A Father and Son Spring Break 03/29 â€“ 04/02/10 Hereâ€™s a trip report for â€œspring breakâ€ with my son. Day 1 - Arrival We had taken our son to Las Vegas last October for his long-anticipated 21st birthday and he really loved it, so he had requested a return trip as a Christmas gift. Well, the week of 03/29 - 04/02/2010 was his collegeâ€™s spring break and our first opportunity, so he was off to Vegas with Dad for his Xmas present. We left Tampa early at 6:50 AM via Southwest. Smooth, uneventful flight getting in Vegas at 10:30 AM. After picking up the rental car, we were famished, so CWZ (our son) chose the buffet at Planet Hollywood as our lunch spot. (Being the experienced Vegas traveler, I valet parked at Paris and walked next door to P-HO, not wanting to use the horrible valet parking at P-HO ever again.) Good variety, excellent quality, but he was shocked at the price. I told him that it was typical of buffets on the Strip. We hoofed it up to Paris, where CWZ made a $5.00 bet on â€œCasino Warâ€ (he laughed when he saw it, remembering â€œVegas Vacationâ€) and parlayed his win for a second one, leaving $15.00 richer for his first bet of the trip. We walked through Ballyâ€™s and on to Billâ€™s across the street to shoot craps at a $5.00 table. We cashed in our modest winnings and left for Bellagio. After standing around the fountains out front, only to find that the fountain shows didnâ€™t start for another hour, it was back to Paris to pick up the car and drive downtown to check in at the Four Queens. I usually stay at the Four Queens or Main Street Station when I travel alone to Las Vegas because of the value rates and at $25.00/night the rates didnâ€™t disappoint. We unpacked and CWZ was off to try his hand at poker and me to the various craps venues downtown. I got dinner later and was in bed by about 10:00 PM and CWZ stumbled in about midnight. Day 2 - ADD, Sushi, and The Great Venetian Bust Tally for trip so far: Bazzito â€“ Minus $19.00 CWZ â€“ ??? I got up about 5:00 AM and left CWZ sleeping and went for some breakfast. I got the special right at Magnoliaâ€™s and then went off to gamble at some places downtown (Binionâ€™s and the Fremont). About 7:00 I went to see how my son was faring. He was just waking up, and I asked him what he had done the night before. Well, he had entered a poker tournament at Binionâ€™s and ended up the winner! He had the most chips, but agreed to split the winnings four ways (he hadnâ€™t slept for over 36 hours by that time and was eager to get to bed), so he ended up with $280.00 and a T-shirt! Nice start! We got him some breakfast (Back to Magnoliaâ€™s. I had coffee while he ate the breakfast burrito.) and then off to play at various places nearby. My morning shower brought to mind a state of affairs in Las Vegas that I seem encounter on nearly every trip. I have been coming to Vegas for over 30 years and have made about 60+ trips over the decades. I have noticed that, without exception, there is always something amiss with the plumbing in the room. Iâ€™ve stayed on the Strip and Downtown, and I've been in properties that were brand new as well as old and there has always been something wrong with the plumbing. There is either something missing, something clogged, or something mis-installed, etc. This time the plug to the sink was missing. During the morning shower, I thought about changing rooms for the first time, however. We were in room 1021 at the very end of the hall, and when I ran the hot water for the shower, it was stone cold. It stayed cold for at least 5 minutes, which led me to think that the hot water heater wasnâ€™t working, but as it slowly warmed up I realized that I was heating up the entire length of pipe from wherever the boiler was to the room at the end of the block. I took forever to get the water heated up, but it was finally OK, and by the end of the shower it was plenty hot. With the missing plug, however, Vegas came through, once again. I donâ€™t know what it is about the plumbers and maintenance people there, but itâ€™s always been that way, in my experience. We left at about 10:30 for The Venetian, where we were going to enter the noon NLHE tournament. I paid for CWZâ€™s entry fee, and we agreed to split our winnings with each other, less the entry fee, in order to give ourselves a chance. I busted out early (I flopped a straight, but got drawn out by another player who rivered a full house!), leaving CWZ to save the day. I left and walked down the street to Casino Royale, Harrahâ€™s and Mirage for what was beginning to become a theme for the trip â€“ losing at the crap table! I ate a bite of lunch at Outback Steak House, where I used a gift card that I received as a Christmas present to pay for lunch. At about 4:00 I walked back to the Venetian to check in on CWZ. There were about three tables left and him with a pretty good stack. I told him to take a cab back downtown where I would be napping. On the way to the car, though, I got distracted and wandered over to the Palazzo, where I won $95.00 shooting craps. (Isnâ€™t ADD just a pain?) I was slightly disappointed, as this was my third time shooting craps at either the Venetian or Palazzo and for the first time, I DIDNâ€™T shoot craps with Wayne Brady at the table. (Of course, someone had to point him out to me both times, as I really donâ€™t know him, or what he does, other than being a comedian and appearing in a show at those properties.) Looking back in on the poker tournament action, CWZâ€™s stack is somewhat less, and heâ€™s not in a good mood. I buy him a pack of cigarettes and am back on my way to the car when Iâ€™m again distracted by a series of John Wayne slot machines with something called a â€œSpin Stormâ€ feature. I dropped a double sawbuck in and tried my luck when CWZ gave the â€œWhere are you?â€ call on the cell phone â€“ Heâ€™s out of the tournament just four from the money and not a happy camper. He finds me & The Duke spinning up a storm so I cash out $10.00 ahead and head for the car. CWZ hadnâ€™t eaten lunch and itâ€™s about 6:00 PM by now, so head out for some dinner. Heâ€™s in the mood for sushi, which doesnâ€™t appeal to me, but Iâ€™m still digesting the steak, so we head out in search of some sort of sushi joint to fill the bill. I head down Spring Mountain Road towards â€œChinatown,â€ figuring we can find something in the area. After walking around in a couple of shopping centers that gave the appearance that we wouldnâ€™t encounter the cast from â€œBig Trouble in Little Chinaâ€ in the parking lot, we come upon Kaya Sushi at 4335 Spring Mountain Road. They offer a $22.95 all-you-can-eat sushi, which he ordered. I got some BBQ (grilled, really) beef at about $7.00 and we chow down. CWZ said everything was excellent and he certainly got his moneyâ€™s worth. After this we head back downtown. http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/18/1427708/restaurant/West-Side/Kaya-Sushi-Las-Vegas Day 3 - M's The word Tally for trip so far: Bazzito â€“ Minus $390.00 CWZ â€“ Plus about$180.00 We both slept a little later this AM, and left for breakfast at The Omelet House about 8:00. The Omelet House is a favorite with me and it was CWZâ€™s first time. Heâ€™s a big eater, so it was game on for CWZ vs. Food! I had my usual corned beef hash and eggs (They ainâ€™t kidding about the â€˜Best You Ever Hadâ€™ description) and CWZ chose the â€œBugsy Siegel.â€ Delicious! The pumpkin bread was great, the spuds were outstanding, and the hash was the best ever. As for CWZ â€“ Food won! He couldnâ€™t finish it, and we both left satisfied. http://www.omelethouse.net/Menus/Menu%20central%20Lg.pdf I joked with him that The Omelet House is only a couple of blocks from the UMC Hospital and thereâ€™s a Walgreens between the two places. I told him, â€œThis is a perfect location to retire in. If you had an apartment in this area, you could be released from the hospital, get your meds at Walgreens, and walk right back to The Omelet House! Why, you could keep this up until the day you die!!â€ He laughed and we planned our day. CWZ had an appointment to be a guest on a sports radio show at a studio later in the day, so he placed a call to confirm the schedule as we drove. CWZ wanted to be dropped off at Wynn to play some poker and I agreed. He then asked me what I was going to do and I replied that I was probably going to go out to the M Resort. I had been there last trip, and enjoyed its nice dÃ©cor and welcoming attitude to modest players like myself and wanted to go back. He said, â€œWell, I can go there with you.â€, so we headed south. By the time we got to M Resort, the weather had turned chilly and a wind had picked up. Once inside we walked all around, used the restrooms and ended up at the poker room. They were just about to start a $60.00 buy-in NLHE tournament at 10:00 AM, and we both bought in, again agreeing to spit our proceeds. CWZ ended up being to one to get eliminated early this time, so I stayed in the game, hoping to save the day. After about an hour CWZ came by and mentioned that he had a ride coming that would take him to his radio date, so I continued to play. There were about 30 players in the tournament, and I made it to the final table. They paid to 5 places and the players agreed to â€œpay the bubbleâ€ â€“ take some chips from the top winners to give to the 6ths place finisher. One player goes on a big rush and broke three players, amassing a large chip count and after the 6th place player was paid off, I sat there â€œin the money!â€ A number of players were asking if everyone was willing to spit the money 5 ways, but the player with the big chip count wasnâ€™t. He was sure to be among the final couple of players and all thought of chopping up the prize money ended in short order. I wasnâ€™t able to get any playable cards as the blinds increased and ended up 5th in the tournament, being paid $89.00. Not enough to cover our buy-ins, but a nice â€œsaver,â€ nonetheless. It was now after 2:30 and the hash and eggs were a distant memory, so I headed towards the car and down the road. It was a shock to step outside the resort, as the morningâ€™s cool temperatures were now accompanied by a fierce wind, almost knocking me off of my feet. I got of the interstate at Blue Diamond Road and thought Iâ€™d check out the Silverton. Iâ€™d eaten in their cafÃ© before, and figured it was good for a bite of lunch. After eating lunch I tried my hand at craps, winning about $100.00 before heading to the car. Back at the Four Queens, I got about an hour nap before hearing from CWZ and making arrangements to pick him up at the studio. It was now well after 6:00 and he was hungry so we decided to stop in at The Orleans, which was just ahead on Tropicana. We settled on the buffet, which was plentiful and tasty. After desert we decided on our evening activity. I had read that the Mandarin Bar in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel at the new City Center had an outstanding view of the Las Vegas Strip as well as drinks priced at $20.00. I had worked a one day musical engagement a couple of weeks before that paid me $50.00, which I had earmarked for that purpose. I would never normally spend that kind of money on cocktails, but I hold to the saying, â€œIt doesnâ€™t cost any more to go First Class. â€“ You just donâ€™t get to stay very long!â€ So we were of to City Center and our drink. I had never been to City Center - only passed it on the Strip as it was being built. It always looked to me to be a bit of a hodgepodge. But as we drove up the drive to Aria, it became apparent what the design scheme was, and it was breathtakingly impressive. You simply canâ€™t see it from the street, and as you approach, the masterpiece of modern architecture reveals itself. Itâ€™s really a terrific piece of construction. After parking in the self-park garage (valet was full) we walked into Aria for a look. Aria is just as impressive on the inside as it is on the outside. Every wall is a different design and material, so clever and attractive that you just want to rub your hands all over every surface. There is a delight everywhere you look. Ultra-modern is the look in every aspect and detail. The Aria casino is spacious and dark, as well as strangely quiet. The atmosphere is so dark and hushed, in fact, that it seemed to suck all of the energy and enthusiasm out of the space. We werenâ€™t tempted to make a single bet there â€“ a real accomplishment. We went into the lobby to try to find our way to the Mandarin Oriental and ended up outside at the front entrance to Aria. I spotted the MO adjacent to Las Vegas Blvd, about Â½ mile away, so we walked out towards the Strip. On the way we passed a Henry Moore sculpture by the Crystals shopping mall. After getting across the pedestrian bridge, we pressed the button for the elevator to take us down to the hotel entrance. The elevator creaked up at a snailâ€™s pace and took about 25-30 seconds to descend the 10 feet to the ground floor. Once the door opened we could see the entrance ahead attended by a doorman in a top hat and tails. We entered the lobby to find one of the strangest places we had ever been. We stood in a tiny lobby area that contained a desk, which was unattended, chairs and sofas which were also empty. It was like a tomb â€“ totally quiet and still. (This, they call the â€œLower Lobbyâ€) The only other things we could see were the two elevator doors. It was creepy, mysterious and a bit unnerving. We pressed the elevator button, fully expecting to walk into some sort of secret chamber where we would get our secret agent orders. Instead, we entered a very spacious elevator with zebra wood paneling and a padded bench. We sat on the bench almost reflexively, as the elevator vaulted up so rapidly that our ears popped and we found it difficult to stand. It was just a couple of seconds and we are on the 23rd floor and confronted with a huge wall decorated with an eye-dazzling metallic grid. To our left is another lobby, again empty, featuring a spacious desk attended by a lone young woman. (This is the â€œSky Lobbyâ€) Around the corner is the Mandarin Bar, where we were greeted by a hostess who promptly seated us. The view was impressive, as advertised. The drinks were excellent and just below the expected $20.00 price - $18.50 each, to be exact. I had an Old Fashioned, and CWZ ordered an Elderberry Martini from the menu. We dawdled as long as we could before slipping the stylish coasters into our pockets and returning to Aria, and our car. On the way back to the car, we passed another piece of modern sculpture â€“ a Claus Oldenburg rendering of a typewriter eraser! We returned downtown, back to the more plebian environs that weâ€™re used to, totally satisfied with our excursion into rich peopleâ€™s territory. We both agreed that, given sufficient time and money â€“ we could get used to living like that. But that will have to wait until another day and time. We both went right to sleep without any further excursions that night. Day Four â€“ A Wynn - Wynn Tally for trip so far: Bazzito â€“ Minus $200.00 CWZ â€“ Plus about$100.00 We got up about 8:00 on this, our last full day in Las Vegas. Carl wanted to play poker at the Wynn, and I needed to get some breakfast and check in online for our flight out in the morning, so we stopped at the Sahara for breakfast. I was disappointed to see that they had eliminated their old coffee shop, and replaced it with a dark, cheerless den somewhere in the interior of the casino. As we waited for our food, I found an internet terminal and printed out our boarding passes for our flights. After breakfast, we used the remaining time on the terminal to check out the poker tournament action and there was a noon tournament right at the Wynn with an excellent payout percentage. We headed on down and got set to enter. We walked around a bit and wandered over to the Encore. I took Carl to Sinatraâ€™s where we looked at the Oscar, Grammy and Emmy trophies displayed there. I applied for a playerâ€™s card and then used my free $10.00 in slot play. With about a half hour to kill, I took a shot at their $10.00 min. crap game. (Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!) Sure enough, I lost $180.00 in 15 minutes! (Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!) What a doofus I am! With the same agreement as before, I paid CWZâ€™s $120.00 entry fee, as well as my own and we sat down to play. We both did pretty well for the first couple of hours. I had a very aggressive player to my immediate left and he had made me fold a couple of decent hands with his aggressive play. At one point, I am big blind with blinds of $100/200 and I get 7-5 off suit. Iâ€™m ready to fold at the first bet, but everyone checks and the flop comes up Q-8-6. Iâ€™m open ended and I try a bet of $350 to try to steal the pot, but the player to my left calls. The turn is a 9, giving me a straight! I check and sure enough, the player to my left goes all-in. I call immediately. He shows pocket queens. I canâ€™t remember what the river card was, but it doubles me up, and takes a serious chunk from his stack. I get the rest of his chips about 20 minutes later, and Carl and I would reach the final table at about 5:00 PM. There were 39 players in the tournament and they paid to 5 places. We were both playing our best games and managing our chips very well, and when they eliminated the 6th player, I knew that we were going to make money. After the 5th player was eliminated, Carl and I were 2nd and 3rd in our chip counts with one player having a huge lead in chips. When he suggested that we chop the prize money four ways, we jumped at the opportunity. They paid us each $870.00 and we left happy! They took our names and we said we didnâ€™t much care who was listed in which order, as we all made the same amount of money. It was great to BOTH make it to the final table, and the results got us both ahead for the trip! Donâ€™t you just love it when a plan comes together? You can check out the results on the Wynn web site (if you can stand the obnoxious sound, which they wonâ€™t let you turn off!) for April 1, 2010 tournament: http://www.wynnpoker.com/winners.cfm We returned to the Four Queens and enjoyed the deep dish pizza at the Chicago Brewing Co. and then wandered up and down Fremont Street on our last night in Vegas. Carl bought lots of souvenirs for his friends and sisters, and I got a few, myself to remember a terrific trip with my son. Certainly our best â€œspring breakâ€ in recent memory. We both gambled some more downtown, me losing more on craps and Carl losing $200.00 in a cash poker game at the Golden Nugget. Still, our winnings at Wynn earlier, made it certain that we would go home winners. Day 5 - Return Final tally: Bazzito â€“ Ahead $170.00 CWZ â€“ Ahead $210.00 after souvenir purchases. Up early to pack, eat breakfast and return the rental car. Our Southwest flight back to Tampa left at 9:40 AM, taking us back home after a successful, memorable trip.