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Family Gathering in Vegas - Hey, Why Not? Jan 31-Feb 3

Discussion in 'Vegas Trip Reports' started by M_ILIS, Feb 4, 2014.

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  1. M_ILIS

    M_ILIS High-Roller

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Orange County, CA
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    My Trip Report

    Prelude:
    This was sort of an odd trip in that it wasn't one that we really planned as a "Vegas trip." Some family members from South Dakota were going to be in Vegas, so my step-dad organized a trip to go see them. Being Super Bowl weekend, I figured hotels would all be ultra-expensive and annoyingly busy. But then I realized we were able to get all three nights free from MyVegas, so my wife and I figured "why not?" and decided to make a mini family reunion/family Vegas trip out of it.

    The only real planning prior to the trip was me buying vouchers for the Jeff Civillico Comedy in Action show on eBay. I got two vouchers that admitted four people for a total of around $38 from seller "vegas4locals.com." This is the second set of show vouchers I've purchased from this seller and both have worked like a charm and saved us lots of money. Hotel-wise, our group ended up spread all over the Strip, with me, my wife and two kids at Circus Circus, my step-dad and my step-sister and her family at Elara, my aunt and uncle at The Quad and my cousin and her husband at Harrah's. Here's how it all went down…
     
  2. M_ILIS

    M_ILIS High-Roller

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Orange County, CA
    Trips to Las Vegas:
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    Day One: Friday, January 31

    I've always maintained that as a Southern California resident, it's better to drive to Vegas than it is to fly. By the time you arrive at the airport early, wait for your flight, fly and rent a car or take a cab to your hotel, you could have driven there for a fraction of the price. And that's if everything goes off without a hitch – no flight delays, luggage issues, etc. But before we decided whether or not to go, my step-dad had already bought a plane ticket, so Friday morning we were able to perform a little experiment.

    We dropped him off at John Wayne Airport at 9:15 for his 11:30 flight and "raced" to see who got there first. We made quick stops in Norco, Barstow and Baker and still arrived in just over four hours. However, my step-dad had already landed and made it to Planet Hollywood by the time we got in town. He only beat us by a few minutes, though, so I still firmly believe it's always better to drive than fly.

    By the time we stopped at The Quad to exchange our vouchers for tickets to Saturday's Jeff Civillico show and checked in at Circus Circus, it was about 2:30. We were hungry and I had received a $10 off $30 Groupon email earlier that morning, so we purchased a $31 deal (for $21) to Vince Neal's Tatuado at Circus Circus. It included two yard drinks and two appetizers. I'm not typically a "yard drink" kind of guy, but we figured we'd take advantage of the deal and it turned out to be pretty fun.

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    Untitled by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    For the apps, we got a big plate of nachos and some fried mozzarella. The nachos were great but the mozzarella was just okay, and the service was pretty bad overall. They failed to apply the Groupon to the original bill, so we got a chuckle out of the fact that those yard drinks are typically like $24 each! We eventually got the bill worked out and left there only paying a tip and for the kids' cheeseburger my daughter got. For the Groupon price, it was fine but I would never go there and pay full price… just too many better options elsewhere.

    We then ventured upstairs and played some Midway games with the kids. That night we went over to Elara to check out my step-dad's suite and it was awesome. It's a one bedroom with a giant jacuzzi tub, full kitchen, huge sectional couch and a projector that can turn the floor-to-ceiling windows into your TV screen with the press of a button. We immediately realized this was where we would all gather to watch the Super Bowl, come Sunday.

    For dinner we wandered down into the Miracle Mile Shops and ended up at Cheeseburger Las Vegas, the sister restaurant to Maui's Cheeseburger in Paradise on Front Street in Lahaina. It was pretty dead in there (and all of Vegas, surprisingly), so it worked out well for our large group. The food was decent but unworthy of a return trip here or a recommendation.

    After dinner, my wife, kids and I headed back to Circus Circus and it was time to start gambling. My wife was tired, so I lucked into getting to go play. However, it had been a long day and I was tired, too, so I said I was just going to take $10 down to play some nickel DDB VP and that would be it for the night. Well, it turned out to be plenty, even with a terrible 94% 6/5 payable.

    I started off strong and hit quad Kings to put me up more than double my $10 investment.

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    Untitled by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    I played it down to a little under $10 credits, and that's when I hit my first-ever Royal!

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    Untitled by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    It was kind of a bummer hitting this while playing all by myself in a fairly dead casino, but I guess that's just looking for something to complain about. It was a Royal and I was very happy. I played a few more hands and cashed out up $195. I then quickly lost $5 in a Red, White & Blue quarter slot and headed up to bed.

    It had been a successful first day.
     
  3. M_ILIS

    M_ILIS High-Roller

    Joined:
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    Day Two. Saturday, February 1

    For some reason Circus Circus couldn't handle our multiple MyVegas nights without having us come down to the desk and check out and check back in each morning. This was sort of a hassle, but it scored us a new FunBook each day, so that was some consolation. Also, after our first night's sleep, we had reason to visit the desk anyway because our window had rattled loudly all night long whenever the wind blew in the slightest. They moved us from a 15th-floor room looking toward the train tracks to a 14th-floor room with a view toward the Strip. We liked this room better and the beds proved to be much more comfortable than the other room, too.

    Today was the day my relatives would get into town and we had tickets to Jeff Civillico at The Quad at 4:00. The plan was to meet the relatives for dinner after we went to the show. First, though, was lunch. I had read a lot of great things about Desnudo Tacos, so we decided to give it a shot rather than another return trip to Tacos El Gordo. After getting my daughter's face painted at the Circus Circus Midway, we drove over to Desnudo to find a welcoming staff and an artsy vibe to the decor. We ordered chips and guacamole to split and then I got a carnitas taco and a hongos (sauteed mushroom) taco. My wife and son each got the same thing: One pork shoulder taco and one goat meat taco. My daughter ordered a cheese quesadilla. My wife and I each got a Corona, my son a Mexican Coke and my daughter had a fantastic bottled root beer from a local brewer named Joseph James.

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    IMG_2663 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

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    IMG_2664 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

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    IMG_2665 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

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    IMG_2668 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    I think we liked everything, some items more than others. The chips and guacamole were great, and I liked both of my tacos a lot. My wife and son agreed that the goat meat was too chewy, but they each liked their pork shoulder tacos, which had a deep richness as a result of being cooked in some sort of confit. I don't remember exactly, but all told, I think we spent about $45-55. Although I'm not sure I really loved anything we had, I would definitely return here. I have a feeling there's something on that menu that would meet that "love" criteria.

    We made it over to The Quad for the 4:00 Jeff Civillico Comedy in Action show and were seated right along the stage. The theater is huge and was probably only about one-third full for the show. Everything I had read about the show was true – high-energy guy who is funny and a very talented performer and juggler. We all loved it and the 70-minute show moved at a really brisk pace. This is another show I wouldn't attend by myself, but it was great for the kids and my wife and I enjoyed it quite a bit. (As far as 4:00 shows go, I'd probably rank Popovich Pet Theater first, Civillico second and Laughternoon third.)

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    IMG_2674 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

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    IMG_2677 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

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    IMG_2691 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    Typically in Vegas, I prefer to eat dinner no earlier than 7:30 or so, and the later, the better. But my cousin had made reservations for our huge group for 5:45 at Maggiano's at Fashion Show Mall. (I would also prefer not eating at a chain restaurant that is readily available at home, but again, I probably sound like a snob and this wasn't my call.) We rushed right over there after the show and all had a nice dinner together. We were there almost three hours and service, ambiance and food were all very good. I had a great view of Wynn and Encore from my seat.

    After dinner meant back to Circus Circus and our first-ever excursion into the Adventuredome amusement park. The FunBooks gave us some free ride coupons that the kids used and we were all impressed by how large this place is. I also like that there’s no admission fee and they allow you to bring in drinks from outside. After about an hour, we decided we’d bring our daughter back the next day to partake in some of the kid-sized rides.

    We then headed back to our room, and a little while later I got back downstairs to the casino. I was up and down for an hour or so, until eventually I hit a quad that took my in-machine credits to $44.75 when I was down $45 on the night, so I decided to call it a break-even night. Here are a few highlights:

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    Untitled by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

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    Untitled by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

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    Untitled by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    Can I hit Royal Diamonds two nights in a row? No, I can't!

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    Untitled by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    Goodnight. Slept much better on a more comfortable mattress tonight.
     
  4. M_ILIS

    M_ILIS High-Roller

    Joined:
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    Day Three. Sunday, February 2

    Daily routine: Check out. Check back in. New FunBook… Check.

    I started the day by using the $5 Craps match play Field Bet from the FunBook, which I won. The $10 in winnings paid for four Krispy Kreme doughnuts and a few bucks in my lucky, Royal-granting nickel 6/5 DDB machine. After we ate the doughnuts, my wife took a shower and the perils of staying at Circus Circus bit her bad. Right in the middle of her shower, the hot water in the Casino Tower turned off abruptly. She had to rinse her hair out with freezing cold water that barely dripped out of the faucet, but she pulled through like a trooper. I called housekeeping and they explained it was “maintenance” and that it would be down for an hour. I can’t imagine they’re dumb enough to schedule maintenance from 11:00 am to noon rather than the middle of the night, so I’m fairly certain that was a bullshit excuse. Either way, it sucked big time.

    A few minutes later I got a text saying that part of the family was downstairs at Circus Circus playing electronic roulette. While my wife and kids finished getting ready for the day, I went down to join the others at the roulette wheel and turned $45 into a $100 TITO, which was awesome. We had plans to take our daughter to the Adventuredome, and then it turned out her cousin could join us, so the two little girls had a great time for a couple hours there. My son chose to head over to Elara early with family members.

    Then it was time for the Super Bowl party at the sweet Elara suite. We arrived just before kickoff and had a great time, despite the blowout game. You can't really tell from this picture, but here's the super-cool wall-length projection screen we watched the game on:

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    Untitled by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    Although we had snacked all throughout the game, we were hungry for some real food after, so I called over to Secret Pizza at Cosmo and ordered two pies – one plain cheese and the other a white pizza with added pepperoni and peperoncini. My son and I walked over to fetch it. Whole pies are not a bad deal here. The bill came to around $56 for both. My son squeezed in a quick game of pinball while we waited for the order to come out of the oven.

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    Untitled by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    Walking back through the Miracle Mile Shops, I realized that holding two oversized pizza boxes creates a lot of double takes and wise cracks from people. The pizzas were delicious. I am simply crazy about their white pizza.

    After eating, we left our plush Elara surroundings and headed back to the mediocrity of Circus Circus. My wife had finally done some gambling during the game at PH, losing $40, so she didn't feel like gambling any more and off I went once again.

    I used another $5 craps match play coupon, but lost this time. On to VP, I was on a big-time quad drought on DDB nickels and quickly found myself down probably $55 for the night. I then decided to switch things up a bit with the plan to save my night by hitting something on quarter DDB. The "Reverse Parlay Chase Method" worked!

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    Untitled by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    Now up for the night, I went back to nickels, hit a couple more quads and then lost $20 in the same electronic roulette machine that had been good to me earlier in the day.

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    Untitled by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

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    Untitled by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    Total for the night was right around break even, maybe I lost a few dollars. Still well up for the trip! Off to bed for another sound night's sleep.
     
  5. M_ILIS

    M_ILIS High-Roller

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    Day Four. Monday, February 3

    We checked out by the 11:00 am check-out time and then took all the free Midway game coupons we'd accumulated (2 per day X 3 days = 6) upstairs to win some more stuffed animals for the kids. We played games for almost an hour, and then I told my family that I had somewhere I wanted to take them, but it was a surprise. We all piled in the car and headed south on I-15 for 11 miles to reach the Lion Habitat Ranch. It was $40 for two adults, and each adult gets a child in free. They said we could just roam around freely and informed us there would be a feeding at 1:00 pm in one of the cages.

    As far as I'm concerned, this turned out to be one of the real highlights of the trip. Standing nose-to-nose with a giant male lion separated only by a thin sheet of plexiglass is not something I ever dreamt I'd get to do. Here's my son having a roaring contest with a lion by the name of Tattoo.

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    IMG_2797 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

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    IMG_2819 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    I highly recommend this for a side trip if you have the inclination. There are currently two sets of cubs on the property, one group that are seven months old and another that are 16 weeks old. For $200 extra, two people can get six minutes of interaction with the cubs. Sounds amazing, but too rich for my blood.

    On our way to the Lion Habitat Ranch, we saw a billboard for Happy Hour at Zenshin inside South Point touting 30 items under $5 starting at 2:00 pm. We'd eaten at Zenshin last summer while staying at South Point, so we knew it was good and decided to give the happy hour a shot for lunch. It was sort of hit and miss. We ordered a bunch of things to share – some sort of fried chicken appetizer, deep fried oysters, a California roll, a crunch roll, a Philadelphia roll, and some teriyaki beef sliders. These all varied from $3 to $5, and Asahi drafts were only $2 each! We eventually ordered one more crunch roll and then settled up. Total bill including a 20% tip was $50. The food was passable but nothing amazing.

    At this point I played a quick session of DDB at South Point and had my worst luck of the entire trip. Lost $25 on playing nickels in no time flat. I don't think I had anything better than a flush the whole time. That brought a close to the gambling from the trip, and even with that $25 loss and my wife's $40 loss, we still won $175 or so.

    We got back on the road at 3:30 and headed back across the desert to bring the trip to a close.
     
  6. M_ILIS

    M_ILIS High-Roller

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    Random notes:

    Circus Circus raised its resort fee from $9.95 ($11.14 incl. tax) to $12.95 ($14.50 incl. tax) but our reservation was made prior to the switch. Luckily the guy we dealt with on day one pointed this out to us, because each of the next two days the desk clerk attempted to charge us the higher rate. Both days they looked into it and then charged me the lower rate.

    Two of the three nights, drink service was great at Circus Circus. The other night, it was virtually non-existent.

    We were in the Casino Tower, and the desk clerk told us that is their best tower.

    Both rooms we had were clean, but there's a general grossness to some of the hallways and other parts of the hotel. In our first room, if you got near the shower walls, they smelled terribly of old smoke. The hallways outside our room had a strong cleanser smell that seemed like it was covering up some sort of stench.

    When discussing my room with my cousin, she summed up Circus Circus well – she said in any other city, it would be just a standard hotel. But when surrounded by so many luxury hotels, it gets looked down upon as if it's terrible. It's really not.

    After two consecutive "family" trips, my wife and I will head to Mandalay Bay at the end of March. Looking forward to a more adult trip, where we'll see "Love" at the Mirage for the first time and hope to experience Rose.Rabbit.Lie. one night. Also it will be nice to be able to gamble together again, not taking turns. I can't wait!

    Thanks for reading.
     
  7. TomTWI

    TomTWI High-Roller

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    Good family trip report.

    Thanks for posting

    TomTWI
     
  8. Royal Flusher

    Royal Flusher Savvy Gambler

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    Congratulations on your savvy short-pay nickel play, and welcome to the Royal Flusher Nickel Royalty Club!
     
  9. zoey11

    zoey11 Low-Roller

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    Great Trip Report

    Sounds like a great trip!
    I didn't know about the Lion place, we will check that out next visit!
     
  10. M_ILIS

    M_ILIS High-Roller

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    Wow, deemed "savvy" by Royal Flusher himself! I might need to make a t-shirt or at least a button to wear on my next trip.
     
  11. M_ILIS

    M_ILIS High-Roller

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    Okay, so look for me wearing this on my next trip:

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    RFsavvy by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    In order to maintain my "savvy" status, however, I have a question. One of the nights I was playing DDB on this trip, I was dealt two kings, two queens and a small card. Seeing there's no point holding two pair if one of them is jacks or better in DDB, I kept the kings. But then I got two more queens on the draw. In other words, had I held the queens instead, I would have gotten a quad. Did I make the right play and this is just "one of those things," or should I have played it differently?
     
  12. tringlomane

    tringlomane STP Addicted Beer Snob

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    First, I would hope that Circus Circus would offer better than 6/5 DDB nickels somewhere. Glad you found a "lucky one" though. :)

    Second, wrong play. Hold 2 pairs, even at 6/5 DDB (although 6/5 DDB is very close to a toss up for either decision). At 7/5 DDB or better, not holding the two pairs becomes a significant mistake because it's much easier to make a full house than 4 of a kind.

    Third, nearly all video poker machines (some ancient machines are exceptions) continuously shuffle the draw cards randomly while awaiting you to hit the draw button, so you probably wouldn't have hit quads if you held the queens.

    Thanks for sharing!! Look for 7/5 DDB there next time though at least! :eek:

    Hint: Play one line of Super Times Pay for 5 or 6 nickels a line. They literally can't be programmed to pay lower than 7/5 for a DDB game according to IGT media sheets I believe.
     
  13. Lady Fortuna

    Lady Fortuna High-Roller

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    Thank you, M_ILIS!! I really enjoyed the TR and all the nice pictures! :thumbsup:
     
  14. jdub7

    jdub7 Tourist

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    Thanks for the TR. I really like the pics you add to the report. And, I think it is great you can include the kids on some trips! Glad to see you all had a good time with family. That suite looked AWESOME! :thumbsup:
     
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