Before I begin let me just state that I am happy with what I did this year and am glad I went to Vegas for Christmas. The trip started out a little rocky and ended up nicely. I decided that I wanted to not do what I normally do for Christmas. Normally I go to my brother's house on Christmas Eve and stay over with them. But honestly it has not been enjoyable for quite a few years. In many ways I have found that it just felt forced and fake. If I was married with kids it probably would be different but I am not and I wanted to just get away. So Vegas seemed like a natural choice for me! Cliff Notes: MC was okay but I like nicer places and plan on staying at a nicer place on my next trip. I had a relaxed Christmas. I play good poker when I don't tilt. I still want to explore downtown, maybe plan a Golden Nugget trip. I didn't get to drink any cocktails but that was because I was feeling sick. I wanted to stay somewhere I had not stayed before and I wanted to stay on the strip. In the big Vegas picture I'd like to explore downtown more but I felt that for this trip I wanted to stay where I was more comfortable, the strip. I also like to walk a lot and the strip gives me opportunities to walk as opposed to downtown, as far as I know. Where to stay? I wanted to keep a reasonable budget, so Bellagio was out. I was down to a mid level place. I thought of Flamingo but my impression was that there were mixed reviews and to really enjoy it you need the Go Deluxe. So it was down to Monte Carlo and TI. I made a post and the consensus was MC. Pre-Trip: During the week leading up to my trip I started feeling sick. I had been sick once before in Vegas and felt miserable. So I wake up on Wednesday and am dizzy, as if I drank a big bottle of scotch. I went to the doctor and she said you probably don't have the flu but you're fighting an infection. She gave me a prescription for anti-biotics ( Z-Pak ) and said that if things don't get worse then just let your body fight it, but if you're in Vegas and getting worse then get the pills. I could not take off from work because I had tons to do and also I was planning on using sick days for Christmas Eve and the 26th. Also, I had a musical gig on Thursday night, I was leaving for Vegas Friday night right after work. And I still had some shopping to do pre trip. The gig went fine, Friday morning it was pouring rain and ridiculously windy, my new umbrella broke and I stressfully worked until the moment I left. MC Review: I checked in on Friday late and I was surprised at the line at reception. I've never done the $20 trick and was thinking of doing it to get a strip view room. But when I got to the desk there were too many people around and decided against it. I decided to just be pleasant and ask if a strip view was available. The woman at check in was nice and gave me a strip view. I get to the room and immediately can tell it was a smoking room, sure enough there were ash trays. I cannot survive a smoking room, I made that mistake once before and it was hell for me. So I called the front desk and the guy who answered said no problem and moved me to a non-smoking room. I did not have to go back downstairs which was a bonus. So the strip view room did not work out but kudos for the staff for being helpful. Overall I thought the hotel was okay, nothing special. The room was cleanish, towels weren't white and some stuff on the bathroom floor, but I think places like Wynncore and Palazzo have skewed my expectations. That's okay. The room had a HD TV but no HD stations. They are not the only hotels guilty of this but to me it's just stupid. When I arrived I was hungry and it was around 11:00 PM. I really wanted to try the Pub but they did not serve after 10:00. The only option seemed to be the cafe at MC. I had a burger, it was fine. The next day I thought I should have tried the secret pizza parlor at Cosmo but did not think of it. I suppose there could have been a long ***** filled line on a Friday night so it worked out fine. Anyway, I was tired and just had a few beers while playing ( losing ) at VP. On Saturday I had plans to go to the Neon Museum. I took the SDX but got confused and ended up at the fashion outlets, lolz. By the way, nobody who works on the RTS knows anything about it. I made it to the tour on time though, which was great. I enjoyed the tour and recommend it. Afterwards I went to Fremont street and walked a little. I went to MSS but instead of the buffet I went to the 777 pub. Food-wise I had the taco salad which was average at best. I tried the beer sampler and as a beer nut I give them a thumbs up. I won't say I liked everything but thought that they brew well. I drank a red lager after the sampler. I also did the self guided tour of MSS and then sat at the Boar bar for a pint or two of red lager and won a little at VP! From there I went to GN and played some poker, lost a little. I was feeling pretty tired and went back to the room to take a nice nap. That evening I wanted to try Public House at Palazzo, my last time trying they stopped serving food past 10 on a Sunday. So this was a Saturday and I checked the serving hours on Vegas Mate. I should be good because it says until midnight, as does the website. I go there and go right to bar, the bartender is friendly and I ask if I can see the menu. He tells me the kitchen is closed. It's only 10:40. Are you f*in' kidding me? I said it more politely, he said that before 10 is a safe bet. I really want to try that place but they're making it difficult. btw, I just the website and it says 12:00 AM on Saturdays. I went to Gordon Ramsey's pub at Caesar's. The bartender was nice, seemed a little green. The beer selection is not adventurous but they don't claim to be a beer bar. I had the burger slider and french fries. It was fine, the sliders were good, bit of a clubby vibe there but I was still fighting sickness and felt tired. I went to the Bellagio to play poker, played badly, felt aggravated and lost. It's easy to blame other players when you lose but I was tilting. Sunday I walked to Wynncore and wanted to try the buffet for brunch. The line was absurd. I can easily say 100's of people. There was a line to the line. They had a thing where you can upgrade for $12 and cut the line and get a glass off champagne, but you still had to wait on the first line. I went to the Society Cafe and had pancakes and eggs. It was great, service was great. Top tip, walk around by the meeting rooms and you can have privacy in a very nice bathroom if need be. Plus the hallways are beautiful. I walked around a bit and still felt sick, not bathroom sick, just tired and weak. Sunday evening was explore downtown night. I wanted steak so I was thinking Binion's for an old school vibe. I took the SDX and walked around a little. It was a bit quiet and like I said, I was fighting being sick. Binion's steakhouse was closed for renovations. I didn't want to go to Oscar's so I went to Vic and Anthony's. I liked it, the steak was great as was the rest of the meal. I had a Caprese type salad, strip steak, loaded potato and some wine. The two bartender's were great. One was a new guy and one was a woman who seemed to work there for a while. She was attractive so that was a bonus, not a young hotty but age appropriate so I enjoyed talking to her. They were both great and kept me entertained. Afterwards I went to the poker room, I forgot how I did, lol, I think I booked a small win. I was getting my poker stride back and felt very focused. On Christmas Eve I had pancakes and eggs at the MC Cafe. It was no Wynn. Afterwards I played at the MC poker room and played badly, I got bummed out. My biggest challenge in poker is tilting. That evening I met my friend Ed who lives in Henderson. I wanted to check out the Sam's Town waterfall Christmas show. It was a fun, I've never been there. I like checking out local's places because my fantasy is to move to Vegas when I retire and play at local's casino's. Afterwards we went to Rao's and had a nice meal. I had Veal Milanese. Service was good at first but then got spotty. Then we went to the Bellagio conservatory, then went to Book and Stage for a drink. I was hoping to sit at the bar and play VP but all seats were taken. Also, for some reason I though Book and Stage was a cocktail bar and that they would have signature cocktails, that seems to not be true. We had a drink and called it a night. It was a good Christmas Eve. Christmas Day was a small VMB GTG. It was Bubba, Mrs. Bubba, JaviSRK and myself. We met at the Sugar Factory. We had a good time and they were all great people. The breakfast was fine but the company was better. JaviSRK was planning a steak that evening so I said if you don't mind company I was going for a steak anyway. So we made plans to meet. I think I went and played poker at the Venetian and did good. I was calm and focussed. That evening I met Javier at Cut and the meal was great, just great. Afterwards we went to the Venetian poker room and played at the same table. Again, I was focussed and calm and did well. It was a nice Christmas. I left the next day and all went well. I had to work Thursday through NYE. It was a lot of work and went well. I did get sick though finally on Saturday at work, I was a sneezing machine! The best was taking two Benedryl's and trying to focus on technical questions. After work I took another Benedryl and met a friend for dinner. Benedryl and wine are great! It must have done some good because I have not sneezed since then. That's my Christmas TR.