Rompin’ with locals

Aug 26, 2003 4:32 AM

As I write this I’m 12 hours removed from my latest trip to Las Vegas, and I’m still a bit high from being on the gambling roller coaster that never seems to take the same tracks twice. It started out as most of my trips do, with a 9 p.m. departure from my home in Scottsdale for the 4½ hour drive in very light traffic under an incredible star-filled desert night sky.

One aspect of my plan that remained inflexible is where I would stay. Recently, the Suncoast sent me a full-up RFB offer for a 2-night stay in one of their 10th floor suites, so for the first time ever I would stay and dine at one of the most successful and popular casinos in town.

And its location didn’t hurt either: It’s always nice to stay in a pleasant section of town. I’ve played there several times in the past, but I suspect the reason for the invite was due to dropping nearly $5,000 in a session several years ago not too long after the grand opening.

Other than that, I’ve had two winning session since — but I hadn’t used a slot card except for several of my short-term ”˜romp’ type visits (along with that first bath I took).

But because of my early morning arrival time into town, I had an overall larger plan of attack for winning before I could check into the hotel at noon. With a bankroll of $8,000, self-taught extreme discipline, and modest win goals I was good to go, and I felt I once again had the edge most people never see in gambling.

I had drawn up a mini-romp to start my visit. I chose Arizona Charlie’s on Boulder Highway as my first stop. Not five minutes into play on quarter Bonus Poker at one of their bars and I hit a royal. The goal was to win $20, so I took my $980 profit and went to one of my favorites — Tuscany on Flamingo.

In 20 minutes after progressing from 25¡ to 50¡ to $1, I walked out with a $50 profit. Now, onto the Palms. Even though it was nearly 4 a.m., it was still Friday night there and the place was hopping with what may be the most attractive collection of young people in town. But I did squeeze into a seat at the sports bar, and in an hour I had a $150 profit. I didn’t really want to leave because it was so much fun watching the show.

My next destination was The Cannery on Craig Road. At this early hour there wasn’t much going on, but I had my choice of any seat at the round bar in the center of the casino. They also had a card-of-the-day promotion going, where four 5’s meant a 200 coin bonus. Well I didn’t see them, but I saw kings

and 2’s, and I cashed my ticket in for a hundred dollars more than I fed into the hungry bill feeder.

The next stop on my agenda was Palace Station. I don’t go in there too often, but because it was on my route I penciled it in. I don’t know the name of the bar outside Pasta Palace, but it was very kind to me. I played three short-term sessions and wound up with a $400 profit. I could do no wrong, as almost every hand seemed to be a winner.

Before I went to my next place of withdrawal, I had to pay a visit to the best bakery I’ve been to in a long time ”” Great Buns ”” on Tropicana near Eastern. After my favorite snack I headed on over to the Hard Rock. On Saturdays this place generally doesn’t start to pick itself up again from the night before until around 8 am, and that’s about when I walked in. As tired as I was, the music there always livens me up. Then I found a machine at the bar that helped the process along. I cashed out $140 on the plus side, and then walked into an empty sports bar to scoop up another $20. I was six out of six with a nice $1840 (a bit higher than expected thanks to the quarter royal) won so far, and I only had two more casinos on my list.

Because my final destination was the Suncoast in Summerlin, it only seemed fair to drop in for some short-term play at the Rampart Casino next door. Always an enjoyable place to play for me, I thought I’d grab a seat at the sports bar. That turned out to be a mistake ”” not because of any bad luck though; I won $60. The problem was they don’t yet have tickets installed in these machines, the bartender hadn’t showed up, and I had to wait over 30 minutes in order to successfully flag someone down on the main casino floor to hand pay me a ridiculously small amount. But a win is a win, and I took my perfect record over to the Suncoast.

After checking in, I had to grab lunch at The Oyster Bar and get one session in before getting some sleep. My first machine kicked in another $140 to my growing win total. After my nap I again hit several machines up for another $140 profit. That’s as far as I planned for my romp through local properties.

The romp had lots of variety, very enjoyable, and a total of $2,180 in wins from nine casinos. But this is gambling, and I didn’t take along $8,000 for nothing! I had a very nice dining experience at Via Veneto, then decided to give a game I rarely play a try ”” $5 triple play. After $1,600 with no quads and terrible deals, I put a $300 bet on red at a nearby roulette game, and won. The ride had just begun.

It was getting late Saturday night, but a trip to Las Vegas really isn’t complete these days without a visit to MonteLago Casino at Lake Las Vegas. Sure, it’s a fairly long ride on a rainy night, but I’ve had good luck there, and it helps that I believe this is the most comfortable place in town to play video poker at a sports bar.

Premium pours, eye level plasma TV’s, and multi-denomination through $5. Up and down, up and down all evening ”” I just couldn’t seem to pull too far ahead. But at 12:30 am I was asked to leave an empty bar, and all I could manage was a $200 win. Still, I’ll take it.

Back at the Suncoast I was in the gambling mood once again. My plan was to take 20 percent of what I came with and play two hands of BJ. However, you have to be prepared for the unexpected, and I have to admit that I really wasn’t since BJ isn’t my main game.

The first hand I won my $800 bet, but it wasn’t easy. The dealer had a 9 showing, I had 16, and it didn’t look good. But my hit was a magical 4, and he had the expected 19. On the next hand (at a different table) I was dealt 20 ”” an almost sure thing against the dealer’s 9. But his hole card was an ace for a nerve-wracking push. My third hand (same table) was even crazier, as I was dealt a pair of aces to the dealer’s 7. Everyone at the table including the dealer was expecting me to double down, but at $800 I never thought ahead enough to muster up the sauce to whip out another eight Ben Franklins. So I hit, as my table mates snickered. Big surprise”¦a 10 ”” what else? I could see a bust in my future, but the dealer was kind in handing me an 8. He had 17, I had another $800, and a great big smile to the other players as I walked to the elevators to end my day of gambling.

After a noon rising on Sunday along with taking in a movie in the Suncoast theaters, I went after the $2 machines for one last go. I had no goals ”” just filling in the time before my 4:30 dinner reservation. As expected, I was ahead several times, but I continued to play for what would be my first taxable jackpot ever in this casino; $1200 later I quit as the dinner bell rang ”” signaling an end to an incredible weekend of highs and lows.

My overall results showed an overall success to the tune of $1480 (plus $64 in cash back). My only expenses were tips and gas. I lost about $660 at Suncoast, but my three table wins of $1,900 was what put me over the top. Very unusual for me. This was all great to look back on, but as a gambler, if you don’t have the stomach to go along for the ride, it’s best to keep your distance.

I ”˜rewarded’ myself with an extraordinary dinner at Primo on the second floor. The food was excellent, the service impeccable, and the only minor issue I had was with the décor. Similar to the theme of the suite I was staying in (complete with mahogany furniture and a genuine glass-covered meeting table), I felt more like I was on a business trip instead of what I was really there for. But my overall experience on this video poker trip was a blast. I had a successful romp around town, I got stomped by the Suncoast higher-limit machines, and my gamble at the tables paid off. So who wants to invite me next?