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Trip Report without taking the family this time….

Discussion in 'Vegas Trip Reports' started by JFO, Dec 20, 2018.

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  1. JFO

    JFO Low-Roller

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2018
    Messages:
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    Trips to Las Vegas:
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    My Trip Report

    Thanks to all of you who encouraged me to write another of these. I didn’t think this was as interesting as last summer’s trip with the family, but decided to just go ahead with it. I was hoping to put this entire report in one post, but then after I started writing again, I realized I would never get this out that way, so I am doing it in pieces again.

    --

    This was actually the first year I have ever taken 3 trips to LV. Because of work and family, I had gone on a very long stretch with no trips. But after 2 profitable trips earlier this year and the implosion of the Boyd players club, I was interested in seeding some different places, and playing more LV table poker. I didn't start packing for this one until pretty late the night before, and had a very early flight the next day. I forgot my sunglasses and wristband, and somehow put all my players cards in a medicine bag and forgot I put them there, but otherwise it was an efficient rapid pack trip...

    Day 1:

    American Airlines Basic Economy: This is a relatively new class of service that American Airlines started about a year ago to compete with Spirit Airlines. This ticket class had a very early departure, no cancellation, no changes, no checked bags, absolute last boarding regardless of status, and the airline chooses the seat for you, but I was able to get this flight for just 7000 Chase UR points. The only thing I was concerned about was boarding so late they would force me to check my carry-on bag which would be a nuisance. However, for some reason they gave me the boarding group from my status which was just after all the elites and before general boarding. They did however assign me in a "B" center seat near the back of the plane, and then they put a family with a small child in my row with the "A" window seat and “C” aisle seat, and "D" aisle seat across the aisle. Apparently their "Basic Economy" computer was so obsessed on making sure I was given a center seat that they separated a family with a small child around me… Well the family had no issue at all giving me their aisle seat in "D" so they could all sit together.

    Dollar Rental Car: I was able to get a very good rate on a mid-sized "first shuttle stop" rental car this time, just 8000 UR points for 5 days. Very quick pick up, very short line, and very little waiting. But once I got out of the garage, I really hated myself for forgetting my sunglasses.

    Aria: As soon as I turned my cell phone on at the airport, I had a text message from VMB user @Shane.Decker, and he agreed to meet me at the Aria (I still get free parking at MLife through Hyatt card.) Shane got in a day before the rest of his group. Later in his trip Shane would hit a hand pay for over $6000, but at this point in his trip he had not been running well at all. We played a little there, but neither of us were really interested in MGM. He suggested lunch at an off-strip hole-in-the-wall BBQ joint, and I agreed to check it out. We both had separate cars and met there.

    Rollin' Smoke BBQ: Here is my first ever trip report pic:

    Rollin.jpg

    They tout themselves as best BBQ in Vegas. IMHO good food, reasonably priced, fast service, and not too far from the strip. Shane and I discussed a whole ton of things from Vegas. to sports to family life. He mentioned that he also got the standard Wynn marketing teaser offer for 3 free weekday nights or $120/night for weekend nights, but he just told their marketing department he wanted free weekend nights, and the marketing department gave them to him. After lunch he was ready to pick up his friends from the airport, and I was off.

    Treasure Island: TI is another of the few remaining strip casinos with free parking, just across the street from the fashion mall that charges for parking. I hadn't played there since they were owned by Wynn (before MLife) back in the early 2000s. They couldn't find me in their computer, so I was eligible for their new member sign up. I had read they had 9/6 jacks for dollars and a $25 2-Deck blackjack that paid 3:2, allowed double after split, and dealer stands on all 17s. When I got there I found that blackjack game actually had a $50 minimum. To get the most of the new member sign up, I would need to run about $10,000 through machines. If I ran it all through 9/6 jacks (99.5% payback) it would cost me -$50 in EV. While I did run the majority through the 9/6 jacks, I did mix it up a little with random slots and reels. After I finished, from the new signup promo I had $135 in free-play, a t-shirt (that I opted for instead of an additional $5 in free play), 2 free meals that won't expire for 18 months, and a ton of drawing tickets. (The t-shirt was a no-brainer because my wife expects me to bring her stuff when I take a trip by myself.) One of the promos was for a $50-$5000 free spin, I expected everyone gets $50 but it actually gave me $75 which helped my free-play.

    For the drawing tickets, I would need to stick around a couple more hours because I would need to be present to win anything, and I did not want to come back here to enter my tickets in a different drawing. I played some $10 DD BJ at a pit near the drawing area, the only difference from the $50 game and this one was the dealers hit their soft 17s which slightly favors the house. The drawing host almost scared me, a guy with an Elvis wig, sunglasses, and a purple Santa suit covered in bling... Where do they find people like this? I mean are these sex offenders who can't find a job anywhere else? While he was getting the crowd excited for the drawing, I just continued to play blackjack. My name wasn't called in the drawing, and while the drawing prizes were pretty good, a part of me was actually relieved I didn't get called up and questioned by Purple Santa Elvis. After the drawing was done, I cashed my chips and moved on.

    Harrahs: I was actually surprised I able to find 2 weekend nights at Harrahs for $20 + resort fees considering I have only played table poker at CET properties. But I had plans to get out of those resort fees for this trip. I parked at the Venetian where parking is still free and it’s a very short walk between parking garages. When I checked in at Harrahs, they asked if I needed parking, a trick question so they can charge me an extra $20/day, and of course I told them no. I got a room in their newest tower (the Valley Tower) and these are nice rooms for this old casino. They confirmed that if I opted out of room cleaning for the one day (of a 2-night stay) I could get $10 food credit. I asked if I could use that credit towards a diamond lounge entry if I made diamond during the trip, and they told me its been done many times.

    The Harrahs hotel has the most un-intuitive elevator security system to prevent people from getting onto the wrong floors. The elevator doors open on the bottom level, and there are hotel guests in the elevator not getting off because they can't figure out how to get their room key to select their floor, so they ride up and down with other hotel guests until someone shows them how.

    TR Desk: I didn't know where my TR card was, so I needed to go to the TR desk so they could make me a new one. The TR desk had 3 lines, one for 7-Star members, one for Diamond members, and third one for this rest of us low-life grunts, so I got in the grunt line as the only grunt while there were several people in the other lines. They had 4-5 agents, each taking forever with their respective member, no clue what they were doing for so long. For the next 15 minutes the agents were only taking Diamonds and 7-Stars, and it seemed a Diamond or 7-Star would show up just before an agent would come free, out-rank me, and I would stay alone in the grunt line. I finally moved over towards the Diamond line before the next couple of Diamonds showed up. When the next agent came free, I said I been here for a long time and just wanted to print a player’s card and nothing more! The TR elites smiled and let me go, and I was able to get my account pulled and cards printed in about 30 seconds and I was gone. Still no clue what the others were doing with those agents for so long.

    Flamingo Poker: After I getting my card, I walked to the Flamingo Poker room. I asked if they still had 1-1 Omaha, but they said that game only plays during the WSOP, but invited me to start a list. I played 1-2 NLH, still a very soft and friendly game there. I learned the room was changing a bunch of their promotions for December, and the dealers and players weren't too happy about them. I played until I was too tired to play anymore. The 1-1 Omaha list got to about 5 before I finally racked up my chips and left.

    When I got to my room, I finally found all my players cards in my medicine bag. I can never put players cards in my wallet because those cheap magnetic strips easily fail if they come in contact with a real credit card. I crashed pretty hard after a long day and not getting much sleep the night before.

    --

    Thanks for reading. To be continued.....
     
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  2. tringlomane

    tringlomane STP Addicted Beer Snob

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    Good stuff so far!
     
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  3. miss_sonja

    miss_sonja High-Roller

    Joined:
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    Good report! Interested in more Harrah's details since I'm leaning towards that for my upcoming stay.
     
    First Comp, I couldn't NOT book it, could I?
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  4. JFO

    JFO Low-Roller

    Joined:
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    Trips to Las Vegas:
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    Day 2:

    I got some decent shut eye, but after I woke up, I couldn't get back to sleep.

    Status Match: OK, my 2nd day was now the first of December, and I was planning this to be my status match day. There are lots of casino players clubs where it’s not too difficult to achieve a status that CET will match to Diamond without any CET play. However, CET will not status match on consecutive years, so by status matching in 2018, I would not be eligible to status match again in 2019. However, by matching in December, I could earn Diamond for all 2019 with 1250 Tier Credits earned in December, while had I tier matched the previous day (November 30) I would have needed 2500 Tier Credits to keep Diamond for 2019. I have heard many complaints that there are too many Diamonds at CET casinos, and I guess I would become another.

    When I got down to the players club, I was actually surprised to see no line for the Diamond or 7-Star, but about 5 people in the poor grunt line. With my intent to become Diamond, I went to the Diamond line, but it felt so wrong I allowed any of the non-elites who were in line when before I got there to just go ahead of me if they were doing anything quick (and several were.) Upgrading to Diamond was mostly painless, they just needed my grunt card, a photocopy of my other players club card and my driver’s license, just a little of my blood, and a couple other DNA samples, and they came back with my new Diamond card. The agent confirmed that with 1250 Tier Credits in December, I could remain Diamond for 2019. TR offers a 1000 Tier Credit bonus for earning 1000 Tier Credits in a day, so my goal was to clear that today.

    Harrahs Casino: Earning 1000 TR Tier Credits would require $10K coin in through machines. I went through the casino and pretty much confirmed that the VP at Harrahs was every bit as bad as reported in VPFREE. The best I could find that didn't earn tier credits at a reduced rate was 7/5 BP (98.0% payback), which is also the best VP reported for CET casinos on the strip. Their 7/5 BP could be played for quarters on the floor or for dollars in the high limit room. Because I was staying here and I like to mix things up, I played here a bit, but after several full houses I realized I shouldn't play here much more (Sorry @miss_sonja !!!!)

    The Rio: So back to my room to load my backpack, then a short walk to the Venetian parking garage to get my car and I was off to the Rio. Diamond now gives me free parking at the CET casinos, but that won't be an issue because the Rio is an off strip casino, and one of just 2 Vegas CET casinos that doesn't charge for parking. The other, Planet Hollywood on the strip, I understand actually wants to charge for parking but doesn't own their parking garage, and the owners of their parking garage thinks the concept of charging for parking and then making exceptions for players with status is well, stupid.

    The Rio has a lot of 8/5 BP (99.1%) all over the floor. According to VPFREE, this is the best payback VP that can be found by CET casinos in Vegas that doesn't earn reduced tier credits. I found a machine outside their sports bar where I could watch the college football conference championship games while playing. I thought the CW service here was better than in the Harrahs high limit room. The only thing I really found disappointing in this casino that hosts the WSOP main event was their poker room could only get one table going on a Saturday afternoon, but I wouldn't bother with table poker here. Overall it seemed like a nice off strip property that tried harder.

    After clearing the 1000 tier points, I was thinking about hitting Palace Station as I still had my half-off food coupons and had read some real positive reviews of their renovated restaurants. However, I took another look at my coupons and saw they were only good Mon-Thu, so I didn't even bother to head there. I just went to the Wendy’s on Flamingo Road to grab a quick bite. I then tried to consider where to head next, and because I was close enough, I decided I would make a quick stop at:

    The Orleans: I came here to check out a report from another member. I stayed here with my family last Summer before the club change and my kids wished they could have stayed longer with all the family friendly attractions (nice swimming pool, bowling alley, arcade, movie theater, etc.) but the players club change was a killer. I got to the parking lot, and saw they had new reserved parking spaces for their "Titanium" members. To make “Boyd Titanium”, you need to leave them $100,000 in EV in less than a year (for a video poker player, you would need run about $37 million through a game like NSUD to achieve this) About 8 of the 10 "Titanium" spots were taken by junker cars with Nevada license plates. I had to believe these were employees; there couldn't be that many big players who would play that much in this off strip place and all be here at once. After I got in, I thought I might check the friendly old Kiosk. It remembered me, laughed at me, and showed me were the casino exits were. The casino overall looked busy despite the changes, suggesting not that many people noticed the player’s club degradation. I checked out what I needed to, and left.

    Caesars Palace: This would be my first use of my free Diamond parking, and the Caesars Palace pay-for-parking garage appeared to be a graveyard at maybe 10% capacity, almost depressing for a late Saturday. However the casino itself was pretty packed, especially the sports book with all the College Football games going. I headed to the poker room, where I played some 1-2 NLH. I felt the table I played at played nittier than what I would have expected for a late Saturday. I played several hours, getting in some trouble early, and then grinding to almost catch up. When I finally decided I was on my last orbit, I woke up with AKs, and got it all in pre-flop against 2 players that I thought were playing wide. Normally I am happy to get it in 3-ways with any AK, because usually I am up against smaller pairs and sometimes an AQ or AJ, where I am usually a coin-flip to triple up. But unfortunately my opponents did not cooperate this time, one having AA and the other AKo... I have seen AA vs AK many times, but never this, the winner actually took a quick pic, and because I was leaving anyway I opted to also:

    cp2.jpg

    I really hate leaving a poker game without chips to take to the cage.

    Harrahs Again: This year CET started charging lower Diamonds $10 in CET reward points to get into their Diamond lounges that had previously been reserved for Diamonds and above exclusively. And I was about as low as Diamonds could get... I had never been to one of these lounges, but I read they have food and pretty good liquor. I was thinking about trying my first ever Diamond lounge at CP, but decided it would be a better idea to get my car parked back at my hotel so I could sample a few more drinks. The Harrahs pay-for-parking garage was also near empty on a Saturday evening, the first time I ever actually parked here since they started charging for parking. When I finally got back to the hotel, it was a little after 9 PM, and I learned the Diamond lounges all closed at 9, and they wouldn't open until 4 PM the next day. Lesson learned. I saved my food credits and grabbed something quick at Chipotle.

    I decided I would play a little in the Harrahs poker room which had some games going before crashing for the night. I was able to start a list for 1-1 PLO, and played a soft 1-2 NLH for a few hours when the graveyard shift was able to get the PLO game going. I almost didn't want to leave my soft NLH game, but I wanted to play some PLO, and I am glad I did because this was a super soft high action game. It didn't seem like the room played this game much, because the floor kept giving the dealer different guidelines, from mandatory bring ins to allowing players to limp in, and discussions on how much a pot limit open should be, and how much players should be allowed to straddle, but it was a very friendly game and the players all pretended not to care about the constantly changing guidelines. The game dwindled down to 4-handed at about 2 AM, but it was so soft I was determined to play until either the game broke or I broke everyone. Then more players wandered in close to 3 AM, and I decided then I had to rack up and leave, and this time crash for real.

    End of 2nd Day...

    Thanks for reading, and please let me know if anyone has any more comments. I have 3 more days to go....
     
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  5. lpearl

    lpearl Tourist

    Joined:
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    I’m at Harrah’s right now. Valley tower. It’s clean and a reasonable size.
     
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  6. JFO

    JFO Low-Roller

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    Thanks! Yeah, I thought Valley Tower was above expectation for this old casino, with the modern wallpaper, the angular designs of the rooms, and the modern bathrooms. Of course I find any room nice if I don't have to walk into a bathtub to take a shower. Sure hope you got that elevator figured out without too many trips up and down!!!!
     
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  7. lpearl

    lpearl Tourist

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    Yep, I saw the key reader pretty quickly :)
     
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  8. Tahoejoe2

    Tahoejoe2 VIP Whale

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    Took me 3 tries to get to my room after checkin. Kept getting wrong info from desk.
     
    NFL Football
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  9. booker

    booker VIP Whale

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    AKo vs. AKdd vs. AA = Ouch!
     
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  10. ajp

    ajp High-Roller

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    Who did they tier match you from and what level?
     
  11. JFO

    JFO Low-Roller

    Joined:
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    Day 3:

    Check Out: This morning my sleep caught up with me and I slept until past 11:00. I was thinking I might get a late check out with Diamond, but decided I better not risk it, which was a good thing because apparently late check out is reserved only for 7-Stars. Got packed up and went downstairs and decided to check my TC balance. I got my 1000 TC bonus for my 1000 TCs the previous day, and a decent amount more from poker. The rewards desk couldn't tell me for sure if the bonus TCs would apply towards the 1250 required "earned" TCs to hold Diamond for 2019, and with a trivial amount more to reach 1250 earned I made them at 7/5 BP in their casino.

    When I went to check out, I showed the check out lady my Diamond card and asked if I could have my resort fees returned. The registration lady pointed over at a mahogany door, and told me I would need to go in there and talk to them. OK, so I walked through the door into a very fancy plush room, where a man in a silk suit and a very soft voice asked what he could do to help me. I told him I was Diamond, and I was curious if I could get my resort fees returned. He asked me in a soft voice for my card and he would see what he could do. He runs my card and starts reading his computer screen. After about 15 seconds, I see his face tense up, as he reads for about another minute. I had no idea what he could be reading for so long, was it my play? Was it how much water I was used in the toilet and showers of my room?. Finally he tells me in a not so soft voice that he sees that I matched to Diamond the previous day, and he can give me back one day resort fee and room taxes (about $40). I thanked him and got out of there as quickly. This makes my total for two weekend nights about $60, I will take it.

    Silverton: After getting my one day resort fee taken off, I went to my car. I was planning to head north to downtown that day, but had to decide where to get something to eat. I still had all my coupons from Silverton (on our last trip we ate with new member sign up promos), so I decided to take a short 10 minute trip South to get their Sunday Champagne Brunch with my half-off coupon. I used to always eat free in Vegas, but conditions have changed. Regardless, for $9 with the coupon plus tip, I thought this was a very nice brunch. I think I had a small portion of just about everything from both breakfast and lunch, not a good thing for me, but I found it all real good. I didn't feel like playing here, but I had some time to walk around the place. I saw several people had brought their small toddler age children who were very entertained by the aquarium here. I still think their player’s club award to swim with a mermaid is creepy.

    Downtown: I am in a pretty deep "ADT" hole at almost all the downtown casinos, because for years I had been visiting most of these casinos only on coupon runs. I had a BOGO at Four Queens for two weekday nights, the best they would give me. When I left the Silverton, my GPS told me I was less than 20 minutes from downtown. However, once I got on the freeway, apparently there was a wreck somewhere, and the best route google maps could find me was going to be 60 minutes. Four Queens has free parking for their guests, and I parked there when I arrived.

    The D Vue Bar: A couple weeks before, LVA forum member Bobby White told me he would be staying at the D the for an extended weekend, and I should just look for a retired 78 year old man from Texas next to a woman with beautiful hair. I spotted him immediately, took a bar top next to him, and quickly introduced myself to him and his wife. Bobby is retired and takes about 4 trips to Vegas a year, and was in great spirits. He mentioned the day before he almost won a huge NCAA parlay if only Alabama could have covered over Georgia. I realized at the Vue Bar the triple progressives were only for 25c whereas at 50c/$1 there were no progressives, so I just played 25c there which probably won’t get me out of my hole. I have seen a lot of opinions on Vue bar here; I thought the drink service was very good, and while the bartenders were a bit clutzy trying to juggle their bar items, they were still somewhat entertaining and very friendly. I played and chatted with Bobby for a while.

    Four Queens: I then went back to 4Q to check in. The initial room they gave me was on the Fremont street side, and I could hear the Fremont noise just inside the door. I went back down and very nicely asked for a quieter room and they were more than happy to help. They offered me a handicap accessible room on the quiet side, a basic room with extra support bars by the toilet and a shower and a very low shower head. They didn't have any registered guests who needed those facilities, so I gladly took the room (although the low shower head was kind of a nuisance.) The room also had a fridge.

    Prior to this trip, I learned the strategy for 40/10/6 Double Double Bonus (99.9%) that they have at their bar tops for full points. This is an extremely high variance game, with very nice bonus payouts for quads, however a pair of jacks and 2-pairs earns only a push. Because of the huge payout on quad Aces, the strategy requires keeping only the Ace with AKo, AQo, and AJo, reducing the frequency of making Jacks or Better, and further increasing the games variance. I started playing at their sports bar, in a short time hitting a quad 3s no kicker ($400) and a quad 6s ($250) and thinking this was going to be easy money, but it didn't take long for me to realize this game was definitely going to be a grind.

    Golden Nugget: Was enjoying VP at the 4Q sports bar, but it was pushing into prime time for poker, so I headed across Fremont for the GN uncapped 1-2 NLH. On the very first orbit I got into another 3-way all-in, but this time a true coin-flip for triple up. I had QQ vs AK and JJ, but the AK hit the flop and held up. I spent the rest of the evening playing catch up, and after a few hours I was able to cash out ahead.

    Back to Four Queens: When I got back, the sports bar was closing (although the VP games remained open) but bartenders were still serving drinks at the front bar, so I played there instead. I did a bit of grinding with a nice sample of drinks. The only item of interest was at one point a homeless woman sat in a bar top next to me with no interest in playing, but just wanted to ask me a bunch of questions. I really feel pity for the homeless, but I won’t give them anything for coming up and asking because this just contributes to the problem. I had told myself if this ever happens again I would call over the bartenders and peacefully deflect the questions to them and they would be happier to deal with them, however the bartenders were on the opposite end of the bar when she got here. She ultimately asks me if I wanted companionship, I tell her firmly no thanks, and after that she finally got up and left the casino. I continue to play and drink until the maids come out and start vacuuming the place, and I realize it is probably time for me to head up to get some sleep.

    End of Day 3

    Thanks again for reading. Feel free to post or PM me if you got any comments or questions or whatever.
     
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  12. RedChip

    RedChip VIP Whale

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    Thanks for the TR! I like reading the details broken down by casino.
     
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  13. tringlomane

    tringlomane STP Addicted Beer Snob

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    Nice report!
     
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  14. mjames1229

    mjames1229 # of visits includes only trips w/ hotel stays

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    I think it is very dependent on the next day's expected occupancy, as well as how nicely you ask.

    Last February I woke up on check-out day with a nasty migraine. I got a 2:00 PM check-out as Diamond just for asking, and they bumped it to 4:00 when a hotel rep came up around 2:00 and he could hear me vomiting while he was talking to my buddy.
     
    10th Annual POKER trip!!!
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  15. JFO

    JFO Low-Roller

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    I absolutely agree with you that calling and asking for something like this ahead of time would probably have worked. I guess what I meant to say was had I slept in without asking ahead of time, it could have been much more uphill after the fact, I don't put it past CET to try to pry as much as they can out of me. But regardless, when I got up for this day, it was simply time to get out and move on.

    Did you also eat at Chipotle?
     
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  16. Kobra2848

    Kobra2848 VIP Whale

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    Late checkout is one of the perks for being diamond. A call the morning of departure would have easily scored you a 2:00 pm checkout. Enjoying the report.

    Mark
     
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  17. JFO

    JFO Low-Roller

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    Your probably right. It is always best to ask. I didn't ask, but according to the CET benefits overview:

    https://www.caesars.com/total-rewards/benefits-overview

    Early Check-In and late Check-Out are only reported for 7-Stars.

    I have learned several other extra benefits that Diamond members get that aren't made public by CET:
    - 2 Vegas show tickets per month
    - Free drinks at any of the bars with no VP play required

    Do you know of any other Diamond benefits that aren't published?
     
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  18. JFO

    JFO Low-Roller

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    Day 4:

    Today was originally going to be just a downtown playing day. However, in the week prior to my trip (long after I set my original travel plans), I learned a number of poker friends from the Red Chip Poker forums were coming in from different parts of the country and would be arriving today. I didn't know the specific times they would arrive, but I had the impression it would be later in the day. However, when I rolled out of bed in the morning, I saw I already had an unexpected text from one of them, Persuadeo, telling me he just arrived at some airport. I responded asking if that was for arrival or departure, got nothing back, so I took a quick shower (in the interesting shower this handicap accessible room had), and hung out in my room a little longer, and shortly got a text back from him that he just touched down at LAS. I agreed to meet him at the Whole Foods just south of the airport.

    Persuadeo: Persuadeo is a professional poker player, professional poker writer (has a blog at persuadeo.nl), and professional poker coach. Normally when I think of poker professionals, I think of people who are in between jobs and they usually don't last very long at it. However, Persuadeo has been at this for over 4 years, playing at stakes much higher than what I do, and successfully grinding out a living.

    There was no traffic on the freeway, and it took me about 20 minutes to get there. I never had breakfast at Whole Foods before, but it was definitely a healthy change. We caught up and chat for a little bit. He told me the rest of the guys wouldn't arrive until later in the day and he needed to wait for them because they were getting the room, all he needed to do was work on some articles which he could do anywhere, and he was agreeable to just come with me to wherever I would have gone, so I took him back downtown. Persuadeo plays poker all over the country, but stays away from all the other casino games, including tables, slots, and video poker.

    The Plaza: We parked at Golden Gate valet, where they confirmed they still valet for just a tip. Walked to the Plaza, where the sports bar was completely empty (although that could be related to it being a weekday morning.) We saw Fernando who had worked there for I believe 28 years. I used to see Fernando all the time stopping at his bar going to and from the parking lot, but the casino stopped validating parking about two years ago, and earlier this year they started charging for valet. I talked to Fernando about the parking situation, and it was pretty clear he wasn't happy about it, I am sure it has caused him to lose a lot of traffic to his bar as his bar is right next to the door to parking. The bar has 9/6 jacks for full points which would be my game. Persuadeo worked on his blog and took some interest in VP while I got drinks for both of us. Shortly into the session I made a straight flush ($250) on a gut-shot draw,

    SF.jpg

    which made the game look far too easy.

    Golden Nugget Again: After an hour or so playing 9/6, Persuadeo finished up his work, and we decided to head to the Golden Nugget to play some uncapped 1-2 NLH. I have played several times with Persuadeo in the past at Red Chip meetups with other coaches, poker authors, and serious students of the game, and I have described those games as knife fights with the lights outs. We started at different tables, which is how I typically play when I am in a public card room with players that I know. But Persuadeo opted to table change when a seat came open at my table, bringing $500 in chips, which was enough to cover everyone’s stack, and caused me to swallow a couple times. Now one high caliber player at a 9-handed low limit NL game normally isn't going to have that much impact, but I know Persuadeo is capable of lighting a game up and putting everyone on tilt, which can sometimes give me trouble. However, I think he held back because this game was playing soft and loose enough that there was no need for any of that. After a short while, I started taking notes on my phone on some of the hands I thought he played interesting that I would ask him about later. After a couple hours, we both decided to break for lunch; we were both ahead, me by a little, and Persuadeo by a lot.

    Golden Nugget Table Poker Progressive High Hand Jackpot Note: In one hand, a player in early position with a pair of 4s missed the flop that got checked around, and then he caught a 4 for a set on the turn. The player tried to trap by checking again, but it got checked around again. Then the player then caught a 4 on the river for quads, bet out for $20, everyone else folded. The player then turned over the quads, but was denied the progressive quads bonus for Quad 4s (maybe around $150) because there was only $17 in the pot, and the pot needs a $20 minimum to qualify for the bonus. The dealer told us that while any discussion of the high hand bonus during a hand would disqualify the hand for the bonus, he told us that locals with a bonus qualifying hand in a small pot will always ask the dealer to "spread the pot" so they can count how much is in the pot (dealers are forbidden to count active pots), which signals to other local players that he has a bonus hand and needs a bet and call large enough to make the pot $20. The player would then usually say to the other players in the hand something like "if you will please just call this bet, I will let you have your call back", and then bet just enough to make the pot $20 with a call, and that is considered not something that would disqualify the bonus. I wanted to report this because visitors who don’t know this may be missing out and just making these progressive high hand jackpots larger for the locals.

    Fremont: We talked about where to go for lunch, and I offered to treat him to the Fremont Paradise Buffet as I still had my ACG 2-for-1 coupons. It was just about 4:00 PM, and there was a line because they were just about to open their Prime Rib Dinner buffet, which came to $16 for both of us with the coupon. Just as I was about to pay I mentioned I would be willing to play "Credit Card Roulette" for this, but then I just paid while he laughed (more on “Credit Card Roulette” later.) I was good to myself here, going to the salad bar twice, and only having just one small piece of prime rib with lots of vegetables. After we ate, I asked about all the hands he played that I took notes on, and he gave me some really good explanations. It doesn't take him long to size up how his opponents are playing, and then to make plays that are maximum exploitive against them.

    The D Vue Bar Again: Persuadeo ordered wine during lunch (not included with the buffet) to have with his Prime Rib, and I had to ask him why he pays for alcoholic drinks when they are free in these casinos. He told me that casino drinks are always made with the cheapest available alcohol. He was probably right for most casino floors and poker rooms, but I felt that made Vue Bar a mandatory next stop.

    We took the one-way escalator up there, Bobby was there watching Monday Night Football, and we took two open bar tops next to him. Bobby was still in very good spirits and seemed to get along real well with Persuadeo. I put $100 in my machine ready to play more 8/5 BP triple-progressives. I put $20 in Persuadeo's machine, set the game to video blackjack (about a 98% game because blackjacks pay 1:1 and the double/split rules are butchered, but much lower variance compared to VP), set it to minimum credits, and told him to just take his time at the game and enjoy the free drinks. He ordered a Manhattan, and I think he agreed they made it right. I didn't have too many drinks because I knew I would be driving later on, but we had a few as I pounded on the progressives and chatted with Bobby and Persuadeo while watching MNF. After a while, Persuadeo got a text that the rest of the guys had touched down, and that we should move closer to our car. We both cashed out exactly what we put into each machine, so our nice drinks only costed us our bartender tips.

    Golden Gate: We walked back to the casino where I was parked while we would wait for his friends to get settled. Golden Gate has a good $25 double deck blackjack game in their high limit room (3:2, h17, DAS) with a good view of the dancers. While the tables on the floor were pretty crowded, the high limit room was empty except for two tables and the pit boss. They allowed Persuadeo to sit at my table while I would play heads up against the dealer, but then they totally freaked out when he pulled out his cell phone to text his friends. I remember when blackjack pits used to really sweat advantage players, but I think now they only sweat being watched on the cameras in fear of getting in trouble. So Persuadeo just stepped away from the table, and I played until the guys were ready. We then picked up my car, tipped the valet, and left.

    The guys were renting a 2 bedroom apartment suite in the Spring Valley area west of the strip, where it appeared the 4 of them from different parts of the country were going to pile in there for the week. The 3 others; ChipXtractor is a serious player who works with School of Cards poker in NY, Fausto is another professional coach, NapNCrash is a very serious player, and several of them would be attending “Solve for Why Elite Poker Academy” later that week. I always enjoy meeting these guys and talking poker with them. It was late and the guys said they were hungry and ready to get something to eat. I mentioned I still had one of my LVA 50% up to $50 all-purpose comps at the Palms, and they agreed to just go to the Palms.

    The Palms / Lucky Penny: We went to the Palms and found the Lucky Penny restaurant. I had already used one $50 coupon last summer when I took my family to a Sunday Champagne Brunch, and I still had the coupon from my wife’s book. Players are limited to using one coupon per year, but I had no idea if Palms kept track of that in my player profile or not. NapNCrash agreed to apply for a new player’s card, and we would use the coupon in his name, which was probably a good thing because they needed his player’s card to process the coupon. Before the coupon, the bill for the 5 of us was almost right at $100, so the coupon brought the bill to $50. The guys wanted to play "Credit Card Roulette" to see who would pay the bill, but they said they would exclude me for contributing the coupon. That worked out very well for me.

    Credit Card Roulette: So Fausto, Persuadeo, NapNCrash, and ChipXtractor all put their credit cards in Fausto's hat and Fausto mixed them up. I would pull 3 credit cards out 1 at a time, read off the name, and hand it back to the owner, with the last credit card in the hat picking up the check. They wouldn't have the first credit card pulled out pick up the check because there wouldn't be enough suspense that way. I probably should have covered and hid the cards in my hands before reading the names, because as soon as ChipXtractor, NapNCrash, and Fausto saw their cards come out, they grabbed them in relief of being safe before I could read their names. Thanks to Persuadeo for having the last card in the hat and picking up our check.

    I first heard of this game the last time I played with these guys a while back at the Mirage. We all went to a swanky Asian restaurant after we finished playing. I got a $30 bowl of noodle soup (one of the cheapest items on the menu), while the coaches were going first class ordering steak, lobster, sushi, multiple glasses of fancy wines, making our combined bill over $600. When they proposed credit card roulette, myself and two other fathers-of-children-not-through-colleges ruined the party because we just wanted to pay our own share of the bill, but I suppose if we all bought items at near the same cost it might have been fun. Most advantage gamblers will try to minimize their variance in the games they play, but no-limit and pot-limit poker players very much need to embrace variance to get the most edge at those games, so these guys are constantly making silly bets with each other over coin flip type situations. (This would have been a rather bad bet for those of us who didn’t order as much as others.)

    LVA Coupon Note: Just this past week LVA announced their 2019 coupon list, and the Palms $50 all- purpose comp coupon is gone, replaced by a 2-for-1 Palms buffet, a substantial devaluation. However, LVA has a promo going on now where you can get their 2019 coupon book for just depositing $5 onto their partner fantasy sports site and then playing in just one game; and I find that is a very good deal.

    More 4 Queens: After dinner I said good bye to the guys, they went back to their rental apartment, and I drove back to the 4 Queens. I wanted to give 4Q more play, so I went straight to the 40/10/6 DDB. After a while of playing and not able to hit anything, I decided I would just play some soft lower variance 9/6 JoB because this would be my last night in Vegas.

    Since I joined VMB, I have read a lot of trip reports where players will post all of their quads and 4-Royal bad beats. Well, after giving up on DDB, about 15 minutes of playing JoB I drew this hand after being dealt trip Aces:

    BQ.jpg

    Those of you VP players familiar with DDB, probably know this situation quite well, and can probably tell me if it is better celebrating the $125 win, or just throwing a tantrum.

    They don't offer the same drinks on the floor as they do at the bars, so I decided I would finish the evening back at the bar. There were a bunch of drunken woman getting loud and wild at the front bar, so I figured if I sat near them, the homeless women wandering through would leave me alone. I checked through the progressives there, found the 15/9 DW44 at $2600 for 0.50 full coin, and decided that should be good enough. I don't believe much in the supernatural when it comes to gambling as Nevada casinos are required by law to shuffle and deal video poker completely random, but if there are “Video Poker Gods”, they were definitely laughing at me tonight, dealing me at least 2 natural quads (non deuces) and not being able to improve on either of them (paying $10 at DW44 0.50 full coin), and I finally went to my room trying to forget this final evening on an otherwise good trip.

    END OF DAY 4

    The final day should be much shorter.
    Thanks again very much for reading, and I hope all of you have a Happy New Year!
    As always, if you have any thoughts, comments or questions, feel free to post here or PM me!
     
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  19. JFO

    JFO Low-Roller

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2018
    Messages:
    158
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    20
    Day 5

    I had a former coworker, DS, who moved to Vegas years ago and now does contract work all over the Western USA. I haven’t seen him in about 8 years, and we missed each other the last several trips, but he would be flying in from Hawaii this morning, and we had planned to try to catch up today for breakfast or lunch. When I woke up I had a message for him that he landed in LA and was waiting for his connection here.

    Four Queens Checkout: The Four Queens players club cuts their players a check for 0.31% of their VP coin-in, and in will add an additional 0.62% of their VP coin-in back to a hotel comp account just for asking. I got my check and took it straight to the cage to cash it out, and my comps were more than enough to cover my room, and probably a couple meals at Hugo’s for another trip. I packed my car and played a bit at the Vue bar drinking coffees with different liquors (not too much of course) waiting for DS to arrive.

    Red Rock: DS lives in the Red Rock area, and because I had never been that way before, I agreed to meet him at the Red Rock casino/hotel. I found it a very nice off strip place, but a bit far from the strip and downtown. Neither the ACG or LVA have any gambling match plays or free plays, but LVA has a 2-for-1 buffet, so I treated us for lunch, $12+tip for both of us. DS just plays two games, blackjack and baccarat, and he plays for moderate to high stakes. We've played blackjack together before, we play differently, and we poke fun at each other for how we play.

    I talked him into playing at a DD game first ($25 min, 3:2, H17, DAS) The game played out of a shoe, and I observed when the dealer would slide the cards out of the shoe towards us, the cards would frequently get nicked by some strange light fixtures protruding out of the table and spread across the insurance arc. After a couple observations of him getting cards caught in these lights, I had to ask the dealer what they were for. He then stopped dealing and went into a long explanation of a proposition bet they are used for, which I understood worked like buying insurance before the hand. I believe the bet does nothing if the dealer doesn't show an Ace, but if he does show an Ace AND has a ten under it, the lights go into some type of frenzy for winning the prop bet. Neither of us played it. I did well here, but DS wasn't and after a little bit he wanted to change tables.

    So DS takes us to a 6-Deck shoe ($25 min, 3:2, H17, DAS, LS), and as much as I hate playing 6 decks with H17, it would probably be my last game for this trip so I agreed to play. At this table, DS kept getting dealt 20s and blackjacks, while I was getting 15s, 16s, and some 11s that hit 2s and 3s on double downs. He would press his bets and play $25 on the prop bet (Royal Match, or something like that) and hitting them, and every time I am dealt a hand that would have hit whatever that prop was he tells me I should have bet the prop. Once he gets to +$500 net win (including his loss from the last table) he decides it is time to stop playing, I am net down $100 from both tables and I stop also. After we cash our chips and are walking to the car, he keeps telling me how I need to press my bets more when I am winning, and I just smile because I know better than getting into a deep blackjack discussion with my friend, especially after he won. But it was great seeing him again.

    Rental Car Refuel: It’s about 20 minutes from Red Rock to the airport. Once I got near the airport, my Gas Buddy App showed me an Arco station with gas about 10c per gallon cheaper than everywhere else. However, when I got there, there was a sign up saying cash or debit only. I had plenty of cash, but really didn't feel like taking it out, going inside, getting in line, and waiting to save 60-70 cents. I stuck in my debit card, and then it told me there was a fee for using the debit card, which annoyed me enough that I just drove over to a Chevron where I paid a tad extra so I could pay with my credit card at the pump. (Sorry, it was a slow day)

    Return Flight: The LAS airport was emptier than I had ever seen it, a TSA agent told me that was normal for this airport Tuesday afternoons. I had a standard AA MileSAAver award for 12500 AA miles for this flight, and I got to select my seat with this award. On the flight back I was looking forward to my next trip.

    End of Day 5

    I definitely met my goal of getting other places beyond Boyd to send me offers, by the time I wrote this report I already got plenty of offers from the places I visited. My solo trip are never well planned, but I think I would be doing myself a huge favor if I tried to plan my meals more meals in advance when I come here, so by always knowing my next meal I’d probably not hit those buffets as hard. But I don’t think I will ever be able to plan Vegas trips that well.

    End of Trip Report

    Thanks again for reading. Please feel free to either post or message me any comments, questions, or whatever.

    Hope you are all having a great new year!
     
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  20. miss_sonja

    miss_sonja High-Roller

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2009
    Messages:
    559
    Location:
    NW
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    7
    Love the poker sharp stories.
     
    First Comp, I couldn't NOT book it, could I?
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