September Trip Report (Aria)
Started by StudiodeKadent on Tuesday, 8th October 2013 9:20 pm
Okay, I recently visited Vegas for my usual September sin-fest and had a great time. Trip report follows:
I played at Aria, Bellagio, MGM and Mirage. At all these places the rules for the Green Chip S17 games are:
2d, 3:2, S17, nRSA, NS, DA2, DAS, penetration set by a notch in the discard tray, around 60-something percent.
6d, Hand Shuffle, 3:2, S17, RSA, LS, DA2, DAS, 75% penetration but some dealers go back a bit further.
At Mirage and Aria, the double-deck game starts at $25 (Aria jack up their mins early, Mirage waits until after lunch usually). Bellagio and MGM start the min at $50. The six-deck game always starts at $25 with Mirage, MGM and Bellagio jacking up their minimums less quickly than Aria. If you want $25 mins at Aria, come during Graveyard or on a slow midweek with few conventions.
Mirage has only three main-floor tables with the S17 rule (all others are in high limit). One of these tables is double-deck, the other two are six-deck.
Bellagio, interestingly enough, has $15 hand-shuffled H17 games around the clock in the Asian gaming pit (outside Noodles) and they open $10 hand-shuffled H17 games later in the day across from the S17 pit. This means that lower-limit players who hate CSMs can play at the Bellagio quite happily!
Now, I also checked out the blackjack conditions at Venetian and Palazzo. Their conditions on the main floor are:
8d, ASM, 3:2, H17, DA2, DAS, LS, RSA, from $10 up
2d, 3:2, H17, DA2, DAS, NS, nRSA, from $25 up
In the high limit, the conditions are:
6d, ASM (Hand Shuffle only upon request), 3:2, S17, DA2, DAS, LS, RSA, from $100 up
2d, 3:2, S17, DA2, DAS, NS, nRSA from $100 up (I think)
So yeah, Venelazzo is still lacklustre gaming at best.
Cosmopolitan manages to be even worse, with 6:5 on all double-deck outside the high limit room and all double-deck being H17. They do however have $10 3:2 BJ games though, but they're dealt from a CSM. All good games are at least $100+, possibly $200+. If you play blackjack, avoid Cosmo.
On the bright side, they start Midi-Baccarat at $50 a hand.
PROPERTY BY PROPERTY
Okay, still my favorite Vegas property and I stayed here. The service is good and everyone knows me and pretends to like me, so I'm happy there.
Julian Serrano and Sage are still great restaurants and probably the best in Aria. Five50 is a FANTASTIC addition though - the pork and truffle cannelloni and the bucantini all'amatriciana are frankly orgasmic and the Gotham pizza is really good. If I had a complaint, its that they don't serve the Truffle pizza by the slice. But yes, another real winner for Shawn McClain.
Javiers... I wasn't completely impressed with. Maybe I ordered the wrong things. However, their pork carnitas have an INCREDIBLE texture. The meat is just disintegrating when you get it, its so slowly cooked... oh deargodyesMOREMORE. And the margarita bar is welcome too. It gives Aria a little more energy during the afternoon. I think its an improvement on Union certainly, and the service is great.
The new carpet and felts and dealer uniforms look good too - it kind of turns Aria into "what the Cosmopolitan should've been" but still is more restrained and relaxed than other properties. Bar Moderno has been renamed (apparently some people couldn't pronounce the name (!)) and the decor simplified. The View Bar finally has an actual view of the casino floor too. To be honest I wish that now the casino looks a bit more colorful, they would turn down the lights just a little bit and let the place feel more mysterious/suave/romantic because it makes everyone look sexier when you can't see the flaws in their complexions.
Jean-Georges changed the music to standard-issue pop but one of the staff members is trying to go back to their older, more alternative soundtrack and I wish him the best because the dark atmosphere is really the best thing the place has going for it (apart from the service). The food and drinks are both overpriced.
Sirio, I still like it (I like it better than Circo at the Bellagio). They improved the food since my previous visit and their drinks are less overpriced than JGs and the service is very attentive.
Olives was delicious as usual, and I find that Hyde is pretty much the only nightclub I actually like. Why? Its a cocktail lounge that happens to also be a nightclub, and it has good cocktails and great service. The VIP hosts are particularly good; after a reservation of mine got cancelled (due to someone buying out the whole club) the VIP host made sure I got a replacement reservation and made sure to be very nice to me, which really helped.
Fix as a restaurant is, unsurprisingly for a Light Group restaurant, monstrously overpriced. They want $20 per cocktail (!). The food isn't bad, but it is overrated and too much of it is served pre-deconstructed so you have to assemble your own meal in many cases. The staff were great - too bad they're serving such a disappointing product.
Circo was a bit lacklustre this time, which is unfortunate since I had a huge plate of white truffle tagliatelle. Maybe I was just depressed by the blackjack tables that day.
The new carpet works well in the context of the overall casino and they haven't gotten rid of the art deco. They have recently gotten rid of Tabu and installed a new gaming lounge called Whiskey Down, which is awesome. Why? Green chip mins (most of the time, and occasionally $25), S17 games with liberal rules, and a cocktail and whiskey list which is comped for all players who play inside Whiskey Down!
Its like discount Carta Privada. And quite frankly I love it.
Hakkasan's restaurant menu looks very nice (and Cantonese usually doesn't interest me), and they have great bartenders there too. Shibuya is still delicious, as is L'atelier. I ate at Craftsteak but I drank so much that day I hardly remember it (me and my mixing drinks).
Excellent drink service and pit staff (I only played there one day though). Tom Collichio's new restaurant has been put in but I didn't go there. Yes, it still looks rainforest-y, the place hasn't been "de-themed" that much (its a bit inconsistent though, but hey). Its still a fun place to play. Given how they recently added the new restaurant and are replacing the carpet (the full carpet still has not been replaced), I think it is unlikely that MGM will sell the Mirage to Ruffin any time soon.
Venetian's new carpet really looks great! It feels more tasteful and less tacky but still in tune with the theme.
The Bourbon Room is fun. But I had one experience there...
While I was there, security approached me. Apparently, me asking about the gaming conditions had made surveillance a bit paranoid and so the security people asked why I was going around the high limit rooms and asking for the specific game rules. My reply was "why, to post it on VegasTripping so as to inform people about the games avaliable at Venetian and Palazzo, of course."
I told them my member name and they verified I was indeed a member of VT.
Now, I recognize a casino's need for security. And the staff were very polite, and after vetting my membership they apologized for the disruption. So go them! They handled the matter professionally and reasonably.
But I was simply making specific inquiries as to publically-avaliable information. I wasn't disrupting any players. I wasn't walking into private areas. So all I'll say is PERHAPS they were just being a little unreasonably suspicious?
In other news, I thought the Palazzo casino was very bland (blander than Aria by far... I don't see why people call Aria bland but the Palazzo isn't as often hit with the same criticism). But the Palazzo does contain SushiSamba which is frankly a fantastic restaurant! I highly recommend it.
Bad gambling aside the bars and restaurants here are still phenomenal. Scarpetta was great as usual, Vesper and Chandelier are still great bars (Vesper's cocktails are particularly good), and Holsteins does great burgers and shakes (including a Red Velvet Cake alcoholic milkshake!).
I went to Comme Ca for the first time. They have a 5-hour Happy Hour during which cocktails and some appetizers are 50% off at the bar. Awesome. Their onion soup is also awesome... the first bowl I had actually managed to outdo Bouchon! So yeah, I have a new French of choice.
I also did China Poblano... it was really good! And the presentation of the lamb potstickers with crispy lace was phenomenal! And a whole pitcher of Singapore Slings (which tasted VERY much like the ones I remember from Singapore).... hoo boy. And the tacos were tasty too.
ELI ROTH'S GORETORIUM
I visited this attraction and stupidly bought a VIP ticket. It wasn't worth it.
It begins with you having your photo taken with an extremely loud noise played to shock you just when the camera flashes. After the attraction was over, I checked my picture; I looked like I was being quite vigorously sodomized. This was quite frankly the scariest thing I saw at the Goretorium.
The underwhelmingness of the experience begins with the first "plot twist" which you can see coming a mile away. I won't spoil it for you, but the simple fact is that it spoils itself due to being so obvious. It involves a rickety old service elevator, an abandoned basement that has been sealed off, and an emphatic promise that we won't be going down there. You all know where this is headed.
To be fair, the story is well-told and a lot of the actors really give it their best. Of course they're a little campy about it but hey, that makes it more fun. Unfortunately, one actor (the woman who gets decapitated) decided to tell me that "you know, you're annoying" during my time travelling through the Goretorium (because I wasn't taking anything seriously and basically rolling my eyes at it since, well, when you've seen as many horror films as I have its hard to keep a straight face).
I'm sorry, but the OTHER actors took me in good humor and didn't break character. YOU, unfortunately, decided to be a bitch and tell me that I'm annoying. I might be annoying but "acting" means to play a role, and "hospitality" means to not antagonize the guests, and you simultaneously failed both of those jobs!
I will give credit where credit is due though - at one point you go through a buffet where a writhing maggot effect is created with lighting. Its actually pretty convincing when you first see it; its like they brought down the buffet from Circus Circus!
But yes, the overall Goretorium experience is very overrated. The effects and gore are technically proficient (and quite gruesome) but its just not scary - its cliche, its campy, its overpriced and the "free drink" that comes with the VIP ticket can't be a cocktail (THIS IS AN OUTRAGE).
The tables were a grind (modest overall loss but no big upswings even though I put in quite a lot of time) but I had good food and good service so I can't really complain. But yeah, the Goretorium is very disappointing. Whiskey Down is a great addition to MGM Grand and Bellagio opening less expensive shoe games is great for blackjack players. SushiSamba is a very nice restaurant and overall I had a good time.
Last response by wpsteel66 11th November 4:28pm
yojimbo1 responded on Wednesday, 9th October 2013
Thanks for the detailed report....especially for the BJ conditions. I'm heading out for some black chip BJ at Aria. I'm hoping the double deck rules in the high limit room include resplitting aces.
blackjacker1979 replied on Sunday, 13th October 2013
Floor last check was a go on this. If so Carte would be the same.
HedgedBettor responded on Thursday, 10th October 2013
Too bad you blacked out Craftsteak. I'm a longtime devotee of the restaurant, dating back to the lamentably closed NY outpost on 15th and 10th by Morimoto (the Iron Chef's restaurant) and Del Posto. I've had many outstanding meals there, including the main night dinner on my bachelor part, but on my last visit pretty much everything was messed up, including this horrid cow art on the walls that was apparently made by Colicchio's wife. I'm concerned that its falling into the notorious "death spiral" phase of its life cycle, which would be a real shame. Eager to hear people's feedback about future visits there
Ad of course thanks for the detailed write up as ever!
AndyA replied on Monday, 14th October 2013
@HedgedBettor -- I ate at Craftsteak with nine others in late August. It was great as ever. Only minor complaint was that the hen-of-the-woods mushrooms weren't as fresh-tasting as past dinners there. Steak was great. Roughly five other sides were great.
For what it's worth, I was talked into going to STK two nights before, and it was outstanding. Very different atmosphere, but the food was on-par with Craftsteak.
Blakjackkid responded on Thursday, 10th October 2013
I really enjoyed your detailed TR, especially the bjack rules at the different properties. When I'm playing on the Strip, I usually play at the MCarlo for shoe-games with good rules and low-minimums ($10). Off-strip, the Orleans for double-deck with $5-$10 min. and you can play 2 hands without doubling the min. bet.
blackjacker1979 replied on Sunday, 13th October 2013
How are comps for the DD at the Orleans?
dzodda responded on Friday, 11th October 2013
Great report, thank you!
Slightly off-topic: ASM and CSMs... I assume ASM is the auto-shufflers. I do specifially remember spilling an entire drink in the shuffler at Monte Carlo.
I understand CSM hatred, but for the casual player, what is the objection to the ASMs?
StudiodeKadent replied on Friday, 11th October 2013
ASMs decrease shuffling time and thus increase the number of hands per hour. This increases the amount of money you lose, ceteris paribus, unless you are a card counter.
That, plus ASMs typically hold 8 decks rather than 6 decks, which additionally increases the house margin of the game.
anawas replied on Friday, 11th October 2013
It'd be a real shame if more shuffling machines fell victim to stray drinks and other crippling blows.
blackjacker1979 replied on Sunday, 13th October 2013
Hatred is a strong word. Just a preference to hand shuffled. For the most part, if you can find a 6-deck ASM shoe why be concerned?
HedgedBettor replied on Monday, 14th October 2013
Sign me up as agreeing with dzodda. I go to Vegas for only a few days a year, and I'd like to get more gambling in while I'm in town, not less. I appreciate that I'm likely to lose less money if I play fewer hands, but take that to its logical conclusion and I really just shouldn't gamble at all. I'm here to play, so I'm happy to be at a table with a ASM. (CSMs, which disrupt all flow in the game and eliminate any ability to do low-level card counting, are another story altogether and are to be avoided by any means necessary, up to and including going to a cheaper casino to avoid playing them.)
Malibugolfer responded on Friday, 11th October 2013
Thanks very much for the recent info. Very good and broad overview.
I can find no reason to play at Cosmo either. Did you happen to notice if the HL room (not Talon) had h17 DD? That's what I saw (@$200)a couple months ago but later read where it was s17 one night.
And, as far as scrutiny, that Mirage DD game can make one think they are on an NSA feed. Spread $50 to several blacks and it watch what happens.
Great info, thanks again.
StudiodeKadent replied on Friday, 11th October 2013
Yep, Cosmo's ground floor HL room also has H17 DD. All DD is H17 at the Cosmo.
Eat there, drink there, but don't gamble there.
Chuckmonster responded on Friday, 11th October 2013
"VegasTripping? THROW THIS GUY OUT PRONTO!"
jinx73 responded on Wednesday, 16th October 2013
Nice report, I have to say I find V/P's security a bit bizarre, but sounds like you handled it better then I would have.
I enjoyed the small blips on the lounges and restaurants.