Smart Baccarat

There's no problem so big, that a natural nine can't solve.

looking back.... Baccarat at the Sands.....

A little flashback, to the first Vegas property to introduce baccarat to the United States.

Oh, the power of the nine.  The story of "The Temple of Gold Hair," was news to me.

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"Classic" Big Baccarat

"Classic" Big Baccarat

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my only comment...... the sweet taste of a player streak!

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I'm back... again....

Last summer, I thought I would make my return with an overview of the gaming situation in Atlantic City.

It was an incredible trip, up until the point that my dear SO had to return to New England for business; and was involved in a horrible car accident.

"NATURL9" brought us much luck that day! Amazingly, the injuries (in what was a head on collision, where the other driver had passed out) were rather minor. My darling recovered fully, and went on to run her first half marathon (The Vegas Rock-n-Roll half) in December of 2009.

While I've tried to mostly stay focused on gaming topics (and particularly baccarat), I figured I would take a moment to muse about my own personal life philosophies (heck, it's my blog, so I can do whatever the fuck I want... LOL)

The card I chose after my Venetian Canyon Ranch Massage last week seems fitting :

as if you see
the best
in the people
you love
all the time."

One of the strongest concepts in my life, is trying to find the positive (intent) in one's everyday actions.

If we take a few moments to focus more so on the good, it just makes life that much prettier. At the end of the day, we control the the direction of our lives; and how we choose to view others. Perhaps, just focusing on the fact that people really do yearn to 'do the right thing' is enough for us to set aside the 'little things' people do that bother us. And, if you can't find that positive; then, just maybe, that relationship isn't worth the effort.

Here is hoping to full, happy and positive life!

I shall return to gaming topics; possibly wrapping up 2009 and early 2010 in the next post.

Cheers! Michael

I'm back! off to the AC

Well, my pledge to take a Vegas hiatus during the summer is actually happening. While I booked trips for 31 July and also in August (for the Venetian Carnival of Cuisine), this year, I really do think I'm going to avoid the Vegas heat. (Well, at least for a few months).

Off to Atlantic City in a few days, staying at the casino that just turned 30 on 26 June 2009 (surprisingly, also my birthday).

If you still don't know which property it is, this picture will give it away :

Luckily, they have managed to update things 'just a bit' since 1979. A nice little article on Atlantic City's second casino, turning thirty. Amazing, still quite a few employees working at Caesars who have been there since the original opening.

I plan on focusing quite a bit of time this trip on finally doing a baccarat overview of all of the Atlantic City properties. I'm also going to share some of the Caesars Atlantic City history, since I find it fascinating. Maybe even get into a bit of discussion about the departed Playboy Casino, which I spoke about last year.

I also have a number of interesting observations and thoughts from my previous Vegas (April) and Atlantic City (May) trips that i'll try to summarize and share. Unfortunately, I haven't had the time (or desire) to write extensive trip reports, but most definitely have quite a few great tales.

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A little more M

Not really a surprise, but it's nice to know that the casino management @ M-Resort is on the right page, with regard to how they treat mistakes and their customers. Nice story in The Bear Growls.

On its first full day of operation, the M Resort in Henderson had a single-line 25-cent video poker machine with a progressive starting at $10,000 instead of the undoubtedly intended $1,000. A patron hit the jackpot. Rather than hassle the winner or try to outright cheat him, as many casinos have done in similar situations, after a thirty-minute delay, the M Resort paid the patron the $10,009,

In other news, seems the first month of M-Resort, has proved to be a bit more popular than originally anticipated.

Overall, M was twice as busy as anticipated that first week. A total of 20,000 customers signed up for the iMagine rewards Club in the first few days of operation when the hotel set a goal for 25,000, total, for the entire month.

and a LINK to an M-Resort opening video.

I think my friend Rob put it best, in text message yesterday.

"Beautiful casino without the arrogance."

Diane was kind enough to share some of her great pics of M-Resort. [Thank you Diane!]

another great shot of the table

my favorite sink

the view from your bed in the morning, WOW -- those window are incredible

more seating, more view! love those windows

nice tub, in the master bath, of course, with a view of the strip

this shot really shows the absolute coolness of the wine bar area

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I heart M Resort Las Vegas and cheating on Sheldon

Yes, sometimes you just have to do it! After Foo convinced me to travel to The Vegas to spend some "quality" time with him for 24 hours, and help set him up @ Palazzo; I was a bit unconvinced that my mind and/or body could really deal with a one day trip to The Vegas.

Well, turns out, that my first trip to Vegas for 2009 @ the beginning of February (AKA, the "Pimp Daddy Trip" -- need to post some stories 'bout that soon..) on a fare sale ($92+ tax $130'ish all-in) had me arriving in Vegas on Friday night @ 11PM and departing on Sunday morning at 6AM. I had meant to book the return for Monday, but alas, I didn't and I was unable to change the return flight; even though it was within the Delta 24 hour change window. (Turns out, all of the cheap fare buckets for Monday returns were long gone). I lamented about this, and in the end, was able to get a 25K mile Delta free (roundtrip) ticket (with no fees for last minute booking, since it was coming out of Ellen's Platinum Medallion Account). Of course, NOW, I had a one way ticket left to use that was only applicable to return me to Vegas (BOS-LAS). Oh, the dilemma.

All of this played perfectly into Foo's master plan of convincing me to come out to Vegas, as I already had a ticket TO VEGAS, and only need a return home. Lo and behold, I was able to pick-up a Southwest return ticket on the nonstop from Vegas to Manchester, NH (LAS-MHT) for a mere $137+tax.

The plans were in motion, but still wasn't convinced the body was ready for it.

Yep, it was going to be a 30 hour trip to THE VEGAS!

Departure was the 6.30AM BOS-SLC-LAS on Delta flight with a swift sub 40 minute connection. Timed everything perfectly with a pick-up from my house at 5AM from Dave. We like to punish each other with flight drop offs at very early hours. Used elite security (next to CLEAR) because of my Crown Room Membership (purchased as a companion off of Ellen's Platinum Delta Medallion Status). Arrived at the gate just in time for zone 1 boarding, which was great, as my exit row was zone 1. Flights were on time, and pretty perfect. Exit row coach seating was fine, and IFE was available on the DL 757 from BOS-SLC. Used my expired drink coupons to have two Woodford Reserves (yes, Woodford, and only on Delta) with a single rock for the flight, and watched the pilot and next two episodes of season 1 - Sopranos on my iphone; with a mophie attached to extend the battery. A very nice flight attendant (definitely in her 50's) was totally hitting on me, and making fun of my expired drink coupons. She kept saying "I knew they were expired......" -- but, I'm gonna let you get away with it... actually, I'm just gonna tear them up and give you the drinks... she stopped by later in the flight to offer me another cocktail, but two was more than enough; along with a few club sodas.

Arrival in Vegas was uneventful, and on time. Was happy to see that both trams from terminal D were operating, so there was no wait for the tram. Went to check-in at Encore, which was very red, just like everything else at Encore.

It was just about noon, and I was using a pretty decent offer from Encore, considering I haven't had any play at Wynn since the opening. It was a $129 room rate with $150 in FREEPLAY, so effectively a free room.

Of course, my requested smoking room wasn't available (this always seems to be the case), but the check-in agent felt bad about not getting me into my room immediately as this was a one day trip. To make up for the lack of a smoking room, she decided to "upgrade" me to the top floor, floor 63. Not really sure this is really an "upgrade" even though, she made of point of saying she wasn't even going to ask her supervisor. So, after waiting a few more moments (their computer servers were having issues), and then the check-in person having to go "manually" make my key, I was almost on the way.

Since this was my first stay @ Encore (or Wynn, for that matter), I asked the nice lady to have a 1L bottle of Pellegrino, ice, and limes sent up to my suite. She didn't flinch, and called in the request right away. So, I was on my way to floor 63 of the Encore Resort Tower.

The room (well, they call it a suite) was very nice, extremely well done.

It even came with a view of the Stardust, which was great at bringing back many incredible old memories......

Pellegrino arrived moments after I got to my suite/room, and after getting over the shock of the auto-gratuity and additional service charge, I thanked the very nice server. She did make a point of telling me that the gratuity was already charged. As if, I wouldn't have figured that out by the $18 total price on the check for a single 1L bottle of Pellegrino. Amazing thing, this is even more expensive than at Palazzo (by around $5) --- so, I guess they need to make $$ somewhere. Only complaint, if you want to call it that, is that they delivered lemon slices, not lime slices with the water. Personally, they should have delivered both.

While we're on the subject of Encore versus Palazzo comparisons, I'll mention a few.

Requested turn down before leaving my suite in the evening, and it was not performed. Also, did my late night chicken wing order (around 4AM), at which time I order DRY deep fried buffalo wings with the sauce on the side. I'm very specific about the sauce being on the side, and the order taker repeated the order back. Unfortunately, the wings arrived within a half hour, but drenched in hot sauce. A little annoying, since it took another 30 minutes for a replacement. Though, I must say, the presentation for the french fries was really nice.

Even with these very minor service setbacks, I must say, I totally love Encore. Why, it has a small casino feel, and the dice tables are right outside of the elevator bank to the resort tower. And, it works well. Nice functional suites. Lovely casino floor, lots of sunlight! Actually, that's it.. there is just so much light in Encore during the day, it's incredibly refreshing.

Would I stay here again? Absolutely! Do I like it more than Palazzo? Well, that's not completely fair, and I didn't get a chance to check out the gym or spa. But, I love the vibe and the aesthetic of the property. It just feels clean, open and LUCKY! (I can't believe I said that) --- more on the gambling action a bit later.

Went over to the Mirage, and to my wicked happy surprise, got in a cab (yeah, I was in a rush) where the driver was playing my favorite opera, Turandot. I noticed it immediately, and it turned out that it was a recording with Sutherland and Pavorati.

Got to Mirage to meet Lion, but it turned out, that I was supposed to be meeting him at M. This was a total senior moment on my part. I saw the text with "M", and just translated that into Mirage, as I knew he was checking into Mirage that day.

Well, killed some time watching the dice tables, playing a bit of $1/$2 Top Dollar; and Lion, being the gentleman that he is, arrived to pick me up and wisk me off to M.

I was very excited to be going over to M Resort. The newest hotel/resort/casino in Las Vegas. Being a Vegas history buff, I've always been fascinated about the old, pre-Harrah's RIO that was open by the Marnell's (who are opening M). At the time, the RIO was cutting edge, and was considered way off strip. Something that was never tried before. Well, M is even further off strip --- and opening at a rather difficult time for Vegas; but being that this is a small Marnell property, I have high hopes.

First impressions, wow, I just love the scale. Very well done, and not too big. Place just has an incredible vibe. (Between Encore and M, I felt like I was in VIBE HEAVEN!) Employees are terrific, including the cocktail servers on the casino floor. Great classy details, such as proper glassware (including funky martini glasses) on the casino floor. Hosts very available and very focused on customer service (as was everyone we interacted with). An example was a slot tech who was in the process of unlocking a machine after a jackpot overhearing one of us (not me) lamenting over not being able to get a particular single malt scotch. He immediately took the initiative to call for a supervisor, and bingo, scotch problem solved.

The Loft Suites are incredible. Really lovely interiors, just the right amount of furniture bordering on slightly minimalist. In the late afternoon light pours into the duplex suite, really lovely. This is most definitely a suite for entertaining. Also, if I recall correctly, Bulgari bath accessories! Nice!

the downstairs living room of the suite

stairs to level 2

awesome marble table, with Lion and Foo

love this Loft Suite powder room sink

view from upstairs, the amount of sunlight is amazing

Veloce is the fine dining restaurant on the top floor (16th floor) of M. What an incredible setup. Sweeping view of the strip in the distance from all seating in the dining room. And, the "automat" automated wine service machines in the bar (these are also in another wine bar in the hotel). Basically, tons of glasses on top of the machines, and then you use a "debit" type card to "self-dispense" your wine (in three different pour sizes starting with 1oz). Another feature is that they comp wine debit cards, so you can have easy access to wine currency. There are also cocktail waitresses in the bar, but it's great to be able to pour your own win (and no gratuity).

Love the wine "auto-mat"

Speciality drinks (such as "I'll have what she is having") are great and totally underpriced for a place of this level. $8.50 per specialty drink.

Only problem, is that we had a wait a while for our table, even though we had a reservation, but we loved hanging in the bar. (and Chandler our cocktail server was a hoot, to say the least! I Chandler!) Dinner was terrific. They have an awesome sushi bar, and we started with sushi/sashimi (including uni), bluepoint oysters, kobe beef sliders, and gourmet popcorn shrimp. All around entrees were terrific, I had the pepper filet; and it was incredible. Also tasted the veal chop and rack of lamb, both excellent.

Wine service was excellent, with a great sommelier. They have great glassware, and were constantly on top of making sure we had the proper glasses for our cold sake (appetizers) and red wine. Wine was decanted flawlessly, into a lovely crystal decanter. For the life of me, I can't recall the red we were drinking that evening, but it will eventually come to me. Waiters always knew who was drinking sparkling water (Pellegrino) and still water (Panna); and never made any mistakes.

Service was very polished for a brand new restaurant. (actually, amazingly so... if it wasn't for the wait, it probably could be considered very close to perfect)

Desserts were interesting, though we only sampled the coconut "lolipops" --- once again, great drink list to go with dessert. They have a "homemade" Limoncello, as well as a Limoncello cocktail. Both were very good, with the cocktail being a bit too sweet. I keep picturing an old Italian man in the basement, making the house Limoncello.

Pricing was incredible for a restaurant of this caliber. In addition, they don't rape you on cocktails or wine. Really nice! --- great to see your comp dollars going twice as far as they do on the strip. Value, beauty and service! It's a winning combination!

amazing view from our dinner table, with the strip in the distance.

I can't wait to go back... oh, and the topper! $5 dice! (and $5 3/2 blackjack)! (and I swear they had a $10 2 deck pitch game that was 3/2 --- but I "might" be mistaken, as I don't really pay too much attention to BJ)

The pre-Harrah's RIO VIBE IS BACK! Long live M Resort!

I can't help but think, that the M Resort executives are peering at all of the soon to be bankrupt hotels on the strip in the distance, and laughing.

Actually, and stay with me on this for a moment,

But, peering out the window at the strip in the distance, during dinner, I couldn't help but think of Star Wars and Death Star.

The Death Star was the code name of an unspeakably powerful and horrific weapon developed by the Empire. The immense space station carried a weapon capable of destroying entire planets.

Well, after seeing the City Center monstrosity, all I could think of was DEATH STAR!

MAYBE, the Jedi warriors are being launched from M-Resort to destroy MGM-Mirage and Harrah's and allow for us to regain the OLD VEGAS! or, just a more gambler friendly Vegas....

Finished up the evening with a bit of fun gambling at M-Resort, and then called it a night, being dropped off by AK and Andrew at Encore. I wandered around a bit, but realized that I needed to get some rest (it was after 3AM, and I had been up for over 24 hours at this point).

Went back to my Encore suite, ordered a bit of room service, and watched some mindless TV to end a wonderful whirlwind of a day.

Of course, I was up just a few hours later and was ready to hit the casino floor. Got my $150 FREEPLAY loaded very quickly at the Red Card desk, and immediately play some 3-play $1 STP short pay video poker. I was hoping for some good CHI, but the machine was just sucking $100 bills, and sucking... and sucking.. so, after 2 glasses of champagne and a few sparkling waters, I decided I needed to hit the dice tables.

$10 dice, with standard 3X/4X/5X strip odds. Great, and I do mean great dealers. (even greater after another glass of Champagne) It was up and down for a bit, and then it started to go up very nicely. My rolls were pretty decent, as well as this one other lady shooter, and this other dude who would hunch over (stick left) and always knock over my odds (I was stick right). Once I was up a few, I knew I should leave, but I really wanted to make a score (I really should know better). Needless to say, that didn't happen, and it was a losing session. At which point, I did what every proper degenerate gambler would do..... take a final shot at the $25 Top Dollar machines ($50 per spin). Hit the bonus at the second spin, and really thought I was in the money. Heck, all I need was like a 100 unit bonus to really make some cash. Instead, I wound up with a 35 unit bonus ($875), played it to around $750, and immediately cashed out. Thankfully, I had recovered my dice loses. What a way to end a whirlwind (3+ hour gambling session).

Went to the Encore Resort Store to pick up some presents, including something sexy for Ellen and a shirt for Joe (my trainer). I'm always promising Joe a present from Vegas, so I figured a nice Encore shirt would do the trick.

Back up to the room, and quickly arranged my limited stuff (it was only a 30 hour trip), and re-packed my backpack. Called down to speak to a host to see if my action warranted anything. Turns out, my 2+ hours of dice was worth $100 in food and beverage credits. Though, I only had around $50 on my room folio (Pellegrino and chicken wings). Luckily, the host said she would carry the $50 forward to my next visit, and gave me her name and email to contact her for my next reservation. Very nice! Impressive, Wynn really does like table players (well, at least a little bit!). Called down to the front desk to check-out, and was on my way to Burger Bar @ Mandalay Place. In addition, requesting a 1PM check-out was no issue (though, this was a midweek stay).

Was very glad to have a final lunch @ Burger Bar with Lion, Foo, AK, and Andrew. It was a great relaxed time (like the entire stay), and I had more than enough time to enjoy lunch before my flight. I had an angus burger topped with Foie Gras, super yum and highly recommended. I also had cole slaw and a side of sweet potato fries!

Lion wisked me off to the MaCarran, and after a stopping by the kiosk to print out my Southwest boarding pass (of which, I checked in online on my iphone); I was off to the gate and a rather quick (due to nice winds) slightly over 4 hour nonstop from Vegas to Manchester, NH!

Wow, what a trip! Too short, but most definitely worth it!

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