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Saturday, May 7, 2022

Hello Plaza!

Day 7 part 1 and it's time to say goodbye to Encore and move to Mandalay Bay.

I'm starting to drag in the morning, maybe relaxing a bit more now that the rust has been knocked off my Vegasing muscles.

The choices were to haul ass downtown right away and do some bidness, haul ass back to Encore, pack up and check out by 11:00. Or to fritter, dawdle, have coffee, do some writing, then start packing, walk between the bathroom, the bedroom, and the desk 29 times, each time carrying something different to put into a suitcase, or a bag, do some more writing, and then check out once and for all at 10:00 and go downtown with all my crap.

Yeah, option number B.

I'm going to share one of my savvy 'pro traveler' multi-hotel stay tips. Bring an empty knapsack or bag, something that collapses down to nothing. I've got this great Osprey nylon knapsack on my back (called Valler-eee) that folds into itself down to a ball the size of a large avocado. It weighs nothing.

I used it to dump all the food type items I've acquired like bottles of pop, likker, bags of chips, Aussie bites, bags and bags and bags of trail mix, and the like.

At the end of the trip, I don't take that kind of crap home, so I'm back down to my carryon luggage.

Now you know!

I love a zero balance at Enwynn! So, in fact, I paid $400 to gain VIP status to use my otherwise useless gems for the three nights at Encore. I hate paying for rooms, but considering the quality of the accommodations, it seems very reasonable. $133 a night all in. Compare that to the La Quinta disaster room that cost a similar amount.

I humped my gear down to the car and headed downtown. I had keno tickets to cash in!!!

The parking structure at the D is the worst architectural marvel in the civilized motoring world - there, I said it out loud. Navigating it is like trying to drive through a Doom layout - claustrophobic, and full of sharp turns, and very few parking spots.

It turns out you get 3 hours free parking just for having a slot club card. You visit the booth, they do something to your parking chit, and it gives you the three hours. Anything over that, you pay for.

The two keno tickets I had at the D cost me $220. The moment of truth came and showed this.

And just like that I was up $90 on the day? It was going to be a great day all down the line.

That was until I walked over to the Four Queens for breakfast. I checked the paytables at the bar after reports that they'd been working on all the bartop machines yesterday. Worst suspicions confirmed - the Four Queens lowered the payback on most of the games at the bars, ruining one of the best plays downtown.

I was so pissed I didn't even bother with free breakfast at Magnolia's. On the way out I walked by a schmarmy pit boss - the one that I've said hello to 20 times and been ignored 19 times - and called him a dickhead. A completely immature knee jerk reaction that was totally on point.

With no good blackjack, with the 9/6 jacks all but gutted, with bad experiences at the craps tables, I don't see myself playing at the Four Queens anymore. I will lower myself to eat on points at Magnolia's, but this day, I opted to actually PAY for breakfast somewhere where the casino loves me - the Cal.

It was quite a sad change, considering the hundreds of wonderful hours I've spent playing at those bars, including just two days previous with McGoo.

The Cal was jammed up so I opted for the counter and had a delicious, healthy breakfast of the usual - eggs, hash browns, sausage, toast, coffee.

I also made a pitstop upstairs to stash a Royal Flusher card behind the potted plant on the right. Seems like a good place for more cards.

The recipient found it lucky and won a progressive royal jackpot later that day!

I tweeted about the Four Queens and my phone blew up with responses and comments. People are really not happy about it. Vegas continues to excel at sucking harder and harder every year. Soon downtown will be as useless as the strip for the serious gambler. With minimums of $15 at the Cal, I haven't played a hand of blackjack or thrown the bones even one time this trip.

One breakfast and forty bucks later, it was time to move on from the Cal.

I remembered my quick conversation with Jonathan Jossel outside the Plaza the day before and how I'd told him he'd consistently moved the Plaza in the right direction, and long term visitors to downtown appreciated that he gets it.

So, I put my money where my mouth is, and went to play at the Plaza.

Game of choice this day was... Boner Deluxe. I put in $20. Then $20. Then I changed machines. Put in $20. It's all about the quads and none were showing.

Changed machines again and stuck to my guns. After an hour of solid play I was in for $300 on the morning with nothing to show for it. I was playing fast, too.

But eventually, sometimes, you get rewarded. I find that when the quads come sometimes they come in a group, like three or four of 'em.

The fourth one wouldn't happen for me but I cashed out $300, pretty much saving what could have been a disastrous day.

I tried $20 in the Buffalo Grand game I've luck with there, and $20 on video keno with nothing to report.

Time to head back to the D, buy a new keno ticket, and retrieve the car. 

The Keno lounge experience was lovely, up until the moment the boothling tried to give me a fifty dollar bill in change for the $150 ticket.

I went white.

"NO NO NO NO NO!" I babbled like a two-year-old (and not the Derby kind).

She quickly retracted the unlucky bill.

"OK, OK... it's all right, it's okay... shhhh. Shhhh. Here's twenties. All better?"

Disaster averted, I got out of there. Paid $5 for parking. This trip has been crazy, I've paid for rooms, paid for meals, and paid for parking, no blackjack... how much worse can it get here? The value downtown isn't what it used to be pre-pandemic. Is it partly the Circa effect?

There's a lot more customers than there were downtown, to the detriment of the cheap bastard like me.

I needed to talk to the slot club boothlings at T.I., so drove there, and was about to go into the parking garage when I spotted a sign saying "Hotel Guests Only - Others Will Be Towed".

Did they mean that??? As in people staying in the hotel only??? I swerved and parked in the back Mirage garage. Then I made fatal and stupid errors. I took the stairs down, and outside. From there, you literally cannot get into T.I. on foot in any way, ever. It is a pedestrian no-man's twilight zone.

I ended up walking up the car ramp into the T.I. garage. 

I got things sorted at T.I., donated $20, and reversed the entire process, except I went out the front door and walked outside to the Mirage garage, where I was in no-man's land again, finding the stair doors locked, and finally... walking up the Mirage car ramp this time.

Thinking back, I should have just gone into the garage. They surely do not allow only people staying at the hotel to park in the Self Park.

I was not only an idiot, but a sunburned idiot, dehydrated, and exhausted from walking some 9,000 unnecessary steps.

It was around 2:00 so I could probably check in at Mandalay Bay. Funkhouser aka Big Money Haircut had arrived and was staying at the same hotel, so we had plans!


    1. Thursdays Four Queens vp downgrades may be a bridge too far for that place. Lots of great times at the bars chasing quads. Some of the best bartenders in the city.

      Whats your take on the best video poker play downtown? Look forward to your post trip analysis.


    2. I checked the plant yesterday then proceeded downstairs to hit my first royal on a 9/6 machine near the craps table. Good vibes.

      1. That's great!! You should check the plant again...

    3. I agree... screw 4 Queens. Only a few machines with Boner Deluxe and it's 7/5! Last time I played a slot there it was set on kill... never again. Weird limits on the Craps bubble machine I've never seen anywhere else. Generally below average cocktail (not bar) service. Too bad, the place has a lot of charm. -jm


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