Tuesday, November 13, 2007

G2E Kick-Off Party, New Frontier Implosion, and John Wayne Slots, Oh My!

Yep, Last night sure was a busy one for the ole slot jock. It kicked off at the Rio where the opening reception for the Global Gaming Expo transpired pool-side.

The throngs of gaming insiders were out in force, and to alleviate the crowd at the entrance, I decided to spend some time wandering around the Rio, a property I haven't visited in quite some time.

I believe last time I was there, I had been comped a couple of nights (it was August monsoon season) and the weather outside was frightful. The storm was so bad (I used to live in Tennessee - I KNOW a bad storm when I see one) I couldn't venture across the street to the Gold Coast to gamble. The Coast Casinos are a much more reasonable choice than Harrah's slightly more upscale all-suites Rio property, for this low roller.

WMS' "Kaboom" and "All That Glitters" were new at the time, and I ended up losing $500 in the nickel versions at the Rio. So much for the free room. At the time that was the most money I had ever lost in such a short time, and later back in my room, I suffered my first panic attack.

I was able to finally calm myself down, though I was tempted to call the paramedics -- I stopped by imagining the ensuing hassle. Since then I have witnessed other people suffer similar attacks in Vegas, and once in front of me on a plane leaving Vegas. I've learned difficulty breathing, elevated heart rate, and generally just physically and mentally freaking out does not necessarily mean you are dying, especially in Sin City.

Suffice it to say, I now avoid the Rio and other Harrah's properties, and yes, I do blame the tight slots for causing my discomfort.

All that didn't keep me from updating my information at the slots club, because I am ALWAYS willing to prove myself wrong when it comes to slots, properties, and slot clubs.

I'm a whore, I admit it.

I proceeded to lose $30 playing that "Jackpot Party" progressive machine, "Super Jackpot Party", and "It Came from Planet Moolah."

My worse fears were confirmed, AND Harrah's gave me no sort of compensation for updated my account (they didn't ask for my new email -- so that's more points against them, I think the only reason I got the free rooms was that I was receiving enticements meant for a high roller out of New Jersey with a very similar email address to mine.)

Rio has updated the Carnivale float parade in the sky thingy, and generally tried to sex-up the whole party on the casino floor, with elevated sexy (both male and female -- Chippendales is a big draw for them -- also "sexy" is a relative term here, I thought the girl I watched had several figure flaws, thick unshapely legs being one, but the guys oogling her didn't seem to mind.) dancers and a new bar area. They still throw beads from above and a necklace or two hit me rather hard on the knee, before a couple of delighted kids scooped them up. Apparently the "bring the family" and "Adult playground" Vegas concepts can co-exist on the casino floor, even if the grown-ups leering at scantily clad male and female dancers in the presence of the rug rats, gives it a sort of "icky" feel.

On to the party . . . it was crowded and dark by the pool, with a sort of Hollywood red carpet theme tied into the event. By the time I got there most of the food was gone, but the pasta station was still operating, even if the Caesar salad and anti-pasta station was decimated.

I suppose networking is a goal to some at these industry functions, but for most I suspect it is free food and drink judging by the mania surrounding the buffet and the bars. The Gaming guys and gals are just like anybody else. I worked in the trade show business for years making graphics and signage, and we had a saying -- "It'll be dark, and they'll be drunk." It was, and they were.

The highlight of the event was the chance to win "up to" a Million dollars in a pirate themed, "Deal or No Deal" type promotion. I gladly filled out an entry to the drawing, and waited for the festivities to begin.

My name was not drawn, but it was fun watching the lucky participants chose treasure chests, with an attractive older lady named Jean win the chance to pick suitcases, and be subjected to taunts, temptation and the dreaded banker.

Jean was one pretty smart cookie, and when faced with a difficult decision took her $7,000 and ran. As far as I could tell, the game was run a company that stages these promotions for casinos, and this was their way of hawking their services.

All and all, it was fun, and the closest thing I would compare it to is the "Pumpkin Patch" promotion at the South Point in October which I totally fell for, gambling there to earn entries to the drawing.

After the party, I headed for my usual haunt Red Rock to take advantage of 7X and 4X points. That's right, I think I got 11X points. I couldn't completely understand what the Points Promotion card swipe kiosks were telling me, but even if it was only 7X points, that's the best point multiplier I've ever received.

I played "Wizard of Oz," and actually got ahead a twenty, then headed for "Lucky Meerkats" and "Goosin' Around" and lost my lead. I played an old favorite, "Love Boat" and even a few rounds with my nemesis "Life of Luxury Progressive."

It was getting late, and I was heading out the door, when what did I see before me? Eureka, I found it! A new slot machine, and John Wayne, to boot!

The Duke himself, right there, in Transmissive Reels Technology!!! Finally, those much ballyhooed, but disappointing Monopoly machines were being replaced.

I happily sat down for a session with the Waynester, and I don't mean Newton.

I dropped $5 and didn't get much results. The transmissive video features highlights of John Wayne's iconic career -- I could discern bits of "the Green Berets," "True Grit," and other assorted westerns. The mechanical reels spin and a progressive is tied in. Much like "Life of Luxury" your chances of winning the progressive increased with your bet. I believe the progressive stars pop up in the free spin bonus round triggered on the first and fifth reels.

The woman sitting next to me wasn't having much luck and neither was I. I commented that I wondered where they got John Wayne's voice, as he has long since left this earth. She replied "Maybe from his old movies." I found this quite amusing, as I don't think John Wayne ever said "You got five of a kind pilgrim!" onscreen.

I put in another twenty, 'cuz it was John Wayne, and a new machine, AND I'm a degenerate gambler. I hit the bonus round and the progressive for around $35 bucks. My work was done. Even though I don't care for WMS' Transmissive video reels, I couldn't knock John Wayne, and I will play the machine again.

It was getting late, and I had an important decision to make -- Do I go to the implosion of the New Frontier at 2:30 a.m.? I was tired, but I had attended the final night at the historic resort, and the auction, and I had never seen a Las Vegas implosion. It kinda seems like a no-brainer, but I do like my sleep, and I figured the press would do a fine job covering it.

As I was walking out of Red Rock, I asked a bedraggled looking skinny biker dude if he was going to the implosion. He said he was, and I said I wasn't sure I would. He summed it up with "Well, it's something to do . . . " one of my favorite quotes from "Cool Hand Luke." How could I argue with that? It was indeed something to do. And so I did.

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