It is a pleasure to write this trip report as it is my first since August 2008. The long 2 years away from Las Vegas really made me appreciate this trip. This was my 11th trip with my wife and certainly one of our best. I hope you will find this report helpful and look forward to your comments. I apologize in advance about the length of this writing/novel. Sorry.
Let’s get it started!
DEPART: Monday evening via Philadelphia, my hometown, the city of brotherly love. At the bar and down 2 vodka & orange drinks and fifteen minutes later, take my xanax so that I do not cry when the plane takes off. It worked and I literally do not remember the takeoff. I woke up about 2 hours out from Las Vegas and couldn’t have timed things better. No issues with the airport or flight experience.
ARRIVE: Plane touches down a bit earlier than expected and I was in awe when I looked out the plane window and saw the strip. I realized then, that I had made it back. My blood was flowing and I was almost emotional as I reflected on the last 2 years, the ups and downs, which included my traveling to India for my job, only be to be laid off in April 2010. I also thought about the new job I was starting the following Monday (unless I hit Megabucks) and how excited I was about that opportunity. As I said, I thought of many things but my final and main thought was, I was so excited and elated to be back in Las Vegas! I had done it and I promised myself I was going to make sure this trip was the best ever and I was going to make sure my wife had a great time.
CAR RENTAL: Took the shuttle to the car rental station, and then another shuttle further down the strip to Fox Rental Car. I remember thinking, “where the heck are we going”. The price was right but the check-in line was VERY long and as stated, the drive to Fox Rental Car was not worth it. I had no problem with the car or the customer service but I just would not rent from this company again due to its location a few miles south from the main car rental station.
HOTEL CHECK IN: Checked into FITZGERALD’S with no issue for 2 nights free at around 11:30PM. THE ROOM: Clean yet somewhat dated room, but for me and my wife, we were happy. Look, if you stay at the Bellagio or Wynn or Venetian, you are not going to like this room. But as stated, it was free, and all I care about it is security, a decent bed, some water pressure in the shower…..my standards are low.
After unpacking and getting situated, we hit the ATM machine and proceed to take out our daily ration. The way my wife and I do it is, we budget a daily amount of cash for gambling and that is that. It really helps us to budget our funds and to ensure I do not wipe out the bank account during the first day of the trip. We each took out $300 and were ready to run.
I head to the craps table and my wife heads for the slots. Sounds disastrous, huh? Quite the opposite as I made small profits at the craps table and my wife was making a profit at almost every machine she was playing. We played some more at Fitzgerald’s but I was eager for some no limit poker and walked over to the GOLDEN NUGGET. First and foremost, how great is the Fremont Street Experience and the whole atmosphere of Fremont Street in general? It was very live and very happening and I thoroughly enjoyed the walk to the Nugget. I bought in for $200, had a few drinks, and enjoyed the atmosphere. I ensured I took a deep breath and realized what I was doing. I was playing poker at the Golden Nugget!! How awesome! As I said I would, I wanted to slow things down and ensure I appreciated everything I was doing. I cashed out with slightly over $400 at around 5AM. At this point I head back to Fitzgerald’s but do not want to go to bed. My wife went to bed a few hours before and sent me a text saying she won pretty well and was saving her money. I went onto play some more craps and dollar slot machines (MEGABUCKS), giving my winnings back, before stopping the fun and going to bed even for the day, $300 in my pocket. Great start and cannot describe the awesome feeling I had.
TUESDAY: We get up and hit the ATM machine for $400 each and head out around 10AM. I start walking towards THE PLAZA so I could start my journey of going in and out of several casinos on Fremont. Highlight of THE PLAZA was winning about $200 playing craps. I then cashed and left The Plaza and went in and out of a few casinos, depositing $20 bucks here and there in the MEGABUCKS machine (yeah, $11 million dollar jackpot, you see I am trying). I end up in the GOLDEN GATE and find the $0.99 shrimp cocktail. They offered a “bigger” shrimp cocktail for $3.99 so with that, and a cold coca cola, I sat down and ENJOYED! The shrimp were fresh and a decent size and I really enjoyed this “breakfast”. This is definitely on the “do again next time” list, although this time I want to bring my wife as I know she would enjoy also. I then drop more $20 dollar bills playing penny slots (don’t laugh) and make my way to Fitzgerald’s for the 12PM poker tournament.
The no limit tournament cost $40 initially, followed by an optional rebuy/add-on of $15 and a dealer add-on of $15. I was down before the break and had to double up or go play slots and I punched it in. I was successful and doubled up, purchased the additional chips and was alive after the break. At this point my wife sent me a text saying she wasn’t doing as well. She then joined the poker room to watch the tournament and maybe she was my good luck charm, either that or the comped shots of Patron tequila! At one point I flopped trips and another point I flopped a straight. At another point I turned the nut flush so my cards were very lucky! In the end, there were 2 others remaining and we talked about a chop. As chip leader, I turned down the initial offering and took the 2nd offer, taking down slightly over $300 (not many players) and being declared the winner. A shout out to Mike Palm. Cool name, seemed like a cool guy and he ran the room well. I enjoyed the tournament very much as it was pretty laid back and fun. My wife and I then walked around Fremont some more and ended up at the El Cortez where we did pretty good on the slots.
We then head to Fitzgerald’s for a bite to eat before the 5PM tournament started. This tournament cost $70 with no rebuys/add-ons and 7,000 in tournament chips. I ended up finishing 5th and unpaid but again, enjoyed it immensely. I then head over to Golden Nugget for some no limit action with the plan to meet my wife at 10PM for Tony Roma’s $12.99 steak and lobster tail. I buy in for $200 again and start doing well. I sent a text to my wife about meeting for dinner but was told she was in bed and forgot all about it. I got stood up but it’s ok, I decided to drink heavily and continue to play poker. I had so much fun and was drinking lots of crown royal and enjoyed talking with the young guy next to me and the young married lady to his left. This is why I love Vegas and hate Atlantic City (which I am about 90 minutes from) – the players! Everyone is very friendly and no one feels like they are better than everyone else. Or if they do, they keep that to themselves. I just don’t get the same attitude from the players in Las Vegas and was happy to be out west! Occasionally, yes, you get a wise guy here or there, but overall, everyone was very nice!
I continue to play and was very drunk. I had that one drink were after you down it you say to yourself, “ok, that’s enough”. I won a decent pot when I bluffed after the villain checked to me 3 times. I was dealt some nice cards…I was dealt pocket kings a few times and other pocket pairs too. I ended up cashing out with $600 and the previously mentioned married woman (who was there without her husband) told me to ask for a $10 food comp. I did and was given the food comp so that was sweet as I needed to sober up. The married woman got up and pointed me in the direction of the 24 hour café and started to walk me towards it, when she said, “hey, would you like to walk me first to my bedroom”. Wow! Um, yeah………I politely stated I was starving and was feeling stomach woozy so……………Viva Las Vegas. I threw down a ham and cheese omelet and then walked back to Fitzgerald’s before dropping about $200 at craps, roulette, and MEGABUCKS slots. I still had several hundred dollars in my pocket and decided to go to bed.
WEDNESDAY: We wake up, pack, and get ready to check out as we have the final 3 nights of our trip comped at the RIVIERA. My wife takes out $400 from the ATM machine and I decide that I am going to use my previous day’s winnings, and NOT take my daily ration. We check-in early to our room but did not unpack as the room still needed to be cleaned. The room was nice, had a big flat screen TV and a refrigerator. Again, same comments apply here as with Fitzgerald’s room. It wasn’t the Wynn or Bellagio, but we were happy. Together, we head to play the Elvis penny machine while using the $50 free slot credits the Riviera sent us as part of the free room offer. We hit the machine for $180 and cash out. I love Elvis and love all Elvis slot machines!
My wife heads to play some slots on her own as I head to the 1PM tournament. The tournament was canceled as not 1 player had signed up. Sad. In fact, the casino itself was very dead. Not much action, not many people playing the machines. I then go on looking for no limit poker and walk to CIRCUS CIRCUS and SAHARA, both who are not spreading no limit at the time. I lost about $25 bucks playing blackjack in each location but was enjoying the walk in the heat. WOW! Now that is some good stuff.
I ended up at the STRATOSPHERE and find $1-$2 no limit going; I am next on the list. I sit down and the man with all the chips is an interesting guy. He was feminine in his actions and the way he spoke and he introduced himself to me. I shook his hand and he looked at my wedding band and said, “oh, you’re married, what a shame”. He then goes on to tell the table how months ago he was playing $10-$20 (or something like that) at the Bellagio and at one point had tens of thousands of dollars to his name. He then said a few weeks ago, he lost it all, and was selling bottled waters on the strip. At one point he pushed his chair out, and stated looking under the table. Not trying to flatter myself, I am pretty sure he was staring at my legs. Sucks to be him if he was as pianos have better legs than I. In the midst of all this I get pocket Q’s and raise to $15 and after everyone else folds, one gentlemen raises to $30. I call. Flop comes junk, junk, ace. I check, he immediately goes all in. I told him his trips were good and I fold. Feminine guy starts telling me what a great fold I made and then starts asking me some strange questions about me and my wife. One question was something like, “so, what part of her body do you like the best, her t*ts or her @$$”, and “was it love at first sight or was she just a wild f*ck that you had to marry”. I think he is some sort of pervert who gets off on this talk. I told him I preferred to concentrate on this awesome game of poker versus talking, and I think he got the hint. A few hands later I get pocket Q’s again and raise to $15. I get one caller. Flop through the river nothing special, except a pair on the board. I bet small thinking I am still good and get called each way. Villain flips over pocket kings which were good, and my queens are not doing well. I am down $100 from my buy-in of $200 and play a while longer before getting ahead twenty bucks. I then decide it’s time to go and I couldn’t resist the craps table and lost when I could not make my point. Interesting to note was how annoying the pit boss was, telling me, “make sure the dice hit the back” and “don’t tap the dice on the table”.
I then call my wife and tell her I am making the walk from the Stratosphere to the Riviera when she told me she was in the room. She felt the slots were tight at the Riviera and Slots-a-Fun and Circus Circus and just wanted to take a little rest. I made it to the room and asked her if she wanted to check out and head back to Fremont street, where we both enjoyed ourselves. I told her it was no big deal and we could do whatever we wanted, and we shouldn’t be afraid to change things up. I then called Harrahs to see what they could offer. They said we could stay there Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday night for free! I said yes and we grabbed our bags, which were never unpacked, and got the rental car. First, we stopped for dinner at a place I read about online. PASTA MIA WEST on 4455 W. Flamingo. This is absolutely the best Italian I have ever had, and I am Italian, from Philadelphia, so I think I am qualified to say. Unbelievable! A nice little secret if you ask me. Please try this place and you will not be disappointed. Start off with a salad and get the house dressing. The veal I had melted in my mouth and the alfredo sauce my wife had was phenomenal. Perfect quality and priced right. Again, please go and I promise you, it will make you happy.
After dinner and not really being able to breath, we head to IMPERIAL PALACE to grab our free rooms for our final 3 nights. Wow. Check in line was VERY LONG. I get in line and my wife sits at a penny machine, puts twenty in, and hits out $100! Nice! I performed the $20 trick and was given a room with a balcony facing the strip. Cool. There was loud music until 3AM from the bands playing below, between the IP and HARRAHS. Maybe this is why the hotel clerk tried giving me my $20 dollars back but considering he was very nice and cool to talk to, I told him to keep it. He obviously had his work cut out for him as the lines were not slowing down at all. The noise didn’t really bother us as I don’t sleep anyway and my wife takes meds that make her sleep so….I thought it was cool to have a balcony on the strip and took a lot of pictures. So to me, the $20 bucks was well worth it, as was leaving the Riviera.
My wife and I play slots together for a little bit at IP and Harrahs. We’re doing ok and we decide to split up as she was almost ready for bed (not as much energy as I have). I then walk down to O’SHEAS and BILLS GAMBLING HALL, just to stretch my legs. Comment here is, wow, the eye candy on the strip is amazing. It was VERY crowded and people were everywhere, which was great to see. I took a minute to stop and take it all in. Just to look around, slow down time a bit, and enjoy where I was. I was having a great time!
I head over to Harrahs to play some $1-$2 and a new table was opened up. I start off slow but get back to even, after buying in for my standard $200. I am trying to keep my streak alive – 3 straight profitable sessions at Delaware Park and 2 straight profitable sessions at Golden Nugget, and 1 profitable session at Stratosphere – I was going for 7 straight! Interesting hand was when I had about $300 and I re-raise to $24 after a previous raise to $10 as I have pocket aces. The gentlemen on my left, who had about $600 after winning every hand he played, re-raised me to $55. Ok, great! He has kings and now it is time for me to act like I have jacks. I wait and wait, act puzzled, act like I was thinking of folding, finally, I call (the original raise of $10 has folded). I am first to act and I check dark, continuing my disgruntled act. He bets out with $100 as his kings still looked good to him, no ace hits the board. I think and look at my watch and push all in. He calls and I turn over aces. He never turned over his cards and then leaves when I double up. Not much longer I leave with over $600 for 7 straight profitable cash games. I decide to go to bed. But first, for some reason, I feel like a little snack. I stop at the 24 hour Burger joint inside Imperial Palace for a burger and fries. Wow, awful! Do not go here! Ever! Yuck. Anyway, I then go to bed, and get ready for the next day.
THURSDAY: We got up and neither of us takes our daily ration, no ATM machine today! We are riding our winnings and happy about it! The Imperial Palace had a corny slot tournament going so of course, we obliged and played a few more machines before going out. We went to the Venetian to see Madam Tussouds wax museum. I highly recommend going here as we enjoyed ourselves. Some of the wax figures looked so real and attention to detail is amazing. I got some great pictures, especially with Elvis. The King! Cheap Elvis plug: Elvis performed for 58 consecutive sold out shows, breaking all Vegas attendance records, with stellar reviews coming from both critics and the public. He broke his own attendance record in February 1970, and again in August 1970, and August 1972.
We then drive up the strip and try to find the World Famous Gold & Silver Pawn Store (featured on the History channel – which I watch) but had no luck. We then drive to the EASTSIDE CANNERY which I have never visited before. We walk around and then I drop $50 onto the craps table and buy chips. I then roll the hell out of the dice and pick up over $400, before rolling that 7. A few more rolls would have been sweet as I had about $150 alive out on the table. Very cool! We then play slots together and we had a nice time. Very nice new casino. Following this, we head over to one of my favorites, SAMS TOWN! I stop to see my buddy, Eric Barney (hi Eric) and play some slot machines and walk around. I put $20 into the MEGABUCKS machine before getting it up to $200. I hit it out at $100, not $11 million. After this, we drive down to Henderson and check out the GREEN VALLEY RANCH. We wanted to try their buffet dinner which was recommended to me by someone on this website, due to their crab legs. As we walked into the beautiful casino, we noticed a Jackpot Party machine we never played before. $20 in, $80 out. Sweet! The buffet was AWESOME! I loved the shrimp and the quality selection of other items. I loved the crab legs that you could get warmed up and seasoned right there in front of you. Terrific! We finally left when I started having chest pains from all I ate. It happens.
That night my wife heads to bed and I head back to Fremont street for the 9PM tournament at Fitzgeralds. On the way, I found the pawn shop I was looking for. I went inside and noticed it was smaller than what it appears on TV. No Rick, Old Man, or Chumlee, so I left. Finally arriving at the Fitzgeralds tournament, I lost in 7th place when my King Queen never improved over pocket 3’s. After the tournament a $1-$2 game broke out which enabled me to grab some more Patron shots. I bought in for $100, as most others did, including the poker room supervisor, and we all had a nice time. It was a very tight game and a decent sized pre-flop raise or continuation bet after the flop took down the pot. I had a really nice time and enjoyed the conversation with the other players and dealers. I lost a big hand where I think I played Ace/King weakly but again, really enjoyed myself. I ran the streak to 8 when I cashed out $10 bucks ahead, which qualified as a profitable session! It was around 4AM when I leave so I decide to head back to Imperial Palace and get ready for Friday, my last day.
FRIDAY: Note this is our last day and we again, decide NOT to take money from the ATM machine. So that means on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday I did not take my daily ration. On Thursday and Friday, my wife did not take hers. This ensures we are going to come in UNDER BUDGET for this trip. SWEET!! We walk down to Bills Gambling Hall to catch a bite to eat at the overpriced Victorian Room. It appears Chinese food was the specialty and I did notice huge portions, so I should have went that route. But we only wanted a club sandwich, which was $13 bucks and not very good. Oh well, I will not go back there again.
We then start playing slot machines are doing very well. I put some of the winnings into the MEGABUCKS machine, as I have been doing the previous days, but no luck, no $11 million dollars. We then watch the 3PM Big Elvis show. This show was very good. I think Big Elvis does a very good job and we really enjoyed ourselves. As stated previously, I really love Elvis and I thought the show was well done. I recommend you going to see, Big Elvis, at Bills Gambling Hall. It is a free show that will not disappoint.
We then walk over to the Mirage and see the Dolphin/Lion Habitat which I thought was very cool. One of the trainers said the dolphin I was taking pictures of was over 30 years old. I asked him if my assumption of that dolphin being one of Steve Wynn’s original was correct, and he said yes, the last original dolphin. I was able to take some cool pictures and really enjoyed viewing the tigers and lions.
After this, we decide we want to see another show and buy tickets to see Rick Thomas Magic at the Sahara. We purchased through Tickets4Tonight which saved us some money. When we arrived at the Sahara I slipped the guy $20 and got seated in the front row. The show was AWESOME! I recommend this show! The tigers were cool and Rick Thomas is very entertaining. I personally like magic/illusion shows and had a great time. I was front row and center, was looking right at Rick the whole time, yet the illusions happened which left me saying, “how did he do that”. It was great fun! After the show, we got our picture taken with Rick and the tigers. Wow, the tigers are beautiful and impressive. Rick seemed like a really nice guy and took time to talk with the audience after the show and he signed our souvenirs. Again, go see this show. It is not expensive and well worth the money. You will have a great time.
Following the show we head to the Worlds Largest Gift Shop across the street and get some takeaways for the folks back home. Bought a couple of cool outfits for my 7 month old nephew that read, “pinch your own damn cheeks” and “what happens in my diaper, stays in my diaper”. Following this shopping we head to Fremont Street and go to Tony Romas (inside the FREMONT casino) for the $12.99 Steak and Lobster tail. My wife really enjoyed it, I thought it was just ok. I am not complaining due to the price. But I was happy that she really thought it was tasty. The restaurant was packed and we had to take a number before being seated. This gave me a chance to play the MEGABUCKS machine, nope, still not $11 million richer.
We drive back to Imperial Palace and the strip is packed! The IP valet was full and I was told to park in self parking. I drove through self parking for 25 minutes, but every spot was full. I then drove to Harrahs – same thing, no valet, no open parking. I decide I am going to drive back to the IP and they are going to valet my car as I am a hotel guest and need to leave at 4AM in the morning with my bags. Nope, was told that I am not a diamond member so I cannot valet. I explained that I was a guest but that didn’t work either. It got a little heated between me and the parking attendant, to the point where another valet attendant had to get between us. I was being an ass and was tired and annoyed by driving around for over an hour trying to park. It also annoyed me that if I was a diamond or 7 stars member that I could valet. I was frustrated that there were spots for them, but not me. My idea was that at 5PM or 6PM, the valet should be full unless you can prove you are a hotel guest. I think hotel guests should get first preference, not the young crew going to the club attached to the IP. If the valet attendant was a little more understanding, maybe I wouldn’t have lost my cool. I was a diamond member for years in a previous life but I guess only the present day matters. Anyway, I finally settled down and valet parked at Harrahs. Even though they were full the valet attendant parked my car. So at 4AM, we got up, lugged our luggage through the IP, to Harrahs, through Harrahs, and got our car.
DEPARTURE: Nothing really to report here as I slept the entire flight home (boy I was tired) and left happier than ever. It is always sad for me to leave and I try my best to stay while there (hence the MEGABUCKS slot play). However, I learned that I cannot have the euphoric feeling when I land in Vegas, if I do not leave Vegas. I know now that in order to experience Vegas again, I had to leave. I am starting to realize that this trip, was the best trip. I didn’t have thousands of dollars like I did years ago, when I was a different person, doing stupid things. I didn’t stay at Caesars Palace and didn’t eat 5 star dinners. But I was true to myself. I made sure my wife had a great time. I was on good behavior and enjoyed EVERY minute I was there. My wife and I did not spend what we had budgeted but had more fun and great times than imagined. What a success! VIVA LAS VEGAS!!!!!
CONCLUSION: Recommend FREMONT STREET, BIG ELVIS, PASTA MIA WEST RESTAURANT, MADAM TUSSAUDS, GREEN VALLEY RANCH BUFFET, MEGABUCKS SLOTS, CHEAP SHRIMP COCKTAIL AT GOLDEN GATE, MIRAGE DOLPHIN/LION HABITAT, and WALKING THE STRIP!