This past week saw my 14th trip out to Sin City since my first trip in March of 2002. I guess you could say I've caught the bug! The next one is already in the works for June. This trip began on Monday, March 7th and ended last Friday, March 11th. This was the third time in a row that I've stayed at the IP. My dad came along with me this trip, and it was an extremely enjoyable, yet exhausting, trip! There was a very good mix of spending time with dad and sightseeing, and being off on my own to get into the usual trouble. As I've done before, I'll cut up the trip into different categories instead of calling the "play-by-play", so that you can skip the boring stuff if you want and get to the things you might find interesting. Flights Flew out of Columbus, Ohio on Southwest non-stop. Both fights were fairly non-evenful. Because of my dad, we were able to pre-board both times, which made it easier on both of us! On our way back, we flew into a little bit of a snow storm in Columbus, where it was pretty obvious the visibility was very low. I've flown into much worse weather in and out of Chicago, so I wasn't worried, but I could feel that many people around me, including dad, were a bit worried. The pilots made a nice a smooth landing. Cab Rides and other transportation We only needed to take two cab rides, which were to and from the airport. Both cabies took the shortest route, and were pretty quite. Our other major mode of transportation was the motorized scooter that I finally talked dad into renting from the IP bell desk. It was an awesome decision. I've posted an update to this in the transportation forum but to summarize, the total cost was $105 for 4 days, and it was worth every penny!! Dad was able to get around and see so much more than he was ever able to do in his previous two trips! Sightseeing The majority of our sightseeing was done on Wednesday, and it was all made possible with the motorized scooter! We basically walked out of the IP, turned right, and made a circle of the entire center-strip in one afternoon. This included seeing the free shows in St. Mark's Square at the Venetian, the free shows in the Forum Shops at Ceasars, the Spring set-up in the Conservatory at the Bellagio, and the Fountain show at Bellagio. Unfortunately we just missed Big Elvis at the Barbary Coast on our way back! Food - Our first meal was the buffet in the "Tea House" at Imperial Palace. I think it is called the Emporer's Buffet. Not the best, but it was actually better than their other buffet near the poker room. - Imperial Buffet - like I've said before, this is one of the worst buffets on the Strip. However, we ate their once because it was comped. Even the worst buffet can't screw up a soup, salad and fruit meal, which is what I chose. - Denny's - It's Denny's, what can I say. The chicken ranch sandwich was good, and the service was okay. This was actually a mistake on my part though because I had completely forgotten about the food court in the Venetian, which is where we went right after the meal. I was thinking about trying to get to the Peppermill, but that would have been WAY out of our way. - Ming's - This is the chinese restaurant on the 5th floor of IP. It's better than most chinese places around where I live, but it's nothing worth writing home about. Above avearge food and good service. - Victorian Room at BC - I went with my usual, the Prime Rib special and dad went with the 16oz. t-bone. Both meals were very good! For anyone that has ever eaten the prime rib there, it comes with a side of probably the strongest horseradish sauce I've ever tasted. My dad didn't believe me, and took a whole spoonful of it at once!! He soon came to regret that decision! - Spice Market Buffet at Alladin - HOLY COW what a buffet!?!? I had gone the entire Thursday without eating so that I could enjoy this buffet. In my opinion, it is very much worth it's $25 price, and when I left I had trouble moving under my own power. If my dad were with me, he would have needed his scooter to get around this buffet because it's so big! Good stuff! - Airport mexican food - I can't remember what the place is called, but my last meal in vegas was at a mexican restaurant at the airport (walking toward the C and D terminals. You're probably thinking it, so I'll say it! Airport mexican food before a 4-hour flight?!?! What can I say, I'm a gambling man! Accomodations I don't care what anyone says, I still have yet to see why many people look upon the IP as a dump. Our room was threadbare, with some cracks in the bathroom wall and a broken lamp. However, the beds were comfortable, the shower worked just fine with all the hot water you could want. The AC/heating unit worked beautifully! The ice machine was always full. And with very few exceptions, the staff at the IP is very helpful and friendly! This was especially true of the bell desk employees who hooked my dad up with his scooter and showed him how to work it! I used a mailer to book my room at $45 per night, and as long as they keep coming, I'll keep going back to the IP. Comps Yep, for the third trip report in a row, I have a comps section. I can thank the Imperial Palace for that. The huge majority of my gambling was done at the IP this trip. I am a pretty low-roller as my daily gambling budget rarely exceeds $200 per day. Despite this, I was able to accumulate about $118 in comp dollars by the end of the trip. This equated to more than two nights off my hotel bill!!! Basically, after doing the math, my dad and I paid $10 per night each for our room! If you haven't heard by now, the IP poker room gives EXCELLENT comps. It is $3 per hour in there, and I played a total of 33 hours during the trip, so I guess that's how I racked up so much cash! The mail offer also came with the usual coupon book that included the buffet comps, a 2-4-1 ticket to see their Legends show, and some other goodies. I love the IP! Shows and Entertainment - IP Auto Collection - My dad and I used a couple free coupons to see the auto show at the IP. I thought it was very interesting, but my dad absolutely LOVED it! If you haven't checked this out yet, free coupons are all over the place for it, and it is a great way to spend some of your non-gambling time! - Legends in Concert - This is the IP's only real show. With the coupon, it only cost us about $20 each. Money well spent!!! I loved this show. It's got a little of everything. I was just expecting a few mediocre impressionists, but each performer was excellent and the showgirls did a great job! The impressionist that were on for our show included Stevie Wonder, Rod Steward, Aretha Franklin, The Righteous Brothers, Janet Jackson, and Elvis. - 2nd City Scriptless - If you've ever seen the 2nd City show before, you know it's mostly sketch comedy and some improvisation. However, Wednesday shows are "scriptless", meaning it's completely improvised. VERY FUNNY STUFF! Because I was unable to find a coupon for this show, we paid full price (about $40 each). It was still money well spent though! If you like improv similar to "Whose Line is it Anyway" on ABC with Drew Carey, then you'll love this show. Gambling - Slots - My dad wanted to play some nickel slots at some point, so I just chucked a few bucks into the machine next to his. Bye Bye money. - Blackjack - I finished down about $150 on blackjack. Just not very lucky at all. I only played the 3:2 double-deck games in the champagne pit. Beware the single-deck 6:5 game has officially infiltrated the IP champagne pit! Also, all of the "Dealertainer" tables are also 6:5, and unfortunately they were always packed full of suckers. Just a sidenote, the 6:5 blackjack epidemic has hit full stride! I walked through O'sheas at one point just to see what kind of blackjack they were offering. EVERY BJ TABLE WAS 6:5!! Even the four-deck shoe games!! Yikes! - Craps - I was up and down on craps the whole trip. I think I finished about even. I will reiterate something that I've mentioned in previous reports, the craps dealers at the IP are some the friendliest around! They NEVER beg for tips, but when you bet for them, they always show their appreciation and will ask and remember your name! They will also help you out if you forget an odds bet on a come number or make a wrong odds bet, etc. I did catch just a couple mistakes from them, but from reading Mikey's experiences at dealer's school, I guess that can be expected. I have decided though that I'm one of the worst shooters around. I never hit more than one point, and I usually hit just enough numbers so that when I sevened out, the table was loaded up! I think from now on I'll just pass. - Poker - Okay, as I said before, I spent a total of 33 hours in the IP poker room, and another 4 hours in the Alladin. But actually, my poker for the week began last Saturday night before the trip when I won $160 in a basement no-limit game in Columbus, so I guess I headed into Vegas already up a little! The Imperial Palace poker room has its pros and cons. The pros are: - Very good comps - Nice snacks like cookies and finger sandwiches are always on hand - Dealers are mostly friendly and helpful, especially to the new players. They are also pretty patient yet stern with the drunks and various riff-raff that make it into the room. - Tables are pretty nice with nice felt and plenty of elbow-room. - A dealer by the name of Gregg is excellent and friendly, despite the fact that he is a Miami Hurricanes fan! Cons: - Even though it's a "non-smoking" room, you can smoke on the other side of the rope, so it's still pretty smokey. - The table size is actually a con if you get stuck on an end. It's pretty hard to see the board from that distance. - A couple of the dealers seemed a little inexperienced and made some mistakes, but most of them were solid. I played exclusively 2-4 limit hold 'em this trip. I tried to get on a 3-6 table a couple of times, but there weren't any openings. Poker was my main gambling gain this trip. In fact, I figured that if I had stuck to ONLY poker, I would have probably paid my hotel and flight expenses, and then some! My first session lasted about 3 hours and I walked away up $180. If you've never played 2-4 hold 'em, a $180 winning session is pretty damn rare, so I was happy. My only losing sessions were to strictly beginners following the beginner's classes. The reason I was playing with them was that my dad wanted to play with me, but had never played before, so I re-took the class with him. It was a really nice way to spend some time with him and gamble at the same time. Of course I hardly ever won a pot because those people didn't even know what they had most of the time (at one point I lost to a boat when the lady thought she only had the pair in her hand). My favorite wins were over the very drunk young college Spring Breakers! They usually bought in for $20 or $30, and two or three of the better players at the table (including me) would simply pick them off one-by-one. They never knew what hit them! It was funny because whenever the fresh meat would sit down, the solid players rarely got into hands with each other. We seemed to know who had the better hands, and would simply let whoever that was captain those hands until the college drunks were gone. We then resumed playing heads-up with each other! These were people I had never met and hardly spoke a word to, but the silent connection amongst a few of the better players was uncanny. My best pot of the trip actually came in the four hours that I was at the Alladin. The Alladin has High Hand Jackpots similar to the Monte Carlo and others. At one point, my buy-in was almost gone when I was dealt pocket 8's. The flop came A-10-8. Bingo, low set!! I got some action, and then another 8 came on the turn! COOL!! Some guy was actually betting into me at this point thinking his top two-pair were good. After a raise and re-raise, he finally figured out that I had at least one 8. Unfortunately quad 8's had been hit a little earlier, so the jackpot was at the $50 minimum. However, I was on a pretty big high when I raked in the pot worth over $100 at a 2-4 table!!! I did suffer my fair share of bad beats throughout the week though. I won't bore you with all of the details, but I did find it VERY ironic that my very last hand of the trip, after playing for nearly 40 hours, involved my pocket aces being cracked on the river by some guy who drew to an inside-straight-flush. I also survived my run-in with a very drunk and angry local last Wednesday night. I was able to keep my cool when he trash talked like crazy when he hit a four-of-a-kind on the river to beat my aces-full. Unfortunately for him, another player at the table (who we affectionately dubbed "Grizzly Adams") was not able to take his crap anymore and proceeded to get him kicked out by calling him out. The drunk stood up, Grizzly stood up.......and then Grizzly's son stood up right behind the drunk at a different table. I'd say it took security about 30 seconds to get there while the floor bosses did their best to get in-between them and calm down the situation. I wish I could write more about my poker experiences and such, but alas I'm back in the real world and I have work tomorrow morning. Thanks for reading my trip report and feel free to email me or post a follow-up if you have any questions.