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Best. Casino. Promotion. EVER.

Friday, March 27th, 2009

Came across this players club promotion while doing some research for an article I’m writing for “Casino Player” magazine and just had to share it with you.  Seems Easter Sunday in Australia will be extremely lucky for anyone who loves — make that adores — chocolate.  At the Reef Hotel Casino in Cairns, Queensland, players who enter the casino’s “Easter EGGstravaganza” contest have the chance to WIN THEIR WEIGHT IN ASSORTED CHOCOLATES up to 150 kilograms.  That’s 330 pounds of assorted chocolates!

Check out this excerpt from the “official rules:”
“To enter the promotion, Reef Club Members must earn a minimum of 50 Bonus Points on any day and swipe their membership card at the Entrance Terminal on that same day, to automatically receive 1 entry form….

6. A minor prize draw for 1 Easter Basket will be conducted on Sunday the 29th March at 4:00pm and again on Sunday the 5th April 2009 at 4:00pm. A major prize draw for 150 kilograms of assorted chocolate will take place at approximately 4:00pm on Sunday the 12th April.

7. The major prize winner will win an amount of chocolate equivalent to their body weight up to a maximum of 150 kilograms, or if they do not wish to disclose their body weight, they will automatically win 150 kilograms of assorted chocolate.”

Considering my love for all things chocolate, I would SO BE THERE for the drawing.  Even if I wasn’t chosen, I might be able to talk the lucky winner into sharing the wealth because, as the rules state…

15. Prizes are not transferable or redeemable for cash, services or other goods.

(Now, I also have you wondering what that magazine article is all about but you just have to wait ’til the May issue release to find out!)

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Packing List for Las Vegas — A Few Things I Always Take

Monday, March 9th, 2009

Going to Las Vegas and wondering what to pack?  In addition to your clothes — both casual and some fit for a night on the town — be sure to take these items along for a great travel experience.

Camera and lots of memory cards. I can’t believe how cheap memory cards are these days! We love this $84 Nikon Coolpix L22 12.0MP Digital Camera with 3.6x Optical Zoom and 3.0-Inch LCD in bright red along with lots of LESS THAN $4 memory cards such as the Kingston 4 GB Class 4 SDHC Flash Memory Card SD4/4GB which holds hundreds of pics. Everywhere I go, my camera goes with me. You just never know when the perfect Vegas view will happen.

Ladies, you’ve heard me talk about this before but I always take a light pashmina-style Shawl/Wrap with me. Recently, it really came in handy when we headed over to Botero Steak at Wynn Encore and the doors to the pool area were open and letting in a really chilly breeze. The fresh air was great but I was very glad I had my cozy wrap with me.  They’re also great on plane trips — much better than those skanky cheesy blankets the airlines pass out have the gall to charge for.  Trust me, pack one of these babies just once and you won’t travel without it. (more…)

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Truly, Madly, Cheaply — A Valentine’s Day Celebration for Less

Wednesday, February 11th, 2009
Better than a box of chocolates -- a stop at Payard Patisserie at Caesars Palace on Valentine's Day.

Better than a box of chocolates? A stop at Payard Patisserie at Caesars Palace on Valentine's Day.

In honor of Valentine’s Day, we were going to run a list of our favorite romantic (read expensive) restaurants in Las Vegas.  However, with all the talk about how Las Vegas has become such a great “frugal” destination for travelers (it is!) plus considering the state of the economy — not to mention our wallets — we’ve decided that in lieu of that list, we’ve come up with this list: Seven inexpensive yet fun and romantic things you and your sweetie can do this coming weekend.  (Lots of these ideas can be used in places other than Las Vegas so take a look even if you won’t be traveling for V-Day.)

1.  One of our favorite stores is Bijoux Terner, otherwise known as the “$10 boutique.”  Everything (and we really mean everything) from purses to watches to bold and brassy necklaces and earrings is just $10.  Why not treat your sweetie to a week’s worth of colorful watches or five new handbags in spring’s brightest shades.  No, not “designer” pieces but who wants to spend a ton on a bright orange watch or a psychedelic pink purse anyways?

2.  Try a “celebrity chef” for less.  Case in point; Tom Colicchio, famous head judge on Bravo TV’s smash-hit “Top Chef” is the brains (and toque) behind ‘wichcraft at MGM Grand.  His fabulous meatloaf sandwich is just $10 and almost as good as the beefy entrees at his high-priced Craftsteak restaurant just down the corridor.  Oh, and make sure you save room for the decadent “Whoopie Pie” — chocolate cake layers filled with vanilla pudding. (more…)

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Video Poker Tournaments A Perk for Players

Wednesday, February 11th, 2009
Video poker machines wait for tourney players at Bally's Las Vegas.

Video poker machines wait for tourney players at Bally's in Las Vegas.

One of the benefits of joining a casino’s players club is getting invitations to free tournaments — slots, video poker, table games, even bingo — along with the free hotel stay and other perks that go with the invite.  (Of course, you have to have past play in the casino to receive these types of invites.)

In a previous post, I mentioned that our last trip to Las Vegas was planned around a video poker tournament that we played in at Bally’s Las Vegas.  The tournament consisted of two 10-minutes sessions (one per day for two days) and it is no exaggeration when I say neither of us could hit anything during the tournament play.  No four-of-a-kinds, no straight flushes and certainly no Royals.  We both held four to the Royal, three aces, three low cards, three high cards — you name it — and still couldn’t hit for anything.  Funny thing though, while playing “for real,” we both did pretty well.  All those hands we couldn’t hit on in the tourney, we did, in several instances, pull off in the casino.

I’m thinking about this because we’re playing later this week in another video poker tournament — this time here in Phoenix — and I’m hoping that our luck will have a change of heart and maybe one of us will end up “in the money” this time out.  But, as always, even if we don’t win it’s always fun to compete, meet and talk with other players and generally just go out and have a good time on the “house’s” dime.

By the way, I’ve been practicing my Double Double Bonus tournament-style “holds” at videopoker.com, a great site for free, non-wagering game play.

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Breakfast and a Stroll Through the Gardens at The Bellagio Las Vegas

Saturday, January 24th, 2009

Sliced apples atop perfect puff pastry from Jean-Philippe at The Bellagio.

As much as I love the hustle and bustle of the Strip in Las Vegas, it’s kinda’ nice to also find a quiet spot and just kick back, relax and soak in the atmosphere.  If you’ve been reading this blog, you know of my fondness for all things sweet — be it a five-star dessert, a humble cookie or a morning pastry — so it will come as no surprise that this little respite from the action included a visit to Jean-Philippe Patisserie at The Bellagio.

While P.B. was enjoying breakfast and the newspaper back at our hotel’s all-day café, I took a walk over to Bellagio to see the latest transformation of the Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, pick up a light breakfast and simply enjoy the morning. (more…)

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Top 36 Restaurants in Las Vegas Worth Your Time and Money

Monday, January 5th, 2009

Morels French Steakhouse at The Palazzo made our list of favorites.

Doing a “Best Restaurants in Las Vegas” list is sort of like doing the “Sexiest Man Alive” issue of People magazine.  We’ve probably missed a couple of hotties; you might think a few are past their prime; and we may even have you shaking your head in a “What-the-hell-were-they-thinking-picking-Zac-Efron?” kind of way but, hey, it’s our list and we’re sticking to it.  (At least until our next trip to Vegas later this month….)

And while you can go to innumerable websites and find scrolls and scrolls of Las Vegas restaurant listings, we’re going to give you a workable, two-page printable list of our favorite Las Vegas restaurants — mostly on the Strip — conveniently arranged into different categories.  We’ve even included the 36 links you need to check them out for hours, phone numbers and all the info you may need.  Also, be sure to check out the most up-to-date Las Vegas dining deals and restaurant coupons at our sister site, BestLasVegasValues.com.

SteakhousesSW Steakhouse at Wynn Las Vegas     BOA Steakhouse at the Forum Shoppes at Caesars Palace     CUT at The Shops at the Palazzo     Morels French Steakhouse at The Palazzo     Delmonico Steakhouse at The Venetian     Craftsteak at MGM Grand     Strip House at Planet Hollywood     N9NE at The Palms     Prime at The Bellagio     Charlie Palmer Steak at The Four Seasons Las Vegas

SeafoodRM Seafood at Mandalay Bay (either upstairs or the more casual downstairs)     AquaKnox at the Venetian     Bartolotta Ristorante di Mare at Wynn Las Vegas     Emeril’s New Orleans Fish House at MGM Grand     Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab at The Forum Shoppes at Caesars Palace     Michael Mina at The Bellagio     SeaBlue at the MGM Grand

SushiKoi at Planet Hollywood     Social House at Treasure Island     Nobu at The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino     Sushi Roku at The Forum Shoppes at Caesars Palace     Yellowtail Sushi Restaurant & Bar at The Bellagio     Shibuya at MGM Grand

Chef-Driven, Food-as-High-Art, Titanium Card Preferred Fine Dining: Alex at Wynn Las Vegas     Restaurant Guy Savoy at Caesars Palace     Bouchon Bistro (Thomas Keller) at The Venetian      L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon at MGM Grand     Picasso (Julian Serrano) at The Bellagio

Staff FavoritesOlives at The Bellagio     Burger Bar at Mandalay Bay     Mon Ami Gabi at Paris     David Burke at The Venetian    Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill at Caesars Palace     Rosemary’s Restaurant (Off-Strip and completely worth the cab ride!)     The Grill at Valentino at The Venetian     Mix at THEhotel at Mandalay Bay

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Moments, Memories & Great Plates – Looking Back on 2008

Friday, January 2nd, 2009
A gorgeous view of the mountains and a moonlit Colorado River as seen from Harrah's Laughlin.

A gorgeous view of the mountains and a moonlit Colorado River as seen from Harrah's in Laughlin.

I think one of the best ways to recall a year is to sort through the photos I’ve taken over the past twelve months.  They bring back lots of great memories either through the specific image or by tweaking my brain into remembering what all happened on that occasion.  To break down a whole year into a few paragraphs isn’t easy, especially when I’m fortunate enough to say lots of great stuff happened in the past twelve months.  So rather than doing a monthly blow-by-blow, I chose to pick out some highlights from our year in gaming.

Best Casino “Hits”P.B. – Dealt four 4’s then hit for two out of three kickers on the draw playing Triple Double Bonus Spin Poker Deluxe™ with a payout of $1190.  C.C. – Dealt four 3’s and a kicker playing TDB Spin Poker Deluxe™ with a $1600 payout.

Best Discovery:  The Diamond Lounge patio over-looking the Colorado River at Harrah’s Laughlin, Nevada casino.  A great spot for relaxing with a drink, especially on a warm full-moon night. (more…)

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More Casino Resolutions for 2009

Wednesday, December 31st, 2008

Say good-bye to one of the worst years for the casino industry.

Onward with more resolutions we think casinos should make for 2009.  Getting butts into the chairs – gambling, restaurants, and show seats — is the Number One priority for stayin’ alive in ’09 so here are some ideas to help you do just that.

— Stop screwing around with your Player’s Club rules and regs – particularly as they affect your faithful players.  I have heard more complaints from players about this one issue than any other this year.  You have less money but so do we.  (more…)

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Casino Resolutions for 2009

Tuesday, December 30th, 2008
Gifts are great...just not mittens and backpacks.

Gifts are great...just not mittens and backpacks.

Lists, lists and more lists!  Best of, worst of, most notable, most notorious.  So as not to be left off the year-end bandwagon, this week we are going to list some New Year’s resolutions we’d like to see the casinos make for 2009.   (Feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments section.)

To all casinos both large and small; please resolve to stop giving away dumb stuff.  I love “gifts” – quote marks used because we both know I have more than paid for them with my play — but puh-leeze make it something I would even remotely consider using.

For instance, I am the proud owner of Casino Arizona’s latest marketing giveaway — mittens and a scarf.  Uh, did someone miss the Arizona in that name?  If you’re trying to make an impact, wouldn’t you want to give a gift that has some sort of relationship to your business?  Yeah, black mittens and a fuzzy scarf immediately say “Let’s go to the casino…in sunny Arizona” to me.  The month before, a thin “stadium blanket” was the featured free gift.  (This fascination with cold weather is really starting to make me wonder if they know something we don’t and the newest Ice Age is upon us starting in the Arizona desert.) (more…)

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Christmas in Las Vegas – The Sequel

Wednesday, December 24th, 2008

Wishing you all a very happy holiday season. We’re off for a few days to enjoy time with family and friends — and, no doubt, a little spiked eggnog — but we’ll be back this weekend.

"Harrk the Harrald Angels Sing...."

"Harrk the Harrald Angels Sing"...(and play instruments, too!)

"I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus...."

"I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" -- who looks an awful lot like the next-door neighbor.

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Christmas in Las Vegas

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2008
Hanging stockings at Caesars Palace.

Hanging stockings at Caesars Palace.

I think I see Santa!  (Are those dolphins or a Mirage?)

I think I see Santa! No, wait...it's just that big picture of Donny Osmond.

More photo fun all this week!

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Look Up — Caesars Palace Lobby Features Intricate Lighting

Friday, December 19th, 2008
Details and more details surround this intricate light fixture at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.

A lot of thought went into this intricate light fixture at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.

Things may not be looking up in Las Vegas — yet — but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t.  Look up, I mean.  Here’s another entry in our “Las Vegas Look Up” series of posts and photos showing some of the striking design elements we’ve found in Las Vegas casinos.

Today’s entry comes from Caesars Palace — the registration lobby at Caesars to be exact.  For some reason, this light fixture really caught my eye.  From a distance, it reminded me of some sort of giant cell colony.  Don’t ask me why but when I looked up it instantly reminded me of something you’d see under a microscope.  Upon closer inspection — click on the photo to enlarge — those cells are actually etchings of classic Roman figures and symbols.

Check out, too, the intricate flourishes painted onto the ceiling surrounding the base of the fixture.   And, yes, that is accent lighting surrounding each of these accent lights!  I LOVE this lavish attention to detail that you always find in casinos throughout Las Vegas.


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