Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Just Another Post About Parking in Vegas

When I was reviewing my notes about my recent trip to Vegas, I realized I left something out of a post I wrote while I was up there (see here).  It had to do with the parking situation in Vegas.  So even though I’ve written a lot about that (see here, for example), I wanted to talk about this brief discussion I was involved in about it.  And then, fortune smiled on me as I heard some interesting info about parking at MGM properties that I should report to you.  So I can combine the story with the info and turn it into a blog post containing two similarly themed tidbits.

The anecdote took place during the Stratosphere tournament I played. Because of the low turnout for that tournament, it was pretty obvious that even the person winning the tournament wouldn’t be there all day.  There would still be time for the winner to play in, say, a 7PM tournament that night.

I heard a guy at the other end of the table say something to the effect of, “Well, I’d like to play the Aria 7PM tournament tonite, but I’d have to pay $10 to park.”

The guy sitting right next to him said, “Well, if you buy into the tournament, they would validate your parking for sure.”

The first guy said, “I’m not sure about that.”

That’s when I spoke up.  “They absolutely will not validate your parking.  The only way you can get away without paying is if you have a certain status on your MLife card—it’s one level up from the basic card.”  I can never remember what the status levels are called, it’s different for CET and MGM.

The guy said he didn’t have that.  The other guy said, “Oh come on, how can they not validate your parking if you play in the tournament?”  Not a bad question, perhaps.  But I said, “Well, if they were to validate for playing in a poker tournament, they’d have to validate for playing slots, or in the pit, or for seeing a show, or having dinner there….or pretty much any reason you’d go into the casino.”  I went on to explain that the “validation” is there if you’re enough of a regular gambler with them to get a level increase on your player’s card.  If you’re just an infrequent customer of theirs, you’ll have to pay the parking charge and like it.  Well, I guess you don’t have to like it.  You can hate it.  But you have to pay it regardless.

I’m not sure how the guy got the idea they validate.  I assume he’s a local.  At that time, locals parked for free at MGM properties.  That changed with the New Year, by the way.  Locals no longer can park free at MGM properties, they have to pay just like the rest of us poor slobs (or earn the card upgrade).  He probably hadn’t worried about parking up to that point.  And if he frequents downtown casinos, he knows they always have validated—for anything, really.  When I went downtown to have dinner with VegasDWP and Alysia Chang (and a fine dinner it was, at Hugo’s Cellar at Four Queens, courtesy VegasDWP and thank you very much, sir), all three of us had parking stubs we had validated for eating in the restaurant. You can probably just walk thru the casino and get the ticket stamped.  But downtown is different than the Strip.

It turned out the guy who wanted to play at Aria was not a local.  He was visiting from out of town and had flown in for a week of poker.  So I asked him where he was staying—Harrah’s. Someone pointed out—and I agreed—that he didn’t really need a car if he was staying there.  He’s in walking distance to a lot of poker rooms and can take the occasional Lyft or Uber (or even the bus or the Monorail) for the rest.  He said he thought about that, but he got a really good deal on a rental car for a week—and he didn’t know about the paid parking.  Lucky for him he took this trip before Harrah’s starts charging for parking, which will be any minute now.

But he was at Stratosphere, which would have been quite a walk from Harrah’s. Also, he mentioned the next night he was looking forward to playing in a HORSE tournament at Orleans.  Of course, you can Uber there or even take a free shuttle from the Strip.  So, unless you wanna do a lot of stuff off Strip—like hike Red Rock Canyon or drive to Hoover Dam, you very likely don’t need to rent a car in Vegas these days, especially now that they have Uber & Lyft and especially now that they charge for parking (soon-to-be) pretty much everywhere.

Then the guy wanting to play at Aria wondered if there was a good alternative to the Aria tournament that night—at a casino he wouldn’t have to pay a parking charge. He wished there was a way to find out all the tournaments that are running in Vegas on any specific day.  Ahem.  I’d like to think someone else at the table would have told him about PokerAtlas if I hadn’t been there, but lucky for him, I was indeed there. I gave him the good news that what he was asking for did indeed exist, and then said, “I’m sure there’s a good tournament at Venetian at 7PM, they just started their “New Years Eve Extravaganza.” Of course I knew this because I’d entered the tournament series in PokerAtlas not that long ago.  And so I demonstrated the PokerAtlas app (from across the room) by looking up the tournament at the Venetian that night.  I gave him the details, and I’m pretty sure he planned on playing there, instead of at the Aria, that night.

Apologies to the great folks—and they are great folks—who run the Aria poker room.  But if I run into someone who wants an alternative to paying for parking, I’m going to tell him the alternative. You might want to tell that to your bosses, who I’m sure could not care less.

And since I hate paid parking on the Strip with the intensity of a thousand suns, I wanted to make sure the suits who run MGM International know that they lost a customer over their parking policy.  So, right as soon as this incident took place, I tweeted this out:  “Playing w/ a guy from out of town. He said he would play poker tonite at Aria but won't because of pay parking. Good job, @MGMResortsIntl

I know that tweet accomplished nothing whatsoever, but it made me feel good to send it (so I guess, in a small way, it did do some good).

BTW, thinking about it now, I wish I had asked the guy how he found out about the Stratosphere tournament he was playing in.  Since it’s not a regular scheduled tournament, the most obvious way I can think of for him to have learned about was from PokerAtlas.  Obviously that wasn’t the case.  I guess someone somewhere had tipped him off.

Well, that’s that story.  Then, just the other day, I got an email from one of my loyal blog readers who lives in Vegas.  He doesn’t play enough to get an upgraded player’s card at MGM.  And I know he likes playing the Aria tournaments. Here’s what he said:

So I went to Aria for the first time since paid parking.  Got my ticket and drove in. Didn't last too long in the 1PM tournament and was going to stay and play cash.  But first I thought, they advertise getting the MLife credit card and you automatically reach “Pearl” status...which means no paying for parking.   So I called my wife (can't go apply for credit card without telling her) and told her that I was going to go to the MLife desk and see if I can get the credit card (our credit is excellent....but you never know).  She said OK.

I go to the desk, give my ID and MLife card; answer a couple of questions....type in some info on their keypad. The girl walks away for a minute, comes back and checks her screen and says, “you’re approved.” Now here is where I am flabbergasted:  she turns around.....opens a cabinet and takes a card from the machine.  I think it is going to be my new MLIfe card. But it's the freaking new credit card....printed out right there (does not have raised numbers)!     Then she goes and gives me my new MLife cards.   Had I done this online, I would have waited a couple of weeks for the new card.....but they not only approve it there, they give you your new credit card.  

And the card has no fees and no minimum use....so I will keep track of my MGM visits and see how much I save. Tho if you charge $1,000 during first 3 months, you get 10,000 points which is worth $100. And I rarely go 3 months without charging $1,000.  And no....I won't be running it up and paying interest on it.  Besides once I do the $1,000, unless I am spending at MGM, I use my airline card to get travel points.

Thanks to my anonymous pal for that info.  I knew about the credit card option as a way to get around the parking fee.  But I didn’t know they’d actually give the credit card right on the spot, in the casino, when apply for it in person.  My friend reported that he was able to use his Pearl card that very day to get out of the Aria garage without paying for parking (which was his plan). I have to wonder if you can do this at all MGM properties or just the high-end ones like Aria, and presumably, Bellagio. 

Good to know, keep this in mind.  However, if you are not a local, you probably want to get approved for the credit card in advance of your trip so it’s not an issue when you arrive in Vegas. So this would be mostly for locals who suddenly have to make arrangements for parking now that free parking is no longer available to locals. 

Anyway, that’s my latest report on Vegas parking.  They don’t call me “RobVegasParking” for nothing.


  1. Hey Rob,

    When CET started charging ripoff fees, after promoting for a long time that they didn't, they provided an exception: Those Platinum and above didn't have to pay. And what do you know, you can get the Total Rewards Visa and get Platinum automatically. You didn't even have to have any minimum purchases, just keep the card active.

    Well, two things happened not long afterward. First, the suits and bean counters probably noticed that a lot more people were "achieving" Platinum status, so they switched from requiring Platinum to not get charged the ripoff fees to requiring Diamond. Then, not long after that, you needed to charge a minimum amount, I think it was $5 within some timer period, to get even Platinum by having the card.

    My point is that I saw the MRI offer when I was in Vegas, and I'd put good money on the offer of just having an MRI (or MLife) to automatically get Pearl status will not last very long. Probably within 6 months, almost certainly within the year, they will pile on some requirements, make the free parking require higher status, or both.

    1. Thanks, Chuck. You're probably be right....it won't be long before it gets harder and harder to maintain the status necessary to get the free parking. It never ends with these clowns.

  2. If I remember correctly, it doesn't take much at all to get to the 2nd tier. Its not like CET where they only have 3 tiers (for normal customers). MGM breaks it down to at least 4, maybe 5 (not including their Seven Stars version)

    I haven't played in an MGM casino in months, and I'm still gold, and when I do, I only play rated games (VP) while waiting on a seat to open up in a poker game. For anyone who plays a lot worried about parking fees, it really shouldn't be that big a deal.

    1. Trust me, I would never get upgraded status thru machine play because I play ZERO machines. And I'm not about to throw XXX amount of money away trying to get a certain status.

      However, my MLife card is gold strictly thru poker play, I believe it's 75 hours a year in one MGM room. I made that easily last year at MGM itself. Dunno about this year yet.

    2. That isn't bad... maybe if it hurts badly, some of the rooms can work something out... it seems to me that MGM used "cover" your tip for the Valet guy back in the day. That is probably very wishful thinking, and as stated above, and the rates/time-status needed will only go up.

      I enjoy playing 25c VP while I drink, but you know the saying, the free drinks are the most expensive.

    3. OOOPS, my mistake. I think that 75 hours of poker gets you to the FIRST upgrade on your MLife card (Pearl, I believe it is), not Gold. Pearl is good for free self-parking. You need 150 hours for Gold. I made Gold first time around from my play at MGM. Doubt I will hit that again.

      Gold gets you free Valet parking. I don't usually use that, but with all that is going on next door at Monte Carlo, where I usually park, valet parking at Aria's north valet sounds like a good alternative. Until I lose that, of course.

      Obviously that paying the valet tip is gone now, and it will only get worse.

  3. You have until Oct1 to get the 75 hrs. But I assume while you logging the other 74 hrs you are clocking up zero milfe points. You can also get points at 25 on the dollar for any food or drink purchases. I know you probably use
    Comps but thought it may be useful info. And gold gets you 10% off those purchases.

    1. Thanks, Ben. Yeah, at those casino prices, I spend virtually no money in any of the casinos on food or anything else, other than the poker. I know they hate that.

      I know PPP reaches top status just with all those filets and cabs he downs at MGM properties. Too expensive for me. Now, if I could get points for eating at Nathans....