If you enjoy reading a novel about someone’s trip, you've come to the right place. I’m an engineer and not a writer plus this is my first trip report so be gentle! Background: This is probably my 15th or 16th trip to the Promised Land. But did have a couple of (not very exciting) firsts: 1. First time playing bar top video poker (where has this been all my life?!?) 2. First stay at a CET property 3. First time moving between hotels 4. First time longer than 4 nights 5. First trip of 2014 6. First trip since joining VMB which definitely helped build up the excitement 7. First trip report! Basics: 5 night stay: 2 nights comped at Bally’s and 3 nights comped at Monte Carlo. Flew solo direct from Tulsa to LAS on Wednesday, April 16 with a direct return flight back to Tulsa on Monday, April 21. A longtime friend met and stayed with me for the first 2 nights and then my wife and additional friends were joining the party on Friday for the last 3 nights. We had a total of 10 people for the weekend stay. I’m 32, wife is 30, and the rest of our group ranged from 26-38. The Vegas allure for most of us is 1) gambling 2) drinking 3) pool. We did a ton of each. Both flights were on time and uneventful, just like a good Vegas flight should be. As I get a little older, I really enjoy the direct flight and would pay more for it. Younger me just wanted to get there as cheaply as possible. Once I landed, I waited for my buddy’s flight which landed 15 minutes after mine. After a quick cab line, we hop in and head to Bally’s. For the second trip in a row, we get a cab driver who just blasts long-hauling. He did tell us they are really cracking down on it and if you get caught, you can have your license yanked after the first offense. Not sure if that’s true but it’s a step in the right direction. He also said the Authority is doing random meter checks when cabs drop guests off at hotels. I think it was $15 for our trip to Bally’s. Threw him a $20 and we were off to get the party started. Accommodations: Bally’s – My first CET experience! Checked into Bally’s on Wednesday, April 16 around 2:30pm for a 2 night comp stay. 15 minute wait to check-in but the line went quickly. Was booked for an Indigo Classic Queen but decided to try the $20 trick for the first time in my Vegas-life and politely asked for an upgrade to a Jubilee room. The lady behind the desk looked at it like I handed her a bag of drugs at a police station and quickly said “the cost to upgrade to a Jubilee room is $40 per night” and quickly handed the drugs, I mean $20, back to me. I had a chance to pay $28/night through a Total Rewards upgrade email before I left. Not much more than the $20 trick attempt but I’m the type of person who is barely in the room and uses it to sleep and shower so I passed. Room was clean and much nicer than I anticipated after reading here about CET’s “run-down” rooms. Monte Carlo – Stayed in a regular deluxe room on the 30th floor for the last 3 nights. The last few times we’ve stayed at MC it’s been in a Monaco “suite” or a nicer deluxe room. The room we had this trip was tiny, probably the smallest I’ve stayed at in Vegas. Monte Carlo seems to be losing its “value” on many things (food, drinks, etc) and migrating towards higher priced everything. We spent a lot of time in NYNY and may make a return after several years with MC as our home base. On moving day (also another Vegas first for me!) from Bally’s to Monte Carlo, I couldn’t sleep and woke up around 6:30am. Figured “what the hell, I’m in Vegas” and headed down to play some blackjack. After a quick ass-beating, I hit the bar for some video poker. Let’s just say it’s not too busy at 7:30am. Had a good discussion with the bartender along with 7 or 8 white Russians and made my donation to the VP gods. So by 9am I’m smoked already. Want to know a good Vegas recipe? Heavy drinking the night before + 5 hours of sleep + 7-8 drinks first thing in the morning = A good Friday. We packed our things, checked out, and headed for the cab line at Bally’s. For whatever reason, the cab line is about 20 groups deep. We wait 10 minutes and exactly ONE group gets a cab. In a drunken moment of genius I tell my buddy “hell, we can walk to the tram station at Bellagio and head to the Monte Carlo faster than waiting in this line”. He was less than thrilled about dragging our luggage that far but we weren’t making any progress so we hit the streets. A brisk walk, a tram ride, and next thing we know we are in line to check in at Monte Carlo. We spent a lot of time (several hours each day) at the Monte Carlo pool. Our group of 10 likes to relax and have a bunch of pool drinks. My personal tab for 3 days at the pool for my wife and I was around $300. I’d guess we spent around $1,500-$2,000 as a group over the 3 pool days. Definitely not cheap but we had (always do) a ton of fun. Dining: If you are looking for fine-dining experiences, go ahead and skip this section. Our group has the attitude that food is a basic necessity needed to continue drinking. That said, we did check out a few decent (and new) places: Holsteins (Cosmo) – Had this our first night in Vegas. It was over an hour wait but no waiting at the bar so it was an easy choice to eat at the bar. Had the Nom Nom burger (Kobe beef, cheese, potato chips, 1000 island dressing) and it was very good. Friend had the Memphis burger (topped with BBQ pork, BBQ sauce, coleslaw, and pickles) and said it was also very good. Neither were “top burger ever” level but solid. I’d definitely return but won’t make it a “must-have” each trip. Aria Buffet – Thank you MyVegas comp. Headed over to Aria a little after 4pm the second day. This was our first meal of the day (damn day drinking) and we were famished. Buffet was a little smaller than I expected (for $38 normal price) but the food was really good for a buffet and there were many options for types of food. I think we each had 5 plates and I tried A LOT of different things. Crab legs were tasty and so was the gelato bar, those two things stuck in my mind. While I definitely wouldn’t pay $38 to eat here, I’d use another MyVegas reward given the opportunity. MGM Champagne Brunch – Again, thank you MyVegas. This was serviceable lunch but wasn’t outstanding. We had a group of 10 and were more interested in the free mimosas over the food. At some point the waiter just brought out a couple of mimosa pitchers and left them at the table. But the food selection was very good and for the amount of MyVegas points, it was definitely worth it. Especially if you drink your weight in mimosas. Double Barrel (Monte Carlo) – While I’ve written a more detailed review in the Double Barrel thread: http://www.vegasmessageboard.com/forums/showpost.php?p=947217&postcount=17. The overall summary is AWFUL, awful service but good food. The Pub (Monte Carlo) – Good food, good service, huge beer selection, good prices. This is the 4th or 5th time we’ve eaten here and I’m always highly impressed with the place. I had the Sheppard’s Pie and would definitely get it again. We also spent a couple hours here one afternoon watching the Blackhawks game. Bartender Stephen from Ireland was friendly, helpful, and a lot of fun. We’d tell him what kind of beer we liked, he would bring samples, we would pick one, and then he’d bring us a pint. Repeat about 5 times. Jean Phillippe Patisserie (Aria) – Wife and I both had crepes for brunch one day. I had the bananas foster and she had the salmon crepe. We waited about 30 mins as they were busy but both crepes were delicious, we would definitely return. Greenberg’s Deli (NYNY) – This is another must-stop each trip. And this trip we had it twice. The Skyhigh sandwich is one of the best, if not THE best, deli sandwich I’ve ever eaten. Had some late night pizza to satisfy the drunk belly at JJ’s Boulangerie at Paris but it was nothing special. Ate at the food court in Monte Carlo a couple of times for some quick, cheap eats too. Gambling: Nothing much to write home about. I play BJ, a little craps, video poker, and penny slots (around $1 per spin). My gambling budget was $1,500 for the trip and I planned to use the envelope strategy that serves so many VMBers well. All of my friends laughed at me saying that once I started drinking, there is no way I stick to it. I was determined to prove them wrong. So I had my envelopes all laid out and ready to go. Head down to the Bally’s casino, get 6 or 7 beers in me and blow through $200. No big deal, I still have $100 left in envelope 1 I tell myself. I look down at my phone. It’s 4:30pm. Uh oh. Blow through the “last” $100 in another hour or so. Combine that with another few beers and it’s up to the room to tear into the next day’s envelope. Sigh. Yep, my friends were right. I have no self-control. Repeat the next day and the envelope system was quickly abandoned. We did a lot of CET casino hopping on the first day and a half as this is the first time I’ve spent significant time in CET casinos besides Planet Hollywood. As a 10+ year MLifer, I was blown away by the smallness of many of the CET casinos, Bally’s especially. The selection of slots just isn’t there compared to the MGM casinos I’m used to. But we always found something to play and it never got boring but it’s like we saw the same machines over and over. Buddy and I spent an afternoon playing at Cosmo. Nothing big that will generate any offers, just a few hundred bucks. We always enjoy the place, the service, and the drinks. But don’t quite have the bankroll to get room comps like I can at low-to-mid tier places like Monte Carlo and NYNY. We had such good drink service that at one point, we had 6 drinks in front of the two of us. The waitress actually said “sorry guys but I can’t serve you until you chug a couple of those”. Who am I to tell her no? And down they went. After all of the great VP bar top discussion here, I made it a point to try it out. Where has this been all of my life? Chatting with the bartenders and basically having a bottomless drink is well worth the crappier pay tables in my opinion. Played a bunch at Bally’s and Monte Carlo. We did venture to the Linq one night. Taking in new O’Shea’s was a must for me. Our group loved that shitty little dive and it was a must-see every trip. We actually were there two years ago on the old O’Shea’s final night being open. The new O’Shea’s is tiny but lively! They had a fun band playing and the beer pong was plentiful. We couldn’t move around in there so we spent more time in the Quad and holy hell do the new casino improvements look great. They have really turned that place around. I took a pretty good beating at Bally’s/Paris in the 2 days we were there losing about 50% of my $1,500 bankroll. I had a 4 or 5 wins around $150 but nothing over that. Blackjack took $300 from me after about 2 hours of play betting $10-$15. Probably my worst blackjack run in some time and I was gun-shy about it the rest of the trip. I fared much better at the Monte Carlo and the surrounding MGM properties. No big wins but ended up flying back with over $500 of my original bankroll. I put on about 20,000 tier credits on my MLife card which was a little less than average. I normally get to Pearl in a trip and accumulate around 30,000 tier credits for a 4 night trip. But with 1 less night, lots of time at the pool, and the beating I took at Bally’s, it wasn’t a shock to me. I lost less than $300 in the process which I considered a win. We spent some time at NYNY and MGM but ignored the other MGM casinos for whatever reason this trip. Pool time: We spent 3-5 hours each of the 3 days at MC at the pool. We really enjoy their little complex with the lazy river and wave pool. I did notice a 30% increase in beer bucket prices over last year. Last year, a bucket of 6-16 oz beers was $35 ($40 after tip). This year they are $44.50 ($50 after tip). We had a helluva time as this was basically the only time the entire group was together for the trip. “Pool drunk” is part of our Vegas terminology and it definitely was applicable to this trip. One day there were two Ketel One girls handing out 2-for-1 drink cards for the day. The drinks were tasty and needless to say, we made friends with them and probably used 20 of their cards. We were having so much fun on two of the days, we closed down the pool complex after security told us it was finally time to move on. After a cloudy 70 degrees on Day 1 the weather was great each other day, around 80-85 and sunny. Summary: All in all, another good Vegas trip. Nothing crazy happened but sometimes that’s a good thing. Another trip not breaking my two cardinal Vegas rules: 1. No going to bed before midnight (even if you are pool drunk by 3pm). 2. No naps I almost broke #2 as I slept terrible the first 3 nights but I just gambled and drank the tired out of me. We typically go 3 times every 2 years but I’m hoping to schedule a return trip later this summer/fall.