for years.