It's a long one. It always is. I write these reports as a historical record for me and Mrs T to look back over from time to time, but I post the TR and hope there is the occasional snippet of interest or piece of information for others. Sunday 14 October After partaking of the pre-flight dining and drinks service that BA offers for First passengers (hic!), we take our favourite 1A/K seat combination in the renovated cabin in the nose of the aircraft for the direct Heathrow to Vegas flight. Another Vegas trip is under way. Food delivery is a little slow which means that the champagne is topped up many times during the meal service. We skip the in-flight entertainment and get a few hours sleep. This is interrupted by the most severe turbulence we have ever encountered, which leaves one of the FAs crawling along the floor to her crew seat. Lying down seems the best option but I can feel my dinner bouncing around. The captain makes reassuring announcements. He later comes around the cabin to explain that he deviated 200 miles from the intended route but still hit the turbulence. I wake to use the bathroom and immediately feel very queasy. Being sick on an aircraft will be a new first. I can see the sweat breaking out on my face but a cold towel and some deep breathing sees me avoid vomiting in the toilet. I actually feel fine for the rest of the journey but make a mental note to eat and drink less on the next flight out (don't make any bets on that actually happening). Mrs T takes the turbulence surprisingly well and is increasingly philosophical about 'plane crashes, but I still get a disapproving look when I remind her that we watched Cast Away a few days earlier. Our first time at the new T3. Straight through immigration and waiting for the baggage carousel to start so we can collect our bags. We are in the first handful of passengers out the terminal. The place is a ghost town. No taxis waiting, no walk-up limo service. We find a limo stand in the arrivals hall and order a sedan but we have to wait a while for it to come around from T1. Eventually we are on our way to Caesars. We head for the Diamond check-in lounge. This is our first time at Caesars. As I was bringing a smaller bankroll for this trip, it seemed like a good time to try Caesars, even though we had fully comped rooms available at a lot of other places. Caesars would not be expecting any table play from me. $125 for the first night, with the next 3 nights comped. We have been allocated a room in the new Octavius Tower but a request for an Augustus Tower room, with a good fountain view, is accommodated. The check-in staff are very friendly and helpful, even handing over a stack of Caesars chocolate coins when I mention it is our first stay. Elevators are right next to check-in and our room is close to the elevators so nice and easy. It's a very nice room, almost a mini-suite, with a sitting and dining area beyond the sleeping area. I'm surprised that the curtains are not controlled electronically, I thought that was standard for the newer rooms at the top hotels. The bathroom is smart with dual sinks, large jetted tub and separate shower. The toilet is in a separate room. The room offers more space than the standard rooms at Wynn and Bellagio but I'm not sure I would rank it higher than either. Certainly no complaints though and the view is just what we hoped for. We have a quick unpack and freshen up, then time to hit the casino. Pick up new Diamond cards and a voucher for free tickets to Jubilee, then have a look for some decent VP. There is nothing in the Palace casino, outside the high limit area, but I do not intend to drag Mrs T around on her first night so we play a poor game for a while and escape with just a $20 loss between us. Time for Mrs T to retire so I see her back to the room and head over to Bellagio for some BJ. It's a very quick walk from the room, which is just what I was hoping. I only discovered, shortly before the trip, that all the Bellagio BJ tables past the Baccarat Bar are now H17. I think I counted 12 tables on the other side, 8 DD and 4 shoe games, all S17 and all $100 minimum on a Sunday night. With my smaller bankroll I was planning to start with 2 hands at $50 so Bellagio is out. Time to head out the back to Aria. Aria's DD tables have $100 minimums but there are 2 adjacent shoe games with $50 minimums. I play for around 45 minutes. There are 2 other players at first and the table minimum is quickly raised to $100. At the end it's just me and the relief dealer. He is quicker than my ideal and I lose a few hands so decide to move on with a $900 profit. This seems like a good time to have another look at the Monte Carlo HL room so I walk through to find an empty room, as expected. Just a few customers at the bar and 2 BJ tables open. The DD is S17 and $50 minimum so hard to resist. I play for a while, with a friendly dealer, and end up dead even. I can imagine coming back here. It's around 1am. I'm not tired but I know I will be up early and do not want to exhaust myself on the first night so stroll back up the strip, ducking into Crystals and Cosmo along the way. Monday 15 October Awake shortly after 6am, after a few hours sleep. Better than some first nights in Vegas! First breakfast this trip is at the new Caesars buffet. Straight in at the Diamond entrance for the bargain price of $20.99 + tax. That's a bit steep for breakfast but there is an extensive, well presented selection. We get a guided tour from a hostess before we are shown to our table. There's a lot of meat out there but still plenty for us veggies. Highlight is the bread and butter pudding, the best we have ever tasted. Gambling for today starts with VP at Flamingo. We always do well here. We drop $120 and head over to Bally's to pick up the tickets for Jubilee on Thursday. On through Paris to PH where the Hangover slot lures us in. Great fun at $2 a spin and we both hit a good bonus round, mine for nearly $50 and Mrs T for over $50. I end up breaking even while Mrs T secures a $30 profit. Any profit on a slot is good for us. A break even VP session follows and it is time for lunchtime drinks at Cosmo. Book and Stage Bar is busy so we settle in at the Queue Bar. I drop $50 but Mrs T bails me out with $75 profit. Same old same old. Stroll back to Caesars where I leave Mrs T to rest up while I push on. I spend a while in Caesars, just familiarising myself with the casino and identifying the best VP before negotiating the Forum Shops and arriving at Mirage. I identify just 2 good BJ games in a casino that used to be my favourite place to play. The DD game outside the HL room is $25 minimum, the 6 deck game opposite is $50 minimum. I play the DD game but drop $800 in about 20 minutes. The dealer confirms that the table usually has a $25 or $50 minimum, very occasionally $100 if a player asks for it. That's great but I wish there was more than one table! Craving more BJ I head off to Bellagio where table minimums are at a lower level this afternoon. $50 DD will do nicely. I cannot get anything going, drop another $500 and decide to catch up with Mrs T. The evening starts with drinks in the Diamond Lounge. Good service and a comfortable place, nice experience. Dinner tonight is gourmet dining at BLT. Not usually our thing but they do have a highly rated veggie burger and we are sticking to casual dining this trip so decided to give it a go. Just a couple of minutes wait and we are seated. Service is just OK, our server does not make any effort to make it a fun experience. No “have you eaten here before”, no “the triple shot bourbon and chocolate milkshake is highly recommended” so I just whack in an order for 2 veggie burgers, a skinny fries and a waffle fries. The burger is fine, nothing special. Skinny fries are OK but the waffle fries have some sort of smoky tasting coating which Mrs T dislikes. It's not a taste I would choose but I still manage to eat them all! Sometimes a restaurant has average food but a fun atmosphere which makes it a good overall experience. BLT had average food and lacked a fun atmosphere which made for a sub-par experience, which was not helped when I chipped a tooth on a rock hard grain or similar in my burger. Mrs T joins me at the BJ table. Last time she did this I made over $13,000 in 30 minutes. Nothing on that scale this time but I do make a little over $1200 in under an hour. I walk Mrs T back to our room at Caesars and cross over to Bellagio. There are 2 S17 shoe games at $50 minimum with all other games in the pit at $100 minimum. Unfortunately the 2 $50 games are busy. I could probably squeeze in but playing 2 hands is out. I do not feel like heading out to another casino so check out the poker room where there is a waiting list for my game. Time for an early night, which is never a bad thing during a 6 night stay. Tuesday 16 October After a solid sleep the day starts with blueberry waffles with whipped cream on the patio at Mon Ami Gabi. A quick regroup in the room before we head over to Barbary Bill's just in time to pick up the shuttle to Orleans. It's nice and quiet in the casino at 9.45, and it's not smoky. That's what I hoped for so, after a quick wander around, we settle down for some Bonus Deluxe VP play. 99.64% return but fairly high volatility. So volatile that we both lose $100 very quickly. Time to move on to a bank of uprights. Mrs T gets in the groove with 2 quads, which pay $100 at the $0.25 level at this game. I am doing OK without hitting any quads but then get on a roll. I hit 2 quads and we play for quite a while. I say I will play my balance down to $200 to leave me even for the day but a third quad means I cashout for $300. Mrs T has had a solid session so we have $150 profit between us for our first try at Bonus Deluxe. Success and time to celebrate so we find seats at one of the many VP bars. Friendly service and full pay Bonus Poker. That will do nicely. We add another $10 to the profits and our Orleans experience is over. I'm not sure if we will ever take Orleans up on the free room offers but we had a good time today with profitable VP and some good 'oldies' music. One real downside is that the dining options are desperate for veggies. Even TGI Fridays, where we can usually get a meal in UK, insist on serving chicken with just about everything. Just a few minutes wait for the shuttle and we are back on the strip. Mrs T is happy to take it easy while I do some serious gambling so I head for Mirage, via Caesars, for some more BJ. Empty table and friendly dealer but no success for me. I give it up after 45 minutes and $825 loss. I'm not in the mood for more BJ so hit the strip to enjoy the sun. I had read that Westin has a $50 loss rebate offer so stretch my legs, down the side of Bill's, almost to Koval. Just a small casino with slots and VP. Nothing advertising the promotion but the Players Club sign me up for a card and hand me a slip with the details. It's a simple lose $50, get $50 immediately offer. I decide to try for a quick 4OAK at $1 JOB. I am dealt 3 several times but cannot hit the fourth. A good run with a couple of full houses puts me $60 ahead. I decide to pocket the profit and leave. Enter Bally's by the sportsbook and through to Paris, where I confirm that Paris is a VP wasteland as far as $0.25 JOB or BP is concerned. I consider a quick refreshment in the Diamond Lounge but there is a line to get in so take a stroll back to Caesars to catch up with Mrs T and freshen up for the evening. We head over to Paris and Mon Ami Gabi. We check how long the wait is for a table outside. 30-45 minutes is the answer so we leave it for now and aim for the Diamond Lounge. The place is packed with a line to be seated. I'm not sure why it is so busy but it's not for us so we put our name down for MAG and get a drink at Gustav's Bar. The champagne here is poor, Mrs T tells me to not let her order it again. A quick VP session and we get the buzz after ½ hour. Our table is on the second row of the terrace. The doors are open to the inside and we are under the air conditioning so not quite the warm evening temperatures we were expecting. The food is good but a bit cooler than ideal. I think the air con had something to do with that! 2 starters, 2 mains, 1 dessert and 3 glasses of a decent red wine come in at just under $100 so good value. We will probably try MAG again but just get a reservation and eat inside, where the tables look cosy and quite romantic. I see Mrs T back to the room and decide to give Mirage another chance. Same dealer as last night but different result, I drop $875 in about an hour. I have given Mirage around 3 hours play over the last couple of days so drop by the host office. She does not have the last session recorded yet but says I have around $80 in comps from my previous play at MGM properties so I get a $60 comp for CPK. It's not late but there is a wait for a $3/$6 game at the poker room so I call it a night. Wednesday 17 October A really bad night. I get just a couple of hours sleep, then I am awake and buzzing. After about 2 hours of tossing and turning, Mrs T is also awake so we are drinking coffee before 4am. That's Vegas! I check a few things on the internet and by the time we are freshened up we are ready for breakfast so walk over to Bellagio to hit the buffet just after it opens. Breakfast is good, as usual. We spend the morning playing VP at Caesars, then head for the pool. I'm not confident that most of the pools get a lot of sun. It seems to be blocked by all the buildings a lot of the time. Most people are congregated around the small Apollo pool at the back so we join them and find a couple of loungers. The temperature is perfect for us, as it is all week, low to mid 80s and no wind to speak of. It's very pleasant, just soaking up the warmth for a couple of hours or so, sipping a monster 32oz cocktail. I doze off but Mrs T wakes me before I get too much sun and we head back to the room to regroup. I still have most of my BJ bankroll so head over to Club Prive (HL room) at Bellagio. A few tables open but just one elderly guy playing. It looks like he has just sat down at a $100 min DD game so I ask if he minds if I join him. No problem and we are killing the table from the start, my bet is up to $400-$500 and he is stacking up the purples. Next thing he is colouring up. I saw him sign a marker for $10,000 but did not notice what he left with. I tend to do my own thing at the tables but I guess he made a quick $10k or so. I should have joined him as I cannot win a hand after he leaves. I drop back to the table minimum but am still losing so take a disappointing $200 profit and my large glass of red wine to the casino floor. For anyone who is interested, Club Prive has Silver Oak Alexander Valley at the bar, but not Napa Valley. I play 2 hands at a $50 DD table for a while but it's not happening and I quickly drop $875. I decide to just have a quiet session flat betting the table minimum back in Club Prive. Nice and steady. I just change one yellow chip and that lasts all of 5 minutes. That's just the way it goes sometimes. I feel I'm probably done with BJ so stop by the host office. He has me down for 5-6 hours at $124 average. That's a bit low but I have had some short sessions and have not bothered checking my rating as I am not staying at a MGM hotel. He notes I have already had a dinner comp and offers around $60 in comps if I want anything. I just get a comp for the Bellagio dinner buffet, which will be convenient tomorrow. A quick wander around Bellagio before I tuck my tail between my legs and head back to Caesars. The evening starts with a drink in the Diamond Lounge before we stroll through the Forum Shops to Mirage. I check if my Gold card lets us bypass the line at CPK but it's just Platinum and Noir. The place is buzzing and we have around a 15 minute wait. We usually have decent service at CPK. It's OK tonight but the main course is brought to the table while we are still finishing the starter, which is poor at any restaurant. I think lack of sleep has dulled our appetite as we leave quite a bit on the table. One starter, a shared pizza and salad, 2 glasses of wine comes to $58 so just the tip to pay. Vegas is catching up with me. Very little sleep and the usual food and booze intake has me out on my feet walking back to Caesars. All I want to do is get to bed. Thursday 18 October A good sleep and ready to face the day. Breakfast at Caesars buffet with more bread and butter pudding. I get a late checkout so we do not feel rushed and we give Caesars some more VP action. I drop $50 but Mrs T balances my loss. As I said, same old same old. Time for a last bit of packing and checkout in the Diamond room. It's been an excellent first stay at Caesars. Good room and solid service from helpful and friendly staff. We had no problem navigating the casino and our room gave quick and easy access to the strip. Just a couple of minutes wait for a taxi at the Flamingo Road entrance and we are on our way to Bally's. It's an embarrassingly short ride but just too far to manage with luggage. No attitude from the driver and he seems happy enough with $10 for the $5+ fare. It's just before 12 o'clock when we arrive and Platinum check-in at the front desk is quiet so we go there, rather than the Diamond check-in room. A polite request gets us a room with an extra vanity area and we are on our way. Just a 2 night stay at Bally's, comped for the first night and $39 Friday. Bally's has not disappointed us in the past and it does not this time. A decent sized room on 20th floor with wall to wall windows looking over Flamingo Road and the back of the strip casinos. Extra vanity area outside the bathroom, single cup coffee maker and flat screen TV. Combination tub/shower but we knew that. The only real criticism is that the air conditioning unit is a bit loud. We settle in then hit the casino for some VP. A lengthy session but no success, dropping $170 between us. Drinks service is good and Bally's now has Sierra Nevada, which is a definite plus. I head back to the room with Mrs T, then return to the casino. Not enough time for poker so I have a quick craps session. I only bet small but get off to a good start before 3 consecutive rolls without the point being hit. I take my $45 profit and rejoin Mrs T. We are out early tonight before the 7.30 performance of Jubilee. Perfect opportunity to use the dinner comp for Bellagio buffet. Skip the line and seated quickly. Not a bad selection for veggies with some tasty salads, several pasta dishes and a vegetable chow mein, amongst other offerings. A sampling of the tasty desserts with coffee and we are satisfied. Back to Bally's for the show. We take our seats early while the theatre fills up, mainly with large groups of Japanese/Chinese (?) visitors. Perhaps Jubilee speaks the universal language of … something. We have good seats, to the left of the sound desk. Much closer and it would be hard to appreciate the panorama, although some of the detail would be in sharp focus. I start a breast count but give it up when I think I might be double counting! We find the show very entertaining, evoking memories of the old Fred Astaire movies and the variety performance shows of weekend evenings in the 60s and 70s. Definitely old Vegas. The costumes and set pieces are spectacular, although Mrs T fears for the ostrich population. The 3 acts that fill in during set changes are all very impressive. It's definitely worth seeing once. Mrs T is happy to leave it at that so I see her back to the room and head back down to the poker room. Immediate seating at a $3/$6 game will do nicely. Unfortunately the play is quite solid. I get very few decent hands and drop $46 in a couple of hours. Friday 19 October The day starts with breakfast on the patio at Sugar Factory, our first time here. Service is pleasant but a bit slow, we have quite a wait for a simple French toast. When it arrives the chocolate sauce with mine is more of a chocolate scrape. I'm not sure if that is how it is supposed to be or if they forgot the sauce. I request the sauce but it arrives after I have eaten part of the meal. The French toast is fine but not exceptional. I would be willing to give the place another chance but will be in no rush to return. It's hard to think of any advantages over MAG for breakfast. The electronic craps game catches Mrs T's eye at Bally's so she plays for a few rolls and I promise a longer session tomorrow. We head out to Flamingo and VP, both registering a small loss. Flamingo has let us down this trip. Up the strip and across to Mirage, picking up the tram to TI. We have a quick look in the $10 shop, thinking about cheap hats we can pick up next trip, to protect us from the sun at Indian Wells. Next stop FSM, where I pick up a new shirt at a bargain price. That's enough shopping so we cross over to Wynn and Palazzo, settling at the Laguna Bar. I expected this place to be busy on a Friday afternoon but it is nice and quiet. Good service and top shelf drinks. I enjoy 3 Grey Goose Cosmos, getting my sugar intake for the week in one sitting, while Mrs T gets a couple of glasses of a nice prosecco. I drop $40 but Mrs T hits a few premium hands to make $80. We get a couple of bottles of Fiji water to take with us when we leave which completes a very enjoyable experience. A quick stop at Harrah's for VP and a small profit, catching a small part of the Big Elvis show from outside the Piano Bar, and we are back at Bally's. Mrs T takes it easy while I head to the poker room and immediate seating. Just a steady session and $11 loss. The evening starts with a glass or two of bubbly in the Diamond Lounge, then on to PF Chang's for dinner. This place is always packed but I am surprised at a 15 minute wait with a Diamond card. 15 minutes later we have not been seated so I check back. The host says he called us but I'm not sure about that. Anyway we get a table upstairs. Food is good and inexpensive as always. Service is fine but nothing special tonight. PF Chang's remains a good choice for an inexpensive vegetarian dinner, a nice alternative to the pastas and pizzas. A quick VP session back at Bally's and a small profit for Mrs T is enough to satisfy her for the day so I see her to the room and check out the poker room. I am delighted to get a seat at $3/$6 without a wait and settle in for a lengthy session. My body has other ideas, I am having trouble staying awake. I fight the tiredness for a while before giving up, taking a $7 profit back to the room. Saturday 20 October Last day in Vegas but a full day before an evening flight. Breakfast at PH buffet, always reliable but now $20.99 on Saturday. We knock off $5 with an online coupon. We secure a 2pm checkout then settle in for a lengthy VP session, gaining $140 between us. Time for Mrs T's promised electronic craps. We both play and it's OK but so slow compared with live play. There is always something happening at the tables between rolls, here it is just waiting for the countdown to the next roll. My opinion is lowered when I lose an extra $10 through injudicious use of a fat finger. I'm glad I kept the bets small with one point and seven-out following another. I drop $42 and Mrs T loses $20. We gave it a go. A final VP session at Bally's with Mrs T's profit balancing my $70 loss. I'm not even going to say it this time. Time for a final bit of packing, checkout with a not-particularly-friendly woman in the Diamond room and drop the cases at the bell desk. It's time for refreshments at Cosmo. Book and Stage is packed, with the football game showing. We settle at Queue Bar. It's a bit loud, with lots of shouting from the craps tables, but it is Saturday afternoon. I have a very poor session and drop $100, Mrs T loses $40. We should have played at Bond, which is much quieter. Over the road to PH for more VP. It's loud and hard to escape the noise of the slots but we play for a while before heading to the sanctuary of the Diamond Lounge at Paris. Then it's time to collect the bags and get a taxi to the airport. We are very early. Mrs T always likes to arrive early but, after we were held for 40 minutes on the interstate last trip when the President was in town, she has built in an extra layer of contingency. Taxi ride is straightforward, quick check-in and we are in the new T3 lounge. It's a small improvement over the old T2 lounge, with a decent bar, but light years away from a proper First international lounge. Our flight is slightly late. No renovated cabin this time but we do have the prized front seats again. Food is OK but nothing special. We do not drink much as the aim is just to have the meal and get some sleep. With that aim achieved, we arrive just slightly late, our car is waiting for us and we have an untroubled drive home. Gambling figures show a loss of $2750. Almost all of that is down to BJ. VP was very steady this trip, with Mrs T actually showing a profit on her play. Next trip is booked for March. 5 days in Vegas followed by a few days at the ATP/WTA tennis tournament at Indian Wells.