This trip report is a bit dated, with the trip having occurred almost one year ago, however there are a couple of moments worth noting. And I will apologize upfront for talking a little about an upcoming trip at the end. Some quick background â€“ I take an annual trip with some friends and this was year eight. Year one three of us went and by year five we settled on adding another member to the crew. We are all your typical suburbanites, unremarkable in every way, ages 38 (me), 39 (MJ), 45 (RK) and 48 (SR). Day 1: Am I actually going to work on the day Iâ€™m leaving for Vegas? Sadly, yes, but I have been looking forward to the trip for so long itâ€™s not like I have done much at the office for the previous couple of weeks anyway. I finish work, have dinner at home with the family and the wife takes me to the airport. MJ recently moved, but his flight from another city is scheduled to arrive in Vegas within 10 minutes of mine, so we plan to meet to share a cab over to our home base hotel, the Flamingo. Iâ€™m on the last flight out for the night and of course itâ€™s delayed. Delayed by 2Â½ hours! Not a great start to the trip, Iâ€™ve got bad feelings already. Fortunately MJâ€™s flight is also delayed and we actually arrive within 20 minutes of each other. After a quick cab ride we are walking into the familiar smell of stripper-inspired coconut body spray that the Flamingo pumps into the casino. Why the Flamingo? For the same reason everyone else stays there: perfect location, great pool and pretty inexpensive. Instead of arriving at 10:30 p.m. we are checking in at 1:00 a.m. We grab the late night $2.00 burger special at the burger place (being the big spender I am I spring for the $0.50 cheese upgrade) then head out to play. I want to play poker, but MJ is tired and just wants to have a few beers. Having not seen MJ since he moved away, I decide to join him playing some VP, catch-up and relax with a few cocktails. About 15 hands into $0.25 VP I hit my first ever Royal Flush! Iâ€™ve been gambling for about ten minutes and Iâ€™m up a grand â€“ the bad feelings I had in the home airport are now a distant memory. I play down to 4020 credits so I can keep drinking with MJ, then I cash out. I go play $2-$4 limit hold â€˜em in the poker room for another couple of hours and walk away up a few dollars there too. Overall, it was a good first day and an even better decision to play VP with MJ. Day 2: I get my typical two hours of sleep (only in Vegas!) and I wake up feeling fantastic! MJ and I are now joined by SR as we all register for the Flamingoâ€™s daily poker tournament. This is the typical tourist tournament (and to be fair I am one too though I have played in this one many times before and have won it) and I make it to the final table â€“ SR is out after about five hands and MJ gets bounced in about 15th place. They are only paying the top three spots and I make it to the final four, but Iâ€™m barely hanging on. The three others all have about the same amount of chips, which is to say many more than me, but I successfully execute the Jedi-mind trick and I convince everyone to chop the prize pool equally! My $65 buy-in turns into $275. After a quick lunch at the Nathanâ€™s at Ballyâ€™s SR finds an open table of Mississippi Stud and sits down, but I refuse to play this horrible game. I go play some VP to pass the time (MJ had to go meet some friends at Paris) and I hit two straight flushes within about five minutes of each other. Not a huge win - $0.25 double bonus so each only paid $62.50, but Iâ€™m up over $100 while just killing time and hey, a straight flush looks pretty cool on the screen. SR loses $200, I told him not to play that vile excuse for a table game. RK arrives in Las Vegas at about 6:00 p.m. and we head to Ellis Island, as is our tradition, for the $6.95 steak and a beer special. We like the food and beer and due to my royal flush from the night before I generously offer to pick up the tab. If I can roughly borrow a quote from the CheapoVegas website and use it to describe the Ellis Island casino â€“ the smoke in there is so thick you can not only cut it with a knife, but you can butter it too. Given that and the fact that the steak special keeps going up in price, we are dropping this tradition. The rest of the night is uneventful gaming at the Flamingo and Iâ€™m breakeven for the night. Day 3: Two more hours of sleep and Iâ€™m feeling like a new man again. RK goes to the pool and MJ, SR and I play in the Flamingoâ€™s freeroll â€“ we are all summarily dismissed early and decide some pool time with RK would be more fun anyway. After some overpriced and very mediocre burgers from the pool grill, and seriously overpriced drinks - $18 for a Miami Vice (ask for it at any CET property, itâ€™s delicious), itâ€™s time to go see the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop of â€œPawn Starsâ€ fame. We saw the Old Man and several items highlighted on the show, but overall a disappointing side trip. The place is small and rundown, basically a pawn shop â€“ Iâ€™m not sure what the hell was I expecting. But now this is where we have one of those moments worth mentioning. I created a â€œchallengeâ€ for us. I know downtown has a pub crawl, but I devised a casino crawl, and here it is. There are fourteen casinos downtown not counting Lady Luck and the Western (why do they call it the Western when itâ€™s on the eastern side of Freemont Street? Is that like calling a fat guy Slim or a bald guy Curly?). In one night you must gamble at all of them and have at least one drink at 75% of them â€“ and yes I know 75% of 14 is not a whole number, so we rounded up to 11. This forced us to go to places we might not normally see (Mermaids, LaBayou, the Plaza, Vegas Club, etc.). We had the Golden Gate shrimp cocktail in addition to the regular cocktails, and had the $20 porterhouse special at the Redwood restaurant in the California, and had a riot of time. We played Pai Gow at the El Cortez, $3 blackjack at the Gold Spike (SR asked for a reshuffle of the cards a few hands in and they laughed at him for asking that in a $3 blackjack game), and lots of other games, and after losing at just about everything, I hit four Aces in VP at the Vegas club for $200 and Iâ€™m only down only slightly on the night. We successfully completed the casino crawl and will be doing it again in a couple of weeks on our ninth annual trip, with some slight modifications. Back at the Flamingo playing $1-$2 no limit and Iâ€™m losing, but thanks to their Aces Cracked jackpot, I get back to +$1 on the session when I let a guy see a free flop and turn and his big blind 2-7 offsuit turns into a straight, he wins a pot of about $30, but I win $100 for my Aces losing. Day 4: Four hours of sleep this time. We all hit the pool for some more relaxation and it dawns on me, Iâ€™ve been going to the Flamingo for several years in a row and I have never once actually been IN the pool. I lie next to it and drink by it every time we are there, but Iâ€™ve never been in it. Not starting now. MJ gets bored and decides to grind out a few hours of poker at Ballyâ€™s and SR, RK and I decide to go see Aria since it had only been open for a few months. I want to be able to say I have gambled in every casino on the strip, so we had to go there, find $0.25 VP, put in $20, lose and be on our way. Problem is we canâ€™t find $0.25 VP, only $1.00 and up. Iâ€™m about to leave, but SR takes out some money and sits at the last bank of VP machines before the exit. I sit in the middle, put $100 into a $1.00 progressive, double bonus VP machine and start playing. The draw button doesnâ€™t work very well so I cash out and move to the machine next to SR. A few more hands and it deals me Ace, Jack, King, Queen all hearts. I say to SR, â€œhey watch this, 10 of hearts!â€ Sure as sh*t the 10 of hearts pops on the screen and I jump out of my chair â€œHOLY SH*T! THATâ€™S ANOTHER ROYAL FLUSH!â€ and RK says â€œThatâ€™s $4,300!â€ It was $4,356.24 to be exact. Guess Iâ€™m buying dinner again (the Bellagio buffet this time, another traditional location for us). After dinner we go see Ron White at the Mirage and he is absolutely hysterical â€“ great show - I highly recommend it if he is in town. We play some additional poker back at the Flamingo then back to the rooms to get ready to leave the next morning. I do a money count and figure after all expenses Iâ€™m up about $4,700 for the trip â€“ by far my best Vegas results ever. Day 5: Depression sets in as we take that sad cab ride back to the airport. I try to bring reality back into focus as I begin thinking about all the crap waiting for me back at the office. Iâ€™m happy to get home to see my wife and children, but SR, RK, MJ and I are already sending text messages about what dates will work for next yearâ€™s trip (which is in about four weeks since Iâ€™m writing this so long after the last one). Next Trip: At the beginning of this really long post I apologized and stated that I would talk a little about the upcoming trip. We are modifying the casino crawl to include only eight of the downtown casinos that we liked best. We have to have a drink at all of them and we have to play a different game at each, with each of us taking turns picking which game to play â€“ no playing the same game twice. Iâ€™m wondering if anyone else has their own version of the casino crawl, or some other interesting Vegas challenge. Maybe thatâ€™s a question for another area of the VMB, but I thought Iâ€™d throw it out there anyway.