Intro This was a 4 day solo trip from 20-24 Aug. I arrived on Tuesday AM and left on Saturday PM. I’m a middle-aged, middle-class, middle-American and downtown-kinda guy. I go to Vegas to gamble. I play where I stay. I enjoy a good meal and love live entertainment, but they have food and shows in plenty of places outside of Vegas. I prefer a good value when I gamble so I play positive expectation games (VP is my Jones) at places you’d expect. I stayed 2 days at MSS (first time) then 2 days at the 4 Queens. I had a free ticket to LV via airline miles and I get plenty of marketing offers for free rooms at downtown properties. This was the pretext for this trip – hey it’s free. You big sucker. Day 1 (Tue) Let the games begin I arrive in LV at 11 AM on Tue. My bag beat me to the baggage claim carousel. Well done Delta! Took the WAX downtown. Good value and I don’t feel I’ve been ripped off by being long-hauled. Check-in at MSS and get a new player’s card. I play for 2 hours (quarter VP) down a little and grab a late lunch in the buffet. I think it’s certainly the best downtown buffet and when you factor in the cost vs. strip buffys it’s a very good value. I eat light. I’m training for a race and need to keep the weight off, which of course sort of defeats the purpose of a buffet. I play for a few more hours grinding out a small profit, and downing a beer every 30 minutes or so. I’m going to have to do a lot of running penance for this fun. I take a walk to clear the cob-webs and wander down the Fremont street experience. Today I intend to stay downtown so I look to see if there are any DT shows worth seeing a the Tix-4-Tonight booth. Nothing tickles my fancy. I slept poorly last night so I’m really tired. I laid down for “a nap” at 7 PM. I dream of chainsaws and lawn mowers as I drift in and out of sleep to the incessant drone of loud highway noise. Day 2 (Wed) Let the losing continue I wake up at 5 AM. Try to fall back asleep and watch some tube. Waste of time. I get up, get coffee from Mickey Ds (the stuff at the casino tastes like pencil shaving strained through a dirty sweat sock) and gamble a couple of hours. Eventually I grab a paper and enjoy a leisurely breakfast at the MSS buffy. At 8:30, I go to 24 hour fitness and workout for an hour. A day-pass costs $25. No subsequent day discounts anymore. This is a decent little gym and a better value than any other option I can find downtown. Their free weight area is sloppy though. After getting cleaned-up I begin today’s quest. A 2.5 hour gambling session leaves me down $110. I decide to wander a little for a lunch choice. I need something fairly light. I get a Cobb salad at Magnolia’s. Decent enough for the cost. I check out the tix-for-tonight. I previously read a nice review of the Phat Pack at the Plaza so I decided to give it a shot. I like the showroom there and the price of this late afternoon show was $28 all in. By the way, this is $15 cheaper than buying directly at the Plaza box office. However, the tix-4-tonight pricing does not seem as good a value in general to me as in the past. To continue my break from the losing, I check out the mob museum. The post office/court house where this is located is a historic building, the site of one of the Kefauver mob hearings from the 50’s. The exhibits make very good use of multi-media, video/audio/displays/tactile. They have a very good sized crowd. One gal let her toddler run amok, screeching like a howler monkey. I wonder what Bugsy would have done to that bad mom. Big picture I think this is a nice distraction and the $20 entry fee likely saved me $80 in VP losses. The staff is a little over anxious but they’re trying. If you’re aware of this subject, read books and see movies about it, much of the material will be familiar. I nap for 1 hour then start the assault on fort Royal again. I double my earlier loss. I call it a session at 4:30 and head over to the Plaza. Being solo I don’t really care where I sit but the crowd is so light, I am seated in a booth front and center. The show was a gentle, sweet distraction. Deserving of the LVRJ’s “A” grade, the show has talented performers in a classic venue. If you’ve seen much theater in Vegas you know the performers. A lead from Forever Plain and a Phantom lead. This show is more than worth the price of admission. I amble back to play 2 more hours before dinner. I lose a little, I win absolutely nothing. I enjoy my Corona’s. I don’t remember dinner. I wander the Fremont Street Experience, marveling at the nonsense people will waste their time on. My favorite is an obvious Anglo, with a native-American costume and native-American marionette. While drums play on his boom box, he bounces little Tonto up and down for tourists’ pocket change. While watching this entertainment pollution, a little tear came to my eye. I scoot back for more micro brew and VP at MSS. It seems like I blink my eyes and it’s midnight. Sleepy-bye. 8 hours of total play today and I’m down half my bankroll. I dream of a loud construction site, while the highway noise keeps me always on the verge of waking up. Day 3 (Th) Moving Day/Tilt I wake up fully at 4 AM. Grrr, I wish I could oversleep. Coffee and a light breakfast of 2 powerbars. I take a run. Down 3rd to Las Vegas blvd and then down the strip. At the Mirage I turn around and head back. The only the things I see are homeless people (some sleeping, some wandering) and lots of cats. Maybe this is the only time they can move around in the desert environment but there are lots of them and they’re active as hell. The cats that is, not the homeless people. A metro cop is arresting some miscreant near the Stratosphere . No doubt a tattoo related dispute. On the way back I return downtown via Main Street. It’s just getting light out and there are some unsavory characters I avoid. As the sun comes up I realize I do not want to ever run in the desert sun. This road has lots-o bail bondsmen, pawn shops, dollar stores, a dialysis clinic and plenty of barbed wire. Precisely the gritty ambiance I was hoping for. When I get back I grab a paper and shower up. Breakfast is at the MSS buffet. It’s free so I have no complaints but breakfast foods are pretty limited. It does the job though. Better gamble before the day gets away from me. I liked everything about the MSS except the road noise. Every employee was universally nice to me and gave great service. I like the bars and restaurants. That said, I couldn’t stay there again because of the highway noise. At eleven I check out and amble over and check-in at the 4Qs. I hit the floor and start playing. VP, Beer, Repeat. At 3 PM, I realize I’m hungry. I step into the Chicago brewing company for their happy hour. Meh. Decent beer, so-so food. Even on the cheap I wouldn’t go out of my way to snack here. Time to play some more. Vp, beer, repeat. I am getting, alhg ,gn ghoa drunk. I bought a ticket to Veronica the impressionist at Bally’s online for $2.5. So I have to go to the strip. Not my favorite place. Too many drunken twenty-somethings getting tattoos and throngs of humanity walking aimlessly. I am so drunk I don’t dare try. In fact I am on tilt. Off to bed before I boot. I don’t remember the time but it wasn’t that late. Day 4 (Fr) Recover I wake up in excruciating pain at 4 AM. Even the slightest movement makes me feel like I’m about to heave. It takes 3 hours to get moving and not feel terrible. No more beer for me. I go to Magnolias for breakfast and every golfer in Las Vegas is having their eggs trying to get to the links before the sun comes out full force. The harried waiter does an awful job. I haven’t stiffed anyone in a long time. He deserved it. I had planned a jaunt to Texas station but that’s not happening. I gamble and recover. That’s a weird sentence I’ll probably have to repeat in therapy some day. I have a salad in Magnolias for lunch. After another couple of hours gambling I’m recovered enough to hit the gym again. I come back, clean up and nap. If I don’t have a session of gambling right about now, I won’t be able to claim I gambled all day. So I do. I plan on a good meal this PM so I consult Yelp with the search term ‘steak’. The flame at El Cortez looks fine. Nice, not stuffy. On the walk down FSE to the ElCo, I see the new slotzilla under construction. That structure is really something, at least 6 stories of structural steel. I also notice the gentrification starting between the FSE and the ElCo. That block used to be strictly pawn shops and dollar stores. Now there are some trendy bits growing up in there. Dinner was good, I had the bone in rib-eye and creamed spinach. It’s 11PM Friday night on the FSE. It’s not hell, but it’s the same zip code. The image still burned into my brain, is a man holding a two year old up over his head to hear a heavy metal band 15 feet in front of them. The little tot is head banging and holding up devil horns on both hands. It would likely save time if we could measure him for a little prison jump suit now. There is a real cross section of humanity out tonight. Mostly tourists, but also a collection of bums, “performers” and sundry hustlers. The place is packed and a couple of bad bands are blazing away at the FSE stages. There are go-go dancers at the Golden Gate and LVC. I walk into the LVC to see how the wounds are healing. Plenty of visible scabs. A portion of the front casino is now a gift shop selling cheap trinkets and the rear casino has been walled off. This place is more diminished every time I see it. This is the place I hit my first royal, so it’s sadder still to see it slowly die. I give them a little play for old time’s sake and hit deuces. It was a hand-pay and it seemed like it took forever to get paid. I asked the gal if they needed other patrons to lose enough to cover my tiny jackpot. It made her laugh. I try to find someplace to settle and gamble but there’s an unending throng of people, everyplace I sit, bumping my chair and making me want to call it a night. At mid-night I do. Day 5 (Sa) Time to go home. Up before the sun. Coffee and powerbars. Out to Las Vegas blvd and down the strip. At Bally’s I turn around and head back. I clean up, grab a paper and head over to the Plaza for breakfast at hash house a go-go. It’s about 7 AM and two different bums have already set up shop on the FSE. Beggers with a work ethic, I like it. Breakfast was good and very filling. I check out the Plaza and the sports book remodel looks very great. It was about time, it had started to look like someone’s basement with the oversized couches and always had a dirty feel to it. Anyone else want to jump on the horse statue near the exit? Maybe that’s just me. I make a stop in each DT casino I haven’t visited so far this trip. No big wins or loses to speak of. The exterior of the Golden Gate is looking very nice. Only the side and rear were complete while I was there. If the FSE facing portion is comparable it should be attractive. I take the WAX to the airport. The bus stop near the entrance to Binions is clean and has two pseudo security guards helping bus riders. It’s all very well organized and feels safe. In our new green world more people will hopefully ride busses. I have to admit you do see some colorful folks on the bus. A rotund gal (she filled 2 seats) kept shouting , “do ‘ya feel me” into her cell phone. I assume the answer was yes, since I felt her when she just walked up and down the aisle on the bus. Saturday afternoon is the perfect time to leave this town. The airport is nearly empty. I skate through security and every seat in the exit rows are empty. The Delta flight staff was very nice coming through the cabin at least 6 times on our 3.5 hour trip.