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Multi Day Hotel Reviews and Blackjack Report

Discussion in 'Vegas Trip Reports' started by dankyone, Aug 30, 2013.

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  1. dankyone

    dankyone VIP Whale

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    My Trip Report

    I returned from an extended time in LV and stayed in a number of hotels. I am going to give my general impressions of each hotel, not a blow by blow account of gaming and meals which would just take too long. All rooms were comped upfront and almost all food was comped either in advance or on the back end. I stayed in and played in some hotels which I had not seen in some time so part of this TR is just to sort my thoughts out about how to approach things in the future.

    I won a fair bit the first three days but got hammered on day four (in more ways than one) going back into the red. I played “shy” the rest of the trip and clawed a little back from the BJ tables. Unfortunately I returned a loser, but if I would have played at my normal level I would have recouped the losses from day 4 and then some. I didn’t want to turn a moderate loss into a disaster, and I didn’t. Actual loss was pretty close to theoretical by the end of the trip and in the end the value of my comps was more than half of my actual loss. I am not going to dissect all of these figures in this thread but my experience compwise tallied with expectations which I have detailed in past posts.

    Paris—first time I stayed there, nicer than expected. $500 free play was available on that particular day so I took it and stayed there one night, wound up playing at Caesars anyway. The HL blackjack game at Paris now offers resplit aces and offers the same rules as HL at Caesars, but there was not a single player. Blackjack rules on the main floor are unplayable. Ate at GR steak for the 3rd time, it is a good option. I ate at Mon Ami Gabi which I think is very overrated for brunch the next day. The atmosphere was very pleasant, not too hot with the misters over the bar. Food is OK, prices surprisingly moderate. Casino is not smoky. Offers poor VP pay tables.
    The room was a “Giverny Suite” which is a large room, not a true suite, but it has two large and nice bathrooms. The room was in good condition, the décor old fashioned, the bed a bit on the cheapy/old side. I asked for down pillows which are not the standard offering but they only brought one.
    The pool is a big disappointment. It is stark and uninviting with minimal landscaping. The Parisian atmosphere is enhanced with many large signs offering buckets of Miller Lite, 5 for $35.
    I asked for a limo to be taken to GVR and they supplied it but debited my RCs $60, which I thought was a good deal. I would stay again in a circumstance like this for one night but would not plan a trip around staying there—would only stay at CP on a CET oriented trip.

    GVR—I liked it more than I thought I would. It is very calm compared to the strip, lots of older locals who smoke as clientele. Excellent double deck BJ games at the $10 and $25 level. Only 3 tables in high limit, one is $25. Casino is huge and spacious. Good VP tables. I played $1 DDB for a while at the high limit bar, and they served very nice wines including Cloudy Bay sauv blanc and Freemark Abbey Cab. A player at the bar hit a $40,000 royal flush at a $10 machine while I was there! Sure made for a festive atmosphere. He was a regular and well known to the staff—tipped the bartender and the slot attendant $500 each.

    The hotel rooms are smallish compared to the newest properties on the strip but very nice. Everything has been recently recarpeted and the rooms do not have a beat up feel to them. The pool and spa are beautiful. Restaurants are not super high end but perfectly fine, about half the price of the strip for everything. A fun band plays in the Irish pub at night, where complementary Guinness is available as you play 25 cent VP with fair paytables.

    Overall, I would stay again, particularly on a long stay when I wanted to get away from the strip.

    Cosmo—A study in contrasts. I love the rooms but do not like the casino. Way too many people are checking in at the VIP room, but they do offer you a cocktail while you are checking in. I doubt I will stay there again, since BJ conditions continue to worsen on the floor and limits continue to rise in HL. On the weekend the regular HL limit room had $300 games, Talon room had only $500 and up. There was some steady play in HL but none that I observed when I cruised through Talon multiple times. Since I decided I do not care to be invited back, I did not play BJ there. I put some money through $5 9/6 Jacks in order to give them a little token play, had absolutely no luck. Played $1 DDB with poor paytables at the bar to enjoy the view and the excellent drinks—and wound up hitting 4 aces with kicker for $2000. Go figure.

    I highly recommend Estiatorio Milos as a healthy option, especially if you like fish, and especially for lunch. The Scarpetta in Beverly Hills seems better than the one at the Cosmo. Wicked Spoon is only the fourth buffet I have eaten ever in LV, and it was very good as buffets go. I ate at Bacchanal when it first opened and frankly I think Wicked Spoon is more appealing. I think Holsteins should be better than it is. Cosmo does a good job with room service in terms of breadth and quality of offerings. The quality of the drinks in the casino bars is very, very high—it is tough to get a bad drink there.

    I had a terrace suite, fountain facing. It is much easier to get a suite there since they have so many versus MGM properties or CP, so that is another positive for those willing to play in their casino. The balconies in the rooms at Cosmo are a big draw for me and one of the things I will miss. The pillows and bed linens at Cosmo are superb (I think the mattresses at Bellagio and Aria are better, though). I like the easy to use music channels that Cosmo has on their TVs. Housekeeping tends toward the very late at Cosmo, so I requested service before I left the room and it always happened promptly.

    While I would be happy to stay again, I doubt I will since I have stopped playing BJ there and they are unlikely to keep inviting me back. If they do, I will go and low play again.

    Bellagio/Aria:
    While I stayed at Cosmo, I played in club privee at Bellagio and Carta Privada at Aria. I would say these are my favorite HL rooms in town. There are usually $100 games available. Both casinos also have many tables on the floor at $50-100 minimum with the same favorable rules, and overall I think the BJ games are best at B and Aria for midlevel players and higher. Drink service is sensational at both HL rooms. Generally a waitress approaches you before you even start play and whatever you ask for just arrives immediately. They will comp you Silver Oak cabernet in club privee but not Carta Privada. Carta Privada always seemed busier, I think most of MGM’s higher limit BJ players play there now and I observed some high action games, $10-15k/hand on multiple hands in some cases. Some tables had $100,000 chips in the rack.
    My play earned comped dinners at American Fish and Le Cirque which are both excellent. I think American Fish is my favorite Michael Mina restaurant in the country. The tasting menu at $89/person is a huge amount of food and would be broadly appealing to most people. While I still think Guy Savoy is my favorite overall in LV for haute cuisine, Le Cirque would be second above Robuchon and Twist. Le Cirque is easily the best value, service is superb, and I just get treated really well there.

    I will stay at Aria and Bellagio in the future as I have in the past but did not this trip. Currently I have a host at Aria who offers me more upfront for the same play, so my next MGM stay will be there. The overall favorable BJ conditions, understandable if not super favorable comp criteria, excellent quality and diversity of restaurants, modern rooms, and wonderful beds will probably put these properties at the top of my list going forward. Now if they would only deal some decent cards :)

    Wynncore—a gorgeous property but fading in attractiveness to me.
    I had a serious disagreement with a host there once who was willing to pick up no food and beverage after what I considered to be substantial play on a multiday trip. I can still get a room comp, though, so I took it. I decided I would do what I did with Cosmo—zero play if I didn’t like what I found. Again, rooms are gorgeous. I was in a standard Encore resort suite. The overall feel of the property is luxurious as we all know, probably still the most so of any of the large LV hotels. The remote console for the curtains and lights didn’t work as it should, though. The mattresses are not as nice as Aria/Bellagio and the linens are not as nice as Cosmo, but I would put their beds a solid 4th in town.
    BJ has really deteriorated over the years. Wynn opened with S17 tables galore at $25 minimums on the floor. Today, there are precisely two such tables outside HL in the entire place, usually $100 minimum. Most BJ tables in Encore are 6:5 now, catering to the club crowd. Given the lack of transparency in the comp system and the poor options, I decided to zero play.
    The restaurants in Wynncore are beautiful, but somehow I just feel like they are different versions of the same steakhouse now that Alex and Daniel Boulud have closed. I do enjoy a lunch in the Country Club Grill, and I love the bloody Mary at the Tower Suites lobby. I seriously doubt I’ll be invited back, but I will return just to keep an eye on things.

    Mirage—
    I used to stay at the Mirage all the time in the late 1990s. It has changed quite a bit, and not for the better. It has a very generic MGM feel to it, no more real character. They seem to have lost all their high limit BJ play, and I am not surprised. They do still deal good games though. Only a handful are now S17, but there is the vaunted S17 double deck $50 game which I took a crack at. Dealers and pit personnel were surly. I asked the dealer about other S17 games and he actually told me H17 is more favorable for the player. I wonder if he really believed that, was told to say that, or was just trying to get a reaction out of me. Maybe they make a remark like that at that particular table to gauge your reaction (since the table is well known to and discussed by counters). I just laughed. I played for a while, got a very bad vibe from staff and players, and left. Drink service was frequent but of poor quality. I doubt I will stay there again (or play for that matter.) They did just open a new Tom Colicchio restaurant, Heritage, which looks great—like a slightly cheaper craftsteak. It is a welcome change from the way beyond its prime Kokomos, and I may go there at some point.

    MGM—
    I was going to stop in for some play on the last day but in the end I decided to extend my stay and stay there. They booked me in to some sort of executive suite but when I checked in I found the hotel had upgraded me to a 2br Skyline Marquee suite. I didn’t ask, it was just my luck—and I had limited time in the room to enjoy. If I came with a group and tried to spend a few days there and enjoy it, I never would have gotten the room. The room exceeded expectations, and I have seen some large suites. It seemed to be recently remodeled, the finishes were all pristine as were carpets, drapes, and beds. I loved the pillows but I think the beds at Aria and Bellagio were better. Bulgari toiletries all over the shower, tub, and sinks in both bathrooms, which I took home and will be using for some time.

    The casino had fewer BJ options than I expected, most were low limit H17 games. I cruised through the Mansion but there were zero BJ players and very high limits. The main S17 pit was decidedly friendlier than the Mirage, a couple of shoes and double decks at $50 minimum. They could have opened more tables if business warranted. Whiskey Down has just opened, is very attractive, and offers good rules and good service—all the benefits of a HL room at $50-100 mins. It will be very popular. Staff was very enthusiastic and happy to be there. The servers have a menu of specialty cocktails which they will bring to you at the tables, and they are far better than a usual casino cocktail.

    Craftsteak was excellent, in some ways similar but I think a bit more polished than Craft in LA. Price point is moderate considering what you get and the wine list is out of control (they must share with Robuchon or draw on the entire hotel). Room service had a limited menu but excellent presentation and good quality. I liked the Michael Mina pub 1842 but it is more of a lunch place than dinner with Burgers/nachos etc.

    Given a number of positives I would consider a stay at MGM in the future but in the end unless they are willing to guarantee a lot more upfront I would stay at Aria and play at/visit MGM during the trip. The overall feel is less upscale (they are trying to be everything to everybody—from players in the Mansion and Robuchon guests to literally having a McDonald’s in the same building.) It is also extremely large and I just don’t know my way around as well. The “sight lines” are not as attractive as the higher end hotels like Aria/Bellagio/Wynn.

    If you have made it this far—I’m glad I kept your interest. Thanks for reading! I will be happy to respond to some comments/questions but I am just not going into the minutiae of how much I played, how I got everything comped, etc. I have done a bit of that in past threads for anyone interested. I have played all over town for many years, I know what I can ask for versus what is unreasonable, I know how/when to ask, and I’m finally pretty satisfied with the deal I get.
     
  2. Llew

    Llew Low-Roller

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    Nice write up. What kind of bankroll and bet average do you have for blackjack to get that kind of attention at the high end joints?
     
  3. Tubbs

    Tubbs High-Roller

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    Thanks for a really interesting read. Sorry the gambling did not go too well this trip.

    I appreciated all the observations and opinions, especially the BJ conditions and availability of decent wines. Cloudy Bay at GVR sounds nice! I'll be stopping in there next trip but will be driving, unfortunately.

    I have always been a fan of Wynn as a beautiful hotel but the BJ has never been on a par with MGM casinos. I remember a trip in 2006 where the only decent DD game was $300 minimum in the HL area and the (friendly) pit boss would not lower it to $200. At least they have had a reasonable number of good shoe games on the Wynn side (but not Encore) but they seem to be disappearing.

    I have always found the dealers and pit bosses friendly enough at the DD game(s) at Mirage. Perhaps you just got unlucky.

    I would like to get to MGM next trip. It just always seems a bit of a trek to head out there from Bellagio after dinner. Perhaps I can schedule in some other activity in the area during the day and persuade Mrs T to stop for a BJ session at Whiskey Down.
     
  4. TomTWI

    TomTWI High-Roller

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    I enjoyed your report. It's nice to see another side of Vegas from what I experience. I tend toward the cheapo degenerate side.

    Thanks,

    TomTWI
     
  5. bardolator

    bardolator Lifelong Low Roller

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    Thanks for the high end post. Sorry to read that Mirage has continued its slide. I used to love playing DD BJ there.
     
  6. luvstp

    luvstp High-Roller

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    Thanks for the interesting trip report about all the different hotels. Couple of questions and observations that match yours.

    You said they comp Silver Oak cab in Club Privee at Aria? Is there any video poker in there? Reason I ask is I play $ vp next to SPIN (that's the best selection in the casino) and the red wine they serve on the floor is pretty awful. Admittedly, I can be a bit of a red wine snob. So, I'm trying to figure out what I can do to get better red wine on the floor short of buying my own bottle(s) and keeping it in the room next weekend.

    My observations of Wynn of late (regarding comps) match yours. Up until this last trip, we were RFB in the tower suites. We still get the comped room and limo pickup, but we've been told we are now limited to $600 in food and beverage for a 3 or 4 night stay. They did pick up the extra $200 in FB as I had a nasty 5 figure loss, but it's clear that the comps are heading downward as their machine inventory gets less. I've been trying to figure out if it is our new host or just the overall "make more money cuz times are better" scenario. Appreciate your thoughts on that.
     
  7. dankyone

    dankyone VIP Whale

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    They DO comp Silver Oak at club prive in Bellagio, but NOT by the glass at carta privada in Aria. Neither room has slot machines or VP. At Aria, if you do not like their wine by the glass they often suggest buying a bottle and charging to your room or express comps. While that did not appeal to me, if you are on RFB at Aria it might make sense for you to just order a nice bottle while playing and charge to your room. I am sure they would facilitate that service if you are playing in Spin.

    The high limit bar in GVR is a great option for a wine loving VP player.

    I have never been RFB at the Wynn, and my experiences coaxing food and beverage out of them have always been aggravating. My sense is things have tightened up all over town over the past 2 years and it is not just your host. Don't like the deal from the Wynn? Don't go there for a year. Then call up your host and ask him if he can bring you in at RFB. No? The Aria is a pretty nice place too. Tell him that.
     
  8. firstkill

    firstkill High-Roller

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    my observations are similar, but I feel the hosts are cosmo are willing to work with you more.

    Maybe its just my luck with them.

    I think cosmo in the main casino, its all 8 deck, hit on S17. THe shoes last forever, as they play to the near end of 8 decks!

    In the high limit, if its slow they let u play 100min despite what the signs says. In there is 6 deck, stay on S17.

    No where is cosmo does a "hand shuffle" for the shoes. Not sure if this is accounted into the COMPs for hands per hour.


    Aria has a lot of 50 dollar 6 deck, stay on S17. Rarely in the morning does it get to 25.

    They all hand shuffle, which slows the game down quite a bit.

    I like playing at MGM properties, B and Aria. But the comps for me are just superior at Cosmo for the same level.

    fk
     
  9. Keyser Soze

    Keyser Soze Low-Roller

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    dankyone- that was an excellent report. I enjoyed reading it. Thank you for posting.

    That DD game at the Mirage is a sweet game. Probably the #1 counter trap in Vegas though (seems you already know this). Every trip I'm good for a quick hit and run playing as a refusal. I play 2 max bet cycles and get the hell outta there.

    Loved the dealer comment about H17 being better for the player. Classic!

    Again, thanks a bunch.
     
  10. gritmonkey

    gritmonkey Tourist

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    I've always had great experiences at the mirage with very nice dealers and pit bosses. It is my favorite place to play for that reason. I hope your experience was an outlier.
     
  11. Kickin

    Kickin Flea

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    WTF?? :confused2::confused2:

    That sucks. We went there a couple months ago but not really to gamble so I didn't check out the rules. All I did was play a little VP on my girlfriend's card so she could get her new player promo. I used to stay at Wynn a lot several years ago and always liked their blackjack, I don't know if I saw any 6:5 then. Really sucks its come to this.

    No I bet he really believed it. I've heard the same from some dealers, usually on an S17 table where they end up winning that hand or something. I don't try to argue with them about it, there's no point.

    Thanks for the report. A lot of really nice insight. The $89 tasting menu at American Fish looks like a steal!
     
  12. dankyone

    dankyone VIP Whale

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    You are right, Cosmo offers more upfront and certainly it is easier to get a suite. I'm just not going to play BJ there anymore so it really doesn't matter to me. If you do want to play there, the bang for the buck compwise is better at Cosmo than other higher end properties right now.
     
  13. dankyone

    dankyone VIP Whale

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    That DD game at the Mirage is a sweet game. Probably the #1 counter trap in Vegas though (seems you already know this). Every trip I'm good for a quick hit and run playing as a refusal. I play 2 max bet cycles and get the hell outta there.


    Yeah, on paper it's a great game. I get the sense they aren't really going to let anyone play who shows any indication they might be able to beat it, though.
     
  14. dankyone

    dankyone VIP Whale

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    I hope so too.
     
  15. dankyone

    dankyone VIP Whale

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    No I bet he really believed it. I've heard the same from some dealers, usually on an S17 table where they end up winning that hand or something. I don't try to argue with them about it, there's no point.

    He went on to say, "think about it, a six isn't a bust card anymore when I stay on 17!"

    I thought to myself--If I could find a table where the dealer never busted--but had a constant hand of A 6 and then stood--I would liquidate all my assets and play table max until the house ran out of money.

    But as you say, there's no point.
     
  16. dankyone

    dankyone VIP Whale

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    I decided to answer this in order to resurrect the thread. Bet spread is generally $100-400, average is usually around $250, bankroll/credit line is mid 5 figures. I used to play nonstop, like 8, 10, 12 hours a day, and I was RFB at Mirage or RFL at Bellagio back when I did that. Now 3-4 hours a day is more typical.

    That level of play doesn't really get any attention at all at the top properties, I pretty much have to ask for everything I get.

    I probably see a five figure win about one in every 10 trips and a five figure loss perhaps twice in 10 trips. I tend to win maybe 6 in ten trips but the losses wind up being larger than the wins. I have had winning years, though, and am up YTD.

    It is interesting how things go in cycles with particular properties. There is a native American casino in SoCal which told me they could no longer comp me any rooms or food since "this is a business and you have won every time you have been in here." I am almost certain that was an exaggeration on their part, but as a consequence I no longer play there and have locked in a nice lifetime win. This place does not see a lot of black chip play and I guess they just don't want the swings.

    At contrast, there was one point that I had beaten Bellagio so many times in a row for so much relative to my bet size I actually wondered if they would stop dealing to me or cut off my comps like the Indian casino did. They didn't--my play level warrants no attention there--and I have gotten clobbered there recently. Their gain.
     
  17. CaptainJack

    CaptainJack Low-Roller

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    I'm glad you revived this thread, I had missed it the first time around. Very good write-up. I agree on all points. I used to do similar until I got a little too aggressive and got backed off at all MGM properties for BJ. Oddly enough they give me plenty for my VP play, but if I sit down at any BJ table (rated or unrated) before long I'm reminded I'm not welcome to play.

    Last time I played GVR I stuck out like a sore thumb because I wasn't a local.
     
  18. luvstp

    luvstp High-Roller

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    dankyone
    As it turns out, my host sent a bottle of Silver Oak to my room at Aria when I arrived. LOL And, I found out you can order the Martini cabernet on the floor at Aria. So, all was good on the wine front this trip. Thanks for the suggestion.
     
  19. meyers67

    meyers67 High-Roller

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    Can a counter in a DD game get away with $100-400 betting spreads? How about $100-200?
     
  20. dankyone

    dankyone VIP Whale

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    Disclaimer: I am not a "real" counter.

    1-2, no problem, still a losing game. 1-4 is close to break even, but if your bets correlate with the count and you are betting black you will be closely watched at that level. At the highest action casinos 1-4 in black is tolerated on DD but casinos where that level of play is not common will sweat the action big time. At "that table" in the mirage it would be unwelcome from what I saw.

    Spreading 1-8 in black as a proficient counter will attract attention and get you backed off anywhere.
     
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