I recently met some friends for dinner at one of my favorite steakhouses in Las Vegas, Heritage Steakhouse at The Mirage. The steak was fantastic as always but I digress. This isn’t a restaurant review. This is about playing video poker at The Mirage. I decided to stop at the Lobby Bar for a drink on my way to grab a Lyft at the north valet.
The Mirage Lobby Bar Ticket System
You may know the Lobby Bar as one of the first bars in Las Vegas to install a drink ticket system for their video poker/slot machines. The system was installed about a year ago. Unlike most bars with video poker, the bartenders at the Lobby Bar will only provide complimentary drinks when you play enough video poker to receive a drink ticket. WHOA! People on Facebook and twitter freaked out.
MAJOR CUTBACKS! OUTRAGE! OUTRAGE! RAHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!
When the system was installed, just about everyone who plays video poker at casino bars in Las Vegas was taken aback. After all, this was a freebie taken away. Nobody likes to lose things they value. If this drink ticket plan was successful it would spread to other bars and casinos. The prevailing thought is that complimentary drinks as we knew them would no longer exist. Again, settle down.
It’s always been the job of bartenders to monitor video poker players to ensure that they were playing at a certain pace before giving complimentary drinks. However, bartenders are a human who works for tips and they didn’t really pay close attention unless a supervisor was watching as long as you were tipping. This never affected me since I’m a good tipping max bet video poker player.
Enter the drink ticket monitoring system where bartenders no longer have to pay attention to everyone playing video poker at their bar. This would allow players to earn comp drinks based on spending the same amount of money. The max credit player and one credit player would be rewarded a drink at the same rate. Sounds like a fair system to me.
Outrage? Not even close.
Free Drinks Flowing
I was ready to get angry that I wasn’t being served enough booze but that wasn’t a problem. In fact, I was probably over-served. I placed $20 in the video poker machine and chose Bonus Poker. Despite the 6/5 paytable, it’s the game I’m most comfortable playing.
The first complimentary drink is served as soon as you place $20 in the machine. I asked for a scotch and was offered Dewars White Label, Johnny Walker Black Label and something from the well. The bartender, Sanchez, insisted that I, Marc, order Dewars (yes, Marc and Sanchez together in Vegas amuses me). He poured a measured shot straight from the bottle, not the gun. I prefer Macallan but this wasn’t awful. Neither were the next 3 I would drink.
My first drink ticket appeared after earning 15 points. This was perfect timing as I just finished my first drink. Each MLife Rewards point is earned with every $10 coin-in when playing video poker. I’m bad at math but I think this means that I played through $150 to earn this complimentary drink. If the math is correct that should be 120 hands at max credits for quarters. This would be
50 30 hands for a $1 denomination player.
One strange thing I noticed is that the drink tickets aren’t dispersed evenly. I was expecting one every 15 points after the first drink ticket. However, the second ticket came at 36 points and the third ticket at 54 points.
Unfortunately, my session ended up a loser after an hour of going up and down. When it was all said and done, I had four glasses of Dewars for $20. I don’t need four drinks every hour but I’ll take it. This isn’t a bad deal considering the full price of a drink is closer to $10 each.
My pace of play to earn a complimentary drink was fine for a solo drinker and gambler. Even though I chatted with the bartender, I played faster than if there was a friend with me. If you’re with a friend the drinks will probably come out a little slower than you’d want.
I don’t like when people mess with the good things in life. Complimentary drinks at a video poker bar are great, regardless of the odds. I went into the Lobby Bar expecting to be cranky because of a lack of drinks. I left surprised and satisfied with my buzz. As I expected, this issue is much ado about nothing.