A friend and I went to Vegas for our yearly summer trip. This year we stayed 3 nights at Excalibur and 3 nights at The Orleans. As we have been going to Las Vegas several times a year for over a decade, we no longer look to pay extra to stay at Caesars, Wynn or Bellagio. We have become more economical as the years have gone by. I received an offer from MLife for Excalibur for Wednesday ($29), Thursday (Free) and Friday ($49) plus $22 resort fee per night. This was my 2nd recent stay at Excalibur. I stayed there in April was surprised by the cleanliness and size of the rooms and the variety of slot machines. Our plane (Southwest) was delayed 90 minutes in Albany so we did not arrive until after 8:30pm. Check-in at Excalibur took less than 10 minutes and we were upgraded to Tower 2 just by showing our Mlife reward card. The room was decent size and the bathroom was very large. The carpeting looked like it was recently installed and the room as very clean. The casino was not smoky and had a variety of older and newer games. The first morning, I was sitting at the bar enjoying my Bloody Mary when I held 2 cards. The machine then filled in the gaps with a ROYAL FLUSH. A $1,000 hit that I played off of for the rest of the week. The next couple of days included spending a lot of time at the pool. On Thursday there were not a lot of kids at the pool but on Friday, the place was overrun with them. On Friday, we broke down and spent the $10 per person to use the adult’s only pool in order to relax but the DJ was so loud you could barely carry on a conversation. The only on-site restaurant we ate at Bucca De Bepa. We split an entrée and they had $2 beer specials so it was a cheap lunch. Saturday we moved to the Orleans. I always enjoy spending time here as the food is cheaper, it is not as crowded and the dealers and cocktail waitresses are always very friendly. After grabbing a delicious dinner at the Mexican restaurant, we grabbed popcorn from the movie theater and sat at the Alligator bar for 3 hours playing video poker and neither of us had to put in more than our initial $20. I am convinced machines away from the strip pay off much better. On Sunday it seemed a lot of people went home and the pool was a lot less crowded. At 3pm we counted only 20 people in the pool. It was a beautiful day so we sat there from 11am – 8pm. The only time I left the pool area was to attend the blackjack tournaments. On Saturdays and Sundays, the Orleans has $25 blackjack tournaments so I decided to enter. I won my table at the 3pm session and had to return at 5 for the final session. It came down to myself and 2 other remaining players at the last hand. I busted so I ended up in 3rd place for a $200 prize. Sunday night we drove downtown. Palace Station still has a free parking lot if you are willing to walk 2 blocks to Freemont St. The crackdown on alcohol seems to have created less of a party atmosphere but for the first time in my last 4 visits, I was not approached by someone asking for money. My friend wanted to play the old-fashioned slot machines that pay out in actual coins on the 2nd floor of the D. He quickly became discouraged as he put $20 in a video poker machine and did not get a hit. Before we left I decided I would try and hit 4 Aces for $100. I guess it was worth the trip downtown after all. I like to play blackjack in the morning and played at the Orleans on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday morning. I usually buy in for $500 and play $25 a hand. Saturday I won $175 even though I was up over $600 at one point, Sunday I won $250 but on Monday I lost $150 but I did not play long as the dealer was very rude to a woman who did not understand much English but he kept yelling at her to stop touching her chips and make sure her bets were completely in the betting circle. Within 10 minutes of him arriving, all 5 of us at the table left. I wish I had gotten his name and said something to the pit boss as normally the dealers at the Orleans are super friendly and very patient with new players. We ate at Big Al’s oyster bar for dinner. This was a great dinner. I had the shrimp Fra Diavolo and it was the perfect amount of spice. Spicy enough to make your lips tingle but not enough to make it inedible. My friend had the shrimp scampi and even though the portions were large, we both finished our dinners. I will definitely eat there again on my next trip. The only show we went to see was Carrot Top at the Luxor. This was a solid hour of non-stop laughs. I highly recommend his show to anyone. If you are easily offended by sexual jokes you may want to skip it though. Other dining places we visited: Egg Works – 10 minutes from the strip on West Flamingo. Best breakfast around and there are B1/G1 coupons we found in the taxi which made it a great value. California Pizza Kitchen – A good choice at 11pm, we happened to be walking through the Mirage on the way to check out the Linq. M buffet – 15 minute ride from Mandalay Bay, this buffet is a favorite but it seems like they are unorganized all the time and it takes forever to get seated even though there are empty tables.