One of our bucket list items has always been to spend a month in Las Vegas during the World Series of Poker. The problem was that we could not imagine spending a month in 100-degree heat during June and July when the WSOP has been traditionally held. That kind of extended heat exposure is just not our thing. Then, in one of the many twists of these bizarre times, the 2021 WSOP was moved to the fall. Suddenly, everything fell into place. Our two youngest children had just entered college, our primary jobs are portable, and we had saved up enough for the trip. So, last October, Vegas it was! We chose to drive to Vegas, in order to have our car. You can read about our poker road trip from Boston to Las Vegas.
Where to Stay
The array of hotel options at various price points in Las Vegas is obviously endless. However, if you’re spending a month in Las Vegas and are at all worried about cost, you’re going to want to look for a condo rental via AirBnB, Vrbo, or other rental site. The two primary advantages of renting are: 1) the cost per night will be much lower for the quality you can get, and 2) having a kitchen will save you a lot of money. An extra bonus is the lack of Resort Fees, that are very difficult to escape in Vegas hotels these days. In our Airbnb on West Flamingo Ave, we ate most breakfasts and lunches at home. We also cooked 2-3 dinners a week, plus leftovers.
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. We have also shared our experience of a month in Vegas during the WSOP and the details of our trip home.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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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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.