Saturday August 18th And so, after only returning from Las Vegas 3 weeks ago, I’m excited to depart once again to my favorite city. One of my fave friends, FFlowers (board name) is celebrating her birthday in Vegas and it blessedly provides me with an excuse for another trip! Her brother, Champster (board name) and his lovely girlfriend were also in Vegas for her birthday and I was excited to meet them for the first time. After a Saturday morning of watching my high school senior daughter play in a tennis tourney, I drove the 1.5 hours to the St Louis airport. I left early enough for a quick stop at Harrah’s STL as I had a $20 fsp voucher. I was lucky enough to convert that into $80 real money before heading to the airport. I had booked a direct SW flight using points, usual good flight and we arrived 15 minutes early at 5:30pm. Bag had already arrived by the time I entered baggage claim, taxi line was very short. I had a fantastic driver who took the correct route to the Flamingo, my home for the next 5 nights. I noticed there was a sign taped on the back of the passenger seat with the taxi cab authority number on it, urging you to call if there was a problem. I did compliment the cab driver for taking me the correct route and tipped him accordingly. Fare with a generous tip was around $20. There wasn’t another single customer in the diamond check-in lounge. I had noticed the night before I left that all the GO rooms were sold out. VIP had phoned me after I returned from my last trip, inquiring about my stay, and I had mentioned how much I loved the room I had (Lobby tower, pool & strip view, king bed, near the elevator and ice machines, no adjoining door) and the gentleman said he would make note of that in my reservation & request a “similar” room. Folks, dismiss the notion that I’m a high roller, I’m a nickel multi-line VP player who dabbles with the penny machines and only earns a few thousand points over diamond each year. That said, I was fearful I wouldn’t get a Go room for the Saturday night arrival, especially since it was comped and I’m definitely at the low end of the totem pole. The young lady said they had me in a GO room and, pleased, I asked if it was in the Lobby Tower (it’s my fave location) and she said it was. When she handed me the keys, I was surprised to see it was the exact same room I had stayed in 3 weeks prior. I commented on this and she said VIP had blocked out the room for me! I was thrilled, this little perk didn’t cost CET anything but made my stay so much more pleasant, kudos to CET. I literally threw my bags in the room and went straight downstairs to play at my favorite nickel machines. I was quite lucky this first night and, on my first $20 bill, I was DEALT four 8’s on 5 play DDB, was DEALT four 2’s on 10 play DDB and drew 5 kickers! FFlowers & her family were at Celine when I arrived and she texted that she had arrived back at Cosmo, so I walked up the very busy strip. She was fresh off a nice penny machine hit and it was wonderful to see her again. She had a beautiful terrace suite overlooking the fountains, I was very impressed with the Cosmo room and loved the terrace! After visiting for a couple hours I returned to the Flamingo and went to bed early, exhausted. Prior to returning to my room, I stopped at Johnny rockets for a burger and onion rings. Food was good but I was up and down multiple times during the night with vicious heartburn from the onion rings. 2 rolls of Rolaids couldn’t knock it. Sunday August 19th I awoke early and enjoyed the luxury of lounging in my comfortable bed with the drapes open. After going downstairs to play, I was DEALT four 2’s on triple play DDB playing dimes, but couldn’t convert a kicker. Great $120 win to begin the day. I also held a Jack of hearts and drew 4 aces on the first line. Go Figure! Breakfast plans included brunch at MAG with FFlowers and her family to celebrate her birthday. I arrived early and scored a table on the patio rail, dead center. Ironically, the same table I had 3 weeks earlier with Gregrio and Sionow. I ordered eggs benedict (again) which was fantastic (again). The birthday girl celebrated with blueberry French toast and sausage, I can’t recall what Champster and his lady ordered, but I know they enjoyed it. BTW, what wonderful people they are, I really enjoyed our visit and the opportunity to meet them. Champ insisted on picking up the check, just another example of how cool our board members are. I returned to the Flamingo to play and nap. I’ve had a tough business schedule the last few weeks and have been exhausted. As a mother of 3 teens, a nap is rare and it was greatly appreciated on this day. My stomach was still iffy so I didn’t eat again the rest of this day. I think the oil the onion rings were fried in didn’t agree with me. Fortunately, my stomach was fine on Monday for the rest of the trip. I had received a “welcome back” offer from the now defunct Las Vegas Hilton for 4 nights comped, $25 each day fsp, show tickets and golf, so I booked this offer just to get the fsp (I have no interest in maintaining a “relationship”). I had monorail passes, so the trip back and forth is easy. I arrived at 4pm to a very long checkin line and only 3 employees working the counters. I will summarize this whole LVH experience in a few bullet points: • Every single employee I encountered (housekeeping, front desk, rewards card counter) was either abrupt or just flat out rude. This place is never going to make it. • Check in line took forever • The room was really nice, seriously nice. The bed was so soft and comfortable I seriously considered sleeping there one night, but didn’t. • I “opted out” of the housekeeping to get $10 in fsp additional per day. One day, the voucher wasn’t under my door, I called housekeeping and she said I had to opt out each day. When I had originally called, I specifically said I wanted to opt out for all 4 days and the rude employee I spoke with said OK, no mention that I needed to call each day. • I ended up with a total of $120 in FSP and turned it into almost exactly $120. So, while taking advantage of this offer was profitable and didn’t take a lot of time each day, I wouldn’t do it again. Every interaction at the LVH property was painful, the employees clearly hate their jobs, it just left me with a negative vibe. Monday August 20th One of my “I’m in Vegas” moments is watching Wake Up with the Wagners on NBC in the mornings. My friend invited me to meet at the Wicked Spoon for the breakfast buffet, my first time there. I really enjoyed this buffet, we were there a couple of hours since we talk more than we eat…LOL. Beautiful property, excellent buffet, especially comped. This was a losing VP day, so there won’t be any wins mentioned, unfortunately! FFlowers and I met to register for the Forever Fabulous slot tourney at the Flamingo. I had booked this offer for the free entry and the comped GO room. FFlowers decided to book a FSP offer instead, but could join the tourney as my guest for 100 RC’s, which was certainly a great deal. Registration went quickly and we were assigned our playing times and machines for the two sessions. FFlowers and I played penny slots together that evening and had an absolute blast. I tried the new Forbidden Dragons slot and got a ton of play and a lot of points from a $20. Tuesday August 21st Played a little VP then met my friend at the Flamingo buffet. I had swiped my TR card at the video screen in the lobby and several special offers were available (buy one get one free buffet, 1 free ticket to George Wallace, book a 25 minute massage and get a 50 min massage upgrade), so I used the buffet coupon and paid with points. We were seated in the diamond area along the glass wall of the Flamingo Habitat, spectacular seating. This breakfast buffet has really improved in the last year. I primarily like breakfast basics and their super crisp bacon and sausage gravy are fantastic. We hurried to the Forever Fabulous tourney area, I was in the first 10 minute session at 10am and she was scheduled for 10:20am. I laughed that it was her & me & AARP…LOL. I had an outstanding machine during this session and scored over 12,000 points, the attendants said 8000 was an excellent score! Fflowers was the best cheerleader ever! Her machine wasn’t as great, but we had a really fun time. The employees were all so friendly and fun and the event was well organized, especially since were there over 1000 participants. I grabbed a cab to TI as I had purchased a Groupon for $120 worth of spa services there and it expires in October. I booked a 50 minute Swedish and it was a few dollars more than my Groupon, which was fine. The spa was nice, quite clean, with a good selection of drinks and snacks. It was much smaller than I expected, that said, there was only 2 other ladies there besides me. My therapist couldn’t seem to understand I want a soft touch, I really just want to be rubbed with oil, I don’t consider this therapy. She roughed up my shoulders and they were awful sore the next day. I told her over and over to lighten up, but she was dead set doing it her way. She told me my body was too sensitive and, when I returned home, I should have someone run (hit?) a rolling pin all over my body. She said “You will be real sore for a few days, but it will end that sensitivity problem”. Seriously? The overall massage was better than no massage at all, but I certainly won’t go back. The VP wasn’t great again today. I was DEALT four kings on dime BP 5 play. This was my first decent hit on BP so far this trip. We intended to take the CET shuttle from Bally’s to the Rio at 6pm as I had redeemed my 2 free diamond tickets for Penn & Teller. The bus was full when we arrived and, although they said another one was “coming on line”, we finally gave up and took a cab. I had purchased a Groupon for the VooDoo Steakhouse on the 50th floor of the Rio that was good for 2 entrees. First, we took advantage of the Rio Diamond Lounge, snacks were good and the strawberry daiquiris were strong! Excellent service, this is an excellent diamond lounge. The Voodoo Steakhouse was stunning. I had made reservations and, since there were 2 diamonds in our party, we were seated on the glass for an exceptional view. Prior to dinner, we enjoyed the outside viewing area and had our pics taken. The lights of the strip were just beginning to light, beautiful view. The meal was excellent, my filet was tender and perfectly prepared. We ordered several sides and drinks and (with the Groupon) the meal was about $50 including a generous tip. I charged it to the room as I had an account credit. She took lots of pics at the restaurants. Evidently I did not, as my only pics on my phone are gambling porn…LOL. It’s a good thing we enjoyed the outside area before the meal because, during the meal, it started storming hell and the Great Flood began. It was cool watching the lightening from the 50th floor! We had excellent seats to Penn & Teller. I’m not one for magic, but most of their magic left me shaking my head. Clearly talented magicians. I think Penn talks too much (and uses the stage to state his opinions as if they are gospel) and Teller is a cutie. It was a good show and I enjoyed it. We cabbed back (still storming, so just not interested in the shuttle!) and played some more with little luck. Wednesday August 22nd Well, it’s a very good thing my friend texted me about breakfast or I would have slept through the slot tourney! I shudder to think about that as I was one of the top scores from day 1! We, once again, enjoyed the Flamingo breakfast buffet using her 2-4-1 coupon and paying with points. We were given an even better table on the glass and watched it storm on the flamingos! It had rained much of the night and continued to rain all day. LV broke several records on this day: • Coolest high temperature ever recorded in August (85 deg) • Highest 24 hour rainfall total ever recorded • Second highest midnight to midnight rainfall amount ever As an example of the flooding, FFlowers and I were walking from the Flamingo to the IP for the free IP slot tourney and I thought the construction area would be a good thing since the walk would be “covered”. Wrong! The entire construction sidewalk area flooded and we walked in over-ankle-deep water to get to the IP! We both removed our sandals and waded through, what else to do? Of course, the IP parking garage looked like the Colorado River. When I left town on Thursday morning, police were still looking for a 17 year old boy who had fallen into one of the wash areas and was swept away, prayers for him. I’m been to LV a hundred times, and sometimes during rainy periods, but nothing like this. It actually rained the entire day. I, naturally, had a crappy machine in the slot tourney second round and only scored 6000 points. I knew I would be in the money, but certainly not in the top prizes. BTW, 1st prize was $15,000, 2nd $6500, the top 50 rec’d at least $450, 50-200th place rec’d $100, and 200-400th rec’d $50…. All in FSP. FFlower’s machine wasn’t much better, but we had a blast. Afterward, after wading to the IP and doing the slot tourney, I took the monorail to the LVH. The monorail was fairly busy considering LV BLVD was empty! The monorail isn’t well prepared for rain, many of the walking surfaces were really slick and many areas of the roof leaked. I mention the monorail ride as there was some drama on my return trip from LVH to the Flamingo. We stopped at the Las Vegas Convention Center stop, and since the Magic convention was in town, the doors were staying open way longer than normal, making it a very long stop. This particular stop seemed to go on forever and the other couple sitting near me commented on it as well. I noticed a man approach the monorail and stop near the door of the car where I was seated. The windows are tinted so it’s difficult to see in great detail, I could see his hair was dyed bleach blonde and he was wearing a ton of dark makeup, especially all around his eyes. He was dressed all in black and wearing a black cloak. AND it appeared he was holding a handgun. His arm was straight down at his side and it was clearly the outline of a gun in his hand. He approached the door and got in the car. Time Froze. Once he sat down, I studied the gun more closely (as close as I was going to get) and I couldn’t tell if it were real or not. I’m a farm girl and have shot guns for years, and I’m thinking it probably wasn’t real, but not sure. I think a better question is What in the Hell is he THINKING getting on public transportation with a gun, real or not, in his hand? Especially dressed as he was. I know Magic was going on but most of the monorail riding attendees over the last 3 days were dressed normally. I saw quite a few at the LVH where evidently Magic attire has morphed into sadism, but certainly no one was openly carrying a gun. The other couple and I looked at each other and shrugged our shoulders. Who know? I was especially happy to arrive at the Flamingo Station. I was suitably rewarded with a winning VP session which included being dealt 4-to-a straight flush and pulling the Queen of hearts on 2 lines, and being dealt three 3’s on 5 play DDB and pulling the 4th with a kicker on line 1 and the 4th without a kicker on line 3. I also stuck a $20 in the Forbidden Dragons penny machine and hit all 5 dragons with a 5x pay during a bonus round for $231 on a fifty cent bet! I walked over to Bally’s then Fflowers and I walked through to Paris for dinner at La Provencal. I had purchased a Groupon for $40 off your bill and would pay the balance in points. This was a lovely restaurant and the service was the best of the trip! I ordered their house salad and the rigatoni with meat sauce, both were outstanding. She ordered the cheese ravioli in brown butter sauce and it was simply divine. Their French bread is amazing! After the Groupon, the bill was only $11 and we paid with points. Afterwards, we had tickets for the Jersy Boys at Paris. We were shocked to overhear a couple of ladies at the Flamingo who were beyond excited they could get Jersey Boys tickets as their free diamond tickets. We dashed to the diamond desk and, sure enough, it’s an promo for just a very short time. We had great seats and the ticket price was $171 each on the ticket stub! I love Franki Valli and this was definitely one of the most powerful shows I have ever seen. Everything about it is a winner. During the 10 minute intermission we dashed to the TR desk to see if we won prizes in the slot tourney (results posted at 8pm as promised) and I did win $100 fsp. After the wonderful show, we walked back to the Flamingo where I picked up my FSP. I played it through on 3 and 5 play BP and did poorly, cashing out only $62. Since my flight leaves at 6am the following day, I can’t stay up too late but decide to try to work that $60 into something more substantial or lose it (I also hadn’t racked up as many points as normal and wanted to earn a few more). I changed to 10 play DDB and, after hitting a few 4oak’s including aces, I was DEALT quad 9’s! I cashed out at $200 and considered my tournament result a success. There were some rude, loud, screaming 20 somethings running in the halls at 11pm, just great for those of us who have to catch a flight at 6am. Who raises these kids? The first night, I called security due to a very loud party in the room next to mine which spilled out into the hall. It’s a shame they sell the rooms to these kids, they just stay in the room and drink booze they brought with them, they don’t spend any money. Security shut them down shortly. One other night, there was a party in the room on the other side of me. The ipod docking stations are a real pain in the a$$ in the Go Rooms because the youngsters crank the music so loud you can hear it down the hall. I’m pretty sure I smelled pot too. I was going to call security but someone else beat me to it. Thursday August 23rd Alarm went off at the horrid hour of 4am, left the room at 4:30am, and caught a cab to the airport. Few people at the airport and security didn’t have a line. Not much to tell, other than I saw some “things” outside the Flamingo (the 20 somethings were out in full force) and really hope those young folks don’t make a decision they will regret the rest of their lives. Completely depressed to leave Las Vegas, I never want to leave, and this was such a great trip. In total, I came home with a few hundred less than I brought, no charge card charges, comped room, and flight was booked using points. Not sure where else you could go for 5 nights for $300, I love this town. Looking forward to a return trip arriving Christmas night, this was the best day ever to fly last year as the plane was empty and we arrived a full hour early! Good luck and many wins to everyone!