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Flamingo 6/9-12 and honest doc, Vegas IS a healthy vacation

Discussion in 'Vegas Trip Reports' started by lithelady, Jun 19, 2010.

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  1. lithelady

    lithelady Low-Roller

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    My Trip Report

    First: if you were at the urinals at Flamingo men's restroom 6/12 when I walked in, apologies. It was my 4th day in Vegas...those Men's and Women's letters on the mirrored entryway sort of go fuzzy by that time.

    And onto the report:

    Sure, we inhale smoke, sleep too little, drink too much, eat too fast and hunch over tables and machines....but yes, Vegas is healthy and I proved it
    The recommended number of steps to have a healthy lifestyle that actually turns walking into fitness - as some of you might know - is 10,000 steps a day.

    I decided to check out my Vegas trip on my pedometer. So when I arrived at the Flamingo, I took it out, made sure it was at zero and clipped it on. From 3 pm to 6 pm, just getting familiar with the hotel layout, registering for the VP tournament, gambling, going next door to Bills, checking out the menu at Margaritaville, etc I walked 11,300 steps on day one.

    Day 2 I clipped it on at 9 am and measured my steps til 9 pm - This day I walked over to Paris, Bally's, Bills and through the Flamingo. I also managed to fit in a 2 hour nap mid-day. Walking-wise it was a pretty light Vegas day, but in my 12-hour window, I clocked over 24,000 steps. That's four times what I do in a normal day at home if I don't make an extra effort to "up" my steps.

    Day 3 was another 12-hour window of measurement, and I logged another 25,000 steps even though I didn't go any further than Harrahs, IP, O'Sheas, Flamingo, Bill's and the walkway over Bellagio fountains.

    Day 4 I forgot to put on my pedometer. But by this time, I was pretty smug about the fitness benefits of a Vegas vacation. Well.....sort of

    At Check-in: is this what they call customer service? If so, I agree!

    It's summer. There are a couple of tournaments in town (WSOP at Rio, VP at Flamingo, Pool tournament, Bridge tournament, etc). By all indications (room rates, lobby activity) they are have a nicely filled house, but aren't sold out. Having not pursued Diamond last year, I barely made platinum, and frankly, didn't expect much.

    Instead, in the Platinum/Diamond check in, I was treated royally. Yeh, I hear you thinking: what'd she think? that they would spit on her? Well, mostly I just expected courteous service. But the front desk person was terrific, chatting me up as if there wasn't another person in line who could possibly be more important. Without asking for a thing, I was given a top floor GO room (the top floor is a dubious distinction on Friday and Saturdays when the elevators stop on every floor on the way up and down). There was a "note" in my file that my casino host would like to meet me and did I have a moment so they could call her to come say hello? Here's my extension to call if you need anything or have any questions. You'll find your room has a coffee-maker and refrigerator. Let us know what else we can do to make your stay comfortable.

    Flamingo (and I assume all the TR VIP check ins) now have a policy at check in- they give you an envelope requesting your flight information, so they can print your boarding pass. I guess it's an envelope so when you turn it in, you remember to tip the person and then in return, they put the boarding pass inside the envelope for you to pick up. I had paid the extra $10 to Southwest to get early check in, so for once, printing the boarding pass exactly 24 hrs ahead of time was no big deal (a good thing too - since my flight home was filled to the brim, and those poor people who boarded in the C group had no room for their bags overhead). But I like that Flamingo turned it into a "service" instead of something you had to remember to do.

    Anyway, check in went quickly, no line, great service. Tipped the front desk person $20, which is my policy anytime they act like a human and not just a cog in the wheel.

    The good and bad of GO rooms
    I was a mid-range Diamond player back when they introduced the GO rooms so I got a lot of offers tempting me to stay at Flamingo and enjoy one. And they did sound sleek and nice - iPod docking, LCD/HD, push button drape and sheer open/close, refrigerators, etc etc Nevertheless, I never got around to staying in one til this trip.

    Walking into my GO room, I was happy with it. The bed was comfy. As promised, there was coffee maker, refrigerator, the room was nice and cold despite the outside heat. The view overlooked Bills parking garage/casino, Bally's, Paris, and the Bellagio fountains and there was a nice chaise in front of the window to lounge on and watch the strip/fountain show. I liked all that. The bathroom was ok. TV inset in the mirror; no magnifying mirror. Shower with three nozzles. Very, very little counter space (certainly not enough for two people - one person would definitely need to keep their stuff on the underneath shelf)

    So far as stylish, sleek, high-tech-edgy, the room wasn't something that I'd gush about. It was sort of like an exhibit at IKEA that had been up six months too long...no longer crisp and cool, but not yet past its prime.

    Then I realized the one major flaw that would prevent me from staying in one on most trips: the room had two beds (which is what I requested, thinking a work friend might fly down to join me for a night). But the bathroom had frosted, glass walls.

    Now think: Most hotel rooms in Vegas have a doorway, and a bathroom to the immediate right or left. When I am in Vegas with friends, our pattern is ALWAYS, the first person in at night turns on the bathroom light and closes the door. Then the second person in can slip into the bathroom easily, get undressed, ready for bed etc without disturbing the person who is already asleep. (Yes, many VMB readers get suites, but that also allows for someone to enter the room without disturbing the sleeper).

    Not so the GO room. You walk in. One side of the entryway is a frosted glass wall of the bathroom. To enter the bathroom,you go into the bedroom area, have a sliding glass door into the bathroom. (sorry no pics...camera was home, phone pics got deleted ... no idea what I did).

    So - not only does the first person in at night have the light shining through the frosted glass walls that pretty much keep the room lit...BUT ALSO, to go to the bathroom you are opening and closing a sliding door that is right next to the beds. BAD design for friends who travel together but don't turn in at the same time.

    On the more pleasant side, the TV had a lot more channels than had been available at either Caesars or Paris (at least last year)...and a number of HD channels. It was good tv with a remote on which the sleep timer actually worked (something I've complained about in other hotels).

    That's it for now....later I'll talk about my all-fast-food effort, the weirdo who jinxed my play, and how my effort to avoid the "i always come home from Vegas with a cold" almost landed me in the hospital.
     
  2. BackInVegas

    BackInVegas VIP Whale

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    Awesome you admit to walking into the Mens room

    Pretty funny.

    The main question is, did you get propositioned in there? Enquiring Minds want to know.

    Interesting steps per day test. I walk from the Palms to the strip all the time, and up and down the strip. I know I get a lot of steps in.

    Doesn't matter. I still get fat.
     
  3. Mycatspot

    Mycatspot Tourist

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    How many steps per day = a mile or # of calories burned? I have no frame of reference.. thanks! Loved your report!
     
  4. loonytoony

    loonytoony VIP Whale

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    Can't wait to hear more. So how many urinals did ya pass before your said whoops!!!!!!! LOL
     
  5. vegasmom

    vegasmom Low-Roller

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    Love your style of writing.
     
  6. lithelady

    lithelady Low-Roller

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    Most pedometers let you set your own stride - but typically it's about 2000 to 2500 steps to one mile if you are walking; 1000 if you are running or taking large strides.
     
  7. lithelady

    lithelady Low-Roller

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    Ah hah, BackInVegas, what enquiring minds should ask is did I search around afterward and proposition any of THEM.

    But back to the story...

    The jinx of all jinxes and how could ANYBODY so egregiously break the cardinal rule of casino behavior
    Well, I was in my nice, cool, GO room for all of ummm, 2 minutes. Then down to the casino.

    Earlier I alluded to the fact that I was in town for the VP Tournament, but never stated that. Well, I was. Never done a VP tourney. Never played DDB video poker. The tournament was a peg for the trip, not the purpose. Since signing up, I had been practicing at the Wizard of Odds, but we all know...nothing is like playing in the casino.

    Headed to a $1 poker machine, tried out my "tournament" play (fast) and in the first hour dropped about $200. Moved to the Spin Poker machine and wowser - hit a nice little run of luck. Made back my $200 and was up another $500. When the nice streak ended, I still had $350 more than I had started with. I moved to a multi-pay machine.

    Then some guy walks up to me and says, "oh, wow, you should try that machine over there." I figure, okay, why not. And I move. 25 cent machine with some multiple pay feature. First hand I hit 4 OAK kings then I hit something with a 12 x pay. I'm liking this machine a lot.

    THEN....This same guy comes over my shoulder and says, "OH, when you get the 12 x," you need to change games, and HE LEANS OVER MY SHOULDER, PUSHES MY HAND OUT OF THE WAY, takes me out of the DDB I'm playing, and hits another game (JOB I think).

    I go nuts. I've never had anyone actually move onto a machine while I was in the middle of playing it...you know, when I had MONEY in the machine. I give him the benefit of the doubt that he was being helpful, but it totally unnerves me. I tell him I do NOT want to leave DDB, and to shove off.

    He looks at me like I'm the crazy one and walks away. I lose every hand for the next 10 minutes, get up and walk back to my previously winning Spin Poker machine, lose every hand, and 90 minutes later had lost my earlier winnings and several hundred more dollars.

    This, clearly is a mental thing I tell myself. I get up. Leave the casino. Walk to O'Sheas and get a Subway sandwich. Play $5 Blackjack for about 20 minutes and lost another $20 or so.... Walk outside for awhile to shake off the bad feeling. Pretty much figured I was clear of the vibe, but from then on, I couldn't hit a thing. Switched to slots. Poured thru money. Tried Dueces Wild, JOB, DDB. If there was a non-hand to be had, I had it.

    This is when you really wish you had a friend with you - someone to yank you away and make you go for a nice meal. Or when it would have been helpful to still be a Diamond member, and take a Diamond Lounge break. I had none of that. I kept playing. And losing. Then suddenly....

    My Resolution to Come Home from Vegas at Least Once Without Having a Cold or the Flu (or whatever) almost lands me in the hospital

    Yes, we've all been there. By the time we're ready to board a plane home, all the tired, germ-filled days catch up with us. We've played VP and slots and blackjack and craps, and touched our eyes, our noses, our mouths. Probably 4 out of 5 trips I come home depressed because the trip is over AND with some sort of contagious crud.

    This trip I had decided I was going to see if I could avoid that. I got some nice smelling anti bacterial hand gel. I got a big bottle of Vitamin C. I had a pak of Zicam.

    I decided to head downtown, and see if a change of scenery would bring a change of luck. But on my way to the taxi stand, I realize my throat is swollen. Pretty seriously. Oh cr*p - it feels like strep throat. I can barely swallow and my neck hurts to touch it. But it happened really fast and I think, "This is what an allergic reaction must feel like. I'm reacting to something I've touched or breathed or eaten."

    Surely this is a mild reaction - since a severe one would have me unable to breathe - but I go to the gift store. I pay $11.84 for a $3.95 box of Benedryl (don't you HATE hotel gift shops?????). Pop in a Benedryl. I decide if I'm going to die I don't want it to be in the casino where someone will step over me and steal my purse (need I say I wasn't thinking clearly?). I decide to go to my room, where I'm alone.

    The throat is getting a little better. I'm a lot less worried. I gargle with warm salt water (I had some small salt packets I had picked up earlier at Subway). The salt in those packs isn't really enough...so I go down to the burger joint and ask the hostess if I can have salt from one of their shakers. But by now I'm feeling better, so on my way upstairs I play some more - drop another $100 or so - head up to my room and decide to gel down the whole room: telephone, remote, faucets, with my anti-bacterial gel.

    Decide to go down to gamble, then realize my throat is swelling again. I can still swallow but it really hurts. I wrap steamy hot washcloths around my throat. I'm doing the salt water thing, and popping Vitamin C.

    By now it's midnight. I'm feeling a little better, wondering if this is some odd anxiety issue, and the throat gets worse again. I've always heard that allergic reactions can be mild initially but get much worse suddenly, so I start to wonder if I should call the front desk and take a taxi to the hospital. If it's something in my fancy GO room, or something in the casino, I'm thinking that the next attack could be even more serious.

    Anxiety? Allergy? Strep throat? The JINX??? What the hell is happening to me?

    It took til 3 a.m. before I put it together: every time it got worse, I was in contact with the all-natural anti-bacterial fancy hand gel I'm using. I wipe down the room (everything I had wiped down with gel earlier) with a hot, wet towel. I stop using the stuff. I didn't have any other problems the whole trip.

    Day One has ended.

    Still to come - Insult of insults: another surprise fee
     
  8. lithelady

    lithelady Low-Roller

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    Loonytoony -I was so tired (it WAS day 4) that when I walked in and saw urinals instead of stalls, I thought, "wow, I don't remember walking thru the men's room to get to the women's room before" ... it was that same sense you have in a dream when you can't quite figure out what's wrong but you know it IS wrong. It took me two full beats (about 2 seconds) before the whoops hit me, and then I LMAO at myself.
     
  9. lithelady

    lithelady Low-Roller

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    This fee really irks me...
    As we've discussed before on the board, BA no longer offers travelers checks. Well, (out here at least) neither does AAA. You can only get them via their online site. Wells Fargo sells TCs, but the day I was leaving I went to Wells Fargo with Cash and they will only sell to people who have a Wells Fargo Debit Card. They don't take cash.

    The point of all this is, I land in Vegas with cash, but have poured thru it in Day One. So Day Two I go to the cashier to write a check. The new system Harrahs properties has put in place limits me to about 1/3rd of what I used to write checks for at HET properties, but whatever... I write a check, and the cashier says, "There is a $4 fee for cashing a check."

    WTF?? I'm getting money so I have cash to gamble. And they charge a fee for me to get the cash, even though I've written checks at HET for over 10 years and never written a bad one???

    I pay the $4, but get very pissed. It's not as much as the resort fees which they so proudly proclaim they DON'T charge, but clearly, they are looking to stick it to you wherever possible.

    At what point will there be a fee to enter the gambling part of the hotel? (Can you imagine: Welcome to our hotel. If you'd like to enter our casino, that will be included in your $100 a day entertainment fee.)

    Did I mention: Wednesday is a good arrival day?
    I failed to mention in my earlier posts that I arrived on a Wednesday. No taxi line to speak of. No line at the regular Flamingo hotel check in or at the Diamond/Platinum check in. No lines at any restaurant.

    Thursday morning bright and early there was a long line at the regular check in. By mid-day it had grown to an even longer line. It stayed that way all Thursday. And all day Friday the check in line was very long, and moving very slowly.

    The numbers might be low, as Gary Loveman said on CNBC, but the Flamingo at least, looks to be very full. The casino was busy. The restaurants were busy. The elevators were full. The streets were crowded. By Friday, there wasn't really a cheap table to be had, unlike Wednesday and Thursday when I had no problem finding a $5 blackjack table at Bill's while I listened to Big Elvis.

    Note to self: in planning my August trip, forget the weekend. I used to like the crowds and action and the feel of a full casino. But HET properties still aren't really staffed for full houses.

    Still to come....the JINX-man shows up again.
     
  10. sb_039

    sb_039 Tourist

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    Awesome report! Can't wait for the rest.
     
  11. breanna61

    breanna61 Super Moderator

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    Enjoying the read; the Jinx man is a nervy SOB!:eek:
     
  12. lithelady

    lithelady Low-Roller

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    Notes on the VP Tournament
    A dozen or so years back I did a couple of slot tournaments, which were a lot of fun. There would be a welcome prize - usually two t-shirts or two chambray logo shirts - there would be comp breakfast buffet each morning, and of course a closing dinner with cash prizes.

    OK, really long gone are those days.

    Still, I wasn't prepared for the wham-bam-thank-you-maa'm of today's tournaments. Arrive Wednesday, stand in line to get your tournament times (2 -10 minute segments: one thur, one friday.) Stand in line to get your tournament gift: $50 in reel rewards (perceived value high, but knowing it costs the casino nothing and it's tough to turn $50 into anything, it's pretty fleeting. ) Show up for your 10 minute segment each day. Stand in line Friday night to get your prize - top four prizes get cash, 396 people get reel rewards, 400 people get nothing.

    I had a good first day, ending in top 75 of the 800 entrants. Day 2 my machine wasn't as responsive (or maybe after two nights of little sleep my timing was off) but I was in the bottom. In the end I just eked out a prize - $50 in Reel Rewards, which were gone in about 4 minutes later that night.

    Still, the experience as fun. Not an event that I would go out of my way to do again, but one i'd do if it fit with my schedule.

    Notes on the Flamingo casino
    I hadn't stayed at the Flamingo in 20 years or so, but I gamble there at least once a year. This trip, since it was my "home" casino I spent a lot of time there.

    The four days I was there, I never saw one big jackpot won. Never saw one hand pay (a fellow tournament player said she had seen one person get a royal flush and a hand pay while playing at Flamingo).

    The slots areas are loud - Flamingo has crammed in every imaginable machine that yells, whoops, dings, beeps, sings and talks . Call me old....but wow, it was really bad noise clutter and worse than any of the other casinos I played in this trip. One man said he noticed he was getting dizzy often, and was limiting how long he'd play at Flamingo because of that. (As an aside, best casino on the ears was Bill's while Big Elvis is singing...he's good, it's a fun show, and the casino is a good size for his music)

    back to flamingo, tho. Drink service in some areas is ok. In other areas, totally absent. About average at the tables. The Video poker area where I mostly played had a lot of traffic (there WAS a VP tournament there, after all) but on a number of occasions, I waited for over an hour for drink service. One time I left, went to a back slot area, played there and got two bottles of water, then returned to the VP machine and handed the woman next to me a water.

    Neither in blackjack nor slots nor VP did I ever have a WOW moment. At the various Harrah's casinos I played in (7) this trip, I collected 4000 tier points - and though I played plenty of funky machines, never raked up much in the bonus/reward credits. I got about 8000 of those (the points that DON"T go to tier level). The 2:1 ratio seems lower than in the past, lower than we discussed when I asked in advance of the trip how to get points. It strikes me that they have lowered those reward credits people can get from gambling and are hoping to push people to getting points by charging on their Harrah's Visa and spending money in the casino.

    My last day there, I had about 3900 Tier points - I knew it wouldn't be good for my ADT to play just to get those last 100 points to hit Platinum, but I decided to go for it anyway. That way, in the event I decide to stay downtown my next trip in town, I've hit Platinum for next year. It cost me about $300 to make those last 100 points. Geesh.

    It occurs to me that much of the Strip is moving toward the day when gambling is only incidental to the revenues.

    Eating cheap on the strip
    For all the Trip Reports about good food, we don't read much about folks who go the opposite route. Staying at the Flamingo, you are in an easy position to eat cheap - under $10 - per meal. Next door at O'Sheas is a Burger King, Subway, wrap place, mexican place, pizza and terriaki. (hint: don't try the Mexican place for breakfast - oh, yuk, I actually threw the food out). If you go to O'Sheas on Thursday, you can also watch dumb, drunk college guys in a beer pong tournament. About as stupid as it gets for Vegas entertainment...I loved it.

    At Bill's, on the other side of Flamingo there is a hot dog cart, and a coupon from the Flamingo at check-in good for $4.99 burger/fries/shake at the Victorian Cafe. In Flamingo itself there is a mini-food court with a Mrs Fields and TCBY that has pretty good sandwiches/chips for under $10. There is also a pizza/sandwich take out place by the pool (which I found sorely lacking in tasty food) and the Pink Bean snack bar at the entryway to the casino (also lacking in food with taste).

    Jinx guy returns
    Remember jinx guy from day one? On Day 3 I had just returned to the casino, and saw someone I recognized from the tournament at a VP machine. I sat down to chat, play a few hands, and lo-and-behold, the same guy comes up and says, "hey, you having any luck on that machine?" Before I can look for a silver stake to chase him with, he says, "well, see that machine over there (pointing to the same one he had steered me to on Day one)? You need to try it, really!"

    What is it? Is this guy on commission? Does he get royalties from the machine?

    The good...
    ...nice room, good air conditioning, enough cloudy weather so that it wasn't baking outside, Flamingo's wildlife habitat was a pleasant diversion, room service (I used it twice and the order-taker and the waiter were great - food was mediocre, but service was swift).

    The really good...
    ...Flamingo staff seem to be human beings. They laugh, joke, respond to courtesy...you know, they aren't just phoning it in. I got the feeling that they aren't worried that if they do one little thing wrong they'll get hit on the knuckles with a ruler.

    The bad...
    ...hotel and casino were clean on Wednesday but as the hotel filled up staff couldn't keep up. By Friday, the elevators were dirty by 10 am and even dirtier as the day wore on. I walked into one, slipped on some spilled beer. An hour later I was in the same elevator and tho the beer was gone, the floor was sticky and the elevator smelled stale.

    The ugly
    Except for my brief burst of luck on the first day, and a small run up playing blackjack at Bill's, my luck was yuck.
     
  13. BackInVegas

    BackInVegas VIP Whale

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    Really? Allergic to the Hand sanitizer, wow.

    Amazing.

    I prefer to live in dirt and squalor to build up my anti-bodies. I never worry about that stuff because I am pretty darn sure that as a baby and a kid I had my hands in anything and everything. If I survived that, I can survive what other germs there are.

    Although getting deathly ill on a trip is a bummer. Viral infections being the worst because there is nothing they can do.
     
  14. jgates8

    jgates8 VIP Whale

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    $4 fee is definitely waived for Diamond. I thought it was waived for Platinum also - but that could be wrong - maybe Platinum has to pay? If they realized you were D/P, you shouldn't have been charged.

    My understanding (and it works with why they dumped the check-cashing company at local casino & decided to do it themselves, LOL) - is that the fee is charged by the company that approves it. They earn money for both the casino subscribing to the service as well as the per check fee. Our cash service (the one they dumped) charged I believe $6.95 per $100 so they were REALLY pricey. (But they were actually renting a spot at the casino so I suppose they had to cover that too).

    However, my frustration in the company is the same as yours - I used to have a $2000 per DAY limit (YIKES - good thing I have self-control!) however now it is $400 EVERY 12 DAYS. I hoped it would be increased this last trip with 'history' of using it, but no-go. I tried at the companies website to see if I could work with them ahead of time to get a better limit. No contact info unless you are a business that wants to buy their product.

    So I finally gave up & applied for a credit line with Paris. I'm going to have to 'hoof' it a bit this next trip, as I am staying at Flamingo. So I can either pay at the ATM, try to time it to use the Diamond Lounge ATM (which doesn't charge on non-pin based for Diamond I guess, but not sure about regular dispensing), or hoof it to Paris to get more cash. Ugh.

    Just very frustrating when your account has been open since 2/1980, your credit score is over 800, & you have ZERO nsf/overdrafts.
     
  15. lithelady

    lithelady Low-Roller

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    Oh! It didn't dawn on me that the fee would be waived if I pulled out my players card. I guess I assume all that is on file at the casino. I sort of expect them to say, "Wow, girl! You've written us a bundle of checks over the past decade - what can we do for you?"

    The new system is frustrating but before August, I'll break down and get a credit line too. The "limit" imposed on me at Bally's was on file at Flamingo, which sort of surprised me, since the cross-casino financial communication didn't used to happen. Is the "credit line" still casino to casino?
     
  16. lithelady

    lithelady Low-Roller

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    I totally understand the "M&M's and margaritas every day keep those immune fighters in condition" theory of disease control:nworthy:
     
  17. LolaDoggie

    LolaDoggie VIP Whale

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    According to the interwebs, your 25,000 steps is roughly 20km. :nworthy:
     
  18. lithelady

    lithelady Low-Roller

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    And just think, all those people who spend $5000 a week to go to a spa think our Vegas vacations are a waste of money. :beer:
     
  19. jgates8

    jgates8 VIP Whale

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    19
    My understanding was that the credit line is per casino. I was told (but I didn't verify it at any other location), that I could only draw at Paris. At the end of the trip I wrote out a check for what I owed on the line, however, they would not give me back the draw slips until they knew the check cleared so I received them in the mail a few weeks later. I was told the line stayed active as long as you used it 1 time per year.

    The check system took a bit to get to all the casinos but it is definitely now at Paris, Flamingo & RIO as of February. I assume it is probably in all by now. The first experience was at Flamingo & at that time Paris still had the old system (last July or November?).

    When applying for your credit line, one big thing to remember is they WILL call your bank. And in my case they asked if I had 2x the amount I was requesting as either my current or average balance in my checking account. If you only keep a $200 average balance, there could be an issue. (A lot of people don't keep a ton in their checking - leave it in savings, etc.).

    And I don't know HOW that check company figures things. As I indicated my account was opened in 1980, no od's, check #'s in the 20,000's. And I have $400 over 12 days. My travel companion wrote out 3 checks for $500 each 3 days in a row. So who knows?
     
  20. jmp6477

    jmp6477 Tourist

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2010
    Messages:
    92
    Location:
    NW Pa
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    8
    Very good read. Sorry about the jinx man, but I did enjoy your reaction. Very funny.
     
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