Thursday, June 16, 2011

Caesars Lowering Poker Comps in AC

Last month CET lowered poker comps at their Atlantic City properties 2+2. This month they started charging 1,000 reward credits per trip to an AC Diamond Lounge unless you have "super" diamond status (25,000 tier credits). In theory, the food offerings will be upgraded. This is a major devaluation in poker comps.

1/2 NL earned 30 tier credits per hour. This meant it took 367 hours of poker to reach diamond status. With diamond status came access to the Diamond Lounges and free parking. The player also accumulated $367 of comps.

1/2 NL earns 20 tier credits per hour. This means it takes 550 hours to reach diamond status, a 50%! increase over 2010. The player will earn $550 in comps over the course of the year, but every time they hit up the formerly free Diamond Lounge for a quick meal they lose $10 of comps.

Seven Star
There are a surprising number of seven stars in AC that earned their status by playing poker as a full-time job. Seven star is 100,000 tier credits, so 3,333 hours of 1-2 in 2010. That works out to 64 hours/week. Admittedly, many of these players also mixed in some 2-5 that earned 60 tc/hr, but 2-5 does not always run. In 2011 it will take 5,000 hours of 1-2 to make seven star, or 96 hours/wk. That doesn't leave much time for doing anything but sitting at poker tables. 2-5 now earns 40 tc/hr. So it takes 2,500 hours of 2-5 to make seven star, or 48 hours/wk. I'm not sure 2-5 runs in a CET room 48 hours/wk, but it may be possible. In the end, I think CET solved their problem of having seven star poker players.

CET Plays Dirty Pool
I think a lot of players were burned by having these changes made in the middle of the year. I know I was. 99% of my play has been at CET rooms in AC, Chester, and LV at this point in the year because I was working on keeping my diamond status. I was more or less on pace to do so, having accumulated around 4,500 tier credits. At this point I thought I had to play 217 hours in AC or 232 hours in LV (Las Vegas properties award 28 tier credits/hr) to make diamond. Now I need 325 hours in AC, an increases of over 100 hours. I'm not sure where I am going to find an extra 100 hours in my schedule for poker. I'm sure I am not the only player these mid-year changes affects, and it I think it is really dirty of CET to pull this off. I'm sure there are disclaimers on the website / total rewards card that say they can change anything at anytime, so I don't think it is illegal, just dirty.

Is Diamond Worth It?
The main benefits I get for being diamond in AC are: (1) Free parking, (2) $10 buffet access at Diamond Lounges, and (3) shorter check-in line. In Las Vegas I have only used one diamond benefit ever, cutting the taxi line at Caesars Palace. All other diamond lines I have used in Vegas also accept platinum. So if I am not going to AC very frequently, there is really no benefit to diamond over platinum.

What's Next for Tarpie
I wrote the first draft of this article over a month ago. In that time I have remained loyal to CET. Although poker comps have been reduced and diamond status devalued, CET still provides me with heavily discounted or comped hotel rooms. That is a very valuable benefit that no competitor offers. So while I am annoyed at the reduction in benefits, I don't have anywhere else to go.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

23 Hours in Vegas

A couple of factors influenced me to do a 23 hour trip to Vegas. First, the Ironman of Poker was happening and I thought it would be fun to witness some of the shenanigans. Second, for the first time ever Caesars gave me a free weekend room at Caesars Palace. I can usually only get IP and sometimes Flamingo, Harrah's, or Bally's comped on a weekend. I really wanted to check out the top line Caesars hotel. Finally, I had been to Vegas every month since November and I wanted to keep the streak alive. The reason it was a 23 hour trip is because airfare shot up a buy-in or two if I wanted to fly back Sunday morning instead of Saturday night. A rational being would have skipped flying across the country for 23 hours in a destination, but I did not.

After getting the full on TSA grope at Dulles (seriously, the guy checked my "junk" five times) it was off to LAX. Only one TV in the UA terminal at LAX was showing college basketball. Was anyone really watching the Clippers? Boo LAX. Just an all around crappy airport.

The plane touched down at McCarran just after 9pm. I was expecting a mob at the taxi line since a lot of hotels were sold out, but just breezed through. Ditto for checking in at Caesars Palace. I refrained from making any dorky Hangover jokes while the clerk hooked me up with a sweet room. The low quality picture was taken out the window with my phone. Through the magic of twitter I saw that Poker Grump and Grange95 were likely to be at Planet Hollywood so off I went.

The PHo poker room was hopping on a Friday night. In the ten minutes I waited for a new table to be opened I spotted the Grump. The new table was pretty soft and I was up a little bit when I noticed the seat to the left of Grange was open at another table. Got cleared by the floor to move and got seated between two IMOP participants (River Joe was on my left). I pretty quickly benefited from the tilt the IMOPers had put one guy on. My early position limp with AK became a re-raise all-in when it came back around to me with half my stack already in the pot. In the end my AK > A? for a double up in my first orbit. Sometimes poker is easy. I gradually added onto my stack but I don't recall any memorable hands. After Grange got bored and left in a blaze of chips I got a table change to Grump's table.

In order to be social I ended up with IMOPer Santa Claus and Poker Grump on my immediate left. I was fairly card dead for the time they were both at the table, and having two sharks behind me kept me from doing anything too crazy. At some point Grump left. This is around the time that I had been up for twenty hours straight save for a catnap on the flight. There was also Sam Adams and Jameson consumed so details get a little fuzzy. I do know that after Santa Claus left I moved into seat one and went on an incredible run. Some good play, some luck, some just being the drunk guy at the table that no one ever believed.

I do recall two lucky hands. In one case a short stack committed a large portion of his chips to my pre-flop raise with KK. Of course he hits his set and I get it all-in with him on the flop. Runner-runner flush and I'm stacking up chips (yes, I pulled off the same luckbox feat in Reno). Another "lucky" hand was flopping a 2 with 2-4 (the Grump). I bet it and the guy shoved his short-stack. It was almost free to call so I did. He flips over 77 and I start apologizing for "cracking" it before the dealer puts out the turn. Of course the turn is a 2 for trips, and another 2 on the river for quads. The guy took it well.

I set a personal record for a triangular number of red chip stacks with 15. I was trying to get to 21 when the wall hit me around two in the afternoon. I racked up much to the dismay of the table who had been salivating over my chips for hours at this point.

I wandered up to IP in a zombie like state. After getting on the list for the one table they had going I went over to the Penazzi oyster bar at Harrah's for my only meal of the trip. The large dish of scallops and pasta did not sit well after drinking for sixteen hours straight. When I went back to IP I sat for an orbit but left before I put a chip in the pot. At this point I went back to enjoy my beautiful room. By enjoy I mean I took a long shower so I wouldn't fall asleep before my flight. Packing was easy since I never unpacked or slept. Walked down to the Caesars taxi line and it seemed like there were a hundred people in line. On a hunch I walked by the line and there it was! An empty diamond member taxi line. Man that diamond card saves me so much time in Vegas. It was worth going up to AC on December 30 to get enough tier points for it.

Nothing too exciting at McCarran. It's not very busy on a Saturday night. It's also really easy to avoid the Nude-O-Scopes by walking between security lines. Next stop LAX.

Get to my gate at LAX and my worst non-fatal flying nightmare is there. Half the passengers waiting to board are middle school students hyped up about visiting the nation's capital. Besides catnaps on flights to and from LAS, I have not slept in 40 hours at this point. I am really worried that I will end up on CNN for losing it on a kid in flight. United must have sensed my fragile mental state and hooked me up with the penultimate first class upgrade. Sweet! No jail time tonight. Since there was a bulkhead behind me, I reclined as soon as the wheels left the ground. I instantly feel asleep and did not wake up until the deceleration/descent woke me up. That's the way to fly.

Hit Wegmans at 7:30am which really has to be the best time to go. Unfortunately I am almost never up at that hour.

All in all a fun 23 hours in Vegas. I'm glad my room was comped since I never used the bed. Sadly, my shortest Vegas trip ever was almost my most profitable Vegas trip ever. Hopefully the rungood streak continues when I come back the second weekend of April.

Friday, February 18, 2011

First Trip to Reno

A couple of months ago I booked a weekend trip to Reno, taking advantage of low airfare and a comped room at Harrah's Reno. I intended to ski for the first time in a decade, and to play some poker. Unfortunately, I somehow injured my shoulder and decided skiing was not the best idea for recovery. Oh well, more time for poker.

I got into town at eight o'clock Friday night. The first order of business was getting dinner. recommended Lucky Noodle Bar, and after wandering around a bit and asking a security guard I found it. Harrah's Reno is a bit confusing because it is really two casinos across the street from each other. I was staying on the east side, the smaller of the two casinos. The noodle shop was quick, filling, and cheap. Plus, you get to watch a master woksman if you sit at the bar. I also realized I was back in Nevada when I got asked for ID to use my credit card to pay. I cannot recall the last time I had to provide ID for a credit transaction in Virginia, or even Atlantic City.

After eating I got seated right away at the one 1-2 game Harrah's was running at nine on a Friday night. Within an hour we were playing five-handed, but the table filled up later. These were some bad players. Example: My pot-sized all-in reraise was called by a naked inside straight draw. I'm not sure I have ever seen that before. Of course the poker gods were not kind to me and I suffered a few suckouts to finish down for the session. The room went dark sometime between three and four am. By this point I had a few Sam Adams and Jamesons in me and was not ready for bed. The bikini clad sirens lured me to the blackjack pit where I played 6:5 BJ. Bad Tarpie! Luckily Harrah's was looking out for me and closed that pit within 30 minutes. I headed over to the non-bikini blackjack tables and managed to make up for my poker losses plus a few hundred. Send a SASE and money and I'll send you my BJ system. It involves betting and randomly betting a little more and then getting lucky :) It was off to bed around 5am.

My body was on east coast time, so I woke up threeish hours later. The Harrah's buffet on Saturday morning is not a bad value. $13.99 included rotgut champagne. As long as you have an omelet station, I'm happy. Since it was brunch, prime rib, sushi, and crab legs were also set out. I just stuck with an omelet, breakfast meats, and a mimosa.

Late Saturday morning was a bad time to be looking for a cash game. Harrah's was running a tournament, so I decided to explore downtown a bit. I skipped right pass El Dorado and went into Silver Legacy. Their poker room does not open until noon and it is all electronic tables. Lame. Circus Circus had no cash games and had just started a tournament. I tried to enter just to kill time until cash games opened up, but there was no late entry. On my way back to Harrah's I hit El Dorado and found a cash game. Had to re-buy a couple of times because flush draws always seem to get there for other people, but then the fun started.

My favorite hand was limping with KK. With my usual luck, non of the LAGs behind me re-popped it (or even limped), so it was just me, BB, and Button. Flop is a beautiful K93 rainbow. Check-check-check. Let's see if I can give one of these guys some rope. Turn 3. I got up from the table and did a little dance, but these guys weren't paying attention. Check-check-check. River 8. BB bets ridiculously big, something like $65. I had $165 and decide to re-shove. I didn't think there was much chance of the Button having a hand he could call with, so I was just going for the BBs chips. Now the Button starts bitching and moaning about being caught on the river. It takes him five minutes to talk himself into a call. Yay! The BB calls instantly. Button had A3 for trips, A kicker. Button was correct, BB had 8-3 for suckout rivered boat. But KKK33 is best! I can't remember the last time a hand worked out so well for me. It took me minutes to stack all of those chips.

Another favorite was raising pre-flop with KK (again!) and having a guy call half his stack. Flop is T93 and I put him all-in. Of course he called half his stack with 99. I didn't even see the board, but I runner runnered a flush as I was counting the chips to pay off the set. Whoops. I ended up stacking the guy a couple more times. It was fun since he didn't tip dealers and was generally unpleasant.

The rest of the afternoon I hit a few more sets, and even after showing down monsters no one was giving me credit for hands. I ended up cashing out four racks. I think this is my biggest score ever. Last year I built up a four rack stack but then pissed it away before cashing out. I need to remember it is possible for me to pull this off next time I'm stuck folding J2off and having AA cracked for hours on end.

Went back to Lucky Noodle for dinner. The Harrah's poker room had a wait and again, just one table so I went back to El Dorado. Made a small profit before lack of sleep hit me.

When packing for my early, early morning flight, I had to take my winnings out of my wallet since it would not close. I hope to have that problem again in the future. Got back to DC in time for my six o'clock dart match and my good fortune carried over to my dart game. All in all a fun weekend.

Hopefully I will make it back to Reno/Tahoe for skiing in the next couple of months. It's mostly up to United Airlines.