Just got back about an hour ago, and even after a two hour drive from DFW airport, my brain is still on Vegas time. In a nutshell, awesome trip. Bumpy flight out of DFW on Sunday morning, as there were thunderstorms in the area. Captain found some smooth air and the cruise into LAS was fairly uneventful. That is, until we descended to about 3,000 ft. If you've ever been on one of those flights where you encounter unexpected crosswinds on the landing approach and the plane is slipping in sideways, you know how, um, interesting it can be. My girlfriend had a death grip on my arm and I was pretty sure she was going to rip it off before the pilot got the damn plane on the ground. Even the flight attendant's face was ghost white. Straightened out at the last minute, bounced a couple of times on touchdown, and everyone's looking at each other to make sure we're all still alive. The cabin erupts in a round of thunderous applause, and we roll into the gate. My arm is purple. We're light packers and carry on our gear, as we don't like to mess around with waiting for baggage. A bit of a wait in the loooonnnnng Advantage line, so I decide to succumb to the temptation of the Double Diamond machine right next to the line. Feed it a five, and it gets blasted away pretty quick. Which is why I really don't mess with the slots anymore. Okay, fine, the losing is out of the way, and now I'm ready to take down a casino or two. Continue to wait. And wait. And wait. Holy crap, there are glaciers that move faster than this line. Then, the location manager informs us that the company next to them has agreed to match their rates. We take the bait, and after a much shorter wait, we're out the door and headed out of the airport in a Prius. Gotta say, we really did enjoy the car. Highly economical, smooth ride, and very comfortable. I was armed with my LVA Members book, and it's the best $37 bucks I've ever spent. We made good use of it and it paid for itself several times over. After a stop at Sams for a couple of bottles of Room Drink Vodka, beer, and champagne for Mimosas, headed over to Rio for the Carnival World International Buffet. After walking in and being overwhelmed by the choices, I resolved to try one of everything. Only way to be sure. I hit the food wall at about 3.5 plates in, cried uncle, and we left the restaurant fueled and ready for Vegas. Need to preface everything that follows by saying that it gets kind of blurry from here. I play VP, preferably DDB, and found a bank of machines there. Noodled around with it a bit, but nothing serious, really just hanging with the GF. I would set aside some serious time later during the trip to see if I could get something going. It was time to check into TI, so we drove over, dropped the car off with the valet, and found the registration desk. Asked the clerk if he had an upper strip view and he agreed to check. Slipped him a $20 with the card, and it just so happened that he had a 30th floor panorama view of the south and north. Ding ding ding! And, to top it off, a complimentary bottle of champagne. Hell yes. Got to the room, took in the awesomeness, got settled and a bit of a buzz going. Planning for our upcoming irresponsibility, we decided to take the Deuce up to Fremont, rather than drive ourselves. Spent some time goofing around in the TI casino, mainly letting her play a few slaughter machines while I located the DDB and checked out some of the pay tables. Found a bank of 9/6 DB and bartops, and then we headed out to the strip to catch the Deuce up to Fremont. Let's get this party started. It was well after dark and the strip was as beautiful as ever. About the only place I remember gambling was the 4 Queens, where I came out slightly up just messing with slaughter machines, and keeping the GF company as the comp drinks continued to flow. Spent lots of time walking around, drinking big-ass souvenir drinks and watching the people and entertainment. Seeing Fremont in its current state really makes me wish I could've seen it back in the day. No canopy, no Slot-Zilla, just neon, gambling halls, and all-you-can-eat prime rib for $1.99. We shut down Fremont and headed back to TI to turn in for the night, as we were pretty wiped out and our brains were marinating in tequila and whatever the hell else was in that damn football drink. Monday morning came late. Started it by toasting our strip view with Mimosas, freshened up, and headed out. Spent the day using what was left of our 24-hour Deuce pass to hang out on the strip. Walked through the Forum Shops, played around in the Flamingo a bit, and generally worked our way up and down, signing up and playing a lot of free play. Had lunch using a twofer LVA coupon for burgers at the Le Burger Brasserie at Paris. I had the cheeseburger, and was pretty pleased. Definitely couldn't complain given the break on the price. Ended up back at the TI in the late evening, and GF is finished for the night. I decide to hang out in the casino and see if I can get a run going. I play fairly conservatively where bankroll is concerned. I'd budgeted about $500 for serious VP play, and I stick to a pretty strict bankroll management system. I like to start with $50 and play .25 max bet. If I play up to $75, I push the bets to .50, and once I'm fairly well established over $100, push the bets to $1. If I get into a downswing, I reduce the bets at the same thresholds, and so on. I've been practicing VP, specifically DDB for several hours a day for many months, and the strategy is pretty much instinctive at this point. Wound up at a bank of DDB machines, where I settled in for about three hours. The comped drinks were flowing pretty well, and I was in a good groove with some slow gains. Cashed out on that machine about $80 up, and headed over to the bar as the cocktail waitress seemed to have disappeared, Settled in at the bartop 9/5 DDB, and the bartender took pretty good care of me, as I took good care of him. Found myself in a bit of a downswing, and decided to pull the plug at $50 up rather than chase losses. It was pushing 2am, and I was tired, so off to bed. Tuesday began with Mimosas and then a drive out to Hoover Dam. If you've never been, I recommend you check it out. The Dam view is amazing, as is the Dam drive. The Dam view from the bridge spanning Boulder Canyon is jaw-droppingly gorgeous. I'd recommend going in the spring or fall, though, as it was dam hot. The thought of all of those workers building that dam huge thing in the temperature extremes of the Mojave desert is mind-boggling. Glad we went, and got lots of good pics, a few of which I'll post later. Drove up to the Lake Mead overlook, more "Oooohhhs", "Aaahhhs" and "Growls". "Growls"??? What the.... oh yeah, we're hungry. Time to eat. Luckily, the Hacienda Hotel and Casino is just down the road, and they're advertising a shrimp cocktail for $1.99 and a New York steak sandwich for I forget how much, but it was cheap. Park and head inside, through the casino, and into the coffee shop. This place is old, and I'm pretty sure it was last remodeled sometime in the mid 80s, but it had a cool vibe and an awesome view of the lake. The shrimp cocktail was better than I expected. They actually load the dish up with shrimp. Not bad for 2 bucks. The sandwich lived up to my expectations. Not a stunner, but not bad either, and it was food at a good price, so we're happy. Back to the strip, where we spend the rest of the afternoon at NYNY. Had a LVA twofer for the Roller Coaster, and waited a few extra minutes for front-row seats. The coaster is an absolute blast, one I'd definitely ride again. After that, we decided to head over to Ellis Island, where we played a few bartop sessions and shot the bull with some locals for a couple of hours. After that, we head over to Planet Hollywood where GF had a groupon for drinks and appetizers. After that, it was getting late, and she decides to head upstairs to grab a 30-minute nap. I told her to text me when she was ready to come back down and I'd let her know where I was. Decided to settle in back at the same bar-top machine I'd sat at the previous night and see if I could exact my revenge. Given the fact that I doubled my $50 the prior night, I slip $100 into the machine. This is about 10:30pm. Bartender is different, but he knows how to make a good Jack and Coke, and he keeps them coming. I'm staying fairly even, pushing the bets a bit, and then into a bit of an upswing, and feeling good about the run. Not quite an hour in, I hold two aces and out come two more, and the machine begins to chime that beautiful little chime. Like that, I'm up $482. Now I'm really feeling good, Lol. I see a steak and lobster dinner in our future.I text GF, who's still awake, and tell her the news, and she texts back something I won't repeat here, but she was pleased. Then, six minutes later... out come four 5's. The machine is ringing, and the bartender comes over and celebrates with me. We laugh, we cry, we sing songs of newfound wealth, he gives me Jack and Coke, and it's just a beautiful moment. I'm up $707. I sip my J&C and text GF once again. I also cannot repeat here what her reply was, but needless to say, she was just as happy. Bartender closes out and turns me over to the next guy and instructs him to take good care of me. I generally tip $1 a drink but will drop a 5 in every so often to keep it interesting. I play for another two hours and cash out $600 up, buzzed and happy. Took the last drink up to the room, where she's sound asleep, and sip slowly while enjoying the strip views. Wednesday morning we wake up early and spend the morning packing up to make the 11am checkout. Valet brings our car, and we're off to Margaritaville for lunch. We decided on the nachos. A quick word about the nachos: if you order them, and it's just the two of you, do not order anything else, because what you're going to get is a mountain of food. Next was Mandalay Bay. No real plan, I just wanted to see the place. I wasn't prepared for just how huge this property is. I ended up getting intrigued by the electronic multiple-player BJ table, and before I knew it I was placing bets. I really enjoyed this, and did fairly well, cashing out $50 up. On to the Mirage, where I dumped a $50 into a multi-hand BJ machine, ending up $30. Then it was off to check in our rental car, where we're still waiting to see if we've been had on the price. Outcome TBD, and I'll update when we know more, but a certain rental company which sits right next to Advantage may very well have pulled a bait-and-switch job. More later. A beautiful view of the strip after takeoff, and a really smooth flight back to DFW, followed by a loooong car ride back home, safe, sound, happy and ready for the next trip!