Sunday, July 12, 2009

The South Point Hotel and Casino (VegasSummer 09, entertainment, gambling)

I stayed there for the first 6 nights of the Vegas trip, and I actually liked the place a lot. It's away from the strip, but there were a good number of things to do on the property. With a theater, arcade, bowling, spa, and full casino as well as a poker room, I didn't really need to be back near the strip. Most of the people who spent their time there were families. There were many dads in the poker room, gambling away while their wives were at the spa and their children at the lanes or arcade. The rooms are a nice size and while the bathroom was not as nice as the Bellagio, the water pressure in the showers were comparable. While I would definitely recommend staying on the strip if you were with a bunch of 20-30 year olds looking to party and do whatever it is that hopefully stays in Vegas, I would recommend South Point for a relaxing quick family getaway.

While I clearly spent a lot of time in the poker room, I also played a decent amount of table games. I started off mostly playing 10-25 a hand, usually at Pai Gow Poker or Baccarat. The only really big players I saw were a table of Vietnamese people who were playing about 2-3k per hand of Baccarat. At one point, I was down to the last 400 or so that I would spend at the tables there (knowing that I still had to go to the Bellagio afterwards for 3 more nights) and of course I decided to play 200 a hand of Pai Gow Poker. Well, I managed to stay afloat long enough to hit a ridiculous run where I won 8 in a row and got back to even for my time at the tables there. I got up after the dealer started talking about the streak, as I'm superstitious enough to feel that talking about it will jinx it. My seat would have won the next one but lose the one after that, so it all came out to be about the same.

With that run of hands and a bit more time put in at 100 per hand, I decided that I'd done enough gambling and would only play poker on my last day there. I went to the pit with the Pai Gow Poker early that last afternoon and asked what the pit bosses could do for me. They told me that because I booked my room through a third party, they couldn't take any nights off, but they comped whatever I'd charged to the room previously, and comped me a big lunch at the Oyster Bar. After that, I wasn't in the mood to go to the poker room, so I decided to check out the spa. They had day and multi-day passes, but if you book some sort of spa or salon treatment, then you get to use the spa for the rest of the day as well. So I chose the cheapest thing on the menu, a manicure for $25, since my nails were way too long at the time anyway. I didn't quite like the manicure, but the spa was a good time. The spa pass included use of the gym (decent sized with normal range of machines) as well as the spa which included a lounge, jacuzzi, steam room, sauna, showers, and complimentary drinks and fruit.

After the spa closed, I went back to the pit to see if I could get a dinner taken care of as well. They told me that they usually give out one comp a day, but managed to get me another full meal at the Oyster Bar. I was happy with that as I didn't think that I had given them that much play besides that one big run during Pai Gow Poker. Then again, 200 a hand was a lot compared to most of the players there. Being in NYC all the time, where everyone feels like a tiny goby in a vast ocean, it was good to be a little bit of a bigger fish in a small pond. One of the interesting things about Pai Gow Poker there was that they let you bet multiple hands with the ability to set them all yourself, as well as bet a different amount on each hand. I think that someone with a good memory and a strategy to use that extra information could take good advantage of that.

In all, I would say that if you're flying way across the US to Las Vegas from the East Coast or going there to party it up, stay on the strip and do the sightseeing and the clubbing. But if you were taking a short trip there with your family or just to get some gamble on without fully indulging in "Sin City", then I think it's a nice place and good value for money. Another place that the dealers talked about away from the strip was Red Rock Casino, which is about a $50 cab ride from the airport. However, I was told that if it was on the strip the property would be comparable or even better than the Bellagio, so perhaps that's a place worth trying out.

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