MGM Parking Fee No Big Deal For Locals

The big news Friday was that MGM would start charging for parking at its Las Vegas resorts.  It seems there are few exceptions to the new policy.  Only M Life players, presumably active ones at higher tiers, will receive free parking as a comp.  Hotel guests will even be charged the fee that will be in the area of $10 per day.  Exact figures are not yet available.

Valet and self parking will both have fees.  Self parking is excluded from the policy at Circus Circus and two shopping districts.

Downtown Las Vegas already charges for parking

Many locals immediately complained about the new policy.  Las Vegas residents already deal with paying for parking at downtown casinos.  The city owns a deck, as well as most individual properties.

Parking structures collect fees in one of two ways.  Some lots collect the fee when the car arrives.  El Cortez and Main Street Station are examples.  Others charge an hourly rate.  Plaza, Golden Nugget and Binion’s are included in this option.

All of these downtown casinos have one thing in common.  Each will comp parking if you patronized the establishment.  This usually includes gambling and dining.  Hotel guests never pay for parking.  The roll out of parking fees has not stopped locals from visiting.

MGM Resorts can learn from downtown Las Vegas

The initial press release includes vague information about how free parking will be handled.  It says there will be a grace period for locals and that some M Life players will receive free parking as a benefit.  One conclusion to draw is that the policy is not decided.

MGM parking was a hot topic on Friday after the announcement.  Players were concerned about giving action to MGM properties and getting stuck with a $10 parking fee when leaving, maybe after losing all of their money.  Being forced to pay for parking after losing a few hundred dollars is an experience that may drive players away.  This cannot happen in downtown Las Vegas as minimal play gets parking comped.  Hopefully MGM Resorts will use this model.

Smaller Las Vegas Strip poker rooms depend on locals to help get games started.  Large poker rooms still have a number of locals in the action.  Charging poker players $10 to park could deter them from visiting.  There are plenty of local poker rooms with decent action.  If MGM does not permit poker rooms to comp parking, it could hurt traffic.  Small rooms like Luxor, Excalibur and Mandalay Bay would be the most affected.  Any drop in traffic for these set of rooms on the south end of the Strip could end in a closure.  There is already a case that Luxor is unnecessary with two other rooms within a short walk.

Another thought is that hotel guests will be unhappy about getting hit with this fee.  It is logical to conclude that a resort fee would cover parking.  It always has in the past.  It also seems restaurants and nightclub patrons will get hit with the fee.

Will other Las Vegas Strip casinos follow?

That is the big question.  MGM Resorts is using the $90 million parking investment as a reason to charge for parking.  Others may not be able to make the same excuse.  Competitors that try to charge without making any improvements may receive more of a backlash from customers, especially older properties that do not offer quality parking structures.  This may also be a chance for competitors to advertise free parking for locals.  Tropicana already does this with a special lot reserved for those with a Nevada license plate.

MGM Resorts needed to address the parking situation created by its new arena.  Most of the casinos in that area are owned by MGM Resorts.  Properties farther north on the Strip will not have the same parking problems caused by large events, another argument against charging for parking.

Parking fees are the new resort fee.  It will be interesting to see which casinos jump on the bandwagon in 2016. Competitors will be watching to see how angry customers are.  If free parking turns out to be a reason guests book with Caesars over MGM, it is unlikely that adding a $10 fee will pay off in the long run.


Harrah’s Lake Tahoe Exceeds Expectations

I had business at the state legislature in Carson City this week. I logged into my Total Rewards account while looking for rooms and discovered free nights at Harvey’s and Harrah’s at Tahoe, which is actually in what is called Stateline, NV. The west side of both properties is the California state line.

The free nights still required me to pay the resort fee as my Total Rewards tier is Gold. That $20 per night plus tax was well worth it.

It was definitely offseason. The town was dead. Vast expanses of tables were closed and there were few people in the streets or playing slots. It is a slow time before summer tourist season but after the ski resorts closed for the year. I guess that explains why I qualified for free nights as I doubt any play I have given Caesars properties justified it.

The room was extremely clean. Housekeeping gets five stars. The amenities for the room were in perfect condition. The bed was comfortable. The room came with a separate seating area and an office desk with a comfortable chair. The room was about 50 percent bigger than an average hotel room but is the norm for Harrah’s Tahoe.

One unique feature of the room is that it has two bathrooms. One had a tub with a shower and the other was just a shower stall. The stall’s shower head was on the far right of the shower and didn’t seem to work well from that position. It was pulled out of the wall a bit, perhaps from people trying to figure out how to center it. I didn’t use it for that reason, but will admit my inability to figure out how to make it work could purely be human error.

Every person I talked to that works for the casino was great. The drink service had perfect timing and was friendly. The slot attendants were on the ball when called. I played Ultimate Texas Hold’em for a few hours and had a new dealer about every 20 minutes. Each did a great job with game speed and accuracy. All were friendly, but one really stood out. I wish I could recall her name to give special credit there.

The food court was average at best. It had a Fatburger, as well as independent pizza and Asian outlets. I stayed with Fatburger. The other options didn’t appeal to me. I also ate a few meals at the oyster bar at Hard Rock Casino.  While I call the Harrah’s Tahoe food court average, the other three casinos in town offer nothing comparable.

In all, the casual food options in Stateline are just poor. Maybe people prefer higher end dining in the resort town. I didn’t try any of them as I was alone and didn’t feel like doing that by myself.

One strange feature is the buffet’s location. It is on the top floor of the hotel. It is only open for dinner during the week. It offers brunch on weekends.

Harrah’s Tahoe was exceptional, but there is no way to describe the surrounding area. You have to see it for yourself. The massive lake in the valley is like nothing I have ever seen. The mountains reminded me of when I live in the Black Hills in South Dakota.

If you have never been to Tahoe then you are missing out. If you decide to go, I highly recommend Harrah’s. Make sure to reserve the room through your Total Rewards card login, if you have one. It may not show as an offer but the discount can appear while you search rates.

I totally failed at getting pictures of the property.  You will just have to go see it for yourself.

Two Plus Two 2013 WSOP Party Trip Report

The Two Plus Two 2013 WSOP Party was held Saturday night at South Point in Las Vegas.  It started with a screening of Bet Raise Fold: The Story of Online Poker.  My wife and I did not make it early enough to see it.  We got there just in time to visit with a number of Two Plus Two members and eat at the poker buffet supplied by South Point. 

There were kiosks for players to sign up for South Point Poker, the company’s future real money online poker room.  South Point was the first operator to receive an interactive license in Nevada, but they have yet to launch.  According to the promotional material, the site will open upon approval by the Nevada Gaming Control Board.

My wife and I have played Triple Flop Omaha High/Low at every Two Plus Two party and this one was no different.  We play the game with a twist.  The lowest river card kills the board so there will be no more than two boards.  If the lowest river card pairs then two boards will disappear, leaving just one board to play.  If all three river cards are the same then the dealer wins. 

For the first time in three years, we had the river card trip.  The lucky dealer scooped the pot because of this, as seen in the image to the right.  The far left cards are the river.  Since they were all 2’s the dealer took the pot down.

It was a fun group.  I did not get to know the names of everyone that played, but those seated at the table included Bobo Fett, Professional Poker, Buzz, Grasshopper8, R*R and Matthew Janda, the author of Applications of No Limit Hold’em.  His book was among the prizes in our splash pots. 

Marco from QuadJacks was also there.  He was interviewing a number of poker players and media.  I was interviewed during this segment. 

The pokerfuse group also made an appearance.  Unfortunately, after repeated attempts, we were unsuccessful in getting them to play our Triple Flop Omaha game.

The drink service was great and the dealers did a good job at dealing our confusing game.  One noticeable difference between this year and last was a lack of a chip tower contest.  That is because South Point’s poker room did not have enough $1 chips to sell.  The poker room was even using $1 slot tokens for rake.  It eventually had to start dropping $5 red chips as even the slot tokens were running out.

It was great to see so many poker friends and meet new ones.  I am already ready for next year’s party so that my wife and I can play our unusual Triple Flop Omaha game.  It is the only time each year my wife plays poker, at least until Triple Flop Omaha low card kills the board makes it into the local mixed games.

Plaza and Las Vegas Club $100 Loss Rebate

The Plaza and Las Vegas Club are offering a $100 loss rebate for all new players that sign up for the PlayLV player’s club.  Unlike some other loss rebates, Las Vegas residents are included in this promotion.  The two casinos are located across the street from each other in downtown Las Vegas at the intersection of Fremont Street and Main Street.

The promotion is open to all players that have never had a player’s card from either Plaza or Las Vegas Club.  Players from The Western do not qualify as that casino operated under the PlayLV player’s club before it closed in January.

A new player must sign up for a player’s card at either Plaza or Las Vegas Club.  The player’s club hours are 8am-midnight.  The new player then has a freeroll of up to $100.  Only losses in the first 24 hours are valid.  Players then have 24 hours to report the loss to the player’s club to receive the rebate.

The rebate is split into two payments of free play.  The first half of the rebate is released by the end of the following day.  The second rebate is released on the third day of the following month and is valid for six months after your original play.

Slot and video poker loss rebates are based on the following chart:

Loss 1st Rebate 2nd Rebate
$10-$19 5 5
$20-$29 10 10
$30-$39 15 15
$40-$49 20 20
$50-$59 25 25
$60-$69 30 30
$70-$79 35 35
$80-$89 40 40
$90-$99 45 45
$100+ 50 50

Table game players only receive a rebate on 10% of their losses.  Plaza has a wider variety of table games.  Las Vegas Club has lower minimum bets and a better craps game.  Both properties offer the proprietary game Most Liberal 21 even though the name is deceiving because it is not liberal.  The chart below shows the table game rebates:

Loss 1st Rebate 2nd Rebate
$50-$99 $5 $5
$100-$149 $10 $10
$150-$199 $15 $15
$200-$249 $20 $20
$250-$299 $25 $25
$300-$349 $30 $30
$350-$399 $35 $35
$400-$449 $40 $40
$450-$499 $45 $45
$500+ $50 $50

$100 Rebate Strategy

Some games are disqualified from the promotion.  Those games are typically video versions of table games.  These include the Shoot to Win Craps machine at Plaza and the video roulette, video Ultimate Texas Hold’em, and Video blackjack machines at Las Vegas Club.

Las Vegas Club has many video poker machines that pay back 99.5%-100%.  This includes 9/6 Jacks or Better and many old coin games scattered throughout the northwest side of the casino.  Any of those machines are perfect for this promotion.  Just make sure there is nothing on the machine stating that it is ineligible for the promotion.

The video poker at Plaza is above average for Las Vegas, but does not pay back as well as Las Vegas Club video poker machines.  For that reason, I would accept this promotion at Las Vegas Club.  If you are set on playing at Plaza then there are many 9/5 Jacks or Better machines there as well as 9/6 Double Double Bonus if you prefer higher variance.

Table Game Strategy

This promotion is much better for video poker but if you prefer to play table games I suggest playing 10x craps at Las Vegas Club.  Come bankrolled to handle some swings.  Play the line bets and full odds.  The promotional terms do not exclude craps odds from the promotion so presumably they are included but you may want to ask the pit boss.  I doubt they are able to watch closely enough to know if your losses were from odds or flat bets.

Whichever promotion you choose, make sure you set a win limit.  The point of this promotion is to freeroll them and actually win, not to have to settle for the loss rebate.

If you end up having to settle for the loss rebate then you will be required to play the free play at the property that you originally played.  This is another reason to play at Las Vegas Club.  While their coin operated video poker machines do not award free play, there are plenty of 9/6 Jacks or Better machines that offer free play.  The bar offers 9/5 Jacks or Better if you prefer sitting there.

Here are the promotional terms.  It is always a good idea to ask the player’s club representative any questions that you have about qualifying machines and rules.  Some of these promotions can change from day to day or end suddenly so there is no reason put off taking advantage this promotion.

Tropicana Poker Room Closes Again

After an 18 month run, the Tropicana poker room is closing today.  This is the second time that Tropicana has given up on their poker room.  The poker room reopened in its original location in April 2011 after closing in 2008.  The poker room will be converted into a slot tournament area.

According to Pokerati, employees were told Monday morning about the poker room closure but it was not announced by the Tropicana poker room.  Their Twitter account has not tweeted in two weeks.  The poker room’s Facebook account posted about an NFL promotion that was to be offered each Sunday this year just last week.  This shows that this announcement has not been planned or known about by poker room management for more than a few days.  Tropicana’s website still advertises the poker room with no news about it closing.

$16,000 in Promotional Money Given Away

Word got out last night that the Tropicana poker room would be closing at 4pm today.  The poker room had almost $16,000 in its promotional drop that it must give away.  Players reported that $1111 would be given away 14 times between 10am and 4pm. The money was given away by drawing table and seat numbers.

Players rushed to get a seat in the poker room.  Players were waiting on dealers to show up.  By 10am there were six games running and 60 people on the waitlist.  Most players that had a seat stayed so few of the players on the waitlist ever got a chance to play.

Tropicana Poker Woes

The poker room at Tropicana has seen its share of issues since its reopening.  The failed Canadian Poker Tour came through and was the subject of controversy.  The poker room also hired Jamie Gold as its ambassador.  The relationship did not last long.  All mention of Jamie Gold was removed from their poker room and website months ago.

I also had my own poor experience.  I used to play in the mixed games held once a week there.  The game was advertised as a $2 rake.  One night I showed up and the rake had been raised to $3.  I could deal with that but then I was the victim of what I would call a hometown ruling.

The floor ruled against me on what the structure of a spread limit game is.  I had already confirmed the structure with the table but then they decided to change the rules.  I was clearly right about the rules but the players basically outvoted me in the middle of a hand and the floor and dealer went with their regulars.  The table grew negative towards me and I decided it was probably a bad idea to play in a game where the rules could be made up as they went along.

At the end, this mixed game was the only regular game in the poker room.  During the Jamie Gold days there was a midweek 2/5 no limit game but that game died.  Most tournaments failed to get off the ground and those that did would have just one or two tables.  There was little in the way of cash game action most nights.

The Tropicana poker room tried everything.  The tables and chairs were great, they offered a water and coffee bar, great drink service, wifi and the sports book was right next door.  The poker room even paid players for each hour they played out of the promotional fund that was paid for with up to $3 in jackpot drops per hand.  Players that put in four hours in a day would receive $25.  Players could earn up to $10 an hour if they put in seven hours in a day.  Even this promotion was unable to draw regular games to the poker room.

It is hard to compete with the MGM poker room that is located just across Tropicana Avenue.  This is one of several poker rooms that have closed this year. Ellis Island opened and closed their poker room in 2012.  Fitzgeralds, Silverton, and O’Sheas also closed Las Vegas poker rooms this year.

There are still too many poker rooms in Las Vegas.  I would not be surprised to see more non factor poker rooms close in the near future.

Station Casinos Adds Mobile Sports Betting

Screenshot of the new Sports Connection

The long awaited mobile app for Android phones has been launched by Station Casinos.  This application has been under development for two years.  The app went live this morning.  It replaces the old sports pagers used by Station Casinos sports bettors to make bets away from the casino.  All pagers must be returned so that players can get their deposits back.  Players that would like to continue mobile betting will required to set up a mobile account as the sports pagers will no longer be supported.  The mobile app can only be used within the state of Nevada.  The new Android app also replaces phone wagers which will no longer be accepted.

Adding an Android sports betting app is not the only innovation released today by Station Casinos.  The company also completely overhauled its online sports betting system called Sports Connection.  Instead of the buggy software that has been used for about two years, the software has been replaced by a website that is similar to offshore online sports books.

One noticeable difference is that players must log into a closed intranet system.  This system is hosted by Cox Communications.  This means that players must log off the standard internet while placing their bets and log into this private system.  The software does this automatically.  This prevents players outside of Nevada from using the service.  All players must be a Las Vegas Cox Communications customer to use the internet service.

In addition to a new mobile app and improved online wagering, players may also now deposit by debit or credit card.  All deposits and withdrawals must be made at a Station Casinos location.

Accounts must be created at a Station Casinos sports book.  Players are required to be 21 years of age or older with proper ID and have a Station Casinos Boarding Pass.  The player’s ID must not be near expiration.  Station Casinos will suspend a player’s account if their ID on file is within 14 days of expiration.  There are 17 Station Casinos in the Las Vegas Valley.  Locations include Red Rock Resort, Green Valley Ranch, Palace Station, and Boulder Station.

Players earn comps on their mobile and online sports wagers.  Every $500 wagered on sports awards $1 in comps.  Comps may be used for restaurants, hotel rooms, and free slot play. Another perk is that Sports Connection players that use Sprint as their mobile provider will receive 10% off of their monthly service.

This news comes just before the busiest time of the year.  Sports books all over Las Vegas are looking forward to NFL betting.  Players will soon be making their best NFL picks in an attempt to beat the sports books and leave Las Vegas a winner.

Cantor Gaming Launches Wifi Sports Gambling in Nevada

Cantor Gaming announced new software for PCs, laptops, and tablets that bettors can use to wager on sports in Nevada using a standard internet connection.  This new software is in addition to Cantor Gaming’s mobile sports betting, which was the first of its kind in Nevada.  After download the new software from, sports bettors can make wagers over any internet connection in Nevada. The software will verify that a user is within the borders of the state, which is a requirement of state and federal law.

Players must open an account in person at one of Cantor Gaming’s sports books in Las Vegas before making a mobile or online sports bet.  Cantor Gaming sports books are located at Palms, Venetian, Tropicana, Hard Rock Casino, M Resort, and The Cosmopolitan.  Players must present a valid ID, be 21 years of age or older, deposit $100 or more, and have a player’s card at the casino where the player is opening a sports betting account.

Cantor Gaming is well established in wireless and mobile gaming.  The company has already applied for an online poker license in Nevada as a service provider.  Cantor Gaming also provides mobile gaming within several Las Vegas casinos where players can play video versions of casino games anywhere within the casino’s property.  In June, Cantor Gaming announced a partnership with the Colusa Casino Resort in California to provide similar wireless gaming services.

Cantor Gaming is not the only Nevada gaming company that is launching a new sports betting platform.  Station Casinos is expected to release a new mobile sports betting app for Android phones on Monday.  Station Casinos already offers a Windows based online betting site.  The company is expected to release an upgraded version of this software Monday morning.

WSOP Disgraceful Twitter Behavior

The World Series of Poker created a rule this year that all players at a final table must verbally declare every move that they make.  This is not a standard rule.  It is assumed that this is done to make the final tables more television and live stream friendly.  It takes players out of their comfort level, and does nothing to improve the game.  It just turns the final table more into a spectacle, and less of a poker game.

Players have objected to this rule, and Twitter is full of unhappy players.  The World Series of Poker Twitter accounts have been bombarded by complaints about this rule.  @JonAguiar has been very vocal about it, with seemingly 100% support from his followers.  The @WSOP Twitter account then retweeted this comment made by one of their followers:

@JonAguiar @wsop @wsoptd why are you the only one who cries all day every day about everything Adapt and stop sounding like a complete bitch


Instead of dealing with the realization that their rule is terrible and not well accepted by players, they decided to retweet a negative comment towards one of their event’s participants.  This is disgraceful, and completely unprofessional.  Three hours later that tweet still sits in their account.

I have been at home with my wife recovering from surgery.  She will be fine in a few days, but I have yet to make it down to the WSOP.  It is likely that I will not be playing any WSOP events this year.  I think the final table verbal declaration rule is unacceptable, but not nearly as unacceptable as the behavior of the WSOP social media.  The World Series of Poker seems intent on destroying their brand name, just before they will be able to use it for real money online poker in the U.S.

I have had my own problems with the WSOP in the past.  I will not going into them here, but this is just another example of the ongoing issues players have with World Series of Poker management.

Palms $1000 Free Play on Losses

Palms in Las Vegas has matched the Riviera $1000 loss rebate promotion.  The Palms not only includes slot machines in their promotion, but also has a separate promotion that covers table game losses.  The promotion is a bit different than the one at Riviera beyond having a table game option.

Instead of getting reimbursed half at the time of claiming losses, and half at a later date, Palms is paying the promotion in three increments.  Players must have never had a Palms player’s card.  Residents of Clark County, NV are not eligible for this promotion in any way.  Sorry locals, they do not want our action.  The loss is based on your first 24 hours of play.  The rules are not clear, but I think it is safe to assume the loss must be claimed at the player’s club in your first 24 hours of play.  I would not risk waiting longer than that.  Players that lose playing slots will receive free slot play that must be wagered one time to cash out.  It is assumed video poker qualifies as a slot.

Table Game Loss Rebate

Palms is also offering a loss rebate on table games.  The loss rebate is worth a bit less at tables.  That is because you get promotional chips that are worth slightly less than half of their actual value.  You must win the bet to have your promotional chip switched out with a real chip.  Unlike free slot play where you would get credit if you push on a hand like jacks or better, if your promotional chip pushes, you must bet it again.

Both promotions include three payouts.  The first payout is 25-30% of your loss paid immediately.  The next loss rebate is about half of the remaining balance and can be received between 14 days and 6 months of your first play.  The third rebate can be claimed 3-12 months after your first play.  Claims must be at least 14 days apart.  This means that you must make two additional trips to Palms to claim the full loss rebate after your first play.

Here is a link to the rules for the promotion.

Palms has made some major improvements in the property this year.  A brand new Cantor Gaming sports book opened with a new poker room connected to it.  There are also improvements planned for the hotel and other amenities.

Tinoco’s Kitchen in Las Vegas Club Closes

Tinoco’s Kitchen, the only sit down restaurant left at the Las Vegas Club, has closed its doors.  It appears that the lunch counter sometimes referred to as Tinoco’s Express has also closed.  I could not get a straight answer about the express location.  If they have both closed, this means that the Las Vegas Club no longer has any dining choices for their guests, unless you consider the $2 hot dog and Coors Light from the bar a dining option.

Tinoco’s Kitchen, which might be best known for its lobster tank where gamblers could deposit $1 and try to catch a live lobster with a claw that would be cooked for free, never caught on in its hidden location towards the back of the casino.  Foot traffic is low in that area, especially due to the fact the hotel at Las Vegas Club is only open on busy weekends.

There were several noticeable changes at Las Vegas Club.  The hotel was closed this weekend.  All of the video poker machines and slot machines that were in the area of the rear restrooms by the parking deck elevators have been removed.  Many other machines towards the back of the casino have also been removed, including many popular machines that still used coins.

The back of the casino is starting to look completely deserted with the hotel closed most nights, many machines removed, the bingo hall closed, Frisky’s Bar closed, and now Tinoco’s Kitchen calling it quits.  There were several changes in the front of the casino with many machines moved around.  Hopefully this is a sign of a remodel coming to the property.

Tamares Group owns Las Vegas Club.  They also own The Plaza across Main Street, which was given a $35 million remodel in 2011.  Earlier this year, the company closed The Western, a dilapidated casino east of the Fremont Street Experience.  Considering the location of Las Vegas Club, my prediction is that a remodel similar to Plaza is coming and it will not meet the same fate Western did.  I have been hearing one of the hotel towers has been getting remodeled at Las Vegas Club.  This leads me to believe they intend on doing something with Las Vegas Club, as opposed to closing it or letting it rot, when they generate the cash to do it.