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October 2014 LV-LA-Laughlin Trip Report - Finding Diamonds in the Desert

Discussion in 'Vegas Trip Reports' started by zignerlv, Oct 20, 2014.

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  1. zignerlv

    zignerlv Low-Roller

    Aug 29, 2006
    Trips to Las Vegas:

    My Trip Report

    This here is a copy of the text of my trip report. The full page with 90+ pictures can be found at


    We flew out on Southwest nonstop and I had seating numbers A57/59 which we thought was great, but then we witnessed an "invasion" of wheelchairs like was never seen before. There were no less than 12 wheelchairs, plus the other people in their parties which would be preboarding. I joked that A59 might be the last to board with all the priority boarders. What was worse is that they did not anticipate all the wheelchair demand, and the whole process of wheelchair boarding was so delayed that we left about 40 minutes late, even though the plane was there in plenty of time before our departure.


    The trip was supposed to start with a stay at Caesars, but a week before the trip, I received an email from Bellagio offering me 2 comp nights on certain days, two of which were the first two nights, so I changed it up to Bellagio. A comp room there was something on my LV goals list. Since this might end up being the only time we stay there, I tipped at check in to ensure a fountain view room, and got a great view. For those that never stayed there, you can turn the TV to channel 22 to hear the audio from the fountain show as you watch it from your room. A nice touch.

    We ate that night at Bellagio buffet, comped thanks to a MyVegas award, as well as getting some free play there from the same program. I know the popular trend is to bash the Bellagio buffet for "going downhill" but it is still one of our favorites. Sea bass costs over $20 a pound, but you can get all you want here at the buffet.

    Bellagio is a magnet for Europeans, and during my VP play there, not one person sitting near me was speaking English, a far cry from the Sam's Town local granny crowd that we would mingle with later in the trip.

    I played VP there for a couple of hours and hit a straight flush while cashing out for just a small loss.

    The first morning we went to Palace Station for breakfast using a comp for 2 MyVegas award. As usual, the buffet line there can be quiet long. Be prepared. The pineapple was surprisingly good. In our seating area was a large Chinatown bus group, which was heading back to California at this early hour, including the driver who was in uniform.

    We spent some time at the Bellagio fitness center, which is complimentary to guests, and later, a visit to the pools. I took some pictures of the Conservatory from just outside the fitness center entrance, which is adjacent on the 2nd floor, giving a different perspective than usual.

    Next, we went to Caesars to the Diamond lounge. I was really disappointed that they got cheap with their "chicken wings", which are no longer wings. I should have taken a picture to document, but these were no ordinary chicken wings, but instead small bones with a round ball of chicken attached at the top. Nothing like I have ever seen before. Come on, you are Caesars Palace! Don't your supposed VIP guests deserve real chicken wings?

    This was followed by a comp meal at Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill, paid with Diamond Card Anniversary voucher. As usual, dinner was great and reasonably priced. We had a great view of the food station from our table.

    I used my one complimentary Caesars Resorts Diamond monthly show ticket offer to get a ride for two on the High Roller Observation wheel at night. It was amazing being so high that you would be looking down at all the high rise hotels. The other thing that was unexpected is how you get on and off the ride while it is still moving. The platform around the wheel at the base is curved to match the curvature of the path of the wheel, so you are just stepping across on an even surface.

    LA Trip

    The next morning we woke early for our side trip journey. We were driving to LA to see a taping of the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. This is just about our favorite TV program, and we wanted to see a taping before he leaves the show in December. I made sure to get tickets to a Thursday taping, since they tape both that nights show, as well as Friday's show, in one day. I knew it was borderline crazy to drive to LA and back in one day, but in weighing the options, this seemed like the best choice. We had already visited the LA tourist sites in a prior trip.

    Ivanpah Solar Power Plant in CA The mirrors reflect to the tower, producing steam.

    The drive wasn't too bad, in just over 4 hours, but as we drove, I started noticing the outside temperature reading in the car climbing. This was October in LA, not LV, yet the temp was now approaching 99 degrees outside, according to the car. I had this idea that October was a great month to see the taping, since it would be good weather for waiting outside at the CBS studios. You need to get there 2-3 hours in advance of the taping to get in, even with tickets. Well now we would have to do this in 99 degree temps without a breeze and without a cloud in the sky! Luckily the TV staff was prepared as we waited on the sidewalk and handed out umbrellas for shade as well as bottles of water. The 90 minutes or so waiting wasn't fun, but it wasn't too bad, considering the temperature. There was one kooky show goer behind us in line who was alone and a bit odd. He had all sorts of nervous ticks, including bouncing his foot while sitting so fast and hard that the entire bench we were sitting on (for the second step of the admission process) was vibrating. I had to stand instead to avoid the vibration. I felt it was best not to confront someone who I thought was so odd. Finally, as we walked into the studio, climbing stairs and waiting at certain points, he was standing so close to me behind me that I could actually feel his breath in my hair. I was convinced that he was going to do something disruptive during the show, but we had gone through searches and metal detectors, so weapons were not likely. As we were finally seated in the studio, I was about to ask the page to not seat us next to him. Luckily as I started to make my request, the page pointed at us to start a new row in seating, far from this man. The taping went without incident, thankfully.

    It was a fun and interesting experience seeing the studio up close and in person after watching it on TV for so many years, and the process of recording the shows.

    The drive back to LV thought was a bit trying in getting through traffic, even after 7pm. The good part was once we made it back to LV, we could relax and not have a drive ahead of us taking up the next day. Our return trip was made a bit shorter in that we were next staying at the M Resort which is south of LV in Henderson. I was pretty spent by the time we arrived at our destination.


    The next day we drove via St Rose Parkway to GVR for breakfast using a comp MyVegas buffet award. Friday was double points day at the M, and as usual, we played enough to earn 2,000 points (before doubling) each to earn a complimentary buffet (and you keep the points). This is for the weekend seafood buffet. Weekdays it's only 1300 points required. Once again, it's fashionable to complain online that the M buffet has gone downhill, but it's still a great buffet, and being able to have it comped for only 2,000 coin in VP is to be the best/easiest quality comp in town. My vote for the best buffet dessert in a buffet is the M fallen chocolate cake with a scoop of vanilla gelato and a cappuccino to go with it, all part of the buffet. I have read some discussion about which casino has the best coffee on the casino floor, and my vote goes to the M.

    While playing VP I had the "honor" of sitting next to the "schmoopie" couple (referencing the term from a Seinfeld episode). This couple, while playing next to each other, would stop for a kiss each time either of them hit a four of a kind. Of course, they were doing well, and there were kisses every 10 minutes next to me. I didn't want to stay around to see what would happen if one of them hit a royal flush.

    The next morning we went to the St Rose Parkway Trail, which starts just behind the M. There you find cyclists, walkers, runners and dog walkers, all sharing the nicely paved and decorated trail. After a nice run, we had a lite breakfast in the room before checking out and heading to Sams Town.

    Link to St Rose Trail Info


    At Sam's I continued my multi trip effort to hit a progressive royal flush there. I have had good luck finding progressives that get close to positive expectation on each trip, and I play it hard trying to take it down. A high progressive is a mixed curse. It's great that while playing, your return is higher due to the royal, but you then feel that if you stop playing, you risk that someone will hit it before you return, especially as people notice the jackpot level, and competition increases. As a progressive gets close to break even, you start to alter your strategy due to the odds changing. Things like holding a 3 card royal rather than a high pair becomes the right play. I have been pursuing these progressive royals for the past 4 or so 2 day trips there, with nothing to show for it. I was on the phone while playing a few hands on the second evening, kind of tired and mindlessly, when my 3 card royal hold hit pay-dirt and I hit the progressive. At last I had done it!

    I played some at the sportsbook bar at Sams, where I could not avoid hearing this one loud, opinionated, boastful voice, booming constantly. This man appeared to be a native Irishman who had been living in the US for many years. He had an opinion on every game, every horse race. What I found very entertaining was how he dismissed his losing bets - "oh, I KNEW XXX was going to have a bad game". Of course, the logical reply to him would have been, "you did? Then why did you bet on the other team?" He was obviously a compulsive losing better who could and would bet on anything. I was trying to come up with my NFL bets for Sunday, and without him realizing it, he "helped me". I noted the two teams he liked the best, and bet against them on Sunday. Yes, both my bets won, while his lost. I am sure the next day he was rationalizing how he still "knew" who was going to win those games.

    In October they have a Fri/Sat promotion where after earning just 200 points (you keep the points) you get a free six pack of Pure Leaf ice tea with a insulated Sam's Town bag.

    At Sam's the fountain and animated show was down for maintenance all month. Even the animated bear was covered up in plastic.


    The next move was downtown where I took advantage of the 10x points promotion at Main St Station/California casino that was only open to players who were staying on the mailed room marketing offer. I ran up a nice bankroll of comps in two days of play, including a day playing double bonus where I won close to the equivalent of half a royal flush mainly in a amazing run of quads, including quad Aces for 800 coins twice! We had our traditional once a trip afternoon saimin soup at the Cal snack bar, comped with our food coupons from check in.

    A dinner highlight, as always was a comped meal at Second Street Grill in Fremont. They have the best sourdough bread, which comes with a unique garlic-eggplant dip, which is alone worth the trip.

    At the Redwood Grill the next day, after reasonably priced king crab, we topped dinner with the legendary apple dumpling, which is again, alone, worth the trip. All comped.

    We went for a daytime walk downtown in search of a destination, and ended up so far down LV Blvd that we went the last 2 blocks to finally see the Pawn Stars pawn shop. Since it was a weekday early PM there was no line to get in. Our impressions was that it wasn't really much to see, and there is no question that for the filming, they have some professional set people neatly restock the glass cases along the wall that you see on TV behind the crew. The glass cases today were haphazardly stocked like it was someone's basement storage. Stuff just just thrown in the cases, all up against each other with no attempt to make it look presentable or valuable.. The inventory was more of a "normal" pawn shop than I expected, given what we see on TV. It was mostly used jewelry, rings, watches, and coins. The inside of the store itself looked like a typical semi rundown, downtown store. The wonders of TV. Much of the business was the selling of Pawn Stars merchandise. And not surprising, none of the "stars" from the show were present in the store.

    "The Market" Downtown

    The new "Market" opened just across from El Cortez. You can think of it as a mini Whole Foods that also stocks some groceries. The brewed coffee as well as a few other items were not in stock yet, but soon will be if not by now.


    The next move was to Laughlin for 3 days. I don't see much love for Laughlin on the Vegas boards, but there is something about it that keeps us going back. For one, it has a small sandy "beach" on the edge of the river where you can sit under a grass umbrella and relax watching the river flow by and viewing the AZ mountains. Second, sitting on the outside deck in the shade at the Harrah's Diamond lounge overlooking the Colorado river is one of our favorite moments each trip, even though the food in the lounge is borderline pathetic.

    My other peeve about this lounge is when we go for coffee after dinner there, they only have POWDERED creamer. Can you imagine a VIP lounge where they can't even stock liquid creamer packets or milk? If this were a truck stop it might be appropriate, but for a VIP lounge? The food there is so pathetic, that each time we go that my greatest hope is that they might have tuna salad, which I have on crackers. Otherwise there is not much good to eat. On the first day we ate dinner at the Range Steakhouse in Harrah's where we observed a very rare sight, a partial rainbow in the desert at sunset. They updated their menu and it;s a big improvement. Also, their daily specials are now reasonable in price. The "specials" used to be priced $60 and up.

    At the Aquarius in Laughlin, I am at the green card level which allows entry in their VIP Lounge/Check in area. This one, unlike Harrah's, is open most of the day, but is a self serve area with mainly cold soft drinks, coffee, and whole fruits.

    I played a progressive VP bank there, that was not high at all, but the best I could find. On the second day, holding three to the royal, I filled in the other two and had progressive diamond royal #2! I also hit four aces in double bonus 3 times in a day! It bothers me when other players are so cold and calculating that they can't even enjoy their good hands. At one point an 85-ish year old woman 2 seats from me hit aces, I was all ready to congratulate her on her hand, but she just stared forward without a smile and never even looked away from the screen, and went onto play another hand.

    Green card holders get a once a week voucher for a complimentary "appetizer" at the Cove Bar there, along with 2 free drinks. We had the small pizza, and it was almost filling enough to serve as a dinner for 2.

    Green (and red) card holders on weekends get a complimentary brunch which is held in their buffet in a sectioned off area. There is no waiting for seating or payment, and they have a small table of foods that are reserved for this "VIP" section, plus cloth napkins and other little touches, to set it apart from the normal buffet. I wouldn't seek out this buffet, but for free and with the VIP section, its fine.

    I finally remembered to take a picture of one of my favorites in Laughlin, the Riverside Casino's key return machine where guests return their room keys and get back some kind of deposit in quarters. 25c? 50c? Does anything like this exist anywhere else in the world?

    Video Poker highlight - Double Bonus gone mad!

    First let me say that double bonus is not a game for the average player. Due to its high volatility, there can be very drastic swings. For instance, at my start, after the first 90 minutes and playing proper strategy, I was DOWN HALF A ROYAL FLUSH. Think about whether you can handle that, financially and mentally, before you play this game. I was fortunate in that I later had a equally extreme positive run where I hit many many four of a kinds in all the bonuses, including a four hand period where I hit aces TWICE for 800 coins each! I lost count but probably hit four Aces 5 times in a day and a half. I ended up being up about half a royal flush, mainly due to bonus four of a kinds! This run lasted a day and a half, and was capped on the second day by holding 4 diamonds to the royal, and yes, hitting my third diamond royal flush of the trip!

    Stopped at SLS on the way to airport

    Nice place, good job on renovations. Especially wanted to see the chandelier made from the "S's" from the old Sahara's doors. Of course, I had to ask 5 people before finding someone that knew the answer.


    I like to document some of the oddities we encounter on each trip. I already mentioned the nutty lone man at the TV taping. In addition I can add seeing two different ladies at two different buffets walking back to their tables with bowl filled with DOZENS of fresh quartered lemons which were meant to be used as a side with seafood. We spotted a Hawaiian woman crossing the street wearing a knee length wool coat with knee high boots.... and it was 90 degrees at the time.


    The root beer at Four Queens Chicago Brewing Company is much better than Ellis Island's. It is so rich and tasty, it can almost be considered a dessert.

    My love/hate relationship with casinos.

    While I love the casino trips, I hate the constant cutback in casino quality of promotions, rooms and benefits. I have joked that someday they will institute a toilet paper fee, and as time goes on I think of it as less of a joke. Here I will feature the cheapness cheapness of some of these hotels, and how they will do anything to avoid costs of maintaining their hotel rooms.

    First, there is the shower control in our room at Harrah's Laughlin. The brass piece laying on the top was the handle which I placed there after it fell off the first time I used the shower. If you look at the right end of this handle you will see the remaining white glue that was used to "fix" the shower head. I have no doubt that after we checked out, new glue was used to reattach this handle again.

    We stayed at the Four Queens and were "upgraded" to a suite. Would anyone allow any of this furniture in their own basement, no less in a casino suite? How in the world does one crack the top molding of an armoire?

    Yes, that IS black duct tape used to repair the arm of the couch!

    Crack in top molding.

    I have no idea what caused these spots permanently etched into the tile!

    Netting it all out

    One thing I don't see discussed much is the now high car rental cost. It took a lot of trying to get a $135 all inclusive rate for a Standard sized car per week, and that was in part that low because I prepaid. Much of the time I checked, the rate was over $300 a week at best. It's getting to the point where this is the most expensive part of the trip!

    Room nights - All comped (the ten year streak continues)

    Resort Fees Paid = $0!!!!!

    Meals - All comped except the two breakfasts in the room and lunch in LA.

    Free Play - From all the hotels, the total of our free play included in our room offers exceeded $500!

    Accumulated comps from play this trip not yet used - estimate > $300

    Wins - Of course with the 3 royal flushes, and the off the charts double bonus VP play, it was a significantly positive trip!

    And so ends another amazing trip..... with 3 Diamond Royals "found" in the desert!!!
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2014
  2. Gaggles

    Gaggles VIP Whale

    Nov 28, 2009
    Calgary Area
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Very enjoyable TR. I went to the blog for the pics. How come you don't take pics of the Royals for us?!?!?? I love seeing those.
  3. tringlomane

    tringlomane STP Addicted Beer Snob

    Jan 21, 2013
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Good report! Congrats on the Royals!
  4. M0rtyC

    M0rtyC Low-Roller

    Sep 23, 2012
    North Shore Massachusetts
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Very nice report and super wins!

    Any dets on the Craig Ferguson Show? How was he live? The guy totally cracks me up.
    Annual end of the rodeo trip
  5. zignerlv

    zignerlv Low-Roller

    Aug 29, 2006
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    It was a bit different seeing him live. I think the first monologue he did came off a bit slow, and a couple of times a little awkward. Then he seemed to get on a roll.

    The highlight was (just remembered this) was when he threw the book off Geoff Peterson's podium and it almost hit Josh Micheal Thompson backstage (the guy the does the voice). He said, "this same book again? Doesn't anybody even try here?" and threw the book. (it was done comedic, not in anger). Just after he threw the book the stage manager told him they have to retrieve the book and put it back, because it needed to be the same book as in the earlier TV shots, causing much laughter (not filmed for TV). So, hearing that, they re-did the cold opening, talking about how he threw the book. They had originally did a different opening, which no one will ever see.

    Also, I managed to catch one the chocolates he throws at the opening.

    The order the two shows were recorded... They changed his tie between each day 1 vs day 2 segment.
    Monologue show 1
    monologue show 2
    cold opening show 2
    cold opening show 1
    guests for show 1
    closing 1
    guests for show 2
    closing 2

    The guest list wasn't too impressive. What struck me is how the "stars" barely acknowledged the audience AFTER their interviews when the camera was off. Nick Lachey in particular did a forced little wave back as he left while we were giving him the coaxed standing ovation, as opposed to when he was introduced on camera, waving and bowing to the crowd. Guess that's Hollywood!

    Maybe I should pop this in the report.
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2014
  6. PayTriple

    PayTriple The Cucumber King

    Aug 16, 2014
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Nice report, loved the pictures!

    TIMSPEED Too young, Too poor, Too addicted.

    Aug 8, 2013
    Modesto, CA
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    When were you at Sams Town? Looks like you were in an A-Suite directly above us.. (We were on the 3rd floor)
    Palace Tower Suite!
    Thanks CreditKarma!
  8. zignerlv

    zignerlv Low-Roller

    Aug 29, 2006
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    No, we were back home before your wedding.
  9. Royal Flusher

    Royal Flusher Savvy Gambler

    Feb 18, 2008
    Flusherville, Canada
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Nice trip report, and great pictures! (Although I wish there were pics of the three diamond Royals).

    So, you got to experience one of the Four Queen's legendary 70's Porno Suites? With duct tape, no less!
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