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July 6-11 Trip Report - Flamingo, El Cortez, Fremont

Discussion in 'Vegas Trip Reports' started by bigred4770, Jul 17, 2010.

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  1. bigred4770

    bigred4770 Tourist

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    My Trip Report

    Here is my trip report from July 6th to July 11th. The trip was mostly spent in Downtown Las Vegas. Me (36), My brother (41), and mother (72) went on this trip together. For each hotel stay we had two rooms – one for my brother and me and one for my mother. I was hoping that this trip would be a lot better than the last time that the three of us had traveled together at Christmas. At that time my mother was depressed about being away from home. Ever since my father passed away about eight years ago we travel together quite a bit. Being a Union Negotiator I do a lot of travel on my own but since my divorce I have found that the times I spend with my family to be the best.

    Day One – July 6th
    Flight was leaving out of Toronto (via Westjet) at 9:30 am. I like Westjet because of the TVs on every seat, which are leather, and the general demeanor of the crew. They honestly seem to care. I typically like to fly out of Buffalo better (Southwest and JetBlue being my favorites) but find the flight times inconvenient or when factoring the exchange rate on the flights coupled with the cost of parking that it does not make sense economically to fly out of there. But I have to admit it - I HATE Pearson airport. I am allowed to say that because I live here (although I am sure everyone does). I find it to be the most disorganized airport, and I fly a lot around North America due to my work. But living about a $30 cab ride (or what I thought was a $30 cab ride – more on that later) it makes economic sense sometimes. Oh well. I will have to grin and bear it. Anyways I was having the cab come at 7 AM (to quell the nerves of my family) and left to pick up my brother at his place. Cab came as expected and we headed to the airport. The driver that picked us up was very good and helpful with luggage and I tipped him accordingly. We entered the airport and there was very little line at check in (considering that we were now two plus hours ahead of schedule was definitely working to our advantage) and got our seats. I had paid the extra for each of us to get the emergency row seating that we could select online ahead of time. I really like emergency row seating not only because of the extra legroom but I also feel like a reward every time I get to sit there. You see, I have lost approximately 100 pounds in the past year. I used to be a charter member of the “seatbelt extension clubâ€. I hated flying and would normally have to purchase two seats to be comfortable. Times when I couldn’t get two seats side by side would usually cause me to have to stand for most of the flight at the washrooms so that I wouldn’t be crushing the person beside me (usually a business acquaintance). I still want to lose another eighty pounds but am now comfortable in most areas of life (like flying) that the cursed thin never have to experience. Trust me, there is nothing worse in this world than having to ask a flight attendant for a seat belt extension and then have others around you snicker.

    Anyways check in went well. My bag weighed in at 50.4 pounds and I was dreading to have to switch some items out of my bag to my carryon but decided to do a trick I learned online – that is to move the wheels off the scale. Shockingly the weight of my bag dropped to 39.8 pounds. The check in girl (who I think was new and didn’t notice the original weight) let me take the bag (at the no-frills Toronto airport you have to take your checked luggage with you) without a question. My mother (a light packer at the best of times – cant figure out how – weighed in at 29.2 pounds) and my brother’s bag weighed in at 40.2 pounds. Because his bag was over the 40-pound mark he had one of the dreaded “heavy†labels attached to it. My brother started to protest at the counter about why I didn’t have that tag but I politely told him its because I’ve lost weight. He continued to protest at which point I told him to shut up or be willing to pay the overage fee for me. He became very quite after this – but I still referred to him as heavy for the rest of day one. My brother has always been naturally thin and so he took it good-naturedly.
    We dropped our bags off and rounded the corner to security only to see a long line. Once again my mother and brother told me about how wise it was that we left so early (I had protested being the experienced traveler and hating Pearson airport- but I think I already told you that). Yes, I admit it, they were right. It was now 7:40 am. We made it through security without a problem by 8:20 am and decided to head off for some overpriced cafeteria food.
    We went to a restaurant called the Great American Grill – one that I have eaten in before and found most times their food to be edible albeit not award-winning. I ordered the breakfast scramble fiesta wrap and my DB and DM ordered the regular bacon and eggs. As someone who goes to bed at night dreaming about rolling around in fields of white bread and pasta (due to low-carb dieting) I was looking forward to the start of my vacation. I know that most say that I shouldn’t break away from my diet but I usually do when I vacation (which if I count with Vegas trips is about every four months) and I have always gotten right back on it. In fact I have found most times that it jump-starts the diet as the weight loss slows down over time.
    Well, the breakfast that was served was simply AMAZING. The combination of hash browns, cheese, eggs, tortilla, spices, and salsa is a beautiful thing. My family also enjoyed their meals, although probably not to the point of euphoria like me. The nice touch was my DM paid for breakfast – she has been doing this for years and a tradition that she likes to uphold. I really appreciate even though it is not necessary. Anyways we literally left the restaurant and went to our gate when we got there we didn’t even have to time to sit down before they called our seats (emergency row).
    Flight was pretty much uneventful (which is always a great flight nowadays). I did enjoy the fact that I had to tighten the seatbelt about an inch. I spent most of the flight watching Alias on my portable DVD player – I do not watch much TV and usually catch up (about five years behind) when traveling and so I am in the middle of season two – great show – LOVE Jennifer Garner for obvious reasons. I also played my brother some NHL hockey on PSP. Yes I know two men aged 36 and 41 playing video games sounds strange but we love it and it gets very competitive. I beat him in four straight much to his anger – and shots to my arm which made me laugh even more.
    Plane landed ten minutes ahead of schedule (11:15 AM Vegas time) and we were quickly walking through the airport to baggage claim. Got our bags no problem and headed out the door of the airport to the taxi line. I had contemplated doing the Presidential Limo thing but decided against it as my DM would not appreciate it and I would get told that I spend too much money foolishly. I was worried based on what I had read online that the taxi line would be long (and get further complaints from my DM about the heat even though she loves going to Vegas in the Summer). We got outside – and there was no line! Score! We got a cab and headed off for our first day in my future retirement city. First Stop – Flamingo

    More to come…
     
  2. jgates8

    jgates8 VIP Whale

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    type faster............ :)
     
  3. Royal Flusher

    Royal Flusher Savvy Gambler

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    Great start so far BigRed - bring it on!

    I believe the reason you have to take your bags with you is because you have to take them through US customs in person. I don't think this is anything to do with Pearson per se.
     
  4. VegasDiva

    VegasDiva VIP Whale

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    Same thing happens here at Calgary's airport ~ we all line up at the USA destination counters....get the baggage tags and weights...... then file thru the *doors* toward customs .... infact, once thru that door , there is another baggage carosel for those with a connecting flight , to pick up your luggage.....(also a couple duty-ree stores there too ) once thru the customs agents, you drop your luggage onto a carosel, then off to the security lines and once thru .......you find your gate :) I'm like you and try to get to the airport 2 hrs before hand, depending on the time of day, i've waited over an hour to get thru all of the lines but sometimes just breezed on thru ...... luckily once you get thru there is various places to eat like Tim Hortons or Harvey's burgers ....

    Great report so far and congrats on your weight loss!! :thumbsup:
     
  5. bigred4770

    bigred4770 Tourist

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    Yeah, I figured it has to do with US Customs but I also find on the way back into Pearson the time it takes from deboarding the aircraft to baggage claims is a huge distance to walk - especially with a carry-on and some duty-free "items"
     
  6. Carol1113

    Carol1113 High-Roller

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    :cheers:Great start--but please continue--want to hear what happened in Vegas :poke:
     
  7. bigred4770

    bigred4770 Tourist

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    DAY ONE – FLAMINGO CHECKIN

    Well we arrived at the Flamingo and I was expecting to see a long line (based on past reviews). I must say that I am impressed with the Hotel driveway – very tropical. Prior to the trip I had received an offer for a free room (Contemporary) for one night. The offer was for one room and a couple of nights at a choice of any of the HET properties (including Caesars). However the offer for the Imperial Palace and the Flamingo was possible to use on more than one room (which I needed as my mother was traveling with me and my brother).

    To give you some further background, the last few years I have spent most of my time in the downtown area of Vegas. I like the pace, the action, and the food prices much better than the strip. I do have to say though that I like the strip for staying when I want to see a show. I have gotten some very good offers from both areas of Vegas and will stay on the Strip, but usually only for one night to crash afterwards.

    Well I absolutely refused to stay at the Imperial Palace as I ended up in there one drunk night ten years ago and refused to ever stay there again. My DM and DB refused to stay at Caesar’s or Paris as both were charging for the extra room. Last year we had stayed at PHO for one night and none of us were impressed. That basically left Harrah’s, Ballys, or Flamingo. Decided to go with Flamingo because I do like the location on the strip – particularly Buffalo Bills/Barbary Coast and O’Shea’s and I have never stayed there before.

    Anyways I was a little tentative about the Flamingo as I thought that the room would be a disaster. Well the first thing I have to say about the Flamingo is that I must have been checking in at the right time. Granted it was the Tuesday after Independence Day (I presume not too busy) but it was 12 noon and I thought the line would be long and we would have to check our bags. I was strongly considering doing the $20 trick to see if I could get upgraded to a GO room for both but knew that most did not have a good history in achieving this.

    Anyways as soon as we entered the lobby via the escalator I was surprised at the small number of people in line (about three or four checkins in front of us). My DM, always the low-end slot player said to my brother and me did we mind her going off to play while we checked in. No problem. Well within about five minutes we were called to the counter. Here is where I thought my luck was going to stop. An elderly gentleman called me. Oh No! I thought. The $20 trick would be useless, as I knew from reading on the boards that most success was with young females. Well as he was checking us in he asked me if I was willing to upgrade to a GO room? I asked him what the upgrade cost was and he said it was free since I was being comped the other two rooms and they had extra inventory left over. In fact, he said that he could put us in two rooms that were ready right now (quickest I have ever have had two rooms ready on the strip). Score! I still gave him the $20 tip that had never been pulled out of my pocket.

    With room keys in hand my mother returned just when we were finished at the counter. We decided that we would check them out and then go on the hunt for cheap food on the strip (oxymoron). We were on the 20th floor. Well when we stepped off the elevator (which I was surprised to see had graffiti in it) I was shocked at the condition of the halls. The carpets were stained in multiple places and some of the walls had marks on them. All of us were filled with some trepidation. We moved down to our rooms and went in to the first one – I was thinking at this point that I had made a bad choice – and walked into something that I would say that was neat for a night but I don’t know if I would want to stay there for longer. The pluses of the Go rooms are the following: great view of the Bellagio Fountains, electronic blinds and sheers, very comfortable beds, amazing shower with mister, flat screen tv, tv in the mirror in the washroom. The negatives are the following: sliding glass door to the washroom which faces out into the bed area – this became a problem as my “arrival at 3 AM and the light that was shining through was not met with a happy sleeper. Storage in the washroom – the raised sink, although good takes up a lot of room which makes it hard to manage items – especially after many shots of Patron and Glenfiddich. The rooms also contain a good combination safe – which is always a plus. I guess overall I would give the GO rooms a seven out of ten. The score would have been higher but I have to say the condition of the halls really detracts from them. Word to HET – upgrade the halls as well since the rooms would feel even nicer.

    Anyways after settling in for a few minutes we decided to head out to search for some cheap food that we could get quickly by this point we had not eaten for about eight hours. I was a little upset that I had not had gambled or had my first drink yet but that would happen in due time. Well we decided on The Burger Joint. I had read in some other reviews that it was okay. It wasn’t the cheapest place in the world but we were planning on going to the Spice Market Buffet at PHO prior to the Mentalist show and did not want to be completely full. Anyways we went there and the price wasn’t great but it wasn’t bad for the Strip.

    My DM ordered potato skins, my brother ordered a cheeseburger and I ordered a burger on Pesto bread with swiss, mushrooms, and blue cheese (Hello Vacation!). We also decided to order some French fries to split. Well, we waited and waited. Finally they brought my mother’s potato skins (we had made sure when ordering that we wanted all three things to be brought out at the same time). My DM refused to eat until we got our food and waited some more. I asked the waitress what the hold up was. She said that the kitchen was a mess and everyone was grabbing other people’s orders. We waited some more. I asked her again what the hold up was and she said that she had a table run out on her without paying and she had to track them down in the casino and while she was gone our orders were taken in the kitchen again. I asked her to take away my mothers food and told her to bring it fresh with the other food (it had now been sitting there over thirty minutes). We waited some more. At the 45-minute mark I asked our waitress to see the Manager. An older lady came after five minutes to our table and I explained the situation and that we wanted all our food together. Her reply was she could get it to go for us. I did not know what she meant by that - I wanted my food given to me. I explained this to her and she said that I would have to talk to the Manager. At this point I got upset – I didn’t lose my cool, as I know through the type of work that I do that is usually the last answer when there is no other available.

    I told the – as I now found out – Hostess that I want to see the Manager, that we had been waiting almost an hour with no food. She said she would see what she could do. Well sure enough our food gets delivered. I told our waitress that we were still waiting on the manager and we were refusing to eat the food until we spoke to him/her. As a side note the potato skins that my mother had received abut 45 minutes earlier were the same ones – as my mother had bitten into one when we all thought the food would be delivered expeditiously.

    Another ten minutes went by. I got up and went to the Hostess and said that we had had enough, we wanted the manager and we were being refused to be seen by them, and we were going to eat but still wanted to see them. Well the Manager never came. Once we were finished I pulled our Waitress aside and asked her if she was going to be charged for our food – she said no – I gave her a tip and got up and left – I did tell the hostess on the way out that we had done this and she said that the Manager was going to cover the cost. I decided to hold back comment but needless to say I will NEVER dine there again. On an up note the food was surprisingly good (with the exception of the reheated potato skins) but at this place there was absolutely no service at all.

    Next Up: Casino Royale, Spice Market Buffet, The Mentalist, and Late Night Flamingo
     
  8. bigred4770

    bigred4770 Tourist

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    REST OF DAY ONE

    So I will try to write about the rest of day one in Vegas, as I know my trip report is getting a little long winded.

    After the debacle we went into the casino of the Flamingo. I did not really like the vibe there – the blackjack was terrible and I wasn’t in the mood to start my gambling with slots – I usually save that for late night – so I suggested to my DB why don’t we go and check out Casino Royale as I know it is close by and neither of us has been there in years.

    My DM wanted to stay at the Flamingo so we parted company and said that we would meet in a couple of hours. My brother and me went off on our quest.

    When we got to Casino Royale I suggested we sign up for the players’ card, as we have not had one in a while. Sure enough they didn’t have us on record and we got the “coupon book†– which is actually a sheet of mostly useless coupons. We both did the free slot play coupon but quickly realized what a come on this was – only jackpots paid and only to a certain level – tell me, has anyone won anything on this?

    Anyways needless to say we did not win anything. My next quest was to find a cigarette machine (as I hadn’t had one in about a day), which I did – in case anyone is wondering it is by the back entrance near the food court. Anyways once I finished polluting my body I met up with my brother and we decided to use the buy a beer, get one free coupons. I must say, the deal on Michelob is great – I cant remember if it was a $1 a beer or $2 but with the coupon it felt like free. I found a spot at the bar, settled in, drank a few, moved on to tequila and then decided to hit the craps table. Bad Move. Pulled out my first hundred for the trip and quickly lost it (about twenty minutes). I am a bit of a conservative player when it comes to craps – I only play pass line with up to 5x odds and combine it with place bets on the six and eight equal to the odds bet. Anyways, the table was cold, would seven out within about three to four rolls on average and it went quick. But I was feeling great. Here I was in Vegas, drinking, smoking, and shooting dice, what more could a guy ask for? Anyways, I found my brother and he was playing a slot machine, cashed out a full $10 ahead. We left in search of my mother at the Flamingo

    Casino Royale: - $100
    Trip Total: - $100

    So we walked up the strip to the Flamingo. My brother and me stopped in O’Shea’s for a shot of Jamieson each and continued on our way. I’ve got to say the Porn Slappers have the advertising down to a science. I mean, do they teach them in porn slapping one on one on how to make that noise? Anyways we arrived at the Flamingo and found my mother. We all decided that now that it was close to 4:30 in the afternoon we better head upstairs and get ready for the Mentalist and PHO.

    Up we went, pulled out some items for the night, as we would be moving the next day and freshened up. Headed out around 5 pm, which was later than I wanted to be. Some people had given me the advice to catch a cab to PHO in order to avoid the heat (my mother hates it) – great suggestion! Yes it was only a $10 cab ride with tip but it was further than I thought it would be.

    Anyways we got into PHO and decided to meet at the large poster of Holly Madison in the Casino. I had prepurchased the Mentalist tickets and knew the walk to the V Theater to be long so I told them that they could go and gamble and I would meet up with them in about twenty minutes. Anyways off I went, remembering the quickest way to get there (turn left on Miracle Mile rather than right) and was at the theater about five minutes later. There were about three people in line and so I thought it would go quick – well it didn’t. The guy behind me got impatient, went up to the ticket girl and started saying he should be ahead of everyone because he had already pre-bought his seats. I told him to get back in line that all of us were in the same position. He didn’t like it but complied. Anyways when I got up to the front counter – guess what – they didn’t have my tickets! They made me wait about twenty minutes while they called this person and that person and then finally they had them ready in the system for me. I was supposed to get VIP seating, free buffet, and a free drink for each. Once I had the tickets I rushed off, as I was happy thinking that getting row A centre stage was great. Off I rushed back to meet the family at the Holly Madison sign. I found them quickly and we all decided that we better head off to the Spice Market Buffet as it was now after six and the show was at 7:30.

    When we got to the Buffet the line was surprisingly small (I didn’t think we would be able to eat there) and we were seated within ten minutes. Well, in regards to the Buffet here is my review: The Good: I loved the Tandoori Chicken at the Middle Eastern Station as well as the Meatballs at the Italian Station. Desserts were also excellent: Banana Crème Pie and Crème Brule. The Bad: I found the Roast Beef to be very tough, the Mexican station – all food – to be cold – and the lamb skewers to be horrible (like leather). Furthermore, I didn’t like the service – we got drinks a total of once from someone who I think was not working our section. If I was to rate this buffet, I would give it a 5/10 – I also found it to be way too busy which I know the casino has no control over – but I have to say the quality on this buffet is starting to reach the inedible stage where it used to be one of my favorites.

    So we left the Spice Market buffet and arrived at the V Theater with fifteen minutes to spare. I took what I thought were our free drink tickets to the Stripper Bar and handed two in (my brother was still recovering from Casino Royale, the lightweight) and was told the charge would be $16 and was given four drinks. I said these are free drink tickets – I was then told they were buy one get one free – great – not what Vegas on Demand had advertised but anyways….I headed back with the drinks, got told by my mother that I need to be more careful with my money (lol) and waited in the VIP line for the upstairs showroom.

    Well we got in and I have to say that the V Theater downstairs is small, but this was ridiculous. Are there actual people that ever sit in the “side sections� The way it is set up you literally would be not seeing half the stage due to a wall. Getting back to the show, to make a long review short (which is all that is warranted) the show was horrible, the tricks were not interesting, and most people that were on stage seemed to be set up. We were told that everyone would be participating in the show but for most that comprised throwing sponge balls into nets for a magic lottery scheme. Trust me, this show is a complete waste of time and money. If you want to see something good at P Ho go see Peepshow (excellent) or V (very good), which I have seen previously. I also have to say that I do not like people trying to sell their DVDs at the end of the show – I know everyone does this now but I just feel that it is not something that should comprise fifteen minutes of the show where the supposed celebrity talks about what is on the DVD that you wont see anywhere else. There wasn’t anything in this show that appeared “fake†there just wasn’t anything exciting. Maybe it is because of my first night and things haven’t flowed great yet. Anyways we left the theater at about 8:45 pm and decided to go and gamble in P Ho. We decided we would meet at 10 pm.

    Well I didn’t like the vibe from any of the tables and so I decided to try my luck at slots. Bad mistake. I played for about forty minutes (cant remember the machines) and had a “free†drink (Long Island). Decided to quit and go pay for my drinks. On the way to the bar, I found my brother and mother who both wanted to leave as they were not doing well either. We jumped in a cab and headed back to the Flamingo

    P Ho: -$300
    Total for Trip -$400

    Once we got back to the Flamingo my mother decided to stay at the hotel while me and my brother decided to give O’Sheas a try. We went there and while my brother had a drink at the bar, I did some more shots of Jamieson. Why I do this to myself on the first night is beyond me – I drink so much and I lose so much that I have to fight back the rest of the time to go home happy. Anyways after this, my brother suggested that we try the Sex In The City Slots. Lost some more money on this but the big thing was the jerks in O’Sheas. Some young ****** bag decided to snap our picture since we were both guys playing a “female slotâ€. I told him if he did it again I would be developing the pictures through him. He got the message, apologized, and erased it. I told my brother that we should head back to the Flamingo, which we did.

    O’Sheas: -$140
    Total for Trip: -$540

    Well by this point it was 10:30 pm but our bodies were still on Eastern Time and so my DB and DM decided to call it a night. I said that I was going to stay down for a little while and would be up later. Well, the rest of the night is a blur. I know that I spent a total of $40 – I was playing JOB at Bugsy’s Bar for most of the time and getting comped pretty well – I had switched to shots of JD with Bud backs. I know that I hit a straight flush at some point and my first four of a kind, I also remember getting propositioned twice by working girls, and there might have been a third one or else she was just very drunk. I stumbled in around 3 AM and had the sense to shower before bed (which did wake my brother with the glass door in the washroom) and take out my contact lens and fell fast asleep.

    Flamingo: -$40 (?)
    Total for Trip: -$580


    Next Up: Day Two and the move to Downtown (Thank God)
     
  9. VegasDiva

    VegasDiva VIP Whale

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    Wow, great read so far , very detailed

    I hear you about the hallways in the Flamingo .... had some issues last year with them about the condition of hallways and room...

    Haven't tried Spice Market Buffet as yet (not a big buffet person )

    hope your gambling luck improves a bit once you move downtown
     
  10. bigred4770

    bigred4770 Tourist

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    DAY TWO – THE MOVE TO DOWNTOWN

    Well, even though I had gone to bed at 3 AM and had been up at the time for about 24 hours, I woke up Vegas rested at 7:30 AM. My DB was still fast asleep and didn’t want to wake him. I was feeling a little rough but not rough enough to stay in bed so I quickly changed and told him I would be back at 9:30 for the move.

    I headed downstairs and decided I would go over to Buffalo Bills/Barbary Coast for a little while as I had a couple of ACG match play coupons I wanted to use. I love the fact that even though they have changed the name of this place that most of it was still the same – in fact I was shocked that the glass on the doors still had BC etched into them. I went in and decided to try my luck at craps with the match play. I decided to have a couple of Bloody Mary’s to get the day going and I bought in for one hundred dollars. Being that there was only me and a young couple at the craps table the action moved pretty quickly but I was able to have one of those good Vegas conversations with the dealers. Anyways when I got on the dice I went on a great roll – in many areas. I swear the dice were flying – literally. I must have shot them off the table at least five times (which hardly happens once when I normally roll). The dealers were laughing and I said that the tables are really springy here which prompted one of the dealers to say “So says the man drinking Bloody Mary’s at 8 AMâ€. I laughed and admitted it was probably more to do with the ever-replenished beverages than the table. Anyways before I knew it I saw that it was 9:15. No one else had joined our table the whole time but it was great in that I won over three hundred dollars even with dealer bets and drink tips. I quickly colored up, cashed out and headed back to the room to start packing.

    Buffalo Bills/Barbary Coast: +$320
    Total for Trip: -$260

    Well we quickly packed, did express checkout and headed off to the Fremont for the next part of our stay.
     
  11. jaxjoe

    jaxjoe Guest

    maybe your luck is changing...looking forward to the rest:beer:
     
  12. bigred4770

    bigred4770 Tourist

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    Hi All,

    Sorry for the delay – I have booked another trip – coming down on August 3rd for four nights – I couldn’t pass up the offer from my host. Anyways, getting back to the trip report:

    Day Two

    Well we taxied down to the Fremont with no problems. Being the prices and experiences we had with the Strip in regards to food we decided to eat once we got downtown. Arrived at the Fremont shortly after 11 am. I was anticipating that we would be checking our bags. We got up to the front desk (they have a really small but really nice lobby in my opinion – very feng shui) and checked in. Not only did we get rooms on a high floor away from the Fremont experience but we also got connecting rooms. Furthermore, BOTH rooms were ready. Two times in a row I was lucky with the check in gods.

    We went up to our rooms and dropped our stuff off. I have to say I was very impressed – more impressed with these than the Flamingo GO rooms. Yes, they didn’t have some of the modern conveniences that the Flamingo offered, but the hallways and rooms were immaculately clean. Some people are critical with the size of the Fremont washrooms but I found them to be okay. We did have an issue with our toilet but it was fixed right away. Bed was amazing – and I liked the blind shutters on the window with the décor. As well, I found their hair care products much better than the Four Queens – not luxurious but usable.

    We unpacked a couple of items and decided to go out and search for some food. My brother loves Magnolia’s Veranda at the Four Queens (I can take it or leave it) and so we decided to hit there. We got in no problem – got one of the booths which overlook the casino which I always like – and placed our order. I had banana pancakes and my DB had the Canal Street special which is basically two eggs, bacon, and French toast. My DM had her usual bacon and eggs. Interestingly enough I loved my meal but my mother and brother were not impressed with theirs. My DM sent back her eggs and they were quickly done right (she ordered the turned over hard and they were very soft). My brother thought the French toast was tasteless. MY pancakes though were cooked well and tasted great with the banana. They also had some whipped cream and caramel on them. Needless to say, this meal was not on my approved diet but I left that when I started vacationing.

    Anyways we left that and we said that we would meet at 2 pm at the Wheel of Fortune in the Fremont to unpack. My mom stayed at the Four Queens, My brother went off to Fitzgerald’s and I decided to wander down Fremont.

    Well, I decided to stop in at Binions. I haven’t even gone in the place the last couple of trips because I am still angry that the ownership (same as the Four Queens) closed the coffee shop. I shot craps for about an hour and lost one hundred dollars. On a side note, I realized that Binions was looking pretty good. Sure it doesn’t have the same vibe as when it was the Horseshoe but they have really tried to make some improvements. They have enclosed Binion’s Café so it is not in the middle of the casino with no privacy. They have installed new chandeliers, and their washrooms are excellent. In fact their washrooms have gone from being the worst on Fremont to some of the best. Anyways on my way back to the washroom I decided to play one of those Quick Hit machines and hit for $240 on my first twenty. With that, I look at my watch and saw that it was a quarter to two and decided to head out and meet the family at the Fremont.

    Binions: +$120
    Total for Trip: -$140

    Well we met up, when up to the room, unpacked and relaxed until about 4 pm. We decided at that point to head down to the El Cortez to check in. I have got to say I can’t believe how much the walk to the El Cortez has improved. I don’t find the area to be nearly as seedy as it used to be – in fact I find downtown as a whole much safer than the Strip. Well we entered, my family when off in search of slots (DM) and video poker (DB) and I went and checked in. Got the room no problem and then ran into my brother who wanted to check out the room with me. We went up and saw that we were in one of the larger rooms at the end of the hall. I have to say I love the rooms at the El Cortez – bright, clean, big with a seating area – and great beds. I took this room because it came with an offer for three nights and knew it would be good to have in case one of us wanted someplace to hang out while others were gambling. Anyways when we entered the room I was shocked to see a BIG fruit basket with chocolates from my host sitting on the dresser with a note. I have to say – it these types of things that make me keep coming back to the El Cortez. Well we finished up with the room and headed back down to the casino. I was going to hit some blackjack and my brother was off to see how my mom was doing.

    Well I sat down at the table with clearly a break-in dealer – which this place is – and played some single deck straight up. Caught some nice cards and this continued on for about 45 minutes. A woman came along with her sisters and they were nice but changed the luck and I colored up. I had bought in four one hundred and cashed out with $490 for a profit of almost $390. I do spread my bets depending on the count but probably averaged about $20 a hand. Nice run. I went to the cashier and ran into my family in line. At that point we decided we would head back to the Fremont and try the buffet with one of the 2 for 1 coupon.

    El Cortez: +$390
    Total for the Trip: +$250

    Well we went to the Fremont and had the Prime Rib buffet. This was hands down the best meal we had the whole trip. The Prime Rib was excellent, their fried chicken was nice and juicy, and it was just really good, decent food.

    Well we left there and the details of the rest of this day are really hazy as I started to really drink. I know that I went up to the room to drop off some money for the evening (I kept $300 and put the rest away). Here is what I remember:

    My DM went to bed around 9 pm and got her usual seniors coffee and apple pie at McDonalds and me and my brother walked her back
    My brother and me gambled mostly in the Golden Gate until about 12 am when he went to bed and I went to Fitzgerald’s. I know that I played blackjack and craps there. I also remember going to the Four Queens when things were getting really messy to play video poker, as I couldn’t count anymore. I played that for a while and then I went to bed around 2 am. The next day I counted the money in my pocket and saw that I had $340 for a nice profit of $40. Usually when I am in these modes I wake up with an empty wallet and some bank receipts.

    Golden Gate, Fitz, Four Queens: +$40
    Total for the Trip: +$290
     
  13. bigred4770

    bigred4770 Tourist

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2009
    Messages:
    88
    Location:
    Toronto
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    26
    REST OF TRIP REPORT

    Ok, this trip report has taken much longer than I thought it would. I am going to just write some of the highlights from the next few day. First, the only “losing†day that I had was the first one. The rest were all wins. At the end of the trip, even with the cost of some meals and taxis, I came out ahead a little under $1000. I stayed away from slots and focused on blackjack and craps. The “luckiest†places for me were the El Cortez and the Golden Gate. I spent a lot of time doing video poker at the Four Queens when I just wanted to drink – although their JOB poker is horrible, their drink service is great and so one offset the other. I have to say that the operation at the El Cortez is top-notch. Not ony do they have the best blackjack in Las Vegas, but I was offered top-shelf alcohol to boot as the week progressed. I guess being a $25-$50 a hand player still gets some type of attention in Vegas. In fact, when I returned home I got a phone call from my host their and got a really good offer to return prior to the end of August. I have bitten and I am heading back on August 3rd for five days.

    Golden Gate – Drink service here is great but it is difficult to get on the hand deal tables due to most having the continuous suffle machines. They are running a really good promotion here – Crack The Code – which has a payout of $100,000. I tried it over 30 times (you get a new chance with every $100 buyin at the table or 200 slot points) and got $5 free slot play over half the time. Du-Pars in the Golden Gate I think is good. Yes I did like the Bay City Diner better – mostly because the price has gone up – but their breakfast is great. I probably had the best pancakes I have ever eaten there.

    Vegas Club/Plaza – Both these casinos I wish I could manage. What a waste. I remember in the mid to late 90s that the Vegas Club was one of the best places to play. Now it is depressing. On a side note – management if you read this, have dealers work the “party pit†tables located at the front of the casino for both places – regardless of whether the girls are working or not. It just turns customers away when the first thing they see is empty tables. I did win a little bit in both places but didn’t stay there just because I really felt like this is where gambling goes to die. Both places I got propositioned by prostitutes right on the casino floor – if that is any indication about how bad it has gotten.

    Binion’s – Excellent washrooms and Café but the blackjack is horrible – 6 to 5. I would only play craps here and some slot play and poker - although the action is a bit tougher than elsewhere. Did get some nice food comps. Continue renovating the hotel/casino but also bring back the games to the level they used to be.

    Golden Nugget – Spent a little time in here – ok but I find it very much like the strip – sterile, impersonal albeit clean. Its just not my style. Poker room is excellent and the marks are easy – was able to make good money.

    Four Queens – This casino got the LVRJ award for best blackjack in 2008. I used to stay here and do a lot of action. No longer. Most tables are 6 to 5. Craps is good and bar service excellent. Coffee shop is very good. Would usually come here when I finished playing poker or blackjack so that I could be irresponsible.

    Fremont – Excellent place to stay but I don’t like the Boyd casinos for comps (just my opinion) and I find the bar, with the $2 caronas and $3 Jager bombs, way too packed. Buffet is excellent. I didn’t give them much action this trip.

    Fitzgeralds – Love this place – used to hate it in the mid 90s. Good blackjack but not great. Poker is amazing – many players looking to dump. Bar service is excellent but same problem with bad JOB. Excellent comps on food and room offers. I had the ribeye steak special in the café – it was good but not great – family liked it though – gave a lot of action in this place and won a lot here.

    El Cortez – In my opinion, for a table player, this is the best in Las Vegas. Amazing blackjack, low limit craps and routlette, they even have $5 mini baccarat. Drink service is a bit slow but they really know how to treat a player right. I would be addressed by name afer the first day. Coffee shop is excellent. I will be going back to the Flame this upcoming trip as I didn’t eat there the last one and I love that place.

    Main Street Station – Good buffet but I think it is overrated. I tried it for the first time (don’t ask me why) this trip and thought it was ok but I like the Fremont one better. Maybe its because I had the brunch buffet on the Saturday. Didn’t play any tables here but I did hit for a 1000 quarters on Wheel of Fortune while waiting for my family.

    California – Its okay, did a little action, but I have to say I always find that this place looks like the 1980s personified. Don’t know why I just am not a fan. I did like the ice cream place on the second floor though.

    Stratosphere – Went here because I had a huge offer for slot play. Won a little bit – DB did really well and hit a $500 jackpot. Did see a lot of working girls in the place. Overall good but I don’t know if I would stay here even if the room offers are good.

    Well that’s it. Any questions, please don’t hesitate to PM me.
     
  14. MNHornet09

    MNHornet09 Low-Roller

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    129
    Location:
    Minneapolis
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    4
    Great report. Thanks for toughing it out and finishing the whole thing.
     
  15. VegasDiva

    VegasDiva VIP Whale

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2009
    Messages:
    3,038
    Location:
    Calgary , Alberta , Canada
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    13
    Thanks for the great TR , was a very entertaining read



    Have fun in a couple weeks when you return :) looking forward to that report too !!
     
  16. jaxjoe

    jaxjoe Guest

    Thanks for sharing:beer:
     
  17. bshowell

    bshowell VIP Whale

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2004
    Messages:
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    Location:
    DMV
    Trips to Las Vegas:
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    Great read! Can't wait for your installment for August.
     
  18. northerngirl

    northerngirl Low-Roller

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2007
    Messages:
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    Location:
    Northern Minnesota
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    40
    Very, very enjoyable report. I always stay downtown and agree with all your different points regarding the downtown casinos. Yes, Binion's certainly has cleaned up. Although it certainly will never have the vibe when Jack ran it and had good single deck BJ rules. I also try to play more BJ than anything else.

    My sisters, my son and I are staying downtown August 6-13 and we always spend a portion of each day playing cards at the El Cortez. My husband refers to us as "The Cackle Sisters". So if you hear us, stop and say hello.

    Congrats on the weight loss and best for continued success.
     
  19. bigred4770

    bigred4770 Tourist

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2009
    Messages:
    88
    Location:
    Toronto
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    26
    Thanks all for the positive feedback. I will defiinitely be doing another one for the next trip. Going on this one with my brother alone - taking him for a big promotion he got at work - so the adventure should be a little more interesting.
     
  20. BetYouFiddy

    BetYouFiddy Tourist

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2010
    Messages:
    45
    Location:
    United Kingdom
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    0
    Hey

    Loved the TR BigRed, although a little disappointed that it ended lol Was really getting into it :) can not wait until your next one!
     
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