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May 10-14 (Hard Rock/Orleans)

Discussion in 'Vegas Trip Reports' started by JR Swift, May 15, 2016.

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  1. JR Swift

    JR Swift High-Roller

    Joined:
    May 15, 2004
    Messages:
    752
    Location:
    Lawrence, KS
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    33

    My Trip Report

    Just returned from 4 nights in Las Vegas. If you are looking for information about exciting new restaurants or shows, you can probably skip this report as you won't find much. Another solo trip and my second trip this year. As the title suggests, I spent the first 3 nights at the Hard Rock and my last night at the Orleans. Most of my time on this trip was spent at one of those two casinos in addition to a couple of trips downtown and a couple of trips out to the RIo/GC/Palms area. Did a bit of walking around and gambling at most all of the Total Rewards properties on Wednesday afternoon but, otherwise, did not set foot on the Strip this trip.

    I had several goals on this particular trip which I mostly achieved. I had planned to try and spend one entire day focused on playing only at Total Rewards properties. I hoped to earn 2500 tier credits by focusing on $1 video poker. I didn't quite make it as I only earned about half that number of tier credits, both because I was losing faster than I had hoped but also because I simply got tired of playing. Unless you have a lot of stamina or can play at an even higher level than that, 2500 is a lot of points. Still got my 1000 tier credit bonus and should just need one more day of play at that level to earn Diamond after all the bonuses post. Beyond earning the tier credits, I was also hoping that focusing all that play on one day would help bump up my Vegas room offers which have always lagged most any other TR casino in the country, mostly because my play at those casinos has been hit or miss, wandering from place to place and randomly playing $20 or $100. It already seems to have worked as checking the calendar, I now have quite a few comped dates (midweek) at the higher end properties like Caesars, Paris and PH. Partly because of my ambitious gambling goals, I applied for credit at the RIo and was approved. Having never navigated this system of credit and markers before, it was an interesting experience. I wanted to have access to more than my daily ATM limit if needed and without paying the fees and it served that purpose well. I can't lie: it was also kind of cool to go the cage and take out a marker. Made me feel like a high roller, which I mostly certainly am not. Thanks to good fortune later in the trip, I paid off the marker in cash before leaving town. It is a little bit of a hassle I guess but it didn't take more than 10 minutes or so on either end. I will say that, in Vegas, more than most other locations I've visited, you can cut most TR lines as a Platinum card holder.

    Another goal was to use Uber/Lyft exclusively for my transportation needs. Other than hopping on a couple of the free hotel shuttles, that is what I did. Despite the fact that I messed up and couldn't figure out to enter the Lyft promo code prior to my first ride (which would have saved me at least $40,) I would say my experiences were good. I mostly used Lyft as I liked having the option to leave a tip for the driver within the app, which Uber does not allow. On the positive side, all of the drivers were reasonably professional and all the vehicles were fairly new, clean and well maintained. I didn't feel uncomfortable riding with any of them and most offered or encouraged me to ride in the front seat. I genuinely enjoyed chatting with about half of my drivers and they mostly seemed to know where they were going and got there in a timely manner. I took 10 total rides and spent just over $100 (including $15 in tips.) My first of two Uber rides was free and it would have run me $13. So I actually averaged $10 a ride and that wouldn't have been bumped up much if I had to pay for the first Uber. This included 4 trips to or from downtown and my ride to and from the airport. I would have to think that cabs would have run more than double what I paid. I will use them in the future.

    That being said, there are a few negatives, some of which should eventually improve. The biggest was figuring out where the driver would go to pick me up. The only places where there was clear signage was at the airport and the Rio. Most of the information I could find online only listed Strip casinos and, even there, it was confusing. Finding the correct spot for pickup at Planet Hollywood was frustrating and I finally had to ask someone. I almost gave up there and jumped in a cab. On two occasions, once at the Hard Rock and once at the Orleans, it took a phone call from the driver for us to find each other. The hotels and the ride share services still have some work to do here. Secondly, some users have made it sound like the cars show up almost instantly and that was not my experience. Once I had set pickup location and made the request, I usually waited around 10 minutes for a driver. Now that's not terrible by any means and certainly better than waiting around for a bus, but it is not the same as just walking out the door and jumping in a cab so don't expect that. Clearly, a few of the drivers are not as knowledgeable about where they are going as most any cab driver would be and they all use a GPS service but this never caused me any problems as far as being dropped off.

    All of my hotel nights were (originally) fully comped (no resort fees either) though that would change slightly. I double booked my Thursday night as my offer from the Orleans was for 2 free nights and some token free food. Other than an extra trip, it worked out fine. When I arrived at the Hard Rock on Tuesday night, they informed me that they didn't have any King Non-smoking rooms in the Paradise tower and would have to give me Two Queens for at least that night. The gentleman then offered a number of very good upgrade deals, one of which I took. For $30 a night, I got an upgrade to a basic suite In the HRH tower. I would say it was worth it as it was a very spacious and comfortable room. Some of the details of the room seemed odd and sacrificed function for appearance. The entryway and the the toilet area were both rather dark for some reason. The giant slab of a wall that divides the sleeping area from the living area is OK but I wasn't a huge fan. I also noticed that water tended to accumulate in the large walk-in shower and took some time to drain. The shower also had a rainfall shower head that didn't appear to work at all or maybe I just couldn't figure it out. That being said, it was very comfortable and quiet. A bit of a walk from the main casino area but I have always enjoyed playing in the newer part of the casino anyway and it is very convenient to that area, as well as the self-parking. Played less than usual in the casino there so I have doubts that I will have many nights comped there going forward. Mixed luck. Grabbed mostly snacks and quick meals while there including Mr. Lucky's and Pizza Forte and Fuel Cafe. Mostly all good enough. Just a basic room at the Orleans but no complaints other than the 5 mile walk down the hallway. Ate a couple of times at the Fuddruckers there which I always enjoy.

    Finally, let's get back to the gambling piece of the trip. I alluded to my bad luck on Wednesday during my TR casino crawl but, for as bad as my luck was on Wednesday, Thursday more than made up for it. I put a $20 in a machine at the Hard Rock while drinking my coffee and never looked back. Over the course of the next couple of hours, that $20 turned into $620. I was literally up five hundy by noon, mostly thanks to a $500 hit on my favorite Caveman Keno machine at the Center Bar. From there, I decided to go downtown for bit since I hadn't spent much time there on my last few trips. Since I've recently been getting into the whole "craft beer thing," I decided to check out the main bar at MSS as they have their own beers on tap and comp them while you play. Had their pale ale and IPA and really liked them both. The IPA may have tasted so good because of what happened right after the bartender brought it to me. I had been grinding away for a half hour or so playing quarter video poker, neither winning or losing so, since I was feeling quite prosperous, I stepped up to 50 cents and, within a half a dozen hands, I was staring at a deal of 4 to a diamond royal flush. Held and drew and I'll be damned if I didn't hit it. My first Royal in over 5 years and a progressive to boot. Of course, this meant my first W2G but also meant a hand pay of over $2200. I actually didn't gamble that much the rest of day but figured I ended up ahead by about $2600, not a big deal to some of you but my best day of gambling ever. On a side note, the bartender told me that one lady had previously hit two Royals on that same machine earlier in the day. Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction.

    Friday was my last full day in town. Woke up fairly early and had some breakfast and then checked out of the Hard Rock and headed to the Orleans. Decided I would focus most of my gambling budget for the day on the Boyd properties and, since I wanted to go by the Rio and pay off my marker, starting at the Gold Coast seemed like a good idea. Since news had just broken a couple of days earlier about Station taking over the Palms, I thought I would cash out whatever comps I had there just in case. Got lucky (again) and turned by $18 in free play into a cash out of $74. I've always liked the Palms so I hope that Station will take good care of it. Decided I would just try to earn around 2500 points at the Boyd casinos I liked so I did that at GC, MSS and Fremont, mostly on 50 cent and $1 video poker. After wandering downtown for a while, I grabbed a slice at Pizza Rock (which I thought was OK but not great,) and then went back to the Orleans and spent the rest of the night playing there. I think I ended up earning around 6000 points there before finally calling it a night. Was kind of up and down but, given as much time and coin as I played I think I only dropped about $500.

    So, far and away the most profitable trip I've had as I think I ended up ahead over $1000 when all was said and done. I even won $100 at the airport before leaving yesterday afternoon. The weather was pretty much perfect the whole time and I got to spend a lot of time just playing and having a few beers. Probably going to look at heading back for a few days this September around my birthday so we'll see what sort of offers my play will generate. Either way, I am already missing it and not looking forward to heading back to reality tomorrow though at least I'll do it with a bit more cash than I had when I left. If you read this far, I take my hat off to you as this turned out a lot longer than I planned. Have a great day!
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2016
  2. RealSolGlow

    RealSolGlow Low-Roller

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2015
    Messages:
    248
    Location:
    The Motor City
    Trips to Las Vegas:
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    Glad to read that you won! Those are the best trips ever!!
     
  3. blackjacker2

    blackjacker2 Low-Roller

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2013
    Messages:
    214
    Location:
    Midlands, UK
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    8
    Great TR and well written, Really nice to hear about the wins, always nice to walk away a winner.:clap:
     
  4. jamesxnj

    jamesxnj VIP Whale

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2009
    Messages:
    1,085
    Location:
    FL
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    17
    Great report! And congrats on nailing that Royal !! When's your Sept B-day? Maybe run into you..Buddy and I will be doing Rio/Southpoint/Orleans week starting the 5th (Labor Day).
     
  5. tringlomane

    tringlomane STP Addicted Beer Snob

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2013
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    Location:
    Missouri
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    Nice report! Congrats on the Royal!
     
  6. westie

    westie VIP Whale

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2002
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    Location:
    Kensington, CT
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    60
    It is always nice to read a TR where someone won - congratulations!
     
  7. siwst852

    siwst852 Tourist

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2007
    Messages:
    91
    Trips to Las Vegas:
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    Congrats on your Royal . I used Lyft for the first time also my last trip and will not do taxis again.
     
  8. oldcrabtom

    oldcrabtom Low-Roller

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2009
    Messages:
    274
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    15
    Nicely done !
     
  9. VegasJmr

    VegasJmr Tourist

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2016
    Messages:
    53
    Location:
    Niagara Falls Canada
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    19
    Great report, love reading about peoples adventures in Vegas. Congrats on your Royal!!
     
  10. higgiel

    higgiel Low-Roller

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2012
    Messages:
    199
    Location:
    Canton, OH
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    33
    Nice report. And excellent draw to connect with that royal. Amazing that the same machine hit a royal three times that day. I've seen twice (neither of them me), but three - wow.
     
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