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Michael Buble (now with more boob and extra lay...and pictures!) - 8/26 to 8/30

Discussion in 'Vegas Trip Reports' started by CaptainJack, Aug 31, 2010.

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  1. CaptainJack

    CaptainJack Low-Roller

    Joined:
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    My Trip Report

    The Skinny

    Here's where you can decide if it's worth reading this trip report...I'll be discussing the following:

    - Flight in first class from PHL.
    - Limo to/from airport...clueless driver.
    - 4 nights at Palazzo in a Siena Suite.
    - Dinners at Carnevino and Mesa Grill.
    - Michael Buble concert at MGM Grand Garden Arena.
    - Some losing gambling.
    - Some winning gambling.
    - Too many W2-G's.
    - Bad cab drivers.
    - Flying back in coach with a bad back and a head cold.

    Background

    This would be trip #28 to Vegas for me. Accompanying me would be my girlfriend (GF) who is already up to her 3rd trip in 13 months. What prompted this trip was a conversation we had in mid-July. It went something like this:
    GF: Michael Buble is playing Vegas in late August...I can probably take a couple days off work if you want to head out there for a long weekend.
    ME: Booked.

    I arranged for some comped concert tickets and also took advantage of a good offer from Palazzo which I'll discuss shortly.

    Flight

    I used miles to upgrade from coach to first class for the trip out. This was a little surprise for my GF. We'd be flying USAirways and considering how difficult they make it to use miles for flights, upgrading with miles is almost more efficient. Not a fan of USAir...but flying cross-country from Philly, they offer the most non-stop options. Plus they now have wi-fi on the plane...which allows for some in-flight bragging on Facebook.

    [​IMG]
    This picture was taken before coach had even fully boarded!

    [​IMG]
    Dinner is served.

    One of the best ways to kick off a Vegas trip is to get that little ego rush when you take the escalator down to baggage claim to see a gentleman in a suit holding a placard with your name. Good stuff! Unfortunately, USAir/McCarran was SLOW with the bags. We waited for almost 45 minutes for the bags to arrive on the carousel. The driver was quick and efficient in handling the bags and escorting us down to Zero Level to his awaiting limo. I noticed immediately that Palazzo, like so many other companies, had outsourced my business! This wasn't a Palazzo driver...it was a Bell Trans driver.

    The limo was nicely appointed...but I noticed something was up when he didn't take the tunnel. Almost all limo drivers take the tunnel/freeway for strip hotels. Instead we started down Swenson and then Paradise and then Flamingo and then through the Howard Hughes Industrial Park(!?!). I'm being long-hauled by a limo driver! Finally onto Spring Mountain, the strip, and the into Palazzo. As he unloaded my bags he said he'd find out where invited guest check-in was for me. Uh....thanks, but it's not my first visit to Palazzo. I tipped him well, considering with the bag wait and the long-haul we had spent over an hour together.

    The Room

    Check-in went smoothly...I prefer higher floors, not sure why, I just do. Unfortuantely, the clerk put me on the paltry 20th floor with a "golf course view." Ahhh...you mean Wynn's golf course? Yes, nice try. The offer I was coming in on was up to 5 nights in a Siena suite, $1000 freeplay, $150 food credit and the aforementioned limo transfers. Siena suite is approximately 1500sq ft. Not bad, but not a huge improvement over the standard suite at Palazzo. Here are some pics I shot as we were checking out...

    [​IMG]
    The entrance way, a lot of the square footage is wasted here.

    [​IMG]
    The living room.

    [​IMG]
    The bathroom...the highlight of which is the shower with 6 shower heads. It's big enough for four people...but not five unfortunately. :evillaugh

    Not pictured is the bedroom (which was a little too messy), the make-up/dressing area, and the guest bathroom. One very nice thing about this room is the location puts you far away from any neighbors. Our room was a serene getaway...and no matter what went on in the halls or nearby rooms we didn't hear a peep. It made for much more restful sleep and a relaxing stay. You don't realize how much you value quiet hotel rooms until you endure loud neighbors in other establishments.

    Gambling Part 1 - Palazzo

    I'm largely a video poker player. I'm comfortable playing any casino game, but I tend to play video poker for the comps and the solitary nature of the play. I never play in Vegas without a plan of attack. I'm careful where and when I use my players card to facilitate the best averages for comp purposes. I had not given any play to Palazzo in almost a year when this offer rolled in. In fact, I had planned to cut them out of my rotation for a while, choosing to focus on other properties. In taking advantage of this offer, I decided I'd give them approximately $80-100k coin-in on one day of my visit. This represents about twice my normal daily play amount and would hopefully trigger some future offers. If it didn't, I'm not giving up too much considering the freeplay they gave me on this trip. My other plan was to give Harrahs one day of decent play as well as Wynn one day. I was on the fence on whether to give MGM some play, but decided to do so in the end. I do not use my players cards for anything on days when I'm not playing at that property.

    First up would be my play at Palazzo. I varied betwen $2 3-play, $1 Spin Poker, and $2 Spin Poker. At first my results started very good after being dealt a Straight Flush at $2 3-line. I didn't get a picture of this for some reason, but it resulted in my first hand-pay of the trip. $1500. Unfortunately, that was the only thing to go right on that machine and my session ended down about $1k. Later I moved to $1 Spin Poker...and after a few too many vodka/red bulls, I moved onto $2 Spin Poker. Surprisingly I held my own on the $90/spin Spin Poker. When I realized that Palazzo was giving me $3/pt and I already had $90k coin-in, I decided to go for 30,000 pts to reach Gold Level for the next year. Variance is a bitch at this level. I was down about $5k on the night at one point. Along the way, I hit hand-pays of $1380, $1430, and $2580 (4 Aces). No pictures of these...and well, they would have been a bit blurry. Finally, after many hours, I stopped my play at Palazzo. In the end I was up about $500 on the day. That's a pretty good recovery from the low-point and felt like a much bigger win than it was.

    Dining Part 1 - Carnevino

    Dinner the first night was at Carnevino in Palazzo. This is a Mario Batali restaurant and it is listed as an Italian Steakhouse. I had not heard many definitive reviews of Carnevino, so I wasn't sure what to expect. We were overwhelmed. Everything was done exceptionally. I had the NY Strip with a side sauce of horseradish black pepper zabaglione and sides of green beans and mashed potatoes. My GF had the Filet Mignon. Everything was extremely tasty. The steak was one of the best I've ever had (Bobby Flay's Steaks in Atlantic City is still the best I've had). The green beans were prepared with lemon zest, which gave them excellent flavor...the mashed potatoes had egg yolk as a topping which created a creamy, buttery consistency to the dish. No room for dessert, althought we did enjoy a nice cocktail to close out the meal.

    Micheal Buble Concert

    The highlight of the weekend for my GF was definitely the Michael Buble concert. I'm never a fan of seeing touring acts in Vegas because I feel like they don't put on as much of an effort because the audience is never as into it as they are in other cities. Buble actually mentioned this in his show...so I guess my suspicions are valid. That said...Michael Buble put on ONE HELL OF A SHOW. I'm not a big fan by any means...I'm just not his target audience. However, neither were most men in the audience. Buble has a strong charisma on-stage...and while most of the shtick is rehearsed and not nearly as sporadic as he wants you to believe, it works well. Buble is only 34 yrs old...and maybe when he gets older and tired of the road, he'll be a headliner in Vegas. He definitely could pull it off. Here's a couple pics from the show.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Gambling Part 2 - Planet Hollywood and Aria

    My Total Rewards offers had dipped a bit for Vegas and while I normally do better going through hosts or other clubs, I still like to keep Harrahs in the picture for gifting rooms away when needed. I decided to give them some play on the 5-line $1 8/5 Bonus Poker at Planet Hollywood. This game somehow survived the Harrahs VP axe when they took control of PHo, and I'm not sure how much longer it'll stick around. $50k coin-in took a couple hours and cost me a little over $2k. Oh well, just wasn't hitting the premium quads.

    That same night, the GF went to Aria to visit our favorite bar in Vegas...no, it's not City Bar, Todd English's Pub, Union, Duece....or any of the other high-end offerings off the casino floor...it's the Skybox Sports Bar located between the poker room and the sportsbook. What makes this our favorite bar are the friendly bartenders. Each one is more friendly and personable than the next. Seriously, these guys are first-class all the way. We've never paid for a drink here because they are quick to comp everything...no matter how much or how little you are playing on the bartop. While sitting there enjoying another well-prepared beverage, I decided to give Aria some play. The machines at the bartop have good paytables as far as bartops go, and $5 denom is full-pay on Jacks and Bonus Poker. I decided to play some Bonus Poker and after a little while of up and down, I got dealt three Aces and pulled the fourth (BeeeeeJay will note that had I been playing his beloved DDB this would have been $10k...however, I'm not much for the DDB variance. BP is as far as I go)

    [​IMG]

    This hit helped me get through $50k of wagering at Aria and still turn a profit. One note about hitting big jackpots at bartop machines...in most places, the bartenders expect a big tip. As if they had something to do with your good fortune. While I don't mind tipping the clerk that brings the handpay, I'm really turned off by bartenders who expect something extra. I'm happy to report the bartenders at Skybox were genuinely happy for me and noted that at $5 denom, that might not insure a profit on the night. I would have tipped them generously regardless of the hit, but was glad not to get the hustle.

    Cab Drivers

    A side note about cabs in Vegas. It really is a necessary evil to take cabs when travelling with a woman who likes to wear short dresses and ridiculous heels. Cabs are direct, efficient transportation when done right. We experienced the extremes this trip. First the bad, going from Palazzo to MGM for the concert. It's 7pm on Saturday night...prime time. I get in and the cabbie asks me if I want to go via the strip or the freeway. "Uhhh...how about the road behind Palazzo that goes right to MGM, Koval." "oh, ok." The rest of the cab ride felt like we were at Gilley's riding the mechanical bull. Herky and jerky. Slam the gas. Slam the brakes. Rinse. Repeat.

    Conversely, our cab ride from NYNY to Palazzo after the show was far more efficient. The cabbie used the freeway and even cut through TI to avoid the strip traffic. Getting a good cabbie in Vegas is like everything else in town, a gamble.

    Dinner Part 2 - Mesa Grill

    A friend of mine is Seven Stars at Harrahs and one of the perks of such is a $500 meal comp annually. He invited my GF and I along for the ride at Mesa Grill. $500 for three goes a long way at Mesa Grill. We had a generous array of appetizers, entrees, side dishes and desserts. I again had NY Strip...since Bobby Flay was my leader for best steak, I figured I'd give him a shot to top himself. The steak was excellent...but his east coast counterpart still wins out. Among the highlights of the meal: the goat cheese queso fundido, the roasted corn side dish, and the deep-dish banana creme pie. The only hitch was our sommelier...who came across as less than personable and was trying to upsell us on the wine. In the end, with two bottles of wine, a few cocktails, and more than enough food, our bill came out just shy of $500. A very enjoyable experience.

    Gambling Part 3 - Wynn

    For whatever reason, Steve Wynn doesn't like me much. I think I play games with a little too thin of a house edge for his advanced datamining. My offers from Wynn are usually fairly plain. In a continuing effort to get on their radar, I decided to give them roughly $50k in play. Wynn gutted most of the decent VP they once had, so I was forced to play single line $5 9/6 Jacks. This quickly turned into a money drain. I dropped a couple thousand and I hit the low-point of my trip during my first hour of play...-$5500. I decided to soldier through it. After gaining back about $1k, I decided to bump up to $10 denom for a while. I figured I'd either make a run at getting back to even, or lose back profits I had already accepted. After a few hands I got dealt this beauty:
    [​IMG]
    Interestingly, the last time I played $10 denom was at Wynn in March and on that brief session I was also dealt quads. Perhaps this is why Steve Wynn doesn't like me.

    With some wind in my sails, I dropped back down to $5 denom and plowed forward to reach my coin-in goal. I few minutes later I hit this:
    [​IMG]
    I love hitting a Straight Flush on a two-gapper...it makes up for all those times you hold that hand and cringe. Shortly after this I found myself up pretty good for the session. My back had been bothering me (I'd explain why...but what happens in Vegas...) so I stopped short of my coin-in goal and booked the win.

    Tipping

    In the end on this trip I wound up with $11,500 in W2-G's...which means approximately 115 hundies being counted out one by one into my palm this trip. Which also means a lot of tips to clerks paying me that cash. As someone who plays a significant amount in casinos, the W2-G's don't bother me...sure my AGI is ridiculously high on my tax returns, but the income gets off-set mostly. What bothers me is how much I give up to tipping. I am very strict when it comes to handpay tipping...I tip 1% with a minimum of $20 and a maximum of $100. A lot of my hits were under $2k this trip, so my tips ended up representing closer to 2%. When I play BJ I rarely tip during play but rather at the end of my session. All gaming tips come out of my bankroll, while all non-gaming tips (cabs, food, etc) come out of my spending money. Overall on this trip I came home down $1700...but $250 of that were tips.

    Flight Home

    As I mentioned, I was dealing with a bad back and on my final day I woke up stuffy and congested. Combine a bad back, a head cold, and flying coach across country and you've already identified three circles of hell. The only thing that got me through the flight home was the wi-fi. Although the lady sitting in front of me nearly crunched my laptop when she reclined her seat as far as possible. I thought about writing this trip report from the plane...but I knew I had a zombie day at work ahead of me today, so I did it here instead.

    Final Thoughts

    - Palazzo is a very nice place to stay and the proximity to the northern end of center strip is very nice. The Siena suite is nice and quiet...although better suites exist at other properties.

    - Flying first class for one leg makes flying coach even more painful on the other leg.

    - Vegas is definitely getting busier again. I visit 3-4 times a year, I noticed an improvement in occupancy over March and a definite improvement over last year.

    - Playing over $200k coin-in and not hitting a royal and coming home down less than 1% is a victory.

    - Double Deck Blackjack is a strong play mid-strip these days. It used to be $100min was the norm for anything but the morning gambler, however I spotted $50min at plenty of high-end places with good rules.

    - The best attraction in town is STILL the Fountains of Bellagio...they never fail to make me feel good...even after 28 visits. Here's a random picture. I must have hundreds of similar pictures from over the years.
    [​IMG]

    Hope you enjoyed reading this...I don't know when my next trip out will be...but it never takes much arm-twisting to get me to live like a king for a weekend.
     
  2. sybgal

    sybgal VIP Whale

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    Very nice wins and enjoyed the report! Thanks for posting :)
     
  3. saeldway

    saeldway Low-Roller

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    CaptainJack-

    Nice trip report. I could relate to almost everything in that report. Just last night, wife said " ooooohhhh look, Drake's playing November 6th" "booked". Residing in California, it's a lot easier to make the random trip (about 100) in the last 8 years. I think you hit it on the head with Carnevino and the cabbies. Decent results for the play you had too.
     
  4. bshowell

    bshowell VIP Whale

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    Great report. I've done both mesa and bf steak. both good but bf steak definitely won out. did that for thanksgiving one year. on the train to philly for vegas flight tomorrow. this has me pumped.
     
  5. JulieM

    JulieM Low-Roller

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    Great TR...thanks ..congrats on the wins:beer:
     
  6. jsimpson

    jsimpson Tourist

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    I would have loved to gone to that concert! Saw him a couple months ago here in NC and he's great! Definitely worth the $$!
     
  7. Rush

    Rush High-Roller

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    Very nice!
     
  8. RockyBalboa

    RockyBalboa VIP Whale

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    Solid report, thanks for sharing.
     
  9. VegasDiva

    VegasDiva VIP Whale

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    Great report
    nice suite at the Palazzo , great wins too
    Hope your cold didnt last too long!
     
  10. jgates8

    jgates8 VIP Whale

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    I could live without a suite for the rest of my life if I could just fly first class..............We continually discuss at work what we will do when we win the lottery. My first response is 'I am NEVER flying coach again'.
     
  11. ilovevegasbaby

    ilovevegasbaby Tourist

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    Thanks for the trip report! Reading these helps get me through the time I have to wait for my trip (2 1/2 weeks). Tell the hotel they need to put a big vase in that opening in the living room of your suite. It looks so empty :)....
     
  12. unomas

    unomas Low-Roller

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    Ditto!!
    Great report!
     
  13. Chuck2009x

    Chuck2009x VIP Whale

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    Excellent report.

    I had a Siena suite with the same layout as yours. There is another layout where the entrance way is much smaller and shorter, and the living area is much larger; it's the preferable version, I think. The huge shower is pretty funny though, you can have a real party in it.
     
  14. CFioren317

    CFioren317 Low-Roller

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    Awesome trip report!!! I can relate to everything you said...except the $1000 in freeplay, $150 daily food comp, comped suite at the Venetian, $50K at a time video poker coin-in, first-class flying...OK, actually, I can just relate to also loving Bobby Flay Steak at Borgata...the "Philly-Style NY Strip Steak" with the melted provolone and caramelized onions is the best meal on the planet.
     
  15. Jinx

    Jinx VIP Whale

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    Great report, Captain, enjoyed the insight, definitely not a bad trip considering you didn't hit a royal.
     
  16. CaptainJack

    CaptainJack Low-Roller

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    I forgot to mention a couple free money tips from Venetian/Palazzo I wanted to share with the board...

    1) On Saturday afternoon there were a couple ladies in black clothes with nametags that were walking around the Venetian conducting brief surveys. At first I was going to wave her off as she approached both my GF and I. However, then she mentioned for 30 seconds of our time she'd give us each $25 in freeplay. The survey lasted more like a minute, but was about the smell of the Venetian. Did I like it? How did it make me feel? Anyway...bing bang boom...$50 in freeplay between the two of us. We actually got approached again about 10 mins later. Not sure if you could have collected twice as the slot club has to put it on your card and they can probably tell if you redeemed it before.

    2) The Pocket Casino booth will still give you $50 in matching funds for a $50 deposit for first time users. Bing bang boom $100 free between the two of us.
     
  17. sailor53

    sailor53 Tourist

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    Very nicely done! Enjoyed reading your report and seeing the big wins! Thanks for posting.
     
  18. Tonez78

    Tonez78 Low-Roller

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    Thanks for the report; not too long not too short! Sounds nice you had a great time and some good eats. It helps hold me over for 16 more days, not that I'm counting..............

    Tony
     
  19. kel3420

    kel3420 VIP Whale

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    Awesome report, thanks so much for posting. I love reading all of these and seeing how people's experiences can be so different!

    "- The best attraction in town is STILL the Fountains of Bellagio...they never fail to make me feel good...even after 28 visits. Here's a random picture. I must have hundreds of similar pictures from over the years."

    I can't agree with you more! Even after thirty some odd trips myself, seeing the fountains either at Fontana or Olives' is always on my "must" list! Glass of wine, appetizers, sun going down, lights coming on, and the fountains going off is just magical.
     
  20. gotavegasjones

    gotavegasjones VIP Whale

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    Great Trip Report. Enjoyed the read. Thanks for posting. We try to hit Mesa Grill every trip. You feeling better?

    later, GVJ
     
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