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Playing a Slot Tournament During Mardi Gras at Harrah's New Orleans

Discussion in 'Vegas Trip Reports' started by RebelDiceMan, Feb 18, 2008.

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  1. RebelDiceMan

    RebelDiceMan High-Roller

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2004
    Messages:
    716
    Location:
    Mississippi
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    21

    My Trip Report

    This isn't a LV TR but is still a TR. I don't know where else to post it. The Baboo and I both had invitations to play in a slot tournament at Harrah's New Orleans that would qualify us for the national Millionaire Maker slot tournament if we could finish in the top two. Plus, it had a prize pool of $25,000 itself. Two free nights in the new Harrah's hotel and some other freebies made it too tempting an offer to pass up. By the way, if you have ever read even one of my TRs, you know they are long and detailed. I hope you like that kind.

    I snuck away from school about 10 minutes early and we were blazing down the highway by 3 PM on a rainy, stormy Friday afternoon. I had the pedal to the metal driving down. (not a normal thing for me) We needed to be at Harrah's N.O. before 7 because the early bird registration closed then. So if I got a ticket, I just got a ticket. About the time we crossed the Louisiana line, it dawned on me that this was the first weekend of carnival and it was very likely that some of the Mardi Gras parades would be rolling tonight. That could present a real problem as Canal St. is a prime parade route and we would have to cross Canal to get to the hotel. We stopped in Slidell and got a paper to check what parades were rolling and what route they were on. Sure enough, there was one slated to begin rolling on the Canal St route at 6 PM and another one rolled behind it an hour later. We decided the best we could do was get as close as we could and then walk the rest of the way to Harrah's

    Traffic was a little heavy once we made it to Decatur St. but not a whole lot worse than we had seen in the past. Once we got within sight of Canal, miracle of miracle, there were no parade floats in sight. Yaaa! We zoomed across and took our usual path to the Harrah's parking garage. Since we lucked out on the parade, we had time enough to check into the hotel and still make the 7 PM deadline. We had to park on the very top floor (outside in the rain) but we were like Minnie Pearl and "just glad to be here". To us, an elevator ride is about the same from the 10th floor as the 5th floor so it wasn't a big deal.

    Once we made it down from the garage and into the Harrah's lobby, it took us less than 10 minutes to get checked in and headed upstairs to get our first look at the interior of the new (to us) Harrah's hotel. It was a very nice, oversized room with purple and gold being the dominant colors. Purple and Gold in LSU country, imagine that! We had a great view overlooking Poydras street and the front of the hotel. The casino was directly across from our big picture window and it looked mighty inviting. The room had a beautiful flat screen TV, a small sound system, some very comfortable sitting chairs, and a nice desk area. A quick run thru the bathroom revealed a deep soaking tub (no jets) and a great big glassed in shower. Yeah, this would do. We were all set to run over to the casino, get registered for the tourny, and play our early bird round.

    Before we could get out the door, all sorts of sirens started wailing outside. We rushed over to the window to get a look and saw a fleet of policemen (25-30 strong) coming down Poydras on motorcycles. The lead two slid to a stop in the intersection just to our right and as we watched, two more braked to a stop on each street to block them from any thru traffic. Immediately, we figured it was one of the parades scheduled to roll down Canal & Poydras streets. Well, it was in a way, but it wasn't your normal Mardi Gras parade. This was the 6 PM parade and it had been postponed due to the heavy rain. With blue lights flashing and sirens screaming, the police blocked the intersections so that a stream of tractors pulling Mardi Gras floats could zoom by as fast as those tractors could pull them. It was like the Daytona 500 for John Deere's. There were no people on the floats but if there had been, I know they would have been holding on for dear life. Those tractors were hauling a$$ in an effort to get those floats to the barn before the rain damaged them. It was cool to watch the NOPD doing traffic control. As the tail end tractor & float would pass an intersection, the two motorcycle cops guarding that intersection would gun their motors and really accelerate until they were blowing past those floats like they were sitting still. They would motor on up to the front of the float line and shoot forward until they reached a street that had not yet been blocked. They would then take their station and close that intersection. It was a continuous game of leap-frog played on the back of Harley Davidsons with sirens blaring and their lights putting out that blue strobe. From our window 5 stories above the action, it really looked cool. I'll bet the cops enjoyed it too.

    We made our way over to the casino and proceeded to the room that Harrah's holds all their slot tournys in. We got registered and were assigned to play our rounds back to back. They had a bar set up offering tournament players their choice of complimentary "Harrahcanes" or beer. We both chose the "Harrahcanes" because the beer was "Turbo Dog" which has a little more bite than I wanted to endure. ARF! ARF!

    Since we had a few minutes to kill before our round, we walked over to the .25 VP bar to see if we could find a seat. There were 2 available but not together. No big deal, we weren't going to be there that long anyway. We piddled around for 30 minutes or so without winning or losing over $20 each. (I can't even remember which) Getting a fresh drink, we made our way back to the tournament area. The Baboo played first and scored about 3,500 points which wasn't even the high score in her round but was in the mid-range. I played immediately after her and just barely broke 3K. Certainly nothing all that impressive.

    She decided that she was just going to relax tonight. I asked if she wanted to go somewhere and eat but she declined. So there I was, on my own for the rest of the night. As I usually do, I grabbed a seat at the $ VP bar next to the poker room. The bartender was one who had worked this bar for quite a while and she welcomed me back while getting me the first of many Miller Lites. I basically just sat here and played VP while getting a few of those Lite beers from Miller in me. The progressive was a just less than 5K so it had been a little while since someone had won that. At least I was getting enough small hits that I didn't have to keep feeding the machine after that initial Benjamin. Alas, all good things must come to an end and my credit meter finally showed 000. I was ready for a little walk around anyway.

    As I was walking around the casino, I noticed that the Caribbean Stud Jackpot was over 99 thousand. I usually won't play this game unless the jackpot is over 100K but I figured that was close enough. In case you didn't know, this game has a high house advantage and you give up a lot to play it. Still, I like to take a swing for the fences jackpot-wise every once and a while so I took a seat. I played for almost two hours but eventually hit my stop point (a $300 loss) and had to give the jackpot chase up. I don't remember hitting anything better than two pair and getting paid. To win at this game, you have to get paid (dealer must qualify) when you get the multiple payout hands. I didn't do that this session.

    Well, now I was a little over $400 down for the night and needed to find something I could win at. By now it was midnight and The Masquerade Bar was going full speed ahead. There was a crowd of people 3 deep at the bar but that was OK because I was here to play blackjack. The music was throbbing and the lights were flashing. The Masquerade was crowded with sultry bayou babes covered with beads that had been earned in various carnival ways out in the French Quarter. On top of that, anywhere from 4 to 10 scantily clad go-go dancers were frantically slinging their various body parts around in a frenetic celebration of the body magnificent! Yeah Baby! This was definitely the place for me to play blackjack! I love playing BJ here and for some reason you can just about always find an open seat. Amazing! I soon grabbed a blackjack table seat that allowed me to observe 3 of the 4 dancer platforms and got ready to play. To make this setup complete, I lucked into a very friendly and attractive dealer. As we talked, she revealed that she was from Oxford, MS. As you might guess from my handle, that is where I went to school. She and I had a great time talking about our Glory Days. In addition to her super-nice personality, she also had that other quality I love in a dealer. She busted her hands with great frequency. I played here for two hours and almost doubled my $700 buy in. Once I got $600 ahead on this table, I decided to take my money and run. This had been great fun.

    In quite the unwise move, I took that money and ran alright. I ran right back over to that Caribbean Stud table for some more mental and financial abuse. I had the exact same results and lost another $300 chasing that darn jackpot. The only difference is that it only took about 75 minutes to hit my stop point this time. I was card dead for the most part but even when I had a hand good enough to play, I usually did not get fully paid because the dealer didn't qualify. Obviously, this was no where near as much fun as the Masquerade.
    I had had enough of Caribbean Stud.

    I am probably not the sharpest knife in the drawer but I did have enough sense to make my way back to the Masquerade Bar. I was even able to get back on my previous table with the panoramic view. It took a while but I was eventually even able to get that first base seat with the best view in the entire pit. Even the MOJO was still here. (and me without even a gris-gris bag) In about the same amount of time it took Caribbean Stud to take it away, I was able to replinish my coffers for the same amount ($300) that I had lost over there. The only downer was that my new dealer friend from Oxford was now dealing at a different table. When I got back over here, I had to choose between her dealing to me or me having the magnificent view. I chose the view. The view was a sure thing and trying to revive the magic of an earlier gambling session is always iffy at best.

    I had come in for $600 and won half my buy-in so I said good-bye to the Masquerade. By now, I was hungry but didn't feel like a Quarter adventure. What I decided on is still somewhat of a gastronomical adventure but I didn't have to hit the Quarter to experience it. There is a (World famous) LUCKY DOG stand just outside the poker room. I went over there and ordered up me a large order of nachos with extra chili and extra cheese. At least I had a smidgen of good sense left and left the onions off. Grabbing a seat at the nearby VP bar, I had a nice greasy, sloppy, and wonderful tasting finish to my night as I consumed my last two Miller Lites of the evening and tried to find a Royal that would give me that progressive. (that was now just a hair over $5,000) Soon I had no Royal, no nachos, and no beer. It seemed like as good a time as any to call it a night. I was all alone on the street as I made my way back across the street to the hotel. Even The Big Easy quietens down somewhat at 4:30 in the morning.

    The first thing I heard the next morning was what sounded like a hundred sirens just outside our hotel. The Baboo was already up (she had enjoyed a full night's sleep) and confirmed that it was a parade coming down down Poydras. I just rolled over and went back to sleep. In what seemed like mere moments, I was awakened by the moan of a freight train's whistle. (there are tracks not far from the hotel) My brother was a conducter for 5 years and I still have 2 buddies that "drive" trains so I know this engineer was waaaaaaay more enthusiastic with his horn than he needed to be. I finally just gave up and got up. Not long after my feet hit the floor, I could hear a tugboat out on the river adding his toots to this early morning cacophony of noise. Hey guys, it's not like I consumed 5 gallons of beer last night and could use a little sleep. How about a break?

    Since I was up, I grabbed a Red Bull and some Krispy Kremes we had picked up in Slidell to both energize me and quell the riot going on in my poor stomach. The Baboo informed me that I needed to get a move on if we were going to make our tournament rounds. Since she was ready, into the shower I went. While I was still a little tired, the shower went a long way towards rejuvenating me. Soon we were on our way across the street. As it turned out, we had more time than she thought. That gave us enough time to make our way over to the .25 VP bar where we found two adjacent seats. She went with one of her favorite morning libations and ordered a coffee with Kahlua on the side. That Kahlua sounded good but I wanted mine cold. Soon a frothy White Russian was quenching my thirst and taking the edge off my discomfort.

    By the time we were ready for a re-fill, it was time to take them and go play our rounds. Once again, our tournament rounds left a lot to be desired. At least she broke 4K this time but I still languished back around 3,000 again. Her total was over 1,000 ahead of mine so it looked more and more like she was going to be our best hope. We both got us a Harrahcane and went for a walk. We made our way into the Masquerade and I let her in on how jumping the place had been the night before. It was pretty subdued now. She hadn't gambled much last night and had the itch so we split up. She hit her slots and I went over to the poker room VP bar.

    Nothing much had changed since 4 AM the night before. The progressive was a little bigger and there were less players on tables in the poker room but otherwise it was about the same. I switched off the distilled spirits and got back on the Miller Lite. I was having a sort of back and forth session, just drinking, watching basketball, and chasing that royal when up popped 10-10-10-10 on the deal. That 4OAK enabled me to cash out with a $100 profit for my first win at VP. The Baboo came to get me and we decided to go eat. She had only eaten room snacks the night before and I hadn't done much better so it was time for some real food.

    Somehow she had lost her mailout from Harrah's with her $25 food coupon so we only had my $25 coupon. Since Gordon Birsch is right there, that is where we decided to spend it. We walked right in and immediately took a seat at the bar. We had considered the outdoor patio but it was sort of damp and cool outside. I got a huge shrimp po-boy that was absoutely delicious. She got a fish dish & loaded baked potato soup and said it was the best she has eaten in years. (the soup) There was a group of 6 twenty-somethings (5 guys and one exotic, alluring girl-think a young Barbara Carrera) on the seats to our immediate right. As often happens, The Baboo struck up a conversation with them and we found out that they were roadies (the people who set up and break down concert stages) for Hannah Montana who was doing a show here that night. They were a pretty eclectic bunch (in the old days, they might have been categorized as "hippies") but just as nice as you could ask for. Their leader had worked in the same capacity for a bunch of different artists over the years and we both thoroughly enjoyed some of the tales about the road he shared. We enjoyed their company so much, we sat there drinking for quite a while after we finished eating. In fact, we stayed there long enough for me to finish 3 of the Gordon Birsc Chezk (sp) pilsners at 21 ounces a pop. I found out later those beers come in at a healthy 6 % alcohol. Don't worry, I will pay for that later. When they had to go, we wished them well on their adventures. You never know who you might run into in New Orleans.

    She wanted to run up to the room before we played our last round of the tournament. We made arrangements to meet outside the tournament area and she took the elevator upstairs. I took a stroll down the Fulton Street entertainment esplanade. They have several bars and restaurants here now, as well as a high-end barber shop. They have a great set of oversized statues depicting a jazz band that I took a closer look at. These statues are sort of the center-piece of Fulton St. and pretty cool. It was still drizzly so I didn't spend too much time out in the open. Once I got to the far end of the eplanade, I knew my destination. There is a little locals bar calles Ernst's (not Ernest's) that I have been going to off and on since Harrah's opened. My old New Orleans host turned me on to this little hideaway. It is nothing fancy but I like the little locals oriented places. It was pretty slow this afternoon. It was me, one other person at the bar, and a guy playing video poker. You can really tell how few people have returned to the city after the storm in places like this. I got a Beck's and chit chatted with the bartender for a while. After a while, I noticed that they had a Super Bowl square board behind the bar with only 3 spaces left unsold on it. (This was one week before the Super Bowl) I knew I would be back down here in two weeks and inquired if the board was open to anyone. Sure, was the reply. I bought the last 3 spots and now I had a reason to come back to Ernst's when we returned in two weeks. (hopefully to collect my winnings) After my second Beck's, it was time to make my way to the casino and the last round of the tournament.

    I came in the entrance by the Theater and immediately spotted The Baboo working the buttons on a $1 Top Dollar machine over in "The Court of Good Fortune". Since it was pretty close to our tourny times, she cashed out and we made our way to the tournament room. They still only had Harrahcanes and Turbo Dogs so for once I passed up a free drink. The Harrahcanes were a little too sweet to have another one and the Turbo Dogs (Grrr, Grrr) were just too mean for my palate. Once again our scores in the tournament left much to be desired. She was once again in that 3,500 range and I didn't even break 3K. We were doubtful that we would be in the top 25 spots that got paid in this tournament but maybe a miracle would happen and she would squeeze in. Still, they were having a drawing to give away two "big boy" recliners and a huge flat screen TV to someone in this tournament. Maybe we could watch the Super Bowl on a new TV.

    THey were going to do the drawing later that evening so we had a little time to kill. She and I always play together at least once a trip. We both put up $100 to play on. Then she picks a $5 machine and we run a hundred thru it. We have cash out targets previously agreed upon and just take turns spinning the reels. If the machine has a bonus round, whoever spun the reels controls the bonus decisions. If that first machine doesn't produce anything, I pick out the next one and we stick the second hundred in there. So back to the Court of Good Fortune we went. She was drawn to a bank of 3 Top Dollar machines and picked one that she had seen hitting earlier. Well, it must have used up it's allotment of payouts. In our first ten spins we hit 2 credits. Therefore, it took this Top Dollar machine exactly 11 spins to suck in our $100. Yuck! Now it was my turn. I cleared my mind and let THE FORCE guide me. When I looked up I was in front of a Double Diamond machine. On this machine there was no real penalty for playing one coin so we started out doing that. This machine was a lot kinder than the Top Dollar machine. It kept giving us little 5 and 10 credit hits to keep our credit meter healthy. Then it got better. I spun and the first symbol was the Double Diamond multiplier, the next symbol was bars (either 2 bars or 3-my memory fails me) and then that third symbol showed up with another beautiful Double Diamond multiplier. Hot Dawg! That is a thousand bucks! The Baboo was so excited she had to give me a big ole smooch. And then another one. :) It had been a long dry spell since we won anything playing together. The next spin was hers and as Emeril would say "BAM!", another winner popped up. It wasn't quite as big as mine but she did hit for $200. That gave us a total of $1,260. We figured out that we would both be $500 ahead on this machine if we cashed out at $1,200. We tried to take that other $60 and build it up even more but just couldn't pull anything else out of the machine. Once we played down to that $1,200 mark, we were ready to cash in our winnings.

    Since she had just replinished her bankroll, she was ready to battle the $ machines again. I decided to stay away from Caribbean and give 3 card poker a shot. I found a seat and played with some young guys who were taking a break from the Mardi Gras festivities going on outside. They had come down from Atlanta for the weekend and were having a blast. I recommended a couple of locals bars they might enjoy and wished them well. We sat around for about an hour or so with no one on the table hitting either of the big payouts. I did hit back to back straights so I was at least able to squeek a hundred dollar profit out of the sesson. We had a full 7 people ( a couple bigger than me) on the table and I decided to go find some less crowded conditions.

    I knew the poker room VP bar would have room so over there I went. By now the progressive was over $5,500. The highest I have seen this progressive was $8,500 but I would have been more than happy to take home the 55 hundred. Unfortunately, my machine had other ideas and it drained my $100 without fanfare. It wasn't long till the awards & drawing so I moseyed over there and found The Baboo. She had good news. She had taken her winnings and added another $250 to them. Great! The first person they announced in 25 place had over 8K in points so we knew she didn't make the cut. We never entertained the delusion that my 6K would place. Now all our hopes were pinned on the drawing. We might as well have been pinning our hopes on the tail of a donkey. Someone won but it sure wasn't us.

    The thing about these slot tournaments is that they seem to keep you in the casino all the time. We decided to get a little fresh air and walk down to the Quarter to get a bite to eat. There is a little hole-in-the-wall place we like that is one block off Canal going into the French Quarter. It has tasty pizza, a clientele of local eccentrics, great drinks, and NTN satellite trivia. This fun spot is called Jumani's. Check it out if you get the chance. We were lucky enough to score the corner high-top table that gave us a view down both streets that intersect on the corner Jumani's is located. Great people watching, especially during a carnival weekend. We got a couple of NTN transmitters and a round of drinks (Beck's for me- screwdriver for her). We then put our trivia knowledge to the test while waiting for our pizza to cook. I love to play NTN and usually do pretty well but it is often an epic struggle when playing The Baboo. She was on Millionaire back in 2001 and is very knowledgable. BUT she can't beat me! Actually she can but I know she will probably read this and couldn't resist adding that. Anyway, we played a couple of games, drank a couple of drinks, watched some interesting people go by, and got waaaay too full of pizza. Jumani's feeds locals and they don't want you to go away hungry.

    As we waddled our way back to Harrah's, we both agreed that a short nap might be in order to help our food digest. By now, it had been dark for a little while and we just left the curtains open so that we could see the lights of the city. It took all of about 3 seconds for me to enter the gates of SleepyTown. I guess the late hours of the previous night caught up with me. Or maybe the 63ounces of 6% beer at Gordon Birsch. Or maybe the Harrahcanes. Or maybe those 5 Beck's. Or maybe just the softness of the feather pillow under my head. Or maybe it was the 5-6 hundred of Harrah's I had in my pocket. Whatever it was, I was out like a light.

    The next thing I knew I was looking at the clock and it said 12:30. I struggled mightily to find a way out of SleepyTown but all the entrances were blocked. I dozed back off. I woke up two more times (2:00 & 4:00)with a sense of urgency to not waste my precious New Orleans time as a sluggard abed. Unfortunately, while the spirit was strong, the flesh was weak. I just could not pull myself away from that warm pillow-top bed that Harrah's had so graciously provided me.

    The next morning dawned bright and clear. VERY bright and clear. We had failed to close the curtains last night and our big window facing East let the sun shine in as a wake-up call more effective than any alarm clock. The Baboo got up and started brewing her some coffee. I was awake but still just lying around with my head in a fog. After about 30 minutes or so, we heard the thunder of Harley's and the wail of sirens. Like moths to a flame, we were drawn to the window to see what this commotion was about. We expected an early rolling parade and in one sense I guess you could call it that. However, the makeup of this parade was unlike any we had witnessed before.
    As we stood at the window watching, the squadron of motorcycle policemen roared down the street and took their positions blocking all of the intersections. Then we got our surprise. From a side street came a long black limousine. About 6 inches from the rear of the first limo, came another, and another, and then another. Before this black caterpillar of limousines (our view from the 5th floor) was complete, thirteen of the limos were nose-to-tail speeding down the street. We looked at each other and shrugged "I guess the Bushes are in town". As the last limo proceeded down the street, they were followed by a school bus, and another school bus, and still more school buses. We lost count but there were between 15 and 20 of them. When the last bus came by, there was one big truck similar to the largest thing U-haul rents bringing up the rear. As it went past us, we could see that the rear cargo door was open. As it went a little further we could see that it was filled with tuxedo clad men. ????? As this truck brought up the rear, the motorcycle escorts fired up and took off up the street. We still aren't sure but what we think we witnessed was the riders of one of the Krewes going to their float barn to mount up their floats and begin to parade. We speculate that there was a hierarchy of transportation mode. It makes sense that the Royalty of the Krewe were in the limos. (King, Queen, Maids, Captains) The school buses could have held the non-Royalty members of the Krewe. I guess the truck had either their worst party-animals or the true peons of the Krewe. Who knows? It was still a pretty interesting spectacle.

    We checked out and stashed our luggage in the car. Feeling the need for nourishment, we made our way to the buffet. The buffet at Harrah's on Sunday is pretty cool. It is a champagne brunch with a really good jazz band playing for your entertainment. As Diamond folks, we got a seat directly in front of the band. That was a mixed blessing. It was cool to be able to see them up close and personal but sometimes their enthusiasm for jazz got them a little loud. Overall, we were very happy with our seats. I am on a constant diet when I am at home. Whenever I go out of town, I let myself eat & drink anything I want. That break from the chore of dieting is what allows me to stay faithful to it when I am home. Anyway, since I am off my diet when on vacation, I am like a 500 lb hog who found the door to the corn bin left open. Well, maybe not that bad but I do make up for all that time on the diet. Breads, desserts, and vegetables are my cravings and I did my best to satisfy them at the Harrah's buffet. Their buffet was like the vast majority of the ones I have eaten at. Some things (cornbread, all desserts, creamed corn, peas, catfish) could not have been any more tasty. Some other things (mashed potatoes, rolls,) left a lot to be desired.

    We had both been taking advantage of the mimosas throughout our meal and they certainly hit the spot. We had taken our time eating because of the soothing jazz music but eventually we were so full we had to stop. Dropping a quick tip for the band in their jar, we made our way outside. We decided that we wanted to keep our winnings and departed the casino for the last time this trip.

    From the parking garage to Decatur St. we debated about getting out in the Quarter or not. As we were riding down Decatur, we kept seeing dog after dog dressed up in all sorts of costumes. It is not at all uncommon to see dogs in the Quarter wearing cute little outfits but this was ridiculous. As it turned out, the Krewe of Barkus was having their dog parade in Jackson Square that afternoon. I think if we had known that we would have decided to stay for a while. Seeing all those dogs in their finery would have been fun. We knew we had to stop at The Baboo's sister's house on the way home so we took our leave of the city and headed North. The sadness of departure was eased by the anticipation of our return in two weeks.

    So that is that.
     
  2. jgates8

    jgates8 VIP Whale

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2007
    Messages:
    6,162
    Trips to Las Vegas:
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    AGH!!!! How can you do that???? MORE MORE MORE
     
  3. SandyA

    SandyA Tourist

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2002
    Messages:
    34
    Location:
    CT
    Loved this report....I'm heading to New Orleans on a Harrah's junket in May - sounds like it's going to be a lot of fun!

    Sandy
     
  4. jgates8

    jgates8 VIP Whale

    Joined:
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    Thank you! Awesome report. Wish you had been a big winner, but at least you came out ahead!

    And you make me yearn to go back to NO. Craving some Cafe au Lait and Beignets from Cafe du Monde.
     
  5. Sierra

    Sierra Low-Roller

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2007
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    Great trip report!

    Your description of the Quarter makes me want to go back. We've been avoiding it since the hurricane.

    How does the Orleans Harrah's compare to a vegas property?
     
  6. RebelDiceMan

    RebelDiceMan High-Roller

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2004
    Messages:
    716
    Location:
    Mississippi
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    21
    Sandy, I hope you have a great time down there in May. I think you will. It hasn't gotten too hot and muggy that early in the summer.

    Sierra, I think that if you go strictly by the casino, Harrah's New Orleans certainly compares favorably with all and in fact, surpasses a number of Las Vegas casinos. To me, it reminds me more of The RIO casino than any other. Both incorporate a lot of carnival stuff into the decorative scheme. Both have a lot of floor space (both are over 100,000 sq ft) and have various areas that have slightly different atmospheres within the same overall theme. The New Orleans property has their casino floor divided into various "Courts" (because of the many courtyards in French Quarter homes) such as the Mardi Gras Court and The Court of Good Fortune. The RIO has the Sports Book area, the middle area by the I Bar and Shutters Bar, and the Show in the Sky area. All of those areas have a slightly different atmosphere to me.

    Harrah's N.O. has over 100 tables if you are a table game player and over 3 thousand machines if you like the machines. If you are a poker player, they have 25-30 poker tables in their poker room. They will be hosting a World Series of Poker Circuit Event during the month of May. They do have table limits a little higher than over in Mississippi but they are still, on average, lower than most strip properties. On the tables, you will usually find more favorable rules than in LV, especially in blackjack & craps. Slots are about the same.

    So I think the casino part is every bit as good as most anything you will find in LV. Where the comparison is not as favorable is in the ancillary parts of the property such as restaurants and lounges. Harrah's was severly restricted by their iniitial gaming contract with the state on what they could open in that department. What they have is very good. It is just that they don't have a tremendous variety in the manner that most LV properties do. They have a very nice Besh steakhouse (John Besh), an Asian restaurant (Bambu), and the Buffet. Additionally, they have a food court with Fudruckers hamburgers, a pizza place, a Starbucks and a Lucky Dog outlet. So their on-property food is somewhat lacking when compared with LV properties. Fortunately, that is somewhat offset by the plethora of world class restaurants in the Quarter. In fact, there are at least 4-5 outstanding restaurants within a two minute walk of the casino. You can use your TR points for many of them. You just have to go to the TR booth and get a voucher. As you saw in my TR, the main (only) nightclub, Masquerade, really rocks but it is the only place to party on property. They have two VP bars but those are like most VP bars and not really intended for partying. Again, there are way more bars that you could visit in a weekend just outside the casino.

    The hotel is less than 2 years old and has very nice rooms. They are a notch below Bellagio but heck, most everything in LV is a notch below Bellagio too.
     
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