welcome to the pre-trip! In February my wife says that for my up coming 30th birthday I can go to vegas!!! While a bit shocked, I mention that I probably wouldn't be able to afford to go. The week that we had open for me to go was over Easter weekend. I assumed that this would be a very busy weekend. Much to my surprise rates were very cheap. Starting with air I was surprised just how low rates were. Southwest was the cheapest with $218 non stop round trip air fare (after all taxes and fees were added in). Within a week I had booked air. I jumped back on this board after a few years of inactivity to find that Vegas is really hurting! My how the mighty have fallen. My last trip was 5 years ago and Vegas was in full swing. Room rates were high, Air was expensive and the place was packed. I was surprised to see just how much had changed in the last 5 years. There were new towers on the strip, the best buffets were no longer the best and in general many things seemed different. Me and my partner in crime John, decided to stay at the Plaza Hotel Casino downtown. We stayed there for 5 nights on my last trip and had a blast. The blackjack was really good and the rooms were small but clean. We find a rate online for $145 for 6 nights for a "standard room". We booked it right away. I couldn't believe just how cheap it was!! I then started reading some recent reviews on the Plaza. Most of the reviews were horrible! I was a little scared at this point. After a little back and forth with my friend we decide to book 4 nights at the Plaza and then stay a couple of nights on the strip. I posted a few questions on the forums and DonD came through for me and gave me his host at the Plaza. I've never dealt with a host before. I really don't play large enough. After a little hesitation I called the host and he said he would give me the "casino rate" for my stay. We cancel our previous reservation. Of course after canceling a pretty decent room rate, we watch as rates start to creep up. I start getting a little nervous at this point. I never got an actual quote from the host and was only told that we would pay the "casino rate". I started to wonder just how much we would be charged if I didn't meet the expected outlines of play. For the last 2 nights of our stay I was able to find a discount code online for $100 a night at THeHotel at Mandalay Bay. This was an absolute steal and I still can't believe just how cheap we got the room for. Something new this trip was the idea of renting a car. My friend John had really wanted to go out and see Red Rocks casino. I've never had a car in Vegas before. I've always rode the bus and did a lot of walking. We book through Alamo who was the cheapest for the 6 nights. welcome to downtown sir! Our flight on Southwest was smooth and without hassle. I've never flown Southwest before. I've always liked the idea of a guaranteed seat and didn't like the crap shoot that Southwest was. We checked in online and received boarding group A. We were lucky enough to get a seat in the emergency exit row. There was only 2 seats in the row and it also had a little extra leg room. I almost felt like I was flying first class! Southwest's flight attendants were also very nice and gave us extras on our snacks. I will definitely fly Southwest again. Our check in with Alamo was smooth. Much to our surprise they had a Prius available! This was a very cool little car and we got great gas mileage! After 7 days in vegas including a trip out to Red Rocks resort we only spent $6 bucks in gas! We arrived at the Plaza around 7:00pm. Check in was a breeze and only took about 5 minutes. I was very thankful after she told us the room was booked for $99 total for the 4 nights (after all taxes). We arrive to our room and receive our first bad beat of the trip! This is a one bed room! This is a guys trip and 2 beds was a must!!!! We head back downstairs and get a strange look from the nice girl behind the desk. I walk up and say "I think you might have the wrong idea about us!" She got quite a laugh about that as she sorted out the room problem. She was very nice and got us another room without a hassle. Sleeping on rocks! We arrive in our new room. It was very worn and rough around the edges. The toilet wouldn't flush. We had to lift off the lid on the back and manually flush it the entire time. The Tv would work sometimes and sometimes it would be to fuzzy to watch anything. The worst part however was the beds! These were the firmest beds I have ever slept on. I like a firmer bed, but I swear I felt like I was sleeping on rocks! Me or John could never really sleep. There was absolutely zero give in the beds. We had already gotten unpacked by the time we realized any of this and decided to rough it out for the 4 days since the rate was so good. I was to tired and to excited to pack back up and get another room. That first night we head straight for dinner. We checked out "main street station" for the buffet and it was the best buffet I have ever had downtown. One could really make an argument that it was one of the best buffets in Vegas. It was only $12 bucks on Wednesday night and it was probably worth twice that. After dinner we decided to play some poker. We checked out Binions but the room was mostly dead. We crossed the street and decided to play in the Golden Nugget poker room. This is a small room, but its nice. I lost about $80 in 3 hours of play. After our session of poker we headed back to the Plaza for some Blackjack! I could only find a continuous shuffle machine. Wow, have the BJ conditions dried up here since my last trip. Under normal circumstances I wouldn't play on a continuous shuffle machine, but I felt like I owed them some play since I got the room for so cheap. I had a pretty good run and finished up a couple of hundred bucks. This would be my last winning session at the Plaza as I couldn't seem to win at their BJ tables. I did find the next day a double deck game with favorable rules and only played at this table the rest of the trip. Binions, good food, good whiskey and good gamble with a side of scantily clad women: The next morning after a rough nights sleep on the Plaza beds we headed to Binions coffee shop for breakfast. They had a great special and the place was as good as I remember it. We signed up for a players card and my wandering eyes happen to notice the "party pit". Basically they have women in half dress dealing blackjack. The game was a shoe game with decent odds. Over the next 3 days we would spend quite a bit of time at the Binions BJ tables. The girls were very fun and the pit bosses knew us by our first names. It probably didn't hurt that we were getting pretty loud and had the girls giving us high fives. We were pretty lucky at these tables and tipped quite a bit over 3 days of play. The girls said we were the highlight of their day and they all liked coming over to our table to deal. It probably didn't hurt that after one dealers session she had over $25 bucks in tips for the 20 or so minutes she was at our table. Everyday we came back the girls would call us by our first names and start making noise right along with us. My best Blackjack session ever happened on Friday, I won a little over $600 for about 5 hours of play. I usually play $10 on the first hand, If I win I bet $15 and if I win again I cap it at $20 and occasionaly I throw a $25 bet out there. Whenever I lose a hand I always bring it back down to $10. The most i had ever won in a session before was close to $300 bucks, to win $600 was just insane for me. luck of the Irish, or maybe a blind squirrel finds a nut I was pretty lucky for the first 5 days of the trip. I had a couple of bad sessions at the BJ table. One bad session was a morning session where I lost $200 fairly quickly. I wonder over to a bank of $1 Wheel of fortune machines and put $40 bucks in. On my last 12 bucks in the machine I get to spin the wheel and win a jackpot of $250. I break even and I was happy!! This was a theme over the first few days. Whenever I had a losing session somewhere I would win almost an equal amount back on my very next gambling endeavour. Johns luck was pretty brutal for the first part of the trip. He was down a $1000 bucks by Sunday morning. We were moving to the Strip on Sunday but had a few hours to kill since our room wouldn't be ready until 4:00. We ate a comped meal at binions and then played a little more BJ in the party pit. We are on our way back to the Plaza to get our car and head to the strip when I annouce that I'm gonna try to play Wheel of fortune one last time. He says he won't play because he's lost to much money already. He gets sucked in however and puts a $20 into the machine. As luck would have it, he spins and wins a $1000 bucks!!! He was finally back to even! What a trip!! luxury and class for a couple of bums Our last 2 nights were to be spent at THeHotel at Mandalay Bay. I found a discount code online for $100 bucks a night and could not believe how cheap it was. This was the nicest room I have ever stayed in. We had an awesome view of the strip. I really like Mandalay Bay as a whole. It has a very "hip" atomsphere. I really believe this room was a steal at a $100 bucks a night. We were on the 33rd floor and had one of the best views possible. City Center blocks a large portion of the view these days, but its still an amazing view! The beds here were a very welcome sight after the rocks at the Plaza. I would stay here again and I would play quite a bit more per night given just how large the suite was. and now for the hightlights One of the highlights of our trip was seeing Winky Wright fight Paul Williams at Mandalay Bay on saturday night. The fight was a one sided affiar and I bet on the wrong side because I was getting good odds to do so (2-1). We had dinner at "StripSteak" in Mandalay Bay. This was very good and ran us about $80 a person since I don't drink and we didn't order dessert. The Plaza is what I would consider a dump. I really don't expect much, a comfortable bed and a clean room is all I was really looking for. I don't think I would stay here again. Even if it was only $25 bucks. There was only one decent BJ table in the whole place and the problems with the room were fairly annoying. The beds being the biggest part of the dissapointment. I love being downtown, its nice to be able to wander from one casino to the next within a few minutes. Also, my BJ play warrants a little attention and should get me some decent room rates from Binion (since thats where I played the most). The dealers were nice and the atmosphere was a little more fun then the strip. We saw David Copperfield on Monday night at MGM Grand. I had front row tickets! Its amazing to see his tricks that close up. He had me pretty stunned on most of his tricks! MSS buffet is probably the most under rated buffet in all of Vegas. The price is very reasonable and the food was very good. We ate lunch at the Wynn buffet one day and I didn't think the quality was worth over double the price we paid at MSS. Also, we ate lunch at the Spice Market buffet. It was $24 bucks and wasn't that great. This used to be the best buffet in Vegas (in my opinion) but I don't think I would eat here again. The food was bland or just very cheap (the pizza). My favorite poker room was the Hard Rock. I really like their casino. Lots of younger people and it was really a party type crowd. They had a very nice poker room and I will make it a point to come back and play here again. I was pretty stupid on my last day in Vegas. I arrived with $2100 bucks in my pocket. At the start of day 7 I had $2300. That had included all food and entertainment for the week. So needless to say, I was up several hundred dollars going into day 7 from a gambling perspective. I quckly lost $200 bucks at Planet Hollywood. I then went and did some shopping for my Wife and daughter. I bought them both purses and spent $400 bucks for their gifts (wife purse cost $366). I then went back to Planet Hollywood and proceeded to lose another $320 dollars. I wander over to Paris to meet up with john and lose another $175 bucks. My luck was terrible on the last day. I couldn't seem to win a hand. Instead of realizing my bad luck and calling it quits I somehow lose $700 dollars in roughly 4 hours. I feel pretty stupid looking back. I got on the plane with around $1100 dollars on me. From the gambling side of things I was still up a little on the trip, But had I been a little smarter with my money I could have walked away quite a bit richer. I just wanted to fit as much as possible into those last few hours that I went off for way more money then I was comfortable losing in such a short amount of time. Renting a car makes getting around much easier and quicker. However it also took away something from the trip. In years past I was forced to take the bus or walk. Walking really makes you do the tourist thing. I really felt like I missed a lot this trip since I didn't do a lot of walking. My feet appreciated it, but by the last day I was regretting not going to see some more of the casinos. I of course left a ton out of this trip report. Most of the stuff I left out was the gambling since thats what I did 95% of the time. I played poker at the Ventian, Bellagio, Golden Nugget, Wynn and the Hard rock. My favorite was the Hard rock followed by the Ventian. I played a ton of blackjack and had some decent luck. I lost all but one session at the Plaza. I left them quite a bit of money. I had really good luck at Mandalay Bay and Binions. I played BJ several more places but really the only other place of note was the Planet Hollywood on the last day where I lost $500 bucks in stupid fashion. 6/5 BJ is everywhere! You have to be really careful when finding a table. I almost sat down a few times to only find out the BJ game was 6/5. A couple of the casinos had full pits of nothing but 6/5 games. PS Sorry this trip report is so late. I typed it up the day after I got back and decided to proof read it the next day. Well then my absent mind forgot about it.