January 24, 2010
The Imperial Palace. Possibly the most polarizing property on the Las Vegas Strip.
“But Rex, doesn’t that title belong to Circus Circus?”
You see, with the exception of yours truly, nobody admits to liking Circus Circus. Thus, it cannot be polarizing because nobody takes the opposite side.
The IP, however, has both a loyal following and a loyal loathing.
Some people love the Harrah’s comps, the Dealertainers, the reasonably low limits, and the cheap rooms. Other people consider staying in the IP to be two steps below sleeping in their car, and one step below sleeping on the Deuce bus.
Personally, I take an in-between approach. I used to really like the IP. I stayed there on one of my first trips to Vegas and I gambled, watched Legends in Concert, ate at a Hawaiian Luau, and generally had a good time. This was back in the waning days when the customer was still king, silver quarters still played in slot machines, and shortpay Crackjack was still just an evil plot that had not yet been unleashed.
Back then, I was not aware that the IP was on top of a flood control channel nor was I aware that the parking garage was notorious for flooding every time someone spit within a 100 mile radius of the property. It’s become a constant source of amusement and lore since then.
For the last 5 or so years, the property has been the subject of frequent wrecking ball rumors, but dwindling revenue numbers for Vegas dispelled those plans. I guess a dismal economy isn’t all bad. Had they postponed the Stardust demolition a few months, it would no doubt still be standing.
Even though I’ve grown slightly less enthusiastic about the IP over the years, I don’t hate the place for three reasons:
- It has a monorail stop
- It’s in the middle of everything
My primary goal when I head out is to seek things that are fun, unique, interesting, or entertaining. I typically find these things in places that other people frown upon. I’m just not terribly obsessed with “class” (as if that needed to be said). Don’t get me wrong, it has its place and I get down with the high-brow vibe from time to time, but it’s not super-important to me. I’ve stayed in the Plaza Hotel in New York, the Wilshire Grand, The Four Seasons, and a whole host of upper-end joints from coast-to-coast. Sometimes it was my choice to stay in these places, and sometimes the decision was made for me, but I can say this with all honesty … I didn’t really care one way or another. I’m okay in a Holiday Inn so long as there are no giant rats or jizz stains on the sheets.
As a matter of fact, even when money is no object, one of my favorite places to crash in Manhattan is a basic room in the Herald Square Hotel. It’s a single room with a TV and bathroom, it’s cheap and it has free Wi-Fi. The location is also unbeatable as it is a mere four block walk to Madison Square Garden, and is two blocks to most major midtown trains. This is all I want or need. As long as it is safe and clean, nothing else matters to me. They can paint the interior purple and hang photos of rotting garbage on the wall for all I care. The view from the hotel tends to suck, but you can’t have everything for a low price.
The IP is kind of the Las Vegas Herald Square Hotel. It’s cheap, on the rail, the location is unbeatable, and it’s old and basic. The view from the rooms tend to suck, and service is nothing to write home about. Still, if you don’t get mani/pedis, and you concentrate on function over form, the IP is still a reasonable place to patronize.
Over the past couple of months, I have stopped into the IP and played some $5 cards on several occasions.
Because I’ve had quite a few “noob” visitors over the holidays, and I felt that dealers-impersonating-celebrities was part of the ©”Vegas Experience”. I’ve given up the point or so of house edge on 6:5 for the privilege of playing with unique card dealers, and watching them periodically take to the stage and break into song and dance. These people are an institution on the Las Vegas Strip, and the atmosphere they bring to the pit is just “fun”.
I played, and gloriously lost in the Dealertainer Pit last Wednesday, but I had a good time doing it. Fortunately, I did not hit a single blackjack during my session … which means that my losses were wholly a result of bad luck, and not due merely to knuckling under to the man and his shortpay. I can live with bad luck better than destroyed principles. Fortunately, my companion in this week’s endeavor went on an opposing winning streak, and the team bankroll was not completely depleted.
Hash House a Go-Go opened inside of the IP last month, and I am scheduled to meet someone at the location soon, so I will check out the latest and greatest version of this institution shortly.
Even though I sort of like the place, I still feel guilty playing at the IP at times.
Harrah’s is the evil empire. I think Harrah’s is bad for Las Vegas locals, and bad for Las Vegas visitors. I think they are going to gobble up as many properties as possible, milk the city for everything they can, and leave the city in de-facto ruins as the executives golden parachute into greener pastures.
Corporations just don’t run vice very well.
If Harrah’s sold pot, it would be 90% stems and seeds, and you would need 8 ounces to get the same effect from a West Las Vegas dime bag. They would save the choice buds for Diamond Members … all who eventually go into rehab, and the most steady customers (lower middle-class daily smokers) would just start drinking more beer at the local bar.
If Harrah’s ran a brothel, instead of hiring women out of lingerie ads, they would hire cheap Thai Transvestites and charge the customer $20 for a Viagra to help get it up … not unlike handing out cheap rooms to make the crap gaming odds more palatable.
Our corporate overlords just don’t “get it”, and I don’t believe they ever will.
In any event, short tirade about the evils of Harrah’s aside, I still enjoy the Dealertainer aspect of the Imperial Palace, and I will probably still stop by from time to time to avail myself of this fun and unique aspect of Las Vegas entertainment for as long as it lasts, and at this point in Vegas history, we really have no idea how long that will be.
My guess is that it’s only a matter of time before the “Dealertainer Pit” is replaced with the “Cheap Imported Labor Pit”.
When it happens, remember … you heard it here first.
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