The players are myself, my wife M and my sister A. My sister has been coming with us nearly every trip since her husband passed about 6 years ago. She loves Vegas as much as we do and is a perfect traveling companion for my wife and I. When her husband was alive, they went 5 or 6 times a year. She “settles” for 2 or 3 trips now, but she does take a monthly junket trip to Atlantic City to keep her going between Vegas trips. This trip had my sister playing in a 75K slot tournament on Thurs and Fri and us in a 150K slot tournament on Sat and Sun. Both tournaments were at Harrah’s, so that is where we would be staying. I think I have mentioned this before, but I love Caesars and have for over 40 years. But both M and A find it too big, and too hard to get to the strip from. So to keep the peace, I usually agree to either Harrah’s or the Flamingo. Flight out on Oct 27th with United through Chicago. Everything was on time with the added bonus of a first class upgrade from Chicago to Vegas. Probably my last perk on United. Even though I still have a ton of mileage banked, I retired in May and my Premiere Exec status expires on Jan 2011 since I am no longer traveling 2 or 3 times a month. By noon we were at Harrah’s Diamond check in. They had a smoking room for A and a non smoking suite for my wife and I. I am not supposed to be smoking due to some recent health issues, but I have been known to sneak a few when M is not around. Room 3454 was a 2 room suite with 2 flat screens, a sofa, a couple of easy chairs, fridge, coffee maker and a big Jacuzzi tub. We had a welcome basket waiting from our host and a bottle of wine. We popped the cork while we unpacked and had a drink. We called A to join us, but as is typical for her she dropped her bag in her room and was already in the casino playing. After unpacking we found A and headed over to get her registered for her slot tournament. She got 9AM, 3PM on Thurs and 9AM on Fri. She also got a $100 reel ticket. We found out that all the reel award tickets would only be good on slots. They did not work on VP or Keno. A was disappointed since Video Keno is her favorite game, but she was still happy with any amount of free play. We split up and agreed to meet at 5 for dinner. I headed over to the sports book to check out the line on the World Series and the upcoming football games. I also grabbed a racing form and caught the last few races from Belmont. I made a few early football bets while playing the horses. I wasn’t hitting anything with the ponies, so I decided on a little BJ. I am very conscious the first day not to go crazy. It has been easy for me to start off my trips in a frenzy and end up killing my bankroll way too early. I stuck to $10-$25 per hand for about an hour or so and ended up a little. I then hit my favorite spin poker machines. I was playing 9 lines at 2 quarters per line and had a decent run. I played for well over an hour and ended up losing less than $100. I moved over to dollar Super Times Pay, which turned out to be a mistake. I dropped $400 in very quick order. That game is a curse to me. I love it, but never seem to be able to do anything but lose money while playing it. It was now close to dinner time, so I headed up to our room and met up with my wife. We didn’t have any firm plans and we were not all that hungry so we decided to try the new KGB burger bar. I liked it….interesting concept and the burgers and fries were really good. I don’t know where they found them all, but every waitress had a Russian accent. My wife thinks it is a haven for all the Russian hookers who got tired of turning tricks. Who knows, she may be right! After dinner we again hit the casino….no surprise there! I found my favorite slot, it is called Buffalo and is located not far from the video roulette station. Earlier this year I hit it for over $1,300 and had a ton of smaller wins on it since. It was good to me again this trip. I hit it for close to $500 for the first of several wins on it this trip. I then headed back to the sports book and reinvested some of that win on the Sat college football games. My key bet would be Syracuse and I parlayed them on several bets starting with 2 different parlays this time. I moved back to playing some BJ and again had no luck. For the last 4 or 5 trips, it has been a series of hot dealers and bad luck. I recognize a trend, so I pretty much stuck to $10 bets when I did play. Even low playing, I managed to drop $200 very quickly. I moved around the rest of the night between various fun penny slot machines. I know, horrible odds, you can’t beat them….but they are so much damned fun, and the drinks were coming quickly. I had a good run on the Goldfish game when I won some race and got $387……. and an evil eye from the woman next to me who had apparently been chasing that race for a couple of hours. I didn’t know weather to apologize or celebrate. When the cocktail waitress came around, I offered to buy her a drink in fun….she told me to stick it! It struck me so funny I started laughing, which pissed her off even more. I decided it was safer to cash out and leave….so I did. Before I knew it, I was really dragging. I was cursing the fact that I am getting older and can’t stay up all night like I used to….when I looked at my watch and realized it was 3AM and I had been up for 27 hours already. I headed up to bed where my wife was already sleeping. She woke up just long enough to let me know I am not a kid anymore. What does she know! Thursday Oct 28th After a really good sleep of 2 hours, I was wide awake!! I stayed in bed trying to go back to sleep, but it was useless. So I got up went to the living room, closed the door and made some coffee. I thought it might be a good idea to get a newspaper so I went down to grab one. Another bad idea since I took a detour through the casino. The newspaper ended up costing me $300 and it was only now a little after 6AM! The saving grace was that my wife never knew since she was still sleeping. She already knows I am a degenerate; I don’t need to provide her with any further proof. I read the paper, watched ESPN and killed time till 7:30. When I opened the door to the bedroom, I was surprised to find my wife showered and already decorating herself for the day. I quickly showered so we could have breakfast. We collected A and headed over to MAG for our traditional first day breakfast. Actually it has become pretty much our every day breakfast. It was too cold to sit outside, but it was nice sitting right by the window and watching folks stumble by. I had my usual steak and eggs. We started our stroll back. I decided to stop at the flamingo and play the horses. I wished my sister good luck with her morning session and the girls headed back home. They did convert the Harrah’s sports book back to a more traditional style from the “Party Pit” concept. But it is still not horse player friendly. I grabbed a form and studied the day’s races. I ended up having a good day with the horses. I caught a signer for $700 on a pick 4 and a couple of decent pick 3s. I had been looking and looking at the World Series but never did make a move on any of the games. Nothing really struck me in any of the games. It turned out to be a good thing since I am an American league guy and the Rangers never were really in it. We never eat lunch so I knew I could stay and play the horses for a while yet. Just then my cell rang….my wife reminding me that A was playing again at 3 and I didn’t come to her morning session. I asked the “man question”……do you want me to come back? Her response…..Don’t you think it would be a good idea? My response…..I’m doing pretty good on the horses……… Her response……You didn’t come to her morning session. I am not completely stupid and I did want to enjoy that Jacuzzi later, so I headed back in plenty of time for A’s 3:00 session. They had the place all dressed up for Halloween with snacks and an open bar as well. A caught a decent machine and racked up a little over 10,000 points. After her session, I sat next to A for a while and played video Keno. I don’t know how she plays that game! It takes a ton of patience as you can go for hours between hits. But when she did hit, she had some good ones. Over the course of the trip, she had 3 decent hits one of them a signer for $1400. My patience lasted exactly 15 minutes, which is how long it took me to lose a fast $100. Okay time for another VP session…..another $200 loss…..a little roulette for another $200 loss……BJ took a quick $100…….penny slot reached right into my pocket and stole $300……. Damn….is it dinner time yet??? Yes! Lucky for me! We had reservations at the 46 over at the Flamingo. I think it was taken over by new management. The menu is different and they even added a Tapas menu. The service was good as usual and I had a really nice rack of lamb. The couple next to us provided the entertainment. It seems he hit the ATM for $1,000 after swearing he left his card at home. She was not happy that he lied to her and even more unhappy that the grand was already gone! He was lobbying for one more withdrawal to hold him over till they left the next day. We listened to them going back and forth in an “angry whisper”. I wanted to intervene on his behalf, but my wife spoiled my fun. We wandered across the street and went through the conservatory at the Bellagio. There have already been a ton of comments and pictures, so I will just say we enjoyed it and my wife was blown away by the Orchids. She had read that some of them were 30 years old, which is how they get them to grow so large. I acted suitably impressed. We played some VP to repay them for the entertainment…both of us winning just a little. We headed outside and caught 2 fountain shows. Still amazing after hundreds of views. We headed back to Harrah’s and I played some VP and penny slots near my wife for the rest of the night. She caught a nice win on my Buffalo machine for $300 while I steamed. How dare she win on my machine! Actually I was happy for her even though I lost my ass. Friday Oct 29th I was wide awake at 5AM. I decided to shower and head right down for my ritual morning beating. I headed over to quarter spin poker and had a ball. I played 18 credits for a solid 2 hours and came out almost $400 ahead. I stopped by the sports book and grabbed a form to study the horses. I headed up to the room and waited for M who was in the process of decorating herself. I spotted a few horses that caught my eye and layed out my bets. I decided to just bet them at Harrah’s and watch A’s last tournament session. We had breakfast at the coffee shop and headed up to the tournament site. A was in contention for a good prize if she caught a really big score. She didn’t get lucky and only managed a little over 9,000 points. As it turned out she still managed $75 in reel rewards. They had over 900 people in this tournament so we wondered how big ours would be. I put in my horse bets and we headed out. We played around most of that day at Caesars while A stayed at Harrah’s. Our tournament had registration from 2-8, so we figured to give it an hour after it opened to let the crowd die down a bit. When we got back to registration, there was a huge line. So we decided to wait till after dinner. As it turned out, there would be close to 1,100 people in this tournament. There are some down sides to it getting this big. They can no longer practically hold any kind of banquet. But they did try to make up for it in other ways. We got $100 in reel rewards at registration. We also got a slip that let us “knock on a secret door” for our trick or treat the next day. They also doubled the prize giveaways from 150K to over 300K. They did the same thing last year, and my wife drove me crazy reminding me of it. When we did our door knock the next day, we got a Coach watch. I have no idea what it is worth, but my wife loved it. That was just a lucky draw since it seemed most got a voucher for $20 or $100. We met our host that night at the Range for dinner. My wife loves the place and he knows it, so that is where we always go when we meet him for dinner. I was surprised he took the time out since I know he had a ton of players in town with 2 tournaments running back to back. We caught up on family and he wished M luck in the tournament. I had my usual Porterhouse and we shared a cold seafood appitizer. We played around at Harrah’s for the rest of the night. I took another shot at VP with no luck and actually turned in early for me at around midnight. My saving grace for the day was I hit 2 of my horse bets which turned a bad day into a decent day. I decided not to cash them till tomorrow to protect my lead! Sat Oct 30th I slept really late…….6AM. Got up and hit the shower so I could repeat yesterday with a good morning session. Not so good this day. I lost $300 on spin poker. Dropped a fast $100 on BJ and another fast $100 on VP. Not a good way to help your appetite before breakfast! We collected A and headed over to MAG for breakfast. It was nice enough to eat outside today. I decided to have an omelet for a change. It wasn’t memorable, I should have stuck with my steak and eggs. People watching was though. Even at that early hour, folks were out in Halloween garb. One of the best was a guy with an Alien type creature exploding out of his stomach. Quite impressive, but not the kind of thing you want to see while you are eating. The latest gimmick on the pedestrian overpass was a guy with this sign…. Father was killed by Ninjas. Need money for Kung Fu lessons. I honored his creativity by giving him a buck. We headed back to Harrah’s for M’s 10:00 session. She did really well and ended up with 11,000 points. Lucky for me they had not told us at this point that the prize money would be doubled. I knew she would be hyper ver her good luck, so my objective at this point was to put some distance between me and her before her 4:00 session. So I headed over to Caesars and turned off my cell. I could always claim bad reception if she tried to call. I played some horses over there while watching some of my college football bets. As it turned out, Syracuse did win outright, even though they were getting 6 points. I was kicking myself for not betting more on the money line, which could have turned this into a monster day. But as it was I did little wrong after my horrible morning session. I ended up with 2 signers for horses and collected a little over $1,400 on my football bets. I headed back to Harrah’s in time for M’s 4:00 session. She caught a really cold machine and only managed a little less than 8,000 points. She was really mad about catching such a cold machine after getting such a good one the first time. When we checked later, she was in 450th place, but only 1,200 points out of the top 200. So I tried to pick up her spirits by reminding her all she needed was a machine like her first session. It is not like you have any influence over it anyhow. All you can do it hit the button, the machine makes all the decisions after that. We had tickets to see Vinny Favorito that night. So we decided to keep it light and went to Margarittaville for dinner. My sister A stayed behind. She can’t handle 2 or 3 hours away from her machines! Dinner was “okay” ……pretty much what you would expect, but the Margarita’s were good. Vinny is not for everyone, but we think he is hysterical. He did his usual gig and picked on everyone in the audience. He picked out several folks in the audience for special treatment, especially one very drunk girl who left for the bathroom at least 3 times. After her first reception, I was surprised she came back the second and third times! The only downside is that like pretty much all shows, there is far too much shilling of merchandise at the end of the show. I am not sure who started that practice, but it really annoys the hell out of me. I already paid for a ticket…..okay, it was a comp….but it still annoys me. We hung around the Flamingo for the rest of the night. I managed to actually win $100 playing BJ, but promptly lost it and another $100 at the roulette table. I played some slots near my wife and over the next few hours lost another $200. It was still a good day, mostly due to sports bets. Sunday Oct 31st. Last day comes early this trip. We usually stay 6 nights, but this was a very short 5 nights. I don’t even remember why it was scheduled this way, but whatever the conflict we thought we had, no longer existed since none of us could remember why we were leaving a day early. I was up at 6 again and downstairs by 6:30. I hit my favorite Buffalo slot and won another $400, moved to spin poker and hit it for $300. I was finally having good mornings for a change! Met up with M and A and we headed over to MAG for out last breakfast. M and A were going on and on about “cold machines”. I was hoping for a mini stroke that left me deaf till the tournament was over. M had her last session at 10AM and I was hoping for a hot machine to keep her happy. She is very competitive and really gets into these tournaments. In the mean time, I was happy with my customary steak and eggs. Our host was waiting for us when we got to the tournament room, he wished M good luck and headed off. She did catch a hot machine. She managed over 13,000 points without hitting one JP. She caught red 7 with 2 Harrah’s symbols at least 5 times! She was very happy, pumping her fist every time she hit something big. When her session was over she jumped out of her chair and said “we are in the money baby!”. I had no idea what she had won, but with the prize money being doubled, I knew she at least cashed. As t turned out, they did a very smart thing. They only increased the top prize from 25K to 35 K and moved the money down the line, paying 500 spots. We would have to wait till 4 to find out what she had won though. I was already planning my escape. M asked me what I was going to do that day. I told her I had a ton of pro football bets going and I was going to head out and watch some of the games while playing the horses. She gave me a pass and reminded me to be back by 3:45 so we could go up to see where she finished. I breathed a sigh of relief and headed over to Caesars. Football Sundays are crazy busy, so I had reserved a seat for the day. I studied the racing form, and killed the day squeezing in my bets. I didn’t do anything on the horses, but again football was good to me with a key win by the Saints. I headed back to meet up with M and we went to check out her scores. They were in the process of posting them on a bulletin board, and they already had the folks set up to do the payouts beginning at 4:00. So I got in line while she waited for them to post the scores. I had to collect anyhow since the entry is in my name. I saw them spin the board around and could see M peeking in through a mass of people to see where her score landed her. When she finally broke through the crowd, I could see the biggest grin on her face. She worked her way over to me and ducked under the rope. She asked me “how much do you think we won”?. I was guessing top 300 and that would mean about $400. So I low balled it and said $300. She said nope….higher. After 2 or 3 more guesses, she finally blurted out….$1,000…..we won $1,000! Big hug, big kiss…..happy wife! Jacuzzi time was running through my mind….I know….men are pigs even at special times like this. About 5 minutes later the cashiers showed up, and by 3:50 we had $1,000 in reel reward credits. I told my wife they were all hers to play anyway she liked. But that she would have to break her $1/spin habit or we would miss our flight in the morning. The reel rewards require you to play the value through, after that you can cash out whatever is on the meter. She had 10 tickets of $100 and she would have to count spins to ensure she didn’t cash out too soon. I watched her play the first one through on a dollar top dollar machine and she cashed out $122 after 50 spins, so she was off to a good start. We split up after that and I didn't see her till about an hour later. When I ran into her she said……just keep going, I don’t want to break my streak. So I kept walking and played around the rest of the night. I did okay, managing to hold my lead from my football bets. We had a 6:45 flight, so I headed up to pack around 11. When I got to the room, M had already packed! I looked at the bed and I could see 100s lined up from one end to the other. She had put them on “display” for me. I started to count them, but she was so excited she shouted $2,700…..there is $2,700 there!! She had parlayed the $1,000 in reel rewards into $2,700 and she did it without hitting one single JP. She said that she won something on each one of the vouchers, with the smallest being the one I saw of $122. The best hit she ever had been for $600 and it came on the very last spin of the night. She never gambled a dime of her own money all night and literally ran to the room to be sure she didn’t lose any of it back. I tried to convince her to press her luck a little, but she thought a dip in the Jacuzzi would relax us both. I needed no further convincing. I was very happy for her. She has had big wins before, but I doubt she ever had more fun than she did that night. As the story unfolded I learned that A was her partner in crime and helped her spot “hot machines”. My sister seldom stops playing herself, but she got so caught up in the streak, she forgot to play herself! We caught an early cab and got to the airport 2 hours early. Earlier in the week they had that incident with the bombs on cargo planes, and top of that, it was a Monday so I was really concerned about the lines. As it turns out, it wasn’t necessary. The lines were not bad at all. We had plenty of time for breakfast. Our flights went smoothly and we were home right on time. Overall I lost less than $1,000 for the trip. My sister A finished up with a loss of less than $2,000, but M came home way ahead. With the tournaments running back to back, it was very hectic and I didn’t get in as much sports book time as I would have liked. But overall, it was a great trip! Next trip is scheduled for late March for the NCAA basketball playoffs. Hope you enjoyed the read.