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Thread: Lake Tahoe Trip Report: Snow, Parking, Spa, Craps, Skiing and the Super Bowl aka "Big Game."

  1. #1
    Travel to Tahoe

    Last weekend I drove to Lake Tahoe from Silicon Valley with my wife and my brother visiting from the East Coast. I am not much of a skier but my brother is so the two free lift tickets helped prompt his visit.

    We drove out early Friday afternoon and snuck past the winter snow storm before it really got going. I really hate driving through the snow even though I grew up in the Midwest (so I know how to drive over ice and snow) and was driving a 4 wheel drive SUV which meant that I did not need to use chains. That said, there was about a half hour stoppage near Twin Bridges where chain controls caused quite a backup on the highway from California to Lake Tahoe.

    Given the snow forecast, I did not want to park in the open lot so I drove to the Harvey’s covered parking structure. As I was looking for a parking space, I saw that there was a sign that said “Total Rewards Preferred Parking “ on Level 3. I then saw a parking area with a parking gate barrier and a card kiosk. I tried to stick in my Seven Stars card, but it did not open the gate (like at Ceasars Windsor in Canada does) so I then went around and found an empty parking spot farther from the bridge to the Harvey’s casino. Here are photos of the sign and the card reader.

    To be continued . . .

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    Last edited by FABismonte; 02-07-2017 at 02:34 PM.

  2. #2
    We were able to get a suite at Harrah’s which was nice as the bedroom had internal doors and my brother had the sofa bed and the living room for his own. Getting a suite was nice, particularly since it was Super Bowl weekend. I meant "Big Game" weekend as casinos call it so avoid copyright issues. It is also nice to have the two separate bathrooms as all Harrah’s rooms have at Lake Tahoe. Having two bathrooms is not a big deal for spouses, but is great with extra family.It was all good as we arrived just in time for a late dinner at the Harrah’s Steakhouse on the 18th floor.

    After dinner, I stopped by the Total Rewards desk and got issued two lift tickets and also got the free play I as offered in my birthday month as well as Reward Credits (to be placed in my account within 7 days). I also got my brother listed as my Seven Stars Companion. Hopefully he can use it if he visits Atlantic City. After a little bit of play at video poker, I hit the hay as I was tired after the drive. Here is a photo of a lift ticket they hand out (note the expiration date).

    To be continued.. . .

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  3. #3
    My brother woke up Saturday early and went to the Highlander Bar to get the “traditional breakfast” of $4.95 (served 11:00 pm to 6:00 am). My brother said he got there at 5:45 am but no staff or other patrons were there. Eventually at 5:55 am someone wearing a black uniform (bartender or cook? – your guess is as good as mine) showed up and when my brother said he wanted to order breakfast, the response was “it is late so you have to take the food to go.” My brother said that if employee had refused the order, it would have pissed him off, so the fact that he could have the food but “to go” was acceptable particularly since we had a dining table in the suite. Nevertheless, my brother did wonder why he could not just eat there whether or not the kitchen was closed – just like any other bar or restaurant in America. BTW, thanks Dan Druff. Without your previous complaint to the Food and Beverage manager, my bro might have been refused even purchase of the food given the proximity of 6:00 AM.

    While my brother was off skiing, my wife and I grabbed breakfast at Straw Hat Pizza. I charged to the room with no problem. I then asked the Harrah’s VIP check in desk about the “Preferred Parking” gate at the Harvey’s garage. I was told that Diamond and Seven Stars players get a special parking card but they were out of them. So I was directed to go to Harvey’s VIP checkin as there was a stash of them there. When I went there the woman at Harvey’s said she had 49 cards left and handed me one. Here is an image of the Special Parking Card which proves I am not a member of the hoi polloi (BTW, this is an often misinterpreted Greek term):

    To be continued. . . .

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  4. #4
    We then put some gas in the SUV (I reparked in the SPECIAL Parking Area because I could even though there were a lot of equally convenient spots) and then walked around enjoying the sights of the snow around the shops on the California side. Since we live in a warmer part of California just seeing and walking around snow can be a treat. We then watched the movie “Inferno” for the free daily movie and caught a nap. For free the movie was fine. If I had to pay, I would have been unhappy.

    I then did some video poker play losing some $500 (no four of a kinds for me) then decided to change it up by playing some craps. The craps tables at Harrah’s looked a bit crowded so I walked over to Harvey’s as a table was opening up. I bought in for $500 placed a $5 Fire Bet (plus a buck for the dealers) and a shooter to my right started the action on a $10 minimum table. The come out was a “five” and I put full ($40) odds and a $12 six and eight place bets. The very next roll was a “winner five.” Then the shooter rolled a point of five again and I placed a $10 come then when a nine rolled, put full odds. After a couple of rolls there was another “winner five.”

    The next point was a “four” behind which I put full odds behind my $15 pass line bet. The shooter was a 50ish man with a beard but not a very experienced craps player. The box man was coaxing him to increase his bets since he was hitting the points, but the shooter was reluctant. The shooter then started rolling a bunch of threes then, box cars but I resisted trying to play the horn and bided my time. Eventually my place bets on six was finally hit then the eight, and then I then started pressing my bets on the place numbers. Finally, the point of “four” was hit. The table was rocking! The next point was another ”five”. I was a little frustrated by not having many unique Fire bet points, but one cannot complain when one makes money on the passline. I made a few hard ways bets of a nickel each and made a bit of money but never parlayed them. I did pressure them up but often an easy number knocked them down. Eventually the five was rolled and yet another point was made. The next point was a ten and I placed full odds and after hitting a few numbers, the ten was rolled!

    Only myself and one man on my left had bets on the Firebet (he also had $5) but now we had three unique point numbers. The guy on my left was betting about twice as much as I did for each of my bets. The shooter kept setting and knocking down the same point of five yet again. Finally, a six was rolled on the come out. It was then hit after about five rolls. This meant that 4 unique point Fire Bets were hit. I fist bumped the only other Firebet player. Then another “six” which eventually was hit. I put some money on the hard ways but if any hard way hit, it was followed by the “easy” version of that number.

    Now the only two unique Fire Bet numbers not yet hit was the Eight and the Nine. Yet another six was no the come out, eventually after a bunch of numbers, it was hit. I had now pressed my formerly $12 eight to $24, then to $30, then to $60, then to $90, then to $120. I typically did a “same bet” then pressed the next roll. I had a $25 nine, four and 10, but only hit the four and nine place bet once. Now every come out I place an “eight on the hop” for $5. The dealer put my $5 chip on the middle of the layout. Truth be told, I never bet “on the hop” but since I was on a Fire Bet run, I hoped it would guide the point to the number I wanted. I believe I lost at least three times on the come out on my hop bet. In those pass line bets I was now betting $20 on the line with max odds (e.g. $100 odds on the six and $60 on the ten).

    Eventually, a three and and five was rolled on the come out. I thought I won, but I was told that my bet was set on the “hop the hard eight.” I did not know and I thought I was also on the “easy eight” on the hop. I guess the place on the layout should have made it clear to players but I was too ignorant to know and I did not want to blame the dealers for my ignorance, nor make a stink given the money that was pouring out. I briefly considered laying some money against the point of eight as a hedge on the 5th Firebet number because if the point of eight was rolled, it would mean $1,250 payout on the fire bet (also $250 for the dealers on my buck bet). But I decided I would only hedge if it was going on the sixth fire bet number. After a few rolls, the dreaded seven came out! I only made $125 on the fire bet, but did make good money on the roll. I think next time I am on the 5th possible Fire Bet of a six or eight, I will lay $600 to win $500 to guarantee a nice payout.

    I waited for the next shooter but got a PSO. I was the next and got a PSO, so I colored out. I left with $1,330 so a profit of $830 even after my tips. I took a photo of my chips. Here you go.

    To be continued.. . .

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    Last edited by FABismonte; 02-07-2017 at 03:10 PM.

  5. #5
    I then registered for the Super Bowl Big Game Party primarily to get the “free gift” as I am not too excited about hot dogs, burgers and beers while watching TV with a horde of strangers. Sometimes we got really cool gifts such as a white canvas backpack that my daughter liked. But the “gift” they handed off were two ballcaps with “Super Bowl LI” labels – lame. I will hand them off to overseas relatives who may think they are cool.

    I then took a break and went with my wife to a spa appointment at Harrah’s Reflections Spa. I had a one hour Swedish massage, my wife had a “Vitamin” facial. I also took the opportunity to use the steam room, and a “sugar scrub” paste shower set up by the spa attendant. It was great to unwind. 20% discount on the spa services if Seven Stars did not hurt.

    I then played some very unlucky $5 video poker, and then met up with the brother. He said the skiing was quite good but not the orgasmic quality of “Champaign Powder” that he was told to expect. He and wife went to the Harvey’s Diamond Lounge with me. We took the hidden elevator (here are photos so they would not be so hidden to you).

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    We had some nice drinks and watched the sun come down over the Lake. We ordered some wine to take to the Sage room (since I am cheap) but was told we needed to leave the wine glasses upstairs so we poured them into plastic cups.

    At the Sage room we were seated and invited to pour our wine into their glasses on the table, so I wonder why each Harvey’s location needs to maintain their own inventory of glass ware. I had a great steak, my wife had the twin lobster tails so we combined to make it our own “surf and turf.” We were served by Teddy a great waiter who remembered when I took my son there last Fourth of July (I wonder if they kept notes based on my Total Rewards number). The tableside dessert was great as we had an assortment of berries, flambe with Grand Marnier and rum with ice cream. The ice cream was delivered in a rock hard cylinder so it did not melt right away. It was a great touch (so I gave Teddy my customary $2 tip) LOL.

    Wife and I then watched the band “Tower of Power” a funkadelic soul band I knew from the San Francisco Bay area when I was a yuppie. They played at Harrah’s theater. Our host gave us nice seats in the middle about five rows from the front. I loved the brass section and was impressed that they were together for 49 years (What! They were already old when I was young!). That said, I believe only about 3 of the 9 band members looked like they could have been together from the start (1968). In particular, the lead singer looked about 28 years old. Nevertheless, it was rockin and rollin. They played 90 minutes so presumably guests could have time to gamble and gamble I did.

    To be continued.

  6. #6
    Unfortunately, although there were ups as well as downs, we mostly played Video Poker but for every four of a kind on $1 VP as well as multi play there followed droughts. I then tried to change the luck by playing craps, but that did not work out either. Here are some examples of Four to a Royals that stayed “four to a royal.” (Sob).

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    I played until about 1:30 am when I gave up and settled for a $1,200 loss over the weekend and called it a (gambling trip). However, I did console myself that if I won my $200 bet on the Falcons on the money line, I would get about $500 back – but you know that sad result.

    Because of a storm front coming on Sunday afternoon, we grabbed breakfast at the Harrah’s Sub-basement Riverside Café coffee shop where the pleasant waitress told us if we showed the cashier a total rewards card, we would get 10% off. So Dan and Alan, there is at least one place in the CET universe where there is a discount of more than a buck or two. Interestingly enough the discount of 10% applies equally to lowly Gold members and exalted Seven Stars. Here is a photo of the sign next to the cashier to prove the discount to you doubters!

    To be continued. . .

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    Last edited by FABismonte; 02-07-2017 at 04:49 PM.

  7. #7
    Upon checkout, we had a folio charge of around $675 for food and spa services. The VIP check out guy, Joe Antonio, was great and said he would forward to my host for review of comps. Indeed, the next day my host wrote it all off except for tips. We packed and headed out. We avoided the impending snow storm and got home two hours before the skies erupted again. And except for the tragic results of the Atlanta Falcons debacle (which I believe should trigger a Congressional investigation) the trip would have ended on a good note.

    Hope you enjoyed the details.

  8. #8
    That was quite a report!

    I held my breath as I scrolled down to see your royal draws.

    Is there any talk that they might charge for parking??

  9. #9
    Hi Alan:

    Thanks for the comment. I do not think there is any talk about charging for parking at Harrah's or Harveys' at Lake Tahoe. There is a lot of empty parking spaces on the property -- assuming one is willing to do some walking.


  10. #10

    Great report, will comment a bit more later. I fixed your title, btw.

    Two things I wanted to mention quickly:

    1) Yes, the American River Cafe does give a 10% discount if you are a TR member. It is a TR discount, not a Seven Stars discount, so even Gold members qualify, as you mentioned. I also should point out that I like the American River Cafe. They are always nice there, the food is fairly good (by casino diner standards), and the prices are surprisingly reasonable. Sadly, the hours really suck, especially during the week, as it closes at 5:30pm on those days.

    2) I had the EXACT same situation as you regarding "snow storm" parking! I moved my car from the open Harrah's lot to the Harvey's garage, so it would be covered during the snow storm. I also tried my Seven Stars card in the little machine to get into the Seven Stars parking area, and it FAILED. I forgot to go ask about that. I ended up parking in a spot which was completely covered -- to where snow could not blow in. I was happy I did, as my car was one of the few in the garage without snow on top of it.
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  11. #11
    I hate snow. I hate snow. After reading about snow covered cars I will never go there except in August.

  12. #12
    Originally Posted by Alan Mendelson View Post
    I hate snow. I hate snow. After reading about snow covered cars I will never go there except in August.
    Hi Alan:

    Didn't you live in upstate NY? Surely you were used to getting around in the snow there. Also I don't expect snow at Lake Tahoe between May to Oct so no need to pick only August to visit.


  13. #13
    Originally Posted by Alan Mendelson View Post
    I hate snow. I hate snow.
    4 winters in Syracuse will do that to some folks.

  14. #14
    I had seven winters in Syracuse. That's where my first TV job was after college. And I grew up in New York State north of New York City where we had to shovel snow to get out of our driveways.

  15. #15
    Originally Posted by Alan Mendelson View Post
    I had seven winters in Syracuse. That's where my first TV job was after college. And I grew up in New York State north of New York City where we had to shovel snow to get out of our driveways.
    Rockland or Westchester don't get snow like Syracuse does.

    I'm in Bergen County. I'll be shoveling snow tomorrow morning...but I like it.

  16. #16
    I grew up in Rockland. True -- the snow there wasn't like Syracuse "Lake Effect Snow" but it was enough. We had our share of "snow days" for schools and for businesses.

  17. #17
    I forgot to mention another gambling episode on this trip. On Sat night I bought in for $500 at a craps table at Harveys but lost $300 right away with a "Point, Seven, Out" followed by another series of PSOs. I then switched tables and treaded water but eventually left when I had $100 left. I then decided to go to the "Shoot to Win" mechanical craps. I decided that since I was losing betting the "do" (or whatever you call it) I decided to bet the "don't." I like betting on the don't when I am playing this bubble craps because no one else can easily see what you are betting so I do not feel like a skunk at a picnic by betting the "don't." Also if you want to cash out in the middle of a shooter or just hit and run, it is a lot easier to so than at a live craps game.

    So I stuck in a Benjamin and after the point was set, I bet $25 on the don't come. The next roll was a 10 so I feeling pretty good having a 2-1 advantage to win that bet. After about 6 rolls, a seven came up and I won. I then decided to try to double my buy in. If I did, I would just leave. Once again I wanted for a point to be rolled. I like to wait for a point because then I am not stuck loosing on a bunch of come out "sevens" and I am not necessarily betting against others. So after a point, I placed $75 on the "don't come." The next roll was a nine. So I was again feeling pretty good. The shooter hit the "ten" , a few fives and sixes, then out came a "three and four" for a seven. The rest of the players groaned but I simply pressed the cash out button and walked with double the buy in.

    Sure I lost money during the last half hour, but at least I could bathe in the small come back for a while. Does anyone else who plays craps like to use the "Shoot to Win" machine?


  18. #18
    FAB--my wife does not gamble at all. She will play 25 cent VP with me for an hour max--doesn't play on her own. So most of my craps is played late night after she goes to bed.

    So one night when I'm hoping she's tired so I can hit the craps table, instead of some VP I suggest we play the mechanical craps. The table fills up and we actually wind up with a fun group of people. On top of that, nobody could lose. The stupid mechanical craps were red-hot. We wound up sitting there for almost 4 hours and I never considered going to play real craps it was so much fun.

    Since that time, in the few minutes I've sat there, nobody ever makes a pass.

  19. #19
    I've looked at the Bubble Craps games but never played. If you can't throw the dice yourself (the whole point of the game of craps) I don't want a machine to do it for me or anyone else.

    Regarding this:

    Originally Posted by FABismonte View Post
    I like to wait for a point because then I am not stuck loosing on a bunch of come out "sevens" and I am not necessarily betting against others.
    A lot of Dont Come players make their DC bet on the second roll, forgetting that on the second roll the 7 is also the number most likely to be rolled. Frankly it makes no difference if you play the darkside on the first roll, the second roll, the third roll or whatever roll.

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