Meanwhile, back at the
(GV) Ranch!

Dec 16, 2003 2:22 AM

One of my most common complaints about playing video poker off the Strip is in the location of many of the properties around the city. As a visitor, I don’t especially enjoy driving to some parts of town where some of the best pay tables are found.

And to me, it’s more important to feel comfortable where I am than to play in an undesirable casino that I didn’t want to drive to in the first place. Similarly, it always seems the city’s most intoxicated drivers patrol these areas, and I want no part of that.

But there are some exceptions. I enjoy playing at Summerlin’s casinos, Lake Las Vegas is always a pleasant visit, and most recently I’ve discovered that Green Valley Ranch actually offers what I consider to be the overall most complete playing and staying experience off of Las Vegas Blvd.

The one negative I’ve always had with that place is not their fault: Drivers going from Highway 95 onto I-215 towards GVR are for some reason the most aggressive and careless in town. Luckily though, most of the traffic just buzzes on by the exit for the casino, and it is quickly forgotten.

I’ve been in GVR to play video poker about half-a-dozen times in the past, I’ve never had the pleasure of staying overnight, and I’ve rarely used a slot club card while playing there. But on my latest visit I did ”” but only because I had it with me at the time.

I’m not at all sure just how much I ran through the machines, because that’s never really an important issue with me. But I do know it was apparently enough for the casino to send me out an invitation for a two-night stay in one of their suites, with limited food and beverage, $100 in free play, and a nice digital camera as a gift. It seemed the perfect way to introduce myself to what they had to offer the out-of-town guest overall. I inserted my card for play this visit also, and whether or not it makes any difference for future offers waits to be seen.

Green Valley Ranch is about as beautiful a property as one can find in Las Vegas when away from the Strip. The only eyesore I’ve found is in the humongous construction project going on right in front of it, which I am told is a massive housing/shopping complex of some sort. It kind of takes away from the feeling that you’re pulling into a resort, but maybe that will change once the project is finished.

Because I don’t really know the floor that well in the most luxurious of all the Stations hotels, I had to search for multi-game/multi-denominational machines. But it didn’t take me long to locate some up through $5 at the sports bar. My goal was to play four short-term sessions and win at least $50 at each. After about 45 minutes of play I had indeed gone four for four, and I was ahead by $810. Time to move on, and I would give GVR no more play during my stay.

Would casino management frown upon my methods? Maybe, but I came to win money as part of a pre-set goal, and win is exactly what I did. In my system it makes no sense whatsoever to play more than a player is either comfortable with, or more than they choose to.

After leaving GVR for the day, I went over to check out the new Westin Casuarina Hotel (formerly the Maxim). While the hotel may very well be grand, the casino is just there. It’s small, loaded with one-armed bandits, and the video poker pay tables are atrocious. But that didn’t stop me, as I scooped up $380 in profits to go along with the free t-shirt at the slot club for earning 150 points. And of course, those 6/5 Bonus Poker games at the bar don’t mean a heck of a lot if you win anyway. All you have to do is learn how to stop, race over to the slot club to get your freebies — and leave. Man, do I feel like a comp-hound on this trip or what!

Afterwards I walked up to the Barbary Coast to meet with a fellow player in from Akron, Ohio. Artie isn’t a high-stakes player, but he was interested in learning some of my hit-and-run progressive-play tactics.

He admitted that he was using some of them prior to our getting together, but he had wavered somewhat on his discipline. As a result he wasn’t winning; that is, until after I had a talk and played some video poker the way I play it, with him.

He called me the next evening when I was home to tell me of the thrill of hitting his first set of four Aces on dollar Double Double Bonus Poker. Gee, imagine if he had still been playing his usual nickels or quarters at the time.

The rest of the day I spent romping around town winning a little here and there as usual. I ended the trip $750 on the plus side, but I was extremely pleased since I had lost three sessions and $1,200 on my very first stop a day and a half earlier at the Edgewater in Laughlin.

But even if I hadn’t won this trip I would have been satisfied. Having stayed at all the other Station Casinos at one time or another, I never really thought much about what it would be like at Green Valley Ranch.

The others seemed pretty much on the same level, and I automatically thought GVR would be similar. But it wasn’t, I thoroughly enjoyed my time there, and I’d come back on a moments notice.