First day back from Christmas break so the king is finally taking the time to give you folks a little trip report. The king and his queen went for 4 nights in Vegas Dec 10-14. We flew out on Continental, even though the king vowed to never fly Continental again about three 3 ago. Things have not gotten better for them, they have gotten worse. Every flight was delayed, the seats are the smallest I have ever seen, and the water wasnâ€™t working on the plane. With so many airlines going out of business, this is one that needs to be put out of its misery. Cab lines in December are NOTING compared to what they were in August. We had our luggage and were on our way in about 5 minutes. We stayed at the Tuscany and I have seen at least two threads asking about the Tuscany in the past 6 months, so allow me to give you a full review. First off, they knocked my socks off right away by nabbing my luggage right out of the cab! Some of you may know, the king has bitched more than once about never having bell service take his luggage when he arrived, so he was overjoyed it finally happened on this trip. The lady at the front desk was very friendly and helpful. She allowed us to check in at 12:00 even though check-in was not until 3:00. We were in room J214. The Tuscany consists of several small buildings containing about 50 rooms each and is not one huge building. Itâ€™s a little annoying to have to walk outside to get to your room in December, but the king didnâ€™t mind too much. It was still a lot better than having to walk through a huge casino to get to the elevator like at the MGM or Caesarâ€™s. They call the Tuscany an â€œall suiteâ€ hotel. The rooms are large and pretty nice, donâ€™t get me wrong, but it seems to be a lot of wasted space. Itâ€™s like they took what you would find in a regular Vegas room and put it into a much larger space. There was a kitchenette, minifrig, and coffee maker, but no microwave, no hot plate, not even dishes or utensils in the cabinets, so what was the point? Am I supposed to bring dishes with me or are the cabinets just for show? There was only one small closet, one sink in the bathroom, and a standard tub (not Jacuzzi). Just a whole bunch of wasted space right in the middle of the room. Overall, I would say it was about the same as any other nice room in Vegas, only bigger. I wouldnâ€™t call it a suite. Suites arenâ€™t only bigger, but also nicer. The staff at the Tuscany is not the friendliest in Vegas, but not rude either. They are always helpful, they just seem to act like you are bothering them occasionally. Really liked the bellhop who brought our bags to our room. He gave us a complete history of the place and told us a joke. The bags also arrived very quickly! The casino is small, but nice, and has just about everything you would want. Craps, Roulette, and Blackjack are always going, and the poker room is open from 10 a.m. until about 2 a.m. They even have a small sports book in the back. Comps seem fast and easy for slot play and drink service is pretty good. Transportation is definitely a big problem when staying at the Tuscany. Itâ€™s about 3 blocks from Ballyâ€™s, so you can get to the monorail pretty quickly. Itâ€™s not on a street you want to be walking after dark, however, so you will end up using cabs most of the time. The cab situation is not great at the Tuscany either. I guess since it isnâ€™t a big place, cabs donâ€™t come by that often, even when they are called. We waited 23 minutes for a cab one evening, but sometimes had one in just a couple of minutes, so itâ€™s hard to tell how long your wait will be. They have a small gift shop that stocks soda, beer, liquor, smokes, chips, and a few souvenirs. Itâ€™s ok for a few essentials, but since all rooms come with a kitchenette and frig, they should store more groceries I think. You can use your comp dollars their and we always do. They also have a small coffee stand that closes at 6 p.m. They have coffee and muffins, but we always found ourselves wanting fancy coffee at around 8 p.m. so we were disappointed it closed so early. They also have a pretty nice bar that sales snacks and sometimes has live entertainment. Itâ€™s a pretty nice place to relax and hangout. They also have 3 restaurants which I will review in greater detail below. Tuscany Gardens The main restaurant of the Tuscany serving Italian food. I loved the atmosphere and the layout of the place. Comfortable booths with just the right ambiance. The service wasnâ€™t great, but pretty good and the prices are very reasonable. The bread comes with butter and not olive oil which I enjoyed cause I have never really cared much for dipping my bread into oil. The food was good, but not great. We started with a spinach ravioli in a pink sauce that was very good. I then had a rainbow pasta in a white wine sauce that was pretty good. The wife had lasagna which she wasnâ€™t crazy about, but I thought it was pretty good. A matter of taste I suppose. Overall, I would say if you are looking for an Italian place with a nice atmosphere, decent food, and reasonable prices, this is a good place to visit. Marilynâ€™s The cafÃ©/coffee shop of the Tuscany, I had eaten here before and itâ€™s a pretty good place for a quick bite. It claims to be open 24/7 but we found times it was not open due to lack of business. For dinner, they have the standard steaks, soup, salad, and sandwiches, all of which is pretty good. I heard a rumor they hired away the cooking staff from a Chinese restaurant so at dinner there is always a side Chinese menu. We sampled the Chinese and it was pretty good. The Lo Mien left something to be desired, but everything else was good. We also tried the breakfast and were not overly impressed. I had a breakfast sandwich that was good and also enjoyed the pancakes, but the eggs, sausage, and potatoes could all be better. But overall, itâ€™s a good way to start a day in Vegas I suppose. The Mexican Cantina The Mexican Cantina is great and in my opinion the best restaurant they have and maybe my best meal of this trip. Free nachos with three choices of dip are brought out right away. There is a cheese dip that was cold and not really spicy enough, but the salsa is excellent. I had a Chimichanga for $8 that was huge! Stuffed with chipped steak and served with a large helping of black beans and rice on the side! I have nothing but good things to say about this place. Good food, good service, low prices, what else could you ask for? If you like Mexican food, give this place a try. Other than the Tuscany, day 1 we went to see Bill Engval at the Stardust. Really enjoyed the show and gave a full review in the entertainment section. Lots of Cowboys there, but I expected that. Itâ€™s why they brought in a redneck comedian for rodeo week. There was a pretty long wait at the ticket office and one lady walked away telling everyone the show was sold out so not to bother. Guess some cowgirls have never heard of advanced orders for tickets and â€œwill callâ€. 45 minutes before the show and she was â€œshockedâ€ it was sold out. This was also the first time I have ever seen scalpers outside of a theater in Vegas. Not sure if that was legal or not, but I know scalping is legal almost everywhere in the south, so the Cowboys scalping tickets must have thought it was OK. We had planned to do William Bâ€™s before the show, but had a late lunch so we were not in the mood. Now I know some people may really like the Stardust, but I left the place thinking I would probably never stay there. The casino is large and congested, yet the place lacks all the pizzazz of a Wynn or Bellagio, so whatâ€™s the point? I guess some people like the value and location, which I can understand I suppose. Day two was a walking the strip day. We started with lunch at the Ellis Island, my first visit there. I thought it was hilarious when we got there and saw the famed sign that just reads â€œRestaurantâ€! The atmosphere isnâ€™t great and the service isnâ€™t spectacular, so I was starting to wonder what all the fuss was about. My wife and I both had burgers and they were FANTASTIC. Then I saw the bill was $12 for the both of us and I fully understood how good the place was. We went back the next day for breakfast! Needless to say, you can add my wife and I to the list of Ellis Island fans now! We decided if we were going to eat their cheap food we should also give their Casino a little business so we played a little slots and BJ. We met one very friendly dealer but the clientele at their casino was somewhat undesirable. While playing BJ, two men were standing behind us talking very loudly and smoking cigars and one finally sat down at the table. He was telling his friend: â€œShe wanted to talk about rent and I was like **** I canâ€™t talk about no rent, you know what Iâ€™m saying? If I could talk about ******* rent, I would talk about rent, ****, you know what Iâ€™m saying? ***** talking about ******* rent, ****, you know what Iâ€™m saying?â€ No, he doesnâ€™t know what you are saying, none of us know what you are saying so just shut up! Apparently, this manâ€™s rent was $550 and he only had $375, so he was playing BJ to try and win the additional $175 he need. He ended up just losing the $375 he already had, so I guess he didnâ€™t have a good plan. We then walked up to Ballyâ€™s, which has long been my favorite Casino, but that is probably no longer the case. We noticed the shop area had a new dealer school and one store that was going out of business in August is STILL going out of business. Prices hadnâ€™t dropped any further though, everything was still 50% off and they appeared to have re-stocked which is weird for a place going out of business. Ballyâ€™s used to have some lower table limits compared to other strip properties, but that is no longer the case. I am guessing since they are now connected to the Paris, they have to keep their limits about the same to keep people from just migrating over. Also, Paris/Ballyâ€™s had signs everywhere for slot tournaments. I donâ€™t really care anything about slot tournaments, so that wasnâ€™t really attracting me to stay there. The highlight was probably getting to play the new Texas Holdâ€™em table game. Iâ€™ve seen people asking about it, so I will give you a quick break-down of the game. First off, if you have played the Texas Holdâ€™em game at a casino in Mississippi, know that this one is very different. The one in MS, you place a small and a big bet (big bet is up to 5X small bet). You look at your cards and if you have a pair or better you can go ALL IN and both bets play. Otherwise you pull one bet back and only play the small or big bet. The dealer deals himself two cards, one face up and one face down. If the face up card is lower than a jack, he draws a new card, but can only do this once. If the up card is a King or Ace, the dealer forces all players ALL IN. There is also a side bet that pays odds on big hands like Let-It-Ride or 3-Card-Poker. At the game in Vegas, you place and ante bet that only wins if you hit a straight or better. The dealer deals everyone, including himself, two cards. He then shows the flop and you can check or bet again up two 2X the ante. You can also bet or check at the turn and river, but that bet must match the ante. The dealer then reveals his cards and if he wins, he collects all the bets. If you win, you get paid on all of your bets except the ante which pushes unless you have a straight or better. The dealer also must make a certain rank of hand or he folds and most bets push. Overall, itâ€™s a pretty boring game with just about 50-50 odds from what I can tell. Except the house has the slight advantage on the ante bet. I got bored with it pretty quickly and only played about 45 minutes. We then walked to the cheap ticket outlet to see if since it was the slow season if maybe some of the more expensive shows may be listed, but they werenâ€™t. Same stuff as always, â€œStar Trekâ€, â€œSpashâ€, â€œAmazing Jonathanâ€, â€œJubileeâ€ etc, the only new show added was â€œCarrot Topâ€. We continued to the MGM and picked up our Howie Mandell Tickets and played a little â€œLet It Rideâ€. We then headed back up strip and stopped at the Bellagio. The wife had talked about doing the art gallery for weeks then threatened not to do it when she found out if was $15 per person, but I made her do it anyway. We were pretty disappointed with it. It was small and only took a few minutes to see everything. She said in the future she would just look at pictures of paintings in a book and not spend money to see them in person. When then walked up to the Casino Royale to get our free slot plays and use the BJ match play coupon. When then continued up to the Wynn and joined the playerâ€™s club. Two free buffets at 500 points so we hit the slots. While I was playing, it kept giving me Bingo Cards and I had no idea why so I just ignored it. After about an hour we had earned about 100 points and decide it would cost too much to get the 500, so we started looking for a place to eat. Everywhere at the Wynn seemed a little too fancy, so we walked on up to the Stardust to finally give William Bâ€™s a shot. They said it was a 90 minute wait, so we settled on Tony Romaâ€™s. Itâ€™s a chain place so I wonâ€™t bore you with a review. We then headed back to the room and day two was at an end. Day 3 started with a trip to the Westin, just because it was close so we wanted to check it out. Very small casino. 30-40 slot machines, 3 or 4 BJ tables, craps, and roulette. We joined the playerâ€™s club and got $40 in slot play for only $25 dollars. I turned my $25 into $150 and the wife turned her $25 into $100, so we did pretty well. Stayed there a good while and earned a good amount of comps we used at the gift shop before we left. We then headed to the NY NY for a little gaming before the Howie Mandell show. Not a lot of luck and the dealer hit a straight flush and 3-of-a-kind at 3-card poker so we decided it was time to eat. I had in the schedule for us to do Il Fornaio. An Italian place out in the middle of the casino sounded pretty cool. We thought it was awful. The atmosphere and the service is good enough, but neither of us cared for the food. The pasta was undercooked and the sauces tasted cheap. I think this was the first bad Italian dining experience I have had in Vegas. We then had dessert at Starbuck and walked over for the Mandell Show, which again has already been reviewed, and which was not very good. However, incase you were wondering, according to the jumbo-tron outside the MGM, the wait is finally over and Billy Joel is comingâ€¦â€¦â€¦..in April, which made me think the wait isnâ€™t really â€œoverâ€? Iâ€™m still waiting till April. Also, I noticed in the in-room magazine that the Flamingo had taken out a full page ad just to let us know that Kelly Clarkson was coming and that the show is already sold-out. So what was point of the ad? Are they just bragging? Anyway, after the show we headed back to Tuscany and played till 2 a.m. The final day we did nothing but gamble and visit the ATM machine. I started by getting a quick craps lesson at the Tuscany. It was my first time playing the game and I had a blast. We then went back to Ballyâ€™s and the Paris, then back to the Westin. Since I now knew how to play craps, I checked out their table which was only $1 but only 2X odds. I started to play and was doing pretty good. Two lesbian women (not that their sexual preference is important to the story, Iâ€™m just saying) then joined me and they were really bad at this game. They could not make a point to save their lives. I started losing cause I refuse to bet the â€œDo Not Passâ€ cause it just seems rude. Then we headed back to the Tuscany. At 3-Card-Poker I saw one young lady have two big wins and she was up about $1200, but she wouldnâ€™t stop and she just kept giving it back. She was back down to about $500 before she finally left. After the second big hit, I would have found a new game. I won a little playing craps and finally stopped. They also had a promotion going at the Tuscany that you got a free bottle of wine if you hit a same-suited blackjack on a bet of $10 or more and I won 4 bottls, so I felt like a big winner. We flew back on Northwest, which was a lot better than Continental. Overall, it was a really fun trip; I was just frustrated with all the losing. I didnâ€™t come back with that â€œOh, I gotta go back attitudeâ€ I came back with in August. Iâ€™ll probably wait a year and go back next December.