In days past the Imperial Palace faced the strip set back a ways with a few of old Bill Harrah's classic cars lined up near the sidewalk to entice passers-by to visit the collection inside. Nowadays, the IP is hidden behind a facade-like, rock and roll -themed, sports bar where scantily clad women(young) swing from tires and dance in cages while wild-eyed touristas play Beer Pong, watch whatever "sport du jour" happens to be on, and sip daquiris from 1/4 size electric guitars made of plastic with a straw protruding from the top. 32 bucks gets you one of these babies to keep, strap included, and you can get the sucker refilled for 20 bucks. As a former owner of a Rock and Roll-themed eating/drinking establishment I took notice, though I passed on the "foo-foo" drink served in a plastic Fender "Strat" knock-off.
The IP sits about a 7 minute walk from The Venetian Resort and Casino. It's like moving between two different worlds. The IP is small relative to the rest of its neighbors. The casino seems really small, the pit area has, perhaps, 20 tables, most notably the pit containing the "Dealertainers". Dealers who are look-a-likes to the likes of: Michael Jackson, The Blues Brothers, Little Richard, Elvis(young), Dolly Parton(enhanced), Bette Midler(real-I asked), Roy Orbison, Aretha Franklin(did her own singing-fabulous), and Whitney Houston (I think they got a real tweaker for this one - nice effect). The best, IMHO, was Alice Cooper. Though he lip-synched, he had the moves and the look perfect -- he even had Alice's nose specially made for a few grand. There were a couple of odd choices -- a Vietnamese J-Lo with no "booty" to speak of and an Eastern European Marilyn Monroe who was working the computerized Roulette Pit. She certainly looked the part but, alas, the illusion was shattered as soon as she opened her mouth, one could easily imagine her eating cabbage and pierogy back in the break room.
The poker room is small with 5 tables and only twice in 11 nights did I see them all filled - mostly with 2-4 and 3-6 limit though they did manage to run a 1-2NL table in the eves.
The Venetian, on the other hand, reeks of opulence and classic design. It has an expansive Poker Room spreading limit, NL, Omaha, and Horse at a wide variety of limits -- I didn't ask what the folks back in the "Salon" were playing at -- "if you have to ask, you can't afford it" probably held true here, too. The room itself probably holds 30 - 35 tables with adequate distance between. This room has become "theplace to play in Las Vegas.
The "Deep Stack Extravaganza" is run 4 times a year for 4 weeks at a time. This was the first session of 2009 and my first experience with the DSE. The attraction, for me at least, was the reasonable buy-in amounts - $300 + 30/ w a $10 staff add-on. You began each tourney with 12,000 in chips and the levels ran for 40 min. Satellite tables filled regularly and paid 2 players so there wasn't that awkward "do you want to 'chop' ritual. It took me two days before I took down a "sat" -- I suffered plenty before I got some lammers (tournament entry chips) -- four times I got my chips in "good" only to be drawn out on each time. I was a bit discouraged after the first days play - but found a juicy 2/5 game at the Mirage and replenished my bankroll. More to come