Usually anytime a casino makes a change to a players club it does not benefit the player.  Well, from what I can read on Cosmo's website I can not find a negative (except for slot players).  The previous change to Cosmo's player club was the following:
-$7.50 coin in = 1 identity point on video poker
-$1.50 coin in = 1 identity point on reel slots
-$1 spent on hotel,spa,dining, and shopping = 5 identity points (For every $100 spent = $5 in resort credit)

-Sterling level: requires 5,000 identity points
-Gold level: 20,000 points
-Platinum: 50,000 points

Now the website shows the following


-Video Poker has gone from $7.50 down to $6 coin in per identity point
-Slots has gone from $1.50 up to $2.50 coin in per identity point
-spending has stayed the same
-Sterling level requirement has dropped from 5,000 down to 4,000 points!

Now assuming that the same applies with 100 points = $1 in free play or comps the new earning level for VP players is .167%.  This beats out the entry level Total Rewards, Mlife, B Connected and even the D and Downtown Grand players clubs.  

This is a step in the right direction for the new ownership.  Lets just hope they keep my 10c 100 play Bonus Poker machine on the floor!


Sterling Rewards: The free room night and BOGO buffet each month are not the most attractive offers, but the rooms are amazing at Cosmo, and I can't remember getting a free room for hitting the 2nd level of any other players club.
I believe the Cosmo still uses a rolling 12 month period for earning points, I know I will have some expiring come my next trip.  I hope to hit that Sterling level now that it is more attainable.  I'll report back after my trip!
 
 
About this time last year, I found while sifting though the transportation sections of different Las Vegas message boards a great deal on a rental car.  This was not the typical coupon code to add into your alamo or dollar website, nor was it a insider tip on priceline.  Instead this was a deal found through the Total Rewards website.  I took advantage of this deal, getting my rental car for under $120 bucks for the week, and then about a week later, it dried up.  So before it dries up again, if you are in need of a rental car in Vegas, I urge you to take advantage of this before it leaves again!

Click here


Your first step is to login to the total rewards webpage.  If you are not a Total Rewards member, you will need to sign up to get this deal.  It's free and if you are going to gamble anyway, odds are you will end up at a Total Rewards property sooner or later anyway...

Once you log in, Click on Earn and Redeem at the top of the screen.  Next click on With TR Alliances also at the top of the screen.  Next click the orange learn more bar on the TR Getaways square.  Now click on the orange Enter TR Getaways bar.  Once you complete this it will take you to lifestylecollection.com  This is where you select car, enter Las Vegas for location, enter your dates and your on your way!

Now, I am kicking myself a little because, I first checked this out about a week and half ago.  When I logged in today, the price has gone up.  I still received a 7 day reservation for $156 final price for a Ford Escape, so I am not really complaining.  But use this as a gauge on price, to determine when to pull the trigger.  As a comparison, for the same dates and times, Alamo has a economy car for $234 after all taxes and fees.  I'll keep checking rates as my dates get closer but I'm happy with the price I paid, hopefully this will save you some money!



 
 
So here I am driving to work, looking at the temp that my car now has the ability to track, tells me that it is -20 degrees outside!  Michigan at its finest.  So here I am getting ready for another week of sub zero temps, and I decide its time to plan my next vegas trip.  I did something wrong this past year as my tax refund is minuscule, but thats not going to crush my Vegas spirit!  My totalrewards site is telling me that I can get rooms comped at the Cromwell, that sounds interesting!  

Now, I have no desire to ever enter a vegas night/day club so that is not the appeal that I have to the Cromwell.  I am excited about the fact that the rooms are brand new, and this "boutique" hotel is in a great location.  Lets be honest, I also look at the fact that if I were to book this site with real money, I would be looking at $190/night, so knowing this helps me justify booking this room, and then when I lose money I can subtract what I "would have paid for this room" and I still come out even!  Crooked math I know, but hey it makes me feel better.

As with most of my Vegas trips, I will probably change my mind 5 more times before I fly out, but as of right now this sounds like a good place to stay.  I'm comped Sunday through Thursday but I want to fly out on a Saturday.  So the fun part comes in deciding where I want to spend my Saturday night.  Do I stay at the Gold Coast before those offers dry up?  What about the Riviera?  I seriously contemplated this, given that as of May 4th this hotel/casino will be shut down.  I even received a crummy direct mail offer from that time 2 years ago when I played $5 craps for an hour and broke even.  For only $49 for that Saturday and a mere $ 17 resort fee I can stay in one of the worst rooms on the strip!  But, It may include a 60th anniversary Riviera T-Shirt if they do not run out, and being able to say that I stayed at this iconic joint.  The problem is, I am on vacation, I have nothing that draws me to this casino, except for the fact that its closing, do I really want to waste a day here?  I think I will just visit, play some craps and take a $1 chip home for a souvenir.

One thing is for sure, I have to make it downtown this trip.  If you haven't listened to my most recent podcast on downtown vegas check it out here 

Nothing I have regretted more after returning from my New Years trip was the fact that I didn't get my Pizza Rock!  Right now I'm salivating over a pint from banger brewery, a vatos cigar and some great video poker options!  That's all for now, I think I'm gonna waste a couple hours on myvegas to scoop up some more monorail passes.  Although, SLS killed the great 25C full pay video poker options they had, so maybe I find a new stop on the rail.


 
 
Nothing makes you want to get back to vegas more than just ending a trip to Vegas, or so I thought... I have a severe case of Vegas Envy going on, much more severe than my usual post vegas blues.  This Vegas Envy is being caused by people around me visiting Las Vegas.....without me!  It' only been about a month since I've been to Vegas but already this severe condition is hitting me hard.  It started a couple weeks ago, my parents who introduced me to Vegas (and are ultimately to blame for this obsession I possess)  came back from Vegas last week.  I love how different someones Vegas experience can be from my own.  My parents are not gamblers, so this certainly left them a LOT more time to experience the city than I ever have.  They conquered a lot in the 5 days they spent out there.  They hit the RIO zipline, which they liked, they went to the Clark County Museum (they have a picture with a cardboard cutout of the beard of knowledge to prove it) got sucked into a sitcom viewing in MGM Grand, hiked in Red Rock Canyon, they had a great vacation.

They gave me back the coupon book I gave them with what they didn't use and gave me many more that they acquired.  It took a week or so, but I got over that.  I enjoyed talking to them about Vegas and reliving their vacation through my past memories, etc... Then my Vegas Envy began to flare up again.  My brother in law is visiting Vegas for 5 days.  He is going out to see his brother and it rehashed my Vegas Envy all over again.  Make sure you do this, have him take you here, and so it began.  You see, my brother in law is a Las Vegas Virgin.  It is hard to think back to a time before I visited this great city.  It helped that my parents brought me here to stay at the Excalibur before I was old enough to gamble.  I remember collecting the coin buckets from each casino, now they only exist downtown and a few off-strip joints.  

So, when do I visit Vegas again?  I have this new companion pass, should I try to visit somewhere besides Vegas?  It sounds like a great idea, until I realize that other places would require me to pay for my hotel!  3 out of 4 winning trips has jaded my view on Vegas and I'm sure if I lost all 4 trips in 2014 I would be happy as hell to pay for a hotel that didn't have a casino to stay at.  But, that is not the case, Royal Flushes came to me easily last year, and that makes it hard to make vacation plans outside of Nevada.  Southwest has a handful of flights outside of the United States now, maybe I should get a passport?  Nah, I can visit Paris, Egypt and Venice with a 4 hour flight to Vegas!


 
 
This has always been an interesting question I had when redeeming a comped room offer somewhere.  For example, if I play my ass off and get a comped room at the Cosmopolitan and during my stay, stiff them on gambling, how long before I quit receiving offers?  I have experienced this with the Orleans this past year.  I double booked not knowing where I was going to prefer staying and checked into both Flamingo and the Orleans.  Well never going back to Orleans I gave them 0 play.  Guess what no more free rooms.  Although Gold Coast where I simply have just not been to in a year, is still comping me 2 free nights.  But on a higher level, with more layers of marketing can you get away with this longer?

Sionow is a frequent message board poster on LasVegasAdvisor.com.  I have followed his extensive trip reports over the years including his most recent ones that was following his quest to get to the seven stars tier which is the highest level for total rewards.  Well he achieved it and this year he has decided he is bored with gambling and this will be his farewell tour!  I think I am going to find this one the most interesting because I know I will never have enough of a bankroll or desire to go after the seven stars status, I certainly am good at giving properties no play!  He only has a couple reports in so far, but his plan is to only redeem free play playing it once and cashing out.  He is limiting his gambling to live poker which doesn't do shit for comps but is a great low roller play.  He will also begin cashing in his large bank of total rewards credits and b connected comp dollars this year.

Here is a link to his first trip report: http://www.lasvegasadvisor.com/forum/messageview.cfm?catid=17&threadid=324715 I plan to follow this, especially with the uncertain future of Caesars entertainment.  Not that I think they will shut down but I think I would feel more comfortable building up a status with a property that is a bit more financially sound.  Anyways, I look forward to seeing how long he can go checking into his high level suites, watching his free pay per view movies and not gambling!!


 
 
I have no idea if this something I will continue but I am going to play around with podcasting!  At this point I do not plan to make any major investments in mixers or microphones, I am simply playing with garageband and my built in microphone on the computer and letting it fly.  I am surprised how easy it was to make one and get it into Itunes, so if you are interested you can search comped vegas in Itunes and pull it up.  You can also follow this link: http://compedvegas.podomatic.com which is the site I used to publish this podcast.  I want to keep the episodes short and provide tips and insight into getting the most comps for your gambling dollar.  So give it a try, if its awful let me know!  
 
 
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So, first of all to even know that you receive a $100 reward for achieving diamond status requires research.  This is not something that you are told when you go to pick up your card, no email sent, no offer mailed, nothing.  Its buried somewhere in the total rewards site, and if you obsessively read vegas message boards, you will find a discussion on it there.  

With Diamond status, you earn 15,000 tier points and then you are diamond level for the remainder of the year it was earned, the next full calendar year and then 3 more months the following year.  Reading message boards, I was under the assumption that since I earned diamond in 2014, this "reward dinner" would be eligible to me starting in 2015.  The more I read, the more I found where people had been told it expired March 31st.  So I had to find out for myself this trip, in case I wouldn't be back before March 31st.

I approach the counter and inquire about the $100 reward.  "Yup, do you want it now?"  I asked about the expiration and sure enough I was told 3/31/15.  I asked for the certificate on 1/1/15.  It seems kinda shitty that it wouldn't be valid for the whole year, but even shittier that you have to seek it out.  But being a savvy gambler requires homework, at least that is what I tell myself.

Armed with my certificate and less than 24 hours left in vegas I scour the card the total rewards agent handed me to decide where to go.  We were in Bally's at the time, so my first thought was BLT steak.  Something that I love is when a restaurant will post the menu with prices outside the entrance to help decide if you want to commit.  The prices were high but not Gordon Ramsey high.  It bothered me that everything was separate.  Steak: 60 bucks, want a side? 12 bucks, how about soup or salad? another 16 bucks.  Forget the appetizer, I'm going to spend more on this meal out of pocket than we would have making a different dining choice, say....IN N OUT (this was the first trip in 3 years where we didn't eat IN N OUT Burger at least once).  So we scratched that, we thought about Bacchanal buffet again, but we just had it 3 days prior and really wanted to try something new.  We had been playing at planet hollywood earlier and saw how crazy BURGR was, probably due to the holiday so I decided against that as well.  How about KGB?  Pulled up the menu, it seemed decent, and we would have to work at getting to $100, thats the frugal way to do it I thought!

We jumped in the car, parked at Harrah's, walked through the newly renovated casino (which looks pretty nice) and passed the new cafeteria style food court.  Along with maybe 4 other tables with people, we were quickly seated and handed menus.  With $100 to burn we decided whatever burger we ordered, we would upgrade the pattys to KOBE beef and add bacon.  We each ordered milk shakes.  Give us fried pickles, mac N cheese sticks, oh and throw some popcorn shrimp on the order as well!  Of course we wait for 15 minutes, then receive all of  our app's and 3 minutes later our burgers show up!  

So a quick rundown of what I thought of the food: mac N cheese sticks, very good worth an order.  Deep fried pickles, I wish they wouldn't have used such large pickle spears, Ive had deep fried pickle chips at other places that are much more satisfying, so these, just OK.  Popcorn shrimp, we actually took most of these with us as we filled up quickly.  The dipping sauce was very good and the shrimp was fine, no tails to pull out, but these were not the reason to come to a "gourmet" burger joint.  I had the KOBE burger with caramelized red onion jam, some kinda sweet tasting spread they call garlic aioli (throw an accent above the i) cherry tomatoes, and mixed greens.  I added bacon just because (money to burn, remember?) and it was just OK.  I've had those Waygu sliders from the Bacchanal buffet at Caesars and I guess I was expecting something like that.  I honestly couldn't tell what made KOBE so special (maybe once you grind up premium meat it all tastes the same?)  but I wasn't blown away.  The sweet spread was interesting, but I didn't finish the burger.  

Total bill came to $88 so I wasted $12 and still had to throw down a $20 tip for mediocre food.  Now I guess If I look at it from the point of view of all the food I ate for $20 its not bad, but the more I thought about it, the more I felt my "reward dinner" was wasted.  Vegas is about gambling first, and food second, and I hear they have shows as well.  I love how many great dining options we have experienced and how many more we still have to try.  Knowing that we wasted a dinner in vegas on that, when I could have put the $100 towards an amazing $200 meal, I feel I made the wrong choice.  Would I have decided differently had I been up for the trip?  Absolutely!  Winners eat steak and lobster, losers eat shitty burgers.


We didn't hit In and Out, we didn't go downtown so no pizza rock, we let Vegas get the best of us and ate for convenience.  Trying to plan your meals ahead of time is so hard in Vegas, but after the many food court sessions we had this trip I think I will be putting more effort into planning for the next one.       

 
 
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Had an amazing trip over New Years, and a lot I want to post about on here, so stay tuned as I will be adding more content throughout the coming weeks.  Take a look at the hotels section of the site where I posted 2 new reviews of my most recent stays at both the Cosmopolitan and Mandalay Bay.  

Following those 2 nights my stay was booked to be in the Jubilee tower at Bally's.  Having loved our stay here this past September I was really looking forward to experiencing the room again over New Years.  This was not to be as I finally experienced what happens when you are a small fish in the big pond on one of the busiest weeks of the year.  I've read countless trip reports and reviews of players who were comped to the nicer towers at Caesars Palace being told upon checkout that the room they booked was no longer available and had to be moved to a lesser quality tower.  This of course is bullshit but it usually means players of a higher status booked their stay after you and because your play doesn't match theirs you get the bump. 

It didn't help that I was coming from a great room at the Cosmo but when I was told to turn left and go up to my room in the North tower I was pretty bummed.  I decided not to say anything yet as I thought I heard some of the rooms in the Indigo tower were renovated as well.  Well this could be true, but we certainly didn't get a room that had seen any improvements in a couple decades.  I decided against doing a review as I covered the property as a whole during my stay in the Jubilee room, but the room quality is certainly night and day.  I walked back down to check-in knowing what they were going to tell me hoping for some sympathy and to get a room change.  They apologized and told me for $50/night I could get back into the Jubilee tower.  I think this pissed me off more.  If you are not putting me in the Jubilee tower because you are sold out, but can then put me back for $50/night what kind of message does that send?  I quickly declined that offer, walked past the champagne and cookies in the the Diamond checkin area feeling like a chump.

The little thing like having a mini fridge was something I looked forward to.  I tried to make the best of it and called the front desk to have a mini fridge brought up.  I later found that upon returning to our room a day later my waters and energy drinks were room temperature.  I didn't want to waste precious Vegas time waiting for someone to bring up a new fridge so I used the ice bucket instead.  

Before arriving in Las Vegas I received a voice mail and an email of a casino host.  I have never played at the level to have a host so have 0 experience in what they can or will do.  Because my wife and I play on the same card and we have been playing more concentrated at the places we have been staying we must have hit their radar.  Or it could be for achieving Diamond, either way it was interesting to get their info.  I decided as a last ditched effort I sent a lengthy email explaining how I was disappointed for not being placed in the room I booked over 3 months ago.  I told the host how we left the property and even stayed at Mandalay Bay for the night because of the poor quality of the room.  I eagerly watched my email for a response that day, until I received one later in the afternoon:

"Hi  Joe,

I contacted Bally's and asked if you could be moved to the Jubilee Tower, and they said that without that $50 a night charge, no one can be moved. I understand how frustrating it is not to get the room you booked. During high volume events like NYE, we never guarantee rooms because we have to accommodate players based on play, which means that while you qualified for a Jubilee room when you made the reservation, you were bumped by higher players. It's very frustrating.


In the future, please do book through me, as my reservations are given a priority."



At least she was honest I guess?  Well, like any players club, you have to learn the ins and outs and understand how to make them work for your benefit.  This was the first year I really played at Total Rewards properties so I have quite the learning curve to go up against.  

We woke up from the hard mattress actually feeling slightly refreshed.  Maybe those soft mattresses are not whats best for our backs?  I looked at the fact that a few years ago I was thrilled to be comped weekdays in a basic Gold Coast room which was nothing different than the room at Bally's.  Now I'm being comped over the busiest time of the year and I'm center strip to watch the fireworks, I need suck it up!  We still played our asses off at Ballys and Planet Hollywood so should continue to generate some decent offers.  I think staying our next trip on an off-week will be better.  I guess using my host to book will help as well.  Ill try to post some details on the trip as I can carve it in, as I know must earn a living again to fund the next excursion to the happiest place on earth.


 
 
As my trip fast approaches I begin to accumulate all the great things that casinos are giving away (for a certain amount of play) during the time I am in town.  While I generally do not take advantage of these I did pick up booze from both Orleans and Gold Coast during my March trip this year, so its possible I will make a run at some of these freebies...

GOLD COAST: December 30th for only 300 points, I can bring home champagne glasses!  This will probably be one I pass on.  I remember playing for ice cream cups that I eventually threw out last time, so this will not be high priority for me.  http://www.goldcoastcasino.com/play/news-and-promotions


ORLEANS: December 29th for 300 points I can get a 2 layer dessert stand!  This might be tough to fly back with undamaged... They also have some booze!  On December 30th for 300 points I can play for a bottle of barefoot champagne.  Not bad, these bottles are usually 1/2 sized but free is free.  http://www.orleanscasino.com/play/news-and-promotions

M RESORT: I Haven't been here in a couple years, not since they became a Penn Gaming company.  We used to love this property but we let our offers dry up and have not been back.  This may get us in.  On December 29th they are offering a 2 for 1 T shirt Blowout!  This takes 300 points as well (not sure if they still have 3 points to the $ here, as the ad says base points, but either way not hard to do) and it says you can get up to 3 additional gifts per person!  So as this is called a warehouse blowout, they may have other M resort gear to get as well.  This one is a definite maybe!  http://themresort.com/rewards/warehouse-blowout.html
 
 
Happy 12-13-14!  What better day than to organize my final vegas plans for this new year.  Looking back on my play this year, I think the best time I could have gone after diamond was this past September which allowed enough time for my offers to update and include comped nights over new years!  This may not happen again, so my wife and I will take on the crowds and visit "America's Party" which is the name Vegas has adopted for its New Years Celebration.  This will not be unlike previous trips where I remain budget conscious so my midnight activities will most likely be on the street looking up as opposed to an expensive night club or viewing party.  My hotel accommodations have changed much more than normal leading up to my trip and while nothing is stopping me from changing again, I think I have a good mix.

I desperately wanted to take advantage of SLS and contacted a host to match my new years offer fro Ballys.  I am realistic and knowing that this is a very busy time, I asked if he could not comp my 4 night stay than perhaps 2 or 3 nights before new years.  I have had to be the one contacting him every week or so for updates and its like I'm starting from scratch each time.  I sent over pictures of my offer.  He emails back, what dates did you want again?  I send it over, wait a week, ask how its going and he replies, send me your date of birth and address!  OK, I'm wondering why we didn't cover all of these formalities in the beginning but whatever I send it over.  He sends me back that its sent over to be approved.  2 weeks later still no word, I send him another email asking about it.  He says it will be any time now and will let me know as soon as he gets it!  This was about 10 days ago.  I visited SLS in September, liked the games, liked the atmosphere and wanted to stay, but I feel this simple request is to much or he is not wanting to let me know he cannot fulfill my request.  Either way at this point I have written off SLS as a stop for this year end trip.

I had already booked my Sunday night at the Gold Coast.  Poor old Gold Coast, used to be my go-to joint, and they are always right there with 2 free nights for me whenever I need them, although these past few trips I find myself continually booking and then canceling for nicer accommodations.  While I haven't cancelled yet it appears this year will be no different.  I received a mlife email offering 2 free nights through the end of the year (new years eve excluded of course).  So I looked at the options, all except Bellagio and Aria, I opted for Mandalay Bay as we have never stayed here before.  I booked for the 28th and 29th and it even has $50 in free play, not to shabby.  So at this point I feel I am set with my first 2 nights at MB and closing it out with Ballys for the last 3 nights.  Then another email comes along...

Cosmopolitan: the holy grail in terms of the hotel we most desperately have wanted to get a comped night at for some time now.  They actually sent me an email offering 2 free nights Sunday thru Thursday thru December 28th last month but when I called the 28th was blacked out, damn!  Well this time it was still Sunday thru Thursday but it was extended thru January 4th.  I already assumed me late December dates would be excluded but my wife insisted I at least call and try.  So Try I did asking for 2 nights somewhere between the 28th and 30th.  The reservationist quickly stated that  the 29th and 30th were blacked out....damn again.  But now miraculously the 28th was available!  She went on to say my comp was for a city room but I could upgrade to a terrace studio for $30 and a Bellagio fountain view for $50.  Normally I am not one for paying the upcharge for a view change, but the main reason for staying at Cosmo has to be those balconies, and what better way to enjoy one but with a view of the fountains!  I locked it in, $50 well spent I hope!

So I think I have it all figured out now: Cosmo to Mandalay bay and then 3 nights at Ballys.  I get to experience 2 nights at 2 places I have never stayed, along with staying for free on one of the most expensive nights in Vegas!  I've watched the Art Mann special on NYE and I am trying to find any trip reports of other peoples Vegas NYE experiences, but I am excited.  I plan to take a ton of pictures and hopefully have some good stories to bring back, Vegas Baby! 2 weeks and counting!!!