My brother got married in Vegas this past weekend, so our family had a rare get together in Sin City. My brother, his fiancÃ© and her family, my mother, sister, father and his wife all got into town on Friday morning. My wife and I werenâ€™t heading there until Saturday afternoon. It was extremely enticing and aggravating at the same time to constantly be getting calls from every family member telling me about how much money they are already winning and how much fun they are having while I was stuck at work wishing I could leave already! Day One Saturday, April 26: My wife had an out of town friend going to Disneyland this morning, so we started the day there, much to my chagrin. Iâ€™d much rather have left Orange County at 6 in the morning to get some more Vegas time, but itâ€™s not every day an out of town friend comes for a visit. We wound up leaving Disneyland at around 10:45 AM, gassed up the car ($3.75 a gallonâ€¦ OUCH) and headed straight up to Vegas, stopping only in Baker to get some beef jerky, water and to switch drivers. We exited the freeway on Flamingo at around 2:45, and headed immediately to the credit union on Flamingo and Harmon (?) where I withdrew $220. That was the last time I pulled out my ATM or credit card the entire trip! After getting a little lost for a few minutes trying to find the back entrance to Ballyâ€™s, we finally parked on the fifth floor of the parking structure, and met my mother and sister by the statue of the sweeping dude. My sister had checked into our hotel room for us at Ballyâ€™s on Friday, so she had our keys and we went straight up to the room. My wife and I were the only people from the wedding party staying at Ballyâ€™s. Everyone else was at Paris. When my mom and sister saw our room, they were jealous. We were staying in the older but refurbished North Tower (or as I referred to it, the â€œMGM Death Towerâ€). Our view was of Flamingo, looking down at a mini mart across the street. What was pretty interesting to watch was the monorail going by every few seconds. The room was much larger than the Paris room, but had the exact same beds, TVs and bathrooms. The hotel and casino were less crowded and the lines for the restaurants were much shorter. I would never stay at either Ballyâ€™s or the Paris. Too busy for my taste. The theming in the Paris is nice to look at, but the lines for the restaurants were ridiculous and the casinos were always crowded with poor-paying slot machines and tables that were too expensive for my tastes. Nobody had eaten yet, so we went downstairs to Le Burger Brasserie for a casual lunch. The burger was phenomenal, and at $10 a good deal for a â€œluxuryâ€ hotel. The fries were also really delicious with just the right amount of ranch seasoning sprinkled on them. After lunch we met my brother, his fiancÃ© and my father in the sports book of Paris to watch the end of the Lakers game. The Paris sports book is pretty small. Way too much seats for horse bettors and none for sports watchers. They actually had us sitting at poker tables in the back of the book area. Felt pretty unwelcoming for sports fans, like we were an afterthought or something. The Lakers won and my brother won his big bet, so we headed on to the casino floor to play some slot machines. Everyone had been having great luck so far on the â€œHot Shot Progressiveâ€ slot machines, so we headed over there and everyone took a seat on the bank. My brotherâ€™s fiancÃ© won some money, everyone else lost. I am not much of a slot machine player, so I went to look at the tables. There was nothing under $15, and blackjack was paying 6:5 at that rate, so I passed and just watched everyone else playing the slots after dumping $20 on one of my own. I tried to get some people to go with me to another casino off the strip to play some cheap blackjack or craps with decent rules, but nobody wanted to leave the resort. So we headed over to Ballyâ€™s and played a little more slotsâ€¦ I dumped another $20 and got nothing back for it, then decided to call it a day and head back to the room to get ready for dinner. We had a late rehearsal dinner at Royâ€™s. Royâ€™s is a â€œHawaiian Fusionâ€ restaurant on Paradise and Flamingo, about a mile away from the strip. The dinner here was fantastic. I had yellowtail tuna with a banana and macadamia nut crust. Phenomenal fish. The service was also top notch with very friendly and attentive waiters. I took my wife and father and his wife back to Paris where they headed to bed, then met my sister, brother and mother at the Tuscany casino off the strip. I signed up for a playerâ€™s card to get a match play coupon and five dollars free slot play. The slot play was gone in minutes, so I sat down at a â€œSuper Fun 21â€ table with my sister and brotherâ€™s fiancÃ©. Normally I try to avoid these types of tables, but as some people on this board have pointed out, really, who cares about the rules as long as you are having a good time. We had a god time. The drink service was great, the dealers were very friendly and I played for almost two hours with a net loss of $20. Speaking of friendly dealers, have casino customers completely stopped tipping dealers? I am a low budget player, pretty much sticking to $5 minimum or very rarely $10 minimum tables. I buy in with $100 and sit until I get tired, lose the mojo or run out of that initial buy in. I tip a dollar bet for the dealer at least once a shuffle plus whenever I win a blackjack, win after splitting a pair or winning after doubling down. I tip more frequently if the dealer is being helpful by adding my hand up or giving me advice about hitting or standing on questionable hands. It seems like Iâ€™m the only person in Las Vegas who does this. I donâ€™t think that my tipping is exceptionally generous, but my bankroll isnâ€™t generous either. No one else was tipping. Occasionally after I tipped one or two other players will realize they are stiffing the dealer and chip in, but it was really rare. I hope itâ€™s just because I was at low rolling tables with people who canâ€™t really afford to gamble let alone tip a dealer. While my sister, future sister in law and I were playing blackjack, my mom and brother played some wheel of fortune slots. My mom hit a $500 double diamond something or other and was really happy about that. We left the joint around 2:30 and headed back to Paris/Ballyâ€™s for some much needed sleep. Day two Sunday, April 27: I woke up at 8:00 and was eager to get going again and also pretty hungry. Today me and my wife were going to go to the Wynn to get a free buffet! The Wynn has a special right now where new slot club members get $10 free play and two free buffets after reaching 50 points. Thanks to vegasmessageboard.com, we knew a great way to quickly rack up 50 points without spending a lot of money. We took $100 and put it in a Roulette slot machine. We bet $36 on red, $36 on black and $1 on green. About one minute and $8 later, we had enough points for the two buffets. We cashed out and headed back to the slot club booth to get our buffet validated, then headed straight to breakfast! The food was fantastic! It was Sunday so they had all the Sunday Brunch fixings out. The bacon was cooked just right, the eggs very fluffy. The seafood selections were great, as were the hot items. The desserts were not gross, but did look better than they tasted. Iâ€™m not complaining though. It was a wonderful meal, and cost us a whopping $8 plus tip. Thanks Steve! We headed back to the hotel and my wife went to play some slots with my mom while I took my dad to the Gold Coast to teach him how to play blackjack. We played some double deck, had a good father-son chat, drank a few cocktails and lost a combined $45 over an hour and a half. Not a bad afternoon at all. We went back to Paris to get ready for the wedding. The wedding was in Parisâ€™ wedding chapel. The room was very beautiful with an awesome mural on the ceiling. The ceremony was short, but sweet, just as the couple had wanted it. Get through the ceremony and on to the party! We headed downstairs after pictures and had a few cocktails at the Round Bar in the Paris casino. Gambled for a couple of minutes, then headed up to a private room in the Eiffel Tower restaurant for the wedding reception. The view from the restaurant was great. We could see the fountains going off at the Belagio every few minutes. The waiters were very professional, and the service was first class. My brother isnâ€™t one to be waited on hand and foot, so we got a kick out of watching the waiters fawning over him. At one point he sat and waited to make sure there was no staff standing near the door so they wouldnâ€™t have to open it for him. When he thought the coast was clear, he got up and bolted to the door to get to the restroom, and a waiter chased after him saying, â€œLet me get that for you, sir,â€ to which my brother, took off running saying â€œNah itâ€™s cool man!â€ and shot through the room and out the door faster than a cannonball. The food was very good as well. I had a filet mignon with a potato au gratin and some sort of green vegetable that I couldnâ€™t identify but was delicious. Desert was crÃ¨me brulee and of course, wedding cake. The wine was flowing freely the whole time. I donâ€™t think Iâ€™ve ever gotten drunk off of wine before, but every time I took a sip someone refilled my glass, so who was I to stop drinking? After dinner my wife surprised me with tickets to Penn & Teller. I love their TV show, attitude and magic act, so I was very excited. The show was not disappointing at all. Penn Jillette is a very entertaining person and very smart to boot. Teller is incredible at slight of hand tricks. The show was educational, poignant and hilarious all at the same time. So much better than any large scale magic show Iâ€™ve ever seen. After the show we drove back to Ballyâ€™s, parked the car and bee-lined for the Belagio Fountains so we could catch one of the last shows of the night. It was spectacular and romantic. Very glad we got to see a night show from up close before we went home. We crossed back over and headed back up to the hotel room to call it a night. Day 3 Monday, April 28: This morning we took my dad and his wife to the Peppermill for breakfast. The Peppermill is an over-the-top coffee shop in a strip mall on Las Vegas Boulevard. The place is full of fake pepper trees, neon lighting and dayglow colors. The food is served in giant portions and cocktails are served 24 hours a day in true Vegas fashion. My wife had never been there and was impressed with the feel of the place. The food was gigantic and delicious. I had a Maseratti Omelette which had sausage, mushrooms and cheese topped with Italian meat sauce and parmesan cheese. We took my dad back to the Paris so he could pack his car and head home and met up with my brother and his wife so we could take them to the Gold Coast for some low-rolling action and BINGO! The Gold Coast is off the strip, close to the Rio and Palms casinos. Itâ€™s a nice but a little aged casino, the closest casino to the strip that offers Bingo, so it is always full of old people. Itâ€™s a lot of fun though! We had about an hour to kill before the Bingo session started. As we were walking through the casino, we all saw a gigantic bank of Indiana Jones slot machines. Since all four of us are geeky superfans, we simultaneously said â€œoooooooohâ€ and gravitated right to these machines. This was one awesome slot game, and I donâ€™t usually like slots! The music was various ominous underscores from the three movies, and every now and again video clips from Raiders of the Lost Ark would play on the screen! The bonus round is one of those bonus rounds where everyone playing gets to go through the free spins at the same time. This kept triggering while we were playing, so all four of us were having a great time. My brotherâ€™s wife wound up winning $180 after hitting a couple of progressive bonuses. I was up $40, my wife lost $5 over an hour, and my brother lost $20 over that same hour. It was a really great family bonding sort of time over these great machines! It was time to head up for Bingo. I know a lot of people reading this think Bingo and immediately think itâ€™s a game just for old ladies. Well, I happen to like playing Bingo. Itâ€™s fun to hear them cackle when they win or lose. Itâ€™s fun to sit there with a dabber wildly trying to keep up with the number caller. Itâ€™s a great way to kill an hour and a half and maybe win a little money. In fact, my brother and wife both won $46, which angered the old ladies who didnâ€™t like sharing their winnings with some young folk. Anyone who hasnâ€™t played bingo in Vegas has got to try it. Itâ€™s such a novel thing and very entertaining! We took my brother and his wife back to Paris to look at their wedding photos, and headed up to the Venetian to see the Guggenheim Museum and the new Palazzo hotel and casino. I had never parked at the Venetian. Usually I park at the Mirage and cross the street. The parking lot was ginormous and confusing. I guess thereâ€™s a reason I never parked there. The Guggenheim is closing at the Venetian, so admission is free until it goes away. Iâ€™m glad it was free because it certainly was not worth paying any money to see! There were, maybe, 20 paintings in there at most, and while some of them were stunning and required some time to investigate the detail and appreciate them. Most of them were the kind of painting that you glance at once and donâ€™t care to look into any more. The Palazzo was new and pretty, but the casino was kind of small feeling. The architecture was much more modern than the Venetian, but not really interesting. It didnâ€™t really do anything to make you want to stay and check things out the way the Wynn does. We really just breezed through it and left. We drove down the strip and parked at the MGM Grand so I could try the Sigma Derby game I read about at vegasmessageboards.com. Sigma Derby is a little mechanical horse game that used to be in a lot of Vegas casinos. All of the machines have disappeared save for the one at MGM Grand. Itâ€™s really hidden though so you have to hunt for it! We finally found it halfway between the lion exhibit and the sports book. I got a kick out of the people playing the game. They really got into it and were yelling for their horses and cursing at them when they lost. Itâ€™s a mechanical game! Yelling at the horses isnâ€™t going to make them go any faster! It was a riot. I really wanted to play craps and the only place in the area I figured would have a $5 table was at Monte Carlo, so we breezed through New York, New York and headed up that-a-ways. When we got there we found that a large restaurant playing extremely loud music had been placed in front of the Monte Carloâ€™s entrance. Whose idea was it to put this restaurant here? It makes it so people have to hunt to find the entrance to the casino. You have to go around a corner to get into the place through a door that is now completely hidden. The loud music was also scaring off a lot of the Monte Carloâ€™s targeted clientele. They should tear that restaurant down right away! Inside, the Monte Carlo was deserted. I donâ€™t think there were more than 100 people playing in that casino. Still, it was fully staffed and there were a lot of employees walking around trying to find something to do and being extra friendly to the customers. My wife played some slots while I blew through $30 playing some $5 craps. I was up about $75 at once and increased my bet only to see everything disappear. From now on I am gambling jus tot have fun. No need to increase the bet. Itâ€™ll just send me home earlier! While we were winning I was placing $2 pass bets every roll for the dealers. Nobody else was tipping. There are three dealers working that table, and people did not feel the need to show them any love even though they were winning. Thatâ€™s really sad. The dealers were very nice too, and appreciative of the tokes. It was 6:30 in the evening and finally time to go back home to real life. We had a very busy weekend, ate some really good food and did quite a bit of gambling over three days while spending only $220 between the two of us plus another $100 for show tickets. Thatâ€™s a really good three day weekend in my opinion. I think next time I go to Vegas though Iâ€™d like to spend a little more time relaxing. I feel like we never stopped going from place to place doing things and didnâ€™t have any time to relax in the room or take a time out and veg for a bit watching a movie or something. Hope this thing was interesting enough to keep you reading this far!