Sunday, April 19, 2015

What Do I Have to Do to Get a Drink Around Here?

I’m afraid this post is going to be a rant and also touch on one of my pet peeves. Although it was mid-March and spring had barely arrived, it was unseasonably warm in Vegas.  Actually, the weather was just about perfect, but walking outside in the sun made me quite thirsty.  As it happened, I started noticing what might have been a sore throat coming on soon after I left my hotel (it turned out not to be anything serious, just “Vegas throat”).  So by the time I found myself seated at a 1/3 game at Wynn, walking over from TI, I was quite in need of some liquid refreshment.  Oh, and also, I had some medication I needed to take pretty soon.

After being there over an hour, I was still waiting for the cocktail waitress to make her first appearance at our table.  At one point I noticed one across the room but she never made it over to our table.  I asked the dealer about it.  He said they no longer have buttons on their Bravo system to light to ask for a waitress.  Not that that ever does any good, but it makes you feel like they have some interest in getting you served.

So I took to Twitter.  And to the Wynn poker room’s Twitter account, I tweeted, “Been at @WynnPoker for a hour and still no cocktail waitress. How embarrassing for you. Worst I've ever seen.”

I wasn’t sure what, if anything, would come of that, but at least it made me feel a little better to publically vent.  And let me make this clear:  The Wynn poker room is a fine room.  It is well run.  It is a very nice place to play poker.  And I know that the folks who run the room have absolutely nothing to do with the quality of the cocktail service.  There’s nothing they can do about it.  That’s handled by a separate department and the waitresses are all union.  The poker folks are at their mercy. 

My tweet didn’t get any response, no surprise.  At least from the good folks at Wynn.  But a couple of my twitter followers responded.  One was sympathetic.  But one, not so much.

The unsympathetic response came from someone I’ll call “Andr0us” since that’s his twitter handle. I know he’s a poker dealer (and sometimes floor, I believe).  Through my vast network of spies, I even know what room he works at, even though it’s supposed to be a closely held secret.  We’ve been twitter peeps for some time.  In fact, in the post here, when I referred to him (not by name) as one of my twitter peeps, he tweeted back to me that I had touched his heart.

As far as I know, I’ve never met him in person.  But you know, I wouldn’t be surprised if somewhere along the way, we have indeed been in the same poker room at the same time.  Honestly, it would surprise me if we hadn’t. 

Anyway, my twitter peep Andr0us tweeted to me, in a series of three tweets: “this is my view on poker room cocktails. Drinks are a privilege, not a right, the casino gives to the players. if you want a drink right away, you are more than welcome to go to the bar & pay for one... but if you want a drink for free, you have to be patient & wait as long as it takes.”

The day not having exactly gone the way I had envisioned, I was less than pleased with his thoughtful response. 

Ever been really upset about something—which may seem really minor to someone else but is just pissing the hell out of you—and had someone try to tell you that it was no big deal, or that you are wrong to be upset?  You have, I’m sure.  I’m sure you know how maddening that is. 

The last thing I needed right then was for someone to argue with me at that moment.  I’ll bet the other players at my table were wondering why there was suddenly steam coming out of my ears.

Calmly, cooly, I responded to Andr0us with the very first thing that came to my mind. I tweeted back, You're right u don't have bring us drinks. So put a f***ing water cooler in the f***ing poker room.” (Note, my actual tweet did not contain asterisks in place of the actual letters). 

He replied, “i agree with that. Place I work has a water cooler & coffee in the corner.”

I suppose I appreciated him agreeing with me, but he happened to bring up another pet peeve of mine.  My response was, “And as someone who drinks soda not coffee I'd still s.o.l. but I'm used to that. At least the water would help.”  Every office I’ve ever worked in offered free coffee to the employees.  Not at all helpful to me since I don’t drink the stuff.  And I’ve never worked in an office that offered free soda.  But I’ll save the full rant on that topic for another time.  

I didn’t hear back from him on that, nor did I expect to.  But I couldn’t stop thinking about it.  I was pissed to be challenged like that when I was clearly in the right. I would have expected nothing but sympathy for my plight.  But I spent the rest of my poker session thinking about it and formulating a better response.  You know, instead of concentrating on the poker game.

So here’s the thing.  We all know how the game is played, and dating back to the days when the mob was running Vegas, there’s been an unwritten contract between the casino and the players. It is understood that the casino will provide free drinks for folks while they are gambling.  This accomplishes two things for the casino.  One, it keeps the player playing longer instead of having to get up to fetch a drink.  And two, since most of the drinks people order contain alcohol, the casino hopes the players will get somewhat intoxicated, loosening their inhibitions and staying longer, and reaching into their pockets (or their ATM’s) and risking more and more of their money when they are no longer in full control of their faculties. 

I suppose I beat the system to some degree by drinking mostly non-booze.  Note: back when I played table games and not poker, I ordered liquor a lot more often, tho never to excess. 

But implied with that contract that they’ll serve you drinks until you get hammered is that they will come around and give you more drinks reasonably frequently.  It’s to their benefit as well as the player’s.

So getting a drink in less than an hour and a quarter doesn’t seem too unreasonable.

The other thing of course is that, what the heck do they charge for drinks in a Vegas casino bar these days?  I’ve heard various reports.  “Eight bucks for a beer.”  “Twelve bucks for a beer.”  “Fifteen bucks for a mixed drink!”  I dunno if these are accurate, since I don’t order drinks in Vegas casino bars. But I do know it ain’t cheap. And what would they charge me for a diet coke?  I have no idea, really, it’s been like forever since I ordered a soft drink in a bar.  Five bucks?  More?  Are you kidding me?

Well, it was nearly 90 minutes before a waitress came by to take our orders.  To be fair, at least she had a tray full of Fuji Waters with her to pass out as she took orders.  I grabbed one of the waters and ordered a diet coke.  I immediately took my meds which were now overdue.  And I would say I gulped down about 90% of the water in less than a minute. I was pleasantly surprised when she returned with my diet coke in a fairly reasonable amount of time.  But I did hear the waitress say—to no one in particular as far as I could tell—“I’m so tired.”

Of course the drink consisted of about three ounces of diet coke in a glassful of ice.  But that wasn’t so bad.  Remember, I like sucking on the ice.  But here’s the kicker.  The diet coke was resting on the portable cart that was behind my chair (no cup holders at the Wynn).  Not long after getting the drink, I was ready to take off.  I got up to grab a rack and started racking my chips.  I saw/heard the waitress come by yet again to take orders, and I didn’t order since I was practically out the door.  I stood up and went to grab my glass, which had a bit of watered down soda and a ton of ice, only to discover that the waitress had taken away the glass that I wasn’t done with.  Are you freaking kidding me?  I had waited 90 minutes for that drink and the damn waitress took it away before I was finished with it?  As I told in the post here, taking away my glass (even if it’s just ice) before I’m through with it drives me absolutely insane.  The waitress was AWOL for 90 minutes, then somehow manages to make three appearances at my table within a relatively short amount of time, only to take my glass away before I was done with it?  It took every ounce of self-restraint I posses to not start screaming and make a scene.

To add insult to injury, later in the evening, I was playing in another poker room.  Let’s call it Caesars.  Let’s assume that I had walked from Wynn to Caesars.  Let’s assume I was still damn thirsty.

The waitress came by fairly quickly.  I ordered a diet Coke.  Someone else at the table ordered a Jack & Coke.  When she came back, she went to the other guy first and gave him one of the two dark colored drinks on her tray.  “She said, “I’m not sure if this is your Jack & Coke, can you taste it?”  He did.  He handed it back to her and said, “That’s diet Coke.”  No, it wasn’t just diet Coke.  It was my diet Coke.  Which she could now not serve me.  She gave him the other glass on her tray and told me she would have to come up with my uncontaminated diet Coke.

I finally got my drink but this day it was a real struggle getting drinks.  And as I said, I think there’s an understanding that when people are gambling, they’re supposed to get a beverage within a reasonable amount of time.  Doesn’t have to be 10 minutes.  But nearly 90 minutes to see a waitress?  That’s unacceptable.


  1. Remember, in the poker room, you are NOT a gambler. Drinks are charged back against the poker room's budget. There's a reason you can't get top shelf stuff in many rooms (cough, cough, Caesars, cough). The house isn't getting rich on your action in the poker room the way they are when you are in the pits. So the drink service often reflects a marked ambivalence toward poker players.

    That all being said, some rooms are much better than others. I have generally had good luck with solid service in Aria, P-Ho, Venetian, and Wynn.

    1. Thanks, Grange. I thought about mentioning that poker is different from the rest of the casino, but I decided not to. I think the principle is the same. And you know, I've seen plenty of poker players get so drunk that after losing a few buy-ins, they decide to get it back in the pit and give the casino plenty of action.

      But honestly, I've never seen much of a difference in the service in the poker rooms than in the rest of the casino. I am aware that some rooms don't offer the top shelf liquor, but that's not an issue for me. If they give me Costco diet cola instead of Diet Coke, I can deal with that.

      This seemed to be a one-off for the Wynn, most of the rooms are pretty consistently mediocre at best. The one exception for me always has been the Mirage, consistently the most awful cocktail service of any poker room I've been in more than a handful of times.

  2. My friend "Normdugare" just reminded me of a story from long ago that is relevant to this post. Norm is recovering from hand surgery and can't type, so he asked me to respond for him.

    Norm and I used to go to Vegas together three times a year for many, many years. One summer, we went into a casino and started playing blackjack at the same table. Since it was summer it was about 347 degrees outside, we had just come in from the heat and thus we were both quite thirsty.

    We waited a reasonable amount of time and no waitress appeared. Finally we asked the dealer or the floor person (or possibly both) about getting a drink. In those days they would clap their hands to call for cocktails, so that's what he did.

    A long time went by no one showed up. This happened a number of times., and no waitress ever came by. Finally, Norm said to the floor person, "I'm dying here. Can you trip a cocktail waitress?"

    The floorperson misheard what Norm and said, "A shrimp-cocktail waitress? You want a SHRIMP-cocktail waitress?"

    Norm responded, without any hesitation, "I don't care how how short she is, I'm thirsty."

  3. ... but waking outside in the sun made me quite thirsty.

    Welcome to my world.

    Oh, and do you really believe that the cocktail waitress at Caesars actually replaced your diet Coke, or simply returned with the same glass after having topped it up a tad?

    1. LOL...thanks for pointing out the typo, It's been fixed.

      OMG...never thought of that, about getting the same contaminated drink back. Ugh.

      But I guess it doesn't explain why I came down with malaria after this trip.

  4. In my experience, the best poker room (for drinks) is Bellagio. They'll bring you virtually anything you ask for (top-shelf, whatever) - and they're generally quite quick about it. You can get some nice food there, too.

    My favorite room remains Aria, I guess primarily because I always seem to do well there. Their cocktail service is mediocre ... food is good, though.

    On my last trip, I noticed at Ceasar's new poker room you can order food from the Gordon Ramsay pub just across the casino floor. They have some lobster Mac & Cheese to die for.

    I miss Vegas already!

    1. Gordon Ramsey. How hum.

      Just answer me this.....can you order from the Smashburger?

    2. Hey, that Gordon Ramsay pub is the bomb. I think they even have dem mash p'taters

    3. I tried to eat there once and it was too busy. I'll have to give them another try, or perhaps order from the poker room.

  5. Can relate Rob.

    When I play at Hawaiian Gardens Casino (which btw and as I've told you, is switching over next year to an all-new building which looks like it's going to be really nice), and the woman comes by to scan our member cards... I *never* pull mine out. For two reasons:

    (1). By the time I get mine out, the scanner woman is *always* already at the next table. At least twice, I've called to her: 'You forgot my card!' They always respond 'oh, I'll be right back!' Then I *never* see them again.

    (2). This time I'm prepared. I have my card ready. The scanner woman comes by. I hand her my card. Instead of scanning it, she exclaims 'Oh, you have our OLD card! Hold on while we get you a new one!' I play another two, three, four hours. I *never* see her again.


    1. That bit where they come around every hour or whatever to scan your card is a joke. It's 2015. You should be able to credit for your time the minute you take a hand until you pick up. They do the same thing at the Bike, but they're very good about doubling back if they do miss anyone. And the people who do the scans are good about getting replacement cards.

      Do have to check out Hawaiian Gardens one of these days.

  6. Replies
    1. I see what you all did there. Social media meltdown

    2. Scan you every hour? I've seen a guy qualify for the Station casino freeroll without every paying the big blind once... and that is with Bravo... seems like that system could seriously be taken advantage of....

    3. Yeah, its not only the same time, either, could easily be manipulated.

  7. Geez, Rob, you are one grouchy old effer! And, of course, I already knew how having your unfinished drink snatched away sets you off. Add in losing a flopped set of Jacks to Q-10 sooted to a "bad player" and you will likely go completely psycho. Maybe you just have tight underwear -- I dunno.

    1. But you know what really sets me off?

      Getting snarky comments from fellow bloggers.

    2. Rob need to smoke some primo dank or eat some 420 edibles

    3. Considering it's 420 day, anger, how the hell are you still able to use a keyboard?

  8. I am with Lightning on this one. Since when does a drink with just ice in constitute something that should not be cleared? It's an empty drink Rob!! Get over it and drink some beer and get your monies worth!

    1. I covered this in the post about things that piss me off.

      For one thing, the drink they bring you is more ice than soda, so basically, they are giving ice with some soda in it, not the other way around. So they're bringing me flavored ice, that's part of the drink. If they bring you hot chocolate with whip cream, they don't take the cup when you finish the whip cream, right?

      I could ask for NO ICE but I really want the ice. The soda, even a full glass, would be gone in a few minutes. The ice takes a while to melt and gives me something to keep my throat lubricated until the next one arrives. And the not yet empty glass isn't bothering anyone!

  9. Some things in life will never change. We are the ones that have to adjust in these cases. In future, either order a further separate water, carry your own water, ask for 1 cube of ice or just suck it up. Carrying a bottle of diet coke to refill your own glass is also an option - that's probably a money saving tip also at a $1 for a tiny coke!

    1. I actually know someone who made his jacket with about a zillion pockets so he can bring in about a dozen or more bottles of water with him when he plays poker. Trouble....the water is in his car in the heat and he has basically warm or hot water.

      I only like drinking water if it's ICE COLD.

      Maybe I should start carrying around a cooler?

    2. hmmmmm y a zillion pockets if only carrying 12 bottles of water?? that is cray cray,u see

    3. what is colder than cold?????? ICE COLD

    4. I shoulda said, "colder than a witch's tit." You could relate to that.

  10. I think sometimes we do get spoiled in Vegas.... I was playing overseas about a year ago (slots) and the cocktail waitress came by and asked for drink orders, I asked what beers they had on tap, she said "Heineken and Icey Heineken" Not a fan of either, but I ordered an "Icey Heineken" when she returned she promptly asked for €6.

    Only time I get really annoyed is when I go to the bar to play VP, put in $100 and am down to like $40 before the bartender stops chatting and takes my order.

    1. Yes, we do get spoiled in Vegas. If this was somewhere out of NV, I would have had a different attitude. Of course, the drink might have cost less too if I had bought it.