Jan 5
by Rolka Nation


You son of a bitch! I’m talking to you! Yeah you, Las Vegas! You and your alluring siren call. Why must you do this to me? I’m not Odysseus asail on the Greek seas. I’m merely a simple man. A man who loves Vegas. Just when I think I”m out, Vegas pulls me back in…

Ok, I’ll stop.

As we all know, we’re in a nationwide state of economic instability. That means people have less disposable income. Less disposable income means less spending on non-essentials. Less spending on non-essentials means less traveling and fewer vacations for people across America. As a result, tourism in Vegas is down to its lowest point in years.

Sure, this is bad for the city itself and its inhabitants, but not for us! With less people coming to Vegas, hotels are more and more in need of ways to attract gaming patrons into their glitzy doors. That, coupled with the recent opening of CityCenter and its 5,000 total rooms, makes this the best time in years to cash in on casino comps, especially when it comes to scoring free rooms.

I recently received a flyer in the ol’ mailbox from The Venetian and its Club Grazie program. Grazie is just like Harrah’s and MGM’s player’s clubs but exclusively for The Venetian and its sister property, The Palazzo. The flyer outlined a great offer: 2-4 free nights in a suite at either property!

If you’ve never been to either of these sites, they are a must when in Vegas. The Venetian has somehow taken a dip in notoriety over the last few years, but it is simply a gorgeous resort chock full of great gaming, dining, and amenities. Personally, I prefer it to its upper-echelon competition, Wynn and Bellagio. It has all the same luxury, but is a little less pretentious and offers more options for the middle class visitors and non-whales.

I checked out the offer online by logging in at clubgrazie and was pleasantly pleased to see many available nights to take advantage of this offer between January and March. Never having a free suite offer before, I decided to just book one well knowing that I could cancel it if I could not actually make it out. I expected just Sunday – Thursday nights of availability here, but I even had some weekends! I booked Saturday Jan 23rd to Mon the 25th. A free Saturday at a suite at The Venetian?! This was by far the best room offer I’ve ever had.

I mean look at this room!  Man I love this place.I have had the pleasure of staying at The Venetian once on my very first trip to Vegas in 2005. The rooms are simply stunning. All are suites that are at least 700 square feet, have 2 flatscreens, a fold out sofa in the sunken living room, and remarkable marble bathrooms with separate tub/shower and water closet. Simply put, these are the lap of luxury and typically worth every penny. The fact that I could stay in one of these for free is quite the shock. And here’s why…

The craziest part about this offer is that I even received it in the first place. On my very first visit to The Venetian in ’05, I knew nothing of gambling or casinos yet. Therefore, I did not sign up for Club Grazie at the time. It wasn’t until my last trip out this past September that I did. Once signed up, I played blackjack for maybe 45 minutes at a $10 table and played a penny Sopranos slot for maybe 20 minutes. That’s it.

One visit, slightly over an hour of low-limit play (including on a penny slot!), and a free suite as a result. Hell, I even won during that session. I ended up about $25 on the slot and broke even at the table. This is undoubtedly a product of many empty rooms, but hey, fine by me! Fact is, I didn’t give The Venetian a dime of my money and they are still giving me a free suite. That, my friends, is stellar.

Unfortunately, I should NOT take advantage of this offer. I’m closing on my first house in early February and have my money tied up in that and all the things involved. I also likely can’t find a travel mate for this one on such short notice.

My mind and wallet say “hell no”…..but my heart says “Yes! Do it.”

I’m really having a tough time passing this offer up. I should. I likely will. But we’ll see…

What do our loyal readers think?

Apr 14
by Don

I had a few friends that went to the Microsoft conference called MIX09 last month.  It’s held at the Venetian and this year it was during March Madness as well.  Basically it’s a conference that puts a lot of Web designers and programmers together to talk about great design and the future of the Web.

It’s a pretty interesting conference that is in it’s 4th year.  The production level is amazing, and normally you don’t get to see what goes into the whole thing. 

Well here is a pretty neat timelaspe video that shows just want it takes to make something like this happen. Just click the player below:

Feb 15
by Don

This past trip was a bit of a role reversal.  Lori normally does most of the winning and I just try to keep my head above water.  However, this go around it was I who seemed to be charmed and Lori was forced to ride an incredible roller coaster ride.


Now it’s up to me to make it happen for team, and I am certainly up for it.  It’s late and we find ourselves at the Venetian for some Black Jack.  One thing that is nice about the Venetian is that there are a ton of quarter tables.  So it is not hard to find a good spot to sidle up to.  I find one with two guys at it and I sit down at 3rd base.


The Guy at first is a nice guy from San Diego.  He has a good personality and keeps the table light as we all fight the good fight.  The guy in the middle is an older gentleman who looks like Jacques Cousteau, no lie.  He is smoking Marlboro Reds and doesn’t say much, although ironically he is actually French.Jacques Cousteau, never met a pair of 77's he didn't like!


So nothing is too terribly crazy on the first shoe, but as we play into the second I notice some erratic play from Jacques.  He is betting checks ($100) and can’t seem to help himself when he is dealt 77’s.  It seems that he has to split 77’s no matter what the dealer shows.  OMG.  He does this twice against a dealer 10 and somehow he has $400 bets up each time.   Of course he busts out each time, and each time he reaches into his pocket and pulls out a strap bundle of $100’s.  He has gone through about $3k since I sat down and I am just beside myself because I hate to see anyone take a big hit, especially someone as nice as this guy is.


Miraculously I am actually winning amidst all of this sporadic play.  Normally play like that would be a death sentence.  Now the principles of  hedge economics are predicated on everyone playing it straight.  But I guess I have been living right because I am surviving and even thriving in this 77 tsunami.   I am up about $1k and Lori is watching this madness and can only shake her head.  Things are going so well that the dealer even over pays me.  He has been paying us quickly and hasn’t really been keeping his tray neat.  On one double down I have three quarters up and the dealer busts.  He pays me out with a check on the bottom of each stack.  That’s a nice $150 extra little bump.  Call it a bank error in your favor, or in this case my favor!


Well Jacques actually gets another 77 dealt to him and we all look at each other.  Of course he splits and I just put my hand on my head.  Somehow some way the dealer busts this time and we all win.  There is a general feeling of relief and a small amount of merriment.  With that, Jacques takes his leave and we play for only a little bit longer and call it a night ourselves.  Lori and I walk to the cage still up about a grand and we just can’t stop talking about Jacques and those crazy 77’s!

Jan 18
by Lori D.

So yesterday (Saturday) was a bit rough.  It was like a roller coaster ride that was only going down.  By lunch time I was down from my $1k start to only $400.  Blackjack wasn’t working, the wheel of fortune was being stingy, and basically things were just not clicking.  Thankfully Don was able to do a bit of pimping throughout the morning to keep us going.  After lunch we decided to head back to the room and start again later.  So I had a nap and a few JWBs, I was ready to try again. 


I decided I was going to make it happen were it all started about 6 years ago, Harrah’s.  Unfortunately, it didn’t work out like I wanted.  There was this guy playing to my left who was basically a boob.  He thought he knew what he was doing, and of course he didn’t.  He was staying on 16 vs. a dealer 10.  He actually doubled down with a 12 against a dealer 10, because he had a “feeling”.  Moron.  I left Harrah’s down another $300 and was bumming.


I LOVED them as a kid and they still keep on giving!So we decided to go to the Venetian, where we are trying to stay in their good graces.  I only had one hundo left in my purse and it was an old Ben Franklin, you know back when he had a small head.  I was praying he could help me out, and he did.  I sat back down at the $1 Wheel of Fortune, the slot machine I had just sworn off a few hours ago. It was screaming at me with that familiar refrain, “Wheel… Of… Fortune!” I am just looking for a little play, not actually thinking that I could do much other than give them my last hundo.  I get some cherries, some bars, a couple of small spins.  As it is winding down and I have only about 10 spins left, I got to spin the wheel.  Donald said that he was not going to look as he was convinced of another big “30” or the like.  I said, “I am just looking for a couple of zeros”.  Wouldn’t you know it, I hit $400.  Yay! I finally won something.


Now I got something going.  We go to the tables and I am able to get my bankroll up to about $600.  Awesome.  Back on the train!  We go to the Wynn and have dinner and had back through the Venetian and I decided to play a little more blackjack before calling it a night.  I sat down with $300 and was able to go on an unbelievable run and cashed out with $1495!  It was all about the Hedge Economics.  I was able to get my starting bet of $30 up to $350 as I won 12 hands in a row.  Unreal.  It wasn’t even an entire shoe, but it was hot and I was hotter.  What a great ending to our first day. 


So Day 2 will start off with some Poker, so let’s hope for more of the same!  Did I mention that I love this town?

Jul 14
by Don

Here are some random things I have been thinking about in no particular order:


– Lori will no longer play in the Ladies Event.  Every year it’s the one event that we circle on the calendar and make the pilgrimage to Vegas for, but no more.  Year after year the play is so bad and you get no chips to start with.  Even the professional women players hate this event, but they have to play it for their various sponsorships.  It’s a shove fest and no one can ever release a hand no matter what’s on the board.  So you can image the bad beats that go on.  Just gut wrenching.


– Harrah’s is really getting better at running the WSOP.  This year everything was just a little better.  They moved the registration area and it was way more organized.  There wasn’t this massive congestion at the entrance to the main room like the year before and really just more room for tables and stuff.  No “outside” tent for tables. A room only for satellites.  Just better overall. 


– I am watching Umberto playing in the main event from last year on ESPN and I can’t help but to like the guy.  He is even more personable in real life.  He doesn’t like throwing hands away, but he normally has the goods when he is in there.  Hellmuth was as advertised, but I was fine with that too.  Just watching it makes me want to get back out there.


– There is no better time to be in Vegas if you like poker.  There are so many games outside of the WSOP that are going on that there is just a cornucopia of action.  We love the DeepStack format at the Venetian, but the Mirage and Bellagio also have some great tourneys running.  Just a ton to choose from and a great time for poker players.


– Vegas is everywhere.  There are more shows, commercials, magazines; everything Vegas.  It’s more than I have ever remembered.  Even banner ads on random sites are littered with great airfare and room rates to Vegas.  Maybe I am just more aware of it all because I love it so, but I think it’s more.  I think that the Casinos are savvier now and their marketing departments are getting more sophisticated.  I don’t know, but I am loving it!

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