Background This trip from May 18th through May 22nd was our yearly office retreat. Our small law office made up of four attorneys go with our spouses to Vegas every year to re-charge the batteries and escape from the misery of practicing law. The players were me (age 36), my wife (33), and the others I will call SR (38), BR (3), JC (42), AC (42), FB (50) and CB (36). Travel I was stuck in downtown Atlanta until late afternoon, so I grabbed a few drinks to prep for the 9:50 PM flight. In a panic, my wife had her Father drive her to meet me at the airport while our children were with her Mother. At the airport we met SR and BR and tried desperately to put as much cheap beer in our system as possible before boarding the flight. As I strolled down the aisle with a slight buzz, I note I am in the middle seat between my wife and a lady with a one year old baby. I have a two and half year old and a one year old, so I was a little more sympathetic than the typical Nazi passenger. Checked the flight itinerary to discover that the in flight movie was Leap Year. We were not off to a good start. As bad as the movie sucked, I was a little disappointed that the sound went out half way through the film since I had emotionally invested over an hour to see how exactly Amy Adams was going to be seduced by the Irish guy. Oh well, I played with the baby for the rest of the flight. Turns out the lady next to me was a Vegas native that has a Father that is a chef and a Mother that is a waitress at the buffet at the Golden Nugget. After a few drinks, I started referring to her child as Little Carlos. Fortunately, she had a sense of humor and took it in stride. Vegas Arrived in Vegas and retrieved bags and got a limo in record time. We booked two nights at Imperial Palace only intending to stay one there. Yes, I know the place is a dump; but I wanted to stay for free the one night before we moved to THEHotel at Mandalay Bay. Plus, IP is the only Harrahâ€™s property besides Ceasarâ€™s where I havenâ€™t yet stayed. Plus, I do like the casino. Check in was quick and they upgraded me to the Penthouse Suite. Having the Penthouse Suite at IP is like being the smartest kid in Special Ed. The room was fine: huge space, huge balcony and nice bathroom. Time to dip into the bar. What??? A large, full sized bar with no drinks!! Youâ€™ve got to be kidding. Oh well, time to hit the casino. Inspired by BeeeJay, I decided to start with a $100.00 one spine roulette bet to start the night. Spread nickels over 5, 7, 9 , 10, 15, 17, 21, 23, 27, 29, 34, 36, 0/00, covering six of the numbers with another nickel. Bam, 10 hits and I am up $350.00. Put another hundred out on the same numbers. Boom, 27 hits. Letâ€™s try it again, 0/00 hit. This is too good to be true, 21 hits. I canâ€™t possibly hit again, but no, there is the 9. Luck ran out on the next spin. I cash out leaving some happy dealers some nice tips. I head over to my lucky IP craps table closest to the front of the hotel and buy in for $300.00. About 30 minutes later I cash out with IP no longer being my lucky craps table. By this time, I am deliriously tired, but decide that I cannot go to sleep on my first night before 3:00 AM. Blow a couple of hundred on VP and slots. By this time, BR decides we need to check out the action on the strip since both of our spouses crashed early after some brief roulette and pai gow sessions. On the way out, I watched two 20 something guys pull a Spalding from Caddyshack in the two stalls behind me. After walking to Venetian, during which I watch two more 20 somethings vomit, we decide this is a bad omen and head to bed. Up Wednesday morning at 8:00 after about four and half hours sleep. BR talked us into Hash House a Go Go after being irrationally sold by a Man vs. Food episode. I was not impressed. Service sucked and then the fire alarm went off running me and everyone else out of the place. We werenâ€™t worried that there was a real fire, but just couldnâ€™t stand the noise. BR and I headed to Flamingo for the 10:00 AM $65.00 buy in poker tournament. As I take my seat, this jackarse is eating his breakfast at the table while basically telling everyone how great he is at poker and replaying every bad beat he has had on his trip. Nobody cared what this ass hat had to say, but it didnâ€™t stop him. I immediately canâ€™t stand this imbecile, with the thick NY accent, and I knew that as soon as he heard my Georgia drawl we were going to have a conflict. Cards are dealt, and I have jack/ten of clubs. Flop comes out king of clubs, queen of diamonds and six of clubs. Cool, I have an open ended straight and a flush draw. Moron that has been running his mouth bets big. Three callers including me. Next card is a blank and he makes a continuation bet, with two callers. I push all in confident that with that many outs, (also a crappy tournament structure and few chips) that Iâ€™ll hit one of my draws. Two players fold and ass-wipe calls me. He looks at me, says bye-bye and flips over a King/Jack. Is he serious? Thatâ€™s what he has. Heâ€™s pissed when I show him Iâ€™m on the open ended straight and flush draws. Next card comes out three of clubs, heâ€™s out when I hit my flush on the first hand of the game. He stands up complaining about how heâ€™s sick of weak players knocking him out with bad beats and how he always wants me at the table. I told him bye, Iâ€™ll see him later. He storms off mumbling. While I should have been happy, I was annoyed that this potato head continued to run his mouth; and how I should have taken his skinny butt out into the street and pounded his head into the concrete. The rest of the table and dealer mocking him didnâ€™t improve my mood. I ended up playing bad the rest of the morning and went out about half way through the field. I met BR at the high limit slot area since he was knocked out of the tournament quickly and we headed back to IP to meet the girls hoping their Spa time was over. Turns out that there were little to no Spa options at IP, so they went to Harrahâ€™s for massages. Once we met up, we headed to Venetian for the girls to use free play. I played some VP at Venetian for a bit before heading to the Wynn sportsbook. I make it a yearly tradition of blowing $100.00 on a futures bet for UGA to win the BCS Championship. Since our last championship was 1980, I keep hoping that weâ€™re due. The sportsbook management doesnâ€™t agree and have them ranging from 35/1 to 50/1 at the various sportsbooks around town. Wynn has the best odds of 50/1, so I throw down a hundo ignoring the fact that weâ€™ll start the year with a freshman quarterback and a new defensive coordinator. By this time, itâ€™s approaching 1:00 PM, and we hurry over to see Mac King using ACG coupons. For a free matinee show, this was great. King has much better tricks than Nathan Burton or the other Vegas magicians that Iâ€™ve seen. I dug his dry sense of humor too. We leave the show and head to Mandalay Bay for check in. Didnâ€™t realize that THEHotel has a separate check in desk, but they accommodate us anyway. The room at THEHotel crushed our room at the Bellagio, or any room Iâ€™ve had in Vegas to date. As I wait for luggage, and then change into my bathing suit, my wife spends an hour or more getting her telephone fix satiated. I drink heavily and flip through some Vegas magazines. We head to the pool and realize we are starving. Itâ€™s after 4:00 PM by this point and all the poolside dining is closed. We head to some Mexican joint close to the pool and have some awesome quesadillas. It was a little uncomfortable wearing bathing suits when everyone else is dressed up for some celebrity chef appearance. By the time we are done, it is too late for pool time because we need to get showered and get to IP to see Human Nature. Human Nature was pretty good. I would say that it is a very good show, that isnâ€™t quite up to the hype that Iâ€™ve seen on this and other message boards. Am I glad that I went? Yes. Would I see the show more than once? No. After the show, we meet the rest of the crew at Stack at the Mirage of dinner. Had a great appetizer of meat (I know, we are about to eat steak) that we cooked ourselves on a stone heated to 900 degrees (I think thatâ€™s what they said). Steak was great, and I was shocked that as good as the food was at this place it was completely dead. It was 9:00 PM and there were only about 3-4 tables filled. With full bellies, we cab it back to Mandalay Bay. Time for the BeeJay inspired roulette bet. Same bet as IP, and it hits again on 15. Not to bore you, but I hit again on four more numbers before a miss and I cash out. My wife decides to stay at the roulette table, which happens against my wishes and explanations of 5.26% hour edge. I take a beating at the black jack table, and leave down $200.00. I walk over to check on my wife who is now up over $300.00 playing roulette. I canâ€™t let her beat me tonight, so I round up two of the other males on the trip and explain to them that I cannot lose at the NY/NY black jack table. They were just drunk enough to believe me, and off we go. Once in NY/NY, I talk them into some mini baccarat. Within about 15 minutes, I am up; and they are not having fun. OK, off to the black jack tables. $25.00 per hand black jack and I double my money very quickly. Sticking to my rules this time, I cash out. In nine trips to Vegas, I have never been approached by a hooker (I tell myself itâ€™s because they think Iâ€™m too good looking to have to resort to paying for it, and like John Lennon says â€œwhatever gets me through the nightâ€). As I leave the cage, two women standing by the slots say, â€œwhy donâ€™t you come play with us babyâ€. I tell them â€œno, thanks, Iâ€™m goodâ€, and head to a far away VP machine. Hit my first ever four of a kind and cash out. The other two are still playing black jack and I wander back to Mandalay Bay. By this time, it is late and Iâ€™ve been drinking since noon. However, I decided that it was a good idea to make a run at the craps table. $300.00 buy in and it is just me and one other guy. He has two bad rolls and I have two OK rolls. Then, a crowd of recent Texas State grads stumble over. They are making all the wrong bets while I am rolling. I get on a roll at this point. Iâ€™m hitting all the field bets for them and hit the hard 10 four times. Hit the point three times. Iâ€™m hitting my come bets. The 22 year olds are hugging me, high fiving me, putting out bets for me. Iâ€™m putting out bets for the dealers on every roll. After nearly 45 minutes, I finally crap out, somewhat relieved because Iâ€™m exhausted by this point. After I muddle through four other terrible rolls from my table mates, I cash out up $600.00 and stumble to the room, and discover my wife there laughing at me for drinking from noon until 4:00 AM. Not to break trend, I am up by 7:45 the next morning. Order an omelet from room service. It was awful! I make better omelets at home. The wife crawls back into bed and I venture out looking for a poker tournament. The only one I can find going at 9:00 AM is Excalibur. What the hell, Iâ€™ll give it a shot. This wasnâ€™t the best tournament structure, but the dealers were nice and we always had a great crowd at the table. I was chip leader until the fourth blind level and lose a few all in battles. Soon Iâ€™m gone and I head to Ballyâ€™s to pick up a souvenir t-shirt of Baby Carlos from the Hangover for my Brother in Law. Still raring to go from being in Vegas, I head to the Ballyâ€™s 11:00 tournament. Playing pretty well and get moved to a new table during the 2nd or 3rd blind level. The British guy next to me checks in the dark before the flop. The flop comes out and I check behind him. Suddenly, he makes a big bet. I say, â€œwait, I thought you checked darkâ€. The dealer says, â€œaction was on himâ€. I didnâ€™t think that this was right, but I just folded and didnâ€™t make an issue of it. The guy actually turned out to be pretty nice, and I talked to him about kids and the 7 weeks I spent in the UK during law school. Iâ€™m knocked out before making the money and decide to start working my way back to Mandalay Bay. My wife is blowing up my phone by this point complaining that she is ready to hit the pool. We make it down to the pool, eat some nachos and then eventually find some lounge chairs. My wife and SR cave and buy the $17.00 rafts that youâ€™re required to buy to use the lazy river. I stay put and am entertained for a couple of hours watching some Jersey Shore clone meatheads try to hit on some earthy chicks. I think I would have better luck talking Kate Beckinsale and Elizabeth Hurley into an orgy with me and Steve Buschemi. I was covered in sweat, but couldnâ€™t leave the train wreck. I wasnâ€™t this entertained at Terry Fator. While I was enjoying watching the idiots strike out, my wife and SR had an interesting experience at the lazy river. A man in his mid-60â€™s got in between them, and he pushed SR into the waterfall where she proceeded to tip over in her raft. Unfortunately, there was no surveillance available for me to post on youtube. Anyway, we finally decide itâ€™s time to get showered up for dinner at Red Square. On the way through the lobby, Iâ€™m sucked into playing a John Wayne slot machine. Being a John Wayne fan, I figure it was fate. My $100.00 was taken out quicker than the gang from Big Jake. Before dinner, we decide we want to check out the Ice Bar. The bartender tells us itâ€™s $200.00 for us to go in, and we get to pick our bottle of vodka. Iâ€™m thinking, this must be an awesome experience if theyâ€™re going to charge us $200.00 to walk in. Wrong, itâ€™s just a cooler where they keep vodka, and you drink vodka out of a sipping glass while wearing fur coats and hats. There is some shrine to Lenin that is interesting for about 4 seconds. Disappointed, we head to our table. I had some lamb cuts, which were very good. We eat quickly and leave the crowd to see Frank Caliendo at Monte Carlo. Frank Caliendo was OK. There were some funny parts. The beginning of the show was pretty good, and gradually got worse about midway through the show. Charles Barkley, John Madden, George Bush, Barack Obama and Bill Clinton can only carry on a conversation for so long. My wife fell asleep and we snuck out with about 5 minutes left in the show. Could I pull off another BeeeJay $100.00 spine for a several hundred dollar profit? The answer is no. The magic ended and we headed back to Mandalay Bay. We met the rest of the crowd at the MB roulette table. I watch my wife place some bets and slowly turn around to â€œYeeeeaaaahhhh Booooyyyeeeâ€, itâ€™s Flavor Flav. BR says, â€œitâ€™s Flavor Flavâ€. He comes over and shakes my hand, and says hello. The dealers start telling us that he is in MB all the time and that he is a really nice guy. Iâ€™m just happy my celebrity sighting streak is not ended on trip number ten. In a drunken haze, I stumble to Luxor and blow through a quick $300.00 at the craps table. I thought I was drunk, but next to this crowd, I appeared like a mormon at a pot luck dinner table instead of a craps table. One guy was thrown out for falling into my wife repeatedly; although she was more amused than annoyed and I was oblivious. After my quick exit from the craps table, I let my wife talk me into Pai Gow. Just as I am actually getting on a streak (as much as you can get on a streak on way or the other at Pai Gow) my wife suddenly realized she was too drunk to be out gambling when she accidentally split three of a kind twice. She heads to bed, and I head to the black jack table. Break even at the black jack table at Mandalay Bay, break even at craps and then head to bed after blowing $200.00 more on slots and VP. Friday morning we get up and head to Rio to cash in some chips that didnâ€™t make it out of my pocket on our last trip. Me, my wife, SR and BR grab some breakfast at the Rio buffet, which my wife hates. From there, it was off to Gold Coast so my wife could use some free play. When we entered Gold Coast, it was as if a record scratched. It is possible that we were the only four people in the place not from Southeast Asia. There is no one playing craps, black jack, slots, etc. However, there were multiple baccarat and pai gow tables that were slammed. My wife and I play some mini baccarat, and she hates this game. After about half an hour, she demands that we leave. Once we get to the cage, she realizes that she is up a good bit; as am I. She doesnâ€™t hate it quite as much anymore, but sheâ€™s ready to go to Palms to use some more free play. We head out wondering how it has escaped our attention that Gold Coast is the headquarters for the Southeast Asian gambler. The Palms sucked as bad as I remembered. As much as people complain about the smell in the Venetian, I think that the Palms is ten times worse. The crowd is all recent college grads getting out to Vegas for the first time. The wife and SR more than double their freeplay and we grab a cab to MGM. Based on some good reviews, we decided to give CSI: The Experience a try. Aside from the attendants wearing skin tight cop uniforms, there was nothing to see there. We played along and went through the exhibit. After grabbing a couple of free hats, we head to Rainforest CafÃ© to meet the rest of the crowd and grab some lunch. After eating Meat every meal, I decide to try the lobster which was actually really good. I was pretty impressed with the service at Rainforest cafÃ© as well. We cashed out and having pounded enough drinks decided to dump way more than necessary in the gift shop on presents for my two boys. Not sure they really need the indoor tent, giant snakes and multiple bouncy balls (among other things), but I was feeling generous. We wander over to Hooters to use some free slot play. The free slot play for new members is a complete joke. You have to use it on one of their â€œspecialâ€ roped off machines. You cannot get a regular pay-back, but instead have to hit a jackpot. I storm over to the black jack table with the hottest dealer and blow through a $100.00 pretty quickly. I do have to say one thing for Hooters, and that is the place is REALLY clean. I felt like I could have eaten off of the floor, tables, bar, etc. I actually sort of liked the place, as embarrassed as I am to admit it. The rooms probably arenâ€™t anything special, but itâ€™s clean, has good music, upbeat vibe and you get treated like a king if you bet more than $5.00 per hand. After some gambling at Hooters, my wife heads back for a wrap at THESpa and I head to Planet Hollywood. On every trip, I see Fab Four Mania at the V Theater. Iâ€™ll spare you my Beatles love fest speech, only to say that I love this show. Iâ€™ve seen McCartney three times and Ringo once, but never got to see the whole band. This show is likely as close as Iâ€™ll ever get and they blow away other Beatles tribute bands that Iâ€™ve seen. But before Fab Four Mania, I decide to play some black jack at Planet Hollywood. Perfect table location close to the cashier and the bathroom. Was it 6/5? Yes. Will people on this board get pissed that I played 6/5? Yes. Do I care? No. I wanted to kill an hour and a half and it was a good location. Maybe karma came back to bite me as my $400.00 buy it was down to $15.00 in record time. The dealer actually told me that she had never seen such a bad run of cards in all her time of dealing. I was playing perfect basic strategy and taking a beating. Luckily I ran the last $15.00 back up to $210.00 before cashing out and heading to Fab Four. After Fab Four I race back to Mandalay Bay to shower and meet the crew for dinner at Mix. This turned out to be my favorite dinner in Vegas over my ten trips. Mix is on the 64th floor (I think) of THEHotel. Food was great, service was great, view was great, the breeze was perfect. Despite a drunken argument with one of the spouses, this was a great time. Once dinner was over, my wife was having some stomach cramps, so I walked her back to the room. Fortunately, she was understanding that I intended to head back to the casino. Co-workers were equally understanding that gambling was the only thing on my agenda, and I would not be meeting them at Minus 5 bar to drink at the vodka bar made totally of ice. They told me later how much they loved it. BR decided that he had to have a Minus 5 Russian fur hat that Iâ€™m sure heâ€™ll never wear one time in his life. The last night of gambling was brutal. Two sessions at the craps table, $600.00 gone. Two $100.00 spins at the roulette table, nada. One black jack session turned up a big 0. Putting money into the slots was like putting my money into a shredder. Two hours of gambling and Iâ€™m down $1,200.00. Decide to call it a night around 1:15 AM and get some sleep since we have a somewhat early flight the next day. The next morning we wake up, pack and head to the front desk. As we step into the hallway, we notice a man in his mid 40â€™s wearing only tight black boxer briefs and black dress socks. He desperately tries to get into his room with no luck. He rushes ahead of us to the elevator bay. We walk up to find him facing the wall. For some reason, he was taking the elevator up; and we were heading down. Both elevators came at the same time, but his was on the other side of us. The only thing I could think was thank God this guy was not on our elevator because there is no way I was not going to snicker for the whole ride. He says excuse me and shuffles past us. The front desk comps all of our food and drinks and tells us that we should be getting some decent offers in the future. We hop in the cab with a driver that appeared to have a healthy meth habit and make our plane in plenty of time. Thoughts I know that this has been beat to death, but Vegas seems to really have slowed down in light of the economy. No lines at restaurants, lower table minimums and smaller crowds in the casinos. I have only found two poker tournaments in Vegas that I actually enjoy. I like the 11:00 tournaments at Ballyâ€™s and the evening tournament at Harrahâ€™s. Please tell me if there is a good poker tournament with a $50.00 to $150.00 buy in that Iâ€™m missing. Mandalay Bay is now my favorite property given the casino, pool, service and food options. I am coming close to having seen every Vegas show that I want to see. Please let me know if Iâ€™m missing any little known gems. Help for Upcoming Trip I already have a plan for a November 11-14th guyâ€™s trip. I was going to book two rooms through a Harrahâ€™s property and one room through a MGM/Mirage property for a group of us that play poker together in the neighborhood. Iâ€™m debating between Mirage, NY/NY or MGM for one room, and Planet Hollywood vs. Ballyâ€™s for the other. If anyone has any thoughts, please chime in. Where can I find a decent poker tournament with a good blind structure for $150.00 or under? Whatâ€™s my best bet for a sportsbook for a group of guys to watch college football? Thinking of going to Voodoo Steakhouse for a dinner and want to know if it is worth the trip? If I have to book a fourth room with a comp, is Golden Nugget going to be too difficult for people to reasonably travel to the strip every day?