The trip began on Wednesday 3/10 and ended on Saturday 3/13. We stayed at the Monte Carlo all three nights. This was my sixth trip to Las Vegas, and it was the first time Iâ€™ve ever made myself a repeat customer of a hotel Iâ€™ve stayed at previously (Monte Carlo). My buddy, Tony, tagged along with me this time as he wonâ€™t be having much free time soon due to his first baby being due in a few months. All-in-all it was a very fun and exhausting trip. I didnâ€™t take any notes, and the trip is still just a blur, so Iâ€™ll try to break my report into different topics as opposed to a day-to-day description. Travel â€“ Southwest is better than America Worst! We had direct flights from Columbus, Ohio and back, which were on-time and non-eventful. This was the first time Iâ€™ve flown Southwest. The airline is pretty much no-frills, but it was a pretty good experience. I also got over my fears of the â€œgroupingâ€ seating assignments that Southwest does, probably because I was in Group A both flights! Hotel - I love that Monte Carlo smell! We arrived at 10am Vegas time and had NO problem at all getting an early check-in! We were put on the 11th floor with a decent view of the Bellagio (back) and Rio, Palms, Orleans and the mountains west of town. Once again, the Monte Carlo didnâ€™t disappoint! The rooms are clean and well appointed and the beds are VERY comfortable. A slow draining tub was quickly fixed after the first day, and housekeeping did an excellent job. A word of warning, the walls are not very thick in the MC, and the plumbing noises from other rooms are noticeable. I take earplugs with me to fight this problem. The noises werenâ€™t too bad though, and it would NOT stop me from returning to the MC. Everything else about the MC was great. I did not come into contact with even ONE rude or moody employee the entire trip here! Gambling (or Vegas on $20 a day!) â€“ Rob expands his horizons When all was said and done, I left Las Vegas with exactly $80 missing from my wallet from what I took! So food, shows, cabs, tips, etc. all cost me $80 over the 4 days. How did I do it? Blackjack â€“ I actually had my best luck at BJ next door to the Monte Carlo at the Boardwalk. They usually had one or two DD pitched games with decent rules. The one rule that I didnâ€™t like was not being able to double-down after splitting. That hurt me a couple of times. After a couple good hit-and-runs, the Boardwalk gave me about $200 during the trip. I also had decent luck at the Orleans, but I had very BAD luck at the Gold Coast, which is a first for me. I also made the mistake of sitting down at a $10 table at the MC, which swallowed up a $100 buy-in in about 15 minutes! Slots â€“ The gambling highlight of my trip happened at the Alladin. I dragged Tony in there to sign up for the players club and get the free ceramic coffee mug. On a whim, I decided to put $20 in a quarter Wheel of Fortune machine. About 5 minutes later, I hit the 1000 credit space on the wheelâ€¦..a very quick $250! I hardly ever play slots, so watching that wheel stop on the white 1000 space was awesome! Craps â€“ I had NEVER even considered playing craps before this trip. Tony and I took the MCâ€™s beginners class one morning, and found it pretty damn interesting. After the class, the table was made a $2 table for the hour following the class and I won $162 during that hour! Iâ€™ll start another thread in the gambling section because I do still have some craps questions that I need answered! On the final day I lost a $100 buy-in in about 10 minutes! It seems like craps has too many peaks and valleys for my taste, as Iâ€™m usually a low-limit BJ player. Poker â€“ I had also NEVER considered playing poker in a Las Vegas casino until this trip (too intimidated). Iâ€™ve played a few NO-limit hold-em tournaments lately, so I took the low-limit hold-em class at Monte Carlo the first morning we were there. The dealer who taught us was hard to understand, but I basically got the gist of the game. NO-limit and LOW-limit hold-em are completely different animals, as I quickly lost $40 at a 2-4 table after the class, but it was still pretty fun. The next day, Tony and I decided to re-take the class, but at the Luxor this time to get in on the 1-2 game that follows their class. We had a blast! This is where I won my first pot, which felt really good! I made exactly $5 in the 3 hours we played there, but it was the most fun Iâ€™ve had making just $5. I also learned that if drunk Spring-Breakers are dumb enough, you can actually bluff a pot from them on the riverâ€¦..on a 1-2 table! Unbelievable! Sports â€“ Tony and I spent some time in the MC sportsbook, and I pretty much broke even on the college games I bet on. The most fun I had while in there was when Notre Dame failed to cover against West Virginia. The three obnoxious spring-breakers sitting in front of us were bragging that they had $600 on Notre Dameâ€¦.â€a sure betâ€, they said! So right before the game started, I put down $10 on West Virginia and rooted like mad for the mountaineers the whole game! I didnâ€™t make many friends that afternoon, but I also somehow avoided getting my ass kicked by those guys! My NASCAR 3-driver parlay fell through today when Jamie McMurray blew an engine, thus closing my gambling adventures for this trip. Since I donâ€™t keep track of my exact gambling wins and losses, Iâ€™m not sure how much I won, but I had to be up at least a couple hundred because I know I spent way more than $80 during the trip! Food â€“ I hold to my â€œone buffet per tripâ€ limit! Tony and I ate many of our meals in the food court at the Monte Carlo, either at McDonalds or Nathanâ€™s hot dogs. It just seemed more convenient and cheaper as opposed to spending $12 per meal at the cafÃ©. I did drag Tony over to Ellis Island for the Thursday night $3.95 16oz. porterhouse special! That meal is awesome!! I also had my ACG with me, and got 4 free microbrews with the coupons in it. If you ever go to Ellis Island on a Thursday night, GET THERE EARLY. We waited about an hour to get in, and people were being told THREE HOURS as we were seated! The 99 cent shrimp cocktails at the golden gate were good as usual. For some reason I couldnâ€™t talk Tony into eating one. Heâ€™s not a very big seafood fan, but I promised him heâ€™d regret this! The only other meal worth mentioning was the Orleans buffet. This was a VERY good buffet for the price, as I had a 2-for-1 from ACG. The name of the buffet is the French Market Buffet,â€¦â€¦.with Mexican, BBQ, Chinese, America, Pasta, and Seafood stations. Yep, a French Market buffet with NO French station. Oh well, it was still a solid buffet, much like the Gold Coastâ€™s buffet, which I had in December with NEON and his wife. Shows â€“ Donâ€™t ask BC employees how big Big Elvis is! Rick Thomas puts on a great show for the money that is charged for his afternoon show at the Trop! This was the first true magic show Iâ€™ve seen in Vegas (not including Penn and Teller or Amazing Jonathon) and it didnâ€™t disappoint! Big Elvis is still awesome as always! I had some free drink coupons out of the ACG, so Tony and I sat and listened to Big Elvis from the bar for about an hour one day. I love his pipes, and he always seems to put on a great and popular show. However, during the hour that we were sitting there, the bartenders fielded his weight question at least 6 or 7 times (I never asked and frankly donâ€™t care). This seems to cause the bartenders to get in a bad mood, so please donâ€™t do this if you visit! On Thursday night, we decided to take in the comedians at the Improv at Harrahs. AWESOME! I laughed my ass off! This might have been the best comedy act Iâ€™ve ever seen! All three comedians were excellent. After the Improv show, Tony and I scooted over to the Flamingo to catch the 2nd City show! I saw this exact same show in December, but still found in hilarious. There is enough improv that makes it a different show each time! Plus, it seemed like they tweaked some of their skits to make them funnier. This show is definitely worth the price! Downtown â€“ Still classic Vegasâ€¦..during the mere 2 hours I was down there. We only made it downtown for one night, and it was a Wednesday. Fremont Street was pretty dead by the time we got down there, and we only saw one light show. I did get to see a completely empty Binions. I had seen Billyâ€™s pictures, but it was way more eerie to see it in person. I would really like to stay downtown for a couple more days on a future trip! Hofbrauhaus â€“ A bitter disappointment! To be fair, this wasnâ€™t completely their fault, but it was our dumb luck to visit the Hofbrauhaus last Thursday night, which happened to be their â€œgrand openingâ€ night. You could only get in by invitation only! Tony and I walked all the way there from the Strip, which is a pretty hefty walk, just to find out we werenâ€™t allowed into the place! I visited their website before we left, and NO MENTION OF THIS WAS FOUND!! After explaining our situation to the lady at the door, it became quickly obvious that she wanted to have nothing to do with me, and was quite PC about it, but also a bit short with me, like I was going to â€œbotherâ€ her very important guests or something. We werenâ€™t able to see into the place, have a sample of their beer, hear any of the band, NOTHING. I guess I was at least expecting them to throw us some sort of bone, seeing as how we just walked about 40 minutes just to visit them! It was a disappointing experience, and a true waste of valuable Vegas time! Sam's Town â€“ Yes, Iâ€™m a free shuttle moocher! My main reason for dragging Tony out to Samâ€™s Town was that it was a free way to eventually get downtown, using all of the free shuttles out of there. The blackjack at Samâ€™s Town is pretty good, and it is a nice change of pace from the mega-resorts on the Strip! The big downer during this trip was that one of the shuttle busses was involved in an accident, which caused us to get downtown around midnight. The bright spot was the nice fountain/laser show in the big atrium at Samâ€™s Town. It was an excellent FREE show that I donâ€™t hear mentioned too much on this message board. Random Thoughts - Iâ€™m beginning to think that the week before Christmas may be my favorite time to visit Las Vegas. The bigger crowds and spring-breakers really annoyed me this visit!! - With itâ€™s decent blackjack rules and free shuttles, I can see myself staying at the Gold Coast in future trips. - Virginia Mendoza in the retail department at the Monte Carlo is awesome! She went way above and beyond to help me out one morning, and Iâ€™ll soon be writing the MC a nice letter! - One buffet per trip is ENOUGH! Once again, if I lived in Las Vegas, I would quickly become very fat! - Tony invented a new drinking game: take a drink every time you see an ad for a steak, prime rib or seafood special and drink every time you see an ad for a â€œbest ofâ€ somethingâ€¦.such as best slots, best buffet, best etc.!! We got drunk! - My bag was the first bag off the conveyer in Columbus, so I was pretty lucky up until the end! - Iâ€™m slowly swearing off doing any gambling on the Strip, when I see how much better the odds and rules are off-strip and downtown!! - Iâ€™m still wondering how good that authentic German beer would have tasted! - I see no reason at all to ever re-visit the Hard Rock casino and hotel! Yuppies and jackass college students galore, along with AWEFUL blackjack tables, especially for an off-strip property! - Thanks for reading my trip report. Let me know if you have any questions! - Vegas Rocks!