This trip was to attend the CES convention for a business/monkey-business trip. By that I mean I am in the software side of IT, but close enough to get a free pass to CES, can convince my wife that this trip is for business, and write it off as a business expense. And, yes I did actually go to the convention this time. Flew Southwest out of Houston Hobby Wednesday morning (01/05/11). Got to the airport at 5am, it was 70 degrees, and people were laughing at me for wearing a coat. Check-in was a breeze, had plenty of time to go outside and bring my nicotine level up before trudging through security. Security line was OK, the staff was very stern and short with people. I really wanted to go through the X-ray thing, but was was not chosen, dang, I was really curious about the technology and did not mind getting my naked picture taken. Flight was a on-time, arrived in Las Vegas a little after 8am. Airport was very crowded, my bag arrived quickly, and I was able to do the convention badge pickup / check-in there at the airport, very convenient. Went outside to relieve my depleted nicotine levels and noticed long lines for shuttle buses, went to the other side and cab lines were insane. Good news for Vegas, this was a huge crowd coming in for CES. I went downstairs to the zero level, walked out to the bus pickup. It's to the right, about three lanes out, they have two parking slots and it is a little hard to see when you first walk out. But there is a typical Bus stand with regular signs, route maps, etc. The Westcliff Express was right there, I jumped on, put in my two dollar bills, and off we went. I was the only one on the bus the whole trip, and there was no one at any of the stops. I got off at the end of the canopy on Fremont, by Walgreen's in less than 20 minutes. So, there I was on Fremont, with my bags, and already checked in to the convention before 9am. Wow! Not bad! I love staying downtown and avoiding the crowds on the strip, especially for large conventions. I had comped rooms at the Fitz and 4 Queens, also a great deal at the Main Street Station for 15/15/60 – Wed/Thu/Fri. It was so early before check-in time that I decided to have a leisurely stroll down Fremont and start my check-in march with Main Street Station, then work my way back. Got to Main Street Station, and was able to check-in early, got a room on the 15th floor. 1520, two queens, refrigerator, standard room overlooking the freeway. Room was extremely clean, furniture was nice with a little wear and tear, bathroom was small but serviceable. The beds and pillows were new and very comfortable. They do the “no-bedspread” thing with sheet-sheet-blanket-sheet layering which I prefer. Also TV is old-style tube type, sort of retro for me, but I only watch CNN or the weather while I'm getting dressed in the mornings, so no problem. Put my valuables and bank-roll in my room safe, walked out sober, with about 300 bucks for walk around money and headed to the 4 Queens for my next stop in the check-in march. I was able to check-in early, room was North Tower 127 (second floor). This room was clean, a little smaller than the room at MSS. The furnishings were well worn, chipped and stained bath-room counter tops, and one of the closet doors was off its tracks. Oh yea, the room had a great view of the 4 Queens outside employee smoking area. While I would normally pitched a fit about this room, I had only checked-in here for the food credits and free-play offer. So I now had a private bathroom at this end of Fremont. Went downstairs to Magnolias Coffee Shop and got a seat at a booth overlooking the casino. Service was so slow that I missed the 11am cut-off for eggs Benedict, damn. Anyway ordered a huge breakfast, coffee, OJ and enjoyed the view. I got up and helped myself to coffee refills, and no one seemed to care or mind. There was a large group of drunken blackjack players pissing away their money. Man, they played bad, cussed like sailer's, were extremely loud; I loved the view! I was close enough to see their cards, but I was still out of harms way. The great food and the entertaining view made up for the service, as I was in no hurry whatsoever. Got up, left a cash tip, and charged the meal to my room at the cashier as the wait staff had vanished again. I went to the slot hosts, confirmed my slot credit, it was twice as much as I was offered, I had credit left over from my last visit. Well this was a pleasant surprise. I then rethought my plans for my room at the Fitz. I could care less about the room, I don't like their food, and 20 bucks slot credit was not worth all the effort of check-in and check-out. So I head back to Main Street Station full of food, entertained, and have spent a whole 5 bucks (2 dollars for the bus and a 3 dollar undeserved tip at the coffee shop). So I stroll down Fremont, cut through the Las Vegas Club (yes, is still smells like a fart in there), go across the street to the second floor of the Cal (yes, it is still full of wonderful Hawaiians), cut across the over-head walkway and make my way to the casino bar at the Main Street Station. I sit down at my second favorite seat, seat number 1 and I proceed. Slot card in and confirmed with a “Welcome Michael” (check), a 20 in the machine (check), Markers Pale Ale (check). Let the degenerate gambling begin (and it's not even 1pm on my first day). One thing that has always surprised me. How do the bartenders at MSS remember you, not only where you are from and what you do for a living, but what you drink? Amazing! I mean I am a very average guy, nothing outstanding, yea I am a loud happy drunk sometimes; but they must see thousands like me any given year. Amazing! I start off 25 cent, JOB, full coin. Finish beer, order another, put in another twenty. I then finish another beer, order another, put in another twenty. Hmmmm....down 60 bucks, but I got a buzz and it's not even 2pm yet. So I switch to DDB still playing 25 cent, full coin. As a side note: I practice at home with Bob Dancer's software. It took me a while to get highly accurate at both JOB and DDB. The hardest part was obtaining the ability to be able to switch back and fourth with-out any errors. So then my run starts. Boom 4OAK, regular, 250 quarters, get my scratch-off. 2 bucks, anyone surprised? There is a lady next to me and she says “You scratch-off immediately? I like to wait till I go cash out.” I tell her, “If I had a scratch-off for 5000 bucks in my pocket and was still playing for quarters, I couldn't live with myself.” She thought about it, and then immediately looked at all three of hers; all two bucks by the way. Even-Steven for a while, full-houses kept me even, then a strait flush, 250 quarters, scratch-off (2 bucks). Two hands later - 4 fours, no kicker, 400 quarters, scratch-off (2 bucks.) Now this is photo worthy, reached for my phone, crap, it's recharging in my room. But I'm not even going to leave this machine now. OK, now I'm brave (yes, it probably had something to do with the many micro-brews, I lost count at this time.) I switch back to JOB, but at a dollar now. I played over an hour even-Steven and had a pale ale inspired idea to switch machines. I looked over and my favorite machine was available. I think it is seat 7, directly to the left of the first set of taps on the bar. Continue to play dollar JOB, and collected 10, yes 10 scratch-offs for 4OAKs! Hey at dollars that was 125 bucks a clip. I knew this because I had 13 scratch-offs (all for 2 bucks) in my pocket as I cashed my tickets out. Still cannot remember how much I cashed out for. I just remember her counting out hundred after hundred after hundred. I had several cash-out slips in my pocket and just handed them along with the scratch-offs to her. Tipped the change lady 10 bucks, shoved my wad in my pocket, and decided that I needed a nap. It's now 6pm, dark outside, and I am hammered. Not tipsy, not just drunk, but “Really Loud-Totally Obnoxious-I'm A Texan” (RL-TO-IAT) drunk. Come on, you know the type, I know you have seen us before, especially in casinos. Hmmmmm......so, maybe that's how the bartenders remember me? Anyway, up to my room, call my wife, get in trouble for being drunk. Note to the ladies: Men don't feel any remorse what-so-ever when you gripe at us over the phone about being drunk in Vegas. Geez, I even told her I was winning and going to bed before 7pm. I did not however make the amateur mistake and tell her how much I won. I then slept/passed out on the bed. I woke up at 9pm. I guess my winning induced adrenaline rush won out over the alcohol. I was just drunk, not tipsy, but not RL-TO-IAT drunk. Sat down in a hot shower for about 15 minutes, not sure why, but it made sense to me at the time. Got dressed with a clean shirt and headed out. Went to the Triple Seven Brew Pub, sat at bar and had the Fillet-Minion sandwich with a Pale Ale paid with my B-connect card. Headed to 4 Queens for some black jack as I was now just tipsy. Looked over the tables; trying to decide between different five and ten dollar tables, then I remembered the wad of cash in my pocket. Quarters tables here I come. Played for an hour, even-Steven, got bored. Dealers and pit were friendly and professional, but the other players were pinched-up tight sweating every hand. So after three or so Heineken Light's with excellent drink service I decided to try black jack back at Main Street. Walked into MSS just drunk, not tipsy, but not RL-TO-IAT drunk. Sat down at a 10 dollar table played quarters with a bunch of fun people that were tipsy / just drunk. Played about an hour consuming another 3 pale ales. Thought to myself “Self; why are you playing black jack while you are borderline just drunk and RL-TO-IAT drunk? Go play craps now!”. So I colored up down 150 bucks from a 300 dollar buy-in. Moved 5 feet to the craps table. Bought-in with my chips from the black jack table and played nickel pass line with 2 to 4 times odds along one or two come bets with double odds. I don't know why, but when I was at the craps table I decided to start drinking J&B and soda. Why, you ask? It's fun to say jay-and-b-and-soda when you are RL-TO-IAT drunk as I was for the second time tonight. Tipped the waitress a red chip and was never without a full drink. I kept drinking them and every time I reached down there was a full drink there, awesome service. Play was choppy but I never went down too much. Full table, I passed on the dice the first time they came around. The table had a few decent roles and I was up about 200. Then I got the dice. I continued my betting pattern, the dealer knew my pattern at this time and would tell me just to drop my money for him to position for my bets. Now I was seriously RL-TO-IAT drunk at this time, and the fellow to my left was taking exception to my behavior. But I was tipping the dealers and winning so no heat from the Pit for me. I finally got the dice and would set them to have eleven up before I tossed them, it took a little time in my condition to do this some times. Oh yea, I was doing the “Cheapo-Vegas hang'em high” dice throwing routine. Amazingly I kept the dice on the table, and made point after point. Kept pressing my bets, the table was winning, the dealers were getting tips, the Pit was watching. After I make several points the next thing I know the guy to my left announces very loudly “I hate big tall people that get away with everything!” He pokes my arm and announces that he is going to beat my ass. I look at the dealers, and they just stare straight ahead without making eye contact. I shrug my shoulders and ignore him, he was a little short punk and security was close buy. The Pit then announced that they were closing the table after the next roll. I pressed my bet, rolled an eleven, and put my chips down to color out. Waved the Pit Boss over and proceeded to yell at him about the lack of response from his staff when one of their customers was being threatened at the table. He was very defensive, and admittedly I was not making the most coherent argument, but my dealer backed me up. Someone, I assume the dealer shoves a stack of black chips in my hand, I look down at over 900 bucks. Anyway as I was standing there loudly expressing my displeasure I said to myself, “Self, walk away, go play DDB at the bar where the bartenders and machines take care of you.” It's amazing how you can yell at someone and still talk to yourself, no? So I head back to the bar where I am loved and respected. Remember, this is my RL-TO-IAT drunk mind rationalizing. Too drunk to play black jack, but now I'm sitting playing DDB at the dollar level, go figure. Oh yea, I'm back to drinking Pale Ales! So, can you guess what happens next? “Lose your ass” you say; no way! When your RL-TO-IAT drunk and just cussed out a Pit Boss you hit 4OAK aces w/kicker and holler like a drunken Texan, duhh! So I have to wait around for my paperwork, and I say to my self, “Self, play four more hands, get a roadie, go to bed!”. So I got my 14th scratch-off of the day (2 bucks), 2000 dollar hand-pay and 1099; played 4 losing hands and cashed the remainder of my ticket and the chips from the craps table. Somehow I made it to my room and slept/passed out for the second time in one day at about 3am. Thursday morning I arose in a foggy blur without a wakeup call or alarm at 10am. Someone had forgot to close the window shutters, dohh, it was a bright sunny day in Las Vegas. I looked over at the bedside table and there was a stack of hundreds there. I panicked, I had visions of one of my first Vegas trips in the 80's. I blew most of my bankroll in one day to chase losses. Jumped up, found my safe key, opened the room safe and there was my bankroll untouched, with the rest of the first days budget. Whew! My panic attack mostly cleared my foggy hung-over mind and I calmly went over and counted 42 hundred dollar bills. So my first day I had walked out the door with 300 and woke up with 4200, I can live with this. Drank 3 glasses of water, ate 3 Tum's, swallowed 3 aspirins and then took a 30 minute sit down hot shower. Hey, it worked for me last night? Got dressed and went over to Magnolias at the 4 queens and ate another big breakfast, missed the 11am cutoff for eggs Benedict again, damn. Service was fast and excellent this time, charged it to my room. Headed to the Bus Stop on the side of Binion's. Bought a 3 day pass for 20 bucks from the kiosk and jumped on the Strip Downtown Express. I got off directly across the street from the LVCC. Wow, this is a great bus service they have now. Any-who, did the convention thing (will not bore you with the boring / nerdy details) and left about 4:30pm with several business associates to visit the Cosmopolitan for an early dinner. We walked out to the free convention shuttles and the lines where a mile long. They then wanted to get a cab, walked over to the cab line and it was longer. So with reservation they agreed to try the bus. We walked across the street, they purchased tickets, and we were on the bus within minutes. We got of at the Bellagio stop which is right at the front door of the Cosmopolitan! The Cosmopolitan was amazing, beautiful in an eclectic crazy sort of way. I was intrigued at the curtained off banks of slot machines. If I were a slot player, which I am not, these would appeal to me. We all got our slot cards with an amazingly friendly welcoming staff and headed upstairs to the buffet. The buffet was very good, I don't remember how much, one of my buddies paid. Thank you Sony Electronics, really it was a legitimate business dinner expense (nudge, nudge, wink, wink). The food was on par with Bellagio or the Wynn, I ate lightly as I was still feeling the effects of my previous evening. My buddies wanted to go see Love, I have seen it already, so I bid them luck and headed downstairs to check-out the casino. I found an acceptable DDB VP machine on the floor and sat down on the stool. Schwoop, it collapsed down about a foot, WTF! A cocktail waitress ran over (how do they run and balance their trays?), apologized sincerely, and told me that they were having trouble with some of the chairs. I moved over to the next seat, tested it carefully, adjusted it to a comfortable height, ordered a coca-cola (that's right, no beer, no J&B, remember last night?). I slid in my slot-card in the reader, it flashed red, no good. Flipped the card every possible combination, even tried it on the machine with the Schwoopy chair, no good. Waitress came back with my drink and noticed that I was having problems with the card, offered to go get me a new one and then the Pit Boss from the card games ran over to assist. Next thing I knew the Slot Manager was there. Cocktail waitress came back with a new card, and all 4 of us tried to get my cards to work. Finally a dealer from the black jack table across the way shouted, “Put it in real slow.” Yes, I did it, I had to say out-loud “that's what she said”. So stupid, I know, but it broke the tension and cracked up all concerned. The tactic worked, I slowly inserted the card and bingo, it lit up green and I was good to go. Both the Pit Boss and Slot Manager thanked me and the dealer, they both learned something new about their new high-tech machines. Donated a quick twenty bucks to the Cosmopolitan and continued my tour of the facilities. Visited all four floors, all impressive with many fine restaurants and stores. Definitely a place to take the wife on a future visit. Headed back to the second floor to cut across the walkway across Las Vegas Blvd and stumbled across the VIP party at some hoity-toity club sponsored by Penthouse. There is an Adult Entertainment convention held at the same time as CES every year. Never seen more short skirts, high heels, and amazing silicone enhanced young ladies in my life. They were standing in line to get in the club, and I was just passing by gawking. After my impromptu voyeuristic brush with the Adult Entertainment industry I crossed the walkway, went down to street level in front of Planet Hollywood and caught the Duce back to Fremont Street. My next visit was to the King bar at the 4 Queens, this is the bar closer to the back, not the bar in front next to the front doors. They have very good DDB at this bar and ice cold Heineken Lights. After four beers and eighty bucks lost I was getting tired and decided go check out of my room there as it was after midnight. Check-out was a breeze, room charges and meals added up to zero dollars and zero cents, just the way I liked it. I stopped by the Golden Gate to play at their bar-tops, again excellent DDB, but the music was too damn loud, the dancing dealers were not even close to being attractive enough to overcome this. So homeward bound. Back through the Vegas Club, still smells like farts, and walked on the sidewalks the rest of the way back to MSS to get the stink out of my system. So, did I go to my room and go to bed, nope. Cause I said to myself, “Self, go play DDB at the bar where the bartenders and machines take care of you.” And off I went and sat down. You know when you sit down and strangers keep coming over and talking to you about the previous nights escapades, you had a good time. So my conversations were like this: “no I did not loose it all back”, “no I haven't yelled at any more Pit Bosses”, “no I will not stand up and sing my rendition of Jerry Reed's When You're Hot You're Hot again“, “no I did not wake up in the hallway wearing ladies thong panties......wait, what?”. Anyway spent another hour or so drinking Heineken Lights (no pale ales) and loosing another 200 bucks playing dollar DDB and JOB at the bar. Was back in the room by 2:15am, remembered to close the blinds, made arrangements for a wake-up call, drank 3 glasses of water, swallowed 3 aspirin and was asleep by 2:30am. Friday morning I was up at 8:30, did not require sit down hot shower, Tum's, or aspirin; thanks for asking. Got dressed and went over to the Cal coffee shop for a great moco-loco and coffee for breakfast, paid with B connect card. I was back to the LVCC by 9:30 via bus and spent most of the day doing my boring / nerdy business thing. Left to return to Fremont at 4pm, passed the long lines for shuttles and cabs, just thanking how grateful that the uninformed masses are ignorant of the convenient bus system to/from LVCC. Back to room, changed out of my business attire and stopped by the Triple 7 Brew Pub for Dinner. Had a cheese burger and onion rings, with a pale ale. Burger was good, but onion rings had been sitting under a heat lamp way too long. Service was timely, perky, and quite nice to look at. Place was jumping and I notice the Cotton Bowl has already started? Oh yea, its started at 5pm here, dohhh! Pay with my B Connect card, and off to the bar to watch my alma mater (Texas A&M) get whooped by LSU, damn. The good news is that I did not bet on the game. Spent the next two hours slow playing 25 cent JOB VP (it's hard to watch football, talk shit, and play VP fast). The bartenders did not pester me to play at a faster place, and watched the game with me when the bar was slow. Put a single 20 dollar bill in for this little adventure and cashed out for twenty-five, nothing exciting, just slow even-Steven kind of play getting tipsy. After the game I went over to the front desk and inquired about a late check-out. My flight out was not till 6pm and I did not want the hassle of checking the bag. Anyway, with just a friendly and polite request my late check-out request granted and there was no charge for this. I love this kind of service. And then back to the bar for a long steady session playing dollar DDB and JOB. Bounced back and forth playing many machines as the mood struck me. I hit four 4OAKs, all JOB for 125 bucks each. Drank untold amounts of beer, got just drunk, no shouting matches with any one. Cashed out with a 500 dollar ticket on my original 100 dollars, another hard earned 400 dollar profit. Went back to the room about 3am. Three glasses of water, three Tum's, three aspirin, requested wake-up call for noon, lights out at 3:30am. Woke up Saturday morning at 8:30. Damn it, someone forgot to close the blinds again. Wait...Wow, I feel pretty good, it's a beautiful day in downtown Vegas, I bet those video machines are still downstairs! Pack and get dressed, then head down for some breakfast. Before I ate I stopped by the players club desk. Politely presented my players card and asked if they could help me out with my room charges. Normally when I do this they respond with a “No, Sorry” or “You have already been over comped, I'm sure we will send you further offers”. This time she clicked her keyboard a few seconds and then said “One moment sir, let me call a Casino Host for you”. Hey, hey, hey! I had a pleasant conversation with the Host, and she had no problem taking care of the charges, even asked if I would like to extend my stay. So off I went to the MSS buffet, it was good simple omelet breakfast for me, paid with B connect card. Then back to MSS casino bar for quarter JOB and DDB. Drank coffee and club soda w/lime till 1:30pm. Lost about a hundred, but hey, it was the casino's money. Went up stairs and got my bags, and checked-out. The receptionist said she owed me 17.95. I had prepaid my first night with my reservation and she gave me credit for that too. Again, great service at this Hotel. Ate lunch at Triple Seven Brew Pub, read a newspaper had chili without the cheese-sour cream-salsa on top. This was excellent, this is one of my favorite menu items here. Paid with B connect card, grabed my bag, and headed out towards Binion's. At 3:23 I was on the Westcliff Express back to airport. Bag check-in, security lines were normal for a busy Vegas airport. Flight was uneventful and I was back in Houston by 11pm. Final notes: If you are taking the Westcliff to the airport, please check the schedule, it only runs once an hour on weekends. The Westcliff also stops behind the Tropicana, near Hooters for you who stay on the strip. Be careful drinking micro-brews at the casino bar at Main Street Station, they have high alcohol content. It is very easy to get so drunk that you are standing at a bar with your arm around a drunk Hawaiian, loudly singing Jerry Reed's When You're Hot You're Hot. Till the next time!