Left Austin on an earlier flight after my direct was delayed 1 hour but arrived at the originally expected time with a plane change in Phoenix. No problems; neither flight, nor the one home Tuesday was sold out. Had carry-ons only so it was a quick exit. Caught the 5:05 p.m. WAX bus to downtown and arrived at the MSS check-in desk @ 6:10 after a short walk through a somewhat desolate Fremont Street. The process went quickly and soon I was up in room 718 unpacking. It was a suite. WTF? Wasn’t promised one and didn’t ask for one but it was later than normal on a Tuesday night so I went with it. It had many “worn” areas and seemed to have seen better days. It was fine for me and very roomy. I have a video I will try to upload so if you see it this is it. If not then it is not. Once all was hung and / or placed in the proper drawer(s) I headed downstairs for an encounter with the Boar’s Head VP. All the usual suspects were in place behind the bar and I ordered a drink and began pounding away on the buttons (seat #2 is the preferred; sorry Joe) in pursuit of the ever elusive 4000 coin pay-out. It didn’t happen this trip downtown but it wasn’t nearly as disastrous as the Christmas trip wherein we (the wife) both hit for a royal at the Gold Coast and then proceeded to lose most of it back down in the town. But such is gambling. Ate at the bar at the California RedWood Grill after securing a “comp” from Brenda at the host desk. She asked for how many and if 30 $’s was enough or 50 $’s? The smaller version was plenty and I proceeded over to tackle the 14 oz. prime rib with the trimmings. Bartender was very attentive (seemed slow at the time for his duties) although it was early in the evening (6:00 p.m.). Iced tea was the drink of choice and very good. Ate at the breakfast buffet twice and once at Dupar’s, once at 777. Buffet at MSS is sketchy for breakfast if you don’t go the omelet route which I did. Manny was in usual form as the eggs sizzled. Service was good and again comped from the previous night’s visit to the player’s club booth for a complimentary breakfast the following day. Dupar’s has a special from midnight (?) to 11:00 a.m. on the back of the menu which with tax comes out to 10.99 $’s or something close; an egg, bacon (2) and pancakes (2) which I have yet to finish. Coffee was hot and strong. A good choice if wanting to skip lunch and go straight to dinner later in the day. As an aside; made emerald last visit with wife playing on my card. It is insane to earn 3x points which is 24,000 points for 8,000 $’s coin in which converts to 40 $ in food credit @ 600 points per dollar which is untouched when you go and get it comped so conceivably you could just rack up the points and never spend any on food until you have like a 100,000 or maybe 6. I stayed three nights at the MSS and on Friday morning was ready to head out for the next two nights @ Orleans. Started with 529040 slot points and card score of 223330 on Tuesday. Didn’t play much Tuesday due to time of arrival but did play a bit more Wednesday and Thursday at both California and MSS. Beginning with Thursday morning’s adventures I had 595795 slot points and 242829 card score. I had played craps as well as some blackjack but mostly concentrated on vp at the BHB. It was either .5 $’s JoB or Bonus Poker. I tried to make a point of taking a photo of my card score information each day to give me a starting point to figure my earnings (especially when going to play craps or bj; you can note your score and then check again prior to playing games with coin-in and access the difference as they points applied for the table games) but as is usual, alcohol interferes with most of my plans each trip. Damn, damn, and damn again the alcohol. But what is Vegas without it? A sobering thought. Took the 8:30 a.m. Friday shuttle from California which actually left from the Fremont as there is construction which closed the street the shuttle usually traveled near the California. Arrived at Sam’s Town and had about an hour to kill before the first shuttle to the strip. After this first shuttle the schedule plays out with you getting off one bus and getting on the other with about 7 minutes or so overlap. I like ST but it is just so out of the way to the rest of the world. ONCE you get there it is easy to take the shuttle back and forth to DT or the strip but to go to / from the airport is just insane. So I went up to play some vp (.25) and keno (.01) to kill the time which remained. It was disturbingly quiet. It was also disturbing that it seems no matter how much older I get (63) I am still one of the “young’un’s” when I go to ST. Perhaps it is my unabashed youthful look for my age! More likely it is the gamblers / visitors to ST are just plain old. Hopefully I will catch them eventually as it would ensure a long life indeed. Got a 4oak playing bonus on 7’s for a quick stake to play keno. Not just any keno but penny 4 card keno at the top of the escalators from the atrium. That is 4 cents a spin just to clarify. Had a couple of OJ’s to quench the thirst from a waitress that had to have seniority at ST as she was certainly a senior but also very nice and efficient. Called me “sweety” and “baby”. Such a flirt. The hour flew by and I was on my way to the shuttle and off to Harrah’s. Approximately 25 minutes later I am at Harrah’s weaving my way through the casino to get across the street to Caesar’s to catch the shuttle to Orleans for the next episode in this exciting journey for the 4,000 coin pay-out. Check in to the Orleans was simple as usual even though it was on a Friday between 10:45 and 11:15 in the a.m. I am almost sure. Room 1410 with a great view of the strip from the Stratosphere to the Mandalay Bay if you crane your neck both ways. They have redone the hallways and rooms (sort of) at Orleans at least on this floor. Reminds me of the Imperial Palace back in the 80’s – early 90’s. Square light fixtures and browns and imitation leather as well as a new coat of paint and fresh carpet. It was refreshing but the room was basically the same with new sink counters and bureaus. Bed was as comfy as ever. Didn’t care for the pay-tables at Orleans Mardi Gras bar (no JoB) so played mostly at the Blackjack and craps tables. Not overly profitable nor destructible results from these encounters. Crews at the table games are still as good as it gets in my opinion although it seems the clientele is bordering on the sketchier with each visit. But what is Vegas without that? More alcohol please. Did the usual dinner at the Prime Rib Loft (at the bar) and was pleased. Used points. Had a 25 $ credit for food with the two night offer and saved it for breakfast(s) and one lunch. I am frugal and eat light at the coffee shop. What can I say? Had a bill for .40 upon check-out. The lady asked me if I wanted to see about getting it waived but I soldiered up with two quarters and said don’t worry about it. Next stop is the Gold Coast. It was Super Bowl Sunday at 11:00. For the first time ever I had to wait for a room (come back at noon she said and it would be up and ready) which was understandable; who would be checking out of the room on Super Sunday? At least one it seems. But they gave me a room number so to access my free play (100 $) and my free food comp (50 $ per day). So off I went to see the sights. Last trip I was delighted to find a safe in the room at the Gold Coast and erroneously assumed it was property wide but it is not (unless it was really well hidden) as the room was safeless. So after stuffing my current stash of daily envelopes in my shoes and covering them with dirty clothes in the bottom of the closet / armoire I headed down to place my Big Game Day bets and play some vp. Carolina first half -3 at -110 for 200 $ (how could it be this easy, the Panthers always start fast and then let the opposition back in as the game progresses so it is a cinch by half-time it would be ahead by 6 or more) and the under -45 for 200 $ also at -110. Dee-fence was the overriding factor in that choice. And now looking back (but with no vision looking forward at the time) the man in line behind me was correct. Make a quick 570 $’s on a 100 $ bet; take the Broncos -200 and parlay with the under. Wow that does sound good! I just couldn’t wrap my head around the “upset” and 100 $’s ? I couldn’t wrap myself around taking the points either. If only alcohol had been involved I could have an excuse for not having the vision. Once again it seems every time the betting is going one way in a most prejudicial fashion the opposite result is the result. And once again my vision was lacking. So I lost 20 $ vig. I watched the game in the upstairs conference room until half. Couldn’t take the sound system. Loud and echo-ey but fun with the crowd. So back down to the vp machines outside the Red Zone Bar downstairs for the second half. Poor Cam. Two years ago at the Orleans after the game everybody not in a Bronco jersey was yelling “Omaha!!” in mocking Peyton’s play calling and performance due to the expectations prior to the game. This year it was the “dap”. If you threw a point at craps instead of a bow or nod of the head, it was a dap. Blackjack? The dap was noted. Oh those poor millionaires; how will they get over all of it? My mom loved keno which is beyond me but someone has to grease the wheels of vegas....so every trip her numbers are played and it seems every trip she comes through.....go figure.. It was a pretty uneventful evening except for watching all the back and forth after the game concluded. I really like the Gold Coast. Wish they had another option to TGIF after hours and for breakfast though. TGIF just doesn’t do justice to food orders in my opinion. Drunk food maybe but believe it or not each time I wanted to eat I wasn’t drunk. Perhaps it was my fault. I did make a note that I was at card score of 257850 as of noon Saturday but no other documentation until Monday February 8 at 11 a.m. or so. This would reflect my stay at Orleans and one night and the following morning at the Golf Coast; slot points of 692962 and card score of 266991 which is pretty close to where it is now as I slow played it Monday (last day) leaving early the following morning. A little blackjack (3 hours maybe) and a smattering of vp ended up the trip. So I am killing yet more time on Monday morning planning to revitalize my system with straight orange juice and some good food. As I play along the elusive one rears its now beautiful head and I am pleased. Diamonds are not just a girl’s best friend apparently. A great ending to a now profitable hunting trip. Off to the room for the fetal position – wait for the airplane’s departure and hit the bank on the way home. There is an added bonus (which we missed last year as we hit on a Saturday) that pays bonus free play for a Royal. It turned into 88 $'s if I recall correctly which was nice. Had a flight at 7:05 a.m. which meant I had to head out about 5:30 or so via cab (thank God I had a nice, older gentleman whose first language was English) which turned out to be 16.47(?) $’s and with tip ended up being 22 $’s. The process at the airport at this time of day was not too bad and I was at the gate (no bags checked) by 6:10 or so waiting for the cattle call at 6:35. Uneventful flight, drive home, re-embracement with the kitties and awaiting the hard working spouse who brings home the bacon. Still haven’t told her about the Royal. We have skiing planned in March @ Tahoe so may tell her by then. And that’s it. Sorry for any drawn out descriptions or boring reflections. Finally, a first happened Sitting at Boar’s Head Bar in the # 2 position I am approached by another VMB’er who asked what the bracelet signified and glancing down I saw his as well. Other than pre-arranged meet-ups, I had not had the opportunity to see another bracelet nor be seen by those with knowledgeable eyes. So it does happen. Good to meet you DeadMan’sHand. And he is from Texas as well so you know all would be well.