Patience Pays in Low Limit Hold 'Em
I went to Vegas on a business trip, arriving a day early and staying one day past the end of my conference. Stayed at the Flamingo which I would recommend if you want a prime location without completely ridiculous prices. My room was on the 26th floor with a view of Paris and its Eiffel Tower, along with the Bellagio's fountain show.
Day 1 - Sat down at the $2/$4 table at the Flamingo and proceeded to lose $100 in no time at all. 6-7 people on each flop and people with no business in the hand hitting cards on the turn or river to win. Reloaded with another hundred and made up $6 during the remainder of the session after tightening up dramatically. The Flamingo's poker room is much improved from the earlier roped off set of tables. It is located in a relatively low traffic area, two full walls with a railing around the other half. Plenty of space between tables and not that busy while I was there. Tables are decent and include cup holders and automatic shuffler (the automatic shuffler is a big plus in my mind. If you are going to play tight you don't want to also wait around for the shuffle. Plus, online poker spoils a person). They don't have the separate wood rim around the outside such as they do at the MGM or Monte Carlo. I prefer tables without the wood rim for what it's worth. Players list is not posted but kept by hand. Management always looking for players and works to get you seated. Most of the dealers were fine. One struggled reading a couple hands. One was just slow but otherwise ok. Waitresses frequently came by to take drink orders. Competition primarily loose tourists with a few locals sprinkled in. You might not want to go out of your way to play here but it is a decent room and if you stay at or near the Flamingo you'll definitely want to give it a try if you like $2/$4 limit or $1/$2 NL. A few flat screen TVs but ability to see them varies dramatically based on the table at which you are seated. They do not yet track your poker play using their "Total Rewards" card. I believe the rake was 10% with a max of $4. Down $94 net for the day/trip.
Day 2 - Played initially at the Flamingo. Playing very tight, but agressively, hit some big hands and moved on up $160 for the session. Decided to try the Monte Carlo given some of the reviews on this site. I was not disappointed. The Monte Carlo's poker room is truly a poker room, although somewhat small. Management is extremely friendly and helpful. They seem to appreciate that you are there. Excellent dealers who are professional and extroverted. Good cocktail service and one of the cocktail waitresses was dynamite. Played with a mixture of tourists and locals. The dealers knew the locals well. Players list kept by hand. Automatic shufflers. 10% with a $5 max on the rake but only one blind. Someone won a high hand bonus while I was there. Finished this session up $2. I wouldn't say the Monte Carlo players were tight but they were not nearly as loose as those at the Flamingo. Up $68 for the trip, net.
Day 4 - Didn't play day 3 due to conference and business dinner (ate at Picasso's...excellent but very expensive). Started Day 4 at the Flamingo and finished up $2 in a very short session. Went briefly to the Imperial Palace. Not a room but a roped off area. I left after a short stay as my table became short handed quickly. Plus, they don't have automated shufflers. Dead even for the session. Decided I needed a change of scenery and went over to Bally's to play. This room is, as most of you know, not a room at all but management is helpful and they have an electronic players list. Located close to a bar so the drinks are served frequently and quickly. Very loose players so I just played tight and aggressive, hitting some big hands. Up $87 for this session. Decided to try Mandalay Bay as I had heard their room was nice and that they now were spreading $2/$4. Turns out that both statements are true. Management seemed a little frazzled but they weren't rude. Beautiful room. Paper players list. Beautiful and busty waitresses with outfits leaving little to the imagination for those who focus on those issues. They came by frequently but could have smiled once or twice. Very friendly table. One person at the table won a high hand jackpot for a straight flush. I believe there was only one blind. My stack flucuated here due to some very loose (some aggressive, some passive) players but I finished up $28 for the session due to playing very tight, yet aggressive. Up $185 for the trip, net.
Day 5 - Decided to try the Excalibur before my flight due to reading reviews on this site indicating the players tended to be loose and give up their money just for fun. I wasn't disappointed. The poker room/area is nothing fancy but there is plenty of room and management worked hard to get me into a game. Players were all tourists and generally fun considering it wasn't even noon and a few were already drunk (young guys just showing up for Super Bowl weekend). One guy was cursing continually. The first dealer ignored it, the second made him stop. The third dealer thought it was a different guy swearing so the unjustly accused guy got a little miffed. Jack and Coke and/or shots can cause things to get a little out of hand I guess. Overall it was still fun and I finished my final session up $58.25 due to continuing a very tight and aggressive approach. Up $243.25 for the trip.
Overall, I had a great time. You can definitely win at $2/$4 in Vegas if you are willing to be both very tight and very aggressive (plus, I drank coffee while playing while everyone else drank beer and booze). But, of course, a lot of folks are there to drink and play every hand and if that makes you happier, go for it! Almost every table I sat at had fun people. The only place I probably won't go back to is Imperial Palace. I wouldn't recommend their room unless your focus is food and comps...at least not until they get automated shufflers. One thing that I didn't like about some of the rooms is the way they do the rake that requires using a few quarters in a $2/$4 game (Mandalay Bay, Excalibur, and Imperial Palace come to mind). I'd never seen that before but I assume that they somehow make more money with what they are doing.
I should mention that I did check out Caesars Palace's room but didn't have time to play. If you don't want any distractions from non-poker activities, you'd like Caesars. Also walked by the Bellagio's, Wynn's, Paris', and MGM's rooms. Apparently Paris has stopped the $2/$4 games I'd played there in December and is steering those folks to Bally's while trying to promote $3/$6 and $1/$2 NL. I also stopped by the new Hooters Hotel and Casino which was having their grand opening the next night. They had, of course, their Hooters girls, along with a very small 3 table poker room (not yet functioning)just off the bar area.
I love Las Vegas! Can't wait to go back in June. May have to move up to $3/$6 (which I play at the casino near home) and see how I do. Might also have to try some NL tournaments or a $1/$2 cash game.
Sorry this was so long. I do want to thank those that maintain this site and those that contribute reviews and trip reports. I find this site to be an excellent source of information.