May 2008
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Who fancies a nice juicy stake?

It’s been a scheduling nightmare, but I’ve finally settled on three tournaments to play during the Las Vegas portion of my trip in June.

There are four casinos holding poker tournament series at the same time as the WSOP (at Binions, Caesars Palace, Golden Nugget and Venetian) and I really wanted to play in one event at each but I just can’t fit it in.  With the package for my freeroll satellite meaning I need to check in at Harrah’s Laughlin on Friday evening, I can’t play anything that day that might run for more than a few hours.

So, after looking at all the tournaments on offer I have prioritised and picked the ones that are the most appealing and have tried to fit them around my schedule – and each other – as best I can.

Top of the list is a $500 tournament at Binions on Monday 9th.  The cheaper Binions tournaments only have a 30 minute clock and this one has 45 minute levels, but the main appeal is that it’s a chance to play a 10,000 chip event at the birthplace of tournament poker.  Without a time machine, this is as close as I’m ever going to get to the old school World Series of Poker experience.

The best value structures overall seems to be at Caesars.  You can get 7,500 starting chips for $225, 12,500 chips for $330 and 15,000 chips for $540.  On a chips-per-dollar basis the $330 comes out in front, but the $225 isn’t bad – which is fortunate as it’s the only one that fits with my trip dates.  It’ll be the first one I play, on Thursday 5th.

I considered the $330 on Tuesday 10th (my last day) but as there’s a chance it could spill over into a second day, I can’t risk it.  There’s not much point playing for 14 hours if I’m not going to be around to compete at the final table.

The Venetian’s Deep Stack Extravaganza is the one I have to miss.  The dates just don’t fall right.  These are $540 tournaments with 10,000 chips and a 40 minute clock, but with the high likelihood of needing to play two days if I got into the money (they play until 2am, then re-start at 4pm the next day if necessary) the only dates I could do this would be Thursday 5th (which is actually an Omaha hi/lo event, and I’m not donating $540 to that) or Monday 9th (when I’d rather play at Binions).

So that leaves the Golden Nugget for my final day, and they have a $225 tournament with 40 minute levels and 5,000 chips.  It looks like a bit of a downgrade from what you could get at Caesars for the same money, but I need to make sure I can catch my plane on Wednesday!

So that’s a total buy-in of $950 for the three tournaments.  Should anyone be so inclined, I’ll be selling 1% stakes for a nice, round tenner.  Time to get Team Donut back together!

When room offers go good

I haven’t quite figured out which tournaments I’m going to play on my next gambling trip, but I have sorted out all my accomodation – without it costing a penny.

Three nights in Laughlin, Friday to Sunday, were included with the poker tournament package, so I just needed two weekights on either side in Las Vegas.

I’ve booked Imperial Palace for my last two nights.  I was sorely tempted to try their Luv Tub room, but I’ve passed this time.  It seemed a little sad, and perhaps a little creepy, to chose a room with an oversized bathtub and mirrored ceiling when I’m travelling by myself.

IP usually shows a comp on any weeknight.  The funny thing is that the comp is for a Deluxe room (usual rate: $59) whereas the cheaper Classic and Capri rooms (usual rate: $49) are listed at full price when I’m logged in.  Are they really so bad that they wouldn’t want to let a VIP player book one by accident?

My first two nights managed to throw up a two night complimentary stay at the Rio, which is awesome.  I thought it was amazing enough that I was offered these for the very quiet time before Christmas (the listed room rate for most that period is just $70) nevermind while the World Series of Poker is in the house.

I already know I’m not going to play in any bracelet events, but living that close to the action I’ll almost certainly poke my head in and check out the side action.

So, it seems that the decision on January 1st to pump $30k through a video poker machine to get Diamond status was worth it, even if it did take a little more action in March to trigger the Las Vegas room offers.

In fact, it’s been very much worth it.  For this trip alone, those rooms would normally cost $539 ($220 for Rio, $119 for Imperial Palace and somehow a total $200 for Laughlin, which is a bit OTT when you can easily get rooms elsewhere in town for $19/night).  Of course I’d never pay that much when all I need is a place to put my head at night, but it’s definitely worth something.

Add to this the room in Laughlin in March, some bookings I’ve made for the summer in Laughlin and San Diego as well as three nights in the Flamingo (which I won’t use except to steal the soap, but the reservation qualifies me to play in a blackjack tournament) and the bargain five nights at the Rio for $50 at Christmas, and already I make that nearly $1,700 of room value.

To get there, Claire and I have gambled a fair bit to be sure.  Nearly $40,000 in total action, but with an expected loss of just $240 (and an actual win, so far, of $62 – the downswing is on the way!) and about $150 of that back in food comp, I’ve made worse investments.