Plenty of ways to win in whirlwind romp thru Vegas

Sep 12, 2005 12:38 AM

It’s really been an up and down year for me in video poker. Since the beginning of 2005 I made a statement that I wasn’t going to be playing more than once a month, if that, and that I’d resume normal for-profit play as soon as 2006 came along. It’s basically because I did so well last year, and with a new grandchild as well as us preparing to move into a new home, the fewer trips to Nevada the better — at least for a while.

In the world of gambling, I’ve found that anything that is a catalyst to an approach can and usually is often influenced by other unforeseen occurrences that just happen. For instance, one of my trips this year was an RFB/paid airfare trip to Harrah’s New Orleans in October. Obviously, not only has it been nullified — it’s also not important now in the grand scheme of things down there. I’ve been to that amazing casino several times and played very sparingly, but I was so overwhelmed by what happened that I felt compelled in sending one average session’s worth of profiting over my gaming career to one of the relief agencies that is helping the city and people get back to normal.

Since I drive almost every trip I make to Nevada, some people have been asking me if the skyrocketing price of gasoline has had any adverse effect on my gaming. If I were someone who tried to squeeze out every hundredth of a percent from a machine and slot club as if it really meant something, yes, rising gas prices would bother me as much as a math geek is troubled by the amount of a tip he gives on a hand pay. Or the worrying involved in seeing if he can "get away" with stiffing the bartender or cocktail waitress after receiving a free drink.

But thankfully, my play strategies make a lot more sense than all that. All I need do is raise my overall session win goal $30-$40, and crude oil never enters the equation. Such was the case on my latest romp to various casinos that included a little over 1,350 miles of driving. In addition to continuing my strategy of running around collecting as much free money and as many giveaways as the casinos offer up in the mail, I played video poker with a win goal of $1,000 plus the surcharge of $40 for gasoline.

Before I start, I know there’s a question about what I’m doing collecting cash coupons and free play, etc. Last year I played a lot, and the offers from casino marketing departments continuously get computer-generated for months after the last visit — and many of them are very generous. This year with much less play, I spread it around just enough so that the casinos get a ”˜taste’ of my play just enough so that they can’t resist continuing sending the lucrative offers. It’s like taking candy from a crying baby.

This trip was set up as part mini-vacation for my wife, and part for-profit play for me. Our first stop was at Harrah’s in San Diego. Since out last visit a few years ago, this hotel/casino has only gotten better. This time they sent me a free night, $100 in food, and $150 in cash. After a great meal at Fiore’s and a good night’s rest, we left with +$180. At the beach in LA we had a nice morning barbeque under a very hot sun, a quick swim, and we were off in the legendary Friday afternoon LA-Las Vegas traffic up Interstate 15. Thank God I always use a rental car for such journeys.

Our first stop when we finally arrived was at Sam’s Town. No, I usually don’t stay there, but they gave me $100 plus RFB, so I grabbed the cash, won $60, ate dinner and left for the MGM. I hadn’t stayed here for maybe 4 years, and the check-in process as well as collecting my meager $35 in free-play went relatively well. The best part was that while flushing the $35 through a short-pay dollar Double Bonus Poker game, four Aces came up and we left with a profit of $775. And wouldn’t you know it — that left us with a profit of $1135, which meant another success. I stuffed $1,040 of it into my WinnersBank200 with full knowledge that none of it would be spent for the rest of our stay.

There was, however, still several days to go. The next day at the Hard Rock I ran through $70 in free-play only to see a $1,000 winner on 50¡ Double Double Bonus Poker with four Aces and the kicker. Most of it was gulped up at, where else, Sam’s Town as we arrived too early for our dinner reservation. A visit to the Rio, where video poker players from all walks of life condemn their video poker as "non-playable" (and in most cases I agree) awarded us with a $310 win. That came on a dollar slant top just below one of the "Bevertainer stages." Their bar top games throughout the casino have had their pay tables ridiculously lowered, and with the smaller cards on those already small screens, the only people who really play them don’t know what they’re doing.

On Sunday we played $100 in free-play at the Golden Nugget to a draw before heading to Laughlin for our last day. What’s a visit to this fabulous Colorado River Resort area without a few hours on hi-speed jet skis? Of course, a little too much sun comes with all that fun, and we paid for it for several days afterward. We also lost around $240 while there, but the stopover was well worth it. At least this time I gave it to Harrah’s instead of the Edgewater.

All in all a successful and fun trip. We did an awful lot, my win goal was attained, we had numerous gourmet meals, stayed at great hotels, and enjoyed the whole gaming experience far more than I used to when I’d simply sit at video poker machines as many as 16 hours a day thinking I could outperform a very perfect computer. Once a harsh lesson is learned, there’s a whole new world of fun waiting for you on the other side of the nightmare.