Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The Grump's Great Harrah's Challenge (plus a few others)

An idea occurred to me recently. I wanted to challenge myself to play and win in the whole row of Harrah's* properties on the Strip, all in one day. As I thought about it more, the idea evolved into a challenge that I will open up to all readers. It's a contest of sorts, though there's no prize other than (1) bragging rights and (2) a post here lauding the winner's enviable accomplishment.

Here's the challenge: At each of the seven Harrah's poker rooms clustered around Flamingo and Las Vegas Boulevard--specifically, Harrah's, Imperial Palace, O'Shea's, Flamingo, Bill's, Bally's, and Caesars Palace (note that Paris recently closed its poker room, else this challenge would be even more difficult)--you must play either limt hold'em at $4-$8 or lower, or no-limit hold'em at $1-3 or lower (cash games, obviously--not tournaments). You can buy in for as much or as little as you like and the house rules allow, but you must manage a net win of $100 or more by the time you check out in order to count a "W" for that property.

The winner will be the person who scores seven wins of $100 or more in the shortest time. In the event that nobody manages seven wins, the winner will be the person who scores six wins in the shortest time, and so forth. (A loss is counted the same as not having tried to play in a particular place. No marks against you, though it costs you time, obviously.) In the unlikely event that we have more than one player with seven wins, and their total times are within about 15 minutes of each other (i.e., so close as to constitute a virtual tie), the tie will be broken by who had the biggest overall net profit.

Obviously this is going to have to be done on the honor system. But since I'm not offering a million dollars, I'm not too concerned about cheaters.

Please submit your accomplishments, even if you don't score wins in all seven properties, or even if you don't set foot in all seven. If you win in even, say, four, and either lose in the other three or don't get to them, send in your numbers anyway. I don't really have any good sense of what it will take to win, and it might be well short of 7 Ws.

I think I'm going to impose a maximal time limit for any challenge of, say, five days. Otherwise, I could probably just go through my own records and find a set of dates encompassing a few months in which a scored a W at each place. That's no fun. You have to be trying to do this, and a time span of more than a few days suggests that you weren't really trying.

Write in (email address is listed in my profile, in the left-hand margin) telling me your name or pseudonym, the start and stop times (and it doesn't have to be all in one day--perhaps 7 Ws over the course of five days will prove to be the winner), the amount you won or lost in each property, and the date(s) of your attempt. I'll keep track of them, and one year from today tabulate the winners. I will assume that, unless otherwise specified, sending me your report constitutes permission to write about it and quote from what you say as I see fit.

I made one attempt so far, and did badly. I started at Harrah's (you can do them in any order you like, by the way), lost three consecutive buy-ins, decided it wasn't my day for poker, and went home. That was Sunday, October 26. I haven't tried again since then. But I will. And I'll report any progress toward a 7-W day (my personal goal) here.

If you're not a fan of the Harrah's properties, or you're staying elsewhere in town, there are ancillary contests running, too, because my original idea sort of metastatized. Specifically, we have:

The Grump's Great Downtown Challenge. Same basic idea, but the poker rooms involved are the five downtown ones (Golden Nugget, Plaza, Fitzgeralds, Binion's, and El Cortez). This one will be difficult because it may be hard to find games--particular no-limit games--going much of the time at the Plaza, Fitzgeralds, and El Cortez. Because I intend never again to play at the Plaza or El Cortez, I'm not likely to be putting in any serious attempt on this one.

The Grump's Great Boulder Highway Challenge. Same basic idea, but involving Sam's Town, Boulder Station, Eastside Cannery, Jokers Wild, and Club Fortune.

The Grump's Great South Strip Challenge. Same basic idea, but involving Silverton, South Point, and the M Resort (which means that you won't be able to start this until about March, when the M opens).

The Grump's Great MGM/Mirage Challenge. Same basic idea, but involving the trio of Excalibur, Luxor, and Mandalay Bay. This will likely be the easiest one to win, both because there are only three rooms involved and because they are all connected by indoor walkways.

The Grump's Great Flamingo Road Challenge. Same basic idea, but involving the casinos along Flamingo that are not listed in the other geographically-defined challenges, specifically, Gold Coast, Palms, Rio, Bellagio, and Tuscany.

The Grump's Great Tropicana Avenue Challenge. Same basic idea, but involving properties clustered on or near Tropicana, not listed in other geographically-defined challenges, specifically, Monte Carlo, MGM Grand, Tropicana, Hooters, and Orleans.

The Grump's Great North Strip Challenge. Same basic idea, but involving the Stratosphere, Palace Station, Sahara, Riviera, and Circus Circus.

The Grump's Great North Las Vegas Challenge. Same basic idea, but involving Texas Station, Santa Fe Station, Cannery, Aliante Station (due to open one week from today), and Poker Palace.

The Grump's Great Henderson Challenge. Same basic idea, but involving Sunset Station, Fiesta Henderson, and Green Valley Ranch. This should be the second-easiest one to accomplish (as long as you have a car), if you're not up for the harder ones.

The Grump's Great Black Lung Challenge. This one was inspired by this recent trip report posted over on, describing an attempt to hit in one day all of the city's poker rooms that still allow smoking right at the table. The problem was that those involved apparently didn't know the whole list, or silently chose to omit a couple. The list is now this: Arizona Charlie's-Decatur, Hooters, Club Fortune, Boulder Station, Palms (after 2:00 a.m., I believe--and to qualify for this challenge, you have to put in your time there during the smoking hours). Regular readers of this blog might guess that I will not be attempting this challenge. Also, this one will involve the most driving, so if the cigarettes don't kill you, the traffic might. Good luck with all that. Note: You don't have to be a smoker to attempt this challenge, but it probably helps.

Yes, I'm aware that I'm leaving out a lot of fine places, like the Venetian and Treasure Island. But there's only so many ways you can group these things and end up with a manageable number and logical geographic clustering. If you want to set up a similar deal with some other defined group(s) of poker rooms, well, just get your own blog and do it!

So that's eleven different challenges you can try, if you're up for it. The challenges are now open. Good luck, everybody!

*Yeah, I know that the corporate name is now Caesars. But just about everybody still calls it Harrah's--including some representatives of the corporation--and I will do the same here.


luckydonut said...

I think I'm going to try the Harrah's challenge when I'm back in town at Christmas.

FWIW if your MGM Mirage challenge was Luxor/Excalibur/MGM Grand instead of Luxor/Excalibur/Mandalay Bay I would already have a documented triple $100 win:

This took 5h15m from start to finish. Do I get a prize? :)

Memphis MOJO said...

Obviously this is going to have to be done on the honor system. But since I'm not offering a million dollars, I'm not too concerned about cheaters.

I did it in 14 minutes. Pretty good considering I live in Memphis, right?