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Birthday Trip Report

Discussion in 'Vegas Trip Reports' started by jazzguy, Mar 22, 2008.

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  1. jazzguy

    jazzguy Low-Roller

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2006
    Messages:
    268
    Location:
    Texas
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    19

    My Trip Report

    This trip was planned many months ago to celebrate my turning 50. I don’t like this whole aging process thing, but it does beat the alternative. Checked prices on Expedia for several months until the price dropped. Normally we stay at the hotel with the best deal, but this was the birthday trip so the Golden Nugget was the hotel of choice. The plan was for me and my wife to meet our son and his girlfriend at LAS. Our neighbors are arriving the next day. It is the first time in LV for son’s girlfriend and our neighbors. I wanted to show the newbies as much as possible. Told them to bring their most comfortable pair of shoes, and warned them that nothing was too tacky or too sleazy for LV.

    Saturday, March 15
    We like to fly out early to have breakfast in LV and have most of the day there. We flew from DFW on US Air non-stop. First time we have flown that airline. No problems- flight was on time. I print trip reports to read on the flight, it makes the trip go by quicker and gives me more last minute ideas. Our son and his girlfriend flew in from Austin on Southwest and came in about ten minutes before we did. We met in baggage claim and headed to the rental car center. Since there would be six of us, I rented a mini van from Thrifty. A few minutes later we were headed for the strip. I always enjoy taking newbies on that first ride up the strip. Let’s face it; words can never fully describe the massive size of the resorts on the strip. You just have to see them in person to appreciate their size and the over the top décor.

    After making it most of the way up the strip, we turned right and made the way to Koval. Breakfast at Ellis Island is a great way to start our trip. Having the $3.99 steak and eggs special with a bloody Mary makes realize I am in Vegas. We all try the $5 blackjack match play from the placemats after, but the dealer gets a blackjack. We were ready for some low rolling so we headed out to Boulder Highway. First stop was Jokers Wild. It was very smoky, which would be a problem as the trip went on, Started at the $2 craps table where son’s girlfriend had a great roll. Everyone at the table except the dark side bettor loved her. She was introduced to craps only a couple of months ago in New Orleans. She tuned $20 into $180 on that trip and is now hooked on craps. Craps would be good to us on this trip (Thank you, Falcon Rob). Made a profit from that session but lost some of it on blackjack and video poker. Wife played VP. After a couple of beers here I made the wise decision to hand the van keys to my wife.

    After Jokers Wild we made it to El Dorado in downtown Henderson. Another smoky place. This is the place for low roller craps. They have a $1 minimum with 10X odds. We came out ahead, but not as good as the session at Jokers Wild. After a couple hours there we made our way downtown to check in. We spent the first night at El Cortez since a Saturday night at the Nugget was more than the next four nights combined. I had made the reservation on the website and did not know much about the rooms at El Cortez. The room was on top of the parking garage and felt miles away. The door had a gap in it that let in a lot of the wind, and looked as if a hard push would easily open it. Wife did have to say anything, one look at her face and I could tell she was terrified. A call to the front desk and we were told we could upgrade to the tower for $20. They sent a bellman to take us to the new room. It was a much better quality room. We were so pleased with the upgrade that I gave the clerk $10 on the way out.

    We went to Golden Gate for 99 cent shrimp cocktails, then across the street for fried Twinkies and Oreos. We ordered one of each as a bite or two goes a long way. They may be the unhealthiest food item ever created. We then made it to the strip to look around. It was packed. The plan was to valet at Caesar’s but they were full. I then remembered the trick of parking at the Fashion Show Mall after 9 PM and walking over to TI. We walked around TI for awhile then made it to the Mirage. It was cold that night and it the club going gals had their flimsy outfits on. I am not complaining, but they must have been freezing as the outfits were more appropriate for the summer months.

    We played some video poker at the Mirage bar. The bartender reminded us that we must play full coins to receive comped drinks. After being in the locals places where they treat you like gold if you tip, this was something completely different. It is because of this that I sightsee on the strip, but save my play for downtown and the locals’ joints. We were starting to wind down after a long day so we made it back to downtown. The girls headed back the rooms while I and my son went to Main Street station. A BBQ chicken pizza and a beer at the 777 Brewpub hit the spot. We had a swim through several casinos looking for cheap blackjack. We could not find much (except for the 6-5) and ended up back at the El Cortez. They had a $3 table that paid 3-2 the way mother nature intended. We played for awhile until we both realized that we were so tired that it was difficult to add up the values of our cards. It was time to call it a night.

    Sunday, March 16
    This was the day for the neighbors to arrive. They called very early to say the flight had been delayed. It gave us plenty of time to lounge around, get packed and check out. I had been telling the neighbors about all the great values in LV and wanted to show them some. The day before we had picked up the Freemont street experience coupons. My son and his girlfriend felt I knew way too much about LV by the fact I knew to take the parking garage elevator to the second floor and through the unmarked door for the coupons. They likened it to a drug deal.

    We picked up the neighbors at the airport with no problems and made the ride through the strip to downtown. The traffic is lighter in the mornings, which makes this route possible. We end up at Main Street for the champagne brunch. The coupon sheet has a buy one, get one free for this. It was a great value for $5.50 a person. The guys then get to pee on the Berlin wall. We go back to the Jokers Wild for more low rolling. Back to the craps table but the best we could do was break even. Our neighbor hit a machine for $100. Then it was back to the smoky El Dorado and $1 craps. By this time the smoke was getting to me and I had to start taking allergy medicine. This sucked because you can’t have alcohol immediately after taking, so it was diet coke for me. Some good rolls and we leave with a small profit.

    Then it was back to downtown to check into the Golden Nugget. We were booked into the south tower. I have never tried the $20 trick before. My felling in the past is that we spend so little time in the room that it did not seem to matter much. Since this was the birthday trip I decided to try it. I put a twenty between the driver’s license and credit card just like I had read about on many trip reports. I stepped up and asked if any upgrades were available, handing her the cards. She grinned and let the twenty fall to the desk. It was obvious she had been through this before. After typing for a couple of minutes she said they were full because of spring break and the NCAA tournament and nothing was available. She gave me back the twenty. The south tower was a long walk, but not as bad as the time we stayed at MGM. The room was nice and a great value through Expedia.

    We were hungry by this time and in the mood to try something new. I had recorded a show about Vegas dining on the Fine Living network and made copies for everyone on this trip to watch before we came to LV. One spot we all agreed on was Firefly. It is a tapas bar. For those of you not familiar it is a Spanish bistro type place that specializes in appetizers along with sherry and sangria. Instead of entrees, you order many of these small plates of food and pass them around. This was the culinary highlight of the trip. The food was outstanding, the service was great. The bacon wrapped smoked almond stuffed dates were addictive. (I have to learn how to make these, if anyone has a recipe please post it- they would put wings to shame at a sports watching party) It was great way to try new foods since you only get a few bites on each plate. Everything we tried was great. We went through a couple of pitchers of sangria, which they make themselves by steeping with fruit for three days. This is a great place for group as the passing of the plates and sharing makes for a sociable experience. Our son has lived in Europe and got to experience the real thing in Spain, and he was impressed with Firefly. It was around $30 a person including the sangria. The Spaniards have the right idea with this concept.

    After the meal it was time to take the first timers to the strip. We went to the valet at NYNY and walked though the casino for a while. We then made our way across the bridge to the tram for Mandalay Bay. We went sightseeing showing them the bar at Rum Jungle and the wine tower at Aureole. The girls wanted to try some of the slots while we guys tried the multi blackjack machines. This was the first time I have seen these. You play up to seven hands at a time. It was a dollar per hand at Mandalay Bay, with the option of playing 100 units on each hand! Seven hundred dollars for one play and this is not even the high roller area. I about broke even playing only one unit per hand. The table minimums were too high for me at this place. I have been in here several times on previous trips, and there always seems to be no energy in this casino. There were lots of tables with no players on them, and the ones with players looked as if no one was having fun. I am curious if anyone else senses this vibe at Mandalay Bay.

    We then made our way to the Luxor and Excaliber. They both seemed to have a lot more energy than Mandalay Bay. My neighbor is a huge Cowboy fan and had to check all the sports books out along the way and see the odds for next years big game. After Excaliber everyone was tired so we headed back to downtown. My son spotted a $5 craps table at the Nugget with no one on it. We hopped on and had a couple of good rolls. Others showed up and the minimum was raised to $10, but we were grandfathered in. We played a little longer but left while we were still ahead. I went on to bed while my wife stayed up to play slots and VP.

    Monday, March 17
    I got up early and walked down to El Cortez where everyone else was staying. Ran into my neighbors in the casino where they were playing slots. They had never played blackjack so I helped them with their $5 match plays they had received upon checking in. I played with them even though I did not have a match play. The dealer had a blackjack. I then played Baccarat for a few hands before my son came down. He and I went to the blackjack table where I sat with another guy who was celebrating his 50 birthday also. It has always been strange for me to be celebrating St Patrick’s Day since I do not have any Irish blood in me. I am of mostly Scottish decent with some Welsh and English thrown in. But I will be a good sport and make the switch from Scotch whisky to Irish whiskey for the day.

    It was back to Ellis Island since the neighbors had not been there. She likes her steak rare and they brought it out with no pink in what so ever. She sends it back and tells them she likes it very rare. The next one is even more done than the first. Defeated, she goes ahead and eats that one. We again try the $5 match play. I put a dollar down for the dealer to create some positive mojo. The dealer gets a blackjack. We drive over to the Fashion Show Mall to visit the Tix 4 Tonight to check on the shows. Wife and I are the only ones to have seen a Vegas show before. I was hoping that Jubilee would be available since it is an all purpose show. My son and his girlfriend have been to Broadway a few times and are big fans of those type shows. They really wanted to see a Cirque show, and I had warned them that you had to buy those in advance. Sure enough, there was not much available and the line was very long. We had to go to the restroom and followed the signs up to the third level food court where the closest one was. There we made a discovery. There was another discount ticket place in front of the food court. There was hardly any line and it was self service, much like the ones in the grocery store. What a find. I told my son that I would have to share this with the message board, and he warned me that if I did it would be crowded also. I explained to him that it was in the Vegas message board’s code of conduct that we had to share these things. Now all of you know about it. They did not have much either, but we would be back.

    We toured Wynn, Palazzo and Venetian without playing any. We passed all the high end shops and it occurred to me that I never observed anyone purchasing anything in those shops. There were a few looking but no one buying. I am sure the markup is so high that if they sell one shirt they can cover a day’s overhead. We make our way over to TI where I play about the only slots for me on this trip. I am not much of a slot player as they don’t seem to like me. The TI has some nickel progressives on the north side by the sports book. It was up to $50,000 for a five coin spin. I put in twenty and played for 30 minutes. Alas, no $50,000 for me and the twenty was gone.

    The group decided to see the Viva Vegas show we had coupons for from the Freemont coupon sheet. My wife and I had seen it when it was at the Stratosphere and you had to buy an overpriced drink for admittance. This time it was completely free. The show was OK and I can not argue with the price. Our son and his girlfriend were by far the youngest in the crowd. After the show everyone was hungry so we used the buy one get coupon for the diner at Four Queens. The food was acceptable at best, and we would have been upset had we paid full price. Went back to the room to freshen up and change clothing since the evenings were cool. I had planned on taking the newbies for more touring of the strip, but when we got downstairs the group decided they wanted to drink and gamble downtown. Who am I to argue? We went to the Golden Gate for craps and Irish whiskey. The table started out slow but soon heated up. It was a fun atmosphere with the dealers and the box man cutting up with us. I even hit a hard way for the dealers. We stayed for several rounds of the dice making it to all the players. Drink service was excellent. The only bad part was our neighbor saw how well we were doing and decided to try craps. She got in on some cold rolls between the hot ones and quickly lost all her buy in. My son, his GF and I left with a nice little profit. We ended up at Main Street on the blackjack table. We could not catch any cards and lost a lot of what we had made on the craps table. Went to the 777 for the midnight $1.50 beers with pizza and nachos. The food was good as always. While Main Street is a great place to eat, the vibe at the tables was not so great. It was not nearly as fun as the Golden Gate. So we headed back to the Golden Gate for more craps. This time the table was cold as ice and I lost the rest of the profits from the earlier session. It was about 1:30 AM and we were exhausted.

    Tuesday, March 18
    This was our neighbors last day. Our son and his GF wanted to sleep in, so the rest of us went to MGM for the breakfast buffet. We made it to the tail end of breakfast- they were putting out the lunch items as we were finishing up. The food was very good and made for a nice final Vegas meal for the neighbors. We made the trek from MGM to the Planet Hollywood. We ran into the porn card passer outers and I told my neighbors that it is really not a trip to Vegas until you have had this experience. This was my first time in since the changeover and I was impressed. They seemed to be going after a Palms/Hard Rock feel to attract a younger crowd. I really liked the hot tub in front at the Hawaiian Tropic Café. We then made a swim through the Paris; Bally’s and ended at Caesars. Son and GF took the Deuce to Caesars to meet us. It was time to take the neighbors back to the airport. We had heard of bad weather at DFW so we called the airline. There flight was on time so we got them to the airport.

    My wife needed to get some work done on her nails and we had seen a place in the back of Bally’s. I went to the Valet at Bill’s and the plan was for the rest of us to play at Bill’s while she was getting the nail work done. We spotted the sign at the Weston for the $3 craps happy hour. I had never been to the Weston and decided to walk down there. On the way over there were plaques in the sidewalk with the names of jazz greats. I tried to figure out why they were here with nothing to draw attention to them. Then the 15 watt light bulb over my head went off and I realized this is where Bourbon Street used to be. The first thing I noticed at the Weston was sign claiming this was a smoke free facility. The next thing I notice were the ashtrays at the slots. We were early for the craps so we played VP until the table opened. We were some of the first on the table and son’s GF had another great roll. The other players nicknamed her ATM after she rolled three sevens and a yo on a come out roll. She made several points and we each double our hundred buy in. I even hit another hard way for the dealers.

    We went back to the hotel to get cleaned up for the evening. Since we did not make it to a nice restaurant for my birthday, our son wanted to take us somewhere nice. Bootlegger’s has always been on my list of places to try, but I have never made there. We did not have reservations, but they said they could seat us in about twenty minutes. We went to the bar and I had The Macallan
    12 year old. Always a great choice. We were seated and the brought some outstanding garlic bread bites. I could have eaten 500 of these. We ordered our food, pasta dishes for all. We had a bottle of Antinori Tuscan Red that was a perfect match.

    After the meal we went Just Jazz nightclub. I believe it was Coaster Kikky that posted the news concerning this place. I immediately put on the list of must sees. We arrived about fifteen minutes before the set was to begin. There was no cover but they had a two drink minimum. I had an Old Fashioned made with Woodford reserve. The place showed promise as they had pictures and album covers of greats like Charlie Parker and Miles Davis on the wall. I was settling in for a night of jazz. The 8 piece band came on and played a jazzy version of the theme from Peter Gunn. Then a singer came on and they proceeded into some early Motown hits. It was good, but it was not jazz. It was like going to a steak house expecting a nice steak dinner, and having Chinese food brought out. It is still good, but you had your heart set for something else. We left before the end of the first set.

    Wednesday, March 19
    None of us are normally big breakfast people. So after several days of having large breakfasts, a cup of Starbucks and a bran muffin did the trick. This was spa day for wife and son’s GF. I do not get the whole cucumber slices over the eyes, mud and hot rocks thing; but it always puts my wife in a good mood. We dropped them off and set out for Slots A Fun. My son made his first trip to Vegas last to work a trade show and had a fun night there, so he wanted to visit it again. We had coupons for the buy $15 worth of chips for $10 deal. A sign on the cashier’s cage explained that we had to get a voucher at that cage, take it to the Circus Circus cage to redeem. Forget that, stand in two lines for five dollars. We walked around and the only spots available were at the 6-5 blackjack tables. So we observed the 6-5 boycott and went to Circus Circus for some craps. The table was cold and the dealers unfriendly. I usually make bets for the dealers, but they were so unfriendly and it was not a fun atmosphere to play in so I made none. Dealers with fun personalities can make even a losing session fun and so I normally do not mind making bets for them, but that was nit the case here. Plus it was smoky and I had to take more medicine.

    I wanted to try a local’s place that I had never been to so we went to the Cannery. The tables seemed high for a locals place so we left. We made our way to Jerry’s Nugget. Hardly anyone was there, but they had cheap craps. We had a blast playing. Had some good rolls too. The dealers were just the opposite from Circus Circus. We made many bets for them and even hit a hard way for them. You could tell they do not get many tips and were very appreciative all we did for them. The only draw back was that the drink service was terrible. We then went back to the secret ticket outlet by the food court at the mall. We decided to do the double by seeing an early and a late show.

    We picked up the girls and we were all ready for something to eat. The wife and I love the Hard Rock’s $7.77 steak and shrimp deal and our son tried on his visit last year. So it was off to there where I had to sneak in since they only allow the beautiful people in the Hard Rock. It was funny in valet to see all the expensive sports cars while we pull up in the mini van. The meal was good as expected. We go back to the hotel to clean up and change for the shows.

    My requirements for a show are minimal. Hot chicks in thongs means the show gets five stars in my review. Everything else in the show is extra. We were set to see Folies Bergère at the Tropicana and cross the street to NYNY to see Zumanity. We were seated in the Tropicana theater and were told we could leave before the show started to get drinks. My son and I thought why pay when we could go to the bar and get comped drinks for playing VP. I put twenty in, played for a few minutes, got my drink and cashed out at $20.75. A 25 cent drink including tip. I figured I would not get a single malt comped drink so I ordered Chivas and water. When I got back to the table at the show I realized the bartender had the last laugh. He must have used a thimble to measure the drink. It was scotch flavored water. The show was the ‘covered’ show since it was the early one. You could tell the comedian had probably toned it down too. After the show we walked around the Tropicana for a while. I had read reports about aggressive hookers hanging out here, and was so disappointed not to find any.

    We made our way to NYNY and to the Zumanity theater. It was an erotic and funny show, but the contortionist made me a little uncomfortable. Both shows met my minimal requirements. On the way back to downtown, our son and GF wanted to see the Palms. Just like the Hard Rock it was funny seeing our mini van with all the expensive sports cars. We played some VP and had a late night snack in coffee shop. Wife stayed up to play some VP and slots at the Nugget while I went up to the room. As I made my way to the south tower elevators a woman flagged me down while she was at the slot machine. I was very tired and was racking my brain as to who she was. She was acting like she knew me. When I got closer she smiled and asked if I was ready for my massage. I politely declined and went to the room. I did not know massage therapist worked that late.

    Thursday, March 20
    More Starbucks and bran muffins for breakfast. Played at the LV club and Plaza for a few minutes. For some reason, I have never been able to win at the Plaza. This losing streak goes back to the late eighties. If I were smart, I would stop playing there. We requested a late checkout from the Nugget but we were denied because they were booked. We checked out at 11:57. A couple of days earlier someone gave me a tip about using the parking garage when staying in the south tower. It is much closer that using the valet. We had some excitement a couple of days before while waiting for the parking garage elevator. Workers were removing a palm tree next to the entrance when they lost control of the cut down tree. It slammed against the awning and knocked down a sign, which was hanging by the electrical cord. Had the wife been standing three feet over, we may have owned part of the Nugget.

    After check out we made our way back to Jerry’s Nugget. We played some blackjack and lost a little. Then it was time for more craps. I gave my wife some chips to play as she rarely plays the tables. This time I had a good roll. At one time the point was an eight. Since I had hit the hard ways bet for the dealers before, I made the bet again and included myself. I know Falcon Ron said to stay away from the center bets, but it was just a dollar. My son did the same bet for the dealers and himself. The couple of other players also put chips on the hard eight. I rolled the hard eight and the table erupted. Players and dealers were cheering. We all won and it was a great feeling. Wife and I lest the table so she could leave a winner. I am trying to get her more into the table games and walking away a winner will help. Again the dealers were great and the drink service lousy. It really did not matter for me as I was on so much sinus medicine by this point all I could have was diet coke.

    We went back Bally’s as the girls wanted crepes from Paris and shopping at the Miracle Mile. We had salads for lunch in the back of Bally’s across from the sports book. The sports book was a mad house as the NCAA tournament was going on. Since I do not keep up with basketball, I refrained from making any wagers. After the crepes, the girls went shopping while my son and I went to the craps table at the Weston. We were in the middle of a hot roll when I was taught a very valuable lesson. My son was next to dealer and I was next to him at the curve. There was a space between me and the other players. An elderly woman stood next to me and was leaning over to watch the roll. She looked rough, but after spending time in the local’s places I was used to that. She seemed to be waiting for the point to be made so she could enter the game. She then said I will take the hard ways. The guys next to her shouted that she had stolen some of my chips. My son had also seen it, but I had not. The pit boss asked me and I told him that I had not seen but that others had. She said that she already had them and this was all BS. She stormed away. I thought about grabbing her arm but figured security would stop her. Wrong- out the door she went with my 4 one dollar chips. They asked me if I wanted to file a complaint, at first I said yes but then realized it was not worth the time filling out the paperwork for $4. Besides I had to get my son and his GF to the airport. Lesson learned; always keep your hand on your chips while playing. At least it was only the $1 chips I had on the outside.

    After dropping them off at the airport we headed to the double top secret casino that Mikey deals at. Did not see him at first so I got on the craps table. Lost a little and left the table. I spotted Mikey at the Pai Gow table and sat down to play. Had a nice visit until it was break time. After his break he was at the $5 blackjack table. Sat down and had a wonderful time playing. I have to give him his due- he is a very good dealer that keeps the table lively. I like the way he tells the total of each hand to keep the game moving along. The players responded by taking care of him. It was a nice way to finish off the trip.

    We had the 12:40 AM return flight home. The positives were getting to spend the entire last day in Vegas and the short lines at the airport. But we had to give back the two hours we gained on the way out, which put us in DFW at 5:00 AM. That day was a series of naps and trying to get back on some kind of schedule.
    Thanks for sticking with this report if you made it this far.
     
  2. jgates8

    jgates8 VIP Whale

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    Made it all the way thru and enjoyed every word. Can't wait until I actually feel like I am in Vegas when the car points its way up the strip and I am stuck in traffic!!!
     
  3. DonD

    DonD Super Moderator

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    Thanks for a well done report Jazzguy.
     
  4. dscs007

    dscs007 Tourist

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    Enjoyed your trip report Jazzguy. Can't wait till it's my turn.

    David
     
  5. sunni

    sunni VIP Whale

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    Fun report...thanks. :thumbsup:
     
  6. mikenhe

    mikenhe VIP Whale

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    excellent write up - sounds like you had a lot of fun!

    thanks.
     
  7. Dougie

    Dougie I am IN!

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    Nice job. Thanks for all the details on outlying joints.
     
  8. doctor_al

    doctor_al VIP Whale

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    Nice trip - like Dougie said, you got to some unusual places, and enjoyed it. Too bad the jazz place didn't pan out.
     
  9. gmoney590

    gmoney590 VIP Whale

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    Great report and you definetly went to some out of the way places. I was wondering when you booked the GN through Expedia was that cheaper than booking throught the hotel directly?
     
    Back where we belong
  10. jazzguy

    jazzguy Low-Roller

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    It was quite a bit cheaper at the time the trip was booked, which was 5 months out. I usually compare the Expedia price to booking everything myself and going the cheapest route.
     
  11. angel81chick

    angel81chick Abuelita

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    Sounds like you had a great B-Day trip....nice of your son and neighbors flying out to meet up with you!
     
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