The last few trips to Vegas were with a variety of friends, co-workers, and couples. Some were quite epic, and I should really write about them. But lets just say that I have been on quite a roll the last 4 – 5 trips – fun and gambling. In these trips my ave bet increased substantially, breaking $400/hand, with my most recent Crazy Cosmo trip ending at $700 a hand. That crazy trip included a miracle-last-hour session. I would pay $1000 for a copy of the security tape of my play, because I barely remember it, only that it was epic. But I digress. My increase in play might be from the cumulative winning trips. But its more likely my switch to using Markers, something I avoided in the past. I am a bit of a Table Player Vampire (really, that should have been my name for this board), and often accumulate hours of play all night. Sometimes I have to stubbornly lose for 8 hours to run into that 30 minute hot streak. So filling the hours requirement is rarely a problem for me. Anyway, I am enjoying the amenities and improved host service that comes with bigger play. My most recent trip was supposed to be a slightly tamer, as the wife and I wanted it to be just the two of us. Generally, when its her and I, the trips are more balanced, though still with lots of play. At least, that's my goal. A balanced trip means getting some sleep, focus on gambling only part of the time, appreciating our adult time, food, luxuries, and everything else. You know, avoid getting too rocked-out to remember. I almost hit that goal this trip. Night 1 – Thu – June 27 – Trip In We departed on a Thu night, non-stop on Delta. I had used points to book her up front in a big seat, rolling the dice that I would be able to get upgraded. I have high status on DL, but getting upgraded on Vegas trips can be so hard. Luckily, I received the last available upgrade. Let the cocktails flow. Let the emails stop. Landing 9:00 PMish, McCarran was pretty crazy. Felt like another win when our bags were first off, and almost with no wait – that never happens. Within minutes we were in the back of black limo, headed to the Cosmopolitan. Check in took moments in their modest VIP room. A cool item here: the first thing the check in girl asked was “Would you like a cocktail?” (We said yes). That's a nice way to start the check in process. “Here are your Grey Goose and Sodas, now lets talk about your room.” Host had put us in a Wrap-around suite on the 57th floor with the other view, which was still breath-taking. The balconies are just massive in those rooms. I took a panoramic pic from the corner of that deck: They also sent a bottle of champagne and strawberries. Nice touch. We enjoyed that. We enjoyed the massive balcony. And…. Then it was off to the casino. I was committed to not getting into a serious casino battle on the first night. Instead, we played a couple hours of tight, smaller sessions of BJ ($100 -150 per), Craps ($25 pass line, max odds, come bets till bases loaded, $5 WOF (a guilty pleasure). We went thru the $750 promo chips, turning them into about $500 cash. We basically won a little at each game, and were up 2.2k after a couple hours. At midnight, one of our Vegas friends came over to say hello. We ended up barflying it for another couple hours. Instead of “re-engaging” the tables for my typical all-night vampire session, I actually did the prudent thing and went to bed went to bed - about 2:00 A.M. (5 AM back home). This is amazingly responsible for the Vegas me (however, the normal me goes to bed around 9:00 PM, LOL). Day 2 – Fri – June 28 Strip Walk, One, Hyde, Gambling everywhere We both woke up early, something like 7:30 am, only slightly hungover (again, vs how we normally feel in Vegas). After a bite and a triple espresso at Va Benna Caffe, we decided to do a STRIP WALK– one of my favorite Vegas things to do: We headed toward Treasure Island. A decade plus ago, that's where I played the most, so it brings out lots of early memories. The place has changed a ton, and I haven’t checked it out for years. We walked around a bit, and I fired some nostalgic pics to my gambling soul mates back home. This is another tradition – when in Vegas without each other, my original group of friends continually text updates out, so others can live vicariously. Later on, these text messages become invaluable documentation, even helping me put this trip report together. LOL. Now, this was the weekend that was supposed to be record temperatures. But at 8:00 AM, it felt great. We decided to turn this walk in to a long one, and call it our exercise (for the weekend). We ended up walking all the way downtown. That's about 5.5 miles. I was proud that my sneakers made it out of my suitcase. Along the way we stopped at a junky souvenir store. We bought some junk (my kids have a collection of blingy dice keychains), and we bought a couple bud-light - limes. We stopped at the Riviera, the “Riv”. Bought some more drinks. I played some $1 VP on a seen-better-days deuces wild machine. Won a little and cashed out. The casino doesn’t look so hot in the morning daylight. Its sad, but its iconic, and cool to me (for a 10 minute visit). Stopped at the flea market – oops I mean the Bonanza. My first time ever in the worlds biggest Souvenir Shop. Found some more junk, and couple more roadies for our walk. Made our way to the Stratosphere . I hadn’t been in there for a long time, and was pleasantly surprised. Its simple and clean, particularly after our recent stops. While the wife went to find a restroom, I bought in to a 3 Card Poker game for $100. (and I ordered a couple drinks) On the 3rd hand, I hit 9-10-j of hearts. The $15 bet paid $600, plus a bunch in the back. Lost a couple hands and cashed out. I love hit-and-run low rolling. I even received a new players card for my “collection”. (Great, now I will get even more gambling related mail. My postman already thinks I have a problem). Made the remainder of the walk to Downtown, checking out Pawn Stars (no, I am not going to wait in line), Main Street Station (really cool in a retro way), and the “D”. Played some bartop .50 VP, then some low-limit craps (at the D) for about an hour, trying to teach the wife. She’s played the game a lot before, but still struggles to master it. At this point, we are enjoying a morning buzz, and even though the dice were choppy, the dealers were super fun. What other vacation is that much fun at 10 in the morning? After another ½ hour of walking Fremont, smoking a cigar, and people watching, we cabbed it back to Cosmo. Morning over. We decided to have lunch at China Poblano. Part Mexican, part Chinese. Funny thing is, I ate there on my last trip, I somehow I didn’t pick up on that interesting detail. We stayed with the Mexican part of the menu, and it was great. Particularly the margaritas. After lunch, we introduced ourselves to our new host, tipped him for lining up all the accommodations (I always tip in the beginning of a comped trip. I will tip again at the end, if I win). Then the fun morning started catching up with the wife. We were going to hit the pool, but instead she went down for a nap. I decided to hit the tables. An hour so of getting cold-tabled at a $25 craps table reduced my “roll” by $2,500. Basically putting me slightly ahead for the trip. I decided to do something I never do, but I took a break, and went up to the room to take a nap. You see, we had tickets for the new M.Jackson Cirque show that night, and I wanted to make sure I wasn’t sleepy. I love the Vegas shows, but there have been times in the past where my late –night play would make me so sleepy, I would find myself nodding off. Not cool. We were excited to see One, and I wanted to make sure I was alert enough to enjoy it. So I took a little siesta too. After a couple of hours, we woke up feeling 100% refreshed. I can’t tell you how rare this is for me. Usually by my 2nd day, I feel great, but I don’t feel refreshed. I also was enjoying my “not down” gambling status. By 6:00 PM we were dressed for the night and headed to the lobby. Our host had lined up a limo for us, to and from Mandalay. Super convenient. The show was amazing. Really. And I am not a huge MJ fan, but I do like his music. But the show was something to see. The woman to our left was so into it, she was rocking hugging herself, rocking back and forth, and crying. LOL. People go craaazy for MJ. But I get it, Cirque did it right, and I was captivated too, maybe even a little uplifted. I even thought the "fake paparazzi" were cool. We’ve had an amazing day so far, and its only 8:30 PM. So much more to do. Back to Cosmo. Earlier, our host had invited us to a “VIP room” so that we could watch ‘NEO” at 9:00. So, why not? We called him, he retrieved us from the lobby and brought us to the party. The Room was really just another wrap around suite, but it’s balcony was in an ideal spot overlooking NEO’s stage. It felt a bit weird walking in. It was full of other hard-core gamblers, most of whom were conservative, mature. We saw lots of shorts, while we are in club / cocktail attire. We sort of didn’t fit in. But we crashed their little buffet, had some drinks, chatted up our host and his boss, the “VP of Hosts”. By 9:30, NEO still hadn’t come on, and we decided to bag it. I had my fill of shows anyway, time to gamble. After an hour or so of light gambling ( I don’t remember if we won or lost), we decided to take a break to walk over to “Hyde”, a club at Bellagio. Its one of my favorite places, as it has open air views of the water fountains, and it's a killer club, and one of my best friends works there. We found my buddy, I’ll call him Z here, who whisked us in, got us drinks, and sat us at one of the VIP tables. We drank for awhile, watched the dance floor, and chatted with my friend Z. Eventually the table we were sitting at was “sold” to legitimate clubbers, and we had to get up. Just as well, as it was getting near midnight, Z was too busy to chat, and it was time to go back to the Cosmo, to Gambool! For the first couple hours, it was my wife and I, mostly playing blackjack. Losing blackjack. She went to bed around 2, and I rolled up my sleeves, smoked a cigar, and started increasing the stakes. Playing in the VIP room at a $200 min table, I went on a terrible run. I no longer had my winnings, or the money I brought ($2,500), so I started getting markers. 2k at a time. The play was brutal. But I was in my stubborn mode – this is the mode responsible for countless comebacks, and occasional blowups (to be honest). I signed marker after marker, each for 2k. I signed so many that it got to the point where I started losing track. Its probably 4 in the morning now, and I am pretty tuned up from the booze, but I am still “in it”. I am down a ton, super buzzed, but it's a familiar feeling. Blackjack is such a streaky game. Finally, after hours of losing, I switch tables, and move out to the main floor. I have a couple massive shoes, building a stack of $13.5k in chips. Embarrassingly, I don’t know how much I owe in markers, and I have to go to the cage to find out. When they tell me its only $12k, I am actually relieved. I am not up for the trip, but I am not down much, and the huge comeback feels awesome. I pay off my markers and have cash back in my pocket. I feel elated and exhausted. I climb into bed around 5 a.m. Day 3 – Sat June 29 Early Buzz, Shopping, Spa, ½ Show, Gambling, Clubbing, Gambling My wife wakes me up around 9 am. She had already been up for an hour, and was jonesing to get our Saturday started. Clearly, I am a little foggy, with only 3 – 4 hours sleep. But I am not mad about being awoken, I never am. I immediately think of my big comeback. I show her my stack of retrieved markers. We laugh about it. NOW it feels like Vegas. I am tired, feel like I have done more in 2 days than I normally do in a week, and I feel great. Certainly not refreshed though. We showered and got ready for the day. It started off at Wicked Spoon, with the bottomless champagne option. We aren’t big eaters, but we were there for at least an hour. Many great dishes to try, continually enhanced by the champagne. By the time we left, we each had had many glasses. They even gave us some large plastic cups to go. Its not even noon, but we are in full buzz mode. Everything is fun, everything is funny. We stumble around the Cosmopolitan a bit, then head over to Caesars to do some shopping. We hit some stores and we bought some clothes, but nothing big. We kept the fun going, stopping at a bar in the middle of the mall. Bought round of drinks, including some fancy pink thing that my wife gets talked into. The round costs $38. They aren’t even doubles. We think that is so funny / outrageous. And it reminds us of a visit a few years back, where we got 2 gelatos in that same area in that mall, and they cost $40.00. For 2 ice-creams (with toppings). So expensive its funny. Its no wonder their prices aren’t posted. The employees are probably on commission. But I am in Vegas, and it doesn’t faze me – how can it when compared with the gambling swings? Shopping gets old quick, so we get back around noon. My wife is again feeling the booze, and wants to take a nap (again, no pool). I go down to gamble, but I stay away from the black-jack-crack. I played $5 WOF for awhile, got a few spins, won about $500. I put that ticket into the $25 WOF machine. I got all the way down to 1 credit (from a whopping 25 credits). I Loath playing any machine without max credits, but I didn’t feel like re-loading $25 for 1 spin. So, I play 1 credit, and hit this: (Not sure why it shows sideways). Now I don’t play slots often, let alone $25 slots. I am also not used to winning on WOF in a manner other than the bonus spin. So it took me a minute to realize that this was a $2,500 hand pay jackpot. Cool. Now I am back up for the trip. Of course, my next thought was horror, as I wasn’t playing max credits. The slot attendant re-assured me that for this particularly win, a 2nd credit played would not have made a difference. I am not sure I still understand that, but, OK. I take 1K over to the craps table, and play for quite awhile. I lose about $400 of it, and realize that I am running out of time. We both have booked spa appointments at 2:30 PM We just make it to the SPA. Its actually the first time I have been to the Cosmo spa. It certainly nice, but it doesn’t match Wynncore – not even close for me. I had an 80 minute massage, and it hit the spot. I went off into a trance for ½ of it. Very relaxing. We used our identity points to pay for the services. That was convenient! After our spa services, we decided to go ahead and get ready for our last night. Had an early dinner / late lunch at Holsteins, then headed off to the Venetian where we had 7:00 pm tickets to see Rock of Ages. I have fortified myself with a sugar free Red Bull (with flavored Vodka). Our seats are great, and the show is good, but booking it was a mistake. One show per trip is enough. We should have done a high-end dinner instead. Worse, all the partying is still impacting the wife, who feels “off”. We end up ditching the 2nd ½ of the show. We decide to walk back, as the air feels nice. Wife goes in and out of feeling “ok”. We walked into the “Quad”, just to see what it looks like. I wanted to see the former “IP”, but I think we ended up somewhere else. We were in some sort of narrow, semi-gloomy room. But we sat at a $25 BJ table, and between the 2 of us we lost $1600.00. I am back down for the trip. That was annoying, as I didn’t mean to “engage” that casino for anything serious. I didn’t want to give any favorable play to a casino other than Cosmo. But it happens. We stop at Bellagio for a drink and some VP. Wife is still not doing great. By the time we get to Cosmo, she needs to go to bed, leaving me on my own. Not the plan, but not a problem. I played an hour or two of so of higher stakes (for me) BJ. It was very back and forth, but I eventually lost all the money in my pocket. I took out a 2k marker, and turned it into $5k. I am back up for the trip, by about $500. I paid off my marker, and once again had cash in the pocket. In the process, I realized that I still had a $70 slot ticket from Bellagio, which I found annoying, as I would have go back to Bellagio to redeem the ticket. Oh well. I went back to craps, bought in for 700. I quickly lost about $400. Instead of battling, I grabbed my remaining $300 in green chips, stuffed them in my pocket, and decided to go deal with the $70 slot ticket. I don’t normally keep chips, and this will be come up later. But I decided to take a break and go cash the Bellagio slot ticket. While at Bellagio, I decided to once again see what my friend Z at Hyde was doing. The club was just getting busy (its about 11:00), but he had his things under control. I explained that the wife was down for the count, so he decided to go into “hang out mode”, beginning with a couple of shots. And my quick visit to say hello (and take a break from gambling), turned into an impromptu guys-night-out. After hanging out at Hyde for a bit, we hopped in his car and headed over to Light at Mandalay Bay. (note, its always surreal to me, going in / out of the the self parking garages. Sort of behind the scenes/reality). Of course Z knows everyone at Light, and we are able to walk right thru the line. Light is a massive club, its packed, its midnight. We joined some of his friends at a VIP booth. While Z drank some god awful tequila drink, I started downing water. Again, this is my Vegas experience coming out. After drinking for 3 days straight, I knew that I was a critical tipping point. 45 minutes of evian gave my body a chance to catch up (slightly). The fact that the group at this table only had Tequila for bottle service helped too, as its one of the few things I won’t drink. I am now in club mode, enjoying the electronic music. Light gets Light once in awhile, and Cirque performers come out to do some tricks. Only in Vegas! (sorry for the slightly blurry pic). After leaving Light, we hopped back in his car (again, weird to be in a parking garage), and headed over to “The ACT” nightclub at the Palazzo. Now, at this point its about 1:30 AM, and even with drinking water, I am extremely buzzed. And that's a good thing, because ACT is a little Wild, a little Edgy (google it), but it seemed normal to me. We hung out in another of Z’s friend’s VIP table. Someone gave me a foam light stick, which is about the only way I can dance (waving it to the beat). Unfortunately, I lost the stick. But while there, I met some serious “characters”. I remember one guy in the booth was wearing a silk robe, pink with black spots, and talked in a fake Russian accent. After an hour there, we take off and head back to Cosmo. Its 2:30 AM, I convince Z to come in for a few drinks. I also convince the wife to come down from the room and join us. She’s a trooper. The 3 of us hang out in the hi-limit room bar for an hour, drinking, laughing catching up on old stories. Wife goes back to bed, and Z takes off for home. I am clearly at the end of my physical limit, very buzzed, but not in black-out mode. I decide to stumble over the nearest BJ table for a session, because that's what I do. The table was empty, in fact it seems the whole hi-limit room was empty. But I love playing heads up, particularly when I am in fearless (buzzed) mode. I sat down and put all the green chips in the circle. At the same time, I asked for a 2k marker. Now, I don’t know why I asked for a marker, as I had several thousand in my pocket. But I did, and the pit boss began the process. But I never received it. I hit a black jack on my first hand, paying me $450. I remember saying “hmmmm, maybe I won’t need that marker”. Then I won a bunch of the next group of hands, and before I knew it, I had several thousand in front of me. Over the next 15 minutes or, I continued winning and playing very aggressively. Quickly getting my bets up over 1K. Playing heads up, the action goes very fast, and the chip stacks get bigger and smaller just as fast. So it was blurry, but I knew I was winning, a lot. My green chips had turned into black chips which turned into stacks of purple and yellow. The fantastic shoe finished, and I decided to stop. Amazingly, I had quickly amassed over $18K. The dealer colored me up, and I went to cash out. “No, I don’t have any markers to pay off”. Its 4 AM, and I am done for the trip, leaving at my high point – one of my higher points ever in any trip. The wads of 100’s was so big, I couldn’t fold it and put it my pocket. So I just held it. There were others in the elevator, and I remember trying to hide the stack. I think a little paranoia set in. Woke up the wife, showed the stacks, and crashed. It was past 4 AM, and even my winning-adrenaline couldn’t keep me up. What a final day. Day 4 – Sunday – Shopping and Return The wife let me sleep until 9:00 am. She had already ordered room service. It was a great feeling to wake up and realize that we were up big, and that we were “out of harms way”, as the gambling was over. I was also still buzzed. The first thing I did was call delta and “manually” upgrade my flight home. It cost $500 to get the last first class seat. No problem. Then, after crushing the breakfast, showering, and packing, we rushed out to do some shopping at the cosmo stores. I think we managed to spend about $1600 on various clothes. $60 t-shirt? No problem, I’ll take 4 of them. $1100 purse for the wife? No problem. Hurry up and buy it, before the money no longer feels free. We had an 11:30 limo back to the airport for our 1:00 pm flight. So we met our host at check out. My stats: 10 hours at $500/hand. For me, that's actually not as many hours as normal. And it's a little less than they like for a 3 day weekend stay. But they still took care of all my charges. The host received another tip, and we were off. Final Thoughts: • This trip didn’t include Pool, or any great Dinners. That's unusual, but that's how our trips are. Each one can be about different things. • Winning is fun, and makes reflecting on the trips (and writing about them) a pleasure. I wonder if I will be so energetic after a losing trip? • The kids got an mini-ipad out of this trip. They also like when we win in Vegas • Please know that I am not an alcoholic, though it may seem like that from the report above. I only resemble one while in Vegas. • I haven’t gambled since that $18k session. But I do have another trip planned for late August….. Thanks for reading!