July 2009
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They do fly North and East as well, I checked

It’s not a freebie, but I’m still pondering this offer I had in the mail from the Palms.

Inside, it offered me:

Not a bad deal.  In fact, Claire had almost exactly the same offer.  Hers said:

Which I guess means the Palms thinks I’m worth exactly $10 more than she is.  Bling!

This is notable because, despite playing at the Palms more than anywhere else in town the past couple of years, this is the first piece of mail I’ve had from them for something other than “get a credit card with our logo on it”. 

The Palms caters for tourists who want to party and locals who want to gamble.  There’s not much overlap, and they definitely don’t seem to care too much about tourists who want to grind out some free shit on a positive play machine.  Room offers are something of a rarity so it’s fantastic to finally get one.

Although it’s not a free room, I’d already been considering taking advantage of some heavily discounted room offers just because they’re there, and room rates as low as they are right now can’t last forever.

MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay and Planet Hollywood all currently have offers where you can get a room for $50-$70, with goodies or gambling money back to the value of at least $25.  As long as you only stay one night, it’s a fairly cheap way to check out a hotel I’ve never stayed at (I’m intrigued by the movie-themed rooms at the P-Ho) or get access to some nice swimming pools.

MGM Grand works out at (effectively) $24, and Mandalay Bay $44.  Anyone can get these deal without needing to be a rated player.  Pretty damn good.

So we can add the Palms to that list now too.  What’s most interesting about this deal, though, is the rest of the promotion – and the reason for the Southwest plane on the front of the mailer.

As they say, 400 points gets you $1 back in comp or slot play, and as you earn 1 point for every $1 played through a machine, this adds 0.25% to your expected return from a game.

The ability to swap points for slot play is a new thing and is only valid on points earned since June this year, and when this change was introduced we had a bit of a scare.  At first they’d said that any older points had to be redeemed within a year or would expire. 

After some mammoth sessions the last few trips, Claire and I have nearly $700 between us on our cards.  That’s a lot of half price buffets and movie tickets!  It’s not that I’m not up for a Brewster’s Millions type challenge, I’d just rather spend the comp the way I want to than be forced to eat expensive meals that I don’t appreciate at restaurants where I don’t really fit in.

When 10,000 base points on video poker gets you a $50 gift card, that’s worth another 0.5% on top of your points value.  Where it gets really interesting is if you could combine a triple points coupon from one of the frequent swipe-and-win days – which would take your base earning rate to 0.75%, a total of 1.25% when you include the gift cards.

The very best video poker machines will probably be excluded from the deal, but with 1.25% added to the expectation you could legitimately play 99.2% Bonus Poker – which is never marked as excluded from promotions – with an edge.

Of course, things happen much more quickly if you play slots.  One gift card for every 2,500 makes the the promotion worth a hefty 2%!  I can’t remember if the Palms has any certified 99% payback slots, but if it does this promo turns them into winners.

The question, really, is what use is a Southwest airlines gift card to me, and the answer is not a great deal.  We’ve toyed with the idea of going to Disneyland to get away from… well… the grown up Disneyland but it’s so much easier to drive to California than fly to Florida – where there’s still plenty of good theme parks – I don’t think that’s likely to happen.  So I’d be looking to sell them on eBay for about 90% of face value.

It’s definitely a good deal.  But whether it’s good enough to justify actually paying for a hotel room to be able to use it, I still haven’t decided.