This was a quick one-day stop over on my way back from a speaking role at conference in SF. My last trip to Miami had me underwater for the year so I was chomping at the bit to get back into the win column. I received a free room night at Planet Hollywood from my Total Rewards friends. This trip changed my Vegas routine and outlook on the type of casino I prefer.
In past trips I had stuck my nose up at the mid-scale strip casinos and spent my time going from Caesars to Bellagio to Venetian and Aria. All of these places smell very nice, have beautiful interiors, and with a few exceptions their dealers are about as warm as the imported marble tiles that line their hallways. On this trip I was thinking my routine would be the same as usual since I hadn’t played at PH much I had written it off as a cheesy mid level property. Honestly that assement was pretty right on, but I found out that isn’t a bad thing whatsoever.
I took a 8am flight from SF to LAS which got me inside a casino at about 10am – actually it was outside at the casino – I didn’t know much about PH and mornings aren’t their strong suit which meant there weren’t any free tables inside so I headed to their poolside tables. This isn’t very publicized, but a very cool option – cute swimsuit clad dealers under tents and misting stations right next to the bar at their rooftop pool. The scenery was great, the dealers and pit crew were very friendly, the weather was hot and the tables were wide open – PH immediately became my kind of place.
Great thing about Vegas is that surrender is available almost everywhere, there are almost always plenty of table options available so the $10 crowd can play team black jack for fun, the $25 players can play in groups of 1-3 and the $50+ players can be anti-social on solo tables. There weren’t too many tables outside, but with little foot traffic and mostly low-rollers looking for a fun $10 game at the pool I had a $25 table to myself for hours. I had spent the past 8 weeks since Miami practicing on my favorite free Blackjack app – my focus was on surrender and how to make it part of the strategy. I became as big a fan of surrender as I was becoming of PH – going up $700 after a few hours, lunch at the poolside bar, and a perfectly pleasant afternoon.
After my poolside win I still was drawn back to my old routine so I headed across the street to Aria and quickly realized that as nice a place as it is I’m more comfortable at PH. The Aria dealers were blah, the crowd was reserved and the energy was non-existant. It is a great property, amazing restaurants and bars, beautiful people, fantastic service, high-quality rooms, but it just doesn’t feel like a place you can win and the dealers can go for hours without speaking or breaking a smile. I spent an hour or so at my old favorite spot and knew that it wasn’t for me anymore – although I still make a stop at Todd English PUB for sliders and a beer almost every time I’m in Vegas.
After dropping a few hundred at Aria I headed back to my new homebase and tried some indoor blackjack. By now the pleasure pit was open and half-naked women were dealing $25 tables in addition to the standard PH pit – and the music was up and rockin. The vibe at PH was electric, casual and fun – exactly what you want when you are winning or losing. The friendly attractive dealers definitely draw a crowd which can make it hard to find an open table to play one on one, but with a little patience tables do open up. I had another decent run and at 8pm was pleasantly surprised when the music went way up and the Pleasure Pit shift change happened in great ceremony with PHamous playing the new ladies in. It was a good night – I did get a little caught up in the atmosphere and drink a few more Bud Lights than usual which caused some sloppy play which limited my winnings to $500 total, it got me back in black numbers for the year, but easily could have brought home a few more big bills.