I just got back from an incredible trip. The group consisted of 7 of us, most of whom have either worked together or I have done business with in the past. Age of the group ranged from 40-50 and participants were from all over the country. Hope you like my trip report as it’s the first one I have done in over 5 years. I do apologize right up front for the length any political incorrectness you might take offense to. We were all originally scheduled to arrive on Thursday. I ended up with a short-notice business trip to San Francisco Tuesday and Wednesday so I ended up arriving late Wednesday night. We had 4 rooms at Aria for $109 (for me for Wednesday), $109, $179, $179. This was inclusive of the resort fee. As it turns out, a number of our group had to do some work on the Internet, myself included, while there and also used the gym so I think we actually got our money’s worth on the fee. I had never stayed at Aria before but thought the rooms were fantastic. Check in went very smooth with a great guy helping me out. I had three of the reservations in my name and he was very thorough in ensuring it was all set up correctly so when the others arrived, they could just check in with Invited Guests. He also made sure he tied my MLife card to the room so I would also get credit. He was able to upgrade me to a higher floor with a better view and it was worth the $20 I gave him. Wednesday 3/13 – Starting my Weekend Early I didn’t arrive until close to 11pm after connecting through LAX since American doesn’t fly direct from SFO. My original thought was to just go to my room and get some sleep before the others arrived but you know that wasn’t going to happen. I got to my room and then headed back down. One side note. While in Northern California, I decided to warm up with some poker at one of the local casinos in the East Bay. I got on a great roll and left up over $1,000. There’s nothing like starting off a trip to Vegas with some extra padding in the bankroll. The casino was packed and rocking for a Wednesday. Played some roulette and some Blackjack with no luck and ended up giving back about $500 of my winnings from the night before. I got to bed about 1am with nothing of note to report. Thursday 3/14 – The Fun Begins My plan for today while waiting for the others to arrive was to play some poker. I woke up early and hit the room and was surprised to see they only had $1-3 tables going. Sat down and immediately realized that most of the table were still playing from the night before and were still drinking. While this is normally a good table to be at, they weren’t in the mood to give away their chips but rather more focused on just talking and slowing the game down. At least they finally opened up a $2-5 table and I could escape. I won a couple of hundred and then met up with my brother and we kept playing until about noon. I had 2-1 buffet as part of my deal with Aria so we decided to go for lunch. I thought it was really good, although I am not a buffet connoisseur. And since it was 2-1 for me, the cost was low. (It became even lower at checkout as they didn’t charge me for it at all.). After lunch, we hit the Blackjack table and had a great session. Great dealer named Francisco. He was laughing because the other dealers were calling him the Pope after the recently named new Pope from Argentina. This of course, led my brother, who has no filter, to declare that he had a great idea for a t-shirt. “I got a BJ from the Pope”. Of course we lost the next 3 hands after that declaration so probably the wrong thing to say. Session was so so and just broke even. While waiting for some of the others to arrive, we decided to waste time and play some Casino War for the sheer stupidity of it as the table was near the front. It is truly idiotic. While we were playing, there was a very rough lady in the number 1 seat who just kept winning. My brother said, “Wow, you’re pretty good at this.” and she responded, “Yeah, I played a lot of War when I was in jail.” Way too much information to share and then she proceeded to give us all of the details of her incarceration. I couldn’t color up fast enough. After the other boys got there, we hit the floor again. I decided to play some roulette. I found a table that had been hitting a lot of my numbers and went to work. Put $5 on my 10 numbers, and hit 2 in a row. Bumped my bet to $10 and hit. Kept it at $10 for a few more spins and hit 5 in a row. After I missed a couple of numbers, I hit again and then put out $15 for one last spin and hit. I hit 7 out of 9 spins which I have never done before. After missing a few more, I colored up with my first Yellow chip of the weekend, up $1,300 off my $300 buyin. We had some drinks and watched some basketball, and I even won some money betting on Michigan, which killed me, just hanging out and then went over and grabbed some dinner and drinks at Todd English PUB. Just had appetizers but food was great as were the cocktails. We sat out front in the beautiful weather. The rest of our group arrived and we once again hit the floor. I played some more roulette and was getting killed. I burned through $300 in about 3 spins and was a little on tilt so I put out $20 per number on my 10 numbers. Guy next to me said, “Oh, you like 6? That’s my birthday” and put a $25 green chip on it. His wife walked up and said what’s going on, and he replied, “Number 6 is coming up right now.” And you guessed it. It hit 6 and we were all quite happy. After that, out whole group took over a blackjack table and had a riot. Lots of drinks were flowing and we were just laughing the whole time. Well, at least the players were laughing. We had Pat the cyborg dealer and couldn’t get her to crack a smile to save her life. If she would have shown any level of emotion or personality, she’d have made a $1,000 that night off tips as were in that kind of mood. One funny moment was when we were debating whether to double a hand and my friend Steven, who is from Korea, said, “You have to double that. And I know because I’m Asian.” Very funny at the time. Finally ended up a couple of hundred on the session and went to bed late. Friday, 3/15 – A Craps “Don’t Pass” Virgin No More Woke up early as always and went downstairs. Had breakfast at Café Vettro in Aria with standard Casino coffee shop fare. Very good though. Started playing Blackjack with one of the most fun dealers I have ever had. So much personality and knew what she was doing. One time, a new player was unsure where to put a bet out for her, the dealer. She said, I like my bets like I like my men…On Top.” And then she topped off his stack with her bet. She said that is her good luck spot. I started winning and winning and had moved up my bets to Black chips. She of course came back with “Once you go black, you never go back.” Just a very enjoyable morning of Blackjack and I won big. Colored up over $2,000 for a double Yellow Chip morning. I have been on a huge roll so far and am now up over $3,000 for the trip including my poker win before I got to Vegas. By this time, the others were up and we went to lunch. We went to Julian Serrano in Aria. It was excellent. We all had a couple of tapas we picked for sharing and while not cheap, it was quite good. I surprised everyone by paying since I was way up. After messing around for a while, we end up at Planet Hollywood and decide to play some craps. You know how you get to a table that shows promise and then you realize how annoying some of the other players are and you should just leave? Well, this was that table but didn’t figure it out until I was down a quick $300. These annoying girls were at one end of the table and up walks this guy with a suit on and mirrored sunglasses…at 3 o’clock in the afternoon. That’s when we decided to play the “Don’t” side. I have actually never done that before but it seemed an optimal situation. We started it and literally went around 3 times before it turned. I even played the “Don’t” when I was rolling and it worked. By the last roll, I had max odds on the “Don’t Pass” and also layed $150 each on No 4 and 10 and hit. Cashed out about $800. We came back, played a little more at Aria and I got beat up giving back about $600 of my winnings. We chilled for a while and then met up for dinner at American Fish in Aria. What a beautiful restaurant. I was a little disappointed in my fish but the others loved it. Medium expensive as are most places in City Center but no worries. We are on vacation. Afterward, we headed over to the Bellagio and hung out and played some more. My winning streak was obviously at an end as I gave some more back so I just stopped playing for the night. Quite the interesting crowd of 20-somethings in line at Bellagio to get in “The Bank” Don’t these girls have friends that tell them how bad they look in that skin-tight dress? Saturday 3/16 – Basketball and Poker at Caesars Woke up early and my Brother and I headed to Caesars to hang out. Started playing some NL $1-3 and then they were starting their 9am tourney. We decided to play. I played for a while and then went out after the rebuy period. My brother kept going and made the final table. Top 5 get paid. He ended up in the final 3 and since they were all about equal, they chopped and each made $530. Not bad off of a $70 buyin. By this time, it was lunch and we went to Sushi Roku in the Forum Shops. Outstanding sushi and I highly recommend. Did a little shopping there and then went back to the sportsbook for the early afternoon basketball games. Saw my Buckeyes beat Michigan State and cover so that made me very happy. Then we were back to the Bellagio. I played a little with no luck so headed back and after showering, decided to hit the tables for a little before dinner. Had another successful session at Craps and Blackjack and once again got another yellow chip. Dinner was at STK at the Cosmopolitan. It was outstanding. This place is very loud and crowded but the steaks and cocktails were just excellent. Our waitress, Amee, was awesome. And her being gorgeous didn’t hurt either. Luckily, she had a personality to match. One of the best steaks I have had in a long time. Not cheap though but I still highly recommend. Once back at Aria, sat down again for some more Blackjack but my mojo was gone. I lost a quick $500 and then another $500. Others were winning so we just stayed and hung out. My friend Dave wanted me to go play poker but I was exhausted after the three nights. Of course he went over to the tables and got in a crazy game and cashed out $1600. More interesting though is that he was sitting right next to Kate Hudson, the actress and her fiancé, the lead singer from the band Muse. They had a riot. So sorry I missed it. Early flight the next day so I checked out early and got to the airport to a huge mass of people at security. My first win of the morning is I found the TSA Pre line which is a streamlined security process I qualify for due to all of my travels. There was no one in that line at all and I got to bypass the 1,000 or so others in the regular line. Then, I get to the gate and found out I was upgraded for the flight home to Chicago. Finally, one of my Vegas traditions is to throw $20 in a machine at the airport on the way home. I hit 4 10s on a Video poker machine and won $50. Last score of the trip. Overall, I came home a winner of just under $2,800 in total, more than paying for my trip. I didn’t get into a lot of the details of my traveling companions as there were 7 of us but it was the perfect mix of personalities for a trip to Vegas. We laughed continuously and just had a great time. We have already set dates for the same group for next year. Observations • There is no shortage of people willing to pay up for great meals and expensive cocktails. All of the high end bars and restaurants I went to were packed. • While Cosmopolitan is a beautiful casino and certainly has many beautiful sites to behold as you walk through there, I wasn’t a big fan. Loud and crowded and I didn’t like the low ceilings in the casino. Just my opinion. • Aria is definitely less smoky than any other casino we were in. In addition, with being set back from the street, you don’t get the steady parade of tourist gawkers walking through and it doesn’t get as crowded like Bellagio or Caesars. Also, I found the service level to be outstanding at Aria and I’m definitely not a high roller. • And contrary to some comments on this board and recent street violence events that started there, Aria is absolutely, positively, not overrun with “thugs and gangsters” as some contend. The crowd was great and I will absolutely stay there next time. It’s always fun to come home a winner. Can’t wait to go back again. Hope this wasn’t too long for you.