Well, this was the MOST anticipated trip to Vegas of my life. I have been about 10 times total, both with the fellas and my wife, but the boys and I started putting this trip together back in Novemberâ€¦so it had a TON of buildup. Originally, there were to be five of us going out there, but one of the guys (the dude who works at an Internet travel site and gets us good rates) wife was due with their second child around the date of departure, so he had to bail out. We were scheduled to stay at Harrahâ€™s from March 25-28. This was the second week of the Madness, and we had hoped it would be a little less crowded that the first weekend. Wrong. It was packed all weekend. DAY ONE I awoke at 3 am on March 25th for my 5:30 flight on Airtran out of Flint, MI. This airport is about 40 minutes from my house, is very small and new and tremendously accessible from the freeway. Parking is very inexpensive as well. I had been putting together my list of things no-to-forget as well as collecting coupons from billhere for the last few months. I had envelopes prepared with each guyâ€™s coupons, so they could use them at their own discretion and I didnâ€™t have to tote them. (Note: we did not use ONE of them during the tripâ€¦.) I got to the airport in plenty of time, checked my bag and golf clubs and grabbed a decaf. My goal was to sleep on the first leg of the flight to Atlanta, meet up with my pal on the tail end of his layover, have a couple drinks and pass out on the final trip from Atlanta to Vegas. Didnâ€™t happen. WAAAAAY too geeked up to sleep on the flight. I had tried to get one of their $50 dollar upgrades to business class, but it was sold out. I took my seat in row 14 and settled in. As I felt there was no way to naturally take a snooze, I decided to let a screwdriver do itâ€™s trick on me. When prone, one drink makes me very sleepy and usually konks me out until I land. Well, this ambiguously gay male flight attendant (ok, he WASNâ€™T ambiguously gay at all. Think Jack from Will and Grace with a snottier attitude) asked me for my drink order and I told him what I wanted. He poured it and I took out $4.00 to pay him. He said, without a bit or sorry in his voice, â€œWe only take credit cards on the flight.â€ FOR A DRINK????? ARE YOU KIDDING? How the heck is a mobile credit card machine going to be able to check my credit card at 25,000 feet? Well, I responded in kind to his attitude and handed him back the drink, saying I didnâ€™t want it. He stood there for a second or two, with his head tilted to one side, put the drink back on the rolling table, didnâ€™t apologize for my inconvenience and went about his business. Seriously Aitran, explain to me the upside of making people order a drink with a credit card whilst airborn. Dumb. Other than that the flight was uneventful and I landed a couple hours later in the ATL, where my pal (weâ€™ll call him L) was waiting for me in a seat at the gate. He was on the phone, intermittently laughing and saying â€œno way!!!!â€ as he kibitzed on the cell. I sat down across from him and gave him the â€œwho you talking to?â€ look. He told the other party that I was there and that the â€œstoryâ€ he was just told was awesome and he could not wait to tell me. He hung up and we bear-hugged and headed down the way to the closest bar. We sat down and he began to tell me the story from the cell phone. M, one of Lâ€™s best friends, our fourth, and a guy I had never met waited far too long to book his flights to coincide with ours. To get a decent fair, he had to add a Wednesday and a Monday onto his flight. Also, as he had no hotel room for the extra two nights, he contacted his pal from high school who was a room service manager at the Fiesta out in Henderson to see if a hook-up was in order. It was. So M was set. Well, as the story goes, he arrived in Sin City at about 2 pm on the 24th. He checked in and promptly went down to the casino to play a little BJ. From 2 pm to about 10 pm, the guy canâ€™t lose. His $100.00 buy-in a $5.00 table is now in excess of $1200. As the weekend wore on, he showed that he is a pretty fair BJ player and never strays from basic strategy while counting effectively. The pit folks were watching him after a while, so he had to tone it down a bit, but he kept rocking. At about 10 pm, a young lady (reportedly attractive: a shade over 5 feet tall, dark hair and eyes and an enhanced chest) sat down next to M. She gets her cash and as the hand is dealt, she lets out a â€œWHOO-HOO!.â€ She wins and M loses. Second hand is dealt and the same thing happens. WHOO-HOO is a winner, M is a loser. Third hand is the same again. M has lost his mojo and the Whoo-Hoo Girl has stolen it. He looks over and asks her what her deal is. She bats her lashes at him, tells him that she always wins when she yells Whoo-Hoo as the cards are being dealt. Fourth hand with Whoo-Hoo is dealt. EXACT SAME RESULTS. As the fifth hand is dealt, M stands on footholds of his stool and yells â€œWHOOOOOOOO-HOOOOOOO!!!!â€ at the top of his lungs. He pulls blackjack, high fives his new pal and a new trend is started. The two of them drink for another hour then retire to the bar for more cocktails. M has been up a long time, so he tells whoo-hoo itâ€™s time for him to retire. She agrees and they get on the elevator. As the door opens on her floor, she motions for him to follow. Well, to make a long story VERY short, they both emerge from the room 20 minutes later, both satiated (allegedly) and return to the bar invigorated for another round or two. After another hour, they retire to their respective rooms to pass out. M wakes up the next morning $1200 ahead for the night and there is a knock on the door. He asks who it is and the answer is â€œroom service.â€ He looks out the peephole and it is indeed room service. He lets the guy in, but tells him he does not remember ordering room service. The server says the bill is taken care of by whoo-hoo girl. My boy must have made excellent use of his 20 minutes! As L tells me this story, Iâ€™m laughing my ass off and thinking I am looking forward to hanging with this guy. Our waitress comes and we both order White Russians. Sorry, we are told, no drinks til 9 am. WHAT DOES A GUY HAVE TO DO TO GET A DRINK AROUND HERE?????? L and I chat it up, I give him the Detroit Sports page and he goes to catch his connector. I hang out for a bit longer, get a post 9 am cocktail and head to my flight. It takes off on timeâ€¦but I still canâ€™t sleep. I bought a book just in case a week before and opened it up. I began reading and as I finished page 260, the pilot was making his final descent. SWEET. I got off the plane and headed to baggage claim. WHY did no one on the T2V site mention that the baggage area was so torn up? I had no idea! 5-6 flights were being sent to the same carousel, so it was a bit of a wait. I went over to the Budget counter to pick up my SUV that weâ€™ll be using for golf the next morning. CLEARLY, Budget employees are not paid by the patron. The line did not move for 15 minutes. I saw my carousel began to turn and I asked the lady behind me if she would hold my spot. She agreed as long as I switched places with her when I returned. Good enough for me! I went and got my suitcase and golf bag, returned to the line and stepped to the counter. At this point, I was reminded of the Seinfeld episode about the rental car: â€œYou are adept at TAKING the reservation, but you canâ€™t actually HOLD the reservation.â€ No SUV for me, but a raging silver chick-magnet Ford Winstar. NICE. Hey, I just wanted to grab a chair at a BJ table and quaff a cold oneâ€¦I took it and was whisked to the Budget lot. 15 minutes later, I left the van with the valet at Harrahâ€™s and found L and M: both on drink #6. We played Let It Ride for a bit, laid down our hoop bets and I told them I would buy them Mermaids drinks and lunch at the Golden Gate. We grabbed a cab (didnâ€™t want to risk the van, as I knew what was in store for us) and we were there in 15 minutes. Now, my boys are not huge fans of downtown as they like to look at the honeys on the stripâ€¦.but I convinced them that they need to check it out. We make our way through a virtually empty Fremont Street to Mermaids and head to the back. There, a couple of â€œformer hottiesâ€ were manning the drink machines. I had a yard of Pina Colada, L had the Mudslide and M had the Hurricane. We sweet-talked these gals and they put what HAD to be 3-4 shots of grain in each drink. As we walked away, we looked at our glasses and the grain was just sitting on the top of the mixture, about an inch and a half deep. The first couple swigs were brutal and Lâ€™s muddy tasted kinda bad. After a few drinks on my PC, it was DE-licious!!!!! We hoofed it down to the Gate and grabbed lunch: sandwiches and shrimp cocktails, with our huge drinks on the table that looked like the Chicago skyline. We finished up and sat down with some good ole boys from NC and played $3.00 BJ. No real $$ movement either way and shortly, our buddy C showed up, also from NC. He was closing on a new house and couldnâ€™t get out as early as the rest of us. Heâ€™s a hilarious guy, about 6â€™3â€ and 160 poundsâ€¦built like a javelin. He sits and plays for a bit with us and we all come out ahead in our short session, me up about $50.00. We get up and head over to Jillianâ€™s to check out the games and get some more drinks. As the four of us belly up to a virtually empty bar with multiple big-screens (HEAVEN), I notice a young lady sitting next to me. Funky looking, with a funky hat and blue shades on her eyes. We strike a conversation as buckets of beer are ordered and she tell me she is a costume designer. Sounds like a cool gig, I say. Her goal is to get a job with one of the big shows in town. Weâ€™re just chatting away and all of a sudden she says â€œoh yeah, Iâ€™m also a stripper.â€ I stop in mid-sip and look at her again. Now, this a prime example of Vegas strip clubs catering to all tastesâ€¦.because this gal had about as much of a chance at being a stripper as I do working with the Thunder from Down Under boys. Not happening. But, we chat some more about that biz and by and by, L comes drunkenly down to chat himself. He admires her glasses and asks if he can try them on. This is where it gets â€œfunny, but you probably had to be there.â€ She takes them off and her eyes are oozing. Yeah, I said OOZING. She squints non-stop and she actually takes on a mole-like appearance. I, in my ever-so-classy and quite imbibed state, blurt out, â€œwhat the F is wrong with your eyes??â€ I honestly thought she had an infection in them or something. She says, â€œI was born without tear ducts.â€ L and I simply looked at each other with that â€œDONâ€™T LAUGHâ€ look on our faces. I felt bad for her, but come onâ€¦.a borderline homely stripper chick alone in a sports bar with oozing eyes and no tear ducts. Eventually, she paid her tab, invited us all to come see her that night at the club (canâ€™t remember which, but it didnâ€™t matter) and left. By this time, I was VERY hammered and in need of some gambling and water. We trudged over to the ElCo and sat for about an hour, shooting craps and the bull. Craps would prove to be my undoing this weekend. If I eliminate my craps losses and frigginâ€™ Syracuse, Iâ€™d have come home up in a big way. Itâ€™s now about 7:30 pm and we stagger back to Harrahâ€™s. At this point in the story, it appears Lâ€™s shrimp cocktail didnâ€™t agree with him. He decides to stick in the room while we venture out and asks us to come get him in a few hours. He eventually hurls for the remainder of the evening and does not make it back out, blaming the shrimp. M. C, and I begin looking for a decent Pai-Gow game. The tables at Harrahâ€™s are packed and have $20.00 limits, so we pass. We head down to the Flamingo and look all over for the tables. Finally, we ask a change gal and she says they have been placed in what used to be the high roller area, in a one of those rooms off the casino floor. This place was AWESOME!!!!!! Quieter, with $10.00 minimums and we were entertained with a group of Asian guys from Vancouver who were in for a bachelor party. They all had white t-shirts on with a baby picture of the groom on it. There musta been 20 of â€˜em. Again, you had to be there, but it was pretty damn funny and they were pretty damn cool. M, who does not play Pai-Gow, tells us he is going to get us a big cocktail from the bar. Two hours later, M is nowhere to be found and we are big cocktailess. More on that later. As midnight rolls around, I suddenly have to go to bed. My body is giving out. I make it back to the room and pass out. DAY TWO Iâ€™m awoken at 6 am by the door opening and L coming into the room, looking refreshed and healthy. He feels much better. 10 minutes later, M comes into the room, look VERY distraught. C wakes up too and we ask what happened to our â€œbig cocktailsâ€ last night? M sits down and explains: He went to the bar and accidentally bumped a girl. This elicited another drunken conversation and more drinking. She tells him that sheâ€™s down on spring break and they have rented a condo across town and would he like to come over for a bit. M is on the roll of his life (so he feels) and seconds later, a Flamingo valet pops them both into a cab and away they go. Now, M is really gone by now and can only recall the girl was pretty. He had no idea where they were going. Next thing he knows, they are up in this condo and she goes to the bathroom. As M sits in her kitchen with a fresh beer, a guy walks out of one of the bedrooms and asks M â€œwhat are you doing with my girl?????â€ M drunkenly says that she invited him over and he had no idea another guy was going to be here, let alone a guy who refers to said woman as â€œmy girl.â€ M admits he may have been a bit of a smart-ass at this point, but the guy turns around and goes back into the bedroom and emerges with a PISTOL AND POINTS IT AT Mâ€™S HEAD!!!!!!!!!!!! Instantly sober, M literally begs for his life. The guy tells him to leave and M makes it our the door, bolts down the stairs and begins an all-out sprint to â€œjust get the hell outta there!!â€ Through bad neighborhoods he goes and eventually ends up at a 7-11 or something that calls him a cab. AMAZING. We all are shocked at this and it takes M a while to simmer down. We shoot the breeze some more and prepare for our 10 am tee- time at Black Mountain. Grab the van from the valet and head to Henderson. We stop at Jack in the Box and I had the biggest, best breakfast sandwich EVER. My god, it was good. And my god, was I hungover. This course has 27 holes, 18 of which are very nicely laid out, with desert areas, nice fairways, well-manicured greens. The other 9 was a waste of a good cow pasture. Horrible. But the weather was GREAT and after my 9-7-7 start, I quit seeing three balls on my address and played pretty well. We headed back after golf and decided to find a place to watch the games. I was in dire need of a drink to make myself feel a bit better. We decide to place our bets for the evening and go have the $4.95 steak dinner at Ellis Island. Luckily, we got there about 15 minutes before the dinner rush. We all ordered the special and a micro-brew. The bread and salads came out and were delicious, as was the beer. After a bit of a wait, the steaks came out and were a bit tough, even for $4.95. The funniest part was that M, having basically zero sleep for two days, took a couple bites of his meal and all of a sudden turned and bolted towards the front door, next to the outdoor patio. Apparently, he did the technicolor yawn in front of several BBQ-eating patrons. He casually came back in, sat down, enjoyed his frosty beverage and felt much better. We hung out there after dinner for a bit to watch the games and then went back to the hotel. L, C and me ventured back over to the Flamingo to our â€œprivate Pai Gow tableâ€ and saw that it was $25 mins. There was one table completely open and the floor folks recognized C and I from the previous night. We asked if theyâ€™d open it up for us to play for $10, thinking no way that they would. Well, they didâ€¦and we beat the snot out of them! I won several hands in a row, bumped my bets, lost one and then tore off an amazing streak of 11 straight wins. If he had a trifecta, I had a boat. If he had a straight, mine was higher. It was a riot. Unfortunately, all good things have to come to an end. We had planned to head to The Beach, as I had worked a VIP deal with one of the managers about a month earlier through a friend here in Detroit. Not happening. I was dead tired and again, very drunk. I actually walked out of the Flamingo and began walking the wrong way on the strip. Luckily, I regained my senses and made it back to Harrahâ€™s. I actually slept the longest I ever have in Vegas: 11 pm to 6 am. DAY THREE We awoke and all four of us were accounted for. I had to get the van back to the airport by 12, so we all decided to go grab some breakfast and check out the morning shift at Olympic Gardens. I had the idea from the folks here at T2V to try The Peppermill. We loaded up and headed up the strip. When we arrive at The Pepp, it was everything advertised. VERY hip, very busy. We were in a bit of a hurry and didnâ€™t want to wait for a table, so we nabbed four seats at the counter. Now, no one had ever mentioned the wait staff here before. Holy macaroni! They were all HOT. Our gal was about 6 feet tall with hair all pushed up on top of her head and a Cooperstown boob job. Three of us had the chorizo and eggs and I could not remotely finish it. We sat around and nursed our coffee, not nearly in the hurry we thought we were in and flirted mightily with the waitresses. It was fun and they were cool. We left, primed by the servers at The Peppermill, to have the OG to ourselves with the third shift ladies. And â€œto ourselvesâ€ we had it, too. ONE car was in the parking lot. ONE. We actually thought it might be closed, but some dude walked out and we quizzed him about the talent and he said there were three girls working. Ugh. Oh well, we are here, might as well see this joint. We stroll in and my T2V friends, you could have shot a cannonball through there and not hit anyone. It was a hoot. They had a â€œthree beers for $12.00â€ special running, so we got a bucket and I paid my golf bet loss with a Vanilla and coke for L. By and by, a very nice lady came over and gave my boy L a lap dance in a secluded corner, the second part of my golf loss. He came back grinning and said, â€œif I stayed for one more song, I would have had a grilled cheese sandwich in my drawers.â€ We all fell over laughing at that one! There was nothing on the TV except a D-3 playoff game, so after we finished our round, we took the van back to the airport. Budget was cool enough to drive us to Mandalay, as we wanted to check out that side of town too. Table limits at MB were SKY-HIGH. We watched a little more hoops and walked over to Luxor, as L had never been there. We sat down at a Pai Gow table for about an hour and made a couple hundred each, continuing our good luck. C had went back to the room to change, so we called him and told him we were headed over to The Trop, as yours truly had never been there. We made it over and there was a 3-card Poker table right by the entrance for $5. This was where I hit the hottest gambling streak of my career. I could not lose. Made pairs almost every time. At one point I won 12 straight hands, lost two and won 12 more in a row. I just killed â€˜em. I was getting souced again and we were having a great time with our dealer from Belarus. Excellent guy and he brought in plenty of tips on that day. THEN, I stumbled over to a craps table and gave a bunch of it back. Just could not get untracked with the bones. All in all, walked out of the Trop up $550 for the session. Next, we decided to hit NYNY and do some shopping for the wives. Iâ€™m blessed to have a beautiful spouse and I wanted to get her a Coyote Ugly gift from their store. I knew the stuff was skimpy and thatâ€™s just the way I like it. I picked out a little t-shirt and a thong that I SWEAR TO GOD was whiteâ€¦but upon further review, review, reviewâ€¦.the next morning showed me it was pink. Not a fave with Mrs. Lodger. I would have to go back before my flight and do an exchange. More on that in a bit. It was getting late and both L and C had red eyes back east so we went and grabbed some late dinner and got them packed up to leave. M and I walked down to the valet with them and wished them a safe trip. I was disappointed to see them go, as I knew my trip was winding down. M and I went back to the room and changed into some sweats and decided to head out for a few hours. We went over to Casino Royale and sat down at a $10.00 (???) BJ table. A blonde-haired African American lady (that always kills me) was dealing and she must have had a gigantic stick up her backside, because she was about as fun as a dentist appointment. M was loaded again and trying to be nice to her, but she wasnâ€™t having it at all. In short, we left and decided to try some more 3 Card at the IP. I killed â€˜em again. Another wonderful streak and about 2 am, we headed back for some sleep. LAST DAY I woke up fairly early and had to get set for my 12:25 flight. M was still out cold, so I showered and headed out again. I went back to the IP again and was on another roll. I had colored in with $50 and had $250 in front of me. I asked the dealer to color me up with two blacks. I was going to just put them in my pocket and see how I ended up. He said no, it delays the game. THERE WERE TWO OF US AT THE TABLE. I said, what?â€ and he repeated, no color ups til I was leaving. I said â€œyou have to be kidding, Iâ€™ve NEVER heard of thatâ€ and he says, â€œthatâ€™s the deal, partner.â€ So, instead of doing the right thing and asking for a pit boss, I stood up, grabbed all my reds, suggested that he go somewhere and get you-know-whatted and went over to the cage to get my loot. I made it back to the room and remembered the wonderful pink T and thong set I had gotten for Mrs. Lodger. I grabbed them, threw them in a Harrahâ€™s bag and went down to get a cab to go to NYNY. The cabbie (stink-EY!!!!) asked me if I was headed out that day and I said yeah. He told me the airport was jammed and it would take 45 minutes to just get up to the drop-off point. I was instantly worried and sweated it all the way to NYNY. I bolted to the merchandise area and a very nice young lady exchanged my drunken purchase with no receipt for a black set. She was very cool. I grabbed another cab and made it back to the hotel by 10 am. I double and triple checked all my belongings, wrote M a note (he was not there) to tell him what a great weekend it was, and bailed for the airport. My very creative cab driver got me there with plenty of time to spare and was generously tipped for his effort. As a wonderful parting gift to all the folks in the ticketing lines at McCarron, I stood at the top of the escalators, trying to manipulate my oversize suitcase, my hard golf case and a pillow (AirTran also offers no pillow to their customers. Blankets, yesâ€¦pillows, no). I placed the suitcase on the escalator and turn to grab my clubs. The suitcase slipped and tumbled down the entire escalator, bouncing like dice on the damn craps table. Loud, too. About 200 people turned to see it happen and most clapped for me. I swore under my breath, bowed gracefully and got in frickinâ€™ line. Flight home was uneventful and I was very pleased to have done so well on the tables, sans craps and my horrible hoop wagers. It literally took me four days to recover fully and I still am not that fired up to drink en masse. But it was worth every bit of effort and we are already talking about a return visit next March.