Wednesday, May 6, 2009

A recent parlay

With the remaining part of my Vegas budget burning a hole in my proverbial pocket, I decided to make a $50 deposit at good old Absolute Poker during one of their 100% match bonus times. Although I qualified for only a whopping $5 bonus, over the past week I have won two and cashed in an additional seven $5 or less tournaments. I just cashed out $150 of my $282 bankroll for an additional $100 win off my initial Vegas investment. Woohoo!
davdison - absolute poker/ultimate bet

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Stop #25 - Golden Gate (last stop)

After quick stops at Del Taco & In-N-Out Burger for takeout for the plane, we head back to the Golden Gate to retrieve our luggage and redeem our coupons for free decks of cards. As they were all out, we got dice and a keychain, which is just as good. Also, they told me that my card had been assigned $5 in slot play per day (doh! why didn't I check this on Saturday when we first went to Downtown!?) so I was able to turn that into a nice $7 win for my last free money of the trip.

Tucking my remaining $ into my pocket, we head for the airport. Arriving there, I input Davy's confirmation number and out pops his boarding pass. Heading for the Delta area, I put mine in to get this message in red "IT IS TOO LATE TO CHECK IN FOR THIS FLIGHT" showing a flight departure time of 7:20 PM (at this point it is almost 9:00 PM.) Panicked, I check my itinerary. Sure enough, I had written down the ARRIVAL time instead of the departure time. OMG OMG.

Thinking on my feet, I remember a rule from my flyertalk time - the so-called "Flat tire rule." Rushing to the counter, I inform him of my unfortunate flat tire. Looking like he trusts me just about as far as he can throw me, the gate agent nonetheless finds me a flight, with the same connecting flight out of Atlanta for an on time arrival. Unfortunately, this costs $50 which I begrudgingly hand over.

The agent assigns me a comfy bulkhead. Upon finding out that movies cost $6 and games are $5, I decide sleep is preferred. Unfortunately, the lady next to me was headed home for emergency surgery and the poor thing kept fidgeting and waking me up. As I had to be at work at noon (with a 9:30 AM arrival time from my red eye,) I was truly red eyed.

I finally arrived in Richmond on time, and paid $28 for my airport parking. In all, I came home from Vegas with $316, for a total trip cost of $284 for two people, including airfare, hotel, car rental, buffets, steak, lobster, show tickets, airline fiascos, enough booze to float a boat, and a weekend of gambling. Not too shabby.

Stop #24 - Big Horn?

After the depressing Riviera, we headed for the seedy Big Horn casino (I’ll give the caveat here that I’m not actually sure whether we went to the Big Horn or the Long Horn cause I had a coupon for both and I only went to one. If the description sounds wrong to you, please let me know.)

The place kind of looked like a Western Diner and it must be a local Hispanic hangout, because everyone there, including the staff was Hispanic. The cashier was a tiny cage in the corner and that was also where you got your player’s card. I ordered a pina colada, but they said they didn’t have any, but they had strawberry daiquiris. Believe it or not, they were FANTASTIC and I quickly got a brain freeze from trying to drink it too fast.

Through my throbbing eyes, I look down at a blackjack table. Davy attempted to sit at third base again, but I nipped that right in the bud. Negative – wait your turn! The dealer made a mistake on the hand he was dealing and accidentally hit a guy who waved off, pit boss came out and made an awesome ruling which made everyone at the table winners, so they were feeling good.

My first hand – Blackjack! Hell yes - $30 richer. Davy’s hand was a 14 against a dealer eight. Sarcastically looking at me and asking if he should hit, I give him a shove and does. It’s a seven! OH YES - $20 more. After tipping the wonderful maven who informed me of the daiquiris, we left there with $395.

Stop #24 - Riviera

The Riviera reminded me of an empty Hilton built in the seventies. Everything was kind of dated in a used-to-be-fancy kind of way. The place was relatively empty and the patrons looked like an ad for gamblers’ anonymous. There was a guy peddling lotion at a little dingy shop on the way in. Heading for the player’s club, we are informed that there are two promotions – one is you pay $20 for $40 in slot money that can only be used on special machines and only pays for a jackpot (hrmm….uh no.) The other is that new members have their choice of a free show ticket (Crazy Girls, etc.) or a randomly awarded slot play of $1 - $500. Davy says “Slot play,” which of course makes my decision as I’m not going to a show alone. He gets $1, I get $2, which nets us nothing because we stick our meager $3 winnings into a Harley Davidson slot. Should have taken the tickets.


Stop #23 - Stratosphere

I was already a member of the Stratosphere club, so I didn’t get to get any of their new member bonuses (which are pretty good.) However, any member can ask for a fun book at the front desk – one per week – and they will give it to you. Inside is a $25 blackjack bonus (doubles your payout if you hit a blackjack) and a $10 matchplay. We play our matchplays at the single zero roulette (I think this is the only one in Vegas.) I’m on black and he’s on odd. Black 29 – OH YEAH winner. $40 richer, we head over to the blackjack where I proceed to have my ass handed to me repeatedly. I lose our $40 and never hit a blackjack to get the bonus. Bastards…

Back at $347 (after tips.)

Stop #22 - Terrible's

On caveat about Terrible’s – they recently combined all of their casinos onto one card, so there is no longer a sign on bonus for each casino. We both head to Terrible’s to receive some free loot. New members get a nice looking t-shirt and a deck of cards, plus $5 in slot play, and an entry into their slot tournament – which happens at special machines anytime you want. After getting our stuff, we head for the tournament machines. Davy scores an 800, while I get what I thought was an impressive 3200. Looking at the leader board – you would need at least 4,100 to qualify for a prize. Oh well. I get a pina colada within seconds of sitting down and my $5 nets me $8. Davy wants to go to the eBay machine, which was in the middle of hitting a shared bonus. I point out the idiocy of this (can’t hit another bonus while one is going on and $5 doesn’t last for more than 10 spins.) Davy gets pissed off and goes to the Bonus 7’s machine and hits max bet and quickly stops the reels – glaring at me. It his for $32! Quickly pushing the cashout button, I again get him to switch machines. There’s another Bonus 7’s on the other side. Davy puts in the remaining $4, and hits this one for $38. HA! I may (ok probably not) forgive him for the hard 14. Total winnings from Terribles = $78, which, after tips for the waitress, puts the pocket money at $349.

Terrible's is not so terrible after all.

Stop #21 - Jerry's Nugget

With our bellies full of lobster and questionable meat, we head out for Jerry’s Nugget. To our surprise, there are lots of goodies in store for us at the Nugget. Upon signing up, you get a rather nice Jerry’s Nugget t-shirt, $5 in slot play, and a chance to spin the Jerry’s prize wheel on the kiosk (prizes range from a match play to $50 cash.) I won a $10 matchplay and Davy won a $5 matchplay. Since that’s what we were here for, not too shabby. We sit down at the $2 blackjack table. There is only one other guy there, playing $100 a hand. Seemed strange, but whatever.

First two hands ($5) are winners, so I go for my $10 matchplay next. Getting an 11 against a dealer five, I double down. Ouch, I catch an ace. I turn to Davy just in time to hear him motion for a hit. Looking at his hand – I am ready to come across the table – he has a farking hard 14!! He catches an eight and dealer gets a five to go along with her fifteen.

What happens next is not for the ears of children, so I’ll just move on. Total money in the pocket $274.

I have one question is hitting on hard fourteen a cause of action in divorce?

Monday, May 4, 2009

Stop #20 - The Lucky Club

The Lucky Club was possibly the seediest casino I have ever seen. The interior was reminiscent of night clubs of my youth - with black painted walls and overly loud music. However, they had an amazing deal for Lucky Club members in the restaurant. $3.99 got you steak and three fried shrimp, while $6.99 got you steak & a lobster tail. Vegetables were free, but you had to pay $1 for a baked potato, and $1.25 for a salad. (I missed the free potato & salad at Ellis Island!) The steak was an overly marbled NY Strip, but the lobster was delish! I was able to use the ACG drink coupon for free drinks with my meal. I'm always up for lobster with a side of desperation.

After signing up for their club, we were given $5 free slot play and a little ticket for $10 matchplay. DO NOT give the players club your $5 matchplay, as that has to be played directly at table. The $10 matchplay ticket is a gimmick that you can only redeem after playing for 30 minutes at $5 per hand. Bleh. My $5 earned me $6.50 and Davy earned $5.50, for a net profit of $12. My matchplay was a winner, while Davy’s was a loser, for another $5. With the $17 winnings, subtracting the $23 dinner tab we spent $6 on our lobster dinner for two.

Pocket now contains $284.

Stop #19 - The Poker Palace

The Poker Palace was pretty far from the Cannery. This dive is all one story and has a pretty large parking lot, which was surprisingly full. The security guard at the door seemed bored and full of doughnuts. The place was set up kind of strange and the walls were covered in mirrors. We had to loop around to find the players club. After signing up, we were offered Sun shades as free gifts for new players. I spotted a cheap little backpack – the drawstring kind that the kids use at sports practice - and asked very nicely if I could have that instead. Score! My nephew was really excited as he loves those little backpacks.

We took our matchplay over to the $1 blackjack table. We lost both of them. However, I had been trying to find an available $1 blackjack table all weekend and here one was, so we bought in for $5 a piece. After about 20 minutes, we were able to get our bankroll up to $18 & $12 – for an absolute break even. Pretty good considering we had tipped for a few cocktails along the way. We skeedaddled out of the Poker Palace so I wouldn’t have to contract syphilis in the bathroom there.

Stop #18 - The Cannery

As I headed north out of Downtown on Monday, my first stop was the Cannery. Ostensibly designed to look like an industrial building, it really didn’t seem all that industrial to me. They were out of the Cannery t-shirts that were supposed to be freebies, so instead I got a t-shirt that said Cannery on the front and “It’s my birthday” on the back. I hinted that I’d rather have free slot play, but my pleas fell on deaf ears. I did, however, get to hit the new player bingo ball. I was awarded a few thousand points that were good the next day. As I would be in Virginia the next day, oh well.

The matchplay earned us a $10 profit and we broke even with the WIN cards. $290 in the pocket because I had already spent $18 on breakfast at the Golden Gate (which was surprisingly hearty and good.)

Fitz of Laughter

You know what’s better than a free comedy show – a free comedy show when you’re totally sloshed. Kevin Burke is hilarious and this was a great freebie. Since we had eaten at Ellis Island at a grandma-like early bird hour, we were able to make the 9:13 (why anything in Vegas uses the number 13, I don’t know) show time. After snacks and cocktails, we left there with $298, weary, and headed to the Golden Gate to check in.

Stop #17 - Ellis Island

At this point, as I should not be driving anywhere, I decide to go ahead and drive to Ellis Island for some much needed dinner. Those crab legs from the AM are long since forgotten and I’m ready for a nice steak special.

The waiting list at Ellis Island restaurant is a typical 45 minutes. After getting on the list, and visiting the little cocktail drinkers room, we head over to the Player’s Club area. It’s basically a cash register over in the corner. We’re told that 5000 points will be deposited onto our card that we can use the next day. Well, I’m way too lazy to remember that – so those points are STILL on my card right now :P.

I redeem my coupon for the $10 slot plays and head straight to the bar with my 4 free drinks coupon. I am told that you must use the coupon for four drinks AT ONCE. I opt for two pina coladas and two bottles of water. I think Davy got the same order again about ten minutes later.

My $10 in free play entertains me until the table is ready. I end up cashing out only $2 and Davy has given the machine $5 of his own money, for a net loss of $3. You really shouldn’t slot machine drunk. No wonder the drinks are free!

We sit down to dinner with $345 after tips and slot playing. The steak was AMAZING although the waitress (who was in fact busting her ass) was not very bright. She messed up several things and forgot our silverware for 10 minutes. Luckily, we’re happy drunks so we didn’t really care. Plus, the tastiness of the meat helped. At $6.99 (including your baked potato, vegetables and a fresh brew) it just could not be beat. With tax, tip and sodas, our total came to $24. My BOGO coupon from ACG was rejected as it said “menu item” and the special is not a menu item. Too good to care. We left Ellis Island with $321.

BTW - the restaurant placemat included a $5 matchplay coupon. After playing our matchplay coupons from the restaurant and ACG, we ended up breaking even.

Stop #16 - The Wynn

Next stop was the even more opulent Wynn. Never have I been to two places in such succession where I obviously did not belong. Like Planet Hollywood, the Wynn forces self parkers to go through their shopping area, including the Ferrari store. For $10, you can go in and look at the cars (free for Ferrari owners.) Not even living in the same zip code as a Ferrari owner, we passed on that waste of money.

Heading towards the Player’s Club area, I spied the spinning wheel for new players that I saw advertised on the sign. Word was that the minimum spin value was $10. Well, it’s a bunch of hooey. In order for a new member to get to spin said wheel, s/he must earn 100 points ($100 coin in on slots.) Now, were I planning to do something OTHER than a coupon run, that would be good, but since that’s not the case – boo.

If you give the Wynn your email address (or your neighbor’s email address :) ) they give you $10 slot play. I’m apparently pathetic, because my $10 became $3 in winnings, but Davy slapped them for a nice $17. Net profit = $20. While playing the slots, I was visited by about three different cocktail waitresses. That meant three dollars went into tips for my tasty cocktails. By this point, I was fairly sauced and we left the Wynn with our $17 in winnings. $352 in our pockets.

Stop #15 - The Venetian

Down $1 from my valet tip, I enter the Venetian with $299. This casino is opulence at its finest. It is interesting to note the difference between the patrons at one casino to the next. This is definitely the place to go and lose all of Daddy’s money.

We make a beeline to the Player’s services area to get our free money. With our card, we get a handy “chain” which is actually kind of pretty and girly and I like it.

My $15 turns into a healthy bonus win of $23 and Davy turns his into $13. Total pillaging of the Venetian = $36 for a new total of $335 funds remaining.

Stop #14 - Excalibur

Excalibur is kind of Medieval Times meets casino. It’s extremely large, so we opted for valet parking. The process was relatively speedy. We head up to the Player’s Services area to get the certificates for the WIN card. $20 and we get back two $15 packets. I put $10 on the pass line at craps and get paid twice before the shooter craps out. The Davy puts his $10 on the pass line and the point is a six. We put the remaining $15 on the odds. Shooter makes his point and we’re up to a total of $50. Remaining bets are all losers for a total win of $30. Now, we’re back up to $420.

Flush with coupon money, we decide to enter the 12:00 WSOP Satellite tournament for $60 each. Unbeknownst to us, it is a *rebuy* tournament. I get pushed all in by 9 high, who then hits a runner runner straight. Davy fares no better. Now we’re back down to $300. C’est la vie!

I know this was stop number 14, but it sure felt like 13!

As if I didn't already feel kicked in the teeth - I find out that I could have used this coupon to get one of those $60 entries for free. I must go kill myself now.

Stop #13 -The Silverton

Let me just say – I love the Silverton! This casino is a lot nicer than I expected, both from its location and outside appearance. It’s quite posh, but with a nice lodge feel as well. After signing up for the slot club, they loaded $10 free play onto my card. I gave them my bogo buffet coupon, which they exchanged for a coupon that could actually be used at the buffet. Also, all new players signing up get a voucher for a FREE night in the hotel (based on availability of course) for any time in the next two months. The pictures of the rooms are really nice. For posterity sake, I should have gotten one, but I already had two rooms for Sunday night and that would have just been silly.

My $10 slot play became $21 in real money and Davy took his machine for $37. Total free money = $58!! (Now $417)

We went over to the buffet. It was Sunday brunch for $18.99. With our coupon, total was $21 or so. (Back down to $396.) Ended up tipping various buffet line people because they were awesome, so another $6 there.

Let me just tell you, this was the best buffet I had in Vegas, and maybe one of the best buffets I ever had. This was not your typical breakfast buffet. First of all, there was all you can drink champagne, but they had various champagne drinks as well – mimosa, bellini, mango, raspberry – um, just yumminess.

There was a full omelet bar, crab legs, shrimp, pastas, sausages, sushi – you name it! I personally attempted to ensure the future extinction of all crab. I think I made a valiant effort.

I tipped the waitress $10 because she was amazing. She kept the drinks flowing, and even brought me a warm wet towel and some lemons so I wouldn’t smell like a fishery all day. I truly had a great experience here and I can say whole heartedly that I would pay full price for this buffet. (Ok, not really, because I would never be without my coupons!!) It was really worth the money, though.

At this point, I have $380, a full belly and happy times.

Stop #12 - Buffalo Bill's

Wow – I-15 has got to be the most boring road in the world. Straight as a pin, it extends from Las Vegas to Los Angeles. Along the way are stops in South Las Vegas, Jean & Primm, NV (my final destination.) It’s a long, dull half hour to Primm. After getting off at the exit, we make a left. Seeing Buffalo Bill’s up and to the left, I am directed by Davy (who’s already been here) to make a left turn at the next light. WRONG!! That puts me back on I-15 North. With absolutely no turn-arounds, I am forced to drive all the way to Jean (17 miles!!) and then loop back. Wondering if misdirection is cause for justifiable homicide, I finally arrive back in Primm. After making the left at the SECOND light, I pull into Buffalo Bill’s.

The parking lot leaves a lot to be desired, as it is jam packed. I wander looking for a spot for several minutes. There are about a million motorcycles here and with the RV park across the street, I realize we’re not in Kansas any more. Can’t really knock the clientele who are there for the same $6 a day deal that we are.

I finally elect for valet parking and head up to my room. I barely glance at the room, take a quick shower, and collapse into the bed. Tip for the valet costs me $1, so I'm going to bed with $359 tucked into my pants.

The following morning in Primm, I decided to take advantage of an advertised special. They offered you up to $20 in free slot play if you bring them a receipt from their gas station. I proceeded to pump $20 into the rental car and presented my receipt. Along with my free money, they also gave me a cute t-shirt that said “Welcome to fabulous Primm, Nevada.” My $20 turned into $36. About to leave, I discovered $2 craps and decided to play. Unfortunately, there went my winnings as I crapped out with only $20. Oh well, nothing ventured – nothing gained. I did, however have a full tank of gas and a t-shirt out of the deal, with the same money in my pocket. Seemed good to me!

Stop #11 - The Plaza

After the Vegas Club, we were on to the Plaza. What’s nice is that it’s the same player’s card as the Club, so we didn’t have to stand in another line. Making a beeline to the blackjack table, we played our matchplays. Davy gets a 19 and get a 20. Dealer has 17. Woot! Thanks for the free $40, Plaza! Total funds = $360.

Stop #10 - Las Vegas Club

The Las Vegas Club was actually nicer than I expected. Way in the back near the bathrooms, we found the players club. First, I turned in the $5 printable coupon. The nice lady at the player’s club also gave us two free “Plaza” key chains for signing up. Matchplays in hand, we head for the blackjack table. The dealer must have liked us, because she busted every single time. $5 became $15. $10 of that became $30, meaning we both won $30. After a $5 tip for the beautiful blackjack dealer, we walked away with $55. Total remaining funds = $320.

Stop #9 - Fitzgerald's

We made a quick stop at Fitzgerald's for our free show tickets. I was given my choice of the comedy show or the country music show. I chose comedy and Davy chose country music. That way we could see whichever one we felt like it. I then proceeded to waste $2 in a slot machine hoping to get served a cocktail. Remaining funds $265.

Stop #8 - Four Queens

The Four Queens is quite small, or maybe it’s just because the ceiling is so much lower than the strip casinos. It was completely packed this Saturday night though! After getting in line at the Player’s Club we turned in our vouchers (from the club line) for the Win cards and proceeded to the cage. Turning in the twenty dollars we were handed two win card packs for $15 each plus 2 $1 dealer tips. I went straight for the blackjack table. $5 a hand didn’t last long and unfortunately, I only got up with $10 in real chips.

Davy’s first hand was a blackjack, but then nothing, so he got up with $7.50. Nursing our $2.50 loss, we headed to the craps table for our matchplay. In went my $10 with my coupon and voila – I won! I gave Davy my same $10, and it was unfortunately a loser. Still, we left with $27.50 for a $7.50 win at that casino. Total remaining funds = $267.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Stop #7 - Main Street Station

At Main Street Station, we are instructed to turn in our Printable Coupons for actual vouchers for BOGO buffet. The player’s club is near the hotel registration area. After an amusing incident where one old lady told another old lady where to find the line, followed by several heavily accented “Goddammit”s from the second old lady, I got my voucher. Total price for two buffets with drink = $16.

We lucked out, as there was some sushi on the buffet that was quite delicious. The quantity was limited, so Davy & I went ahead and took it all J Overall, this buffet had none of my usual crab legs, but was an absolute steal for $8 a piece. The food was much better than your usual buffet fare. Avoid the dessert area though, as most of those tasted like pastries from the dollar tree.

After our $4 tip and various buffet line tips, our remaining funds were $260.

Stop 6 - El Cortez

We’ve decided to have dinner at Main Street Station, so I head in that general direction for some more gambling fun. I head to El Cortez for my $10 in free slot play fun. I find out, much like Hard Rock, it is a “bonus play” situation. This downtown casino is actually pretty cool, with some delicious pina coladas. My $10 is turned into $23 on a slot machine, and Davy eeks $7 out of his. $30 richer, we hop back into the car to go to Main Street Station for some much needed gluttony.

Stop #5 - Gold Coast

After attempting unsuccessfully to locate the Rampart Marriott, we headed to the Gold Coast Casino for some free drinks and $5 matchplay.

The parking lot was fairly empty and it was easy to park right next to the elevator. The elevator led directly into the casino and the bar was only a few steps away. Handing over my coupons and a $1 tip, I ordered two tasty Fuzzy Navels and headed for the craps table. My pass line bet was a winner and so was Davy’s. Net win = $20. Total remaining funds = $235.

On our way out, I noticed a machine called Crystal Diamonds or something like that. Because my name is Crystal, I popped out a five dollar bill and clicked max bet. Winner! $9. Now, Davy wanted his turn. He popped my ticket into the enormous eBay machine and bet 50 cents. One click and he was in the bonus round for $8. With that $17, we are now at $252.

Stop #4 - Palms Casino

The Palms casino was larger than I expected. Upon finding the player’s club, I requested the WIN cards. I received a lot of blank stares and was informed “That must be a table game thing.” I tried a few more clueless employees before giving up on that route. Davy & I used both of our matchplays on roulette. I played odd and he played red. Winner – 10 Black. Ouch!

Remaining budget - $216

Waylaid by a growling belly

On the way to the next stop, Davy threatens to eat my arm if he doesn't get some food. $14 at the Panda Express on the way shuts him and my own gurgling belly up. Remaining funds = $236.

Stop #3 - Planet Hollywood

Now on to Planet Hollywood. This monolith is directly on the strip. Traffic getting there from the Hard Rock was a bear and I wish we had found a side road to take, considering the parking entrance is actually not off of Las Vegas Boulevard. After parking, we have to walk all the way to the Las Vegas Blvd. entrance to find the Player’s Club. When I say all the way, I mean like half a mile through a never-ending circular mall. For God's sake - use valet parking here! I ask about the sign on bonus and she explains to me that you get $5 free slot play. If you earn 4 points ($40 coin in) you get an additional $15 slot play. You also get a nice coupon book with a $25 match play coupon.

I play my $5 and win $9. Davy plays his $5 and wins $13. We also get a couple of nice pina coladas and are pretty happy at this point. $3 in tips go to the waitress. We opt to parlay the $22 pay out and see if we can earn 4 points. After 30 more $1 spins, I have my 3 points (and $27.) The $15 earns us a pitiful $6 return, but we’re still up to $32. We decide to parlay again and earn the four points on Davy’s card. This netted us $34 in winnings. New budget = $225.

We cautiously head to the craps table with our matchplays. $50 is a crapload of money and if we hadn’t just won $34 of it, I would have been even more scared. Again, we are shut down on the pass/don’t pass idea. I play my $25 on the pass line and win. Davy loses. Net win = $25. Whew! Current remaining funds $250.