Note: Long report...I did not re-read and edit, so spelling / grammar errors likely about. Enjoy! __________________ In March, my wife and I decided to make a trip to Vegas happen in May, which I dubbed the #MAYGAS trip. I initially dubbed it this, just to get her excited, but then decided to make it a hashtag and see if I could get some momentum and get something trending. Alas (spoiler alert), other than @mlife and a couple of other casinos commenting on it, there was not much traction. Plus, having only a couple of dozen followers doesn’t do too much to spread the word…but I digress. I did plan to tweet with #MAYGAS ad nauseum during the trip, unfortunately the ridiculously poor cell phone service didn’t really allow for that to happen, so only a moderate level of tweets were tweeted. Whatever, you certainly aren’t reading this to hear about my social media savvy, or lack thereof, so let’s get on with it. We book our stay for Memorial Day weekend at the Luxor, with a planned arrival before noon on Sunday the 26th. I had planned to shop around for other deals leading up to the trip, but felt like we got a pretty nice deal ($180 for two nights, which included tax & resort fee) so we never changed. My wife’s brother in law decided he would like to go as well, as he is someone of a Vegas degenerate as well. He had an offer for three nights at Mandalay Bay, which included $400 in FnB credit. Important for him, as he has been wanting to go to Joel Robechon for awhile and that would basically cover the 16 course degustation meal, so he booked arriving on the 26th as well, with the plan to leave with us on the 28th, foregoing his last night in the room. As we got closer to trip time, we realized that we should have him shift his first night to the 25th, thus we could head up late Saturday night and have a place to crash and be ready to hit the ground running on Sunday morning. Brilliant, right? Read on… So we head out of Phoenix around 800 pm on Saturday night. Traffic was fine. The wife slept about halfway, while I watched Ocean’s 13, with the audio running through the car stereo so F (i.e. brother in law) could listen and give commentary. The movie ended somewhere between Kingman and the dam, and I swear I could see the beam calling to me. I couldn’t really see it until we got over the hill past Railroad Pass, but whatever, I could see it in my mind. Anywho, made sure F knew going over I215 was the way to go, rather than surface streets. Unfortunately, he missed the turn and we heading across on Sunset Road instead. No traffic at this hour (around 1230a on Sunday) so it wasn’t a big deal. We pull into Mandalay, unload all of our stuff and head to the lobby. Of course, if you’ve been to Mandalay, you know that right by the entrance from the parking garage is where Rumjungle used to be. Which is now the new super-duper hip club Light. Which was having its grand opening weekend. So it was packed with the beautiful people waiting in a quite long line to get in. It was an interesting crowd to say the least and let’s just say I don’t understand fashion (note: I had similar thoughts whenever I saw ‘bros’ in the party gear on the way to the pool the rest of the trip). Anywho, we traipse across the lobby with our stuff, including our soft-side cooler, which seems to be dripping a little bit! F goes up to the front desk with my wife and I watch the bags. A few minutes go by, and then my wife is walking back with a thumbs down signal. F claimed to have called to change the reservation, but this did not make its way into the computer and we had no room at the Mandalay Bay, seeing as they were sold out, due to it being a/ Saturday night b/ Memorial Day weekend c/ 1 am!. So, wife and I decide to stroll over to the Luxor front desk to see what they could do for us. (Note: I was perfectly willing to power through at this point, but my wife loves her sleep and was not on board this plan). Roll up to the empty lobby at the Luxor and go up to the clerk and I say “Hi – do you have early check-in available?”. She was confused as to whether or not I was checking in for Saturday or Sunday, but once she figured out it was for Sunday, she let me know that they were sold out as well, and that I might be able to check in starting around 11am. At this point we knew two people in Vegas that had rooms or lived there, but the idea of waking them up at this time of night didn’t appeal to me. I again suggested powering through, but was shut down again, so we started a journey of trying to find a hotel to crash in. Every place was booked. Called Stations, all rooms in their system were gone, downtown casinos, Summerlin hotels, Henderson area hotels, every place was no vacancy. I gave several options, and finally, powering through finally won out. So we head back to the Mandalay garage (for some unknown reason, we were driving around as we were calling for hotels) and head in. F decides to hit the tables, so wife and I decide to mosey around with the ultimate goal of making it to the Bellagio to check out the conservatory. So we meandered our way north. Along the way, we played some video poker at the Lux and then I played some blackjack at the Monte Carlo, whilst my wife played more VP. Made a few bucks, and then decided to take the tram from MC to Bellagio. Well, oops, the tram doesn’t run from 4 am – 8am, so we had to walk it. (I hope this isn’t closed at that time every day. I’d be pissed if I had planned to use it at 730a to get from a hotel to a conference and find out at the last minute it is closed… ) We were certainly in rush, so we strolled through Aria. As we were coming out of Aria / Crystals, the sun was beginning to peek out. It was definitely interesting to see the clubgoers coming home as the workout warriors were coming out. We didn’t go into Cosmo for some reason, think it may have been because F had called and was on his way to meet us. So we headed post-haste to the Bellagio (Btw, over 50% of the moving walkways or escalators at the street overpasses were not working or closed. Does this happen every night? Is it to prevent drunk people from falling down the escalator or is it just easiest to do maintenance then…you’d think not a Saturday night / Sunday morning would be best). We checked out the conservatory for a bit, then met up with F. Out of his pocket comes a brown Mandalay chip…$5K. Nice. He said he was $3500 in for that, but up $1500 is good, looks like he can get the wine pairing at Robechon now… We leave Bellagio and decided to head over to the Bouchon Bakery kiosk at the Venetian for breakfast. We drive over to the Wynn (F had driven up) and stroll through there and the Palazzo before make it to the restaurant. It was ok, I had a coffee cake and a coffee. It was okay, nothing special. As we were eating, my wife was impressed with herself for how well she had done powering through. It was true, I’m surprised we didn’t end up with her sleeping on a couch in a lobby or a Starbucks or something! We left there and headed back to Mandalay, where F decided he was going to sleep in the car in the garage. Ok, we decided to head to the Lux to see if we could get a different clerk to try to get a room (certainly they have people checking out for 6 am flights and rooms open up, right?) or at least get pool access. Well, definitely no rooms available, but told definitely could start to check in early at 11 am. That was nice, because in the past, they have always tried to sell early check-in at 11a for like $20 or something. They just said, 11am, if we have rooms, we get people in. They also gave us a dummy key to get access to the pool, which was great…except the pool wasn’t opening for another almost 2 hours. I text my friends’ J & M who are staying at the Lux to let them know that I am in the casino about to play if they want to join me and sit down at a blackjack table. The guy already playing there starts talking to me about how he is on a bender and he’s been up since 1am doing drugs in the room, etc. etc. Ok, whatever, I bantered with him it was fine. I do think they asked the waitresses to cut back drink service at our table because he was getting a little rowdy. Whatever, he tipped the waitress when I finally got a drink because I had just lost my session buy-in. Headed over to roulette and played for a little bit. Tried out a different betting strategy and broke even. Looked down at my phone at noticed that J & M were now on the casino floor, so met up with them. They were leaving that day (Sunday) and unfortunately J had been losing. We tried to change it by sitting down at a blackjack table, but alas, he was unable to scratch out a win. Fortunately, I was getting some good cards and some timely dealer busts and my new betting strategy (basically press up a unit after every win, drop down 3 units after each loss) working out well this time, and I walked away up about $150 at the $10 table. We said our farewells to J & M and headed over to the pool, as they were about to open. We got into the pool with no issues and set up. The wife took a little nap and I read. I think we ended up staying there for maybe 90 minutes before we headed back to Mandalay Bay to met up with F and S (who lives in town and was coming to meet us for a meal). We ended up going over to Raffles for lunch, which was pretty much a disappointment. The menu has been cut down severely since the last time I was there. They were calling it a summer menu, I’m not sure if that means the regular menu will be back later or what, but it was not expansive. Also, our server was kind of slow, plus she complained about how far our table was from the kitchen and how she was ready to go home because it was the last hour of the shift. Anywho, it took way too long to get our food and a ridiculous amount of time to get our bill. Finally, we left and S headed home and we went to the Mandalay invited guest check-in for F. The line was also slow there due to a big party, so I headed over to Lux to get our room settled while they took care of that. The line for check-in at the Lux was not too long and moved quickly. My room was booked as a Pyramid King, but I was given the chance to take a room in the West tower on the 19th floor for no extra charge so I jumped at that. Mainly because I was worried about the quality of room in the pyramid, b/c it’s unclear if they have been remodeled at this point. Anywho, our room was fine, good size, comfy bed, view of the airport and the Tropy. I headed back to the Mandalay Bay to get my wife and our luggage (I probably walked the Mandalay Place mall a minimum of 25 times over the course of my visit). Wife decides to sleep some more. I try to, but maybe get a little more than an hour of sleep, so I read for a bit while my wife sleeps. Eventually, we start to get ready for the evening. She is also going Joel Robechon with F, and my original plan was to see Carrot Top with S, as I won tickets to the show via twitter (there’s that social media savvy I tell ya…). Unfortunately, S was under the weather and decided he didn’t want to go. I’m debating what to do, and run down to the box office to pick up my tickets at 430ish. Unfortunately, tickets for contest winners aren’t available until after 6PM. Which is fine. If they have told me ahead of time. Maybe to prevent people for selling them, who knows. So I went back to the room and my wife convinced me that I should go to Robechon as well. She calls the restaurant to change the res, which isn’t an issue, however the fact that I didn’t bring appropriate clothes is… I was able to borrow pants / shoes from F, though they were way too big for me, especially the shoes. I felt like Bozo walking through the casino. And to top it off, there were at least three other gentlemen there waiting jeans like I had changed out of, grrrr. And I think I could have gotten away with the shoes. The restaurant was definitely nice, a little uncomfortable for me, as I’m not used to going to super upscale places like that. But the food was very good, and best of all, F covered the bill! He charged it to the room, so used his $400 credit, plus he had had some more success at the tables so was feeling quite generous. My main course was some sort of veal, with vegetable pasta and morels, with Robechon’s ‘famous’ potatoes on the side. I just looked these up on google to see if they were indeed famous and it appears so. Not very healthy either, apparently the potato to butter ratio is 2:1. No wonder I liked them so much! After our four (4!) hour meal, we headed back to Mandalay / Luxor respectively. I think we only played a little bit of VP before turning in, though I have a break-even session of blackjack noted in my log that must have happened before we went to Robechon. The session was notable for what happened towards the end (‘notable’ being used here very loosely). We had three people playing, I was at 3rd base with a lady next to me. After she had been playing for awhile, she decides to play a second hand. The dealer tells her she can’t do that unless she doubles the table minimum. Instead the lady has her husband / boyfriend reach out and touch the chips and say ‘those are for me’. So the dealer of course doesn’t want to fight and wouldn’t you know, had their only been three hands, I would have had a blackjack. I got out and left, because I was annoyed with the situation. If she wanted to play two hands, that’s cool, but to skirt the rule and cost me sucked. Of course, had I gotten a blackjack when this happened, we wouldn’t be hearing this…also, if I had known I could have played two hands at the table min, I might have done that as well. Anywho, we turned in, and slept like logs. The plan for Monday morning was to head over to Mandalay and hit the pool using F’s key. After a bit of time there, I planned to hit the $45 poker tournament at 10am (it’s really a $40 buy-in, but there is a $5 add on, which everyone gets…so just call it what it is) with S. On the way over, we hit the Starbucks at the Lux for some coffee and nosh and made our way to the Mandalay Bay Beach. Of course, the pool was great, it’s been a few years since I’ve been there, but everything was the same as I remember. The wave pool wasn’t even cold at 8:30 in the morning, so we took in some waves, then retired to the beach to do some reading. The wife napped and after an hour, I headed in to meet S for the tourney. It ended up being a small tournament, total of 9 entries (includes the one re-buy…not me!). Reminded me why I don’t like poker tournaments. I just don’t play enough to be good at these. I can survive for a bit, but when it comes down to it, I just don’t play enough to be sharp at my game. I’m not sure I would play these, as I am the definition of dead money in these games, unless I get hit in the face with the deck. I even know from my Vegas history log I keep that I shouldn’t do it. Maybe I’ll learn next time… So predictably, I went out in 6th and S went out shortly thereafter. We met up with wife and F and decided to hit up Burger Bar in the mall. I had never been there before. My burger was good, nothing notable that I can recall about it off-hand. I customized their standard patty by adding spinach, hangover sauce (i.e. 1000 island) and some sort of cheese…maybe gouda? What was good however, was the side I ordered, the macaroni and cheese croquettes. It was basically Kraft Mac n’ Cheese (at least it looked exactly like it) deep fried. So good. So stupid of me to share 3 of the 6 croquettes with the other diners… Wrapped out there and S headed off. Went back to the room to get ready for the day and met up with F. He wanted to go to Circus Circus and Aria (great pairing, right?). I think the reason to go to Circus Circus was because he wanted to see where some scene from Diamonds are Forever was filmed. Anyways, we get there and worked our way to the casino. Man, if you want low limits this is the place to go. I think I saw $2 minimum roulette and I definitely saw $3 blackjack (though didn’t catch the rules or if is was continuous shuffler or not). And then, like a beacon in the night, an empty $5 craps table. Now, I love me some craps and over the years I have been able to up my minimum bets on roulette / blackjack, I just can’t seem to get comfortable doing that on the craps today. I suppose it has to do with the minimum bet not actually being $10, but being that plus odds, plus place bets, etc. Anywho, $5 is right in my wheelhouse, so I bought in for a couple of bucks, and tried standing to the right of the stickman, where usually I go to the end of the table. Did pretty well, hitting a few points and hitting the 6 / 8 place bets at least three times each and had a few come bets out there. I hit a point and on the come out roll hit a seven, so lost my come bets, but at least got a ‘rebate’ on the odds. Shortly after that, I sevened out and after one roll, looked down and was out around $75 and just decided to walk. We headed upstairs and watched a quick juggling show and saw the ‘movie set’ then made our exit. On the way to the Aria, we took the back way (Sinatra or Dean Martin, can’t remember which is which) as the Strip was super slow on the way down. Made it quickly down to Aria. Nothing notable happened there, except I played some maniac VP. For some reason (swear it wasn’t booze related, though the drink service during the poker tournament was good), I decided to play $100 through a $5 VP machine. Well, three minutes later, at least I rapidly added points to my mLife card… We headed back to our respective home bases, and the wife and I got ready for the show we were seeing that night, the new Michael Jackson One Cirque show at Mandalay. We had gotten tickets sometime on Sunday, but for the life of me, can’t remember when. So we headed over a little bit early, and played some VP. I switched over to nickel triple play, still annoyed at myself for the Aria VP fiasco. I was treading water, until I got dealt AAxxx. I yelled ‘Aces’ as I hit the draw button, and wouldn’t you know, I hit AAAA (no kicker) on the second line. Why couldn’t that have happened to me on the $5 machine!!! Anyways, it was nice to book a small win on that machine before we headed to the show. We made our way to the theater (it’s near the sports book, where Lion King used to play) just before showtime. We had middle of the stage seats in the 200’s section about halfway up that section. Could see everything well, but would try to get a bit closer next time. Anyways, even though the show was in preview and there were some noticeable mistakes here and there, it was great. I really like it. I knew most of the songs and there was a good mix of Cirque stuff and dancing stuff. Not going to ruin any of it here, but the dancers in the dark during ‘Billie Jean’ was awesome, the guy dancing during ‘Human Nature’ was great and the silhouette performance (think it was the ‘Earth Song’) was terrific as well. Oh and the dancing hologram was pretty damn cool too. Bottom line, if you like Cirque and MJ, this is a must see for you. Well worth the cost. The show was over around 845 (started at 700, no intermission), so we were definitely looking for some grub. F was unavailable, we checked out Citizen, the somewhat new 24 hour restaurant, but nothing really struck our fancy, so we headed over to the Noodle Shop. After a short wait, we were seating, and shortly after that, my shrimp friend rice had arrived and my wife’s vegetarian or tofu did as well. I have to say, the presentation of my food was underwhelming and I was not expecting greatness from the dish. Then I tasted it, and was smacked in the mouth with flavor. It was one of those meals that makes me made that I’ve been going to Vegas for however long and had never tried this place. Lots of shrimp, great flavor on the rice. Next time, would order with extra egg, but otherwise, it was delish. Wife seemed to enjoy hers. Headed back to Lux for a couple rounds of VP, but nothing notable, so we called it a night. Woke up early on Tuesday morning and began packing out as we were meeting S over at Sunset Station for The Feast and then some last minute low rollin’. Got packed out, had F come pick us up and we headed over to Sunset and arrived just after S got there. Our timing was good as there was no line at the Feast (about 10 minutes after we got it, we looked at the line and it was a few dozen deep). Got the grub and everything was good as per usual. I stuffed myself so much on the first plate (thanks to a large omelette) that I wasn’t able to power through to get a second plate. We eventually excused ourselves and all made our way to the tables. My first stop was an empty craps table. I had a pretty solid first roll, but got a little bit lose on the betting and after a couple seven outs, walked with a marginal profit. I took that over to the roulette wheel and started playing. I switched my strategy after some losses, and decided to start betting one of the middle numbers and all of its sides / corners. Lost a few of these, and then my wife came up and I said, pick a number down the middle. She says 14, so I place my chips there. Another guy at the table played all his chips on 2nd 12 at the same time…this stack had to be at least 60 chips high if not more than that. And wouldn’t you know it, boom 14! Gotta say I was pretty excited about that, 135 in chips back was definitely nice. I ended up playing at this table a little more, hit a few more while losing some, and ended up walking away up around 50. Took that to the blackjack table right next to the roulette where F was playing proceeded to lose all my previous Sunset winning. Mainly due to the fact that I was betting on one of those stupid dealer side bets where you get paid based on what card the dealer busts with. Well, I was at the table for 10 hands and the dealer didn’t bust, so I started playing it for $5. The dealer still never busted, it was ridiculous. I was so mad at myself for doing that…I hate bonus bets. I think I got caught up in it, b/c the guy to my right was doing it and telling me about it. Of course, I stood up to leave that table, and what does the dealer do? I headed back to the craps table, where there was a guy shooting. He sevened out as I walked up and I started shooting. We passed the dice back and forth a few times, it was mostly choppy. Oh, and I was playing the fire bet here. (yeah yeah, it’s a bonus bet, I know…I had never played it before so wanted to check it out for a $1). Anywho, finally my man got the dice and he rolled. And rolled and rolled. He hit a minimum of five points (not unique points unfortunately) and it might have been six. He finally had a come out roll where he got what would have been the 4th point, but sevened out shortly after. Either way, it was a great roll and notable because when he started rolling, I had about $45 in chips between what I had on the table and in my rack and after he was done, I had around $280 to $300. I stayed a bit longer to see if we could get anything going again, but it wasn’t too bad. I walked shortly after that with a $120 profit and we called it a trip (though I did run a quick VP session that was non-profitable). My trip to the Sunset was nice and profitable as it usually is (in my tracking log, I have played there on 8 different occasions and been a winner 7 of those times). I’m going to be hating life when I regress to the mean… Anywho, we said our goodbyes to S and headed back to Phoenix. Traffic was light and we made good time, only stopping at Tastee Freeze in Wickenburg. The drive is still good, about 4 to 4.5 hours depending on where you are coming from in Phoenix. Oh, and these is the first trip in many that we did not see the cops staked out outside of Wikieup, though it was pitch black on the way up so maybe that had something to do with it. Wrapping up… Gambling – got to play a lot, a total of 21 different sessions. Also profitable, but only marginally, up less than $50…but better than being down. Dining – Tried several new places (Noodle Shop, Bouchon, Burger Bar) and definitely find a place I hope to go again in the Noodle Shop Shows – Carrot Top gets an incomplete. MJ One gets an enthusiastic two thumbs up. Thanks for reading (if you made it all the way through this). Hopefully an NFL trip coming in Sept or October. Happy Vegasing!