Poker Road Trip: Boston to Las Vegas

As we rapidly approach our year-long poker pilgrimage, Paul and I have begun to spend more time traveling and visiting poker rooms around the country. Our first serious poker road trip featured ten days in Southern Florida back in 2018. In 2020, we spent another ten days in Tampa Bay. And about a week after we returned, the world shut down. Last fall, we were finally able to get back on the road for our most adventurous road trip yet. We planned out a month-long visit to the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas. On our journey out in September, we would take the northern route, following route 80 across much of the country. On our return in November, we would dive South via route 40 and visit some national parks along the way. The current post describes our adventures traveling the northern route. In a couple of weeks we will share the details of our trip home.

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Charleston SC

Three Days in Charleston, South Carolina

We recently stopped in Charleston, South Carolina for three days on our way from our home in New England to our winter escape in Florida. Neither Paul nor I had ever been to Charleston before and we were looking forward to a little of that Southern charm we have heard so much about. I am happy to say that we were not disappointed. We loved Charleston and are already thinking about how we can spend some more time there in the future.

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Tru by Hilton Lobby

Throwdown Thursday: Tru by Hilton or False?

On our recent drive from Boston to Las Vegas, we stayed in a wide variety of accommodations. While some were fancy, and others humble, Paul and I generally agreed on their relative merit. The one place that we did just not see eye to eye on was the Tru by Hilton that we visited in North Platte, Nebraska. While Paul loved it, I saw it more like a low-budget hotel that was trying too hard to be cute. Let the Throwdown begin:

Heather: I can’t believe what a sucker you were for the Tru by Hilton experience. The place was basically a college dorm on steroids.

Tru by Hilton Lobby

Paul: Not sure what your college dorm room was like, but mine was a wannabe morgue. Waking up every morning with the thought of “Is this what death is like?” is not ideal for an education.

Tru does the Southwest Airlines thing, tries to inject a bit of fun into a service (i.e., mid-tier short stay hotels) that is often viewed as purely functional, somber, and a necessary evil. What’s wrong with a few bright colors, funny sayings in the bathroom, and a pool table in the lobby, or as Tru labels it “The Hive”?

Heather: I found the whole vibe to be oppressively positive. Let me tell you, I do not need my hand soap to preach joy at me.

Tru by Hilton Soap

Paul: OK Wednesday Addams, I know whimsy falls well down your to-do list, behind cleaning toilets and clothes shopping, but how can a bit of levity be this offensive? I don’t laugh at every corny joke the Southwest Airline flight attendants pipe through that scratchy intercom, but I admire the effort.

You’re just upset that we looked like idiots when we could not immediately figure out that the circular desk (known in Tru by Hilton form as the Command Center) in the Hive, was actually the registration desk.

Heather: A “bit” of levity? Levity was screaming from every orifice of that place. It wasn’t only the hand soap. The hair dryer, the shampoo, the elevator doors, the front door, the room key, and the “do not disturb” sign all had something they needed to say to us. I was exhausted just reading all the perky signage.

 

Tru Hotel doors

Paul: Was your exhaustion allayed at all by the good IPA available at the front de…I mean Command Center? That was nice after a long trip to have some decent beverage and snack options right there. And they were there with the bottle opener when we needed it too.

Yes, the room might be a bit modern geometric to make the best use of space, but the bed was comfortable, the blackout curtains worked, the shower was decent, and despite the festive atmosphere, the hotel was quiet. They hit the key deliverables while throwing in a bit of life coaching on the side. I just don’t see the harm.



Heather: I am really not looking for life coaching in my hotels, thank you very much.

And yes, the furniture. This is the second part of my beef with the place. The furniture was the cheapest, ugliest, 1972-iest furniture I have seen in decades.  I mean really…

Night Table

 

You call this a night table? First, it is ridiculously small. No way my glasses, water glass, iPhone and noise machine all fit on that Halloween toddler stool. Secondly, it is ORANGE. This is not helping me shuffle off to dreamland. And finally, where are all the fancy plugs to recharge my gadgets overnight. Again, I say, 1970’s dorm room.  No thank you.

Other “amenities” included a hard linoleum floor with no carpet or padding anywhere. So when you step out of the shower with wet feet, you are at risk of cracking your head open all the way to the bed. The room has hooks on the wall rather than any kind of closet whatsoever. And what serves as a “desk” is just a narrow block of plasticky “wood” on two legs. I would like to have words with the “stylist” of this fresh hell.

Throwdown Thursday: Tru by Hilton or False?Click To Tweet

Paul: It’s Dada meets Bauhaus furniture baby! It’s like a piece of absurd but functional art right in your room. You’ve got to just roll with the vibe and embrace the aesthetic.

Of course, in the hotel that we visited in Davenport, Iowa that logic would have meant trying their jet-powered bidet – which would obviate the need for a colonoscopy ever again. Not saying I tried it, but really, they should make the off button more obvious!

Heather: We’re going to have to agree to disagree on the Tru by Hilton, I think.

Still can’t believe you used that bidet in Iowa…

 

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WSOP Logistics

A Quick Guide to WSOP Logistics

The World Series of Poker has returned!  For many years, the WSOP has taken place at the Rio All Suites Hotel and Casino, which is off-Strip in Las Vegas. If you are staying on the Vegas Strip, this can be more of a challenge than you might imagine. There are a number of issues and WSOP logistics to grapple with in order to maximize your play and your stay. Finding meals between (and during) poker tournaments, traveling from your hotel to the Rio and back, and managing the hordes of players at the World Series of Poker all present challenges.

This year will be our third time attending the WSOP, and we believe that any hassle is worth it to participate in the poker world’s biggest party. The WSOP is great fun. However, you need to know how to navigate a number of WSOP logistics before you go that will help enhance.

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Boston's North Shore: Rockport

A Relaxing Weekend on Boston’s North Shore

Massachusetts offers a never-ending array of vacation settings, from the wooded beauty of the Berkshires to the beaches of Cape Cod, or the cultural and activity center of Boston. Boston’s North Shore is generally defined as the mainly coastal towns directly above Boston.

While there are many other interesting towns on Boston’s North Shore, we’ll focus on four towns that we toured on a recent weekend. For the traveling poker player, Boston’s North Shore can work as a base to play at the Brook Casino and Tavern in Seabrook NH and Chasers in Salem NH. If Encore Boston Harbor in Everett ever opens their poker room again (which is in doubt) that would be an option as well.

A Visit to Boston’s North Shore

Rockport

Rockport is a small community (under 7,000 residents) that sits at the tip of Cape Ann. While small, Rockport fits a lot of retail, antique, art, and dining venues into their very quaint downtown area. As we were there offseason, many places were not open, but we still were able to find enough interesting shops to fill our morning. In terms of dining, good seafood options abound. The area around Rockport offers many walking and bike trail options. Overall, a nice relaxing area for a variety of activities.

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