Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Planning the Perfect Las Vegas Vacation Trip - Part 3 - Wheels, Whoops and Wins

Once you have your flights booked, you can complete the other arrangements at home, like finding a replacement kennel for Chippy because you didn't call ahead to confirm availability.

But that would never happen to you. You're savvy. That's the kind of thing that happens to me. Apparently.

There's a lesson there for you - make a list of all the 'must haves' and confirm as many of them as you can before you pull the trigger on flights.

Next, fill out your calendar with the needed hotel bookings. Don't forget to register for any events or tournaments associated with your hotel offer.
Don't forget to book yourself into any tournaments you have offers for!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Planning the Perfect Las Vegas Vacation Trip - Part 2 - Flights

So you've figured out your best windows to travel to Las Vegas and now its time to find the best deal on flights.

There are a million places online to find deals that might match your window. These include emails sent by your airline (you've joined all the frequent flyer clubs right?), airline websites, travel package websites, FaceBook, Twitter and other social media, and of course, the big travel search websites like Expedia, Travelocity (purchased by Expedia in January 2015), Priceline, Orbitz and so on.

Maybe you have a favorite that works for you but I like sites that allow me to play a lot of 'what if' games with trip timing and duration - that often finds me the best deal.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Planning the Perfect Las Vegas Vacation Trip - Part 1

I'm Royal Flusher, and I've been to Las Vegas 55 times as of this writing. I'm the perfect degenerate savvy play-ah to help you plan your next Vegas trip, both in theory, and in reality.

Fifty-five times. It kind of shocks me that I've reached this milestone, but I've been at it for 20 years. So that is only, on average, one trip every four and a half months, roughly, or three per year.

Whew. I thought I was a total degenerate for a minute there. (Which is not an unreasonable conclusion, actually.)

When you take a vacation to a place like Las Vegas, it doesn't just happen. It takes a plan. It's almost like a mini project management exercise, my pal Jimmy Poon tells me, in which you must juggle a number of inter-related time-sensitive activities.

I wouldn't know, I just make grommets and gamble my face off in Las Vegas. However, I have a new trip in the works, so I'm going to share both the theory of perfect trip planning the Royal Flusher way, and the sad reality of trip planning the Royal Flusher way.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Just The Facts Live Vegas Trip Report, Aug 24 - Sept 2

Yes, another scintillating Las Vegas trip report, and this one will be was live as it happens. You too can vicariously live the excitement, the drama, the thrills of a Las Vegas trip, just as I posted it from my room, huddled over the laptop, in my underwear. With the blinds drawn.

Just as spectacular as it sounds!

Here's the index page for the report on Las Vegas, the Royal Flusher Way.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Spring Mountain Ranch State Park, Nevada

As part of my What Goes Around Spins Around Las Vegas Trip Report, I covered my trip to the fabulous Spring Mountain Ranch State Park.

It's a wonderful getaway, and an easy drive from the Las Vegas strip - its just 15 miles west of town. Winning at the tables? Take a getaway and keep from giving it back. Losing at the tables? Take a break from losing!

I greatly enjoyed hiking on the trails around the Ranch, and learning about its history. Here's a pictorial view of my day.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Las Vegas Springs Preserve

The site of the very beginnings of modern Las Vegas can still be visited. Las Vegas Springs Preserve is a 180 acre refuge from modern big-city Las Vegas and harkens back to a time when freshwater springs bubbled up in the valley, fed from rainfall far off in the mountains which traveled through the porous rock, and created a green oasis in the desert basin.

This oasis gave the city its name, Las Vegas, meaning The Meadows in Spanish.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Grotto - Royal Flusher Restaurant Review

Grotto sits nestled in the heart of the Golden Nugget Las Vegas casino, with one elbow next to the slot machines and the other elbow near the craps pit, and the other other elbow reaching across a walkway to overlook the gorgeous pool. I've wanted to try it for some time and hoped that Grotto knew Italian food better than they know human anatomy.
The restaurant is decorated with an open, homey Tuscan feel, featuring sunlight-hued plaster, brick, tile, and warm, dark woods. The main part of Grotto is raised up from the casino level a few steps, and features a generously proportioned bar, which is always a plus. Just across a walkway are a number of tables which nestle up near floor-to-ceiling picture windows, through which you can watch the amazing shark tank and pool complex.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

What Goes Around Spins Around - Las Vegas Trip Report

May 2015 - Royal Flusher graces the bits and bytes of the world wide interweb with a rollicking, riotous, rib-tickling, raunchy, radical, repetitive, repetitive Las Vegas Trip Report.


Friday, April 24, 2015

A Moving Picture Says a Thousand Bucks

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, or about 1700 words if you can get it wholesale.

After such a successful trip last fall, I set out to learn how to create a video because I thought it would be fun to have a video with music of all the highlights of the trip.

Well, it is fun to have such a thing... but making one is another story.

I went through the pictures and picked out about 200 that I thought would be good, and ten or twelve pieces of video. And then I did some testing in a program called Lightworks to try to put something together.

If I hadn't had my indie film making niece Lamondo (and her shaggy hubby Clevedge) to keep me on the right path, I never would have been successful at this.

The other thing was, I let Jimmy Poon do about 90% of it with the proviso that I would get all the credit. Jimmy is great at tech, and not so great at negotiations.
Lightworks - Jimmy Poon Lives Here

Sunday, April 5, 2015

How to Stay Free in Vegas - The Cheapstravaganza Formula

There's kind of a formula that we've found works for us around getting comped rooms and food. It's probably best if I lay it out in pieces. It may not work for you but it sure works for us.

On our first few trips to Vegas, starting in '93 June 1995, we played mostly slots. Nickels and sometimes quarters. Never dollars. We generally lost all of our budget each day, which started at $80 a day for the two of us. We paid rack rate for rooms. I remember paying $39 or $49 midweek, and $79, $89 or even $119 on weekends at Luxor in those days.

A week-long trip was costing us $1200 or $1500.

But we used our slot club cards faithfully and we'd get a little bit of cash back, and maybe a free t-shirt or something.

After a few trips, I learned how to ask at the slot club desk at the end of our stay if they could take anything off. After I got slapped a few times, I remembered to specify 'off the bill'.

Imagine my shock and surprise when they started comping some of our room nights off of the bill on the back end! What was going on here?!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Pizza Rock Las Vegas - Royal Flusher Restaurant Review

While travelling in Vegas, what could make you forget about your potentially missing $300 Start-o-matic remote car starter key fob? A really good pizza, that's what.

I'd sampled a couple of slices from Pizza Rock a few days before, and they were good, but they really didn't do justice to the disks that P.R. is creating. The cold, aging pizzas on display still looked delicious, and my reheated slices tasted pretty good but (I was guessing) paled in comparison to their former selves.

No, I simply had to sample a freshly made, still hot pizza to see how good it could be.

I stepped into a bustling Pizza Rock (which is right next to the Downtown Grand and a two minute stroll from the Fremont Street Experience), and asked about a table - but the place was buzzing and I could tell it was a no-go.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Rollin Smoke BBQ, Las Vegas - Royal Flusher Restaurant Review

Rollin' Smoke BBQ lies nestled in the enhanced bosom of the industrial section of Las Vegas between the Strip and the Interstate, not far from a number of strip clubs (not that this is pertinent to this review - it simply caught my - err - interest).

As soon as I pulled into the parking lot of the odd little strip mall in which Rollin' Smoke resides, I was smothered in angelic wispy kisses of the most amazing scent of genuine barbecue I'd ever encountered. I knew immediately that the frenetic clusterhunt drive I'd taken to find the place was going to be well worth the effort, which, let's be reasonable, consisted mostly of pressing pedals and turning a large plastic wheel, while muttering ever louder obscenities at myself for not memorizing the route.

I was a bit surprised at the restaurant's modest appearance - they seemed to have been doing some renovating and there wasn't all that much polish on the look of the place. But if anything, it made me feel a bit more comfortable.

Rollin' Smoke is anything but pretentious and is everything about friendly.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Tacos El Gordo Las Vegas - Royal Flusher Restaurant Review

Back when Tacos El Gordo had an outlet on the strip (which is sadly gone now), I wanted to try them out. But the first time I went there, the lines were around the corner. A good sign but... I couldn't wait.

Fortunately, I knew about the original location on Charleston east of Las Vegas Blvd. and headed there instead.
Tacose El Gorrrrdo
Indeed, this outlet of Tacose El Gorrrdo was also quite busy. But I was determined this time. I forged my way into the restaurant, elbow to elbow with about 100 other people, mostly latinos, and about 3 other people I figured were tourista numbskulls like myself. Because as I surveyed the throng, stunned by the din of a busy, busy restaurant, tried to make sense of the menu board... I was completely baffled.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Las Vegas Casino Comp Offers

When your Vegas offers arrive, you have to know how to read 'em to evaluate just how you are being courted by the property that is trying to entice you with their siren song of room, food, booze and gambling, and what it is worth to you to grace them with your presence (and precious gambling bankroll). Think twice before you pull your casino pants down for just any offer!

Is this really a real offer? Really? (Err. No.)
After qualifying for years for a comped room offer, and staying at the El Co a number of times, all of a sudden, I got cut back to so-called 'offers' which spouted casino rate as if it was some amazing wonderful deal. Maybe its because I stupidly went and hit a $1000 Royal Flush, and a $500 Deuces hand on the old coin-droppers.

And I'm saddened, because I love the El Cortez. I love their grimy past and their coconut scented future. I love their gameside dining. I love the staff roams the casino giving out free pie. Yes, FREE PIE! I love the way they imported all the rubbydubs from the Western when it closed its doors. (And feed them free pie.)

And this is why I feel the burning stabbing burning pain that a jilted lover feels when that jilted lover finds out that the one they love (in this case, the El Cortez) doesn't want them any more. Either that, or they've picked up a monumental case of the clap. (Now called an STD as the pretty, buxom twenty-something Costco pharmacy girl pointed out with steely-eyed glee when I picked up a prescription for an infected tooth.)

Let's take a look at an example teaser lust-letter sent from the El Cortez straight into my email Inbox one fine day.

Looks like a mighty fine offer, right? Is that FIVE TIMES something? What is that about $15?! WOOHOOO!!!

But wait! When I took a closer look (as you should when these teasers arrive) I noticed that this offer did not include any comped rooms, which is what I'm used to and, as a savvy gambler, deserve. Because a comped room would be the Royal Flusher Way.

Just take a closer look at the fine print and you'll see how the El Cortez is messed with me!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Hugo's Cellar, Four Queens, Las Vegas - Royal Flusher Restaurant Review

We ate at Hugo's Cellar at the Four Queens twice during the No Kickers Las Vegas trip so I thought I'd describe one visit and include details about the food from the others, all together into one review. I also visited Hugo's Cellar (and ate there too) during my summer trip with Kenny and LuLU, so I'll include some of that info.

As I left the Four Queen's casino floor with it's gaudy buzz and carnival atmosphere and descended about a floor down the gently curving steps into Hugo's Cellar. Boisterous shouts from the casino faded away and I felt myself relaxing. Hugo's ambiance coddles you as you make your way in, as if you were entering a velvety, muted chamber. It's comforting and elegant. Hugo's is almost out of place at the Four Queens, it's such a cut above. But it's well regarded, well established, traditional, classy without being pretentious, and there are many (like me) that hope that it never changes.

I pondered the name.Hugo's Cellar. Part of it was obvious, since someone who really likes faux red bricks would obviously be named Hugo. But why the cellar?

Chart House, Golden Nugget, Las Vegas - Royal Flusher Restaurant Review

The Chart House is a seafood and steak restaurant plunked off the chic Rush Tower lobby at the Golden Nugget in downtown Las Vegas. It's relaxed, modern dining room is a little oasis from frenetic Fremont Street. There are many iterations of Chart House restaurants in the Landry's chain, but you don't get the sense that this is a formula place or a franchise.

We've eaten a number of times at the Chart House, and looked forward to returning.

I'd made a reservation (which really wasn't need considering the early hour we'd chosen to dine, around sixish) and when the appointed time (sixish) came, I threw on a sportcoat and we headed down for a nice relaxed dinner, taking a well-deserved break from our fairly degenerate gambling activities.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Royal Flusher's Cycle of Life

When you leave Vegas are you already planning the next trip?

How do you get through the PVD (post-Vegas depression), get yourself moving, and get on with life?

As I walk through those factory gates (in the rain) every day at North American Veeblefetzer (where I make ten thousand rubbery size 7 grommets a day, many of which are not sub-standard factory rejects), I ask myself, 'What are you doing here?'

Royal Flusher's Strict Rules of Parlay

In my Las Vegas Trip Reports, I often write about employing the Strict Rules of Parlay and its variations. Here is an explanation of what it's all about.

Strict Rules of Parlay

Pick your denomination (25 cent, for example) and game of Video Poker. Insert some amount, $20 for example.

Riviera World's Fare Buffet Dining Tips

When you are a savvy Las Vegas gambler like The Flusher, part of it all is doing things the Royal Flusher Way.

And part of the Royal Flusher Way, besides traveling with the scientifically proven minimum possible (but still biologically safe) number of pairs of underpants for the trip, is to enjoy what has to be Las Vegas' biggest draw - low end, inexpensive buffets which surf the fine line between potato and ptomaine.

I had been pondering various professional buffet techniques for my upcoming trip, and what should fall out of my research portfolio but a very handy reservation card from the somewhat decrepit yet classy Riviera Hotel and Casino. And on the back of said reservation card are what every buffetnomist needs - a ready to roll set of buffet tips. I hesitate to say 'rules' because for me, anything goes at the buffet, including my soon-to-be-patent-pending office chair 'rolling trough' technique for which you never need carry food to your table.

The Riviera, for me, is immortalized in a couple of ways. For one, it is the only hotel still open that was hit by Sammy Davis Jr. and Frank Sinatra and those other possum pack guys in the original 1960 classic movie Ocean's Eleven. The line-up was the Sahara, the Sands, the Riviera, the Dunes, and the Flamingo. And they hit the buffets in every one of 'em. They even cut the line.

Secondly, the Riviera figures prominently in a more modern movie, Casino with Robert de Niro and Joe Pesci. There's a great scene by the Riviera pool and some other ones where they walk in the south doors. They are probably headed straight for the buffet.

So let's get down to business here and take a look at the savvy advice from the Riviera Reservation Card Production Team.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Hand of the Day - All the Men's Kings

Today's hand of the day is all about King cards. Actually, there's more than one hand of the day, all based around that wonderful card which is really kin of mine, the all powerful Royal King card.

When playing video poker, you should always watch out for the Royal King card and often hold it. When you do get a single King, you could call the hand a Don King.

There's a couple of reasons why this hand is called a Don King. For one, it doesn't pay you anything.

And for another, take a closer look at the 'easter egg' exposed in this exclusive zoomed image of the King card graphics. Those cats at IGT are pretty subtle with their 'inside jokes'.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Secret Sexual Proclivities of the Slot Machine Stars!

Because the pickin's for gambling glory and humor are so thin lately, here's something I've been working on for a while that you are going to really love. That is, if you love inane, immature, off-color sexual humor...

Secret Sexual Proclivities of the Slot Machine Stars!

You see them everywhere. You know them. They know you. They are sexy, flamboyant, lit up on screens everywhere, and they take your money in exchange for a brief look at their monetary sex.

They are the slot machine stars and starlets you have come to know and love. And they have their secrets too... exposed here on Las Vegas the Royal Flusher Way for the very first time.

These hot triplet 'guys' are secret members of the Mr. Dressup BLT community, particularly the ones into triple penetration and the use of expensive motion lotion sex toys.

Hungry for some Triple BLT action anyone?
The Pharaoh likes it Pyramid style, particularly in the Nefertitis. (Groan.)

How long and low can you go, Mr. Phay-raoh?
Mildly amused by day, likes it rough by night.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Book Review: The Video Poker Edge by Linda Boyd - Part 3

Why do you need a video poker strategy and what is one? Well, a strategy is a set of directives that determine how you should play the hands you are dealt in VP.

You could certainly opt for the 'whack-a-mole' strategy, in which you would randomly bash at any of the hold buttons that catch your eye or flicker. You could certainly opt for the 'always hold everything' strategy. Or you could opt for the 'pretty colors!' strategy in which you hold only visually appealing cards. Unfortunately, any of these would likely lead you to become broke incredibly fast.

What VP beginners may not understand off the bat is the concept of playing for the longer run, not just for the current hand.

Each VP game has a statistically calculated average return with perfect play over the long run. For 9/6 Jacks or Better, this is 99.54%, roughly. So if you play for a very long time, your return will be very close to 99.54%, again, assuming perfect play.

Over the short term, your results will vary from this. But the secret to video poker is to always choose the best hand based on what you are dealt. You do that, and you get the maximum possible return in the longer run.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Book Review: The Video Poker Edge by Linda Boyd - Part 2

Welcome to Part 2 of my review of The Video Poker Edge by Linda Boyd.

The Video Poker Edge excels at bootstrapping the beginning video poker player from the ground up. If you are a complete beginner, this book will teach you everything you know to get better results than probably 90% of the casual players out there. There is also information that experienced players (like The Flusher) will find useful.

One of the things that drew me to this book was the fact that the strategy is simplified, and presented in a different way. There are certainly many books on video poker out there, and many of them are very good. And there are even strategy card products that you can buy that will present near-perfect strategies to wring every last micro-sub-thousandth of a percent of EV out of your game. But these strategies often suffer from three problems. One, the wording (Jimmy Poon told me to use the word 'nomenclature' here), anyway, the wording is arcane and difficult to decipher, two, there are too many (some have 80 or more!) complex fiddly rules, and three, I can't fucking remember them in any case.

I was hoping that Linda's more verbal approach would suit me better. And, indeed, with her strong background in math, and consulting with some highly regarded industry professionals (excluding, sadly, me and Jimmy Poon), she cobbled together optimized, compact strategies for key VP games.

So let's look under the cover, as it were, at some of what Linda's book offers.

As mentioned, the book provides a good overview of video poker suitable for the complete beginner and includes chapters describing the game, what the physical characteristics of a VP machine are, and a description of what a strategy is, and why you need one.

The basics of how you find the right games by checking out the paytables, and saddle up to a machine in a casino are covered too. This can be tricky, because, as she says 'you will never find a machine marked "9/6 Jacks or Better"'. I beg to differ, but the point is generally true, except at the Four Queens.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Book Review: The Video Poker Edge by Linda Boyd - Part 1

A while ago I mentioned in my blog that I'd be reviewing Linda Boyd's book on Video Poker. Well, the time has come.

"Kenny, I'm going to review Linda Boyd's book on Video Poker," I said one day, while seated around the bolted down metal table in the lunch room at Royal Canadian Veeblefetzer's Flusherville plant, where I work as a kind of industrial midwife, aiding the birthing process of approximately 10,000 identical, stinking, round, vulcanized rubber size 7 grommets each and every day until you just want to scream to the heavens "JESUS GAWWWWD WHY ME? I CAN'T TAKE IT ANYMORE!!" while smashing the snot out of the grommet line with the base of a 30 brass pound fire extinguisher.
We've won a few Golden Grommet awards...
"But Royal! You know everything there is to know about casinos, gambling, and how to lose slower," Kenny said, pulling unconsciously at one of his scarred ears, trying to find the earlobe, without luck. (See Before a trip the angels place their bets and Chippy Wants a Drink.)

"No, Kenny. Just...no," I said.

Jimmy Poon stirred his beaten up tupperware container of what looked like his usual meal of 'rice 'n stuff', and unidentifiable mixture featuring rice, exotic spices from his homeland, and some kind of protein, possible the parts of animals known as 'delicacies'.

"Tell 'em Jimmy."