Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Recent Trip Report : The Venetian

My wife and I stayed at the Venetian October 26th -28th. A huge plus was the large (700 square feet) fabulous room accommodations with a split-level floor design (sunken living room ), wonderfully comfortable beds, elegant furnishings , and for our purposes an overdone bath area (TV, too much glass,brass,and mirrors). Overall, an elegant room comparatively speaking. The service at Venetian was THE best we've ever experienced in Las Vegas as virtually all service contacts (registration desk, table dealers, hosts, slot reps, cage cashiers, and player's club reps ) were gooey to assist and please us. It must be one of owner Sheldon Adelson's axioms that all contact employees and service people sidle up to patrons because it was consistent throughout. It truly added a lot to the stay .
The gambling was also a positive experience as we were able to locate a few apparent higher payback slots (particularly
one bank near the entrance to the Palazzo walkway) and we ended up ahead 400.00 + by the visit completion. This particular bank was consistent for us ( it included a Tiki Torch, Flame of Olympus, and Helen of Troy machines in this 8-machine bank).
Our average bets per spin ranged from 40 cents to 2.00 and we used a 50% buy-in stoploss benchmark (ie $50 dollar buy-in
session was cashed out at $25 remaining credit point). The blackjack games were primarily 2 deck pitch and 6-deck shoe
games ; I prefer to play the shoe games at the 10 and 15 dollar minimums. Overall, the beginning house edge at this level
at Venetian was approximately .56% ( mediocre regarding rules set) for the 6-deck shoe games. I managed to finish in the black following about 22 hours of play (+ $ 230.00). Again, all the dealers I encountered were quite congenial and friendly; during that play span I only observed 3 minor dealer errors ( 2 on player payouts and 1 count total that a player missed as well). Overall, the gambling experience here was acceptable (we took out more than we invested; there were certainly much better and much worse blackjack games regarding game rules and off-the-top house advantage at other locales).
The visuals at the Venetian resort were opulent with the Grand Canal Shoppes, the frescoe reproductions adorning the 65-foot domed ceiling at the front casino entrance, the exterior and interior gondola canals, 3-D marble flooring tile, the huge
Venice-like illustrated map behind the front desk, and the blue, whispy-clouded sky facade overlooking the Grande Canal
Shops and canal. Cumulatively, it truly offered an opulently tranquil visual imagery; it succeeded in making us want to relax
and hit the casino (part of their plan, I assume). As a sidenote , the performing mime was a kick at the Grand Canal Shoppe walkway..the only time he moved was when he received a tip (imagine that?)
We chose to dine at the food court area as we had several coupons applicable for use there (the Bella Panini sandwich
shop was excellent); there is no buffet per se at the Venetian but there are approximately twenty restaurants and the mentioned fast food court. You can find and spend what you want on the culinary choices here.
The valet service was the only negative experience we encountered here. The waits were too long and there was an overall aura of disorganization. One apparent logistical problem that we observed was the long distance between the actual valet parking area and the pickup area ( I asked our valet rep and he specifically indicated this). Also, their inter- communication seemed poor; these two factors resulted in a 40 - minute wait for our car from contact until arrival and we weren't the only
ones with an extended wait. We solved this problem by parking in the self-parking garage which was quite casino-accessible
relative to other large resort self-parking lots.
The primary reason we chose to stay at The Venetian was because the rooms were comped ; we would not have stayed
here without that element (actual room rates for these dates were over 200.00 per night). We had not gambled here much
prior to this trip so we assume the poor state of the economy and/or shared gambling lists from other resorts resulted in
the free three-night stay offer ( a mailer). We'll reiterate..sign up for player's club and casino e-mail subscriptions..it does pay off. We've received more free room offers from Venetian since our return.
We absolutely recommend this resort if you can obtain a decent room rate offer ; comparatively it ranks very high on our list of favorite resorts.. in the top three. On a ten-point rating scale, it rates a 9 from us. Check it out if it's affordable for your
next trip budget; it's a grand joint.


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Mostly Useless (and approximate) Las Vegas Facts

1. Number of Las Vegas citizens   500,000
2. Number of Clark County residents   1,500,000
3. Year first casino licensed   1931
4. Number of slot machines in Vegas   200,000
5. Number of annual Vegas visitors   40,000,000 (and dropping)
6. Number of licensed gambling entities   1700
7. Hours per day average visitor gambles   4
8. Annual state gaming revenue   9 billion (and dropping)
9. Average gambling budget per trip   560  (and dropping)
10. Mean price per acre in valley   161,000.00
11. Price per acre on the Strip   11,000,000.00
12. Number of  hotel rooms   137,000 +
13. Number of pillowcases washed at MGM daily   15,000
14. Number of doors at MGM  18,000 
15. Annual no. toilet paper rolls used at Bally's   1 million
16. Lucky The Clown marquee sign at Circus Circus has
      1232 fluorescent bulbs, 14,498 incandescent bulbs, and
      3/4 mile of neon tubing light  (no wonder they're replacing
17. In good times, Excalibur goes through over 44,000 
      Cornish game hens, 15 thousand pounds of hamburger
      meat, and 4200 pounds of prime rib monthly
18. Caesar's Palace has used 2 million plus maraschino 
      cherries, 11 thousand ounces of caviar, 2 million ounces
      of tomato juice, and close to 600 thousand ounces of
      vodka yearly (bloody mary winner?)
19. Mandalay Bay has 5,300 palm trees and their wave pool
      has a capacity of 1,640,270 gallons of water
20. Average nightly room rate  119.00 (and dropping)
21. Average number of Vegas weddings per day   300+
22. Number of golf courses  37
23. Miles of neon tubing on the Strip and Downtown  15,000
24. State's nationwide rank in gold production  1st
25. Cost of Nevada marriage license   35.00
26. Average cost of filing for divorce  450.00
27. Average length of stay for visitors    3.7 days
28. Number of hosted conventions annually  3750
29. The electric bill to operate the Luxor pyramid beam is
      approximately 55.00 per hour.
30. Las Vegas has 17 of the world's 20 largest hotels   


Just a cautionary tip when in Vegas.. there are active
pickpockets all over town. I experienced this first-hand
and came within 10 seconds of losing my cash stash last July
while visiting one of those upper end joints on the strip.

I was gambling significantly at a video poker machine, unabashedly slipping C-notes in them. Somebody had been
observing my wagering behavior. I was happily winning at the time and my cautionary tendencies regarding my bankroll
money went south and out the window.

A lady approached me from behind as I played and was all aglow with my run of good luck. She initiated a conversation about nothing and anything . I was concentrating on proper VP strategy and responding to her comments with a lot of "yeah-yeahs". I was fortunate enough to get ahead on the machine again and I cashed out. I had a satchel (I normally never gamble under those conditions) with me that had assorted trip stuff in it. The satchel presence and the relatively high denomination coin-in amount collectively screamed " please rob me!" I placed my wallet in the satchel along with the machine cash-out tickets and proceeded to reconnect with my family and head to our room.

I had developed a sense of cautionary unease as I mulled over the contact with the effusively talkative woman at the VP machine. My senses told me that something about that encounter was skewed, although at the time I didn't know what it was and I wasn't bleeding profusely..yet. My group then proceeded to meander through a very crowded slot machine aisle and some other 6th, 7th, or 8th sense that vaguely detected an impersonal yet succinct encroachment into my personal space kicked in. Instinctively, I immediately dug into the satchel to locate my wallet and it was gone. I then immediately turned around and backtracked about ten feet (a matter of maybe 3 seconds, tops) as my endogenous adrenaline kicked in. I'm not sure that my hair wasn't on fire briefly.

I then spotted my wallet (and life) in a woman's hand who was playing a slot machine. I walked straight at her and demanded it post-haste in a tone that screamed seriousness. I immediately grabbed the wallet and called for security. The woman claimed she picked it up off the floor and so did the man (her accomplice) behind her, both vowing that they were planning to remit it to the security desk. My svelte ass they were.

This team of thieves including the woman who was all goony-googoo at the VP machine were pros. I have to claim part of the blame for the openly careless manner I had displayed with my money. They were held by security and the eye-in-the-sky tapes were to be reviewed.

The good thing is I didn't lose a cent because my peripheral senses kicked in immediately and they didn't have time to bury the evidence ( perhaps they weren't the best of pros?). Take heed folks..these people are everywhere in Vegas. Know where your cash is at all times; take precautions to protect it, don't flaunt it around carelessly as I did, and if you sense something is awry while gambling trust your instincts.

Distractions from one member of a team of thieves is a common MO. Store your gambling session monies in a front pants pocket or in one of those god-awful front-loaded fanny packs (pride be damned). The lesson I learned here after several years of Vegas gambling experiences turned out to be one of the most valuable for me personally.