Posted by fremont4ever
Sep 25, 2012

Great Race 2012 road trip report, part 5 - Las Vegas

THURSDAY, 9/13 - After I finished breakfast, I waddled over to the Total Rewards desk. This was my last opt-in for the Great Race. The 3 checkpoints earned here would get me to 15 and yield a reward of 75,000 TR points good for $750 in comps. So I opted in without drama and it was off to find a suitable VP machine. I found a 7/5 bonus 3x machine for quarters that would do the trick. I hit quads one and a few full houses for a net gain of $17.50. That reduced my gambling losses for the Race to $54 reasonable for what I expect to get out of it.

Bottom line (total for all stops):

Race total costs - $486
States visited - 6
Provinces visited - 1
Casinos visited - 7
Miles - 6643


odiousgambit Sep 26, 2012

I wonder if they would consider the publicity worth it to them, even for case like yours where comps exceed losses. Would your theoretical losses also be less than comps?

fremont4ever Sep 26, 2012

My theoretical loss on this whole journey was $30. I base this on $1500 coin-in at video poker and an average of 2% house edge (about what a 7/5 bonus machine would turn out to be. I played some better, some worse, and while I know VP strategy pretty well for JoB and bonus (which is exclusively what I played), I'm not perfect, so I think the 2% number would have applied in practice. My actual results were worse, but not much worse.

My biggest expenses were fuel, followed by that plane ticket. I paid about as much in tolls as I lost in the machines.

Tiltpoul Sep 26, 2012

I'm hoping to get my last two stops in this weekend; Metropolis and HSI. I'm wanting to swing through Tunica as well, but that may not happen, and I already have the credits for down there anyways.

tringlomane Sep 26, 2012

You gained money while in Vegas? Didn't it cost you money to fly/stay there? From what I'm reading, Vegas isn't your home spot, so I'm confused. :)

Vegas was my biggest expense in this "race" I did with my g/f. $440 for two round trip tickets and $200 for hotel for 5 nights. If I did this solo, the profits of the trip would haven't been that great, maybe even a loss.

Expenses (hotel/gas/air):

Vegas: ~$640

NKC: ~$110

STL: ~$7 (home)

Hammond: ~$100

Southern Indiana/Metropolis/Tunica: ~$300

Total: $1157

Yikes! Even more than I initially guessed. We stayed in Vegas/Tunica longer than needed, and KC for one night. Oh well, it was still fun though.

fremont4ever Sep 26, 2012

>>You gained money while in Vegas? Didn't it cost you money to fly/stay there? From what I'm reading, Vegas isn't your home spot, so I'm confused. :)<<

I chose not to count any of my LV expenses other than gambling because I was going there anyway at that time, Race or not.

tringlomane Sep 26, 2012

Fair enough. Actually in my case, our Vegas trip was already booked before I learned they were redoing the Race. I was booked from June 27th-July 2nd. I learned they were redoing the race a couple of days before I left, thank god! The extra comps gained from adding Vegas location covers most of the hotel/air for that trip. :)

teddys Sep 27, 2012

You reminded me I have to check in here. Four days left!

Posted by fremont4ever
Jul 30, 2012

Great Race 2012 road trip report, part 4 - Windsor and Cleveland


7:30 AM, Mile 0 - I took off again on another leg in my journey towards Caesars Entertainment's only Canadian casino, and their newest one.  I got a late start because I double checked my plans.  Another near perfect, sunny summer day spent on the road.  That could be good or bad.  I thought it was good.

9:05 AM, Mile 94 - The tunnel was interesting - I had never done that before.  Canadian Customs was easy - just present passport and wave-through.  I arrived at Caesars Windsor and looked around.  Decently nice place, though I still think Hammond is nicer.  Not very busy.  Lots and lots of slots.  But where's the video poker.  Oh yeah... over there, in its own section.  I'm used to having VP scattered here, there, and everywhere.  Is this a new thing, or is this a very old thing?  Anyway, the best I could find was 8/5 JoB, so I played that for dollars.  

But first, the money exchange.  The machines only took Canadian dollars.  Conveniently, there were more than the usual number of TITO/bill breaking machines that also did exchanges.  That day's rate was $98 CDN for $100 US.  I remember when it was a lot better than that, but never mind.  I changed my bennie and got $95 in bills plus $3 in dollar coins (couldn't use them - I think Caesars is all TITO).  I fought the machine to a draw, mostly, and gained my points with a relatively modest $5 loss.  On to the cashier to exchange my money for American bills.  Another haircut - my $93 CDN translated into $91.25 US.  I folded them into my "gambling losses" below.

9:50 AM - Time to go.

10:00 AM - But wait!  U.S. Customs invited me to stay just a little bit longer.  I was chosen for a secondary inspection.  Drive your car this way and step that way.  I'm sure they gave my car the once-over; sorry to disappoint them.  After another round of questioning and some wait time, I was let go.  It could've been worse.

11:25 AM, Mile 168 - This was a scheduled fuel stop near Toledo.  I got 8 gallons of gas @ $3.36 per.

1:10 PM, Mile 271 - Welcome to downtown Cleveland!  There were a couple of stretches of construction on the Ohio Turnpike that slowed everyone down.  The newest Horseshoe is a couple of blocks away from the parking garage and there's no skywalk leading to it - you have to actually follow the sidewalks down on the ground.  The casino itself was nice and new.  Busy - especially the table games.  The video poker was less so; more on that story later.  I found the kiosk for the free parking - play for at least 30 minutes and earn at least 15 points and get parking paid for.  Since parking in the garage was $15+ on weekends, it was quite valuable.  I couldn't find any Great Race kiosks, but there was a TR booth on the main level.  It had a considerable line, but there was nothing to do but stand in it.  Opting in was easy once I was able to do so.

Horseshoe Cleveland is in a converted department store on multiple levels, back when the fancier stores used to do such.  The basement held the buffet; the main floor had slots and table games; the 3rd floor housed the poker room; and on the 2nd floor was the high limit room, more table games, more slots... and video poker.  There they are, in their own section again.  The best I could find was a quarters 8/5 JoB progressive for quads, straight flushes, the royal, and a sequential royal.  Good news:  the former two were hit while I was playing.  Bad news:  it wasn't by me.  I played quarters to s-t-r-e-t-c-h out my play for the half hour they required.  I still had to slow down near the end.  The machine handed out some good hands, but I suppose that was going to happen regardless.  It wasn't enough; I lost $36.25 but gained two more CheckPoints.  So, mission accomplished, I weaved my way through the crowds and headed out.

2:25 PM - Headed for home after another adventure.

4:05 PM, Mile 376 - Another fuel stop.  This one wasn't strictly necessary, but I would need fuel eventuallly and this place offered a good price.  I stopped near Toledo again, at a different station.  I got 5.9 gallons @ $3.36 per.

6:15 PM, Mile 507 - I stopped the clock on this leg.

Bottom line:

This trip:

Tolls - $18
Fuel - $50
Gambling losses - $45
TOTAL - $113

Race total - $503
Race total miles - 2997

So far I've been to:
Philadelphia (Harrah's)
Hammond (Horseshoe)
Elizabeth (Horseshoe)
Windsor (Caesars)
Cleveland (Horseshoe)

That's 10. I'm heading for Las Vegas in a few weeks; that will make 13. And I'm getting credit for Atlantic City (see below for that story). That should make 15 and $750 in comps.


teddys Jul 31, 2012

I was at Windsor the same day you were. If I knew you were coming, I would have changed money for you at 1 to 1.

Ibeatyouraces Aug 11, 2012

Coming back to Detroit from Windsor used to be, and I quote; "Customs: Where were you? Me: "casino." Customs: "OK, have a good day/night."

Not any more.

JohnnyQ Sep 29, 2012

I'm not too impressed with the lay-out of the

Horseshoe in Cleveland. But I guess it is OK

for a temporary facility.

I'm not sure when the permanent building

will be built. I assume they will drag their

feet if they are making a boatload of money

with what they already have.

The parking garage situation is strange,

walking down to the dirty streets of

Cleveland, past the smokers outside the

Casino... It's just NOT impressive.

I think it will be interesting to see how

busy the place is in the middle of the

winter on non-NBA nights.

Posted by fremont4ever
Jul 30, 2012

Great Race 2012 road trip report, part 3 - Southern Indiana

Bonus coverage!


6:40 AM, Mile 0 - I bounced around between heading south and heading east until almost the last minute.  Those potential spots of thunder would not leave Cleveland, so I decided to hold off for at least a day and head to HSI instead.  That's one nice thing about being free, single, over 21, and unencumbered by other obligations - you can pull off these last-minute switches with little problem.  I readied myself and made the journey to Middle of Nowhere, Indiana.  It looked like another perfect summer day here; I hoped it would be just as nice there.

9:30 AM, Mile 208 - Not quite as nice.  The drive was mostly eventless (thankfully), but past Fort Wayne I found some pretty heavy clouds.  They looked like rainmakers for sure, but they held off.  They cleared up some a few miles from this stop, which was near Daleville.  9.6 gallons at $3.30 per yielded a $31.80 charge.  With that business done, it was time to hit the open road.

12:05 PM, Mile 378 - I passed by Henryville (I-65, exit 19).  Remember them?  They were hit by a tornado a few disasters ago.  There was some construction on the road near here, which may or may not have had anything to do with that.  I said a little prayer and moved along.

I made it to HSI with little difficulty.  There were some clouds, but the sun was shining nicely.  There didn't seem to be much traffic in the parking garage, so I parked near the entrance.  More security as I entered the casino area, and again just a wave through.  There were several kiosks near the TR booth, some of which were actually working.  I swiped my card once, twice, three times (there's not a lot of feedback) and headed down to try my luck.  Casino traffic was lighter than I expected for a weekend afternoon.

I found a 9/6 JoB machine for dollars on level 2.  This machine was hot almost from the very beginning.  I wanted to take it home with me.  I ended up $50 ahead, which wiped out most of my PhillyChester losses.  There seemed to be nothing else to do here but head for the buffet for something to eat.

Paula Deen's name is on the buffet here.  Some of you may know her a lot better than I do.  It was brunch time here.  Not a lot of exotic foods, but plenty of well-prepared and appetizing foods and good service (which I received across the board from everyone I bothered to interact with here).  It was awfully big but not a whole lot of customers.  I don't think any of the Strip casinos would have such an empty buffet at this time of day.  I liked it and can recommend it if you're in the area and into that potentially fattening, artery-clogging sort of thing.  The damage was about $24, which was mostly compted.

1:15 PM - It was time to hit the open road again.

3:50 PM, Mile 547 - Another fuel stop, which gave me the opportunity to stretch and take care of other calls of nature.  This was Dalveville again, different station (they had several, most of them with the same nice prices for fuel).  Nearby was Colts' training camp, for you football fans out there.  9.6 gallons at $3.30 per yielded a $31.53 charge here.  I got nearly 36 MPG out of this stretch, which is pretty good - even for this car.

4:00 PM - It was time to leave for the final portion of the journey.

6:50 PM, Mile 753 - Be it ever so humble...

Bottom line:

This trip:

Fuel - $73
Gambling losses (wins) - ($50)
Total - $23

Race total - $390
Race total miles - 2490

Posted by fremont4ever
Jul 24, 2012

Great Race 2012 road trip report, part 2 - Hammond


6:15 AM, Mile 0 - It looks like another sunny day in the city as I head off toward my destiny. I left my tolerance for BS in Atlantic City, so I hope they treat me right for once.

8:15 AM CDT (9:15 AM at home), Mile 203 - Not much traffic except for the occasional truck. It did get busier as I got closer to Hammond. Parking was no problem. There's security at the entrance here, but they just waved me through ("Have a nice day, sir!"), like the other riverboats I encountered last year. My first impression was, "This is a really nice place". And it was - spacious without being sprawly, nice and new machines, wide aisles, well maintained. This is the nicest CZR joint I've been in other than the ones in Las Vegas (Paris is about as nice in a different way, and it's been awhile since I've been in Caesars LV).

OK, time to stop taking notes and get to the Total Rewards booth. I didn't see any kiosks (I did later, but they were used for some other promotion). There was only one person in line as I headed up, and she was heading off as I snaked my way through. The nice lady took my card and opted me in. See, that wasn't so hard. Some other casinos should take note.

Now that I was opted in, it was time to play. I found some 9/6 JoB machines for dollars outside the poker room. The casino wasn't busy, so I basically had my choice of machines. I stayed pretty close to even the whole time, and left exactly on the zero mark. Mission accomplished, so it was time for the exits.

8:50 AM CDT - Time to go. I should note that the tolls were $2.40 each way from Exit 21 to Exit 0 on the toll road.

11:35 AM, Mile 300 - I just went through a nasty spot of construction on 94. The expressway went down from 3 lanes to 2 to 1 in short order. Fair warning was given, but some people seemed to hog the left lane until the very last minute. It only lasted about 3 miles, but traffic was stop and go through most of it. Once through, I noticed I was getting short on fuel, so I stopped in Watervliet. Gasbuddy showed no real difference in prices on this stretch between Hammond and Battle Creek. I wasn't going to make it to BC, so I stopped here. 9.8 gallons @ $3.59 per = $35.21. Why yes, my gas tank is really small; why do you ask?

The break was somewhat helpful, but it was time to hit the road again.

1:15 PM, Mile 411 - It's good to be home again.

Bottom line:

This trip:

Tolls - $5
Gas - $47
TOTAL - $52

Race total - $367
Race total miles - 1737

Windsor and Cleveland are the next stops this weekend.

Posted by fremont4ever
Jul 18, 2012

Great Race 2012 road trip report, part 1 - Atlantic City and Philadelphia

I unpacked "frustrating" first
Reached in and found the word "worst"
Then I picked "soggy" and
Next I picked "foggy" and
Then I was ready to tell them my tale
- Blossom Dearie, "Unpack Your Adjectives"


5:20 AM, Mile 0 - Another year, another Great Race. Encouraged by the reports of those that have gone before me, I boldly set out for my share of Caesars' bounty. It was a warm morning, as had been most mornings the past 3 weeks, with the slightest highlights of the sunny eastern sky.

6:40 AM, Mile 89 - The line at the airport was shorter than I'd seen here in awhile and the TSA grumps friendlier than usual. I got a traditional scan for once.

8:00 AM - I took off for Atlantic City on Spirit. Lots of kiddies on this flight (and the return). I guess the low, low prices attracted them. I know they attracted me. I bought a window up front because, you know, life is too short for hassles. Besides, I wanted to get out quickly and get going because I had a race to run.

10:00 AM, Mile 586 - We left and arrived on time on our Airbus 320. The one word I'd use to describe ACY was "tight". Tight gate areas, tight security areas, tight lines, tight escalators... I think RNO is about 10,000x better than this and LAN is at least 1,000x. No, I'm not exaggerating for comic effect. You have to see it to believe it. But I wouldn't recommend it for anyone I liked. No slot machines; this ain't Nevada.

The rental car area at ACY was tough to find. Here's a tip for you all that happen to be in the neighborhood: Head out of the terminal across the street toward the parking garage. Hang a left at the first door. Go straight through the next door and the rental agencies are there. The only one that had a line was Enterprise, and guess which agency I was using? To their credit, they warned me about this when they called to confirm my appointment. Once they got through the others' business, they took care of me. I ordered a compact and they gave me a Chevy Malibu with 4k miles. Not half bad.

I got some change at the local gas station for tolls (Enterprise warned me about this too, to their credit) and was off and running for Philadelphia. Some sprinkles were in the air.

11:40 AM, Mile 652 - I finally made it to Chester. We had on and off showers to Pennsylvania, where it got harder and steadier. I didn't need this, but I was on a mission. Harrah's Philadelphia is a racino in an industrial district back when America had such a thing. I could almost feel the grit and grime in the air. Anyway, first I went to the TR booth to check in. They told me to use the kiosk. Sure enough, they had one. I swiped and checked in. So that's one.

Now to pick a game. They had lots and lots of slots, but relatively few video poker games. I found 8/6 JoB for dollars, so that's what I played. The good news: I got dealt two flushes. The bad news: Most everything else. I earned my points, but it cost me $70. I lost another $1.25 trying to get some change (those tolls take a toll). There was literallly nothing else to see here, so I got out of there. It was raining harder.

1:55 PM, Mile 728 - CZR has several casinos to choose from in Atlantic City. I chose Harrah's. Did I make the right choice? You decide. Getting here was a pain in the derriere; the rain was pretty hard in spots, but it went away halfway through Joisey and AC had a little sun by the time I got there.

I stopped by the TR booth. They gave me two shiny new cards with their new logo, which I guess I should appreciate more than I do. They also reset the PIN (it's property-specific, which I didn't know). Then they directed me to the promotional kiosks. But guess what? All their promotional kiosks were occupied with some other inferior, crappy promotion. So back in line I went. They said they COULD NOT OPT ME IN FROM THE DESK, because they didn't have access to that information. But they assured me that they would be finished with that other crappy promotion in about an hour. No, they weren't. By this point I had written off Harrah's AC as being run by amateurs and not being worth my time.

But first I had a buffet. $35 - not worth it. Probably not worth half of it. It was, however, worth the tip (comps covered the rest of it, thankfully). Decent enough food, but barely better than the Gold Coast's offerings. But that place was over 2000 miles away. The gambling was also awfully expensive; the vast majority of the VP I checked had 7/5 JoB and 6/5 Bonus. Bleh. They did have 9/6 JoB for $5 and up in the high limit room. There was no incentive for me to play anything here, so I didn't.

4:15 PM, Mile 739 - Gassing up at Wawa's was interesting. They actually had someone pump the gas! I haven't had that done in years and years. Their prices were competitive, so they didn't charge extra for that service. But unlike the old, old days, they didn't clean the windows or check the oil. Oh well.

Checking the car back in was s-l-o-w, since they had only one person doing it and someone else returning their car. But everything checked out. I didn't pay for a seat on the return flight, so I left my seating to the fates. And for once, fate was kind. I got a Big Front Seat. I liked it, even though I was on the aisle. I actually thought their basic seat was fine, which I've heard lots of people complain about. Overall I thought Spirit did a good job and would recommend them with provisos and conditions.

8:20 PM, Mile 1326 - A marathon day is finished. The flight arrived on time and it was smooth sailing until just outside Lansing when the rains came. Not hard, though it got harder after I arrived in town.

Bottom line:

Parking - $15
Tolls - $13
Gas - $40
Plane ticket - $132
Rental - $44
Gambling losses - $71
TOTAL -> $315

Not getting a checkpoint in AC changes the gameplan. Now I plan to head to Hammond this Saturday, then do the Windsor/Cleveland double the weekend after (or the one after that, depending). I had a trip to LV planned before the Race started, and that will go in September. That will get me to 11, which means $500 in comps.


cestanl Jul 18, 2012

If I'm not mistaken, you are not allowed to pump your own gas in New Jersey. I had to let the guy pump it for me when i was in NJ as well :)

teddys Jul 18, 2012

I wish you had prepared more for your trip. Harrah's AC has 9/6 JOB in quarters on a few machines. Sorry to hear about the check-in snafu.

Hunterhill Jul 18, 2012

Both Bally`s and Ceasars in Atlantic city have $1 9/6 Jacks or better not sure about 25c.You should check on Vp free before your next trip to save some time.With all your expenses it doesn`t seem like it is worth it to make trips just for the rewards.

hook3670 Jul 18, 2012

Last year I never swiped in anywhere and still got credit for all the casinos I played at. It may be the same this year.

hook3670 Jul 18, 2012

Last year I never swiped in anywhere and still got credit for all the casinos I played at. It may be the same this year.

buzzpaff Jul 18, 2012

Had stopped at WAWA's on Tuesday night, between 8 and 9, the TEXACO men would have checked your oil and cleaned your windshield. At least that's what Milton Berle told me !

rdw4potus Jul 26, 2012

why skip AC just because Harrah's sucks? I'm surprised you didn't try bally's or showboat before leaving town.

fremont4ever Jul 30, 2012

Thanks all for replying.

cestanl: Noted. Kinda freaked me out when it happened, as in, "why is this strange man hanging around my car?" But it turned out fine.

teddys: The VP I covered in the Great Race thread. I'm over Harrah's now. I'll explain in a little bit.

Hunterhill: I should have double checked the analysis for A.C. That turned out to be breakeven at best, essentially trading cash now for CZR comps later. Not a great idea, but I did get to see a couple of east coast casinos (and cities) for little cost. There are worse things.

hook3670: They made a big deal in their rules & FAQ about opting in at every location, so I'm not about to take a chance by not following them - even if it did work out well last year.

buzzpaff: :)

rdw4potus: Answer covered in the Great Race thread. In a few words, I didn't have time.

OK, now for the update. A few days after the disaster that was Atlantic City, I sent a letter to this guy detailing it:

One of the guys under him replied, saying they were sorry and they would give me the CheckPoints for Atlantic City. I thought that was nice of them and wanted to give them credit publicly. This changed things around again, so look around in my blog for further details.