A few months back, my wife noticed that her favorite singer (Josh Groban) was going to be coming to Phoenix and asked if I could get tickets through my work (which I was able to do the last time he was in town). I didn’t really want to ask about tickets for an event three months in advance and didn’t really feel too excited about seeing Josh Groban in concert at the same venue again, so I decided to check his concert schedule to see when/if he was playing Vegas. Lo and behold, he was scheduled to play at the MGM a few days after he was to be in Phoenix. Working in my favor was that it was on a Sunday night and being that it was the day before Columbus Day, my wife didn’t had the day after off. The rest they say is history, and trip planning began! There were some good deals out there, and I decided to book a room at MGM, since I figured it would be convenient with the concert at the same place. Ended up getting a Grand King for $80/nt and got the tickets so we were good to go. At this point, wife’s brother (F) decided he wanted to come along with us and booked an offer at the Mandalay Bay for three nights, so planning was in full effect. We decided that we were going to head to Vegas overnight like we did last time (after confirming that F had booked his room for the day before…after last trip when he didn’t and we had to pull an accidental all nighter) and plans were made for dinner at Twist at the Mandarin Oriental and Craftsteak at MGM. As the trip got closer, F began to waver and said that he wasn’t sure he wanted to go because he was busy at work or stressed, or some other weak excuse. After doing more waffling than a breakfast plate at Denny’s, he finally decided that he was out (HE’S OUT???). Fortunately for us, the decision was made mid-day on Friday, so we had a nice 6-8 hours to decide what our plan was, seeing as we knew at this point we did not have a confirmed room. We decided that we’d switch it up and just head up early a.m. on Saturday. Since he was the driving force between the dinner reservations, those got canceled. Even though my body knew we had switched plans, my brain did not and must have been prepared to stay up all night, as I tried to go to sleep early, and didn’t end up falling asleep until around 130a. Eventually, I did and we were up early getting everything ready to go. We finally were on the road to Vegas around 7am Saturday morning from north Phoenix. We made a quick stop for gas after getting on the I-40. Soon enough, we were crossing over the dam bridge and saw the beautiful welcome to Nevada sign. I looked at the clock and it was just after 10:30p. Phoenix to over the bridge in 3.5 hours? I like! At this point I called S to see if he wanted to meet us for lunch and we set up plans to meet at Mandalay Bay. A short while lady we rolled up to Mandalay, met up with S and headed over to the Noodle Shop. This was my second time there (first time was last trip in May) and I got the exact same thing (Shrimp Fried Rice) and it did not disappoint. Oddly enough it was S’s first time there as well, weird since he goes to the MB at least once a week to play. Everyone else liked the meals and plates were cleaned. We visited for a bit, then I headed over to the sports book to make a couple of NFL parlay bets for a co-worker (note: if you put in two parlays, try not to lose both of them on the first game of the day!). After this, we headed over to the MGM to see what the early check-in situation was. Arrived at the MGM around 1PM and left the car with the valet, as we did not forecast any driving until we were planning to leave. Walked into the lobby and there was only about 15 or so other parties in front of it. The line moved relative quickly and shortly was able to check-in. No upgrade attempts and the desk clerk didn’t really engage me to see if I was interested and she quickly gave us our room keys and we were on our way. We were in the Grand tower on the seventh floor facing east. The accommodations were fine, it was clear that the rooms had been recently remodeled. Nice clear HD tv and there was a nice ledge next to the window that you could sit on and watch planes if you so desired. I did have trouble with finding the in-room safe at first (it was in one of the drawers of the nightstands) and was never able to connect to the alleged free wifi. On that note, luckily Sprint is now providing LTE service is most areas now, so that was nice. We got settled, cracked a few drinks to celebrate our good fortune of being in Vegas, and headed out. After a quick walk through the MGM, we ended up at NYNY playing for a little bit. First I played a little Wheel of Fortune, as for some reason, I was seduced by the wheel. After about 15 spins I hit it. I hit spin and wouldn’t you know, right next to 2000 coins. I ended up getting 30 and we walked away to find some bartop VP. We had never played this before, so decided that we were going to give it a try, to see about speeding up our drink service. It was fast, the bartender was over within a minute of us sitting down. The weird thing was, after she brought our drink, she brought over the cup with the receipt that said drink $3.50, bar comp $3.50, total $3.50. So even though it said total $3.50, I assumed the bar comp took care of it. Anyways, we played a little while, but my wife is not a fan of $.25 machines so we took off to the Excalibur, where she was sure to find nickel VP. Unfortunately, NO nickel VP there, except for triple play. I swear we scoured the whole floor and didn’t find any. She eventually relented and played that. I made a quick hit and run at the roulette table for $20, which I promptly lost at VP. After that, we headed over to the Tropy, where my wife was in her happy place, as she found plentiful nickel VP (specifically by the bar near the sports book). Wasn’t impressed with the rules or variety of blackjack here, so we headed back to MGM to get changed for the evening out. On the way back to the elevators at the MGM, a $10 roulette table was calling my name, so I sat down to play for a bit. Was down to the felt, and had all my money on the table, playing ‘neighbors’ on the number 5. Well, wouldn’t you know, I hit it for a nice $135 hit. I hit a couple corners after that, and worked my way up to a $50 profit on the session so that was nice. Took the money, and went up to the room to get ready for the evening. After getting ready, we decided to head up to the Bellagio so we could check out the conservatory. On the way there, we passed the famous Lion’s Share machine. It was still there and nobody was on it, so we decided to throw a couple of $20’s in to see what happened. Alas, you are reading this and haven’t seen any posts on this website about the progressive being hit so you can guess what happened. We actually cashed out a little bit and it took a little while for the ‘handpay’. Honestly, if I had realized it was going to take five minutes for such a small amount, I would have let it ride. So we left and headed to Bellagio, via the tram in the Monte Carlo. The tram was interesting as we got in a car with about 8 other ladies that were also heading to the Bellagio. At one point, a couple of them started dancing suggestively on the pole. We had some friendly back and forth about ‘how this must not be your first time’. Funny stuff. So checked out the flowers and then decided we were hungry and made our way over to the Cosmo. Since we had never had it before, Secret Pizza won out over Holsteins. Both my wife and myself had a slice and were both pleased with it. Seemed a little pricey, but would you rather pay $5-$6 for a really good slice or go to the food court and get a blah slice for $2-3? I would go back I think. I haven’t been to the Cosmo for the Wicked Spoon, but having now eaten at Holsteins / Secret Pizza, I have to say the Cosmo really brings it to the table. We decided to walk the strip back up to MGM, highlighted by my giving a fist bump to not one, not two, but THREE transformers. (Note: I don’t think they were actually transformers). I didn’t even have to tip them for this! Back at the MGM headed up to the room to watch the end of the Tex A&M and go back out after my wife went to sleep. Unfortunately, I crashed out just as Johnny Football was leading their team to victory (see earlier foreshadowing about 3-4 hours of sleep). Woke up after the game, but decided I’d rather get up early to gamble then go out late alone, and turned it for the night. Got up Sunday morning bright and early and headed out to track down some breakfast. On the way through the casino, we strolled by the Sigma Derby machine, where no one was playing. We happened to have to quarters and each played. Well, what do you know, horseys 1 -5 as a 25-1 shot came in! Woo-hoo, it was so great to hear that nostalgic sound of coins clanking in the drop bucket again. Although then I had to walk around for a little bit with six dollars worth of quarters, so not optimal. Anywho, headed to the sportsbook with two of the parlay cards I have previously filled out. The ticket writer asked me what my best bet of the day was, so I politely told him that if I had a best bet of the day, I wouldn’t be playing those lottery ticket! Of course, I lost both parlays. (Note to those of you who want to watch NFL at the MGM…he told me that if you want a seat, be there by 9:15a and you should be good). We decided to head to the Luxor to check out the Pyramid Café for breakfast, but on the way, I was accosted by the $5 craps table at the Excalibur and had to roll the bones for a bit. There was one guy at the table playing, though he had a couple of ladies with him. This guy was a site to see. The dice would be pushed to him, where he would then set them meticulously as a hard ten (note: when people set the dice the same way everytime, why don’t the dealers try to slide the dice to them that way???). Then, he would take 2-3 steps back from the table, clap his hands and walk up to grab the dice. Then, he would pick up the dice, make a big circle around the don’t come box, double tap them and then fire them down, yelling BOOM if it was anything but a seven. Pretty amusing. My wife was not amused, and the dealers were not amused but whatever. What was annoying was that he kept taking breaks to yell at the pit boss for drink service when he was on a hot roll. He shot for a bit and I was able to cover all of the numbers with come bets and odds before he sevened out. I then got the dice and rolled pretty well, hitting some points and also building all my come bets up to where I had all numbers covered with odds again. (Note: my strategy is to bet aggressively to take advantage of that monster roll that will come someday, but I wonder if my strategy of trying to cover all the number with come bets isn’t a little too aggressive, I might consider ratcheting that back in the future). After a few nice hits, I sevened out . We passed the dice back and forth for another couple turns before I colored up, only a little bit. Since we were now getting really hungry, wife and I headed to the Pyramid Café where we were seating quickly. As we were waiting to order, my wife pointed to the guy’s Starbucks cup at the next table and says ‘hey look at that’. I assumed she was pointing at the name on the cup, so I say ‘yeah, not at the table Carlos, haha’. But, apparently she was pointing out the fact that Carlos had gotten a PSL, not the name. Oh well. The menu at PC was surprisingly robust and had plenty of great sounding choices, though I ended up going with a fairly basic breakfast with eggs, hash brown, toast, etc. Wife had a big black bean egg wrap or something. We both were pleased and stuffed. After playing some not notable VP, we then headed over to the Tropy, where we also played some not notable VP. I really wanted to play UTH this trip and watched some ladies playing it at the Tropy, but just couldn’t get a feel of how the game worked so I passed. At this point, we headed back to the MGM to lay out for the pool for a bit. Temperature was nice, actually got warm after 20 minutes, so we moved to the shade, since there was ample seating available. After the pool, headed back to the room to regroup and we decided to walk up the strip and figure out a late lunch / early dinner at some point. We ended up tramming up to the Bellagio again (and bonus: as we got off the tram, an older lady in front of us started to nose her Budweiser. This was quite humorous to me, as I have a friend who has a penchant for nosing booze, so it brought back some memories. Plus someone nosing Budweiser at a classy joint like Bellagio). We crossed to the east side of the strip and made out way north. We saw all the construction at the NKA (Never Known As) Gansevoort, which seems to be coming along. We saw a person dressed as Hello Kitty, except they were holding the mask in one hand, so they could smoke in the other hand. Along the way, we also stopped in some casinos here and there, playing uneventful WOF or VP. I also made a bet on the Cardinals money line against the Niners. I had to take a shot at that one, I mean if my team had one on a 4.5x chance while I was there and I didn’t have a few bucks on it? (Also made an O/U bet at Luxor that did not cash). We eventually made it up to Venetian / Palazzo and decided to eat at I Love Burgers. We called S to have him meet us there and we played for a bit, as well as toured Lagasse’s Stadium (nice!) before he got there and we ate. I Did Not Love I Love Burgers. It was average, I won’t be going back. The buffalo burger was so so, the tater tots were cold, and the garlic parmesan fries were in a pool of butter / grease (some is ok, but it was a lot). The worst thing was that they had 6-8 tv’s that were all playing the same NFL game and did not have the NFL package to be able to show all the games. That was lame. After late lunch, we had S give us a ride back to the MGM to rest up and get ready for the concert. My wife took a nap while I watched some SNF before I headed down to do a touch of gambling before the concert. I found a nice $10 3:2 blackjack table and sat down to play. A few interesting things happened here, including the guy at seat 1 trying to teach girls how to play, then five hands later not following his own advice, the dealer trying to take my money on a push, and then the same dealer flipping her cards over after I clearly called for a hit. Oh, and I hit at least 4 blackjacks. Drink service was poor, however, one cocktail waitress sighting in 45 minutes. Also, it was quite cold, I was literally shivering. Finally, I headed up to the room to finish getting ready up 60% on my buy-in. We got ready and made our way into the concert. As we gave them our tickets, the usher directed us to some box office employees. We were ‘upgraded’ as there were enough seats in our section, so they moved us down to make it seem fuller. The problem to me was that we were now in temporary seating, when before we weren’t. Now, I don’t know this for certain, but I assume the permanent seating is cushioned, whereas the temporary seating is not. Anywho, I found it quite uncomfortable. The opening act (Judith Hill???) started a few minutes early, and was fine. Groban came around 8:30 and was fine. I don’t particularly care for his music, but find he is very good at interacting with the crowd. Concert ended right around 10pm (or 1030pm, can’t remember which) and we headed with the masses to the casino. Played a little VP (had some nice 7&7’s) that was not notable and headed up for the night. Woke up early and packed up and hit the road for our traditional stop at Sunset Station on the way out of town. After a little bit of a wait at the valet (the guy admitted he had grabbed the wrong car), we headed to Sunset and got there right on time to meet S for breakfast. Usually the line isn’t too long on weekend mornings, but we had to wait about 15 minutes to get in. Maybe people were having breakfast there since they weren’t working on Columbus Day? Anyways, it was good as usual, S had a 2-for-1 coupon, so breakfast was quite the bargain. After we finished up, we headed to the casino to get our last minute fix in. My first stop was a $5 double deck game of blackjack. Sat through about 3 or 4 deals and just couldn’t get any streaks going. Luckily no big losing streaks, so ended up down just a few bucks. After that I headed over to the roulette wheel and played for a bit. I was fortunate enough to hit a covered number fairly early on for a nice $135 hit and hit a few others that had three chips touching, so that was nice. I eventually left that table up around 60% of my buy-in. By this time it was time to hit the road, but not without some more VP. Again, a not notable losing session. We said our goodbyes, and with a quick detour to take a few pictures of a site for work (which got my gas reimbursed for the whole trip, WIN!), we were back in Phoenix in no time. Not sure when I’ll be back…could be Thanksgiving, might not be until March Madness or later. Thanks for reading! Hope you enjoyed! Summary: -- Overall, I played an okay amount, 20 different sessions over the course of the trip, but would have liked to play more. Unfortunately, there was a lot of either 6:5 blackjack, which I wasn’t willing to play this trip, or random blackjack games where there are multiple bets and the dealer pushes on 22. I just can’t understand these games, so I don’t play them. -- Did not have a winning VP or slot session out of 10 attempts. No quads. I did hit the Sigma Derby but that was an ultimate quick hitter. -- Overall, I lost minimally (less than $100) due to having success at the table games, but I did break my two trip win streak. Since I’ve been tracking, 12 trips to LV, 6 wins, 6 losses, but up overall. -- My wife is a low roller, her preferred game is single line nickel VP, which she could hardly find, so she had to play $.25/vp or triple play. She lost a decent chunk of her bankroll and is definitely off Vegas for a bit. -- I thought I was off Vegas too, there was just something about this trip that seemed off. The good news is, about two weeks later, and that feeling is starting to fade. Think it was the lack of any positive VP sessions, but that’s just the ebb and flow, you are always having luck in Vegas, sometimes it is good, sometimes it is bad. (Luckily, overall it worked out about even for me). -- Note: Did not check for spelling or grammar. I are sorry if me make any mistake. -- See you next time!