TRIP REPORT: Jan 17-25 I met up with old friend Jerry and his family for a couple days and guided a newer friend Jill to show her around Vegas.
HOTEL ROOMS: Stayed at Fiesta Henderson the entire week with $30 weekends and $11 weeknights on a mailer that was supposed to end in December, but when I called they extended. Some extra charges, the energy tax and $10 for the phone. Still a good deal. Nice rooms, better than the cheaper rooms downtown. Clean and with coffee pot and hair dryer but no safe. Very quiet. Still in the Reserve style with zebras and gazelle and tasteful leopard skin bedcovers and curtains. Just fine unless you needed Mexico up here too.
Two major highways systems make it very easy to get to downtown, to the strip from east or west, or to Boulder Strip. Boulder by back road is very close anyway, with Joker’s Wild just down the road and around the corner.
I liked being able to park so close to the elevator. If you park near the pool, behind the volleyball court, and use that entrance, the elevator is just ten steps inside. I got in at 3:30 AM on my last night and there was a spot first in the row, so my checkout suitcase pull was the shortest I ever remember and no awkward trip through the casino.
The food was great, but one of the music at the Fiesta was very good. Arizona Charlie’s Boulder is a similar type of casino, but I’ve liked the music better. Fiesta was dark more than it was alive. The guitar bar was a disappointment.
I keep a lifetime account of my gambling. Thanks to a $1000 Fiesta 10/7 DB Royal, the $685 I won gambling ended a long stretch of losses or small wins. I don’t add in comps or tips. But this time I used over $60 in food comps and got cheap rooms based on prior play, so perhaps I should begin account for them somewhere too. The $685 brought me up to + $2150 lifetime score. Not a bad hobby. Sure beats golf!
I still try to set the dice. I must not have it right. I did think I had longer rolls, but did not repeat numbers enough to make a profit in any session. My last roll saw me throw eight 4’s 9’s and 10’s with my money on 5’s 6’s and 8’s. I then hit the 8 only to seven out. Still these Fiesta tables are great for low rollers, a dollar on the line and ten behind. In the morning I could play alone and really practice rolling. Great, helpful, friendly dealers. Easy tables. The spirit here is not the loud whoop-de-doo I’m on vacation hoo-haw or Casino Royale, but it is not the downtown meeting of grumpy old men either.
Okay, so once again I tried the big league seven card stud players at Bellagio in the 4-8 structured game and once again got beat. This time I quit at a little under $200, after the barefoot Chinese guy took me again in a big pot which I started with my rolled up tens and ended with the same, losing to his damn straight. Last time he beat me with a river pulled nines full house while I limped out with never filled Kings up. And he always takes such pleasure beating me. Barefoot poker at the ritzy Bellagio! That’s Vegas!
Later I played at the Palms and found a game of $3- $6 stud with no ante and much loser players. I did not get great cards often. I broke exactly even over about four hours of play. I liked the game. The players bet into and called me even when I indicated high cards and had played tight a long while waiting. Lots of little bonus pots for four of a kind and straight flushes too. I did not hit any, but they were fun to think about. They gave me a $10 food comp, without asking, when I left. I like that a lot. In fact, I like the Palms casino in general.
I played quarter 10/7 DB at Fiesta Henderson and the Palms last week. I hit a Royal in clubs at Fiesta. Great fun. I liked the machines at the Palms better. They were newer, with tickets, and large card displays. The sounds worked. Fiesta had most of the 10/7 machines places placed near the doors and it was drafty. I finally found comfort at one bank near the Sportsbook tree. No crowds here, however. Great little casino for peace and quiet. No lines to check in or out, to eat, to check comp points. Mostly locals here. Four 10/7 nickle “double on” machines require max bets of ten play and others had similar ten play Bonus Poker 8/5. That is fifty cents a spin. Not a nice as the old Fiesta nickel games, but still pretty cheap fun.
I play a very tight strategy based on the Zamzow VP tutor and Tomski’s strategy sheet maker. I bring Dancer’s report and the color coded sheets with me and look up hard hands. I know that is not what the pro’s do, as they play fast for so many dollars per hour, but I take my time to watch a pretty girl, sip my free brandy, and enjoy the study of the hand as much as the rest of the play. I don’t want it to be a job with a time clock. I want to have fun. I just don’t want to lose in the long run. Played this way 10/7 is never boring It is not as exciting as live poker, but there are always things to consider and think through.
Once again, carrying my sheets attracted the attention of other players. A nearby fellow and wife were almost laughing at me for correctly holding a bare ace rather than an offsuited king (when the penalty cards were right). It takes me a while to be sure what to do there (Is there a card under six? Is there a flush penalty? Is there an unsuited ace?) so his arrogance was annoying. I tried to engage them, show them my literature, etc, but they were so sure they had perfectly learned the strategy last summer, even though they had no real idea of the difference in the various games. Once I heard her say that she did not care what “the book” said, she was holding the “winner.“ Ironically, she was picking two jacks over a four card flush of small cards, so her guilt and protest were unnecessary; she was playing by “the book.“ While I hear that the dollar and fifty cent 10/7 machines are drying up or slowing down around Vegas, I guess these folks will keep 10/7 quarters in the casinos for a while, as few really play anything close to the recommended strategy. I was glad that they did not see me split the three ace’s out of two full houses that day. I’d have never heard the end of it. Luckily, I was able to see them later and brag about my $250 winnings. While the win had more to do with standard deviation than any strategy, it did set his dentures back a notch, as he was just below even. The VP did well for me this week. Even had I missed the royal, I would have been a couple hundred ahead in VP and that covered other, poorer gambles.
Played my first 10/7 VP tournament at Fiesta with paid entry and another lucky 7’s slot tournament at Sunset Station that was free as part of a radio promotion for the new broadcast studio there. I got a free Sunset Station T -shirt as well just for visiting the studio. I heard them on the radio and went in at the last minute. No lines for T-shirts, even though the casino was full of people. No luck in either tournament.
RICHOCHET- This game at Fiesta was new for me, a cross between craps, roulette and Chuck a Luck. Three dice. You bet on a layout with your own colored chips, picking what pairs will show with what other number. The shooter rolls until a six one show paying off any pairs that show. Trip bets and some other bets possible too. I don’t know the house advantage or odds on individual bets, but it was fun to watch. Since it is new, I assume it is tough to beat, but you never can tell. Foxwood’s Catch a Wave proved to be as good a Blackjack as long as you used perfect strategy.
IMPERIAL PALACE- Before I came Jill spent two nights at the Imperial Palace using that $30 winter special. Because she was brand new they gave her a coupon for $100 in Blackjack $5 matchplay plus two mathcplay coupons . That means 22 hands that pay 2-1! We got terrible cards and still wound up $10 ahead. A great deal.
From now on I’m just going to the points counter every day to ask about specials and confirm advertisements. That is the only way to keep up with these tricky casino promotions. One day Fiesta had a couple coupons for seniors that had not been mailed to me. Another day they had 5X points advertised on a slinger in my room, but nothing told me I must up to the counter and tell them to credit my play as 5X the points. Otherwise, I’d have played all day and missed the promotion. A similar thing happened when Gold Coast offered to add a couple thousand if I played during my birthday month. I was there and made the trip to play, but the points were not added automatically. Two months later, it took me two women and three returns in two hours to get them to add them in. In the fine print it is only the locals who get the deal automatically. The out of state crowd must tell them they played. Don’t assume anything. Ask them to do it, and then ask them if they did it. They are nice enough, just not about to give much away easily. Actually, the great Fiesta room deal was mailed to me for December. I called and asked if they could extend it to January, so they did. Then I called three more times just to be sure they did not change their minds.
Big Elvis at Barbary Coast- always a kick. Fine voice and a good place to park and use an old Orleans funbook coupon for a free drink before walking the strip.
Ghalib Ghalab at Caesar’s Palace: Absolutely one of the best I’ve seen in free lounge music. This fellow is very talented and a great showman. Sitting in the plush overstuffed sofa and sipping expensive cognac made a fine and fancy time.
Groove Kitty at the Palms- Oh! Oh! I just don’t get hip hop. Sorry. And the girls walking around the casino were sexier, so I took a walk and played live poker.
Tweed at Sam’s Town - “Classic” rock from the 80’s? I’m getting old. Next thing I know they will sell 80’s antiques. But there was Billy Joel and Elvis and a nice rendition of Johnny Be Good with other things I knew, so it was all good. The crowd was a fine multicultural mix of friendly strangers. One sweet, just-married girl named JoLisa asked me to dance and enjoyed some of my old swing steps. A tall, Black man, my age, in a multi-colored striped shirt and a fine gray hat danced a bit by himself, and then grabbed a beer, sat next to me, and commented on the strange fact that this a cute little Filipino girl, dancing with her six foot tall man, repeatedly smiled directly at us as they turned on the dance floor. Meanwhile, some cowboy in a big hat and buckle sauntered by, while the long blond haired rock lead jumped down on the bar and into the audience and back on stage again. At break he came down to sit in front of us and soul kiss his girl, a sweet little honey who, when she danced, made us all wish we were rock stars too. It was a prime night, my last in Vegas, and I milked it with sweet limed Coronas until 3 PM.
Neonopolis rock band- Great sax player made the old hits of the 50’s and 60’s come alive. Too bad the free parking is history there.
Trop overhead - Great one to see. Well, worth it. We caught it right after the lion feeding at MGM grand. That too was well worth going. They feed the lions by hand and only the glass separates them from you. Very good, close up view. I’ve been other times and was bored.
Shark Reef - At MGM I had lions over my head. Here there were sharks. I liked this aquarium. Plenty to see.
Penguins - I missed their feeding but Jill saw them and raved about it, especially the little ones just born.
MSS men’s bathroom - Put this on the list if you are male and old enough to remember how frustrating the Berlin Wall felt. You get to urinate on it. Women miss out, unfortunately. I tried to sneak Jill in at a quiet time, but the men kept coming in droves. I never knew there were so many dedicated anti-communists still around. But there they were, all ready to ritualistically express themselves, and whisper with old JFK, “Ich bin ein Berliner.”
I’ve taken so many people up here at sunset and still it never ceases to amaze me. I think sometime I’ll just plan to spend an entire evening writing up there. What a view! This time I noticed that those huge undeveloped sections of brown desert, so prominent in the daylight between the casinos, fade away completely into all the other background blackness when the lights come on. Great fun to identify all the places once visited on ground level.
STAINED GLASS AND OTHER SIGHTS- - I like stained glass. I like the large pictures at Main Street Station and even the little ones scattered through Barbary Coast. But this display at the Sunset Station was incredible. They try to capture the colors of sunset in abstract canopy that completely covers an entire bar area. Wild!
On the Jerry-Guzik-double paced-sprint from Tropicana to Bellagio and back to buy a Bellagio money I saw the Bellagio gardens all dressed for Chinese New Year in statue, fruit and flower. What a place!
Downtown Jill took me to a small park near a children’s school to see a stream and waterfall and a tiny poetry bridge. Very unusual across from the huge courthouse and in the midst of so many high rise office buildings.
Fiesta - Overall the food was great. The seafood buffet was just too much of the same as the other days, adding cold crab and a couple fish at an inflated price, but the rest was nice. M-F lunch was on sale for $5.99 and a coupon for seniors on Tuesday took two dollars off that. The champagne tasted nice on Saturday morning so maybe that was worth $10. My favorites included the fish and chips, the fried chicken, a Chinese vegetable medley, roast duck, pecan sticky buns, almond bars, chocolate chip bars, and the cheesecake. Fruit was just not there. That was disappointing.
Fiesta on seafood night was a great place to take seven relatives for a nice long feed and talk session. It was uncrowded, no lines and we did not feel rushed. The stories were great.
In the fiesta Baja Cafe near the crashed plane is the Feel Good Soup which so many on bulletin boards have raved. It is a meal in a bowl, a great dish of serious slices of pork and chicken, of fine big mushrooms all simmering in a wonton greens rich broth with choice of steamed or fried wontons. Great! And you get to try to eat soup with chopsticks. $4.99.
Green Valley Ranch Station Sunday Brunch- made my LVA 2-1 coupon worth $17. Most places do not allow weekend use of coupons. This was a great bargain. We started with the best bloody Mary I have ever tasted, meticuously mixed and shaken. It went uphill from there. I think it compares with Bellagio and Paris for brunch. Hot precracked crab, a wonderful hot sticky pecan sauce, for waffles or ice cream (if carried it across the room), and lamb chops were my favorite. Fine variety of meats. Good desserts. Nice selection of fish. And some little green pepper thing I’ve never seen by the gefilte fish.
Paris Buffet- Wonderful. My friend Jerry took us for the Breton. He remembered the taste from his last trip. Everything was good. Even the bacon is different and better. No big silver tea set, however. I miss that elegance.
Main Street Station- I love the feel of this place, the uncrowded openness and the airy ease of it. I like the Hawaiian food and the great collard greens, as well as the chicken wings. No unique flavor of soft ice cream this time; perhaps they have stopped that. Plenty of good vegetable dishes.
If you are like me you intend to get your haircut before you go on vacation, but you don’t take the time. Twice now I’ve had my lion like flowing mane and Santa beard trimmed back to good looking and comfortable by Linda at Magic Hair and Nails 4926 Tropicana (almost to Boulder Highway) 454-0057. Each time I just walked in and she did a great job, putting it in a fine shape and fussing with it, much better than my local barber and cheaper too. Tell her the guy from Albany NY told you to try her.
Jill took me to a downtown Vintage clothing store and we got to see how that style develops. It is bizarre to me. I’m sorry that the name escapes me. Basically, you put together all the clothes from the 50’s that you thought looked dumb in the 60’s and mix them in ways your mother would never approve. Then add an outlandish scarf, hat or other accessory. This store made their own line of clothing also. Great to see!
Bonanza was another blast with Jill. She likes all the crazy look of purple hats and the fun dancing hamsters singing hip hop. I bought a Three Stooges refrigerator magnet set for a Stooges fan I know.
So it was a great trip. Isn’t it always. It was a nice break from the week of below zero weather here in snowy upstate New York. And it was nice to get home too. It is all nice.
Stayed at Fiesta Henderson January 17, 2003 to January 25, 2003
- Category: 2003
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