Rumors: Penn National To Buy Rio?

I haven’t noticed this before, but there’s been a rumor that Harrah’s would be selling the Rio to Penn National, who has been looking to get into Las Vegas for a while now.  Last time I read (and wrote) about Penn National was their failed bid for Fontainebleau.

Penn National has been working it’s way towards Las Vegas for years and the Rio would be a healthy start for the company. Although the Rio is not located on the Las Vegas Strip it is considered a Las Vegas Strip property. Penn National has an extensive data base and it is unclear it they will be able to tap into the Harrahs Entertainment’s enormous database as part of the deal.

I think the Rio is a good entry point into Las Vegas for Penn National.  The purchase price should be less expensive then being on the strip, but its location is close enough to be part of the action.  There are also quite a bit to update at the Rio, but it’s not as though the place has to be destroyed.

This gives Harrah’s some extra cash so that it can pay down some of it’s debt when it’s due.  Or they can buy more casinos.

I’m looking forward to seeing some fresh blood in Las Vegas.  Maybe this will give me an excuse to wander on over later this trip.

Resort Fees Tracker

Resort Fees aren’t cool, but they aren’t always bad.  Hotels will charge whatever they want for a room.  They can charge $75 and make you pay for certain amenities or that can just charge you $95 and include the fees.  If you plan on using the amenities, maybe the resort fees save you a few bucks, maybe you pay a little more.  The effect is different for every traveler.

Well, Vegas.com has compiled a list of what you pay and receive from each hotel.  This is a great reference if you care where you’re money is going.  Resort Fees are on top of the per night rate.  Do a little math and find out what you pay and what you receive.

Thanks Vegas.com for the info!

Planet Harrahswood Commence!

Harrah’s officially begins their takeover of Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas today.  Some things about the takeover are starting to trickle out.

  • …the property should be integrated into Harrah’s Total Rewards database by the end of March.
  • Harrah’s also plans some physical changes to the property, such as moving the high-limit room away from the front entrance and removing some of the slot machines.
  • Harrah’s acquisition of Planet Hollywood does not include some restaurants, Privé nightclub, the Miracle Mile Shops or the new 1,201-room PH Tower By Westgate.
  • A licensing agreement also allows Harrah’s to brand other casinos with the Planet Hollywood name internationally.

So effective immediately will be the movement of some slots and Total Rewards will get going by the end of next month. With a trip in early April, I’d like to see Total Rewards to kick in a little quicker.  I’d still like to stay here if possible.  A friend called reservations last night and they weren’t sure when the players club switchover would take place.  Now we have an idea.

I’m sure pay tables for video poker will be switched out over the weekend.  Can’t wait to play 7/5 Jacks or Better.  At the same time, maybe they’ll add the $5 9/6 Jacks or Better which they have in every other casino on the strip.

MGM Looking To Improve Players Club

MGM has decided to hire two companies to help in improving their comp club, Players Club.

The move may improve MGM Mirage’s competitive position against industry leader Harrah’s Entertainment Inc., which is known for mining its own databases with scientific formulas to produced personalized offers to customers through its Total Rewards Program, which launched in 2000 and now has some 40 million members.

MGM’s Players Club is an improvement of the non-system that they used to have.  I like the direction Players Club is going and found the website easy to navigate and find offers.  Their offers seems to be in line with the amount I play at MGM casinos.  Not great, but something.

Harrah’s Total Rewards get’s a lot of praise in the media, but I don’t think there’s many customers that understand how it works.  I don’t completely understand how Total Rewards works, but I’ve changed how I gamble to get better comps.  I play much more video poker and slots than I used to because that gets recorded more accurately than playing at the tables.

MGM’s Players Club seems to be on the right path with a simple web design and easy to find offers.  I’m looking forward to seeing how this improves their marketing.

Las Vegas Gambling – Everything Else

I didn’t just play slots and video poker when I was in Las Vegas in December.  I played 3 card poker, 4 card poker, blackjack, blackjack switch and of course, bet on sports.  Unfortunately phones and cameras are shunned at the tables and sportsbook so there aren’t any pictures.

I didn’t only gamble at the Palazzo. I played a little at Wynn, Encore, Bellagio and Palms.  The people I was traveling with were blackjack players so most of my time at the tables was spent playing blackjack.

3 Card Poker
I only played at Palazzo and only played a couple of times.  If the table isn’t full I like to play multiple hands.  Palazzo didn’t allow me to do that.  I went at it with just one hand both times I played.  I lost everything I put in both times I played and lost it quickly.  I’d like to blame this loss on the rules at Palazzo.  I’ve had no problem playing two hands in Atlantic City.  Thumbs down to Palazzo.

One point to note; there was only one 3 card poker table open all weekend and it was rarely full.

4 Card Poker
I put a couple hundred bucks up while killing time at Bellagio.  I’ve only played this game once before and wasn’t too familiar with the rules.  Thankfully, I happened upon a table of very nice people.  The game was a slow bleed until my friends found me.  I wanted to play the hand blind, but was told not to.  I didn’t want to look at the cards, so I showed them to someone else at the table and ended up with a straight or a flush.  Whatever it was I won all of my money back + $5!  WOOOHOOO!

I probably won’t play this game again.  Most of the non-blackjack card games at Bellagio were packed.  This was the only table that had players that also had room for me.  There were a couple empty tables.  I don’t like playing these kind of games alone.

Blackjack Switch
This was the game I was most looking forward to trying out.  I wrote about it when I first heard about it last year.  Blackjack Switch it a newer table game where you are dealt two hands of blackjack and can switch cards dealt.  I learned two things about this game after playing at Wynn after a great steak dinner at SW.

First, I had a little too much wine with my steak and probably wasn’t in condition to experiment with a new game.  I lost my initial buy in of $200.  I was too confused to play the game properly.  I lost patience fairly quickly.  As a result I lost my money, but I had a good time losing it.  The game was fun and kind of slow.

The second thing I learned about Blackjack Switch came the following night when talking to a pit boss at Encore.  More people walk away winners at Blackjack Switch.  In fact I was one of the few losers they met that played the game.  Oh well, there will be a next time.  In fact, I just got an idea on when that next time will be!

The tables in this area at Wynn were pretty crowded for a Thursday night.  There was an entire pit area that was empty, so I guess they did a good job shuffling people to one area.

Sports Betting
I ended up at Legasse Stadium every day of this trip.  Unfortunately, I didn’t record all of my bets, but I did ended up on the plus side at sports betting.  I split my action between the NBA and NFL.  I may have lost one NBA game and a couple NFL parlays.  You can see my review of in game betting at the Palazzo here.

One resource I found shortly before my December trip is covers.com.  I like to use trends to help with my knowledge of NBA and NFL.  Covers.com color codes and simply lays out game and total trends.  It’s an easy read on an iPhone too.

Blackjack
I played a lot of blackjack on this trip because that’s what the others on the trip played.  The best time I had at the blackjack table was at Encore.  It was one of those runs that keep people gambling.  Read full details at Wynn and Encore Win Me Over.

I only played blackjack at Palazzo once and I went from up $700 to losing $300.  This was my first gambling session of the trip and it lasted about an hour.  It was a wild ride.  Kenny Rogers said it right..have to know when to walk away, know when to run!

We made a stop at Palms after a quick stink at Bellagio and it was a quick stop.  I turned $200 into $500 in about 20 minutes.  I don’t even remember the game.  A friend of a friend happened by and introduced his girlfriend.  Chit chat began and I just kept pressing winning bets.  Palms rules.

The best thing about my blackjack play is that none of the games I played were 6/5 payouts.

Overall, the tables didn’t treat me too poorly.  Bad runs in 3 card poker and Switch were made up for with wins at video poker, sports betting and blackjack.  I’ll take an even trip to Vegas every time!

Gambling in Las Vegas – Video Poker

I played a lot of video poker on this trip to Las Vegas.  My sleeping habits have me starting my day with slots.  That’s usually followed up with video poker after my first cup of coffee, when I can think a little.

One of the first emails I received when I landed in Las Vegas was a warning that the Palazzo and Venetian no longer had 9/6 Jacks or Better video poker games.  That is my game of choice, so I was disappointed.  Checking vpFree’s database I knew that these machines would come and go.  Unfortunately, they went away when I arrived.  I’ll call that sketchy.  🙂

Poor pay tables don’t deter me too much, but I’ll usually play less.  I mostly played the $1/$2 8/5 Jacks or Better games outside of the high limits area at Palazzo.  This trip was fulls of ups and down in gambling as usual, but Video Poker at Palazzo was probably what made me the most money throughout the whole trip.  Let’s take a tour…

Early in the trip I was hitting a handful of medium sized jackpots like this full house.  Jacks or Better seems to be a slow grind and multiple Full House’s is where the profits really come from.  That’s why the “9” in 9/6 matters so much.  In one session I hit about 3 Full House’s in about 5 hands.  Overall, these machines seemed to have a boatload of Full Houses.

Video Poker at Palazzo made up for a lot of my gambling losses.  I only played video poker one other time and that was at Wynn.  I think I won $20 after putting $20 in.  I don’t recall much as this was after a bad run at black jack and after a little too much wine at dinner.

I was down a little for the trip, when I sat down for my final session of gambling for the trip.  The session lasted about an hour and I was unstoppable.  This session erased all of my losses for the trip.  I count every dollar spent as a loss, since I spent the money.  Losses include tips, drinks, coffee, etc.

After grinding about 30 minutes to double my money, I finally had some big hits.  Four of a kind…

Four of a Kind is a great hand.  When playing the $1/$2 games these hands can make up a lot of distance, but they aren’t game changers like a Royal Flush and even a straight flush.  With about 5 minutes left on my trip I hit my first straight flush ever!

All of this brought me back to even for the trip.  NICE!  Even though the pay tables were not in my favor, I was able to make the best out of what I was given.  If I wasn’t winning, I wouldn’t have played but my luck was such that I didn’t feel so bad playing.

Unfortunately, it looks as if any hotel I’d want to stay at in Las Vegas has poor video poker pay tables so this won’t be the last time I deal with this.  As a result I see less video poker in my future trips, but I’ll keep checking the awesome vpFree to see what games are available where.

Gambling In Las Vegas – Slots

Last week I realized that I didn’t write up all of my gambling in Las Vegas.  I’d like to touch on slots here.  Video Poker was good to me and Slots were ok.

I’ve had a love/hate relationship with slot machines and I’m closer to love right now, probably in the “like” zone.  I guess I like the highs and lows as well as the time spent without thinking.  I will play anywhere from penny slots to $5 slots.  Last year I even threw away money in a $25 slot after hitting getting a royal flush in video poker.

I’m an early riser and instead of staying in my room I will head out and grab a cup of coffee and get my day started.  The day usually starts with low limit slots.  Along with coffee, the bright lights and loud noises give the day a kick start.

To go along with a wide selection of coffee, the Palazzo had plenty of slots from me to choose from.  The casino, itself, is on the small side but there were plenty of morning slots (low limits) for me to choose from.

Millionaire Sevens was one of the obnoxious games I played.  The bonus round sends you to a multiplier ladder.  This was a penny slot and I walked away up $40.  Not bad!  I’ve only seen this once before in Atlantic City.  It’s in a corner by the Harrah’s Poker Bar.  There’s only one and it’s always being played.

It seems that the new thing in penny slots are layover screens.  Basically, the bonuses are laid over a reel slot.  Bonuses come up often to entertain and slow the bleed of money.  The games I played allowed me to choose a theme.  If I didn’t get a bonus after a few spins I’d switch themes, hopefully changing the RNG.  All of the games are loud and fun.  Jackpot Party may be the most fun and (loud) annoying of all the penny slots.

Another of the interchangeable games was Red Hot 7’s.  This became another favorite.

Overall I was about even on the penny slots, never going above my $20 per machine limit.  They did the job for me.  I played a few other $1 slots at Palazzo.  All were losers.  However, my trip to Aria proved fruitful.  All of the slot machines were new and I found a new $1 Top Dollar slot machine.  Top Dollar is a favorite.  I won a couple hundred dollars and walked out of Aria with a smile.

Up next…Video Poker

Daytona 500 Odds

Last year was the first and only time I placed a bet on a NASCAR race.  At least it was the Daytona 500.  I don’t know enough to gamble wisely on NASCAR.  Below are the odds if you’re into driving.  If I get bored later I’ll throw a few bucks on Brian Vickers and/or Kyle Busch.

As a reminder + means you bet $100 to win the amount below.  For example; AJ Allmendinger is +5000.  A $100 bet would pay $5,000 meaning he’s 50-1.

•    AJ Allmendinger +5000
•    Bobby Labonte +8000
•    Brad Keselowski +5000
•    Brian Vickers +4000
•    Carl Edwards +1800
•    Clint Bowyer +2500
•    Dale Earnhardt Jr +800
•    David Ragan +2500
•    David Reutimann +4000
•    Denny Hamlin +1200
•    Elliott Sadler +4000
•    Greg Biffle +2500
•    Jamie McMurray +3000
•    Jeff Burton +2500
•    Jeff Gordon +1200
•    Jimmie Johnson +500
•    Joey Logano +4000
•    Juan Pablo Montoya +2000
•    Kasey Kahne +1500
•    Kevin Harvick +900
•    Kurt Busch +1500
•    Kyle Busch +800
•    Marcos Ambrose +6000
•    Mark Martin +1000
•    Martin Truex Jr +5000
•    Matt Kenseth +2000
•    Michael Waltrip +10000
•    Paul Menard +10000
•    Ryan Newman +3000
•    Sam Hornish Jr +6000
•    Scott Speed +10000
•    Tony Stewart +600
•    zx Field (Any Other Driver) +6000

“Tyson” Review

I’ve read quite a few good reviews about “Tyson“; the documentary about Mike Tyson’s life.  Everything I read was about how this was a very “real” look at his life.  As I watched the movie I realized that this was indeed very real and a raw look at Tyson’s life.

Listening to Mike Tyson talk about growing up as a kid that was picked on and watching him grow into a bully himself and a petty thug was a little uncomfortable, but interesting.  Even more uncomfortable to watch was Tyson talking about sex, violence and his marriage to Robin Givens.

As a boxing fan I was more interested in his relationship to Cus D’Amato.  D’Amato was Tyson’s trainer and seems to be the person that saved Tyson from life in the hood.  Tyson seemed to look up to D’Amato as his savior and a father figure.  As he said “Cus broke me down and rebuilt me as a new person.”

Sure Tyson won the heavyweight championship after D’Amato died, but it seems as if Tyson began his downward spiral on D’Amato passed away.

In the latter part of the movie Tyson goes into graphic detail about getting whooped by Evander Holyfield, then biting Holyfield’s ear and the bad people he surrounded himself with.  As the movie went on, it got more and more brutal.

The movie had a lot of quick cuts, which made it easy to watch and digest.  This is definitely a well done movie that is easy to watch.  This probably isn’t a movie I’d watch too often, but I don’t watch many movies more than once.  I was happy to see the end of the movie because it started to get a little depressing.  I’ve lived through most of this movie and it was great to see everything I’ve seen on the news in 90 minutes.

Saints Make Vegas Casinos Winners

So the Saints won the Super Bowl this week.  I won my prop bet on Peyton Manning throwing a first quarter touchdown, but lost my bet on the Colts.  I had a winning day since I also had the under on Celtics vs. Magic.

The legal sportsbooks in Las Vegas made more money than they did last year.  Upsets will do that.  The casinos usually win, but upsets can hurt.  Not this time.  From Pro Football Talk:

The Nevada Gaming Control Board said Tuesday that casinos in the state turned a profit of nearly $7 million on the $82.7 million bettors wagered on the Super Bowl.

Overall, bettors in Nevada placed about $1.21 million more in bets than they did on last year’s Super Bowl, and the casinos’ profits were about $179,000 more than last year.

The house usually wins in Las Vegas, although some years the Super Bowl is actually a money loser for casinos. In 2008, according to the state board, Nevada casinos lost almost $2.6 million when the Giants upset the Patriots.

I read the headline a few times, but wasn’t sure if this was good or bad for the casinos.  Low and behold it was good.  The NFL draft is up next for those, like me, that always hunger football.