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June 21-25th - Downtown, Laughlin & Bally's

Discussion in 'Vegas Trip Reports' started by BrokenAlice, Jul 5, 2008.

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  1. BrokenAlice

    BrokenAlice Tourist

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    My Trip Report

    I hope I don't break any hearts around here when I say that I frequent another Vegas message board. Since last October, the participants of that board had been planning a large Meet & Greet event which took place at Pampas Brazilian Grille in the Miracle Mile shops. I'm not sure of the exact count, but I believe there were over 50 board members attending. Many people brought friends and family. I think there was close to 80 people in total. We had people from all over the world come including the England, Canada, Ireland, and Greece. It was a huge success.

    Besides the big event at Pampas there were several smaller gatherings throughout the week. My TR will primarily highlight the places we ate, as most of the events revolved around food. Some of us also took a bus trip to Laughlin. I stayed at three different hotels over 4 nights based on price and location for various events.

    Pictures:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/brokenalice/sets/72157605880003484/detail/

    There's a couple videos of Downtown entertainment on my Youtube page: http://youtube.com/user/Brokenalice

    I'll start with the hotel reviews and post more later:

    Hotels:

    Las Vegas Club - I stayed here one night. Both times I have stayed here I booked the North Tower Deluxe room which is more expensive than the South Tower. The room I received this time was certainly larger then my last room, however, this room was far dirtier with lots of old, dried stains on the carpet and a ratty, stained bedspread. I'd hate to see what the lowly South Tower rooms are like. I'm not much of a complainer and as long as there's a working bathroom, quiet air conditioning, and a bed free of insects I am fine. I just tossed the bedspread in the closet, which is something I normally do at any hotel I stay at and wore my shoes most of the time in the room. The bed was not that comfortable, but good enough for one night's sleep. I had the same experience with an uncomfortable bed with my previous stay. I don't know that I'd stay there again, but I only paid $47 for a Saturday night so, again, I'm not going to complain too much.

    I had some good luck playing slots at their casino. They also have a little show stage set up in the back of the casino. On Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm and 10pm they have "Sin City Circus" perform. From what I gather, the talent changes week to week. This time it had a lovely drag queen hostess that had several fun wardrobe changes and fun being saucy with the crowd. There was a man who performed shadow puppets with his hands in front of a movie screen and did some neat things including facial profiles of Elvis, Frank Sinatra and a few others - all with his two hands. Very cool. There was a juggler who juggled various balls and bowling pins in a theatrical fashion with tumbling around the stage. And the best of them all was a very bendy man doing all sorts of gymnastic/acrobatic tricks and contortions. It was about 20 minutes of entertainment in all and quite fun. Videos are on the YouTube link above.


    Binion's - I stayed at Binion's the day after Vegas Club. $33 for one night. I checked in around 12 noon and dropped my bags off. My room wouldn't be ready until 4PM because I specifically requested to NOT be on the Fremont Street side of the building. The next morning I would have to wake at 6AM to go to Laughlin and I didn't want to be awake with the Fremont light show blaring outside of my window.

    I was given room 505, with a lovely view of the HVAC units on top of the casino. The room appeared clean, but I still threw the bedspread in the closet because they gross me out. I really liked the headboard on the bed which had a long shelf that extends behind the entire width of the bed, behind the pillows. The bed itself was very comfortable. There was also a single-cup coffee maker with lots of coffee supplies on top of the dresser. The bathroom was small but had the essentials.

    Bally's - This was my first time staying at Bally's and I was very pleased. I had booked a South Tower room on a special promotion for $50/night, for two nights. I didn't get to check-in until almost 8pm because I had been in Laughlin all day. The check-in experience went like this:

    There were only two clerks working the desk and there wasn't a line, but both clerks were helping someone. I stand at the front of the rope waiting to be next. Here comes this woman stomping up to the counter and demands to be helped. The clerk was helping someone else and told the lady to get in line. So the woman stomps over and stands right in front of me and tells me in no uncertain terms that she was going to be next. Whatever, lady.

    When the clerk was done the lady stomps over and starts freaking out about something. Honestly, I don't know what she was yelling about and I didn't bother listening. I just zoned out and waited. The clerk tells the woman to go down to another desk and wait for a manager. The same clerk waves me over to be helped and the lady steps a couple feet over. I was planning on asking the clerk if I could get any kind of view of the fountains with my South Tower room, but after she just got done being yelled at I didn't say a thing. I just handed her my reservation paper and my ID/CC. She click, click, clicked away and then handed me some keys and told me I'd be in the North Tower. I REALLY wanted to be in the South Tower for the potential of a fountain view, but didn't object. I knew this was an upgrade since North Tower was a few years more renovated than South. So I thanked her and went on my way.

    I'm dragging my bags down a really long hallway. I am really annoyed because I am all the way at the end of the hall. Last door! I practically walked to Ellis Island! I open the door, put my bags against the wall, see the armoir, couch, bed, and then my head keeps turning to the right and I see I have a HUGE JACUZZI and marble floors and two huge closets, and two sink/vanity areas. There's even a separate room for a toilet, a separate room for a bidet, and a standing glass shower. I could not believe it. I have never had a complimentary upgrade before and this was the upgrade of a lifetime. I got a magnificent suite for $50/night! It was a dream come true.

    Ok...I'll do food reviews and stuff later. Thanks for reading.
     
  2. jgates8

    jgates8 VIP Whale

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    Well BA, I was just going to ask what kind of rooms were in the South Tower (since that is all I can get comped on NYE), but I guess you won't be able to answer that question!!! Awesome upgrade!!!
     
  3. DonD

    DonD Super Moderator

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    Thanks, Alice! Love your report. Those motorcycles in front of the Vegas Club are awesome. I have watched them on several occasions and it amazes me that they don't crash. :eek:
     
  4. KevinSTP

    KevinSTP High-Roller

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    Very cool Alice. Thanks for the report and the pictures.
     
  5. gmoney590

    gmoney590 VIP Whale

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    Nice score on the upgrade at Bally's; maybe the clerk felt sorry for you since the rude lady cut in front of you. I don't know if I could stay in rooms with stains and looking or feeling dirty.
     
    Back where we belong
  6. VPmiracle

    VPmiracle Tourist

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    Kind of sounds like she appreciated how you handled the crazy grumpy rude woman. I had something kind of similar happen at IP once. I confronted the person who was being similar and she said "I don't really care what you think." I think their negative mojo gets them what they deserve eventually when they are that rude to bystanders.

    Glad you had a dream come true with the upgrade. Look forward to the rest.
     
  7. Leeza14

    Leeza14 VIP Whale

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    Great room at Bally's! Last summer, we were upgraded to one of these as well, also in the South Tower. Our view was of a roof, but we didn't care...glad you enjoyed it. I'll look forward to the rest of your TR. :thumbsup:
     
  8. gotavegasjones

    gotavegasjones VIP Whale

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    BrokenAlice - look forward to he rest of your report. Nice people are appreciated and rewarded in Vegas. All the folks with service related jobs probably deal with lots of nonsense. Your patience and grace in that situation was indeed rewarded. Way to go!

    later, GVJ
     
  9. BrokenAlice

    BrokenAlice Tourist

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    Thanks for the kind words everyone. Here's the casino report of my TR. It will be brief as I did more socializing than gambling on this last trip.

    I play mostly slots. I've been trying to ween myself off the Penny machines. Despite loving all the fun bonus rounds and pretty color videos of the Penny machines, I know that the wins are not that beneficial to my bankroll. I have been playing more and more 25 cent machines and try to stick with the 2-coin machines. I love Top Dollar, and the Diamond one where the diamond bars tick up or tick down to the line depending on which way they are pointed. I can't remember what that one is called but I like it.

    Downtown I did well at Las Vegas Club, Binion's, and played mostly Penny machines there. I did well at 4 Queen and Main Street Station with 25cent machines. I did not do well at El Cortez no matter what type of machine I played. Some other people I was with did very well at El Cortez on some $1 slots but everyone was losing money hand over fist at MSS. I was the lone exception winning $90 on a 25cent machine after about $5 of play at MSS. Cocktail service at all of these locations was poor in my opinion for it being Saturdays and Sundays when I was playing.

    I did not get any slot love at Planet Hollywood or Paris. However I did very well at Bally's playing the 25cent machines that are located just behind the Bally's box office. I played on one particular machine (I didn't even pay attention to the name) for about 2 hours on Wednesday afternoon. I'd put in a $20 and eventually get a good hit $60+ and cash out. Then slide in another $20 and repeat. I walked away with a good $400 off of that machine and had really good cocktail service the entire time. I stopped at 3 drinks but she came by another 3-4 times always asking if I was ready for another. I think she was making it her personal goal to get me drunk, but I had a plane to catch that afternoon.

    Also at Bally's on Tuesday night I had a blast playing Rapid Roulette. The bar next door had a great band playing some fun cover songs. Most of the people at the Roulette stations were very lively and cheering and high-fiveing and dancing in their chairs. The people working the roulette wheel were fun and it was a great time. Cocktail service was great as well. I really love playing that game even though I never walk away from the table with any money. But I usually only buy in for $40 and can play for hours with the small minimum bets and the small wins.

    I tried blackjack for the first time while I was in Laughlin. Another one of the ladies I was traveling with was also a blackjack virgin so we enlisted the help of one of our friends to sit with us at a $3 table at the Edgewater casino and show us the ropes. I had one of those "basic strategy" cards sitting on the table and used it with almost each hand. After about 2 hour of play I colored up and cashed out. I bought in with $40 and left with $38. I had tipped the dealer a few times during the game so I'd call that coming out even. Not bad for a first timer. I don't know that I'll play it very often because I did find the game a little stressful. The play is fast and I'm not a good counter inside my head. We were playing a single-deck game with the cards down so the dealer was not very helpful and I found myself a little flustered once and a while. As a new player I'd hate to be sitting at a table with seasoned blackjack veterans who may get ticked off if I hit or stand and do something to "screw up their game". There were two people who sat down at our table and quickly left when they realized there were newbie players there. So I'll probably only play again if I was with a group of fun friends who wouldn't be so serious.

    Anyway...despite all the small wins, I still did not come out ahead for the trip. I left with just over half my allowance I had brought with me. But that's better than zero. I always bring the allowance with the expectations of blowing it all, so coming back with half of it makes me happy. And it immediately went back into the savings account and will wait for my next trip.

    I'll do the long food report next. Probably tomorrow. Thanks again for reading!
     
  10. BrokenAlice

    BrokenAlice Tourist

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    Ok, I figure I should talk about Laughlin next since the food report is going to be a long one.

    There were originally 8 of us scheduled to be on this bus trip, but 4 people didn't make it because they were out partying until the wee hours. I wanted to party with them but went to bed around Midnight since I knew I had to be up early in the morning for this bus.

    The bus picked us up at the Golden Nugget South Tower entrance aprox 7:30AM. We had made our reservations online before the trip and we gave our vouchers to the bus driver as well as the $5 payment. After leaving the Golden Nugget we made stops at Circus Circus, Flamingo, and IP. It took over and hour to make all these stops and load the people on. In the end the bus was completely packed solid. I think there were . 2 empty seats in the entire bus. Good thing our 4 friends didn't come with us or the bus would have been oversold and people would have been turned away.

    Once we were on the freeway and on our way to Laughlin the driver started in with the "guided tour". This means he rambled about a bunch of crap. He was going on and on about aliens and conspiracy theories about who controls the land and the electricity and the water sources and all the stuff the government doesn't want you to know. I was surprised he didn't launch in to some 9/11 "truth" B.S. I found him quite annoying. I wouldn't be surprised if he was Art Bell in disguise. After about 90 minutes of listening to this guy's paranoid ranting he put on a video about Las Vegas. It was at very dated video, but showed a lot of cool implosions of old casinos and the building of the "new" ones. I think the newest one the showed was Luxor.

    Anyway, once we got to Laughlin, after two hours on the cramped bus, we were dropped off at the Edgewater casino. The hotel rep that met the bus welcomed us and informed us that it was 112 degrees that day and it was only 10:30 in the morning. We were given a meal voucher for the buffet and a promo slot card - if we used the card we could possibly be randomly chosen to win a prize.

    I'm not going to bother adding this to my food report later so I'll talk about the buffet experience we had in Laughlin now.

    The 4 of us had lunch at the buffet using the free voucher. Evidently the sister casino next door, the Colorado Belle, had a problem with their buffet and it was closed down. So there was a massive line of people at the Edgewater buffet. The food selection was poor, the set up was like a high school cafeteria, and because of all the people most food trays were emptied in minutes after being set out. The dessert station was also mostly empty when we attempted to have dessert. The table staff was quick with our drinks but never came back for refills and never cleared our plates off the table. It was a madhouse. Even if it wasn't so crowded I could not give this place a good review because the food was not very good. A lot of the offerings were Costco-like frozen foods that had been microwaved and/or deep fried. It was free and I shouldn't complain, but I was expecting better after reading some really good reviews of this buffet.

    After our lunch experience we tried our hand at blackjack which I outlined in my casino report above.

    Overall impressions of Laughlin was it was hotter than Hades. The water was pretty to look at but you couldn't stand outside too long or you'd die. The casinos were a little too far from one another to walk in the blazing heat. We did walk over to the Colorado Belle but didn't stay there for long. The table minimums were higher and the slots were just slots. It didn't stand out as being better or worse then Edgewater so we just went back there.

    I imagine Laughlin would be a lot more comfortable and easier to get around if visiting in the late Fall or early Spring when the weather is cooler. The other casinos would certainly be walking distance if it wasn't so hot.

    We left pretty promptly at 4PM. We were given a lecture when we arrived about missing the bus and being stuck there forever. No one wanted that. This time the driver, thankfully, kept his trap shut and put on a movie for us to watch. It was The Pacifier - a Disney movie with Vin Diesel. Oh the horror! The bus was also really hot. The air conditioning was working well when we were driving to Laughlin but on the way back to Vegas it wasn't flowing hardly at all. Some people were getting quite agitated and vocal about the lack of cooling, but being loud and whining about it is not going to fix the problem - it's only going to piss off a bus load of people who want you to shut up.

    We got back to Vegas at about 6pm. Because we were the first picked up we were the last dropped off. This time it took longer to drop everyone off because traffic was worse on the Strip. We didn't get back to Golden Nugget until about 7:30pm.

    For $5 for a full day's "entertainment" it was still a good deal - sort of. All the driving kept me from losing more money in a casino somewhere. I was able to spend time with some good friends. And I tried blackjack for the first time. All in all it was a new experience and I like new experiences. But I don't know that I'd bother going back.
     
  11. peanutmnm

    peanutmnm Scotchy

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    Alice,
    We did one night in Laughlin last Oct and haven't been back since despite free room offers. Being on a bus with all those other people in the heat didn't sound like much fun. I'm not sure we'll ever go back.

    I wouldn't worry about what "experienced" blackjack players think of your play. From what I've seen, 95% of them don't play correct basic strategy anyway and according to the experts, what another player does or doesn't do has no bearing on the cards.

    Thanks for the write up.
     
  12. DBear

    DBear VIP Whale

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    Congrats on the suite at Ballys! Sure sounds nice!
     
  13. BrokenAlice

    BrokenAlice Tourist

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    Here's my food report:

    Magnolia's at 4 Queens - I ate here solo on Saturday night around 9pm. I was actually surprised that there was a line of people but everyone, including myself, was seated qucikly. The food was cooked fast and the wait staff was very attentive. I had country fried steak, hashbrowns and coffee because I was in the mood for breakfast. The price was reasonable; including tip I was out $10. I would certainly go back again when a late night breakfast craving is hitting me. I have also heard really good things about their "specials" that you get for cheap by showing your players card.

    Main Street Station Champagne Brunch - Sunday at Noon aprox 20 people gathered for brunch. We had made an advance reservation so they knew to expect our large group. We were able to all get a half-off discount by procuring coupons from the Fremont Street Experience and redeeming them at the MSS players club desk. They did ask for one person to pay for all of us, including a standard gratuity, so we all just paid our friend the $7+tip in cash. All in all it worked out just fine.

    The food itself was very good. A lot more is offered than just breakfast fare, including a large salad station, pizza, chinese food, and other yummy things. The dessert station was also filled with great offerings. Our waitress did a good job taking care of all of us with drink orders and clearing our plates. This was a fantastic deal for the discounted price. I would happily pay full price for the brunch as it is worth it, and one of the less expensive champagne brunches around. Very pleased.

    Roberta's Steakhouse at El Cortez We went here on Sunday evening. I believe we had 13 people in total and we arrived at 8pm. We had called in advance to make a reservation but they said it wouldn't be necessary at that time. I did not opt for an appetizer though many others did. Everything looked amazing. When my entree came I could barely believe my eyes. The lobster tail was as big as my hand! I took a picture of it because it was that impressive. Except for small little pieces of lobster in pastas and soups throughout my life I have never had "real" lobster before. Nothing like a lobster tail of this calibur. Some other folks had the King crab legs and those were some huge sea monsters too. The food was to die for. The steak - yum. The lobster - double yum. I am a changed woman after that meal. It rocked my world. I couldn't have been happier.

    But the thing that impressed me the most was our waitress. I wish I had gotten her name (hopefully someone did) beccause I would like to send the restaurant a "Thank you" and a huge "Kudos" to her. She was outstanding. Except for a water-girl and a empty-plate-taker guy this woman handled us by herself. She was very kind, attentive, and helpful to the entire table. She allowed us to redeem coupons and gave everyone their own individual bill so there was no money confusion at the end of the meal. She was outstanding. I have never received better service, especially when dining in a large group of people before. I am going to sing the praises of Roberta's every chance I get.

    Bally's room service - Monday night after getting my complimentary suite by surprise, I wanted to get some room service. I have never ordered room service before - I had never gotten a free suite before - so this was a new fun experience for me. I was also too tired from that Laughlin bus trip to go anywhere after getting to my room.

    I ordered some fancy grilled chicken sandwich with avacado. I believe it was around $12 and was served with fries. I also ordered a creme brule which I think was about $8. The food was delivered within 30 minutes just like the lady on the phone told me it would be. I should have taken a photo of it because it was beautifully arranged and it made me feel very luxurious. But i was tired and hungry so I tore into that sandwich like a caveman. It was very yummy. And the creme brule was very nice too. I was surprised by how large it was. I was expecting a small dish but it was quite large - well worth the price.

    I don't know that I will make room service a habit but it was a nice treat for a special occasinion and the prices were not much different than if I went down to a restaurant for the same meal.

    Paris Breakfast Buffet - I think you can tell by now that Breakfast is a favorite meal of mine. This time it was a small gathering of just 7 people for Tuesday morning at 10am. We met outisde of the buffet. One lady in our group had a Platinum card and she was able to take all of us through the super special person line. That was nice! But even if we had to go through the regular line it wouldn't have been more than a 10 minute wait I imagine. It wasn't that busy.

    The food selection was as good as I have had in the past. Lots of great egg, potato, sausage options. And of course the crepe station. I have eaten at this place three times now for breakfast and I have never had a made-to-order crepe. I usually just grab a couple of the small apple crepes from the warming station because there is a line to get a fresh one. One of these days I'm going to get a big crepe made for me. Mark my words.

    Everyone was very happy with their meal. 4 of the people with us had never been to this buffet before and they were all impressed. It is a favorite of mine and I will continue to go there as often as I am able. Service was wonderful as always.

    Pampas Brazillian Grille - This establishment is located in the Miracle Mile shops, near the area of the mall that has the rain and thunder storm. This was the location of our huge meet and greet. A local Vegas resident made the arrangements with the restaurant to use the bar area that is located in the front of the joint. This area is seperate from the restaurant and did not impede with their regular clientele - large enough to hold the 80+ people we had with us and we could make a rukus and have fun. They have free wifi so we were able to set up a webcam from someone's laptop so our Vegas maniacs who couldn't join us could still watch us online. And we also had a microphone and speaker so we could hand out awards and raffle prizes to our group. With all the cheering and excitement from our party, people who were just walking through the mall would stop and watch what we were doing. I hope we gave Pampas some good adversiting by entertaining the crowds of onlookers outside. lol

    Our Vegas local man has known a couple of the bartenders that work there for years so we got a really good deal to rent the space and have several dishes of appetizers provided for us. Many of us pitched in to cover the cost and what money we had gathered left over from the cost of the restaurant was given to a local Vegas charity. I think it was a food bank or homeless shelter or something. I can't remember specifically.

    Anyway, back to the food. There was beef and chicken kabobs, thes really zesty chicken chimichanga-like things, deli-style rollups, and a few other things I didn't have an opportunity to sample. I would really love to go back there and have a real lunch or dinner. Based off what I had at the party, the food was very good. We also had two bartenders all to ourselves and they were very generous with their pouring and reasonable with the prices. I know I had quite a few drinks and tipped well so I hope that they got some good money that night from all the other party people that were there. Pampas did a fantastic job making this event possible. :thumbsup:

    Bally's Sidewalk Cafe - Breakfast time on Wednesday I was seated promptly but I sat for a good 15 minutes and my waiter never looked at me once. The lady coming around with the coffee pots poured me a cup, but the waiter was no where to be found. I was sitting near the front of the restaurant and one of the hostesses noticed me still sitting there, menu closed, and not getting any service. She kindly took my order (I just wanted the Continental breakfast; yogurt, a muffin and some fruit) and she brought it out to my table within 5 minutes of taking the order. Still, the waiter didn't offer me anything at all. Oh, but he did drop off the check on my table. Thanks, jerk. I paid in cash, exact change, no tip. When I was leaving I asked the hostess if she was allowed to accept gratuities and she nodded "yes". I put $5 in her hand and thanked her for her help. It wasn't much of a tip, but my meal was just barely $10 as it was. I just wanted her to know I appreciated her kindness for doing someone else's job as well as her own. I may try this place again at another time. I would not want to fault it for an isolated incident with one poor service person especially with another service person was so very kind.

    Well...that's it. That's my report. I know it was long but I hope it was informational.
     
  14. Jimbucc

    Jimbucc VIP Whale

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    Thanks for the report with all the pics and videos. I still don't know how those guys don't crash in the wheel of death. I have also had decent meals at MSS, Magnolia's, and Roberta's. Very reasonable downtown grub.
     
  15. BrokenAlice

    BrokenAlice Tourist

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    Here's a better link to my youtube videos. There's more there than just the mororcycle ball of terror. I really like the one with the acrobat from the Sin City Circus. Very impressive bendy guy and the video turned out pretty good too.

    http://youtube.com/profile_videos?user=Brokenalice
     
  16. Coaster Kikky

    Coaster Kikky Tourist

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    I've enjoyed reading this series of reports. I bet the suite was terrific! I was nodding my head in agreement, because I've always felt the old adages are true - "what goes around comes around", "you catch more flies with honey than vinegar", "do unto others", etc. I love to see good karma rewarded. :thumbsup:
     
  17. BrokenAlice

    BrokenAlice Tourist

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    Thanks Kikky. I think my suite upgrade situation is more of a "bad karma" working against the other lady as opposed to "good karma" on my part. I didn't do anything to deserve the gift - but I really appreciated it. My theory is the clerk probably wanted to give that suite to me so that the rude lady didn't get it from the manager. I think the woman was compalining about waiting for her room to be cleaned or something. I didn't really pay attention. But in any case, I'm grateful that I was smiled upon that day. It was the cherry on my Vegas sundae.
     
  18. sheffsteph

    sheffsteph Newbie

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    Great trip report

    Alice, I really enjoyed your trip report. This is my first time posting, but, I read trip reports all the time. I suppose it makes me feel like I am in Las Vegas even though I am really sitting at my desk in Ohio. Your reports on your room were the perfect for me. I travel to Las Vegas alone and I am always concerned about the rooms I will be staying in. Congratulations on the bonus room at Bally's. The pictures were an added bonus. Your writing style was a pleasure. Thanks so much.
     
  19. BobLasVegas

    BobLasVegas Tourist

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    Nice Report!

    Thanks for posting! I enjoyed your TR!

    Alice, don't get discouraged playing Blackjack or table games.

    We were all newbies once. Enough practice and you will feel like a pro!

    And regardless of what the other players think, how you play your

    hand in Blackjack does not affect their outcome.

    Your odds are much better on Blackjack than slots!

    I suggest learning Video Poker!

    Take care!
     
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