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Frontier Hotel 1942-2007

Frontier Hotel 1942-2007

"This is the end result of all the bright lights... and the comp trips, of all the champagne... and free hotel suites,
and all the broads and all the booze. It's all been arranged just for us to get your money.
That's the truth about Las Vegas. We're the only winners. The players don't stand a chance. "

-- Sam "Ace" Rothstein, Casino, 1995

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Free Rolling -- Las Vegas Style

Damn, it's 108f right now.  Better stay in and write some stuff for the blog...

Since moving to LV, I have obtained players club's cards from just about every casino in the Las Vegas area.  My goal in obtaining player's clubs cards are for two main reasons: 

#1: To get free slot or video play just for signing up.  Most places give you at least $5 in free play, usually $10 just for signing up.  I use the free play right away.

#2: To hopefully have the casino send me comp play offers in the mail, which I then go use for free play at the casino.  If one is disciplined and patient, it is possible to accumulate quite a bit of comp $$$.  I then use the comp $$$ to enter poker tournaments.  Some casinos are better than others on this.  Example:  Silverton sends me offers all the time, no matter what my level of play.  Boyd Gaming (Orleans, Sam's Town, etc.) sends hardly anything, and when they do send a promotion, it sucks! 

Here's an example of the worst casino promotion I have ever seen, courtesy of the Orleans Hotel (Boyd Gaming):

As of June 2010, I have accumulated $505 in free play money from various casinos.  Some of it was video poker free play, some of it was table games free play, some of it was just free cash, and some of it was selling the comps that the casino gave me.   I have only included the comps that I won with.  Example:  If I lost a $25 free blackjack play, then I don't include it since I did not lose any of my own money. 

Now, this type of free rolling takes some discipline.  My rule of thumb is if I double or triple the free play I leave with the money.  Example:  I got a $25 free bet at NYNY which I played blackjack with.  I won the  first bet.  I let it ride and won again.  I netted $50.  I then left the casino.  Same thing with video poker.  I play until there's nothing left or I double or triple my money.  If they give me $10 of free play and I build it up to $20, then I cash out and leave.  Sometimes I will try to build it up to $25 or $30.  This type of free rolling does take time, does involve driving around, and takes some patience. 

What I am doing is completely opposite of the what the casino wants me to do -- which they do figure out after a while.  Example:  Harrah's has stopped sending me comps because they tracked my play and noticed zero play for all the comps they handed out to me!  Same thing with MGM.  Every now and then I will go play blackjack at a pretty high level which of course gets all the free offers going on again from those two outfits.  But not to worry, I am still getting plenty of offers from other places.

So here's the list so far of my winnings for the year:

Green Valley Ranch blackjack -- $70.
NY NY blackjack -- $50.
Niketown Comp -- $50.  I got a $75 gift card comp from Harrah's for Niketown inside of Fourm Shops.  Instead of buying any of the overpriced merch. in the place, I sold the gift card to a person in the store for $50.
Fiesta video poker -- $70.
Harrah's cash  --$75.  Harrah's gave me $75 for booking 2 comp nights at the Flamingo.  I just checked into the room, then pocketed the money and went home.
Fiesta "free" cash -- $20.  I found a $20 bill on the floor in the Fiesta.
Silverton blackjack -- $65.
South Point video poker -- $45.
Tropicana video poker -- $20
Ellis Island video poker $20.
Silverton Tickets -- $40.  I got two comp tickets to a concert at the Silverton.  I sold them for $40.00.

Good luck out there.

"This is the end result of all the bright lights... and the comp trips, of all the champagne... and free hotel suites, and all the broads and all the booze. It's all been arranged just for us to get your money. That's the truth about Las Vegas. We're the only winners. The players don't stand a chance. "

-- Sam "Ace" Rothstein, Casino, 1995

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Harrah's -- Stupidity or Greed?

I am not a fan of Harrah's for a bunch of reasons.  6/5 blackjack, high table minimums, tight machines, tight comps, failure to maintain properties, poor service, etc.  I also understand they are a business and have chosen to make certain business decisions that they believe are best to increase their profits. Fine.  If the consumer wants to be abused by Harrah's and keep coming back to them, then so be it.

Since I moved to Las Vegas, I have noticed Harrah's has received quite a bit of press (most of it bad) for court cases involving people not paying their markers back.  A marker for those of you who do not know is casino credit.  Example:  They "give" you $5000.   You have to pay back the marker within a time period (30 days usually) or they come after you.  In Nevada, failing to pay a marker is like writing a bad check.  You get charged with a crime and then prosecuted by the local D.A.

It got me wondering why Harrah's seems to constantly find itself in the news for people not paying their markers back.  I know that other LV casinos have issues with people failing to pay markers, but with Harrah's there always seems to be more to the story than just the unpaid marker.  So here's a list of stories from the Internet dealing with Harrah's and unpaid markers.

Player:  Terrence Watanabe

Amount owed Harrah's:  $14.7 million

Main Issues:  Mr. Watanbe is refusing to pay his remaing marker alleging that Harrah's got him so drunk and gave him prescription medications he had no idea what was going on. Allegedly he was so out of control at the Wynn that Steve Wynn cut him off personally.  Of course, Harrah's apparently had no problem with Mr. Watanabe going crazy at their places.

Player:  Antonie Walker (Former NBA player)

Amount owed Harrah's:  $600,000 (estimated)

Main Issues: Just did not pay back markers.  Took markers out at Red Rock and Planet Hollywood also.

Player:  Christian Peterson

Amount owed Harrah's:  $3.45 million

Main Issues:  Claims he had a gambling problem and was also drunk, does not remember getting the markers.  Claims Harrah's had his plane turned around and brought back to LV for him to sign "paper work" from Harrah's officials.

 Player:  Yun Kyeong Kwon Sung
Amount owed to Harrah's:   $500,000
Main Issues:  None noted, just failed to pay.  Claims she did not know Harrah's was trying to collect.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Are all these people really your friends?

This topic I am writing about will be sure to raise some controversy as I am going to pick on disabled people.  I am sure the vast majority of people with disabilities do not use their disability to work the system.  This post is for the small minority of disabled people here in Clark County who use their disability to take advantage of others or get something they don't deserve.  This post will take a bit of set up to understand, thanks for your patience.

A few weeks I got four comps to the Green Valley Ranch Buffet on a Friday night.  That's their "Seafood Feast" and it is usually pretty crowded.  I assumed that since the buffet was comped due to table games play, I would go right up the front of the line.  Well, I was wrong.  GVR is the only casino I know of that does not allow table games comps to go the front of the line at the buffet.  You only get front of the line if your players club is at the right level -- purple or black, whatever.  My players club is lowly gold, so even though I played blackjack for 3 hours at $75 a hand average, I had to wait in line to get in -- just like everyone else.  Needless to say, I won't be going to GVR buffet anytime soon on a Friday night.  Of course, The M Resort allows comps to the front of the line at their buffet -- but that's for another blog.

So the GVR "seafood buffet" is packed on a Friday night.  The line is really long .  I estimate 30 minutes of waiting before we get in.  My friends and I are so hungry that we just decide to wait it out.  Then I notice something very interesting happening.  There are three lines to get in to the GVR buffet.  One line is for the people with the right color players club card -- that line has about 10 people waiting.  There's our line which is the lowly red and gold players club cards.  Our line looks like something from Disneyland on a summer weekend.

Then there's the middle line.  The middle line is specifically reserved for people with disabilities.  So, if you show up to the GVR buffet on a scooter, a walker, crutches, oxygen tanks, whatever, you get to go right to the front of the line.  Personally, I have no problem with this.  If you have a disability I think an accommodation should be made to assist you.  Waiting in line for an hour is probably not fair.

However, what I observed at GVR buffet that Friday night was beyond ridiculous.  Clearly people were taking advantage of the system.  I personally saw 7 different people with disabilities enter the buffet.  They got to go to the front of the line.  What made it interesting is that each disabled person had between 7-10 people with them.  All the people in their party -- because they were with the disabled person, got front of the line privileges also. 

I am sorry, but that seems to be a quite a coincidence that every disabled person who entered the buffet had a huge group with them.  I saw everything from scooters, walkers, crutches, you name it, with a pack of people behind them.  These parties were immediately seated in the buffet.  If a person is disabled, I would imagine that they would have to have a friend or two with them to help them with their buffet selections.  But 7, 8, 9, or 10 people with each disabled person?  Come on now.

It is my opinion that these disabled people were using their disability to get their friends into the buffet instead of having to wait like everyone else.  I cannot prove this allegation, however, it just seems way too much of a coincidence that each disabled person would have such a large group with them.  The interesting thing is that in Las Vegas there are disabled all over the place in casinos.  I have never seen so many walkers and scooters in one place in my life except in the casinos here.  These disabled people are usually by themselves or with a one other person.  I have never seen them with a large group inside of a casino.  Yet, when they roll into the buffet they have a group of 8 people with them?  Please.

What made this situation so frustrating is that since these large groups of people with one disabled person got front of line passes, the rest of us had to wait to be seated.  I estimated that these large groups caused us to wait an extra 30 minutes.  By the time we were seated in the buffet it had been over an hour of standing in line.  To have to wait an hour for a buffet is completely ridiculous, especially when half the wait was caused by these large parties following behind a disabled person.

I you are disabled and think I am out of line with this post, that's fine.  I call it as I see it in Las Vegas.  Please feel free to refute or comment on what I have written.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

"The Drive"

"There was only one road back to L.A. - U.S. Interstate 15. Just a flat-out high speed burn through Baker and Barstow and Berdoo. Then onto the Hollywood Freeway, and straight on into frantic oblivion. Safety. Obscurity. Just another freak, in the freak kingdom."

Raoul Duke, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

It's Sunday morning, around 11:00 a.m., somewhere on the LV Strip. You and your buddies just checked out of your hotel room.  It's now time to head back to reality after almost three days in LV. You went to bed around 4:00 a.m. completely drunk and got at most 4 hours sleep.  You are exhausted, hungry, and your head hurts real bad.  Last night's events are still a bit foggy.  You know you dropped a grand playing 6/5 blackjack and roulette at a "party pit" then you and your posse went to a club.  The club was fun but set you back a couple of hundred with cover charge and drinks.  You came to LV with $2000 in your wallet and now you only have $200 left.  You are still not sure how all the money evaporated.  It hurts just to think about it.  The elevator is taking forever.  All you want to do is get to your car and get the hell out of LV.

Everyone told you to fly just like you have done before, but this time you decided to drive from southern California.  This trip to LV was sort of last minute and flights were too expensive.  You took off from work on Friday with your buddies and left early to beat the traffic.  You made it to LV in under 4 hours and were drinking at the pool by 1:00 p.m.  Life is good.  You know the drive back on Sunday is going to be a bitch.  Lots of traffic, trucks, and ballistic motorists.  People warned you about the drive back on a Sunday or a busy holiday weekend, but how bad could it really be?

You finally get on the 15 south at around 11:45 a.m.  Heading toward Primm the traffic is very heavy.  Traffic crawls through the desert at around 40 MPH.  There are just too many cars leaving LV at the same time.  Already, this drive is going to be a ball buster.  You pass Primm and traffic eases up a bit, but it is still very congested.  Trucks are everywhere.  Crazed motorists are darting in and around you trying to impose their will that they have the right to get back home before everyone else.  From this point to Baker the traffic speeds up and slows down.  Sometimes you can hit 80MPH, sometimes for no reason traffic slows down to 30 MPH.  Brakes lights flash for seemingly no reason.  Cruise control is out the question.  Driving demands your full concentration despite your fatigue and headache that won't seem to away.  You say to yourself, "I will never drive to Vegas again, this is it."

As you pass by Baker traffic opens up a bit.  Nice.  Maybe the traffic is behind us you think.  For a while you fly along at around 70-80 MPH.  Conditions are still dangerous with lots of cars around, but at least you are moving.  You say to yourself this is not that bad. 

You drive for about 45 minutes and then traffic comes to a complete halt near Yermo.   You are in the middle of nowhere.  There is nothing around you except desert.  Traffic crawls along at 5-10 MPH.  Why you ask yourself?  What the hell is going on?  There must be an accident you think.  Why else would the entire freeway just seemingly come to a stop?   Your frustration level is building and building.  Your head is pounding.  You start thinking about what happened to all the money you lost playing blackjack.

After about 30 minutes or so of crawling along you look up ahead see some sort of checkpoint in the distance.  A sign on the side of the freeway says something about a "California Agricultural Inspection" station.  You ask yourself, what the hell is going here?  What could they possibly be checking for on a Sunday in the middle of the desert?  You are now almost 4 hours into the drive and you are not even halfway home yet.

As you inch along toward the checkpoint that is causing all this congestion you see some cars being waved through and some being stopped.  It appears that some sort of "state official" is asking questions of some drivers.  You have been sitting in this traffic jam for almost an hour and your nerves are just shot.  Your frustration level is just getting worse.  Your headache keeps throbbing.

You are finally close enough to see what this checkpoint is all about.  The sign on the checkpoint reads "California Inspection." There are three cars in front of yours.  They are all waved through. It is now your turn to pass through the checkpoint, but you are stopped by an "inspector."  The "inspector" is female and she looks to be around 19 years old.  She appears to have a cell phone in her hand and she is text messaging.  She quickly finishes her text message and puts her cell phone away.   You stop your car right next to her and she asks you where are you travelling from?  You answer, Las Vegas.  She then asks if you have any fruit in your car?  You answer no.  She then waves you through.   You are finally moving again.  Barstow is but a few miles away.  Almost one hour of your time was wasted to pass through this "inspection station."  You are mad and irritated to say the least.  This entire delay was caused by the state of California randomly checking cars in the middle of the desert.  Don't they know there are thousands of people coming back from Las Vegas?  The drive back from LV is bad enough, then add it to an "inspection station" which backs up traffic for miles in the desert.

Thank you state of California.  Thank you for causing a complete cluster-fuck in the middle of the desert with this "inspection station."  How many millions of motorists are inconvenienced and delayed on the 15 south from LV because of this facility?  I have personally driven from LV to southern California at least 30 times so far in my life.  I have been stopped at this "inspection station" one time.  Every other time I was just waved through.  I have experienced delays from 15 minutes to well over an hour as traffic has to come to a complete stop for this facility.  The last few times I have driven through, I have purposefully been eating a banana or an orange with my window rolled down, and they still waved me through.

So, you ask what does all this have to do with Las Vegas?  First of all, this "inspection station" is a major inconvenience to Nevadans that want to drive to California for business or leisure.  It makes a difficult drive that much more difficult.  But the people who are really impacted all those tourists who come to Las Vegas from California and have to drive back on 15 south.  This "inspection station" creates ridiculous delays and makes the drive back even more frustrating for people from California.  Do you think those people are going to want to return to Las Vegas?  Probably not.  Maybe it's just easier for them to gamble at a local Indian casino.

Here's a photo from the 1920's of the Yermo "inspection station."  So, think about this:  For over 80 years the state of California has been stopping motorists in the middle of the desert coming back from Las Vegas.  Think about all the delays, traffic, and time wasting this has caused.  And for what?  To "protect" California's agriculture.  You have got to be kidding me.

Anyway, I am not going to bore you with the details about the rationale the state of California has for this "inspection station."  Inspection stations like this in California were started in the 1920's (when cars and trucks were first seen on America's roads) as some sort of "agricultural protection" program.  Whatever the case, this particular "inspection station" near Yermo needs to go.  It serves no purpose and creates unecessary traffic in an area where there should be no traffic. 

Here's the website from the state of California which justifies and explains the need for these "inspection stations."  What a bunch of bullshit.  Thank you California.

Update  7/25/2010

I reader sent me this by email on how to get around this stupid "checkpoint."  I have not personally tried it, but I assume the information is accurate.

"I have driven from Las Vegas to LA once every two weeks on business for the last two years. I never have a problem with the Inspection Station. I just go around it. All you have to do is get off I-15 at Harvard Road (if traffic is heavy) or Minneaola Road (if traffic is light). Turn left, and then turn right on the two lane road which parallels I-15 about 200 yards to east. Very fast, no traffic, and a smooth straight shot. Get back on I-15 once you past the inspection station.

It is a pleasure to be zipping along at 65 while watching all the traffic on I-15 be at a standstill."

The Kash