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Cowboys Video poker and the last of the matchplay wanders

Discussion in 'Vegas Trip Reports' started by Dewey090, Dec 21, 2002.

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  1. Dewey089

    Dewey089 VIP Whale

    Aug 4, 2001
    averill park ny
    Trips to Las Vegas:

    My Trip Report


    I think Vegas is the easiest place to go alone, especially if you can break it up and touch in with relatives or friends at some point in the trip, and I do it often. Strangers on vacation are easy to engage in conversation and even the mundane details of someone’s lives can be fascinating if they are from a different culture or even just some different part of the county. It flavors their stories and language with regional spices.

    Of course, you have to leave the right woman at home. I have one. Elizabeth and I have a fine, secure, open and independent relationship and it frees me from some of the more conventional difficulties some men might experience in solo travel.


    I left Albany on Southwest just before sunset. I could see the sun beginning to color the horizon and those long, red streaks through gray clouds continued as we chased the sun into the west. It was a long and luscious sunset, an extended race, but Phoebus himself must have been driving the chariot well that day, and he did finally beat us, the dust behind him settling down into the deserted plains and desert. When we arrived in Vegas it was through tiny clusters of lightbulbs like Christmas lights on a dark December street.
    On my way I did see Chicago, easily recognized with Navy Pier jutting out into the dark blue Lake Michigan. Living in Chicago are my two sons, with wife and girlfriend and other family. I waved. I thought I saw them waving back.


    I stayed one free night at the Stardust using the annual LVA free offer, two nights at $15 at the Stratosphere using a wholesale service, then two weekend nights, at $65 for both, from a Stratosphere mailing, and finally two free nights at the Orleans from coupons after a our stay there in October. All the rooms were comfortable and clean, quiet and fine. The Orleans was the most roomy and the plushest. I asked to be away from the Orleans ding of the arriving elevator (that can be heard from inside some rooms) and they gave me a fine strip view on the 9th floor. Easy first stop elevator access. It seemed that all construction was over.
    I walked from the Stardust to the Stratosphere with my rolling luggage. I guess I did not feel all that comfortable doing that through the blocks of empty lots waiting for development, even in the daytime. I thought it would be too easy for an easer theif to grab my rolling luggage and go. There were some street kids furrowing though the dumpsters. I won’t do that again.
    I found that the Stratosphere gave me very easy bus access both to downtown and to the strip. Going and coming from downtown was fast and easy, much better than parking.
    I had decided to join Terrible’s slot club and took a 301 bus from The STRAT to Imperial Palace and then walked around the Bally’s Flamingo corner to use a free transfer for a 202 to Terrible‘s. It was easy. After a free hat and a $3 buffet on coupon, I walked back to the strip from Terrible‘s, stopping at Key Largo to win on one LVA matchplay and discover some 9/7 JOB.


    I had determined to play off all the funbooks and matchplay coupons I had collected throughout the year before they expired, and to just keep moving from casino to casino until I had done that. I found it a lot of fun and I liked having the advantage on every bet. I played full odds on the craps matchplays so in one sense I reduced my advantage. But this was a wild way to play. At the Stratosphere I used $7-$5 matchplays and then put $50 in odds bets for that one exciting roll. Sometimes it hit, sometimes not. My best hit was one morning when I played by myself, rolled a four (3-1) for a point, and then followed immediately with the same roll.

    I did not find the dealers to be unfriendly with this sporatic style of play, although some teased me when I left with my one shot winnings. Many checked to see the coupons were valid. A couple told me they were not good on weekends, but that proved wrong and they relented when I persisted in a friendly but assertive manner.
    The funniest was one grumpy craps dealer who checked and rechecked my $10 matchplay at Terrible’s, finally letting me play it. I only put $20 odds on this bet and hit on the point 9, making a nice $60 profit. Then I moved to a blackjack table because I had a second similar matchplay. There the dealer read what I had missed. It was a Tropicana matchplay, not Terrible’s at all. I had misread the casino name. At the Golden Gate I caught another $10 matchplay in a fortune cookie at the door. Don’t ignore these fortunes. It paid me an extra ten dollars on the craps table.

    I was sorry to see Stratosphere video poker completely changed. The high pay JOB 9/7 and 10/6 are gone. Now there are others advertised as above 100% but not as much above it as were those old JOB. So get your Tomski’s strategy sheet engine ready for the new paytables. There were two 8/6 (100.2597%) Bonus Poker machines and 2 9/5 Bonus Poker(100.3174%), and two 8/5 Bonus Poker with 40 for 2-8 four of a kind( I did not know how to run that; I’ll have to write the Wizard of Odds. Time for a Bob Dancer new edition.
    I feel very sad about the old JOB machines. They were the only ones in the world. If you miss the 9/7 check Key Largo. Unless they messed with some of the upper numbers, there are two there which were guarded by locals who gave me those German Shepard looks as I took notes. Sorry I missed the details, but I thought one woman there might nip me if I stayed longer.

    So I played the 9/5 Bonus Poker. I can’t get into those games that increase the flush payout as the strategy requires changes that bother me. I did well enough.

    Oh, there is some 10/7 there also but at 100.1725% and that weird and aberrant strategy, why not play the easier and higher 9/5 game?

    I remember going around one morning and writing down other pay tables from the Stratosphere, but I can’t seem to find those notes. I do remember seeing some 9/7 Double Bonus game at one of the Stratosphere bars, worth playing short term if the music was good.


    Once again I wonder if these machines are not the loosest slots in the casinos because the idea is that people keep the coins and take them out of circulation. I hit them at the Stratosphere and the Orleans with very little investment. Watch that machine at the Orleans, it jams on payout and you need to call an attendant. Even then the door does not always close right.


    I sure wish someone out there knew where to play this game above a $1-5 level. After months of playing at this low level, I am convinced the rake can’t be beat in any way that would give me a long term edge. Many dealers in Vegas and Atlantic city agree with me. John Scarne thought 5% was outrageous and casinos now get 10% and a healthy tip on top of that. I played four hours at the Sahara and the game broke up. All the players cashed out at the same time. I was down $60, and some others had lost money, but no one seemed to be up more than a dollar or two. So that is it for me on these low limit games. At Bellagio I played a $4-$8 structured game and that seemed to make more sense. There I lost $400. So perhaps I should quit live poker altogether. At least in the structured game other, smarter players made good money. The pots were big enough to overcome the rake and the fifty cent ante got rid of those old guys who are content to sit for five hours and play three hands while waiting for the progressive to roll around. Around supper time Bellagio gave easy comps just for asking, $15 off the buffet.


    I liked the deal at the Sahara where you pay $40 for $50 chips and win cards. Maybe I liked it because I ran my $50 up to $212, but, in general, I think I will look for all those deals. They are around. I tried dice setting again and once again I kept rolling 8’s so now I’ll try starting with placing the 8 and a pass line bet as well as see it there is anything to this dice setting or it is just my own brain imagining patterns in randomness. The cheap minimum of $1 with 5X the odds was nice too. I bet that for all the other rollers, let the dice come around, and then played the $5 win chips with full 5X odds when I rolled. These win chips cannot be broken down. They have to be bet as $5 bets.


    For most of the week, Vegas was inundated with cowboys and cowgirls in full dress, celebrating the National Rodeo Finals. The casinos were decorated in cowboy style; casino staff were dressed for the occasion. Costumes were incredible: all boots and big hats and colorful shirts with Western designs that ranged from the traditional plaids to wild, abstract collages of color.

    Live country music bands dominated the lounges or large screen televisions broadcast the rodeo and packed in an intense crowd of whooping fellas and gals, all excited and commenting on details of bull or bronco riding the way folks here talk about football on Superbowl Sunday.

    It was like walking into an entire cowboy culture, like being a kid again and watching Roy Rodgers and Dale Evans on Saturday morning television. I found I was humming to myself “Happy Trails†to myself or the Garth Brooks wish: “Me upon my pony upon my boat.â€

    I did not really engage any cowboys in conversation. They are generally taciturn and tend to mind their own business, hoping others will do the same.

    I would have loved to engage one of those the cute little cowgirls, all dressed up and clearly a healing sight for sore eyes. What beautiful women there are in the West! All around were fine, tall cowgirls tossing out long, graceful legs in strong determined steps. Two strode by with lariats on their shoulder. Whoa! What was I thinking years ago by not taking the advice: “Go West, young man, go West!â€

    I also loved watching those tall, lean, long legged senior couples moving across the dance floor, dressed in their jeans, conservative Western shirts and decorative leather belts. Holding themselves at attention, tall and stiff from the waist up, they move their tall boots in easy steps around the dance floor, faces solemn, making eye contact with no one. This is serious dancing, Western ritual at its best.

    And that is the beauty of Vegas. You just don’t know what it will be. It is so cosmopolitan, and constantly changing.
    One other advantage to the cowboy theme was it held off the PA tinkle of Seasonal music, so only on the last day of video poker, with the Rodeo over, did I have to endure endless memories of Mommy Kissing Santa Claus or walk in a Winter wonderland and conspire by the fire, over and over again to endless sleighbells. (It is “conspire†right?.......not “perspire�......somehow I always want it to be “perspire.†) And we wonder why Robert Frost’s poem of sleighs and horses, snow and woods is about death!

    At the Stratosphere were two very different groups in two different lounges and one late night I just sipped a brandy and sauntered from one lounge to the other. One was a hot group of young dancers with the cutest lead dancer , Filipino I think. The other a country rock group called Pork and the Havana Ducks, the lead singer Pork, dressed in bib overhauls and sunglasses and chewing gum in time constantly, was quite a character. In spite of the name I heard nothing Cuban here. Some good old truck driver country songs all with attitude and Pork sure knew how to deliver that. One night a guest fiddle player joined them and heated up the place in a grand way, old Pork slapping at him in mock jealousy. At the lounge bar in the back the waiters also took turns juggling glasses and bottles, ice and olives and pu on quite a show of making drinks.

    I was sorry to miss the Canadian country singer Lisa Hewitt after reading so much about her. Instead, at Barbary Coast I caught David Langely. He had a fine traditional sound and some good tunes and there were a few young cowboys whooping it up and singing their own songs in the intermissions.
    At Gold Coast I sat through two sets of the Dixieland jazz band and loved both. Wished I knew someone there to dance with. What a great show! Two of the players were not regulars and still it was fine dixie Land stuff from Ty Lamly’s crooner tunes and their fine rendition of Louie Armstong’s “ New Orleans†or a Dean Martin syled “ Who Knows where or when†to a little blues sound in “You got to see Your Momma Every Night or You Can’t See Your Momma At All.â€
    I got a good sense of what teen country rock is like at the Orleans Irish Pub. Louder and more calls for whoops and cusses. “Somebody yell Goddam!“

    There too was a contrast in Western dance. This 20’s something cowgirl did not dance the serious steps of her grandmother. She did some of the sexiest and seductive moves to country tunes I have ever seen, her cowboy boyfriend sitting there stonefaced and apparently completely unmoved. Ah... gather those rosebuds while you may, young bronco buster.

    At the Stardust I used the $10 off coupon in my free room to go see Bob Anderson and it was a fine show. I love that lounge, love the bar so close to the performers. This is truly old Vegas. Even when Anderson sang in his own voice it was in the style of the old rat pack singers and a good sound.
    Larry Jones at the Fitzgerald gave a great fast paced impersonation of singers from the 50’s up until today, and was very energetic and talented. There was a tad too much saccharin schmaltz in parts, especially that obligatory stand-up-for-the-flag number that just seems exploitive to me. The rest was wonderful. And the price of $3 a drink was easy to take too.
    Just before that show there is a woman magician who was fun too. This would be great for kids as she talks as if her audience is in the 4th grade. Being just a kid at heart I loved being a kid again. The magic was still sophisticated enough for adults.
    At Laugh Trax Comedy Club in the Palace Station I saw a great act by Peter Fogel and then when I went back to the hotel and turned on Jay leno, here was fogel again rifing a bicycle in some taped comedy skit. Wild coincidnce!


    One of the great parts of going to Vegas alone is time to watch and sometimes meet strangers. One old fellow at the Sahara breakfast buffet told all his stories in a loud voice and was wonderfully entertaining. He had hunted and fished somewhere near Sacramento for years, sneaking in to fish on the McCloud and Shasta Rivers and then back to camp. He’d gone duck hunting on horseback, saved up the ducks and traded them for the favors of girls who he said in those days could be bought for $1.50 - $2 a pop. He was quite a character, annoyed, but proud of his 6’7†son who insisted on skiing instead of basketball and his daughter who went to “The most Goddamn liberal school in Oregon.†“That’s what she wanted, so that’s what she got.â€

    His fellow story teller was just as interesting. He was from Montana and had been a National Geological surveyor and charted huge sections of Spanish land grant territories. He talked about how hard it was to establish lines, especially when rivers that had been used as boundaries changed course so a fellow who bought 50 acres might, after a couple decades of river changes, only be left with 25.
    I also met another solo traveler, Bigdogmom, who sometimes posts on Vegas bulletin boards. We shared breakfast at the Gold Coast and supper at the Orleans . Now you would think that a woman with the board handle, “Bigdogmom†would have some girth to her and I expected someone as least as heavy as I am. But here came just the wisp of a woman who happens to own...yep....you guessed it...a BIG dog. She was a fantastic meal companion, mixing gambling analysis with stories of trout fishing and camping outside Denver and her dad’s school teaching in Boston. We have a lot in common and I hope we are able to share a meal again.
    On the way down I traveled in the plane with Lakeem Meadows, a student from a middle school I taught in years ago. He had not been in my class, but remembered me from those days and we shared some old stories and Vegas strategies.
    I visited my two Vegas nieces, Gayle and Melanie, and the children there and saw some of their preparations for Christmas, including a very pretty tree. My grand nephews helped some in chauffeuring me from hotel to hotel and we shared a buffet and some live comedy together.


    1. Duct tape works great on window cracks for later morning snoozes.
    2. Order every drink with a water and no straw. That means even with tip your drink is free, you just paid the price of the water. Carry one water bottle cap in your pocket in case they forget to give you one.
    3. Collect and play matchplay.
    4. Stay with good pay tables on VP only. Just count it up sometime when you play a 9 for full house instead of an 8 and see how much you would have paid to the casino in what really amounts to a low pay tax. Ten full houses in a evening of play and you have been shorted $12.50, which in Vegas is enough for two nice buffets. And that will not have been wagered money unluckily lost. It was winnings taxed. There never was a chance at getting that. That was $12.50 is what you paid the casino for the priviledge of playing in that low pay machine. If you like to give away your winnings, you might just as well save a couple bucks by playing the better paying machines and then tipping the waitress ten dollars above and beyond the usual buck.

    I can’t figure how people who would drive five miles to save a few cents a gallon in gas will not walk around a little to save this much in VP play.


    So all in all it was a great trip. I ended $117.00 ahead in spite of loosing almost $500 in live poker. 10/7 video poker really made the difference and I hope I played enough on double points December to have the Orleans send me some more free nights. One night of play has gotten me some great rates at Henderson Fiesta. So January 17-25 will see me there, with at least two good friends (one a Vegas virgin) sharing the wild joys that are Vegas.

    Until then, have a good holiday, everyone.
    Thank you all very much for all the kind and detailed responses to my questions. Without that sharing, I’d be much poorer.
    Go be lucky!
    Or smart!
    Or both!
    (I agree with Jean Scott that the two are the same. Dumb luck is very short lived and the playmate of the poor.)

  2. bigdogmom

    bigdogmom VIP Whale

    Mar 9, 2002
    Prescott Valley, AZ
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    I'm not sure I'm such a "wisp" after eating all those buffets, Dewey! :D

    Great trip report, and I'm glad you came home with a little profit! I was down about $75 for my trip; I'll try to get the report written and posted on Monday.
  3. pjrox

    pjrox Tourist

    Jul 15, 2002
    Pork is Great!! They're from my area (Central IL) and are very entertaining. I hope they did "We ain't Leavin' 'til we're Heavin".

    Take care
  4. Dewey089

    Dewey089 VIP Whale

    Aug 4, 2001
    averill park ny
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    I had not realized they were such an old group and so popular. I went to their website and read some of the song lyrics. They are truly very funny. I'd like to see them again.
    Bigdogmom...Yeah, I'm up five pounds.. but you have the shape to die for. Have a good new year.
  5. bluestreak

    bluestreak Tourist

    Dec 21, 2002
    Northern AZ, South of Mars

    Hey man it is my first day on this site. "Pork and the Havana Ducks", yeh man the "Alley Cat Lounge" or "Panama Reds" or "Ruby Gulch", did the other guy see them too, (up the thread)...about 25 years ago...in the flatlands of Illinois?

    I-L-L...I-N-I. The best engineering school anyone can flunk out of.

    [ December 22, 2002, 09:07 PM: Message edited by: bluestreak ]
  6. HoyaHeel

    HoyaHeel Grammar Police & Admin

    Feb 24, 2002
    North Carolina
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Garth Brooks wish: “Me upon my pony upon my boat.â€

    That's Lyle Lovett, my man, not Garth Brooks!!! Sounds like you had a great time, even if you didn't improve your knowledge of country music :D
  7. Booger

    Booger Tourist

    Aug 18, 2002
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    You must be an English Teacher, A+ Teach...
    I too love to make "coupon runs".For some reason
    I just never seem to do well doing it alone.Just
    seems to work better with 2 people...like a few
    other things in life.Thanks the report,great fun
    to read.

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