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13 Days (4Q, ElCo, Monte Carlo, Excal), with LV Tips

Discussion in 'Vegas Trip Reports' started by DrGPadgett, Aug 2, 2014.

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  1. DrGPadgett

    DrGPadgett Tourist

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Mississippi
    Trips to Las Vegas:
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    My Trip Report

    Fellow Vegas Travelers -

    I am Gene, a retired USAF officer who was stationed in NV in the 1980s. My wife Suzanne and I have returned often in our 24 years together. We best fit the term "grinders", and we stay downtown most often. LONG post warning is in effect here, but I have had requests for details. We stayed for seven nights at the Four Queens, three nights at the El Cortez, and one night each at Monte Carlo and Excalibur... a total of 13 days and 12 nights. We drive to LV from Mississippi. Also, no night club nor alcohol reports here.

    4Q: We checked in at about 1PM, which was sooner than we had planned. There were three families ahead of us in line, but it moved quickly. The $20 bill trick worked like a charm!! **TIP** I always ask for an even-numbered room on the 4th floor of the North Tower(5th if those are full). Although the North Tower is older, the 4th and 5th-floor windows are below the Fremont Street Experience (FSE) canopy! That means that you can watch the FSE show from your room, and you can also look down on the action on the pedestrian mall. Not only did the attendant give us a 4th-floor room, but she also gave us two Funbooks! (Usually, you have to sign up for "Room+Funbook" when you reserve your room online.) The Funbooks included restaurant BOGOs for Magnolia's, discounts for Mike Hammer's magic show, discounts for the Rat Pack tribute act, and most beloved, Blackjack MatchPlay coupons. Suzanne ordered tickets to the Rat Pack tribute show, but got "The Chairman of the Board" tickets, which was only a Sinatra act. She was disappointed; I love that music, so it was fun for me.

    Another benefit of the North-Tower-4th-floor-even-numbered rooms is the shade of the canopy. In early July, 100+ degrees is pretty standard, but even the ROOM was shaded. Nice room; just what we needed. The only interesting feature was that there were two sets of earplugs. These were perfect if you wanted to sleep during a show. Actually, after the first two nights, neither one of us even used them. The room was well-priced, at about $240 for seven nights. NO RESORT FEES!! Also, the $3 per night parking fee was never charged. WiFi for your computer was fast, easy to access, and free. My preparations went partially for naught, as we had overcast temperatures and drizzling rain for almost our whole trip! Cool, literally!

    **TIP** The pushy time-share salesmen are now posted on the northwest corner of the casino(closest to Golden Nugget). They had previously been in the NorthEAST corner(closest to the D Hotel and the stage). Once, when we were ambushed by the "Want to see a show while you're in town?" crowd, a saleslady asked if we were married. Knowing that our rings were easy to see, Suzanne quickly said "YES...but not to each other..." That was fun.

    The Buskers were out in force, during our week at the FSE. There is some value to seeing hip-hop dancers and magicians "as seen on America's Got Talent", but folks, seriously...the fat old man wearing nothing but a soiled cloth diaper? The wrinkled old man wearing a cowboy hat, boots, and a thong? These guys...nevermind. **TIP** Stay clear of the KISS-costumed buskers. Those guys are mean about getting money. The urban drummers, topless nuns, SpongeBob, Michael Myers (from Halloween), Michael Jackson, the Safe Sax guy who plays too loudly, showgirls, the guy who folds himself into a box...it is just too much. The only interesting one to me was what I called the "Bondage Twins". Two very pretty girls were dressed in leather BDSM gear (honestly, I have no idea what BDSM means...really...) would wrap a whip around a guy's neck and slather him with legs and hands, for a picture and a tip. The one that seemed to interest Suzanne was the Chippendale booth. One of the 'dales actually reached out towards her as we passed by, one evening. She looked, but walked away. Any other place, I would have put my boot on his chin, but this is Las Vegas.

    The Zipline under the canopy, as featured in a 2013 CSI episode, was pretty quiet. It is launched from SlotZilla, near Neonopolis, but the higher "Superman" cannon-shot Zip ride, was not yet ready. All those Zipline pretenders at Rio and maybe later at Excalibur are still not this good. The current Zipline ride ended right outside our window.

    I won one of the two MatchPlay coupons we got at check-in. Overall, it was very rare to see a $5 table at the 4Q. No problem; you can get 3:2 blackjack for $5 all over the place, downtown. If you look for a $5 table at 4Q, your best chance is a weekday morning, and even then, it is not in the same place every day. Suzanne and I played for awhile at the Multi-Player "Deal or No Deal" machine, close to the check-in desk. We did well, adding about $20 to the combined bankroll, but Suz did select the $50 top case and sold it for less. That's OK, baby; it was MY fault. **TIP** avoid the single-player "Deal" machine. It looks like you have a 1-out-of-3 chance to go to the cases, but it took us 43 one-dollar spins before we got to the Deal-or-No-Deal cases. Never again.

    One of the best bargains downtown has been the 4Q video poker. There was an eight-machine bank of FIVE-CENT full-pay Jacks-or-Better machines right next to the Keno area, but on Saturday evening, they were closed down. On Sunday, they were moved out. I never found them. There is a well-marked bank of full-pay 9-6 Jacks or Better 25-cent machines in front of the Cashier's cage. We played there quite a bit, and each of us got a 4OAK on those machines. We seemed to be ahead, but I wasn't counting.

    Magnolia's in the 4Q was good, but we had better food elsewhere downtown. The place we visited twice was the Binion's Cafe. Since we last saw it in 2013, this middle-of-the-casino-floor cafe has been walled off from the smoky casino air. Nice! The burgers there were fabulous, and the chicken tenders were, too. The cashier did a great job of maximizing your coupons and your comps, which we had previously only seen at El Cortez. On our first visit, she cashed in points that I had earned playing Blackjack...in 2001!! Amazing. We visited there a second time; it was just as good, although I am very saddened by the dead WSOP birthplace in the casino rear; some of the space was even used to sell discount clothing on hanger racks! Boo.

    DuPar's at the Golden Gate was great, but $27 for breakfast was too much to return. **TIP** The Orange Juice is squeezed right in front of you, if you sit at the counter...but it is $4.50 per glass. The Golden Nugget breakfast buffet was good enough to justify the combined price of $11, since we had an American Casino Guide BOGO coupon. One very depressing discovery is that a huge chunk of my beloved Vegas Club Casino has been turned into yet another souvenir shop. I still played a LOT of Blackjack there and at the Plaza. Confession time: I admit that I am mesmerized by the dancing "flapper-dealers" at the Golden Gate (and the D). Suz liked the Golden Gate, too. She got really comfortable at the Goldfish slots, and she is very good at "quitting while she is ahead". The GG remodel is fabulous; we will stay there again, soon. California and Main Street Station casinos were nice, as always. Not much more to say, there.

    We did venture out from the FSE; that is one of the benefits of driving our car to LV. **TIP** The absolute BEST bargain in Las Vegas, for value players like us, is the Texas Station buffet. With your Player's Card, your breakfast buffet is $6.99. If you get there between 10:15 and 10:45 AM, you can relax and eat off of the lunch buffet, too. With the American Casino Guide's BOGO coupon, we ate exactly one meal on Tuesday, for a total of $7.34. The Palace Station has the same price (and BOGO coupon), but it is much smaller, and had a lot of kids running around with plates of food. The Ellis Island has a fabulous diner and fun games. I lost my MatchPlay blackjack hand there, and I think we left money behind, but DANG, it was fun. Tuscany Casino (on Flamingo Rd.) was the worst. It was immaculately clean and sparkling, like new. Can we leave, now? I got torched for $50 at the blackjack tables. THAT is not why I dislike it...really.

    Suzanne wanted to go to the Casino Royale, where they offer $50 in Free Play. **TIP** Don't go to Casino Royale for the Free Play.** We combined that trip with a plan to eat at Johnny Rocket's in the Flamingo; off we went. The Flamingo parking garage is immense; I should have used the Valet. We literally got the very last parking place, in the sun, all the way in the back. Johnny Rocket's was great, except for yet another $27 meal tab. We Walked through/around the LINQ, Harrah's, and O-Shea's (THAT place was jumpin'), before getting to Casino Royale. The $50 Free Play is on very old, unusable machines, labeled "This machine does not pay out anything, unless you hit a jackpot of $200 or more." It took us too long to even find them, and then THAT? We were out of there. **TIP** Don't shell out dollars to ride the High-Roller "ferris wheel". Check it out on YouTube first, to see if it is too boring, first. **TIP** Don't miss the Pinball Museum and Hall of Fame. It is on Tropicana, 2 miles East of the Strip; bring a roll of quarters!

    The Fashion Show Mall was fun. Admittedly, it was more fun to LEAVE, though. In-N-Out Burger was great, as usual. I decided to open an In-N-Out in my hometown, a hotbed of SEC football, but they don't franchise. NO!!!!! The Poker Palace in North LV no longer has $1, 3:2 blackjack. It is really suffering. I remember when this place was fun.

    Our side trip to Riviera was fun, but not as sad as before. I love the Riv, but it has been so dead, in recent years. They have $1 blackjack! It has 6:5, but still. I had a $10 Matchplay, which I won, and played for awhile, out of reverence for this great old landmark. Suz and I visited the wall of portraits on the second floor, where there are photos of dozens of top performers who had headlined at the Riviera. From Sinatra and Dean Martin to George Burns and Charo, I knew all of them. That makes me OLD. Suzanne did not know all of them, but that is because she is only 29. Really. Yes, I married her when she was only 5.

    Back to downtown. The D is an intriguing place. Downstairs rocks, but the second-floor is a real throwback. I do like the sound of coin-droppers. They have Sigma Derby! The first night we were in Vegas, we hit the Sigma Derby jackpot. NO, that is not when the 200:1 quinella wins; that is when you are playing at the game when it has drunk frat-boy players who are yelling at the plastic horses! "Go, Number TWO!! Move your a**, Number Two!!" The Derby machine went Out of Order during our trip. I say "D...move your A**!! Get the Derby machine fixed!!" I forgive them, though. The D has fantastic blackjack coupons in the American Casino Guide. The twenty-five DOLLAR MatchPlay coupon (YES, that is $25!!) made my top gaming moment - I bet the $25 and the MatchPlay coupon while playing at a packed $5 table... and I was dealt an 8 and a 5. I had to hit the 13 against the dealer's nine showing... and I got an EIGHT, for 21!! That one is worth a stand-up, yell out loud! The other coupon is to "Push a 22". That is a powerful card, because you can be very aggressive when you have 12! I don't know if they will let you Double Down on a 12, but if you have that coupon, you SHOULD, against a dealer 5 or 6. Nice job, D. You have won future business from me.

    Downtown Bummers: Downtown Grand did not impress, though. They have Strip odds (7-5 Jacks or Better, and everything is too expensive) in a grinder location. PLEASE bring back the Lady Luck (and the Gold Spike, too). We won't be visiting Ogden Street again, until they figure it out. The FSE seemed to have the exact same shows every night, at the exact same time. Bring back the older shows, at least once a night! We always spend time at Mermaid's, where we are always sure we are going to win the next drawing "held every 15 minutes". I had resolved to get Suzanne a deep-fried Snickers bar at their well-known snack bar, but she was too full on our first night in Vegas. The next day, the whole snack bar was plastered over, closed for two weeks! Yikes. On a repeat visit to Vegas Club, my player's card would not work. At the Cashier's Cage, they sent me to Plaza, to get it fixed. At Plaza, they replaced the card and "reset my account". When I checked the card, it had zero points!! I had lost a lot of table game credit. No need to complain; goodbye. I am going to the El Cortez, where they LOVE me.

    El Cortez: YES, Daddy is HOME! Three nights for $72, with a 5-times Points day and $15 in Food credit. FLASHBACK: In our July 2013 trip, there was an obese man who seemingly spent all day and all night at the automated "RoboCraps" machine, without playing. He would just sit there, occupying a gambling chair, asleep, resting his head on his own ample male bosom. Suzanne and I had noticed him each time we passed the RoboCraps machine.

    BACK TO TODAY: After registration, we were headed for Cafe Cortez, and I casually glanced over to the RoboCraps machine. Yes...you guessed it. He was still there!! Later in the day, I did pass close enough to conclude that he was actually alive... and one day later, he he almost got into a fight with a guy who actually wanted the chair to play the game. I love this place.

    After Cafe Cortez (awesome!!), we explored our room. We were on the 15th floor of the Tower, two doors down from the late Jackie Gaughan's room! The sliding glass door to the patio was bolted shut (Boo), but the shower had a small window that opened! The room was an amazing bargain. We virtually stayed in-house at ElCo the whole time. I played like crazy, stacking up points on my card. They had a brand new electronic blackjack game that was so much fun! I also loved the three-way poker machine, combining five-card deal with five-card draw and seven-card stud. The table blackjack games are great, as their yearly awards verify. The Player's Club card system kept us loaded up on Free Play, Bonus Points, and Klondike bars.

    In our only trip outside the El Cortez, we visited Uncle Joe's Pizza (very good) and the Container Park. There is a fire-breathing praying mantis at the entrance to the Container Park(No...really! There really is one!) Entrance to the Container Park is free, and it is a 2-3 level set of unique stores, bars, art galleries, and restaurants. In the center of it all is a very large children's play area. Those who drink can sit at the bar and look down on their children playing on a jungle gym. Vegas is amazing.

    Our time at ElCo was sadly over. It reeks a little; people are drinking too much; the dice table is too loud; the sports bar is too smoky; there are too many old people; that fat guy is still RoboCrapSnoozing; I see a couple of prostitutes looking to score; some people look like they're gambling their last nickel; there are no children here. I am supposed to be too clean for a place like this; I absolutely LOVE it here. Let's go back now!

    Our last two days were on the Strip, and even then, only because Suzanne scored free rooms (more or less free) at the Monte Carlo and the Excalibur. She won these rooms on the MyVegas game, and now she has me signed up to play, too. Won't you be my friend, and send me some gaming chips?

    MONTE CARLO: If I had to stay on the Strip, it would be here. Easy in, easy out. Reasonable gaming. The fabulous Strip-view room looked out over many acres of casino roof, though. **TIP** Never use the Valet at Monte Carlo. The Parking Garage is too close, and it is connected by a second-floor covered walkway. Easy. We had a great time at the Lazy River. We rented inner tubes for $10 for the day (keep your receipt; you can get them back later, if you want to go again). They had an automated PickSix wheel that was a lot of fun! When Suz starts to play a game, a crowd always gathers. Within five minutes of our first spin, the RoboPickSix was totally full. It was a blast, yelling at the wheel to STOPPPP! on your number. We must have stayed there an hour, easily. We then went to the BLVD Creamery, out front, facing the Strip. After about 3PM, the front area is all shaded from the sun, and it is abuzz with music and people. That was great; this downtown guy will give that some credit.

    EXCALIBUR: Last day! (sob, snif) Suzanne was getting sick, with headache and fatigue, but the hotel wanted $20 for an early check-in. SHE said no, I'll just sit here. I, of course, being heroic and kind, marched up and dropped a twenty (plus tax), and got her the key. **TIP** Always use valet at the Excalibur. It is too big, your car is too far, and there are too few shaded spots in the parking garage. I got Suzanne into the room, where she instantly fell asleep. What did I do, then? Of course! I got my car from the valet and drove BACK to the El Cortez for gambling! (YES, she knew where I was going.) After she woke up, we visited MGM Grand, where the Lion's Share is well over 2 Million. If you play, expect an extra wait time for Hand Pay; no TITO here. (UPDATE: Lion's Share hit the jackpot; that is one less "must-go" in Vegas) MGM Grand has a Sigma Derby, too...but it was out of order!! That is a cosmic signal to go HOME, Gene Padgett.

    On our last night, we attended the Australian Bee Gees show. It was fabulous! Full house, too.

    Thanks for putting up with all of this. I'll be back in Vegas the first time I think nobody is watching me.
     
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2014
  2. aaisack

    aaisack High-Roller

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    Thanks for the trip report. Sounds like you had a great time.
     
  3. mikenhe

    mikenhe VIP Whale

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    Best
    First
    Post
    EVER


    Thanks. I love downtown.
     
  4. Ty

    Ty ?

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    Welcome to VMB!

    How many times were you slathered?
     
    Christmas Trip. Sam's Town & MSS
  5. FullBoat

    FullBoat VIP Whale

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    Nice report, and welcome. I'm planning on running down to ElCo next time I'm there. Didn't make it the last time I was there. Sounds like you had a good time.
     
  6. DrGPadgett

    DrGPadgett Tourist

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    Thanks for the nice responses, all. Sadly, I didn't visit the Bondage Twins on the FSE. I can report that they had a very brisk business, usually with one picture after another. They made a lot more money than the elderly thong cowboy..there must be something to this "money's worth" concept.

    Suzanne pointed out that I was a bit misleading about the Container Park on Fremont. The fire-breathing praying mantis is actually a fifteen-foot tall metal contraption, built onto a truck. It isn't a real insect at all. My apology to anyone who thought the Container Park had an insect who went around torching crickets and squirrels. We had a good laugh about that.

    One great thing that I don't understand is the table game success at the Fremont. It seems like whenever I visit thee, the Craps and Blackjack tables are almost always full! Now their rules are not better, and neither is the Boyd comp system. The unique purple felt on the tables should not make that much difference, and I would not want a photo-calendar of THOSE dealers (got my Golden Gate dealer calendar, of course).

    As a long-time student of the casino business, I do not know how they do this. Ideas?

    Regards, Gene!
     
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2014
  7. techie223

    techie223 High-Roller

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    Thanks for the report. Lots of great tips.

    I'm a fan of downtown as well, but finding the "performers" to be a pain in the ass :grrr:

    I think Fremont does a brisk business at the tables because of the $3 craps that they advertise.
     
  8. CALELLA

    CALELLA Low-Roller

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    Great post Gene, It contained all the information anyone needs for downtown gambling/drinking and it sounded like you both had a great time.

    I'm hoping to get back to Vegas in a few months from Scotland and will definitely be staying at either GG or ElCo having stayed at both in the last year I think they are both brilliant and the GG dealers are very easy on the eye.

    I was filming outside GG(well I was actually on the doorstep) and sneakily trying to get one of the girls dancing on the bar when the Security guy tapped me on the shoulder and says "You have to be over the line Sir" lol, I had to move all of 6 inches to carry on filming
     
  9. robert m.

    robert m. High-Roller

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    Loved that trip report!

    Somehow you were able to transmit your enthusiasm.

    It also may have helped that I haunt the same casinos.

    Yes, the table games at the Fremont are hopping every evening. Why? I don't know either.

    Your description of the El Cortez reminds me of what I tell people about New Orleans -- " It's old. It's dirty. It's erotic. And I love it! ".
     
  10. mdlee3_46041

    mdlee3_46041 Low-Roller

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    Great first post and AMAZING Trip Report. Thanks for sharing.

    My first trip to Vegas, back in November 2008, I stayed at ElCo. Basically the idea for me was to get a room cheap and then enjoy being in Vegas. While most people recommend first timer stay on the strip, I'm glad that my first time was downtown and more specifically, at the ElCo. It's because of that trip that I love downtown and I'm afraid that if I hadn't stayed there on my first trip, I probably wouldn't have made it down there to see what it's like, or I'd be one of the people that only goes to see it at night during the light shows and concerts. Then, if I only made it down there for that, I might have never tried ElCo since it's away from the canopy. So staying downtown my first trip opened up that area of Vegas for me. I usually stay on the strip now, but I always take a day out of each trip and head downtown for the day and it usually starts with breakfast at Cafe Cortez.
     
  11. Guy

    Guy Low-Roller

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    The other thing with the Fremont craps tables is that by only allowing 2x odds most people's small bankroll lasts longer.
     
  12. Joe

    Joe VIP Whale

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    Well, it's not like somebody is forcing you to play higher odds, just because there is a higher odds limit, such as MSS at 20x.
     
    Christmas
    My wife's birthday
  13. mistermoe

    mistermoe Low-Roller

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    "**TIP** Don't miss the Pinball Museum and Hall of Fame. It is on Tropicana, 2 miles East of the Strip; bring a roll of quarters!"

    Indeed!! This will be a stop every trip!

    Great report!
     
  14. queentata

    queentata High-Roller

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    I'm definitely a strip girl, but I loved this TR. Thanks so much for sharing!
     
  15. dewey089

    dewey089 Guru of Value

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    Fine, detailed report.
    I do what you do, except I use buses and no car.
    I balance my best deals. Usually that means downtown and MyVegas.

    The El Cortez is much sadder with Jackie gone and the live poker closed up. I spend much less time there. But I liked your review.

    I also appreciated your impression of Monte Carlo, coming as you do from downtown experience. I'll hit that one next trip on MyVegas just to see what the strip is like. IN my mind "free" should not mean $22, but covering a weekend with MyVegas adds a good bit of value.

    In the past Texas Station took the ACG coupon for 50% for solo diners. I wonder if that is still the case.
    Anyway, thanks for a detailed report. Seems you had a fine time.
     
  16. Slotchick

    Slotchick High-Roller

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    Thank you for the great trip report, nice read :) Sounds like you had an enjoyable time.
     
  17. Bonnie60

    Bonnie60 Tourist

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    Great report, we will miss you guys in October
     
  18. bjpcyclone

    bjpcyclone High-Roller

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    Enjoyed the report!

    Monte Carlo has been home base for us for the past 6-8 trips or so and we really like it too.
     
  19. kunglekidd

    kunglekidd Tourist

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    Great report! Thank you for taking the time to write it up.
     
  20. DrGPadgett

    DrGPadgett Tourist

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    Readers - I just got a new offer from the El Cortez! Yesss! It includes $15 per DAY meal/drink credit...although it does not waive the $8.95 resort fee.

    I don't think I can get back in time for the offer, but it is terrific to see what a few hours of play can do for you.

    Regards, Gene!
     
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