Ok gang, here it is! 18 pages on MS Word. I hope you enjoy it. Sorry it took so long. Are you Mikey?? I don’t think that there’s ever been a more anticipated trip to Vegas than the one I took this past weekend. My buddies and I had been planning on going since the middle of March, and nobody was looking forward to the get-together more than I. Of course, once I posted my intentions on the Travel2Vegas web-board, it didn’t take long for several other members to plan a trip so that we could all meet up and play craps together. I managed to leave my office around noon on Thursday, after spending the morning at my desk wishing the clock would speed up. I dropped my truck off at my house, picked up my luggage, and had my mom and nephew drop me off at the airport two hours before my flight was scheduled to leave. Check-in was a breeze, except that the steel shanks in my dress shoes earned me a private session with the man armed with a hand-held metal detector. It was quick and painless, but at least now I know that “100 % leather” isn’t exactly true. After clearing the security gauntlet, I still had more than an hour and a half to kill, so I bought a couple of sailing magazines and a pack of gum, found my gate, and happily discovered the bar which was located directly across from where I needed to be. I sat down, ordered a beer and a hot dog, and tried to watch the baseball game showing on the TV in the corner. My food arrived in front of me just a minute later--my hotdog was cold and my beer not so much… I ate about half of it without getting any mustard on my shirt, pounded the beer, and grudgingly paid the nine-dollar tab. “First loss of the trip” I told myself. I sat down near the departure gate and tried to read my magazine, but between the people watching and my own personal trip anticipation, it was tough to concentrate. Luckily the plane was on time and we got to board quickly. The flight was completely full, except for one seat—the one next to mine. Ok—first win of the trip! We took off for DFW and I was dozing off before the drink cart arrived, since I barely slept a wink the night before. Our flight landed a few minutes early, but of course the half-hour taxi to the gate ate up any extra time on my layover. And, typically, the flight pulled into terminal A and my connection was at the other end of Terminal C, with just about 30 minutes to make the trek. So I got to take a ride on the lovely ‘TRAAIN’—imagine the jerky roller coaster at NYNY, but moving at only about 10 mph. The trams at McCarran are MUCH smoother, but just as hot inside. I made the connection with about ten minutes to spare, but we boarded late, so we were already behind. The flight was completely packed and I had to sit next to a Mexican guy who insisted on playing the drums and clapping along with the CD player he was listening to. Yeah, that made the trip enjoyable. I got even with him about an hour into the flight when I had to stand up and get something out of my briefcase in the overhead bin and accidentally knocked his CD player off the tray table and onto the floor. Then, about halfway to Vegas, the captain announced that we’d be even later as we had to slow down for traffic. When we finally landed, almost 45 minutes late, I was quite fed up with travel for the day. I turned on my cell phone while waiting to get off the plane, and gave Eddie B a call. He was having a few drinks at the Golden Gate and making a run at the blackjack tables, so I told him that Derek and I would meet him over there in about an hour. I finally broke free of the plane, and walked up the ramp into the surreal silence of an empty terminal at the Las Vegas airport. No ding-ding-ding of slot machines, no announcements on the loudspeakers, no crowds of people, nothing. Weird. A few of my fellow passengers all looked at each other with the same puzzled faces, and somebody said ‘I sure hope the rest of the town is open’. A few guys in town for a bachelor party ran over to the first slot machine they saw, dropped in a few coins to get the weekend started, and announced to everyone else “First loss of the weekend!” I could relate, but I think I would’ve preferred that one to the nine bucks I wasted on lunch… After the half-mile hike and sweaty tram ride, I finally came down the escalator into the zoo that is the baggage claim. Quite the difference from the deserted terminal, but at least we now knew for sure that the town was open for business! As soon as I got to the carousel, I saw my buddy Derek, wearing the same ‘drinking shirt’ he had on when I last saw him several months before. He’d just driven up from Phoenix, and had been waiting around the baggage claim for about 45 minutes. Of course, it took almost another 40 minutes before my suitcase showed up, so by the time we walked out of the terminal, we were good and ready to get the weekend started. We cranked up the stereo and broke a few speed laws on I-15, so we were pulling into the valet at the LV Club in no time. We had our first “only in Vegas” moment when we saw an obvious ‘working girl’ drop off her P.O.S. car at the valet ahead of us, starting her weekend gig. It was hard to tell which one had more miles on it, her or the Camaro. We giggled and tried not to make eye contact, as I was sure she knew that we both had pockets full of cash. We managed to avoid a proposition, dropped off the car, and headed inside. Eddie B had already checked into the room when he arrived earlier in the day and had two of the keys, so we had to check in with the desk to get the third key. As I told the desk agent who I was, she said, “Your name sounds familiar”. I told her that the room was in my name so my buddy probably gave it to her earlier. She said that she wasn’t the one to check him in, however. Then she asked, “Are you ‘Hurricane Mikey’?” When I answered that indeed I was, she said that she had something for me—I had a gift waiting for me, courtesy of HoyaHeel and HoyaHub. They’d stopped by earlier in the day and dropped off a miniature bottle of the Captain and a set of fuzzy dice for my rear-view mirror, along with a note welcoming me to Vegas. It also said they’d be wandering around somewhere downtown that evening and they’d keep an eye out for our gang. That was a nice way to kick off my stay. Our room was up on the 14th floor of the South Tower this time (no MVP rooms or anything in the North Tower available), so we decided to take the luggage up and I also wanted to change out of my work clothes and into a more suitable Hawaiian shirt and shorts. We were talking and laughing and so excited to finally be in town, that we got halfway to the elevator and forgot our room number. I went back to the desk and had her write it down for me so I didn’t forget again. The elevator was hot as hell, and moved slower than the ones at the Imperial Palace. We finally got to our room and dumped off the bags. It was a decent room—not as bad as I’d expected, and bigger than I thought it would be. It was a little different set-up than the North Tower rooms, as it had the bathroom at the far end, with a little window in the shower. The bathroom itself was pretty small, but it had monster water pressure in the shower as hot as you could stand it (unlike our room at the Horseshoe last fall). I did a quick change and we were ready to roll. While I was changing clothes, Derek called down to housekeeping to ask for his rollaway bed, and was told that there was a waiting list. Man, that was just messed up—we actually told them up front when we made the reservation that there would be three guys in the room, and we were paying an extra $10 per night for the privilege, so we thought it a little odd that we couldn’t get the bed. We didn’t worry too much about it, as we had to hurry and meet Eddie. I was an hour overdue, so we were a little concerned as to what kind of trouble he might be getting himself into by spending the whole day in Vegas without any supervision. We got back into the oven, I mean, elevator, anticipating our first beer. I actually had beads of sweat forming on my ol’ bald head, so we were hoping to find Eddie pretty quickly. As soon as we got off the elevator and made the turn heading for the casino, there was Eddie, walking towards us! He figured we were at the hotel so he quit while he was ahead and came back to look for us. He told us that had spent the last hour trying to win the quarter Elvis progressive, which was up to almost $580K. He didn’t win the big one, but he settled for a quick hundred bucks instead. We were all starving, so of course we crossed the street to the Golden Gate after a quick stop at the cage to cash a few travelers’ checks. We got in the short line just in time, as the place started to fill up quickly. While in line, I couldn’t wait for my first beer—I was dying of thirst, so I grabbed a pink lemonade Snapple out of the ice and gulped it down while waiting for my sandwich to be made. I had a roast beef with Swiss, a shrimp cocktail, and a Michelob pull. Eddie had a same, except he opted for the French dip. Derek just had two shrimp cocktails and a Molson Ice. With the piano player tickling the keys in the background with more enthusiasm than the Phantom of the Opera, we raised a toast to the fact that we were finally enjoying the very moment that we’d anticipated for several long months. We were finally in Vegas, so the weekend was officially underway! As hungry as I was, whatever affliction hits me in Vegas kicked in again, and I couldn’t finish my meal. What I ate of it was excellent, however. Being creatures of habit, after dinner we started weaving our way through the crowd that had gathered to watch the light show, and we made our way down to Binion’s Horseshoe. The smell of the place that turns most people off is most pronounced at the corner entrance closest to Mermaids. For several years, it’s been a fairly even mixture of cigar smoke, stale beer, and piss. I’m afraid that piss is now in the lead by a fairly comfortable margin. That corner of the casino just reeks. However, the closer you get to the table games, the better the place smells. We opted for blackjack first and we sat at an empty $5 single deck game. We each bought in for a couple hundred, and I put ten bucks in the circle. My first bet was a winner, so we were off to a good start. The three of us pretty much owned the table for over an hour, and we had a great time catching up, telling jokes, and putting a dent in Binion’s liquor cabinet. I had broken even over the course of our run at the blackjack table, so I figured it was time to take a shot at the craps tables. A couple of the older dealers, Jim & Gilbert, saw me and waved me over to their table. It offered $3 minimum bets, so I bought in for a hundred. The table was a lot of fun, but I couldn’t get any numbers to repeat often enough, so it cost me about $150 for another hour’s worth of entertainment. I went back to the blackjack tables after that and rejoined the fellas, and although it was fun, the tide turned against us and we left with no need to color up. Since the quarter Elvis machine had such a huge progressive, we had to play it. We went back the same bank of them that we always play, the ones closest to the street, and sat down to take our shot at The King’s ransom. Eddie had the hot hand, but I couldn’t get anything. I hit the ‘Play Elvis’ once for 30 credits, but that played out in no time. Eddie hit a few more, but the object this weekend was to take home the jackpot, so we watched him play for a little longer. He hit several ‘Play Elvis’ spins, and finally cashed out for another $50. We decided to head to our home base at the Las Vegas Club, as Binion’s tables were a little cold to us that evening. We wandered through Mermaids on the way back, looking for the nickel Harley machines, but all they had were some quarter machines with the same dusty old yellow 883 Sportster that’s been sitting in there forever. We got our beads and left, tossing the coupons that they foisted upon us as a condition for receiving our plastic jewelry. Being that it was a Thursday night, there were plenty of $5 blackjack tables open at the Club. All were single deck, too, with decent rules for the player (The one exception is the single table touted as ‘Worlds Most Liberal 21’, which offered a bunch of gimmicky crap and paid even money on the ace-face). Anyhow, we played for a little while, making back a little bit that we’d lost earlier in the evening. Derek wanted to stay and make a run, but Eddie and I decided to wander a bit. We finally found the nickel Harley slots, two machines against the far wall. We both put in twenty bucks and quickly realized that this was no nickel machine. In order to win the progressive, you had to bet the maximum amount of 60 nickels. That’s three bucks a spin for you table gamers out there—not what I had envisioned. Not only did it hit your wallet for three bucks a pop, the machine was kind of ‘busy’—lots of lines, no explanation as to what combos win what. So we ran our twenty bucks each through it and walked away, resigned to the fact that if I ever own a Fat Boy, I’ll have to buy it from the dealer. Elvis is the King of slot machines, too, we’ve since decided. Eddie and I split up after that, and I was still feeling a little hot and a lot thirsty. I hadn’t made it over to La Bayou yet, but decided that I didn’t feel like leaving, so I went to the casino bar right there in the front of the LV Club instead. They also have tall slushy drinks, and for a mere $5.50, they’ll pour you the biggest damn mudslide you’ve ever seen. They’re even bigger than the ones at La Bayou, as they are not only taller, but they also have a bowl in the bottom that holds 24 more ounces. You gotta love having a Thirstbuster full of booze! I wandered over to a blackjack table where my drink was a big hit with everyone else. Even the dealer and pit critter didn’t know they offered drinks that big in their own casino. The gambling was a little choppy, but I got a kick out of holding up my drink and saying ‘No thanks—I’m good!’ every time the cocktail waitress came around. After awhile I decided to wander around a bit and saw Derek sitting at a $25 blackjack table, betting crazier than usual. I watched the show for a minute or two, and he told me that Eddie had already gone off to bed. I was headed in that direction myself, but somebody had put an open craps table between me and the elevator, so I had to take one more shot at recouping my losses. It was a $3 game, so I bought in for another hundred. It was just me and one other guy at the opposite end of the table, and we took turns rolling the dice for another hour. The waitress decided my mudslide was looking a little low so she kept bringing me smaller refills and dumping them in to freshen up my drink. My buzz was heating up along with the table, and I was making a bit of a comeback. I had a nickel chip on the hard six, which was the point, and when it hit I got a little excited and kicked my drink over. So now there’s a big brown stain under the craps table at the LV Club, courtesy of my hard way win. I stayed till my feet hurt and my eyes were heavy, and then stumbled off to the room, taking my new almost-empty souvenir change jar with me. When I got back to the room, Eddie was dozing in front of the SportsCenter highlights (yes, the LV Club finally got ESPN), but Derek was nowhere to be found, nor was his rollaway bed. Eddie told me that he’d taken a bit of a beating so far, and the Elvis machine was the only thing he’d made any money on. I was only down about $80 for the trip when I finally called it quits for the night. We woke up early the next morning, around 7 am, and noticed that Derek hadn’t come home that night. He’s a big boy, so we didn’t worry too much about it. Anyhow, we took our showers and got dressed, and decided that we wanted Binion’s coffee shop for breakfast. About the time Eddie was grabbing his room key, Derek burst through the door giggling like a madman, saying ‘I just won a thousand dollars!!!’ He hadn’t slept yet, but said he was ready for breakfast, so as we walked down Fremont Street he related the story of where he’d been the night before. When I last saw him, he was sitting at the $25 BJ table at the LV Club. Sometime in the middle of the night, he went back to Binions to play, and lost a good chunk of his winnings, so he came back to the LV Club and played at the same $25 table for about three hours straight. He said he was slowly winning a little bit for most of the morning, but got on a hot streak right there at the end and caught all the cards he needed. He said he didn’t lose a big bet ($100 or more) and actually hit a blackjack or two with a couple of monster bets out on the table. Of course he got a lot of heat for it, so as soon as he had 10 black chips, he walked. We were happy for him, and excited, thinking that some of his luck would rub off on us. Breakfast at the coffee shop was great, as usual, and of course I couldn’t finish my ‘Benny’s Natural’. It’s still $4.99, and one of the best breakfast values in Vegas—and that sourdough toast is fantastic. I believe Derek had an omelet, and Eddie had the Big Breakfast. It was fine meal to start us off for the day, and it came to less than $25 for the three of us. Nobody had remembered to ask for comp tickets the night before, but Derek offered to cover it with his ‘house money’. (My streak of not paying for food at Binion’s remained intact!) As soon as we got upstairs to the casino, we parked ourselves at the first open $5 blackjack table we saw. I was at first, Derek sat at third, and Eddie shagged flies in centerfield. Power on the corners, defense up the middle--just like Coach taught us. But this was a rough table, because the dealer hit everything out of the park. Derek wasn’t doing us any favors, as his all-night gambling and drinking binge was starting to catch up to him. I was counting from first base, and brought my bets down when the aces were out, but Derek kept increasing his bets. At one point, he put a stack of $75 worth of nickels out on the circle and I just couldn’t keep it inside--I didn’t care if we got tossed out--but I yelled for him to pull his bet back because there were no aces left in the deck. He wasn’t paying attention and it cost him big. He even doubled on a 12 against a dealer’s stiff card, got the face and busted, and the very next card gave the dealer a 21. We were all pretty pissed at him for that, so he said he’d sit out the next hand. He did, and the dealer got a blackjack! I finally wised up and left, down over $300. Derek was pretty high on our shit list by that time, and I saw him pull at least $1200 out of his wallet at that table, so we suggested that he go back to the room and get some sleep. Eddie and I moved on to other adventures—he went to the video poker machines, while I opted for craps. It was around noon, and I had nothing to do until around 2 pm, when I was supposed to meet Vegas Jer and Bazootch in the poker room, so I figured I’d try for a long roll at the dice tables. I played for awhile, but the table was rather choppy, so I lost a little bit at first. As I was standing at the end of the table, enjoying the game and sipping on free cocktails, a blonde-headed guy walked up to me and said, “Hey, are you Mikey?” He introduced himself as Doug (aka ‘Bazootch’) and said that he’d just been over to the Golden Gate for a shrimp cocktail, and was wandering around downtown and wanted to try and find me, so the first place he looked was at the craps pit at Binion’s. And there I was! Man, how bad is it when people I’ve never met before know where to find me? Anyhow, after the introductions were made, he said he had some more ‘sightseeing’ to do, so he’d just meet up with me and Jer at 2 pm over in the poker room. I played craps for another hour or so, and had one really good roll that made me a little money back, but I was playing at a $3 table betting only double and triple odds, so I didn’t really make a killing. Eddie found me when two o’clock rolled around, and we shuffled over to the poker room at Binion’s Horseshoe. Ah, the Mecca of the poker world. Some would say the room at the Bellagio is where it’s at, and yeah, it’s a nice room with a lot going for it. But the Bellagio poker room is the equivalent of PacBell Park, while Binion’s is more like the friendly confines of Wrigley Field--no better place to enjoy the game. I went to put our names on the board with everyone who said they’d be there to play, so I told the nice lady working the room that I needed to put a few names on the waiting list—Mikey, Eddie, Doug, Jer, Tammie, and Nate. Unfortunately, I was the only one there at the time, as Eddie ran off to the bathroom. So I took a seat in the deli and waited for an opening at a 1-4-8 Hold ‘Em table or somebody else to show up, whichever came first. It wasn’t long before I saw a guy lurking around with an old Padres cap on, so I yelled “JER!” and he came on over and joined me at the table. I gave him a brief recap of the trip so far, and he told me that he had just rolled in to town, and came straight from the Paris buffet. My name was at the top of the board, so I didn’t wait long before a seat opened up. Eddie decided that he’d probably lose if he sat down, so he took his name off the board and went back to the casino. Jer hung out waiting for a seat, and pretty soon Doug showed up, too. Within a half hour, the three of us were sitting at the same table, hoping to rake a few pots. I remember my first winning hand, where I had a King-high full house, and a gal with two pair raised me all the way to the river before she realized her mistake, so it was a nice hit to start the afternoon with. The table seemed a little tight, and my straight draws kept getting beat out by flush cards on Fourth Street and the River, so I folded a lot of promising hands that turned into junk. It was a slow grind that was costing me money. Not that it wasn’t a lot of fun—playing with Jer and Doug was a blast. One hand in particular stands out—I was dealt King-Nine, and the flop came up Nine-Six-King. Ok, I flopped the top two pair, so I started tossing money in the pot. A few people stayed in, one of them being our friend Bazootch. The Turn brought another nine, so I had my boat made, and everyone but Doug got out. Back and forth went the bets, and the pot was getting pretty big. I didn’t have the nut hand, but I figured that the best Doug had was a pair in the pocket, and since I had one of the Kings, my chances were pretty good. The river didn’t help me or hurt me, and Doug opened the betting. I raised, he re-raised. I raised him back. The rest of the table was looking forward to the showdown because there was an Everest of chips out there, and nobody wanted to blink. The rule is, ‘If you don’t lose a lot of money on trips (3 of a kind), you didn’t play the hand right’. So I went for it. Doug finally called me and I turned over my cards to reveal my boat, nines over kings. I held my breath, but it turns out he just had two pair! So I got the money and Doug got the experience, which was cool with me! He took a lot of good-natured ribbing about it from everyone else at the table, and when his wife showed up asking where all of his chips went, all he had to do was point to my rack. We played for a couple of hours, and Doug had a wedding to go to at the Venetian at 5 pm, and of course we were looking for a side bet at 4:15—taking action on if he’d actually have time to change clothes and get to the ceremony on time. He was pushing it, but won a couple of hands right at the end and took off with his chips replenished, while Jer and I stayed to grind it out. Tammie (CuGirl) and Nate showed up at one point and said hello, but they went to check into their room and said they’d meet up with us later. After we’d both lost about a hundred bucks, Eddie showed up, and I asked Jer if he wanted to give the craps tables a try. He was ready to go, so the three of us wandered the casino for a bit. We were pretty hungry, so we hit the snack bar instead. I’d been looking forward to it the whole day, so we sat down at the counter and ordered some good greasy food. Jer and I both had cheeseburgers and chili, and I can’t remember what Eddie had—a deli sandwich or something. It was great, though! Man, nothing hits the spot like a meal at the Horseshoe snack bar. They even give you free refills on the root beer. I left Eddie and Jer to fight over the tip, and I picked up the tab for everyone. It was less than $20, so for the good food and the cheap prices, this is another one of the best bargains in Vegas. We decided to head back over to the Las Vegas Club, as Jer needed to hit the safe in the room to get some more cash. I wanted to change clothes and put on my dice shirt for the meet later that evening. Jer got off the elevator and said he’d meet us back downstairs in the casino in a little while, while Eddie and I continued up to our room. We found Derek—he was passed out in his rollaway bed, oblivious to the fact that Eddie and I were stumbling around in the room cleaning up and getting ready for the evening. I was all for relaxing for a bit before we headed back downstairs, but Eddie was ready to go, so back to the casino we went. We sat down at a $5 single deck BJ table, and actually made money for a while. I kept my eye out for Jer, and after several hands, I saw him playing down at the craps table. Eddie and I both did ok, and decided to color up when they changed dealers and we were still ahead. By the time we got our chips and walked over to the craps table, Jer was gone. We never saw him again for the rest of the trip. Eddie and I split up—he went back for another try at the Elvis jackpot, and I found a new blackjack table, this time with a $10 limit. I was standing there playing against the dealer one-on-one, when I got another tap on the shoulder, and I turned around to see the hippest couple since Gene Simmons and Shannon Tweed. “Are you Mikey?” she asked. I responded with “You must be HoyaHeel!” Yep, it was HoyaHeel and HoyaHub, also known by their real names, Kelly and Dane. I colored up and we chatted for a few minutes, but they were on their way to dinner at the Great Moments Room, and I needed to run back upstairs and get my players card that I’d left on the nightstand. But we clicked immediately, and I knew we’d have a good time together later that night. We reconfirmed our plans to meet everyone at the craps tables two hours later, and then split up. Derek was still passed out, and I didn’t try to wake him, so I was in and out of the room in a hurry. I wondered if he’d actually get up at some point, but I figured as long as he was asleep, he couldn’t lose any more money. I went back down to the casino and played a few hands of hit-and-run blackjack, a quick craps bet, and ran a few singles through random slot machines, basically wasting time till the meet. Finally, around 7:40, I went back to the same $10 table I was on earlier, and made a couple more $20 bets. It was just me against the dealer, and I was on FIRE! I won my first two bets and it just improved from there. Dane & Kelly came back from dinner, and stood behind me, offering encouragement and cheering for my wins, and then Tammie & Nate showed up also. So there I was, standing at the blackjack table, going heads-up against the dealer, with a 4-person entourage behind me, throwing my hands up in victory after almost every bet. It was a sweet run of cards! And in the middle of it all, another guy walked up and asked me if I was Mikey, and he introduced himself as Kevin, Heather’s husband. I asked him who Heather was, and he said I’d probably know her as ‘Heathcat’. He pointed her out, and I waved. I told ‘em we’d get the party started in just a few minutes, as I had a few more hands of blackjack to win. I kept winning until another guy walked up to the table and started reaching for his wallet. I asked him to give me just a minute, as I was on a lucky streak. He waited until I lost 2 hands in a row, then I said “Table’s all yours buddy, good luck!” and I colored up for a quick $350 profit. We walked over to the craps table (the very same one were the ‘Teef’ story happened three years ago) and made all the introductions. Eddie, Derek, Me, Nate, Tammie, Kelly, Dane, Kevin, Heather, and a couple of their friends whose names I didn’t catch started rolling the dice. Just a few minutes later this very large guy walks up and joins us, asking if we were ‘Mikey and the Gang’. I wanted to say “No, we’re Kool & the Gang—Mikey & the Gang are on the next table!” but I resisted…He introduced himself as Clint, also known as Jolly Green Giant. He said he didn’t really know how to play craps, but he was willing to give it a try. So he squeezed in, got some change, and threw a few chips down on the felt. I thought we’d have a monster craps game, but it started out VERY choppy. I wanted to bet big on Hoya’s throws, being a dice virgin and all, but it didn’t work out as well as we’d hoped. My roll started out ok, as I rolled a couple of sevens and elevens immediately and made everyone a few bucks, and then set the point at nine. Very next toss—Winner nine!!! Ok, I was feeling it! There was a little bit of pressure from the end of the table as Heather was saying “Come on Mikey, lets have another Imperial Palace roll!!!!”, but I couldn’t deliver—I sevened out pretty quickly. The dice went around the table, and I was happy that Heather’s cutie friend with the curly hair had a decent roll that made me a few bucks back. About 45 minutes into the game, another guy came up to the table and asked the question of the weekend, “Hey man, are you Mikey?”—this time it was the legendary Booger! We made the introductions, and he said he’d play blackjack with us later, as craps just wasn’t his game. He wandered off to do what only Booger does in Vegas, and I secretly wanted to follow him around for awhile, just to see. I told him that I DEFINITELY wanted to play blackjack with him later that night, though. The dice kept moving around the table, and the chips kept moving out of my rack. With few exceptions, the Travel2Vegas Gang was turning into the sorriest bunch of tossers in the casino. We couldn’t hit anything. Then Kevin got the dice. And he kept them. For a looooong time. It was one of those rolls that you always hear about and always want to participate in. He hit everything. Several times. Before long, they were paying me off in quarters instead of nickels. He hit the hardways a couple of times, and my rack was turning greener than a Sierra Club porta-john! It was a beautiful roll that brought us all back to the positive. There was a huge round of applause for Mr. Heathcat when it finally ended. Somewhere in the middle of all that, Bazootch showed up, just back from the wedding, braggin’ about his free dinner at Delmonico. We were all pretty jealous, because he sure made it sound good. The dice came back to me again, and as I was shooting, Hoya busted me checking out a hottie that was walking across the pit from us. I hit my point, and she called me out by asking “So do you hit your point every time you think about boobs?” I responded with “If that was the case, I’d be hittin’ a helluva lot more points!” Of course, all the guys at the table nodded in agreement. Apparently, I didn’t have enough boobs to think about, because my second roll was pretty quick—Set another point, seven out. “It’s like the ladies tell me, if ya can’t be good, be quick!” The game broke up after almost exactly two hours, and I think most of us made a little money thanks to Kevin. We colored up and stood around talking for awhile, and of course Doug went and bought everyone more of those huge mudslides to drink. Before long, we found our way to a blackjack table, and it was a great one. Me, Derek, Eddie, Booger, Bazootch, and Jolly Green Giant all sat down to play together, with the Hoya’s hanging out behind us chit-chatting with Tammie and Nate. It was a pretty good table, and we all made a few bucks for about an hour. It might’ve been a little too good, as the pit boss brought in the closer, so we all colored up at once. Jolly Green had an appointment to go see the Ladies, Booger wanted to move on to another casino, and well, the rest of us just wanted to sit around and drink, which we did. A disturbing trend I noticed was that every time Hoya was standing behind me while I was gambling, I won. Hmmmm… The party kind of moved over to the Elvis machines before it broke up, and Derek, Eddie, and I took another run at the progressive. We played for awhile, getting just enough bonus credits to keep us in the game. I counted up the cash in my wallet and realized I was up almost $300 for the trip. I should’ve stopped there… Elvis took the rest of our credits, and Derek suggested we go play a ‘Real’ game, so we headed over to the $25 single deck game. It was empty, so the three of us bought in for $400 each. That brought the pit crew over in a hurry. It was a decent table for about 45 minutes, as I was up a little, but couldn’t really get on a run. Doug came walking back by, and was a little hesitant at first, but we peer-pressured him into sitting down. He bought in for a couple hundred and gave the pit boss his driver’s license. Immediately the cards turned cold, and Doug got taken out before he got his players card back. I should’ve taken the hint and bailed, but I stayed in the ring and took punch after punch. I was like Rocky in his first match against Clubber Lang. I just kept walking into the dealer’s right cross and didn’t have sense enough to throw in the towel. Every time I split or doubled down, he would pull a five-card 21 out of his nether regions. Every time I bet big because all the aces were still in the deck, that’s when he’d get the first one. It was an ass-kicking of the highest magnitude. I kept thinking I’d wake up with Smokey standing over me yelling “YOU GOT KNOCKED THE F*CK OUT!!!!” I got up and left after losing about $700 in one sitting, and I was pissed. Too angry to go to bed, I wandered the casino, looking for that elusive midget hooker Bazootch had been obsessing over the whole trip. No luck. I didn’t even see any full-size hookers. Before I went to bed, I decided to take one more shot, so I went to a different table, gave the dealer a hundred bucks, and asked for 4 green chips. Man, I got knocked out of that game faster than a fat kid playing dodgeball. The dealer dealt himself—in this order—Blackjack, Blackjack, 3-card 21, 4-card 21. I couldn’t frickin’ believe it. I had just experienced an hour of the WORST cards in the history of gambling. I was so damn mad, I stormed out of the LV Club and walked up to Binion’s. My first order of business there was to get a drink. Or two. I don’t quite remember. The craps tables were pretty full, so I just kept on walking. I ended up at the very last blackjack table before the stairs down to the coffee shop. Before I was dealt my first hand, Derek wandered up and sat down. I hadn’t seen him in about an hour, but his tale of woe was not much different than mine. It was only a $10 table, but I played two spots and lost them both. Ok, down another forty bucks just like that. No aces out yet, so I put $25 in my circle. Dealer pulled a blackjack. At that point, it was almost comical. I decided not to fight it anymore, and just resigned myself to the realization that some days you’re the windshield and some days you’re the bug. I left the table and told Derek I was heading back to bed. As I was walking to the cage, I thought the best way to improve my grouchy disposition and take advantage of my buzz was to wander through the Horseshoe singing “Papa loves Mambo…” It worked, and after a minute or two I was feeling much better. I actually saw Jack Binion walking by, and said to him ‘Hey Jack, I love what you’ve done with the museum, the Vermier is …quite good…” He just kept walking and I realized I should’ve maybe stopped drinking a little earlier. Anyhow, as I was standing in line at the cage, I saw Becky in there too. I wanted to say something clever, but I couldn’t come up with anything, so I just got my $35 and headed back to the Las Vegas Club. Clark Griswold had nothing on me, except for the fact that I stopped when I ran out of cash. No trips to the cage to cash traveler’s checks, no trip to the ATM with Jimi Hendrix turned up in the background. I was finished. Head hung low in shame; I went back up to the room for the night. Eddie was still up when I got there, and told me he was down almost a grand for the trip. I was down over $800. Derek showed up a few minutes later and said he was down ten bills also. The unfortunate thing was that all of mine happened in the last two hours of the day. None of us were happy when we finally fell asleep. Saturday morning we woke up around 10 am. We were all moving pretty slowly due to our bad beatings that we’d taken the night before. We figured that our breakfast would be comped after the carnage of the previous night, so we went to the Upper Deck cafÃ© to get a bite to eat. It was quite crowded, and we had to stand in line for a few minutes before we got a table. The hostess finally seated us, dropped off ONE menu on the table and said “Sorry, we only have one menu”, and just walked off. We all looked at each other like “What the hell?” and just took turns looking at the menu. It was rather weird. One menu? Like for the entire restaurant? I mean, not EVERYONE is going to need one at the same time…It took a minute before that one sunk in, but I guess that answers the questions about the new owners of the Las Vegas Club. Yep—cheap. I’ve now eaten at the Upper Deck a few times, and the only consistent thing about the place is the sketchy service. The food is hit-or-miss, it’s not the cleanest place I’ve ever been, and the staff is a veritable Who’s Who of the tough-to-employ. Luckily the food was very good this time—I had pancakes and bacon, Eddie had a waffle, and Derek had bacon and eggs. His only complaint was that his portion of eggs was way too small. The breakfast tab was only $19, and we just signed it to our room. I noticed on the menu—when it was my turn to read it—how they’re really trying to go for the Hawaiian business. They had the island favorites like fried spam and such, and also the “recommendations” were labeled with the ‘Hang Loose’ sign. I still like the LV Club, but as far as the Upper Deck goes, avoid it unless you have a comp. After breakfast, we went back down to the casino to try and reclaim some of our money. The pit boss saw us sit down at the $5 table and came over and asked us why we weren’t playing on the “big” table that morning. I bought a hundred bucks worth of chips and told him that after the fisting they gave us the night before, we were content to spend some time down here in the red-chip ghetto. He laughed at that and wished us luck. Unfortunately, there was no luck to be found, and I was down another $155 before I realized that the bad streak had carried over from the night before. At that point I decided that I had a better shot over at Binion’s, so I headed down the street to the poker room. They opened another 1-4-8 Hold ‘Em table just as I got there, so we started a new game. It was quite the experience spending the entire afternoon playing poker at the ‘Shoe. Doug even joined me for awhile, but I didn’t get any more of his chips. I raked my share of pots, but had 3 bad beats in a row—I lost a Sixes over Kings full house to a guy that had pocket aces. I had 2 pair Ace/King that got beat by a straight on the river, and my three aces got beat by a flush I didn’t see coming…It was a rough game for a little while, and cost me about a hundred bucks. Just a crummy run of cards—I only made a couple of mistakes that afternoon, but I spent a lot of time holding the second place hand. One of the other guys at the table said “Man, looks like a hurricane just went through your stack of chips, Mikey”, and I asked him where he’d heard that. He said “I saw you holding court at the craps table yesterday—you’re a celebrity” I had no idea who he was, but I figured Bazootch had been telling him stories. He was pretty cool, and made the table a little more enjoyable. About mid-afternoon, I was starving, but didn’t really want to eat because we had reservations at Blackstone’s that night. Finally, after a run of crummy cards, I thought I should take a break. The gal in the poker room was kind enough to give me a comp ticket for the snack bar, and I managed to get another bowl of chili and a hotdog to tide me over until dinner. I saw a few interesting things while I was playing poker that day. I saw one jackass get eighty-sixed from the place for just being a moron—cussing at the dealers, berating other players. It was fun to watch, and more fun to see him get tossed. There was also a shooting just outside the doors, so security went into a tizzy and locked that end of the building down. I thought, “Better a shooting out there than in here…” Doug finally left after a couple of hours, and the table broke up shortly thereafter. Since I was last man standing, they gave me the next available seat at the other game. Man, I wished I would’ve been there all day. There was one rube there that had obviously NEVER played poker in a casino before—likely having been inspired by all of the World Poker Tour broadcasts on the Travel Channel to throw his wallet in the ring. Not only that, there were a couple of other obvious beginners there, too. There were a couple of problems though—I was running out of time, as I had to be back at the hotel getting ready for dinner by 6 pm, and I couldn’t get any FRICKIN cards! 9-4, 7-2, 2-4…all junk. I needed some kind of hand to have a shot at the guy’s pile of chips, but I kept having to fold. I mean, this guy kept raising during one play, and when they declared, he turned over 8-3—a nothing hand with no pairs. He said ‘Well at least I scared all the rest of you out’. I was like, ‘Jackass, you gotta scare EVERYONE out for that shit to work, and that ain’t gonna happen in a 4-dollar poker game!” There were about five real ‘players’ at the table and we all had the unspoken communication going on that we were going to take this clown’s money. It was getting close to 6 pm, and I was running low on chips. I told myself “Last hand”, and just then the sucker asked the dealer if he could make a phone call at the table. The dealer told him he had to go out of the poker room to make the call, and I whispered to the guy next to me, “Great, this is the hand I get pocket aces”. I’ll be DAMNED if the dealer didn’t hit me with the pocket rockets 30 seconds later! I tried not to grin, and put as many chips in play as I could. I ended up going all in, and lost to pocket jacks when a jack came up on the river. When I had to show my cards, the guy next to me just freaked out and started laughing like he was going to choke. “You called it man, you called it!!!” Yeah, I called it all right. I ended up losing about $200 in the poker room that day, but I had a great time, regardless. I scurried back to the hotel room, thinking that if the other guys were still down like I was, they were probably going to try and talk me out of going down to the strip that night. We had reservations at Blackstone’s at 8:30 for five people, and we had to meet Tammie and Nate by quarter till eight. Luckily they were still up for having a nice dinner, so we stuck with our original plan. We took turns showering and shaving, and then we got dressed in our ‘nice’ clothes. Eddie forgot to bring any dark socks, so he was white-sockin’ it with his slacks and dress shoes. Nice. So of course we had to call him ‘Cousin Eddie’ for the rest of the night. We met up with Tammie and Nate down in the Keno Lounge, and tried to get a cab to take us to Monte Carlo. It took us a few minutes of wandering around before we found a cab that would take all five of us at once, but we managed to make it to the hotel with ten minutes to spare. The fare from the California to the Monte Carlo was just about $20 even, plus the tip. It was Saturday night, so the casino at the MC was packed. We noticed that the crowd there was just a bit more attractive than the group downtown, and we told ourselves that yes, eventually, we will be staying on the Strip again, if only for the better scenery. Blackstone’s was very crowded that evening, but since we’d had reservations for almost a month, we only had to wait a few minutes for a table. The restaurant, although very nice, was a little noisier than I expected—none of it was casino noise, however. Eddie is the wine drinker of our group, so he picked out a bottle of really good Cabernet that Derek and I shared with him. Tammie and Nate opted to take a break from drinking that evening. The meal started out with a basket of warm bread, which we nibbled on while we looked over the menu. We didn’t order appetizers, but opted for soup or salad. I was looking forward to their French onion soup, but then I saw the lobster bisque, and ordered that instead. It was sooooo good—very creamy, with a big hunk of lobster in the middle of the bowl. For the main course, I ordered a medium-rare rib eye, which came bone-in style, and it was very tender. I also had a side of garlic-mashed potatoes. Derek had the New York Strip, which looked really good—it was thicker than a Tom Clancy paperback—with a side of sautÃ©ed mushrooms that were a hit with everyone at the table. Eddie had lamb chops with asparagus, and when Derek pointed to the ramekin of mint jelly and asked what it was, Eddie, already classed-up in his white socks, yelled “Jello Shot!” Tammie also had the rib eye and mashed potatoes, while Nate had salmon with scalloped potatoes. Tammie and I also shared a dish of fresh horseradish that gave our steaks a little extra zip. The entrÃ©es came with a couple of steamed baby carrots, and what I thought was sautÃ©ed cabbage or something, but turned out to be onions with a red-wine glaze. Oh man, was it ever tasty. We made a toast to good friends and good times and enjoyed our fantastic meal. We decided that a fancy dinner at a steakhouse is now a Vegas tradition for all future trips. There was a bridal party at the table next to us, and the bridesmaid looked like a potential soul mate for Derek, but she never gave our table a second look. There was another couple across from us that we got a kick out of watching. Apparently, they’d had a few bottles of wine with dinner, and the wife had the thousand-yard-stare going on while trying to avoid falling face down into her plate. They managed to walk out under their own power, however. Dinner was great, and we were so full we didn’t bother with the dessert cart, although it looked wonderful. Tammie and Nate had a separate check, but the tab for the three of us came to $191 plus tip. I thought it would be a lot more, so we were pleasantly surprised by the total. The entire meal experience took about an hour and a half, and we were glad we were finally spending money on something other than stiff cards. After dinner, Tammie and Nate said they wanted to try and catch a show somewhere, so Eddie, Derek, and I wandered the Monte Carlo for a few minutes. They actually had a few $5 and $10 shoes open on a Saturday night, so we were impressed with that, along with the fact that most of their cocktail waitresses were younger than 50 years old. Overall, our evening at the Monte Carlo was a positive experience. We were going to gamble there, but decided we wanted to give the LV Club some more action and get some of our bill wiped off, so we went outside to catch a cab downtown. There was a small line at the cabstand, and no cabs anywhere in sight. So we waited in the heat and humidity (there had been a thunderstorm earlier that afternoon), standing around in our uncomfortable shoes. Finally, a couple of cabs showed up, and the guy standing there ignoring us for the past few minutes opened the door and shoved his hand out looking for a tip. I think Eddie gave him a dollar, but for whatever reason, I hate tipping that guy. He doesn’t do anything, and adds no value to my taxicab experience. I’m normally a big tipper, even more so while in Vegas, but those cabstand guys are just a tax I’d rather not pay. When we told the cab driver that we wanted to be dropped off downtown at the turnaround between Binion’s and Mermaids, he told us that his wife was a host at the Horseshoe. I asked what her name was, and it turns out she was the same person who comped my room last October. Small world, huh? Anyhow, since we were talking about the ‘Shoe, and his wife was an insider, I asked him what Jack Binion was doing there, seeing how he only owns about 1% of the place, and has all those other Horseshoe casinos down south to keep him busy. The cabbie told us that it’s not official, but word is that Becky will likely declare bankruptcy in the next few weeks and transfer control to Jack. He told us that her credit is no good anywhere in the city—she can’t buy toilet paper without cash up front. Man, that info made my day—I sure hope that’s the case, because I LOVE the Horseshoe, and it’s definitely been slipping over the past year or so. I’d love to see the place return to its former glory. While we were talking, the cabbie took a wrong turn and we ended up over on Frank Sinatra Boulevard out past Mandalay Bay, so when we finally got back downtown, he took a few bucks off our fare. We didn’t go back to Binion’s that night, just walked back down to the LV club. I had about $60 left in my gambling budget for the day, and considered just calling it a trip as far as gambling was concerned. I went to talk to a floor person about some comps, while Eddie and Derek wandered off. We ended up getting our room rate knocked down to $30 per night, and all of our food comped, also. The pit manager, floor supervisor, and shift manager all gave me their business cards and told me to call them personally before our next trip, and they’d take care of us. It looks like we’ll be making another trip to the LV Club next March. After the business was taken care of, I found Eddie and we went back over to take another run at the Elvis jackpot. If we didn’t win the thing, it sure wasn’t from lack of trying. Derek showed up a few minutes later, and we pooled our resources, trying to win the big one. Dane and Hoyaheel wandered by a few minutes later—they had just come back from seeing Mama Mia at the Mandalay Bay. So they hung out with us while we all played on one slot machine. Doug also showed up again and stopped to talk. We got down to our last three credits, and I said “Ok guys, here is where we win it” and pulled the handle. Triple Bar, Triple Bar, Triple Bar—Eighty more credits! So we stayed, and Hoya pointed out once again that I win whenever she’s hovering behind me. We hit a few more ‘Play Elvis’ reels. It was Eddies turn to hit the spin button, and luckily for us, it landed on ‘Battle Hymn of the Republic’—400 credits! We actually played that up to 600 credits and finally cashed out for $50 each. Not bad for a $15 investment. After a brief visit to the cage to get our ticket cashed, we sat down at a blackjack table for about an hour, where I managed to make $35. I said goodbye to Kelly, Dane, and Doug, and later moved to another table where I lost a quick hundred and decided that my gambling was over for the trip. When I got back up to the room, Derek and Eddie were already there, and told me that they’d both lost well over a grand each. I was down $1200 myself, so this was a less than successful trip to Vegas, as far as gambling was concerned. We sure had a great time, though. I slept in the next morning till about 9:30. Derek was already up and dressed when I woke up, and said he’d gone back to the casino for a couple hours and managed to make back about $400. I considered it for a few minutes, but figured I’d better not risk it. We showered, got dressed, and packed up the room. We took the luggage down to the bell desk and checked out, opting for breakfast over at the Horseshoe instead of the Upper Deck. We stopped at the pit first, and gave our players cards to the boss, asking if they could buy us breakfast. They did, and they also gave Eddie a free room three weeks from now because he’s got to come back for a wedding for someone in his girlfriend’s family. That was nice of them, because I didn’t gamble as much as I usually do at the Horseshoe. We got a table immediately, and I had my usual Benny’s Natural. No coffee for me, I had to be on airplanes all day long. But we had a nice enjoyable final meal in Vegas, compliments of the pit boss. We had a $30 comp ticket, and not only did we not spend it all, we couldn’t finish the stuff they brought us. Binion’s coffee shop is definitely on my list of breakfast favorites. After we ate, we decided to all throw another $20 into the Elvis jackpot—we didn’t win the big prize, but we sure had a lot of fun trying for it. Before long, it was noon, so we decided it was time to head out. We got Derek’s car out of the valet, packed all of the luggage in the back, and squeezed Eddie into the back seat. I was halfway tempted to ride back to Phoenix with them, but opted for the airport drop-off instead. I had a 3-hour wait for my plane, and my flights were changed up, also, but it worked out that I had the absolute Hottest. Girl. Ever. sit next to me all the way to Dallas, so it made the flight more enjoyable. She told me that her and her boyfriend spent the whole weekend eating at nice places, going to shows, and clubbing, and only gambled away $10. It was a definite contrast to my weekend with the gang. I finally made it back to Nashville around 11:30 that night, went straight to bed, and had to get up at 6:30 for work on Monday morning. It was a tough day, but well worth it. I had a lot of great memories, made lots of new friends, and I hope to see them all again really soon. Mikey Observations: • Derek says he won’t gamble at the Horseshoe ever again. He’s lost too much money there, and he saw the pit bosses encouraging the dealers to pay the drunks off with green chips on $10 bets, taking back a nickel, hoping they’d bet more. • We figured out why the Horseshoe and LV Club give away all the free matchbooks—No exhaust fans in the bathrooms. • There is MUCH more ‘talent’ on the Strip than there is downtown • Me and Eddie only played craps together twice the whole weekend. I played a lot more blackjack this trip than normal • The ‘Siegfried and Roy’ joke never got old whenever somebody flipped over two queens. It was said dozens of times. • I had one really hot roll at Binion’s where after I finally sevened out, everyone at the table passed the dice and they came right back to me. Of course my next roll was crummy. • I didn’t smoke a single cigar this whole trip • I only gambled in two places the whole weeked—Binion’s and the Las Vegas Club. Hoya says I’m definitely in a rut. • I got to eat Binion’s chili twice this trip. Awesome. Bazootch ordered a bowl, and they carded him. I don’t know what’s in it, but apparently you have to be 21 to eat it. • Dora, the cocktail waitress at the LV Club, has the hots for me. Ask anyone. • I don’t think I’ll be able to make it back until next March. I hope Hoya, Dane, Doug, Jer (if anyone finds him), Heathcat, Booger, and Jolly Green Giant can all make it out again. I had a blast meeting everyone. • Financially, this was a losing trip, but it was one of the most memorable. I really had a great time • I kind of have an idea what ‘Kelly Drunk’ means • Derek pointed out the reason we lost so much is that we were actually on the 13th floor, it was just labeled 14.