Background This trip was a bit different for us as it was planned around the tennis tournament at Indian Wells. Vegas was a stopover for 'acclimatisation' so this trip was low key and an opportunity to try super low roller gambling. As I am writing the report anyway as a record for me and Mrs T, I thought I would post it. Hopefully there are a few points of interest. Wednesday 6 March Direct flight from London Heathrow with BA in First. We get an unrenovated cabin but do secure the prized 1A/K seat combination. Champagne, food, a film and some sleep help pass the 11 hours before we arrive in Vegas. Straight through immigration, short wait for baggage and we are in a taxi to Paris. The driver mutters something about heavy traffic but follows my directions to the hotel, cost $18. Check-in in the Diamond room is not quite as simple as expected. This is our first stay here with 5 nights comped. I thought our standard blue room would be upgraded before arrival but no such joy. A lot of typing eventually finds a red room, the only downside is that it is a handicapped/accessible room with shower over the bath. Everything else is fine so we keep the room. Decent furnishings, fridge, single cup coffee maker and large flat screen TV. The view is nothing special but the room is very quiet, which is the most important factor for us. After settling in, Mrs T just wants to freshen up and take it easy so I head out for the strip. First stop is Cosmo, then Aria, just checking BJ & craps conditions and enjoying the sights, smells and noise of Vegas. Through Vdara to Bellagio where I see that the 25c 9/5 JOB at the Baccarat Bar has been replaced by a $1 8/5 progressive game. Another nail in the coffin for strip gambling conditions. I was expecting to play BJ but am lured by the craps at Bellagio. Plenty of $10 tables on a Wednesday evening. I bet small but walk away with more than double my buy-in so decent start to the trip. I take a small loss at BJ before heading back to Paris for some rest. Thursday 7 March The usual broken sleep on the first night. The bed is softer than ideal for me but Mrs T is happy with it. Early exit for the buffet at Aria. This is a new place for us and an opportunity to use the few Express Comps I still have on my account. The food is fine but not exceptional. I'm trying to convince myself that the next trip should start at Aria, rather than Bellagio, where we have stayed many times. I'm still not sure. We head over to PH for a successful VP session. The chosen game is Bonus Poker where we hit aces, 2s, 4s and a straight flush between us. That's an impressive start to our VP journey. The Hangover slot relieves us of some of our ill-gotten gains. Mrs T hits 2 bonuses but manages to choose the small cash bonus both times. I do not fare much better. What's more disappointing is that the bass thumping, seat rocking music seems to have been turned down. Even on max volume I cannot achieve the sensory overload I am seeking. No more Hangover for me. Mrs T joins me for a winning BJ session at Bally's. Decent rules for low minimums. 8 deck shoe game with H17 but other rules fine. Quite acceptable at $10 minimum. I make a decent profit before a little more VP at Bally's shows me making $20 after hitting 2 quads with Mrs T making $10 without hitting anything. How is that fair? Time to regroup in the room before catching the SDX downtown. I sign up for a players card at Four Queens. A pack of cards, $10 freeplay and a T-shirt for minimal play is a good new player offer. So good that Mrs T signs up as well. I now have so many packs of free cards that I am looking for a card game that requires at least 8 decks. Next stop Golden Nugget for another sign-up. I can only find one of the 2 banks with full play Bonus Poker. That is in front of the snack bar. Most of the machines are occupied by snack bar customers eating greasy food spread out on the slant tops. It's a very unappealing sight so we just find a bank of machines with crappy pay tables, cycle through my $5 freeplay and get the hell out of Dodge. Time to go upmarket so we head down to the Cal. Mrs T had a good VP session last time we were here so we head for the same bank of machine in one of the cosy alcoves overlooking the craps. Full pay JOB but I still drop $90, despite hitting quad Kings. Mrs T hits nothing but only drops $50. Umm! That's enough of the Cal. Time for the main event, Main Street Station and the Boar's Head Bar. This has to be one of the best places to play VP in Vegas. Full pay JOB, pleasant surroundings and good beer on tap. A couple of pale ales slip down nicely, with quad 8s earning a scratch card and a $2 profit for the session. No scratch cards for Mrs T and a $50 loss. Fine dining tonight is at the Triple 7, where we attempt to make a dent in the comps I have picked up from play at the various Boyd places. It's not easy at the Triple 7 as food is plentiful and inexpensive. The pasta is OK but with every mouthful tasting just the same as the previous mouthful, there is only so much that can be eaten. We wander back to Fremont through the Cal and the back of Binion's, enjoying the lights while waiting for the SDX. A drunk that looks like he could make the journey unpleasant is kicked off the bus before we set off so we have an uneventful ride back to the strip. That's enough excitement for Mrs T so I see her to the room and head back down for a while. A losing craps session at Bally's is outweighed by a winning BJ session at Paris. No big swings but a small profit to end the day. Friday 8 March Early start so a little VP at PH before hitting the buffet. We get the 24 hour pass as we plan to eat 2 breakfast buffets and it means a dinner is inexpensive. $49.99 now though so a big increase from the original pricing. The Four Queens T-shirts are useful today (under a shirt and jacket) as the predicated high is in the low 50s. I was not expecting pool weather but it is definitely chilly. It's time to squeeze the last bit of value out of the bus pass so we catch the 202 on Flamingo Road down to Terrible's. Full pay Bonus Poker but no sign-up bonus. The casino is fine, nothing fancy, but it is smokier than most other places so we just play a short session and head out. We make the short walk down Paradise to Hard Rock for a long delayed first visit. I'm sure it has a different feel on a busy evening but on this Friday morning it is quiet and inviting with 50s and 60s music. It's quite a smart place, a huge step up from Terrible's. We enjoy the rock memorabilia and some more full pay Bonus Poker. We do hit a few quads but take a small loss between us before walking back to Flamingo for the bus. The sky is dark and it starts to rain just as we get on the bus. By the time we get off, across the strip near Caesars Flamingo Road entrance, it is vicious. The rain is really heavy and a strong wind is blowing it horizontal. We have to battle against the wind to cover the short distance to Caesars and we get drenched. Where better to relax and dry out than the Caesars Diamond Lounge? A few hand towels and the aircon help us dry out while we enjoy a couple of drinks and use the free WiFi. After several visits I have come to the conclusion that Caesars is easily the best DL. It has the proper feel of a lounge with plenty of soft seats, smart bar and good service. The Grey Goose might have gone but no problem getting Bombay Sapphire. We decide to check on the weather. As it has stopped raining we make a dash for Bally's before it starts again. BJ tables are crowded so we play some VP near the poker room. Mrs T suggests that this afternoon would be a good time for me to play poker so I see her back to the room and head back to Bally's. There is a 10-15 minute wait before I am seated at a $3/$6 game. I win with KK and QJs but lose with QQ and AK. Not much else of note, the play is steady with no drunks throwing their chips away. After 1hr40mins I seem to have gone card dead and am ready for a change so I walk with my huge $33 profit. Just time for a quick BJ session at Paris, adding another small profit to the funds. I rejoin Mrs T to freshen up for the evening. Drinks in the Paris DL, then on to PH for the dinner buffet. It has a decent selection for veggies and a huge range of cupcakes to finish. We do not eat many dinner buffets but it is convenient sometimes. Back to Bally's for more losing VP. I can hardly keep my eyes open so join Mrs T for an early night. Saturday 9 March Breakfast at Paris buffet before starting a strip walk. First stop Flamingo where we find that most of the half-decent Bonus Poker has disappeared. The slant tops we usually play have been downgraded to 6/5. We do find a bank of uprights with 7/5 so play for a while. Quad 4s do not prevent me recording a loss while Mrs T hits nothing so time to move. As we are wandering through the Margaritaville section I am surprised to see BJ tables with 3:2 BJ payout. I had assumed that all games in this area would be 6:5. There is space for me to play while Mrs T watches so we settle in. The dealer is very friendly but just too chatty for me. My modest $200 buy-in shows few signs of growing. When it is pared to $5 I toss the final chip to the dealer and walk away, wishing I had not stopped to play. Perhaps things will improve with some VP at Harrah's. They installed some shiny new machines a while ago with fast play, which I like. On this occasion it just means that $100 disappears quicker. Through Venetian to Palazzo and time to get back on the BJ bike. Steadier stuff this time but still taking a loss. Perhaps the tide will turn at another of my favourite VP spots in Vegas, the Laguna Bar. The usual poor strip bartop pay tables but good drinks and great service. Quad 2s allow me to break even while enjoying the delicious Grey Goose Cosmos at this bar. Mrs T hits a couple of quads for a $50 profit. The tide has turned. Flush with our new found wealth, we cross over to Wynn to make a modest contribution to the upkeep of the property. What a great place, although I rarely feel it while playing here. Next stop FSM for a few shirts and then the $10 shop at TI for a couple of inexpensive hats to save us from the sun at Indian Wells. The tram gets us to Mirage, then we amble back through Bally's to Paris, checking the parking garage on the way in preparation for our car hire. After a brief rest in the room I head back down for a quick session before dinner, with BJ at Paris offsetting some of the earlier losses. Back with Mrs T, we get ready for the evening and sample a couple of drinks at the Paris DL before heading to Mon Ami Gabi for our dinner reservation. We get a quiet table inside, as requested. There is not much choice for veggies but they always seem to have a veggie option amongst the main courses, with a few choices to start. Service is friendly and efficient, 2 starters and 2 main courses costing $62 + tip. Post-dinner VP at Bally's results in a small loss. I see Mrs T back to the room and head back down for craps. First choice is Paris but there is a band playing nearby which means it is just too noisy for me around the tables, so I walk through to Bally's for a quieter game. None of the shooters can generate any real momentum so I eventually leave with a small loss. Time for bed to continue the 'acclimatisation'. Sunday 10 March Breakfast inside at MAG. The Eggs Florentine is a new choice for me. I'll be coming back for that, definitely recommended. Mrs T has the French toast, which is always reliable but not life changing. No real plans for today, which is unusual for us, so we start by repaying CET's free room generosity with a little more VP at Bally's. Mrs T hits aces for a nice $80 profit but my poor return balances out her achievement. Over the strip to Bellagio, where a gentle stroll through finds us at a $10 BJ table by the Baccarat Bar. I thought games in that area started at $25 so a pleasant surprise. It's a comfortable and profitable experience with things going well from the start. When I lose 4 successive hands I decide to walk with a profit of $105. Not bad on a super low rolling trip. Time for lunchtime drinks at Cosmo. Bond Bar for starters and then on to Book and Stage. Both great bars but the VP is not rewarding. Only one quad between us and a combined $140 loss. Perhaps PH will better reward our efforts. No, but we do at least half the losses at $70. Back at Paris the BJ tables are crowded so we find a spot at Bally's, giving back $60 of the BJ profits. Time to regroup so we head back to the room to freshen up but I still have time for a little more gambling before dinner. I hear the siren song emanating from the craps tables. I am powerless to resist but should have blocked my ears as it is one of those sessions where seven out follows point as sure as night follows day. Just time to sneak in a quick BJ session but it's just a break even session so I am unable to recoup the craps losses. I rejoin Mrs T for a final sampling of the DL offerings, then down to (Le) Burger Brasserie for dinner. We are advised of a short wait for a table but a quick flash of the Diamond card gets us next available table inside a minute. That does not mean we get our food quickly as the order takes forever to arrive. I do not think this is normal, it seems that the kitchen is short staffed. We are not desperately hungry and have no real plans for the evening so are happy to wait. The veggie burger is decent, as are the fries and huge tower of onion rings. We surprise ourselves by eating almost everything without feeling uncomfortable. The $29 cost is covered by my Reward Credits. A much better experience than BLT at Mirage in all respects, except speed of service. One last session of VP at Bally's shows Mrs T hitting quad 2s for a profitable session, while I add to a lengthening tally of losing VP sessions. That's it for now so we head to bed. Monday 11 March Up early to get ready for checkout, coffee and snacks in the room. Just enough to hold us together for a few hours. We are at the Hertz desk before 8am but there are a few in front of us so it takes a while to get our car. This is our first time renting in Vegas. First surprise is when I get a VW Passat rather than the Chevy Impala I was expecting. That's fine. Second surprise is when I am told that there is only ¼ tank of petrol/gas. That is a pain as I thought all the cars came with a full tank. I have no idea where to fill up in Vegas and we want to hit the interstate for the drive to Indian Wells. The agent senses my disappointment and offers a free upgrade to a Nissan Maxima with ½ tank. I'm still not sure that will get us to somewhere I know we can fill up so I decline. With hindsight I perhaps should have accepted the upgrade, although it would have cost more in gas. ½ tank would have been plenty to get us to the Barstow area. Anyway the agent only charges $15 for what is in the car, which turns out to be 3/8 tank. As we walk away, Mrs T and I both recall seeing a gas station on the way to Terrible's so once we are loaded up and familiar with the controls (I have to find someone to demonstrate how to move the seat back!) we head right on Flamingo, rather than left. Very short drive to the gas station where the gas cap cover comes off in my hand when I flip it back. WTF. Throw it on the floor of the car, fill up, quick U turn and we are finally on our way. Somewhere on the I-15 I attempt to recreate a 'Planes Trains and Automobiles' moment. I think my window may not be fully shut so press the button to fully close it. This results in the window opening fully. Not great at 70-80 mph on the interstate. The button does not rock as expected to close so I press the button behind. That opens the rear window. Not content with this I try both the other buttons which result in us speeding along with all 4 windows fully opened. By now hats, jackets, bags and maps are in serious jeopardy with the wind rushing through the car. Mrs T does an octopus impression, pinning everything down that she can lay a tentacle on, while I get over to the slow lane and ease off the gas. We are desperate for an exit and do not have to wait long. It is not much more than a dirt road but it allows us to stop the car and find out what the hell is going on. It seems that the window controls on a Passat are not the rockers I am familiar with but have to be pulled up to close. Very obvious when stationary, less obvious when trying to check at interstate speed. I am expecting Mrs T to give me both barrels but she takes it surprisingly well. Her biggest concern is that her bare arm is freezing from the cold wind running over it for the last few miles. Deep breaths and we are back on our way. First (scheduled) stop is Peggy Sue's 50s Diner between Yermo and Barstow. Interesting place, definitely worth a visit. Fortified by pie and coffee we continue to Barstow, then leave the interstate for the single lane CA-247 through the desert towards Palm Springs. It's still a fast road with very little traffic and knocks nearly 20 miles off the journey. Back on the interstate near Palm Springs for the last leg to Indian Wells, with no hiccups. We are at the Homewood Suites at La Quinta, about 10-15 minutes walk to Indian Wells tennis garden. It's the best hotel within easy walking distance and very comfortable, but not grand. Nice rooms with separate lounge and kitchen area, very comfortable bed, good views of the mountains. Free buffet breakfast, WiFi, newspaper, order of play for the tennis and Tennis Channel in the rooms and public areas. Everything for the tennis fan. Only downside is having to pay full price, a bit of a shock after Vegas! By the time we have settled in, picked up our tickets from the stadium and freshened up, we are ready to eat. We have researched a place nearby so we walk down there for a relaxed casual meal. A bit of tennis on the TV ends the day. We need to catch up on sleep ready for some long tennis days ahead. Tuesday 12 March – Thursday 14 March Tennis. Lots of tennis. Little time for anything else as the matches start at 11am and finish at 10.30pm or later. We are pushing the boat out this holiday so have bought the most expensive tickets in the Club Suite for the 3 days we are here. These give access to a large suite with lots of soft seating, large screen TVs, private restrooms, bar with some food, views directly over the court and lovely air conditioning. You also get a seat outside with a great view to watch the tennis! The seats are in just 3 rows with bench style tables to rest drinks, hats and so forth. The seat next to me is hardly ever taken, the seat next to Mrs T is unoccupied for all 6 sessions. It seems that some people buy a seat for the whole tournament, year after year, and just turn up for a few sessions. Most importantly of all, our seats are in full shade all day. There is just no way we could sit in the sun to watch the tennis. The highs were 90, 95 and 99 on the 3 days we attended, with record temperatures on 2 of the 3 days. I doubt we would have come if we had known but it worked out well. I just never knew we could drink so much iced water. We saw some great tennis, highlights being Federer v Wawrinka, Nadal v Gulbis and the Bryan brothers saving match point before coming back for a chest bumping win. The big match was supposed to be Federer v Nadal but that did not live up to expectations. Federer was out of form and probably injured. We saw most of the top men and women play at some point over the 3 days. We were expecting to be there from start to finish each day but bailed out at 11.30pm on the second day when the evening session did not start until 10pm after an epic day session. Play did not finish until 1.50am and we did not want to spoil the last day with too little sleep. Aside from the tickets, we spent very little at the stadium. There just wasn't time. The occasional slice of pizza to keep us going and a few soft drinks (sodas) and coffee. That was about it. Friday 15 March Back to Vegas. We are on the road at 10am, retracing our route to Barstow where we stop at Denny's for refreshment. I find myself ordering a milkshake for the first time in a gazillion years. It just seems right driving across (a very small part of) America. Then on the interstate to Vegas. As we have a late evening flight we stop off at M Resort for a first visit. It feels strange driving in, parking close to the casino entrance. Very independent and a good experience. M Resort is very smart. I sign up for a players card and we play Aces Bonus Poker for around an hour. A few quads, including 2s for Mrs T, leave us with a $20 deficit by the time we leave. A few miles up Las Vegas Boulevard and we are at South Point. It's certainly not as glamorous as M Resort but it's busier. It reminds me of an off-off strip Orleans. Just a little play here, dropping another $20. If only picking up $20 was as easy as dropping it. I have promised Mrs T an early arrival at the airport so that she does not get twitchy about being late. Mrs T always wants to know when check-in opens rather than when it closes! We drop the car back at the rental centre and get the shuttle to McCarran. All very smooth. I have clocked 545 miles in the Passat and have not filled up since we left Vegas. Even now there is 3/16 tank left, amazing. Gas prices might have rocketed in USA but they still represent great value to UK visitors. We really enjoyed having a car and can imagine it being a part of future trips. Plenty of time to relax in the lounge, get a couple of drinks and some food before the flight. Unrenovated First cabin again and seats 1A/K again. I forego the full meal service in favour of a slice of cheesecake and a glass of port, Mrs T tries the pasta. We change into the sleep suits and settle down for a solid sleep before breakfast and landing at Heathrow. Gambling figures for the trip show an overall loss between us of $578. Almost all of that is down to my VP play with BJ and poker showing a profit. Mrs T only lost $85. An analysis of the 'big' hits shows that I hit a SF and 14 quads, including 3 premium quads. Mrs T hit 13 quads but that included no less than 6 premium quads, including Aces twice. Low rolling was still fun, I just wish VP offered a better return. It's an almost inevitable loser without a Royal Flush, regardless of pay tables. We are still in the black for all gambling after 14 trips but the profit margin is being whittled away. Now back to planning the next trip in September. Probably Aria/Bellagio, then Paris.