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Just Back From Five Days Downtown - Observations

Discussion in 'Downtown Hotels & Casinos' started by marksind, Dec 12, 2015.

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  1. marksind

    marksind Low-Roller

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    Random observations (warning - I can't write as well as the Flusher!):

    We stayed at the GN December 6th - 10th. It was National Finals Rodeo week, so cowboy hats were everywhere. It's a nice, well-mannered crowd. We were pleased that most of the casinos had Christmas decorations and played Christmas music at times. I'd have guessed they'd lean toward the "secular" to avoid offending their diverse clienteles. Even the airport had a bunch of Christmas trees. That's a no-no at SeaTac (Seattle airport).

    Buskers and bums - maybe the new rules are helping, but they don't seem to be applied consistently. It appeared that the "performers" only had to be in the circles at night, as during the day they generally weren't. The usuals were all present - old diaper guy, nutsack guy, fat old saggy-boob lady, filthy Sponge Bob, et al. The chilly nights didn't seem to bother them. Beggars were abundant and placed themselves wherever they wished (circle rule apparently doesn't apply to them). My favorite was the "World War II" veteran who appeared to be at most 70 years old.

    The Plaza - the scent issue has been addressed. The VP machine maintenance and comfort/drink quality still lag. Gambling at the bar while leaning on a duct-tape patch and getting a plastic juice glass well drink just isn't too enticing. The "full pay" floor machines have various hues of screens, few of which are normal or well-focused. On the plus side, the casino crowd seemed bigger than previous visits and they have some $5 table limits most of the time.

    The Cal - it appears the casino construction work is done. I don't know if they intend to redo the carpet, but the wall and ceiling work by themselves aren't that dramatic of a change considering the effort. It looks a bit classier perhaps - and they haven't worsened their pay tables or table limits to pay for it!

    The Downtown Grand - a ghost town. At least they've turned down the music. It's still a pleasant environment to play 8/5 Bonus Poker if you like a calm setting and attentive drink service (since you're likely to be one of the few there). The server said they are now unionized. She said she's been there from the beginning and seen all the changes and that the inconsistencies have frustrated many of them. Still, she wasn't excited about the unionization because she didn't think it would help the place's prospects. I like the place and would play for comps if I thought I understood how theirs work and believed they'd be around long enough to use them.

    Four Queens - the progressive on Dueces Wild grew from $1450 to $1850 over our stay, and we wasted a few hundred chasing it. The various progressives on DB and DDB also cost us. The "Mikes" bar is one of our favorites. Those guys are personable, funny, and creative in their drink making.

    The D - the upstairs bar has 8/5 BP with a few progressives, and also features good bartenders (Jason is our favorite) who will make pretty much anything with good-quality stuff if you're playing and tipping. We met a couple at the bar we'd met at the same time last year. The guy was back to try for a royal on his favorite machine on his birthday (Wednesday). He'd done it twice. We were next to him when he did it last year. I don't know about this year, as they weren't there yet when we stopped by Wednesday evening.

    The Fremont - the breakfast buffet seems to be in decline. We ate there Thursday morning. I always say it's hard to screw up a breakfast buffet (normally our buffet meal), but they're getting close. Dried-out ham, under cooked bacon, overcooked potatoes, glue-like scrambled eggs - it wasn't pretty. Hardly any selection and not well tended. They've got the omelet station but the line stayed way too long to bother. The pancakes are always good though.

    The multi-hand Super Times Pay at the Fremont is the crack of video poker, offering 8/5 BP too (seems these machines often have worse pay tables). Nothing is more frustrating than finally getting the 10x multiplier and coming up dry. But we did get a single quad at 8x, so that was $250. This wasn't a good gambling trip, as that was the biggest win of our stay.

    Getting to Sams Town - the shuttle doesn't stop at the Cal while exterior construction is taking place there. It has the same schedule, but sits at the Fremont for about twenty minutes until the scheduled Cal departure time (used to go from the Fremont to the Cal and then to Sams Town). So, follow the Fremont schedule and you've got quite a bit of time to catch it there.

    Sams Town - maybe the last to offer $5 Pai Gow, but you almost have to inherit a spot at the single table offering it, and around noon they now raise it to $10. I'm still confused. Right next to it there's an empty $10 table with a bored dealer. Meanwhile, people are constantly cruising the $5 table hoping for a spot. Do casinos really lose money on $5 Pai Gow? We played the full-pay dueces for a couple of hours, being the "good luck fairies" for those next to us that we seemed to be this trip. We bled slowly while a woman sat beside my wife, popped in a $20, made seemingly random holds, and hit four dueces twice in about thirty minutes. Some trips are like that.

    The Golden Nugget - very busy with the rodeo crowd. The last of their decent VP is no more. The eight or so 8/5 quarter VP machines are now 7/5. Come on GN! Does the viability of your business really hinge on that? It's still our favorite place to stay. The heated pool was comfortable the one time we used it, even with the low 60s daytime temperature. And of course the hot tub is great. Checking in was a clusterf*ck (see my "$20 trick" entry), but I'll forgive them once.

    Golden Gate - what's not to like about $5 blackjack and friendly, comely dealers? Well, maybe they could step up the drink service. It's my favorite place for blackjack, but you can get pretty thirsty there. Thursday afternoon I finally got my wife to play blackjack. During the day it's just dealers of either gender in normal dealer attire. I'm thrilled, since Pai Gow was the only table game I could get her to play and $5 Pai Gow is no mas. While playing she arranged her chips in a bunch of uneven little piles and chose from various ones to bet. I finally asked why. She had arranged them by the pictures of the girls (I never noticed that each chip has a girl's picture) and would choose one she thought looked "lucky." Everyone including the dealer got a good laugh from that.

    Good Groupons - if you like a change of pace, go to East Fremont. The Vanguard Lounge has a $40 drink Groupon for $21, and if you wait until Groupon has it's 20% off sales it's only $16.80. They make true craft cocktails. Top-shelf liquor, fresh ingredients, and syrups they make themselves. It's a calm, relaxing place in the evening. I guess around midnight (according to the bar tenders) it turns into a PBR, Red Bull and vodka nightclub.

    Another good Groupon(in the past, anyway) is The Market. $20 of stuff for $14, or $11.20 when on sale. We've use that for sandwiches previously. This trip we tried to get sandwiches to eat at the airport on the way home, but they wouldn't honor it for prepared food. No idea why as the coupon excludes only sale items and Peets Coffee and it wasn't an issue before. We probably won't get that one again.

    That's all that comes to mind. I hope our next trip will be for the first rounds of the NCAA tournament, but so far airfares for that are way high. Oh, that brings to mind one last thing - amazing difference in sports book odds for the tournament. Her alma mater was 18 to 1 at one, 17 t0 1 at another, and 35 to 1 at William Hill (the Plaza) to win the tournament. So of course she bet there. But William Hill was only 9 to 2 on Kentucky, while the GN was 5 to 1, so I bet there. I'd be happy to lose that bet, but it's a consolation prize in case they win!
     
  2. joaks

    joaks Low-Roller

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    Good info. Thanks. We will be on Fremont during Christmas.
     
  3. Joe

    Joe VIP Whale

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    Thank you for posting that comprehensive report.
     
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  4. DRPinVA

    DRPinVA Low-Roller

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    Well done, and well written! Sounds like you had a great time and made all the rounds...Makes me miss our trips to downtown.
     
    Oh Boy! Oh Boy! Oh Boy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  5. Marky147

    Marky147 High-Roller

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    Echo everyone's sentiments.

    Good report, and much appreciated.

    Itching for my 2 weeks in June!
     
    Double digits!
  6. marcianofan

    marcianofan Low-Roller

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    I also was also just at the golden nugget but 12/2 and 12/3, couldn't get the Friday night comped so moved on to the Strat. Fremont street was very busy those two days between the NFR and the big nascar thing that was going on under the canopy (I'm a big sports fan but nascar is one sport I just don't follow, but there was a lot of fans for the rally, signings and whatever the hell else it was!). I'll echo pretty much what you said about DT. Wow, I think there was only 8-10 people in the DTG on the casino floor when I was there at around 6:00 pm, and only two BJ tables, no one sitting at them and they're changing decks ?!?!. I like the look and feel of the place but the casino is dreadful. The plaza wasn't a whole lot better or busier that night either. The GN was by far,FAR, the busiest that I saw. It seemed almost all the people were either there or out under the canopy.
     
  7. Royal Flusher

    Royal Flusher Savvy Gambler

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    Nice write-up (and thanks for the shout-out).

    I heard about the Nugget gutting those quarter machines the other day and I've been walking around ranting about it since.

    Quarter machines. Last decent play in the place. Do they feel like they have to turn us upside down and shake every last dollar out?

    On the other hand... they seem busy, always.

    But earlier this year they gutted the already short pay bartop machines to unplayable levels - and if they keep this up, I won't be able to justify staying there any more, except for the fact that I'm lucky there - but how long can that go on?
     
  8. Droyus

    Droyus Tourist

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    Yes, they do. The concept of attracting gamblers by offering a good bang for your buck is a thing of the past. It's all about squeezing every dollar possible out of the public. If all casinos remove every gaming option that could be considered an attractive value by savvy gamblers, anyone who wants to play at any machine or table will have no choice but to accept crappy odds & higher limits. This is exactly why my entire gambling budget for each Vegas trip has dropped to $100 or less.

    Just look at the disappearance of $5 pai gow and great bartop paytables, like 10/7 DB and 9/6 JOB. Casinos don't give a rat's ass that players would fill the tables & bars if they offered such games. They only know how to focus on the expected returns of individual games while completely ignoring the broader benefit of offering lower limits & better odds that would draw big crowds.
     
  9. FullBoat

    FullBoat VIP Whale

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    Nice report. And, I have to agree with the places you went to. At least they were all that way when I was there a couple of months ago. But, I've always liked downtown more than the strip.
     
  10. northerngirl

    northerngirl Low-Roller

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    Great report.....downtown is my home away from home. Sad to read that things aren't picking up at The Grand. I stayed there for a few nights in August and absolutely loved the property. Feel sorry for the staff with all the changes and uncertainties.
     
  11. marksind

    marksind Low-Roller

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    Thanks to everyone for your reading patience! One other experience worth mentioning was at Main Street Station. We don't play much there because we generally prefer bar play. The Boar's Head Bar is great in every way except game choice and machine angle. We don't play much JOB, and that's the best game there. Also, the machines are too inset for my wife. She's not tall enough to play them comfortably for a long time.

    Anyway, we wanted to eat at the Triple 7 one evening, so we went to the Player's Club to see what our comp balances were. Found out that you can't use your regular comps there. A casino host listening in looked at our play and said that based on my wife's play at the Fremont she'd comp us $20. She printed out a credit slip and off we went. Very nice of her. This was $20 on top of the comps we'd already accumulated. As "low rollers" we never think about talking to hosts. Lesson learned - it probably doesn't hurt to ask.
     
  12. Joe

    Joe VIP Whale

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    Just a little confused by your post. What do you mean by "can't use your regular comps there"? B Connected points are good at any Boyd place.:confused2:
     
    Christmas
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  13. Wezvidz

    Wezvidz High-Roller

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    Totally agree. JOB is a snoozefest and I hate the machine angle too, I'm never comfortable playing there.
     
  14. DougFur

    DougFur Tourist

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    Thanks for the report. I'm also sorry to hear the DTG hasn't turned things around. My wife and I stayed there last June and enjoyed the room, pool, and 8/5 BP.
     
  15. marksind

    marksind Low-Roller

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    Joe,

    You are the man when it comes to Boyd, so I take it as gospel. Our experience was odd. Normally with Boyd, like anywhere else, the cashier just checks your comps. When we asked at the Triple 7 about using our comps she simply said go to the Player's Club and ask. At the Player's Club the woman was checking (we had about $35 between us), but the casino host intervened and gave us the special $20 credit. The impression I had (erroneously, it seems) is that the regular comps didn't work at the Triple 7.
     
  16. Geogran

    Geogran OTD Tea Sipper

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    Good stuff! Thanks for sharing.
     
  17. JeJas

    JeJas VIP Whale

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    Nice write-up! Thanks for sharing.
    I was there around the same time and had the same feeling. And you wrote much better than I could do.
     
  18. dooner

    dooner High-Roller

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    I assume that the Pai Gow table game is still not at the Golden Gate? (they took it out about 2 years ago)?
     
  19. Mgilmore

    Mgilmore Low-Roller

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    Thanks for the write up, I think I'll stay away from the Fremont buffet.
     
  20. Joe

    Joe VIP Whale

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    My mistake. You were talking comps and I was talking B Connected points. Two different things.
     
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