The occasion was my best friend's bachelor party. The only logical destination was Las Vegas. The trip for me started early on Friday morning. My friend is in law school at Baylor University in Waco and I live in Dallas (a 90 mile trip). We had decided to fly out of Austin (another 90 miles south from Waco) so that I could use a free ticket I had on Southwest. Southwest only flies out of Dallas Love Field (not DFW) and they are only allowed to fly to the 5 states that Texas borders. It's a really dumb law that was drafted to stifle competetition with DFW. I got up early after getting no sleep the night before. How does anyone ever get sleep the night before a Vegas trip? I was expecting traffic but hit none and got to Waco an hour early. After picking up bagels and Starbucks for him and his fiancee I picked him up at his house. We got on the road to Austin quickly with a fresh bag of cookies from the fiancee. After a few recitations of lines from the movie Swingers (Vegas Baby!) we settled in for the hour and a half drive. Arriving in Austin we headed to the ticket counter. We noticed quite a few large groups of attractive women. I stalked them enough to realize they'd be on our flight. Gotta love Vegas. After boarding the flight attendant announced that we had a bachelorette party on the plane and a loud cheer went up from all the men. Oh - by the way - security was no problem (for THIS leg of the trip - more on that later). The plane trips to Vegas are always fun. Lots of happy happy people. We arrived in Vegas at 2:30 in the afternoon. I love gaining the 2 hours on the flight. Eric went to grab the luggage while I checked into Bally's at the airport. Then off to the shuttles and on to Bally's. After dropping our bags off in the room we headed out. We were both starving so we decided to head to Ellis Island for the awesome steak special. It lived up to our expectations and then some. Their micro brew was also excellent. Service was extremely slow - but it's all forgiven when the bill comes. We decided to gamble a bit there to let them have a chance back at their money, but both blackjack tables were completely full and their other 4 stood empty without a dealer. Didn't seem very organized - so we left and headed back to Bally's. I had received $75 in promotional chips so I picked those up at the cashier. We searched for a non 6/5 table and finally found one. I hit a blackjack on one of my promotional chips bet. Not a bad start. The other two I lost. Oh well. After 2 soft 17's got turned into 21's we scooped up our chips and headed out of there. I love staying at Bally's, but the gambling leaves something to be desired. We headed down the road to Harrah's reveling in the fact that we were in Vegas. All the bachelor party participants were coming in at different times so we had told everyone to meet us at Harrahs. What a good decision that was! I hit the party pit and my bachelor friend and I started playing. Well - four hours later and a $1,000 richer I got up with the goofiest grin on my face. I had been playing for $20 a hand and could just do no wrong. Being the superstitious gambler I kept my chips stacked in front of me the same way during the entire time - $25 chips in one stack and $5 chips in another. At one point my stack of $25 was so high I actually had a security guard request that I put them in multiple stacks because it was attracting attention and I was playing near a door. Well - there was no way I was going to listen to him. If I had I'm sure the streak would have ended - right? By the time my miraculous run at the cards had ended everyone had arrived. We decided our first order of business would be to head to the Mirage. We did this and I played casino poker for the first time in my life. I play with guys in town all the time, but had never ventured into a poker room in Vegas. I had a blast. I got to play with a crazy old European lady that wore oversized dark glasses and cursed a lot. She was right off one of the poker shows you see on tv. I even took a big pot from her when we went one on one. Also during the game I asked for a orange juice. The waitress misheard me and brought me an Orange Julius! It was great. Just like the ones you have at the mall. I recommend it! One of the other guys didn't catch on quick to the structered betting and was berated by the dealer very rudely - often enough for him to get up and leave, but I caught on well and left my first poker game in Vegas to the plus $5. After poker was some more blackjack. I lost some here and was not impressed by the game at all. The tables were dirty and the dealers were pretty rude. One nice thing about the Party Pit at Harrah's (beside the blaring 80's music) is that the blackjack tables only have 5 spots to play at. It makes it very comfortable! Everyone had become very tired (something about being up for 24 straight hours does that to you) and we headed back to the hotel. But, on the way the super cheap breakfast at the Barbary Coast enticed us to stop and add some fat calories to our stomach. Well worth it. The next day - after 4 hours of sleep - we headed back out. We met everyone at Harrahs again and then headed to the sportsbook at the Mandalay Bay. We are all alums of Baylor and decided to watch them play Oklahoma in the book. We all put money on Baylor (me a little more then I should have - being up and all) and settled in to watch the game. Baylor was 15 point underdogs - but surely they could hang. We were sadly mistaken as they lost by 49. I placed another bet that Texas would beat Texas A & M by at least 9. That didn't happen either - they beat them - but only by 8. Maybe those guys at the sportsbook are on to something after all! After more playing at Mandalay Bay - I continued to lose. I've never had two consecutive days of good luck in Vegas. We headed back north after a quick drop in for pizza at New York New York. It was now time for the staple of all bachelor parties - the strip club. I'll spare you the details, but I made a new friend. She was from Brazil. She works at Cheetahs. I highly recommend to men that you get to know her as well. Time to head back to the strip and more gambling and more losing. There was one brief moment of excitement at a craps table. My bachelor friend had never played craps before so I took him over to the Barbary Coast. We got in on a table early and it was up and down till one guy got a hold of the dice. He started rolling and didn't 7 out for 45 minutes. My friend and I had played very conservatively, but still managed to leave with fat pockets. He is now a fan of the game - but I cautioned that those hot streaks don't come along all the time. We played more blackjack - this time with a young group of Aussies. They insulted me for being the best man of a non-drunk groom. We laughed and tried our hardest to liquor him up as good as we could, but to no avail. We were scheduled to leave Vegas the following morning at 11:40. We got to the airport at 10:50 only to be faced with the longest line at the ticket counter we'd ever seen. We got in at the end and thankfully it was moving fast. We got to the counter at 11:20 feeling good about our chances. After checking me in she turned to my friend. She started with him and then mid sentence stopped and said "I've got some bad news. I don't think....well - never mind." We looked at each not sure what to make of her statement. She said "Now - you really need to hurry!" We grabbed our tickets and carry ons and began a sprint to the terminal. The sprint lasted all of 30 seconds. The Southwest ticket counter is on the bottom floor of the airport. There is an escalator that goes to the second floor where you go through security and then get on the tram to go to the gate. We sprinted to the escalator only to be greeted by a gentleman with a stop sign. He pointed back to where we had come from. It was then that we noticed that there was a line to get on the escalator. It was then we realized that we had been helped by the most sadistic Southwest Airlines Ticket Counter person - ever! This wasn't good. We trotted to the back of the line. This is when we noticed the line at the top of the escalator that wound around the second floor of the terminal. Once again - not good. 2 hours later we arrived at the gate. Mind you - there was no extra security steps taken (I didn't have to take my shoes off or anything like that - and all the sercurity checkpoints were up and operational - there were just SO MANY PEOPLE). Much to our disappointment Southwest hadn't held the plane. The gate agent gave us the option to wait around in the terminal for a possibility to get to Phoenix. And then on to Austin - but Phoenix was also overbooked. Or we could stay another day and she could guarantee us departure the next morning. Well after approximately .128 seconds of arm twisting we took the tickets for the next day. I called Harrahs and got a free room for the night. The remaining part of the trip is a blur. We played at Harrah's and Barbary Coast. I won a little, but lost more. One interesting thing happened at Barbary Coast while we were playing blackjack. I noticed that the pit bosses where watching our table like a hawk. After about an hour I figured they were just amazed at my excellent play and ready to reward me with free meals and cigars. As it turned out - there was a card counter at our table. After he upped his bet in a big way - a female pit boss walked up to him - pushed his bet off the circle - and whispered in his ear. He collected his money and left. Pretty interesting to see. The next day we got to the airport 2 hours before departure and made it through security in only about 30 minutes. All in all - an excellent trip. Some small observations. 1. Harrahs is a great place to gamble. They hit soft 17s and make use of shuffle machines - but for the non-card counter the dealers are friendly and the tables have a lot of space. There is only 1 6/5 table there. There is a silly "Super Fun 21" table but it's easily avoided. They also have some games with shoes. Basically just a large variety of games for everyone. 2. Alladin seems to be the worst for having 6/5. We couldn't find any games that weren't 6/5 or high limits. 3. Going to Vegas with a large group of gamblers = no sight seeing, no spending of much money on food, and no spending money on drinks. We all had religous objections to spending money on alcohol - so even with the steady stream of drinks from the cocktail waitresses we didn't ever really hop on the grain train. 4. Barbary Coast is a great place to play. The average age is pretty low, the tables have great rules, and the lounge acts (including Big Elvis) can't be beat. I don't think their comp system is too generous, but still a lot of fun. 5. O'Sheas now has a $.99 snack bar that includes a shrimp cocktail. The shrimp are peel and eat and the cocktail sauce is packaged. It comes no where close to the downtown experience. But - if you can't make it downtown they aren't too bad. 6. No trip will ever top the trip that Hurricane Mikey had. I couldn't even pay - although I tried - to have the experience he had!