Best Thing to Do in the Berkshires: Clark Art

Best Things To Do in the Berkshires

This weekend we made our annual pilgrimage to the Williamstown Theater Festival (WTF) in Western Massachusetts. Every summer we make sure to fit in a play at WTF and spend the weekend in the Berkshires, enjoying some of the great things that the mountains of Western Massachusetts have to offer. Last weekend we also snuck in a quick visit to The Rivers a mere hour and a half away for another poker survivor tournament. We thought this was a perfect time to share our thoughts on the best things to do in the Berkshires.

Best Things To Do in the Berkshires

Visit Museums

There is an amazing variety of museums in the Berkshires. You can find cutting edge modern art at MASS MoCA, a world class collection of impressionists at The Clark Art Institute, and a combination of art, science, and natural history at the Berkshire Museum. Whatever type of museum tickles your fancy, you can find it in the Berkshires.

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Golden Nugget Poker Room

Golden Nugget Poker Room Review

While the Strip draws the vast majority of poker players in Las Vegas, there are several poker rooms off the Strip. One of our favorites is the Orleans, which we have visited multiple times. The Golden Nugget poker room provides another option right in the center of Downtown Vegas. Offering smaller, more intimate atmosphere than many poker rooms on the Strip, the Golden Nugget presents a nice respite from the wild action along Fremont Street.

Casino Setting 

The Golden Nugget resides in Old Vegas, sited downtown between the famed Fremont Street and East Carson Avenue. It’s right across from Binion’s, the original home of the World Series of Poker. For those who have not been, Fremont Street is a scene. The locale features street performers, a zip line, vendors selling all manner of wares, and people in all sorts of costumes (some minimal). Perhaps not necessarily where you would take your 8-year-old, but a fascinating melting pot of Vegas decadence that is worth at least one visit.

The Golden Nugget’s parking is not free for the public, but if you play in the casino they will validate your ticket. We got our ticket validated at the tournament registration desk and our parking was indeed free.

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Vacation Budget Souvenirs

Top 6 Vacation Budget Breakers

We love to travel, but we hate to spend unnecessary money. So we are always looking for the best deals on hotels, rental cars, and dining. We like to travel well, but we also recognize the reality that our vacation budget is limited. Nothing is more budget shattering than encountering unplanned vacation costs after the trip has begun. So as you sketch out your vacation budget, keep the following budget busters in mind.

Vacation Budget Breakers

Resort Fees

The primary bane of our vacation budgeting has been the increasingly ubiquitous “resort fees”.  Often resort fees go unlisted in the initial pricing of a room. Sometimes they don’t even show up clearly in the online payment, only footnoted or found in the fine print. We’ve had some unwelcome surprises in the past when we arrived at our hotel to discover $30 to $50 a night slapped on top of our “pre-paid” reservation.

Solution: First, make sure you read the fine print before you book. Know if a hotel charges resort fees, and whether they’ve been included, or will be charged once you arrive. Second, examine your other options. In June, we opted for an Airbnb for our annual trip to Las Vegas instead of a Strip hotel. We ended up paying about 40% of what we have paid on our previous “great deals” for Strip hotels. While we missed some aspects of our hotel experience, these were offset by enjoying a whole apartment to ourselves with a bedroom, kitchen, living room, and washer/dryer.

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Tag Team Switch Tournament

Throwdown Thursday: Will We Survive a Poker Tag Team Switch?

A few months ago, Heather and I debated the merits of playing in the World Series of Poker Tag Team event. We ended up deciding that the costs and risks didn’t make sense.  But as we were planning our Las Vegas trip and the poker tournaments we would consider, we stumbled upon a much less expensive tag team tournament at Planet Hollywood.

The significantly lower cost and “switch” element had Heather intrigued once more and me returning to a foetal position pleading “don’t make me!”.  Instead of playing one stack of chips and alternating players at will, the “switch” aspect means we each get a stack. When the tournament director announces “switch,” we trade seats and play the other’s existing stack. Basically this now doubles the chance that Heather will view me as a moron by tournament end.

So, of course, we’re signing up for this, because why not; except for all the reasons I listed in January. So the following is our live throwdown of this event.

Pre-Game Jitters

Paul: I am very concerned that we will not be speaking to each other by this evening.

Heather: It’s simple.  Just don’t blow off my stack.

Paul: Even when playing my brilliant, sophisticated game, bad luck happens. AA gets cracked. Which by the way will be my story no matter how I bust out. I may pay off my table-mates to confirm this.

Heather: If anyone tells me that my husband lost my stack playing 7-10 suited, you’d better run for the hills.

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Seabrook Park

Greyhound Casino & Tavern at Seabrook Park Poker Room

The old Seabrook Park poker room needed a facelift like no other poker room in New England. Seabrook’s glory days had passed long ago, and the physical plant was crumbling down. From a roof that leaked even when it wasn’t raining, to chairs that felt like torture devices, Seabrook poker had seen better days. Earlier this year, new ownership came in and immediately announced plans to renovate the building. Unlike most construction projects in New England, their “immediately” actually meant “now”, and their initial timeline lasted weeks, not years.

The renovation is still ongoing, with the next wave scheduled for August 2019.  Tournament poker will ultimately move to the other half of the building, next to the racing simulcast. However, the first wave is complete, and boy, what a difference. Out of the ashes, the Greyhound Casino & Tavern at Seabrook Park has risen. We have banished our old review of Seabrook Park poker to the archives, now irrelevant. We will update the current review once Phase Two renovations are complete.

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