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a Vegas vet's One (and only?) trip report

Discussion in 'Vegas Trip Reports' started by lmondun, Jul 30, 2013.

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  1. lmondun

    lmondun Low-Roller

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Southern California
    Trips to Las Vegas:
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    My Trip Report

    Me: Frequent Vegas visitor and regular VMB poster but first-time trip reporter. I know this will be way long, so I’ll post it in sections, starting with the pre-trip basics.

    Cautionary note 1: While reading this report, I realize that you may well find yourself thinking, “This guy needs a gambling intervention.”

    Cautionary note 2: The first day of this trip coincides with my last day at a job of 25 years, including about a dozen in middle management. It wasn’t voluntary. The severance package was good, but I am now unemployed – with no clear prospects for work – and heading to Vegas anyway. (See cautionary note 1.)


    Background:
    My longtime girlfriend and I have been visiting Las Vegas together from our home in Southern California at least five times per year for more than a decade. I play $1 and $5 slots and will bet up to $20 per spin, though I’m most comfortable at $3 to $10. GF plays penny slots and green chip blackjack. Because of my bet level, frequency of trips and willingness to run through several thousand dollars per day in coin-in, I’m currently Noir at mLife properties and Seven Stars at CET. GF plays enough to get two weekend nights comped at either company on her own, but she generally tries to get by with about a $1,500 bankroll for a long-weekend trip like this one. My total bankroll was $6,000 for this trip, though I had set aside another $2,000 as contingency. In an effort to fend off a potentially ruinous gambling binge, I use the envelope method, which means I withdraw the full bankroll from my Certegy e-check account upon arrival and split it up in envelopes based on anticipated money needed for individual gambling sessions. At the end of each session, whatever money I have left goes back into the envelope. My GF keeps the envelopes with her at all times, since I’ve proven myself unable to resist dipping into future funds if they are in my possession or even stashed away in the room safe. She also holds my credit cards for the same reason.

    This trip, July 26-30: We often meet up with friends in Vegas, and my GF’s sister (SB) and brother-in-law (JB) who live in a different part of the country joined us for this four-day stay. All four of us arrived on Friday; JB had a red-eye flight home on Sunday night, we checked out of Mirage on Monday, and my GF’s sister stayed through Monday night at Caesars before checking out and attending an off-Strip work event the rest of the week in Vegas.

    We had a dinner reservation on Saturday night at Rx Boiler Room and a reservation for the jazz brunch at Wynn on Sunday. We also checked out the new Five50 pizza joint at Aria; the rest of our meals were at old favorites such as Carnegie Deli and Mesa Grill.

    Although I will drink an occasional beer or glass of wine, my GF and her sister do not drink at all. So, anyone looking for tales of drunken debauchery in Vegas can stop reading now.

    Up-front comps: We had tickets for the group to see “Jersey Boys” at Paris on Friday night, Michael Jackson “One” at Mandalay Bay on Saturday night and “Million-Dollar Quartet” at Harrah’s on Sunday. Two of the tickets were set up as comps for each of the first two shows, and I used my accumulated Express Comps or Rewards Credits to cover the other tickets. I also had $300 in food and beverage credits for the weekend at Mirage and a $100 dining voucher to use at any one meal at Caesars. The Mirage offer also included $450 in free play; Caesars gave me $550 in free play, plus a free NCL cruise voucher to be used by July of 2014.

    Still to come: Another family member shows up unexpectedly (she’s under 25 and way adorable, if that will help keep some younger readers on board). I fall asleep in all the wrong places. A fine dining order goes awry. And the envelope method doesn’t work out so well. At all.

    Back soon with Day One.
    --
     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2013
  2. lmondun

    lmondun Low-Roller

    Joined:
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    the trip begins: Mirage, Caesars, Jersey Boys and more

    Day One: We leave early enough on Friday morning to avoid the bumper-to-bumper crawl through the desert that will follow by afternoon for anyone driving from L.A. to Vegas. Keep the cruise control set at 82 for most of the way. My GF is amped and chatty, which makes the time pass quickly. But she keeps talking about her work annoyances, and I’m not really in the mood to discuss job stuff on my first day as an unemployed person since Jimmy Carter was president. After a while, she pulls out her iPad and starts playing some games to pass the time, which is just fine with me.

    About 90 minutes from Vegas, we see the gray curtain of a thunderstorm ahead, and lightening occasionally flashes across the sky. (Guess the recent monsoons haven’t completed vacated the Vegas area.) Just before stateline, we’re in a downpour, with winds howling from left to right. By Primm, the winds have reversed direction but are still pushing hard. The wiper blades are having trouble clearing the water even at the fastest setting. And the roadway is so flooded that it’s difficult to make out the white lines between lanes. Feeling cautious, I reset the cruise control … to 75. (Gotta get to Vegas, dammit!)

    The skies clear by Jean, and it’s smooth sailing the rest of the way, despite construction related to what appears to be yet another freeway overpass being built near South Point. The casino construction business definitely lagged during the recession, but it sure seemed like the Vegas road crews did just fine the past few years.

    We arrive at the Mirage parking garage by 2:30. The VIP check-in area is not busy, but there are long lines in the main lobby. Within a minute or two, we are on our way, with two bottles of water and four coconut macaroon cookies that neither of us will actually eat. I notice there are no other snacks in the VIP lounge, as we had seen in the past. They still have free coffee and cold drinks in the refrigerators, though.

    We stop at the main cashier to withdraw $8,000 (five grand for me, three for my GF), and this amount triggers a discussion between the cashier and his manager. I’m asked whether I play slots or cards, and my answer seems to satisfy them. We get the money (leaving just $2,000 available in my Certegy account as contingency). We then drag our bags toward the elevators situated at the back of the casino, trying not to run over the clusters of tourists who gather smack dab in the middle of the walkways rather than politely off to the side. I remark that it seems to be very busy. Usually, we time our Vegas trips to avoid the worst of the Vegas heat, so perhaps late July is always this busy, but the crowds are at spring break level throughout our stay, even on Monday.

    From Mirage, we hustle over to Caesars Palace to meet my girlfriend’s sister, LB, and her husband, JB, and get them checked into their room. It’s on my comps, but the casino host pretty much told me that they are fine with me booking a room but not sleeping there. As long as I gamble my four hours a day at CET, they are happy.

    The logistics of checking in to neighboring casinos, running around to get money and pick up dining vouchers and show tickets takes about 90 minutes total, so now it’s about 5 p.m. and I still haven’t done anything that’s actually fun. Alas, no gambling for me yet, as no one has eaten more than a croissant all day, so we decide to put the $100 voucher to use at Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill. My GF is a big Food Network fan, but she doesn’t like Flay for some reason. (Was there an on-screen rivalry with Rachael Ray, perhaps?) Still, we’ve had good meals at Mesa Grill in the past, and it’ll be a first time here for JB, so she overlooks her disdain for Flay this one time.

    The meal is very good. We get a tiger shrimp tamale to share, and it’s a bit spicier than I expected but very tasty. For entrees, we go in very different directions. SB has a chopped salad and she loves it. I get grilled chicken, which is fine but a bit dry. JB has the cascabel chile crusted rabbit, which ensures that neither of the ladies will try to steal a bite. (Bunnies are too cute to eat, right?) He raves about it, and gives me a taste of the cous cous side with a bit of his sauce, which is excellent. Most happy is my GF, who gets the blue corn crusted halibut. She’s delighted with it and insists we all take a bite. She’s right: It’s a great fish dish. We also order a side of their fresh corn tamales so that everyone can taste them, even if not already featured as a side with their dish. The jalapeno butter gives them some spice, while the corn makes them sweet. Love that combination!

    We all drank soft drinks and skipped dessert. With the voucher, the total bill is only about $75, plus tax and tip.

    By the time we finish, it’s time to hustle over to Paris LV to see “Jersey Boys”. This is the second time that my GF and I have seen the show at this location, and we’d both seen it at least twice when it was at Venetian. So, yeah, we’re fans.

    Looking at the playbill, only the performer who plays Nick looks familiar to me, so the cast has changed again, I guess. By showtime, the house is about 2/3 full, with lots of empty seats along either side of the orchestra section but the second level almost full. Most of the audience is over 40, and at least a third is over 50, but I’m happy to see a few 20-something couples scattered about.

    It’s a night of firsts for JB, as he’s not seen this show before, and we try to get him excited for it without tipping too much of the plot. My GF’s sister has been meeting up with us in Vegas for almost a decade, but it took her several years of lobbying to get her husband to come along. (“If I wanna gamble, there’s a casino just an hour away,” he’d say.) Finally, he relented; I think just to shut her up. Two years later, now he’s plotting meals and shows for our next trip while still walking around in Vegas!

    Well, JB taps his feet and laughs and claps and cheers at all the right spots during “Jersey Boys.” When we leave the show, he’s smiling from ear to ear. Actually, we all probably looked that way, but the rest of us are so caught up in sharing the experience from his newbie perspective that we’re peppering him with questions about his favorite parts as we make our way back to the casino. Did you know they had so many hit songs? Whatchathinkabout that back-stage-of-the-arena view? Didn’t you love it when Nick says, “… and youuuuuuu’re Ringo …”?

    So, now it’s Friday night at about 9 p.m. and we’ve been well-fed and highly entertained. What to do? What to do? Let’s … GAMBLE!

    And that’s when things start to go bad.

    Back tomorrow with the next installment.
     
  3. Smokedegecko

    Smokedegecko Tourist

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    Oh noooooo, we gotta wait until tomorrow!?
     
  4. Film-Noir

    Film-Noir High-Roller

    Joined:
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    More More!

    Whee,
    starting to get to the good stuff!
    Can't wait!
     
  5. breanna61

    breanna61 Super Moderator

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    Off the a great start!
     
  6. AceTen

    AceTen Low-Roller

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    Ok, it's tomorrow...
     
  7. Joe

    Joe VIP Whale

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    I love it! To be cautious in the heavy rain, you slowed down to 75.:thumbsup:
     
    Christmas
    My wife's birthday
  8. dawnnut1

    dawnnut1 Tourist

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    Looking forward to the rest, fellow degenerate!
     
  9. D in the D

    D in the D Low-Roller

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    Wipers couldn't clean all the rain away...lowered the cruise control to 75. :evillaugh
     
  10. egelston2

    egelston2 Low-Roller

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    Nice start. Look forward to your thoughts on RX Boiler Room.
     
  11. lmondun

    lmondun Low-Roller

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    Part three: the gambling summary

    OK, so here’s the way I am going to rationalize what happened from Friday night to Monday evening during this Vegas trip: I earned LOTS of comps for next time.

    Did I come home a winner? No.

    Did I have to dip into my gambling contingency money? Yes. (Within the first two hours.)

    Did I blow through even more money? Yes. (The GF neglected to take my debit and credit cards.)

    How much did you end up losing? Remember my trip bankroll from part one? Double that.

    Ugh.

    I’m not going to bore you with a machine-by-machine list of exactly which slot machines took my money. Suffice it to say, it was all of them. From Paris to Caesars to Mirage on day one, and on to other casinos such as Harrah’s, Mandalay Bay, Wynn and Aria, the losing would continue for the better part of the next 72 hours. Old favorites that had paid off in the past shunned me. New slots that looked hot turned out to be teases. I bet high. I bet low. Ten-line $1 video slots. Three-reel $1 and $5 mechanicals. Forty-line quarter machines. Fifty-line nickel machines. One hundred-line penny slots. I fed hundy after hundy into the machines and took away little, if anything, for my trouble. This may have been the Vegas trip that finally persuades me to truly learn how to play cards (or go back to oh-so-boring-to-me video poker). By Monday afternoon, I could be found sitting forlornly at old 20-line penny machines, playing the minimum, just to stretch out the time till we could leave.

    And so ends the confessional interlude of this trip report.
     
  12. lmondun

    lmondun Low-Roller

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    Part 4: Carnegie Deli, big wins (for everyone else) and a weather report

    Day Two: Friday’s nightmare on slot street had lasted until after 3 a.m., and as the losses mounted, the chain-smoking had ratcheted up in the inverse. I’m one of those people who only smokes when I drink or gamble, so by the end of the night, my sinuses were raw and my head was pounding. I tossed and turned for about an hour in my usually-so-comfy-we-actually-bought-one-for-home bed at Mirage before I finally moved to the sectional couch so at least my GF could get some rest. At 7, I was wide awake. At 8:30, I got up and started checking VMB posts and email on my phone. At 9:30, the GF’s alarm went off, which was my cue to finally shower and head downstairs to the VIP lounge for “free” coffee.

    After another hour of gambling that would be best to skirt over here, we met up with SB and JB for late breakfast / lunch. Now, the lack of a real coffee shop is one of our pet peeves about Mirage, and trying to have a light lunch at Carnegie Deli on a day when we have a big dinner planned is a challenge, but their chicken matso ball soup and stuffed cabbage rolls are always a must-do on our trips with SB. She insists. We get three orders of those, and JB has a nice egg and ham breakfast. Everyone else is flying high and we have fun chatting with the waitress and each other. When we finish, I tip about 25% and the waitress makes a point of saying, “Thanks, you guys really made my day.”

    I drink lots of coffee, which barely gets me through an afternoon of continuing slot misery. I blow Saturday afternoon’s $800 envelope and the $1,000 in free play plus $500 from my debit account playing higher than I should, trying to win back Friday’s losses. Despite my woes at the machines, I’m happy to hear later about the big wins of others, particularly SB, who always seems to have a magic touch at slots. During a couple of hours on Saturday, she won $800 playing two coins on a 40-line slot. Then $300 on another penny machine. JB says he had a couple of decent hits to offset an earlier losing streak. My GF had tried some blackjack, losing a quick $200, but then inches back up at penny slots, including at least one $100 payout on a 30-cent bet. We play at Mirage and Caesars, and sometime that afternoon I notice that my tier credits have passed the 150,000 mark, which qualifies me to remain at Seven Stars until March of 2015. Hopefully, I’ll have a new source of income by then to fund one of their so-called celebration retreats!

    Unbeknownst to us beforehand, my GF’s 23-year-old niece (who is about to start graduate school in the fall) happened to be in town with her boyfriend for part of the time we were there. I will try not to sound overtly lecherous here, but it appears to that she’s used her unencumbered California summer to work out, get a great tan and, basically, remake herself into a modern-day version of the girls in those old Beach Boys songs. They were staying at Planet Hollywood, but called us up on Friday and then swung by to say hi at Caesars later that night – both looking hip, youthful and happy. I can’t help but think they’d fit right in with the rich and beautiful set that we always see lined up outside the trendy night clubs that overlook the Las Vegas Strip. By Saturday morning, they had headed home, texting later to say that there were high winds in the desert but they’d made it through OK. At one point during the weekend, our cellphones started to jingle with emergency alerts about a wind advisory, and we did get blasted with some strong gusts while taking the shortcut around the Coliseum from Mirage to Caesars at one point. But, thankfully, the unusual Vegas weather was never more than a minor annoyance for any of us during the trip.

    Time for me to rest my typing fingers. Back by tomorrow at the latest with another installment.
     
  13. Lolly

    Lolly Tourist

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    Wow, I hung on every word, your an excellent writer. I felt the rain, the not seeing the lines in the road, the people who stand in the middle of an aisle and how long it takes to move about on the strip trying to get simple things done like picking-up show tickets!

    I'm sorry about your job. I know people are still getting laid off due to cutbacks.

    Can't wait for the next installment!

    Best Regards,
    Lolly
     
  14. lmondun

    lmondun Low-Roller

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  15. Lolly

    Lolly Tourist

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    /QUOTE]
    Thanks for the kind words, Lolly. I enjoy writing but brevity is obviously not my strong suit, which is why I've never attempted a trip report in the past. Will continue to plow through this one, though.[/QUOTE]

    I smelled the food, saw the rain, felt the emotions. I'm glad brevity is not being used!

    Just keep on truckin' :)
     
  16. lmondun

    lmondun Low-Roller

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    Ha, thanks. Now it's bugging me that I misspelled "matzo" in the previous post, but I realize that's just my obsessive compulsive nature at work.

    Anyway, I'm almost finished writing about Boiler Room and "One," so will try to get the Saturday night report posted by morning.
     
  17. breanna61

    breanna61 Super Moderator

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    No....it's not you, it's the iPad....that's my story and I'm sticking to it! Keep it coming!
     
  18. lmondun

    lmondun Low-Roller

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    Good plan. Blame the equipment, not the operator!

    (And surely faulty auto-correct is the reason it says "lightening" instead of the word that means bolts of electricity above as well.)

    :thumbsup:
     
  19. Lolly

    Lolly Tourist

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    Sounds like a plan, blame the ipad, I like it. :nworthy:

    Seriously lmondun your an excellent writer, they have editors to nick-pick minor errors. I truly felt like I was there. Thank you for that!
     
  20. Kickin

    Kickin Flea

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    Great report so far but totally sucks about the gambling. We've all been there. I think your inclination to go back to cards and VP might be a good one. But the same shit can happen on the best games, just straight downhill from the start.

    I'm a big fan of Jersey Boys too. Haven't seen the Vegas one but have seen it here in NY. I'm in that under-40 crowd but I love it way more than Cirque type shows. Unlike Cirque, at the end of Jersey Boys I just immediately feel the urge to give a standing ovation. I wish they included them as part of the Diamond tickets.

    Keep it coming and feel free to post pictures of your niece if you'd like. :poke:
     
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