I do a lot more lurking and reading here than I do posting. But, I thought I'd post this about my last trip. It was a solo outing for me. December 2010 Las Vegas trip. This trip was planned because my older daughter had, for the second year, entered the Las Vegas Rock and Roll marathon on December 5th. I decided to go see her in that. And, as it turned out, Oklahoma was playing Nebraska that weekend in the Big 12 Championship. The marathon started and ended at Mandalay Bay which is where daughter, Shannon, and her husband were booked. But, I had an offer from Orleans for 3 comped nights plus a $250.00 Macyâ€™s gift card. Since I like Orleans anyway, I booked that. Friday, December 3. My air was on Southwest leaving OKC at 6:30 on Friday, the 3rd and returning at 6:00 a.m. on Monday, the 6th. Both legs of the trip were through Denver since that was less expensive. I set my Blackberry to remind me and scored an A boarding pass for the outward trip. The flight from OKC to Denver was uneventful, although the plane had a high percentage of boots and cowboy hats since the National Finals Rodeo was going on in LV at the time. Upon arriving in Denver, we had no plane change and about 75% of the passengers were going on to Las Vegas. Unfortunately, 3 people didnâ€™t seem to realize they had to get off and change planes. After three explanatory announcements over the PA system with no results, the gate agent had to start checking peopleâ€™s names to see who was too stupid to understand they couldnâ€™t stay on the plane. This, of course, delayed our departure for about 15 minutes. Ultimately, the inbreds were located and removed from the aircraft so the real passengers could take their seats. The flights were full on both legs. Finally arrived in LV at about 8:30 a.m Las Vegas time. Took a taxi from the airport to the Orleans. Didnâ€™t even get long-hauled. At the counter, I was pleased to learn that a room was ready for me right away. Room 1711 on the seventeenth floor. Upon heading to my room, it became apparent why it was ready. I got off the elevator and saw a sign pointing down a long, west hall. The sign said something like â€œRooms 1701- 38,000" Sadly, the one next to the elevator was 38,000. So, there I was, marching down this long hallway, dragging my pullman and growing wearier by the minute. I think my room was just short of a sign saying â€œCalifornia - 2 miles.â€ But, I persevered, and, what the heck, itâ€™s free. The room was typical Orleans. They are a bit larger than standard rooms on the strip; but, are not fancy by any means. It had a hair dryer, coffee maker, iron with ironing board and a safe. There was a TV in the armoire, but I never turned it on. Combination shower/tub. I took a few pictures of the room. View from window: After throwing my bags in the room and snapping the few photos, I decided it was time to go down to the casino. My first stop was at the Alligator Bar for some video poker and a screwdriver or two. The bar top machines are not full-pay, but the pay schedules are better than the casinos belonging to the â€œEvil Empire.â€ I had been at the bar drinking screwdrivers and playing deuces wild for about an hour and a half when up popped the four deuces. I played for about another hour and cashed out: At this point, I was getting hungry since I had had nothing to eat since the evening before. I decided to try the buffet. Like the Harrahâ€™s properties, the Orleans has an all day buffet pass which can be purchased. I decided to go ahead and buy one, so I spent the $29 and change for this goofy little bracelet to prove that I was entitled to eat. The lunch buffet was just good solid food with nothing particularly spectacular. However, the selection was varied and it was more than satisfactory. I donâ€™t think it would be worth a special trip to come eat it. However, for anyone already in the casino, itâ€™s a good choice. After lunch, I opted to return to the room for a nap since I had had to get up at 3 a.m. Oklahoma time (1 a.m. Las Vegas time) in order to get to the airport on time. Following my rest., I went back down to the casino and played video poker at the various bars in the casino, steadily engaging in adult beverages, and equally steadily reinvesting my winnings from earlier in the day. As afternoon became evening and ultimately turned into nighttime, I found myself on a craps table there in the Orleans. I was never down very much and never up very much but was having a good time. Ultimately, I cashed out with a very modest win and decided to eat. By this time, it was about 9:30 p.m. Unfortunately, the buffet for which I had paid earlier in the day closed at 9 p.m. Thus, I ended up spending $30 for lunch that day. Since the buffet option was now foreclosed, I opted to go to big Alâ€™s Oyster bar. There, I ordered a bowl of New England clam chowder. It was huge and was really quite tasty. It ended up being more than I could eat and I had to walk away leading part of it. After stuffing the food in my belly, I made my trek back to my room and retired for the evening. Saturday, December 4 - Game Day. Saturday morning I arose fairly early as I am prone to do. I just threw on some clothes and went down to the Alligator Bar for some coffee and a bottle of water since I really donâ€™t like the coffee in the little in-room coffee makers. I had a few coffees while playing $.25 video poker before returning to the room. After getting showered and dressed, I went down to the coffee shop for breakfast. One nice thing about this coffee shop is that the food is quite good and the prices are very reasonable. I had ham and eggs with hash browns and toast and it was all very good. I decided to play some more VP, so I went to (I think) the Mardi Gras bar for some more deuces. Hadn't been there too long, when: At this point, I wanted to go elsewhere, so I parked myself at a video poker machine next to the south door in order to keep an eye out for the shuttle. I had a couple of screwdrivers and donated $100 before the shuttle arrived. I hopped on the shuttle and rode it to Billâ€™s on the strip. I originally planned to ride it to the Gold Coast and play there for a while but, when we got to Billâ€™s, I changed my mind and decided to get off simply because everyone else did. After getting off, I had no plan of where to go or what to do other than an to maintain my resolution to do my best to avoid the Harrahâ€™s properties entirely. So, I took the walkway across to Ballyâ€™s and then the next walkway across to the Bellagio and went into that casino. I had my camera and it was in my mind to go to the conservatory and take some pictures. But, first, I happened upon a video poker bar where I was fairly confident I could be served a screwdriver. Shortly after being seated, that thought was confirmed and I embarked on playing video poker and drinking screwdrivers as well as conversing with the bartender and a lady from somewhere back east. I actually managed to sit and play on a one dollar machine for almost 3 hours while consuming as many complimentary drinks as I could stuff into my tummy. I didnâ€™t get four deuces here or anything really spectacular but I got enough solid hits to keep me playing without losing too much overall. At this point, I realized that I needed to get back to the Orleans in order to pick up the gift card which had been promised me as part of my package. I crossed over the walkway from Bellagio back to Ballyâ€™s and happened upon a human statue performing on the sidewalk. This guy was pretty entertaining. After watching him for a few minutes, I returned across to Billâ€™s to catch the shuttle. Eventually, it came and we made our way, via the Gold Coast, back to the Orleans. By this time, it was 2 p.m. and I went to pick up the Macyâ€™s gift card. Upon checking in, I was informed that the pickup time was 4 p.m. rather than 2 p.m. So, I could have stayed at Bellagio for a couple more hours. Instead, I wandered around the casino playing video poker and losing my assets. Finally, a few hundred dollars later, I was able to pick up that gift card which was such an enticement to me from the beginning. My daughter had texted me earlier that they had landed and had gotten checked in to their hotel. They were staying at THEHotel at Mandalay Bay for three nights comped based on my son-in-lawâ€™s play from the year before. She and her friend had to go to the Sands convention Center to check-in for the marathon the following day. We agreed to meet at Mandalay Bay after she completed that. In the interim, I got a bit hungry so I went back to big Alâ€™s oyster bar and had a bowl of the Jambalaya Pasta. Again, it was huge and was quite delicious. I can honestly say that, if youâ€™re in the Orleans, you really need to try this place. Following my repast, I took a taxi to the Mandalay Bay where I met with my daughter and her friend, Whitney. It was getting close to time for the game, so we went to the sports bar and manage to squeeze into a table there. At that point, Oklahoma was -4.5 points and I had told myself to just keep my money in my pocket. However, my daughter went to the window and came back with a ticket for $100 on the OU. Since Iâ€™m a schmuck, I had to go do the same thing. At this point, we realized that we would not be able to actually hear the game in the sports book. So, we found a little piano bar close to the check-in desk at THEHotel and we commandeered two tables there. Ultimately, it was myself, my daughter, Shannon, and her husband, Steve, Whitney and her husband, Greg. We were at one end of the bar watching it on television and we had the bartender turn up the sound. At the other end, in a small alcove, a band started playing after the game had been on for about an hour. I think there were times when our yelling and cheering interfered with their music. But, what can I say? Weâ€™re from Oklahoma and some things are more important than a ratty-ass band in a hotel bar. Unfortunately, by halftime things were really not looking very good. At the half, Shannon, Whitney and Greg decided to go up to Shannon and Steveâ€™s suite to watch the balance of the game and to order a room service dinner. Steve and I decided that we needed to find a blackjack table to spend some time at during the half-time break. He was up a bit over $800 from playing blackjack before the game started. He and I found a $25 table and sat down to play a few hands. As it turns out, we had the floor person tune in the game on the flatscreen TV right by our table. So, we played blackjack and got to watch the football game also. We actually didnâ€™t get up until the game was over and my daughter had texted me that we needed to come to the room to eat before the food got cold. One reason that we stayed so long playing blackjack was that the table was being very good to me. When we finally colored up to leave, I had two $1000 chips, one $500 chip, and some others totaling just over $2750. This from a $200 buy in. As you might imagine, I was happy. Unfortunately, I mustâ€™ve been a bit excited since I forgot to take pictures of those beautiful chips. Oh well, maybe next time. As to the game, OU won, but only by 3; so, I have yet another souvenir ticket exemplifying my sports-betting prowess. Meh. After cashing in, we went to the suite and ate our dinner and talked for a while. Following that, I excused myself, caught a taxi and went back to the Orleans. Sunday, December 5th - Marathon Day. Sunday was the day of the marathon. For those of you who donâ€™t know, the city blocks off the entire strip to traffic from the Mandalay Bay all the way north to the Sahara and, perhaps, even further. It is blocked from 5 a.m. Sunday morning until noon. As you might imagine, this creates some major problems in trying to get from one place to another. On that morning, I woke early again and went down to the casino for my morning coffee and another losing session of video poker. Following that, I returned to my room, showered and got ready to face the day. I needed to be at the Mandalay Bay by about 9:30 to meet with my daughter and the others. I caught a taxi and told the driver where I needed to go. After a long, circuitous trek which only cost twice as much as my trip home the night before, I finally arrived. I found Steve and Greg and we went out to the finish line to await the girls finishing their run. The Marathon attracts runners from all over the world and is growing each year. Last year, there were reported to be 26,000 entrants. This year the Las Vegas newspaper, again, said 26,000 entrants. However, my daughter told me the computer listing of the number of runners at the convention center showed that between 32 and 33,000 had entered. They send them off in waves or â€œcorralsâ€ of 1000 runners. Shannon ran the half marathon and finished it in 2 hours, 14 minutes. That is 18 minutes faster than last year. I was very proud of her. Shannon and Whitney: After the run, we went to THE CafÃ© at THEHotel for breakfast. This is an upscale and pretentious little cafÃ© that is part of the hotel. While I admit the food is good, I consider it a bit pricey to pay $16 for two eggs with sausage. However, Steve charged it to the room with the idea that it would be comped at the time they left. So, I was good with that. After eating, we parted company. Shannon and Whitney were going to the spa to spend the afternoon being pampered. I wandered around the casino playing various games with the idea of making sure I was on the MGM radar in the future. I spent a couple of hours losing about $400 in various video poker machines. Then, I wandered over to the blackjack pit and started playing there. Again, I was losing. Finally, I made my third table change and ended up at the same table with Steve who was doing quite well. By this time Iâ€™m in for about $1000. He and I ended up playing together there for several hours. By the time we got up to leave, I colored up $1200 which represented a small profit for which I was most grateful. And, I got another $1000 chip which I did not think to photograph. Steve, on the other hand, did very well at that table and, as I later learned, bought my daughter this Louis Vuitton purse she wanted that carried a very hefty price tag. (You women will know about that) Having cashed out, I caught a taxi and returned to the Orleans. I played blackjack for about an hour and then craps for another hour or two, losing at both, and then had to retire. Since my plane left at 6 a.m., I had to get up very, very early to get to the airport, get through security and all that. Final thoughts: I like the Orleans. It is plain, ordinary, laid back and friendly. And, boy were there a ton of cowboys and cowgirls there that weekend. The JOB at the bartop machines in the Harrahâ€™s properties I looked at (Harrahâ€™s, Billâ€™s, Ballyâ€™s and Paris) was all 7/5. Orleans, Bellagio and Mandalay Bay was all 8/5 and a few 9/6s even. I hate Harrahâ€™s. I wonâ€™t again book a flight leaving Las Vegas so early. Got to the airport at 4:30 a.m. But, Southwest didnâ€™t man the check-in counter until 5:00. I get a bit nervous about that in case security is crowded. Fortunately, it was not. But, next time, I want a later flight. Did not get approached by a hooker this time. But, I was usually in bed by the time they start work. (Not that I WANTED one, you understand) I came home with over $2000 more than I took out there. I gave the gift card to my younger daughter. Steve and Shannon got all their room charges comped, including her spa visit (which Iâ€™m sure was not cheap) and, their host sent them to the airport in a hotel limo.