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Trip Report: Quad, Gambling, Backgammon, Dining (VERY LONG!!)

Discussion in 'Vegas Trip Reports' started by WrongWayWade, Apr 30, 2014.

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  1. WrongWayWade

    WrongWayWade VIP Whale

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    My Trip Report

    Just finished a 6 day trip to Vegas for the Backgammon tournament and lots of gambling and dining. I stayed at the Quad and the tournament was inside the Flamingo. I'll go day by day and highlight the highlights. I'll post this as 6 separate posts inside the same thread to not bore you to death with too much all at once.

    Wednesday, Apr 23

    Traveling alone I flew in from Atlanta to McCarran on AirTran and had a boring, on-time flight. Had a skinny seat mate which always makes it easier. They are going to slowly but surely repaint all the AirTran planes until it is all Southwest, but you can still book AirTran for quite a while. Took the 'Airline Shuttle Corp' shuttle to the Quad. It took off pretty quickly though I was the next to the last stop. It took 30 minutes to get there, but I always consider the airport shuttle as the free hotel portico tour!

    Went to Diamond check-in (11:00AM) and the attractive host was wonderful and wanted to help me as much as she could. Got a free cookie and two waters. The room wasn't ready but she gave me my keys and they would call me on my cell when it was ready, giving me the number then. I seldom have had the 'room isn't ready' so I don't know if that's common or not, but that was great; no extra stops or waiting in line to get the key. :thumbsup: Got my cash out of my bag and the bellman swooped down to Diamond registration to get my bags. They delivered the bags in 5 minutes after I got into the room. I didn't need to check in at the tournament until 2PM, so gambling time begins early!

    Went to the Total Rewards desk and found out that I was due a free $100 dinner and a free show for getting my Diamond status last year. Got the voucher for the meal and could use it anywhere at any time during that trip. I would decide about the show later, eventually I picked Jubilee. Had a couple free play coupons that I put in a VP machine, and cashed out +$10. At first I thought my coupons were defective but you have to put in your players card first, not afterward. Didn't see any machines that said 'no free play on this machine', so that was good. The renovation of the IP into the Quad is pretty good; it's quite modern in there with a red/grey/black motif, and they re-created O'Shea's as well in one big room that leads out to the Linq and Flamingo. Only 6-5 blackjack, carnival games and a $10 craps table in O'Shea's (I'm sure it's $5 at dead times), but the beer pong was going hot and heavy a lot of the time. Loud live music at night and sports TVs all around the place. Lots of fun for the young-uns with a definite party atmosphere in the evenings.

    Wandered over to the Quad's Ultimate Texas Hold 'em table, played for an hour, ate my cookie and won $100. Room was then ready at 1PM and I got checked in. I got 5 nights comped in the 'Love Tub' room and it was pretty big. It was quite plain overall, all beige walls and carpet and fixtures, two pictures on the walls, but the TV was big and the room was quite large. The bed was decent enough, firm, but no comforter, just the one blanket and average sheets. The love tub is just a big bathtub, not a Jacuzzi, But you could put 4 people in that thing; it was huge. Water was always immediately hot coming out, and they left the 'input' button enabled on the TV so I can plug in my computer and play a DVD through the big TV (a have the appropriate cable with me). As usual, the channel selection on Vegas TVs is minimal at best, and no HD on any channel.

    Got down to the tournament which was in the downstairs conference area at Flamingo and I was the odd man out in the first draw which meant my first match would be at 7PM instead of 2PM. So I decided to aim for the Rio Seafood Buffet (open 7 days now) and taxi-ed to the Gold Coast for some low-level blackjack at their 2-deck H17 $10 tables. The free shuttle is now from Bally's to Rio and back, and a separate one from Harrah's to Rio and back. I could have walked to either but didn't want to waste the time. Cab was $11. Got to the gold coast and at the blackjack table, counting from $10 to $150, I lost EVERY bet that had a green chip in it and lost my $500 buy-in in 10 minutes! That sucked. So more UTH for me! Played UTH again, (I always play $25 ante + $25 blind + $15 trips) and after an hour won $355.

    The Rio Seafood Buffet was absolutely outstanding. :licklips: They had sushi and sashimi; almost no buffet does the sashimi because it is so expensive, and I pigged out on that. Also 4 great soups (I had the lobster bisque) and meats and chicken as well were on offer. This is the best buffet in the city by far, IMO. Of course, it helps if you like seafood. I also had my fill of cold snow-crab legs and raw oysters, and the deserts all looked excellent; I had a creme broulee. My server came at least five times to check on the drinks and offered multiple times to bring anything I wanted to my table; I've never seen that at a buffet. It was $41, but I had a $10 coupon from the Quad funbook and paid for the rest with Reward Credits. This was much better than Bachannal at Ceasars, IMO and $9 less. I was basically able to eat free the entire trip using RC and Express Comps from Mlife.

    Back to backgammon and I won my first match in the Super Jackpot (Entry fee $1000, first prize $10,000). The tournament is over five days so the play is pretty well spread out with lots of down-time. Only on Saturday do you have to play a lot of matches in a row. This leaves tons of time for gambling, shows and eating well.

    Still had some energy left and went over to the High-Limit 'pit' at Bally's, (it's only three blackjack tables and a Baccarat table with a bunch of slots) and played the best $25 game on the Strip at their 6-deck shoe, S17, DAS, RSA, Surr (0.25% HA). I quizzed them and they were pretty definitive that they'll offer at least one of the shoe tables at $25 almost all of the time. Just played one shoe and won $295. The boss was hawking my play a little bit and I had raised my bet with the count, so I thought a shorter session made sense. I did go back later in the week and played for an other hour and got zero heat.

    Paris was close so more UTH for me! Played 90 minutes over there and cashed out up $665 (see a trend??). I hit quad deuces for $775 and three hands later the guy at third base hit quad fours! Many of the CET properties still have their progressive jackpot in place and they are going to wait until it's paid off (as the regulations require) and then close the table and refelt it to eliminate the progressive and add the 6-card bonus bet.

    CET has absolutely fallen in love with their 6-card bonus bet. This is the thing they invented on 3-Card Poker where you can win $1,000,000 if you hit the 6-card Royal in Diamonds (using the dealer's and your cards). Now at 6 other carnival games they deal extra cards to create a 6-card bonus hand with whatever you're holding, (in UTH there is this blind hand off to the side of 4 cards that they use for this at the end). The problem with all of this is the edge is 18 percent(!?!) :grrr: The odds against winning a million are more than twenty million to 1. It does happen: they've paid it off six times overall at all CET properties, but what a ripoff. And it slows the game down, which we shouldn't complain about but is annoying, anyway. I saw one guy hit it big, getting multiple flushes and straights and trips, winning $375 (65 times $5) overall, but even that guy would only be breaking even after 90 minutes at UTH. You can't play it for $1; it's a $5 minimum.

    More to follow... :)
     
  2. wellmel

    wellmel Low-Roller

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    Lots of gambling. Sounds fun!
     
  3. SW

    SW Well-Known Member

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    Looking forward to the next installment!
     
  4. smartone

    smartone VIP Whale

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    Great start... thank you for sharing!
     
  5. Suekel

    Suekel VIP Whale

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    Great read so far, looking forward to more. I was really into Backgammon when I was younger, but haven't played in years. I really ought to start up again.
     
    Vegas Just Because...
  6. WrongWayWade

    WrongWayWade VIP Whale

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    Trip Report: Quad, Flamingo, Gambling, Backgammon, Dining (VERY LONG!!) Part-2

    Thursday, April 24

    Got to bed at 3:00AM and the jet lag and casino action ("They'll STILL let me play at any hour!") woke me up at 6:30AM. Went on the Wi-Fi search, hearing the poker room at Harrah's was a place, but you needed a password and I didn't want to bother anyone about that. Went to the McDonalds that is between Harrah's and Casino Royale, and this was the place. No password required and it was very fast. No one harassed me for not buying anything. Answered some e-mails, downloaded some podcasts and checked VMB for a bit.

    Wandered back toward my room and saw the Pai Gow Tiles game at Harrah's. I told myself I was going to play this on this trip and I had studied the ranking of the tiles on the plane. Playing solo with the dealer and the pit boss gave me their cheat-sheet (which is excellent, better than any of the web references I saw), I fumbled along, trying to set my hand first but then confirming it with the dealer. She had a thick Asian accent so it was a bit tough, but I did learn a few of the exceptions and why the house way is the house way. It was fun and unlike PG Poker there is no risk of screwing up which one is high or low. She will always pick the one that is lowest and put it in the right place when comparing to her hand.

    Needed some morning food so Hash House A-Go-Go was clearly the next stop, open 24/7 inside the Quad. Having my Diamond card lets me cut the line, and I got some egg scramble deal that was pretty good; lots of cheese, avocado, onions. It was hopping at 8AM and I waited about 25 minutes for the food. I couldn't eat all the potatoes. The portions are huge. Added a big orange juice and charged $17 to RCs.

    Another hour of UTH at the Quad, this time I only made $20. I still had some free time and lost $420 at the Flamingo's UTH table. Lost quite a few 4X bets on that one. It was now time for the start of the Main Event at the BG tournament; you have to win 6 in a row to be the champion, but there are consolation and last chance brackets as well, so you're not done and you can still win prizes in the 4 digits until you've lost three times. I won that first match, and as they let the first-round losers re-buy in and have to schedule those matches, I don't have to play again in the Main Event until Friday. I have my second jackpot match scheduled after dinner.

    I wasn't sure exactly what to do for dinner and I didn't want to travel far. I ended up at Chayo in the Linq. The Linq is pretty cool, as a street party atmosphere is going most of the time. There are restaurants and bars with patio seating, shops up and down and lots of people taking pictures and just milling around in the open-air pedestrian street. There will be a 'Tilted Kilt' restaurant opening soon which fits perfectly. (It's basically a Scottish Hooters if you haven't been to one.) The High Roller wheel is at the bottom end and open for business. Again the whole scene is lots of fun for the young-uns and even some of us oldsters. There was a 6 foot tall touch screen thing where you could see menus but it also could take your picture and post it on your Facebook or e-mail it to yourself.

    Chayo advertises themselves as a 'Mexican Cantina and Tequila Bar' and I sat at the bar. They completely failed to change the channel on the TV for me; they couldn't get any of their remotes to work. It started on Girl's Softball (??) and then managed to change the channel once and stumbled on an NBA game but I wanted to watch hockey. It took about 25 minutes for the food to come; and I ordered soup and a burger and the soup should have come right away. The soup was good, but the burger was overcooked and the bun was crunchy. Basically a 20-something doofus kind of place (the help and the customers); I was not impressed. Oh, the last thing was that the hostess said I could pay with Reward Credits when I asked when I walked in, but when the bill came they said they weren't a Caesars property so they charge double-points if you use RCs. You'd think the hostess could have announced that before I sat down.

    I had my second Super Jackpot match at 8PM and I was holding my own against one of the best players in the world. We play matches to 15 points so that can often be 15 or 20 games or more. However, when I accepted the doubling cube on 4 and promptly got myself gammoned, I lost 8 points in that single game and never could recover. I've been gammoned before, I'm sure I will again!

    The night was young so Ultimate Texas Hold 'em was again on the menu. The Quad game is always open, the boss told me. I played for 90 more minutes and hit a bunch of full houses and flushes and walked away up $1190!! (I love this game!) Not wanting to give it all back at the same table, I checked out Harrah's and sauntered over to the Mirage where they were dealing UTH again. The Mirage is completely mellow and the music volume is about 1/3 the DB of the other places I had been in. It was also pretty late and they were working toward closing the pit. Anyway, I was getting tapped pretty quickly and had to buy a second $500 when three Kings showed up on board while I was holding another one! A cool $825 right there and I walked ahead $460. I tried out Mississippi Stud on the way home and realized again why I hate that game. Lots of folds and losses and just a few two pair wins. Lost $230 and crawled into bed.

    More to come... :)
     
  7. WrongWayWade

    WrongWayWade VIP Whale

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    Trip Report: Quad, Flamingo, Gambling, Backgammon, Dining (VERY LONG!!) Part-3

    Friday, April 25

    The heart of the backgammon tournament is today so I was glad I got a little more than 3 hours sleep. I just needed something light for breakfast. The Johnny Rockets Burgers in the food court at Flamingo uses their grill to make breakfast food in the mornings, and I got a giant egg mcmuffin with bacon and an orange juice for $8 RCs.

    My first match wasn't until 11AM so The Quad got my business again at UTH. Nothing special on the bonuses this time. However, you always hit a few things on the 'Trips' side-bet because you have seven cards to make a paying 5-card hand. The payoffs on the bonus are so much better than Pai Gow (where you're also using 7 cards to make a 5 card hand). The Trip has a 3.5% house edge and starts paying at three of a kind, but you also get some payoffs on top hands on the mandatory 'Blind' bet (matches your Ante). The way I play with $25+$25 on Ante/Blind and $15 on Ante, (assuming I was all-in 4x off the top and I won), I get $195 on 3OAK, $235 for a straight, $267.50 for a flush, $320 for a full house, $825 for 4OAK, $1975 for a straight Flush, and it would be $13,375 (and a tax form) for a Royal! Compare that to the bonuses on Pai Gow (where you're also making a 5-card bonus hand out of 7 cards) and it's hard to play that game again. This session I mainly just won more than I lost and banked another $400. :thumbsup:

    I cruised to two wins in the Friday BG session, so I was sitting pretty just one more win away from the money. I was done by 3:15PM and had a 5:15PM reservation at Gordon Ramsey Steak in Paris for my $100 Diamond Celebration Dinner. One of the next two guys that was going to be my opponent tried to made a stink about letting me go early (dinner break is 6PM to 8PM), but there was no real rush and the director saw it my way, so my next match was going to be 8PM regardless. I killed 50 minutes at Flamingo at UTH (what else??) and AGAIN could barely lose and hit them up for $830! :Þ

    I got to Gordon Ramsey Steak in Paris and all I can say is WOW! All the female staff were 8s and 9s and the food was tremendous. :nworthy: They bring the meat cart out with mirrors over each raw steak so you can see the 6-7 choices of cuts. They have this outrageous Royal Long Bone Chop cut that has a bone flying off the meat like Fred Flintstone could only love, and standard filets and rib eyes, American Wagyu and real Japanese Kobe if that's your thing. The waiter also bragged about the American Rib Cap that is a piece at the end of the rib eye with massive marbling. I basically wanted to spend the free $100 and no more and I got the cold lobster appetizer, the 24oz ribeye medium-rare-plus (I found out that's how you order it if you want it between two temperatures), and the custom truffle and three cheese mac and cheese. A couple citrus flavored ice teas to wash it all down fit the bill. One thing I liked was they brought the drink menu on a tablet computer to your table and you get to scroll through the whole thing yourself! The cocktail waitresses and hostesses had these great black short dresses with the hose with the seam down the back, and as my table was on the second floor, taking the stairs was a good idea because I could advise my hostess if her seams were straight! :wink2: The food was to die for, of course. The ribeye actually had a lot more fat than I expected, but that's the marbling they always are bragging about, and even after filleting the extra fat off the steak I could only eat about 2/3 of it. It was awesome. :clap: The tab was $104, so only $4 extra RCs used up and the waiter gets a $20 bill. I didn't hear any yelling from the kitchen, by the way.
    http://www.parislasvegas.com/content/dam/plv/Dining/Upscale/gordon%20ramsay/PLV_GRS_Spring2014Dinner.pdf

    The picture is a neon sculpture in the middle of the two story open dining room. The lines were mapped from watching GR cook steaks at the grill.

    [​IMG]

    8PM begins my 4th round Main Event match, and the winner is guaranteed 3rd place at worst. That would be $2410. I was clearly the better player in this match and I saw a lot of mistakes from my opponent, but he just had the dice. I clawed my way as close as trailing only 9-11 in the 15 point match, but ultimately lost 10-15. We'd agreed to hedge $500 before the match (regardless of who won the winner would pay the loser $500) so at least I got my entry fee back. This puts me in the round of 16 in the consolation bracket and it's a HUGE hit to lose this particular match. If I win I have about $3600 equity, If I lose it falls to about $900.

    I wandered back to my room thinking I'd play another short session at the tables, instead I collapsed on the bed with SportsCenter on and finally got into my jammies and under the covers at 2AM. Sometimes the body finally says ENOUGH!

    More to come... :)
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2014
  8. Blacklegs22

    Blacklegs22 Low-Roller

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    Cool report. :nworthy:

    Never thought I'd say this, but tournament backgammon sounds kind of exciting! I know it's a favorite pastime of one of my poker heros, Dan Harrington...
     
  9. zolar31

    zolar31 Low-Roller

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    Thank you, really enjoying your report. Just in case anyone else needs it. the password in the CET poker rooms is totalrewards
     
  10. bmw7a

    bmw7a Tourist

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    Do you mind if I ask how much you buy in for at UTH at that betting level? I want to try the game out next time I go, and was planning on a similar level and pattern of betting (20/20/10).
     
  11. WrongWayWade

    WrongWayWade VIP Whale

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    $500 is enough to last for an hour usually, but I'm totally prepared to buy another $500 and have had to several times before the first hour is up. At 20/20/10 $500 will clearly be a good starting point.

    Please read the strategy at:
    http://discountgambling.net/ultimate-texas-holdem/

    You must make the correct 4X bets every time and his 'kicker' strategy is much easier to work with and understand when making the 1X bet or folding. Trying to count 21 dealer outs is too hard.
     
  12. bmw7a

    bmw7a Tourist

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    Thanks, 500 was about what I was thinking, with the realization that variance could eat that up quickly sometimes.

    Been practicing with a simulator, so making the correct 4x bets is easy. As you alluded to, knowing when to bet 1x or fold is sometimes tricky and not obvious. That's the hardest part for me. I am definitely open to an easier strategy than counting 21 outs, which is impossible for me in any kind of timely fashion sitting at the table and having some drinks :beer:
     
  13. TheCanoe

    TheCanoe Low-Roller

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    Could you please link me to the simulator you're using? I'd love to give I a shot as well

    Really enjoying the TR, thanks for taking the time to write it
     
  14. WrongWayWade

    WrongWayWade VIP Whale

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    There is a simulator at that exact webpage I listed that has the correct strategy.
     
  15. WrongWayWade

    WrongWayWade VIP Whale

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    Trip Report: Quad, Flamingo, Gambling, Backgammon, Dining (VERY LONG!!) Part-4

    Saturday, April 26

    I'm up at the crack of dawn again and wander over to Bally's. With the Cromwell open the easiest way to get to Bally's from the Quad is to walk through Flamingo and come out the front, then go into the front entrance of the Cromwell, walk the length and exit out the back where the valet/taxis are, then take the crosswalk across Flamingo Road and you're in the front of Bally's. The entire front of Bally's where that weird neon tube with the moving sidewalks used to be is all torn out and under construction. It's going to be a huge shopping mall area. So if you're on the strip you have this rather spooky abandoned walkway with boarded up walls on the sides to get to Bally's. The overhead crossover isn't really ideal if that's your destination.

    I played the good $25 6-deck game in the high-limit for an hour and won $225. Only had one shoe where the count went up, but did well enough there on the higher bets. There was zero heat this time. 'Le Creperie' was open in the shopping area between Bally's and Paris and I had a three cheese crepe that was top notch, $10 RCs. (I seem to get three cheeses a lot :) ) It's fun to watch him make the crepes on his big circular grill.

    The UTH wasn't open at Paris so I decided it was time to finish off my Diamond status for this year. On my Biloxi trip in February I racked up 7500 points at the Grand by playing 2500 slot points through (they give you 5000 points for free if you earn 2500 in 24 hours). That was at $10 a pull for about 2-1/2 hours. That session was pretty expensive. Despite hitting a $1350 hand pay I ended up losing $2475 for the session. I did much better in the Flamingo HL slot parlor, playing the $5 Triple Double Strike machine (3 coins per pull). This is my new favorite machine, by far (see pix below). It has a single pay line with two kinds of bars and three colors of 7s. However, every symbol on every reel also has a double and triple version, so you can get up to 27 times the base value of what you hit. I was basically ahead the whole time and hit a bar/bar/bar with two triples for a $1350 hand pay. It was kind of cool as it seemed whenever the CW or any female employee walked by (the place was basically deserted) I'd hit something big! But I figured bribing the CW to hang around wouldn't work, either, LOL. I stayed ahead of my buy-in almost the whole time but right when I needed the last 200 points I trailed down to $895 behind. At $15 a pull it only took 90 minutes to get the required points. Still, not too bad and just a smidgen below expectation. So now I've racked up the 15,000 points and am good for next year. Clearly the Diamond is worth a lot, you get to cut in front of lines everywhere, elite check-in, almost always free rooms and some free play and the free dinner and show I mentioned earlier. And the Reward Credits do end up paying for the food, most of the time.

    New favorite slot: (Not a winning spin :) )
    [​IMG]

    However, I really won't put much more than this through the slots as it's just too expensive. Get the Diamond and quit right there is the trick. Especially in Vegas, slots are the ONLY way to earn enough points for Diamond. I checked it out and 1 hour of UTH at $65 flat bet (which really averages about $125 per hand after the raises) earned me 40 points in 1 hour. Risking that same dollar amount through a slot machine earns me 1000 points!! It feels like the table game points are much better in Biloxi and I know they are better at Boyd (IP Biloxi), but CET in Vegas gives you crap for points at table games, at least at UTH.

    More UTH at The Quad and I lost $475. I played my first consolation match at 11AM and lost it just at the end; he won 4 points in the last game to zoom ahead to the win 11-9/11. So no more backgammon until 10:30AM on Sunday. Look out tables, here I come! Pounded down another 5-Hour Energy and off I go. I wish I could cram more of these into my 3-1-1 airline bag but I can only fit about 7. At the Costco at home I can get the 5-Hr for $0.75 each; if you buy them in Vegas they are $5.39. But at least I can charge it to the RCs. On another subject, even though AirTran is not a TSA Pre-Check airline and there wasn't anything on my boarding pass, going both directions (ATL-LAS) I was herded into a Pre-Check line where you don't have to unpack anything or take off your shoes or go through the scanner (only the metal detector). I think Homeland is actually reducing the threat level without ever saying so and more people get to go through these expedited screenings, even if they haven't been 'vetted' by the official Pre-Check process. If I KNEW I was getting the Pre-Check (which happens with Delta), I could bring enough 5Hrs for the trip.

    So I decide to go on the Grand UTH Tour, playing the game at as many casinos as possible before dinner. I set up a Great Circle route, deciding to finish back at home and eat at Hamada of Japan that's tucked into Flamingo right by the valet/taxi stand. First stop was Paris where in an hour I cash out $110 ahead. Nothing special bonus-wise, and this dealer was slow and surly. Then over to Cosmo to play with the 20-something dou***bags and I won $405 in 70 minutes. Almost NOBODY plays this game correctly, by the way. There is a basic strategy, just like blackjack, but it seems nobody has made the effort to find out what it is or has guts enough to play it. The structure of the bets is that you get raped on the Blind and Ante bets (-31% and -16%) and have to make it all up on the Play bet (+45% if you play it right). The Play is positive because you're only putting money in there when you're a favorite. But you'll see players get K-Q or A-9 or a small pair and they just won't put out 4 chips! They say things like "not when she's running good!" This error of failing to make the 4X bet off the top when you have two good starting cards costs players vast amounts of money. I shouldn't complain, though, because the house is getting a huge hold because of this, and they'll keep offering the game and not alter the odds because of that. Basically they're making 98% of their money because people play poorly (just like blackjack 40-50 years ago), not because the odds on the game are bad. If played properly the element of risk (house edge computed against the average bet per hand) on the main game is only about 0.5%.

    After Cosmo, Aria was close. I always like to enter this place at least once as I find the architectural effort amazing. I'm always stunned by people that scoff and sneer at the City Center; I think it's damn near the 8th wonder of the world. I guess sour grapes... (I digress). I walked through Crystals, of course, but wasn't quite ready to spend $15,000 on a watch. So instead I sat down at the UTH table at first base and could do no wrong! I would tip the dealer on the trips bet after I won a bonus, announcing 'two in a row' or 'three in a row', and he actually hit me with a bonus hand 4 times in a row! I played for an hour, (about 40 hands I figure) and must have hit the bonus at least a dozen times. I hardly ever lost. I won $1680.... sheesh!

    I took the free monorail over to Bellagio which is a good choice as it does have some very nice views of the whole Aria/City Center complex; I always feel like I'm in some movie about the future when I'm over there. More UTH at Bellagio where the pit boss lady honestly didn't know what I meant when I asked about 6:5 blackjack, (they don't have any). Again as the UTH cards continue to fall right, I feel like James Caan asking for the 3 when he has 18 in that movie, and win $485 more.

    I didn't get lost getting out of Bellagio because I actually asked which way to go, and found the walkway to Caesars and then over to Flamingo. I got to sit at the sushi bar at Hamada of Japan and the totally authentic looking sushi chef was slicing up the fish while I enjoyed dinner. I had the sashimi dinner with miso soup and salad, and every item was just perfectly fresh, cool and tender. Outstanding. Tuna, salmon, yellowtail, mackerel, squid and octopus, a bowl of rice on the side and it was all to die for. I probably will go there at least once each trip from now on. I got to talk to the chef about the movie 'The Ramen Girl' where Brittany Murphy (RIP) gets stranded in Tokyo and eventually becomes a great ramen chef. He told me a good place that does the authentic Japanese Ramen, though I probably wasn't going to cab over there. I ended up eating ramen the next night, anyway.

    I had the free tickets to 'Jubilee' and I'm sorry, but it was pretty stupid. In the very beginning I got the vibe of what it might have been like to go to the big Vegas show in 1962, but it really wasn't very good. The plastic smiles on the girls were just too much. And there really wasn't anything you could call dancing; it was just prancing about the stage with the girls carefully making sure they didn't trip on the steps. Not recommended.

    So it's Saturday night and tiime's a wastin'. Got going again and wanted to play blackjack at the Party Pit at Planet Hollywood, but every seat at every table was taken in that casino at midnight. Kept moving forward to the Cosmopolitan and got to play with the drunk 20-something dou***bags again :) A few of them actually wanted to know the right way to play and I got to be the coach and get them to go all in when they should. I was behind about $750 but made a big comeback and left with $250 of their dollars.

    I had walked through The Cromwell several times already and it was very attractive, but I hadn't stopped to play, yet. The renovation came out great and it's hard to even picture how that dump "Bill's" used to look. The place is so new it still smells like a furniture store. The nightclub and restaurant aren't open, but basically the whole casino is, (they got the 3-table HL salon open while I was there), and they had some guest rooms rented out. Apparently, as part of the English theme every guest room has a backgammon and checkers board built into the coffee table, with the pieces and dice ready to go. Pretty good... Of course, I played UTH and had some really fun table-mates who were hooting it up the whole time. They were mostly betting $5/$5/$5 a hand but got just as big a thrill when they'd hit a bonus hand. The best hand was when the dealer showed the flop of A-A-K, and third base tells the dealer 'why don't you just show another Ace, I haven't had trips all night'. She takes the last two cards and holds them together, flips them over and the first IS an Ace. She does the slow reveal of the last card and QUAD ACES ON BOARD!!! Everyone had money on the trips so it was $150, $450, $300, $150, $450 around! We all cheered and jumped out of our chairs. Ended this 3 hour session at some ungodly hour up $580.

    I crawled into bed and managed to sleep until my 10:30AM Last Chance backgammon match.

    More to come... :)
     
    Last edited: May 2, 2014
  16. WrongWayWade

    WrongWayWade VIP Whale

    Joined:
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    Trip Report: Quad, Flamingo, Gambling, Backgammon, Dining (VERY LONG!!) Part-5

    Sunday, April 27

    I quickly lost my first Last Chance match so that was the end of the tournament for me. However, there is a 'Calcutta Auction' where you buy interest in other player's results, and I had one guy that was in the finals of the Intermediate and one lady that was in the Int. Consolation Finals. If both of them managed to win I'd get nearly $1000 extra. As it turned out they both lost but I still got $262 for his 2nd place finish. I had a Monday morning flight out, so I had a couple more goals. I wanted to ride the High Roller, eat a great dinner somewhere, and I had tickets I booked months ago for the Michael Jackson One Cirque show at Mandalay Bay.

    Walking back to my room I dropped $40 on the home-town Falcons to win the Super Bowl, (35:1, I've gambled on worse long-shots than that! Maybe we'll get Clowney :) ) Somebody handed me $15 worth of match play coupons between the Flamingo and Quad so I played those off and walked with $15 at a blackjack table. I decided I would go directly to the south strip and do whatever seemed fun down there until dinner and Michael, so I took the $5 Monorail from The Quad to MGM Grand. You get a pretty good view from the train of a bunch of swimming pools in the off-strip rental/resort properties.

    I looked over the restaurants in MGM as I walked from the rail station and there were several that look intriguing, Pearl (Chinese) seemed a likely choice. There was a $10 8-deck blackjack game with no stupid rules (and surrender) so I thought I'd kill some time there. I made what I immediately thought was a big mistake and in error gave them my player's card... OOPS! (Usually at MGM I just play cardless.) I was 'busted' for counting at Aria 4 years ago so 'no more blackjack for you Mr. Wade...'. I kept my mouth shut and nothing happened and I didn't see the boss make a face or anything when he typed in the computer. I wonder if there is some statute of limitations or he saw the red flag and just didn't want to hassle with it, or he wasn't worried about me at a $10 shoe. No idea. I got to play with a bunch of newbies and a guy on his 21st birthday, and I forgot what it's like to play with people that have no conception of the game! I had to talk them out of splitting tens (they were asking for advice from me), and they were always too quick to hit on all their double-down hands. They all busted out and it took a couple shoes before the count climbed high enough to raise my bet. I won a $200+$200 double-down when the count was +12. Usually I make my max bet of 6 times the minimum at +6, but I like to push it harder when I start at $10 and often end up spreading up to 10x or 20x at these low-limit shoe games. Winning that one hand made all the difference, of course, regardless of the other 80 hands, and I walked after 70 minutes up $350.

    It's the middle of the afternoon and it would be wrong to be in a new casino and not play UTH. I played for two hours with the European dou***bags this time (Norwegians and Swiss-Germans), and I couldn't really get ahead, losing many 4X bets and ended up down $260. I hadn't played MegaBucks this trip yet, so I spent 25 minutes there, losing $300 and then found the Lion's Share and played it for 25 minutes. The Lion's Share doesn't take the new $100 bills, so I had to get change. I got five 20s from this couple that was waiting behind me and got started, and then the slot attendant wandered by and I gave her $200 more to make change for some old money. (That was a bit trusting! :poke: I bet I should have waited for her to come back BEFORE I gave her MY money. Maybe she just borrowed the nametag!! :thumbsup: ) I didn't have to wait for anyone and this couple that had read about it in the Wall Street Journal waited for me to finish. It was pretty boring, basically you might get a single lion ($6), mixed Bars ($15) or maybe three single-bars ($30). No long dry spells, but nothing like triple bars and I almost never saw a 7. Only a few lions on the pay line. Hit +30 on the last spin and lost $96.

    For dinner the UTH dealer said she liked the Grand Wok, so I sat at the sushi bar there and ordered a Rainbow Roll (avocado with three kinds of fish riding on top) and the ramen soup. Again, this was top notch and the soup was beautiful and tasty. I had just enough Express Comps to pay for dinner.

    The plan was to walk across to Excalibur and take the free monorail to Mandalay Bay. Walking across I saw the $200 rebate offer on the side of the Tropicana and decided to check it out. It's not nearly as good as it sounds, as you don't get cash back on your losses, you only get free slot play, which doesn't compensate fully for the loss. And I think they said you can only immediately claim $100 at once, and have to wait 30 days to get the rest. I got a $10 match play and $15 of promo chips and played those off (netting $10) and played UTH for 30 minutes. They actually have the better Trips pay table here (3/5/6/8 instead of 3/4/7/8) which only has a 1.9% edge instead of 3.5%. But no luck and I lost $410. There were some big drunk dudes that absolutely refused to bet 4x, even with stuff like KQ-suited. Yuuuchh.

    Got to the free monorail station outside Excalibur (it's really attached to the overhead walkway over the Strip) and it took off in two minutes to Mandalay Bay. It's a big confusing as they serve Luxor as well, so you might get mixed up if that's your destination. One train goes only between Excalibur and Mandalay Bay, and another only goes between Mandalay Bay and Luxor. But I was going to MB so this didn't matter to me.

    I had about an hour more before the 9:30 Michael Jackson show so UTH for me. They hand-deal the game here, just taking a single deck out of the shuffler, cutting it and handing out the cards one at a time to the players, and doing the burn card before the flop and river. Somehow I like this better than the shuffler that just spits out the right number off the top, but it really doesn't matter; random is random. With my results on this trip I should be worrying about the shufflers being rigged?? I think not. Some 'real' poker players were playing and asking questions and it was hard for them to realize they should be going all-in with stuff like Q-9 off suit. But you're only trying to beat one person that can't bluff you out, so cards like that actually make you a favorite: when you're the favorite, bet MORE! Managed to book another win of $185.

    The Cirque show 'Michael Jackson One' was fantastic. I had great seats, 4th row on the aisle. This is by far my favorite Cirque show, now. I would have gone to see it the next night if they'd let me. The dancers and acrobats were so full of energy and expert at their craft and the lighting effects and creative ideas throughout were jaw-dropping. Just fantastic. Their take on the Thriller video with the monsters was something to see. I put it above even the Beatles/Love show. I know he was a creep, but the dude could sing and dance and write terrific music; that's all there is to it. After the show I used a trick my wife and I figured out a few years back. When you need the bathroom, find the high-limit slot salon and use the one in there. You'll have it to yourself and there often are mints, mouthwash and/or lotion that you can have/use. I thoughtfully looked over all the machines as I left with my minty-fresh breath and smooth skin.

    I cabbed it back to the Quad ($14 with the tip) and made good on my vow to ride the High Roller. I saw the whole tournament staff inside the Quad, but they were headed over to Caesars to gamble so I continued on my way to the big wheel. It's open until 2AM so I was good to go. If you have a CET room key you get $5 off the $35 admission ($25 during the day). There was only one couple in the pod with me at this hour. Apparently the 'lots of people have fallen into the net' is an urban legend, or at least that's what the staff is supposed to say. It was quite pleasant and there is a video dude that talks to you briefly about 6-7 times during the ride. Music the rest of the time. The video commentary was actually reasonably funny so it wasn't that annoying. If you are acrophobic or claustrophobic you'll hate it, but the pod it pretty big and could easily hold 20 people. You have no sensation of motion at all, just the slowly descending landscape around you. Doing the math I figure it moves about 2/3 of a mile per hour. It doesn't ever stop (unless they have to load a wheelchair), so you have to step a bit lively as you get in and off. There are two benches where about 6-8 people could sit down, but not much of a view from those. This is well worth doing at least once.

    [​IMG]|[​IMG]

    More to come... :)
     
  17. Suekel

    Suekel VIP Whale

    Joined:
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    Great TR so far, very enjoyable read. I agree with you about MJOne. It's the best Cirque show I've seen thus far, and the Thriller segment left me speechless. Loved it.

    You are making me really look forward to checking out the Cromwell. We are staying at Bally's, so I'm sure we'll head over there at least a couple times. My only regret will be the loss of the Victorian Room, which was a must-do for us for late night eggs on every trip. Prevented many a hangover with a stop there.
     
    Vegas Just Because...
  18. WrongWayWade

    WrongWayWade VIP Whale

    Joined:
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    Trip Report: Quad, Flamingo, Gambling, Backgammon, Dining (VERY LONG!!) Part-6

    Monday, April 28

    I had done this once or twice before and it feels like sinning in some way, :wink2: but I decided to not sleep at all Sunday night before my Monday flight. Part of it was I wanted to recreate the fun I had on Saturday night at the Cromwell, but it doesn't quite work out like that. Saturday and Sunday night are two COMPLETELY different animals, and your only companions on Sunday are often just the dealers. Nonetheless... I packed up my bags as much as I could and went down to the Cromwell. The place was NOT hopping, but the carnival games and craps tables were all open and a long UTH session ensued. I ended up giving back $725 but I was still so far above expectation it is unfair. Two Swiss-German dudes played along with me and I found it funny in the basically empty casino when the (idle) Wheel of Fortune machine would yell out "Wheeeelll of Foooortunnne!!" and the guy at third base would jump and say "Who's yelling??!?" :beer:

    Another stop at Johnny Rockets for the jumbo egg McMuffin (the donger needs food!) and I wanted to finish off at home base in the Quad. I was assured earlier by the boss that they keep their UTH table open on all shifts all the time, but when I got over there it was closed. I asked him what was up and he said that three of his dealers called in sick, so he was stuck. I was a bit disappointed and I knew Flamingo always closes theirs on swing shift when the players leave so I wandered over to Harrah's. They were dealing the game there. I bought in for my usual $500, got deal 7-2 off suit and had to fold my first hand. The next hand I got J-10 off suit (both red) and played the standard 4X raise from there. (This is about the smallest hand you should bet 4X as you win probably 51% of the time.) The flop had 9 and 7 of hearts in it, and the turn/river showed a 8 and 10 of hearts. I stared at this, started to shake, and honestly could not remember what suit my Jack was, diamond or heart. The dealer shows his rags hand and then slowly picks my cards up, and DAMN!!! There is the sweetest Jack of HEARTS I've every seen!! :thumbsup: I scream. I jump out of my chair! Life is good. A tidy straight-flush on my last session and a cool $1975 payout. I tip the dealer $40 and play for about 20 more minutes. I lost a bunch of the following hands and then told myself I should try to preserve the SF money. I quit with a net win of $1320. Wowie Zowie. So one SF and three quads this trip; pretty damn good.

    I played some PG Tiles and PG Poker at $20 a hand just to finish off the time to kill, got back to the room, took a shower and off to the airport. There was a shuffle that had a spare seat ready to leave so that was good and only $9. I pretty much slept/snoozed all the way home, fully satisfied after having my best gambling trip ever. I've only been playing this UTH for a year now, but everything about it I like. You get to play your cards out to the end, no matter how crappy they are, there is a good jackpot aspect built into the game, and there is strategy to exercise to keep your mind involved. I know I'm about 8 standard deviations from the mean on this trip, but hell, it was hilarious fun. All told I won over $7000 at UTH and took home about $5800 after all gambling activity was accounted for. Including the room I churned about $800 of free stuff. Next trip to Vegas is the BG tournament in November, and I'll probably get to Biloxi twice before that.

    Hope it wasn't too long! Glad to tell the story. :wave:
     
    Last edited: May 1, 2014
  19. The Furry One

    The Furry One Low-Roller

    Joined:
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    Wow, maybe I should do more of my gambling in Harrahs if they paid you a SF on 6-7-8-T-J ;)

    Nice report, you certainly packed plenty in.

    Furry
     
  20. WrongWayWade

    WrongWayWade VIP Whale

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    Typo fixed. I'm pretty sure I didn't put only over on them :Þ
     
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