I never got around to writing a trip report for my most recent trip, a solo trip with the express purpose of achieving the gold tier level of MLife. I know that there is not much difference between Pearl and Gold at MLife, but I wanted it and it was a good excuse for a Vegas trip. DAY 1 - SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 13, 2014 Southwest Flight I was able to find a good rate on Southwest from Fort Lauderdale to Las Vegas. The direct flight left on Saturday, 9/13 at 11:00 a.m. and arrived in Vegas at 1:10 p.m. I was able to get the flight for $262 round trip, $287 with early bird boarding. Since I brought my golf clubs, I appreciated the no bag fees. The flight was uneventful. I had four drink tickets, but only ended up using one, knowing that I needed to pick up a rental car, so I didn't want to be too drunk. Dollar Rental Car I rented a car using travel miles on my credit card through Dollar. Thank you to the members on this board that recommended signing up for Dollar Express, it really saved me a lot of time as the line at the Dollar counter was long. I proceeded directly to the check-in booth in the garage and my car was ready to go. I was out of there in 10 minutes. (Note: I didn’t even look at the contract and when I got home there was a charge for $95 for collision insurance that I did not authorize. I was able to call and get the charged reversed though.) I left the car rental center and decided I would do a little exploring before I checked into the hotel. I was basically looking for a supermarket to get water and snacks for then room. I should have done some research before this because, I just drove around aimlessly before I finally gave up and just headed to the hotel. Mirage Hotel & Casino I pulled up to the Mirage valet, grabbed my bag and proceeded to check-in. There was nobody in line and I just needed to wait a minute or two for one of the front desk staff to free up. Since this was a solo trip, I wasn't too concerned about the hotel room, but I asked if there was an upgrade available to a Tower room or at least a high floor. The front desk guy didn't really seem to make much effort and gave me a room on the 14th floor. (I've stayed at the Mirage for my last several trips, but I have been less satisfied with each successive visit). So I proceed to my room and as I'm walking down the hall, I realize my room is the very last room at the end of the hallway. I don't have a problem walking, but this was just another disappointment with the Mirage. After unpacking and getting cleaned up, I headed down to the sports book bar and some bad odds video poker. I played quarter DDB for a while, I think I ended up winning a little. Then I walked over to the sports book to make a College football bet for a friend. A three team parlay that I can’t remember, but it ended up losing. I played some blackjack and some slots and probably dropped about $700 before I got hungry and decided to grab some quick eats at the Pantry. Pantry Restaurant I took a seat at the bar at the Pantry Restaurant and ordered a basic burger and fries. The food was ok, but I wasn’t expecting anything special. I knew that this place had just recently opened and when I asked the bartender, he said they had only been opened for three days. I noticed that there was a guy in a suit asking a lot of questions and the bartender said that he was the hotel manager. He said the restaurant was hotel owned and operated, not a separate entity leasing space. After eating, it was about 5:00 p.m. local time, 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time for me, I headed back up to my room for a nap. M Resort - Ashley Red I woke up from my nap around 9:00 p.m., took a shower, changed and headed down to valet to pick up the car and drive over to M Resort to meet up with an old friend who plays in a band called Ashley Red. The drive out to the M Resort was further than I expected. I found a parking spot right up front and proceeded into the Casino. I could tell immediately upon entering that this was definitely a locals casino. It felt very much like the local casinos near me. I made my way over to the Ravello Lounge, where my friend’s band was playing and grabbed a beer at the bar while I waited for the band to take a break. I went and said hello to my friend when the band took a break we stepped out on the patio overlooking the pool to catch up. He mentioned that the band had been very busy as they were getting ready to start a stint as the house band for a local tv show called the Vegas View that airs on channel 13 at 2:00 p.m. weekdays. If you’re relaxing in the room around this time, check it out. One interesting tidbit that he told me was that the lions from MGM Grand were relocated to an outdoor Lion Habitat at the M Resort. Once the band started their next set, I left the Ravello Lounge, played a little VP in the casino, then headed back to the Mirage. I gambled for several hours at the Mirage and called it a night at some point with no memorable wins or situations worth elaborating. DAY 2 - SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 14, 2014 I woke up around 9:00 a.m. and went down to the Carnegie Deli for a bagel and coffee and to get a few Sunday sports bets in. I was looking at the parlay sheets and NFL point spreads to determine the best bets for the day. This was the week that Adrian Peterson had just been suspended for the child abuse charge and I was surprised to see that the Patriots were only 3 and 1/2 point favorites despite this information, so I put $100 on the Pats (which would be my only winning sports bet) I also put $100 on the Dolphins (my favorite team) to beat the Bills, who were 4 and 1/2 point underdogs at home. I should know better than to bet on my team. I also bet a three team parley that included the Phins. I watched the first half of the Dolphins game at the Mirage sports book, then walked over to Harrahs and watched the second half at the bar right near the strip side entrance. (the Phins suck.) I was given two drink tickets for my $220 total in NFL bets, but the drink service at the Mirage Sports Book was ridiculously slow with one waitress handling half of the book. Also, one thing I find funny regarding dink tickets at the sports book is that I need to bet $50 on a sports bet, but they will give me a drink ticket for a $4 race bet. So if you are looking to get your drink on and watch the games, just bet a few races for drink tickets. Golf - Las Vegas Paiute - Sun Mountain Course I booked a tee time on GolfNow for the Sun Mountain Course at Las Vegas Paiute for about 2:00 p.m. So after the Dolphins sucked it up and lost to Buffalo, I walked back across the street and into the Mirage parking garage to drive out to Paiute. I have fond memories of the Paiute Sun Mountain course because I hit my only hole-in-one on #8 and it was a money hole where I put up $10 and won over $5,000 for the shot. I teed off as a single, but joined up with two other guys, an older war veteran and a younger local. It was a pleasant round on a warm, but not overwhelmingly hot day. On the way out of the golf course, I stopped at the smoke shop and grabbed a couple of cigars. Mirage - Heritage Steak - Craps - Top Dollar I got back to the Mirage, went back to the room and showered and changed. I was hungry and felt like a steak, asparagus, and mashed potatoes. I decided to grab a seat at the bar at Heritage Steak. (Note: The most uncomfortable part about going solo to Vegas is the solo dining, but I find that it’s not too uncomfortable at a bar and most restaurants in Vegas offer a full menu at the bar.) I ordered a petite filet (medium), with a side of garlic mashed and asparagus along with a Grey Goose Soda and Lime. The food came out pretty quickly, but when I cut into the steak, it was undercooked with a raw center. I pointed it out to the bartender and asked if they could throw it on the grill a little longer. I hate sending food back because you never know how the cooks are going to take it and whether they will defile your food. When the steak came back it was cooked perfectly, but there was a glob of what I hope was butter on top of the steak that was not there when I sent it back. Anyway, the steak was great, I just hope that glob was just butter. The meal with two vodka sodas and tip ended up costing over $100, which I thought was pricey, even by Vegas standards. After dinner, I went into the casino and gambled the night away. The gambling was pretty uneventful except for a good craps session and some good hits on Top Dollar slots. I bought in for $300 into a $15 min craps table. I use a pretty conservative craps strategy with $15 pass and 2x odds, plus two or three come bets with 2x odds. I also will throw down some $5 hard ways periodically. I also will play the all bets. I give the dealers $20, $5 on each of the alls for me and $5 dollars for the dealers - $1 on each of the alls and $2 wherever they chose. The dice moved around the table with a couple of good rolls, but not great rolls, then the dice went to the Mexican gentleman on Mexican Independence Day, no less, and he proceeded to go on a monster roll. He hit several points to the point where I pressed up to max odds and $30 pass and come bets and he eventually hit the Ace-Ace that he needed for the All, which put me up somewhere around $1,500. I continued to play around to my roll, then cashed out with about $1,300. The dealers made a point to thank me for the bets as I probably made the dealers about $300, but they also pissed me off because they gave a couple of young European guys shit for not tipping them as they left at the same time I cashed out. I would not have a problem with this if the guys had been there for an hour and not tipping at all, but these guys were only at the table for about ten minutes and were clearly craps novices. I took some of my winnings and decided to play some higher limit slots, specifically $5 Top Dollar. I cannot recall exactly the bonuses that I received, but I recall buying into a $5 Top Dollar machine for $100 and walking away with over $1,500. At this point I was pretty drunk and tired and decided to call it a night. DAY 3 - MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 15, 2014 Golf - Highland Falls Golf Club I slept in on Monday and woke up sometime around 11:00 a.m. with a bit of a hangover. I went downstairs for some coffee and a bagel and made an afternoon tee time at Highland Falls Golf Club. I had a late tee time, around 2:00 p.m. and I initially was playing by myself, but I caught up with three local guys and joined them for most of the round. I always find it interesting to find out what the locals do in Vegas and these guys were industrial windows and glass guys. The round started off rough, as I was still a little hungover and it was hot, but after a couple waters all was good. I mainly went out to this golf course because it appeared to have good views and it did not disappoint. Mirage - California Pizza Kitchen It was already dark by the time I finished the golf round. I drove back to the Mirage and self-parked in the garage. (I self-parked for the entire trip, except when I first arrived for check-in) I went directly to California Pizza Kitchen and ordered a Margherita Pizza to go. While I was waiting for the pizza, I went to the Sports Book Bar for some video poker and to get a soda to drink with my Pizza. I picked up the Pizza and went back to my room to eat, then get cleaned up for my last night in Vegas. Bellagio - Blackjack After cleaning up in the room, I decided to walk over to Bellagio and gamble over there. I have stayed at every MLife property on the strip, except Bellagio and Excalibur. I really like the vibe at Bellagio and scheduled my next trip there. I played blackjack and smoked the cigar that I picked up at the Paiute smoke shop. I am hesitant to smoke cigars at the table because I know that most people, especially the dealers, don’t like the smoke, but there was already another guy at the table smoking a cigar, so I said what the hell. I am careful to blow the smoke out away from the dealer. I remember that I had a good time gambling at Bellagio, but there were no major wins or losses. Eventually, I was drunk and tired and walked back to the Mirage to crash. Wrap-Up My flight left about 10:00 a.m. the next day and was uneventful. A few observations: I like the Mirage hotel, but I have been disappointed with the BJ dealers and cocktail waitresses the last couple of trips. They seem to mostly be older and generally not very happy. I like fun blackjack tables with friendly interactive dealers, which were few at the Mirage. The cocktail waitress service was fine, but some of the woman slinging the drinks looked like they were in their 60s. I don’t want to age discriminate, but I prefer my cocktail waitresses young and hot. It seemed like the Mirage was hiring its staff from the area retirement communities. Also, it seems like the Mirage does not value my patronage, as I can’t even get a high floor room. I checked in the casino host office before I left to see if they could comp anything off my room charges and the host on duty didn’t even seem to make any effort to see what he could do. (Note: I am not a high roller, according to the host my average bet was rated at $62 for about 4 and a half hours, but I think a good gesture, like knocking off $50 in F&B was warranted.) So my nest trip is scheduled for the Bellagio to see how I like it. Gambling Summary I use the envelope system and budgeted $1k in my Saturday, Sunday, and Monday envelopes and $500 in my Tuesday/Reserve envelope. Overall it was a good gambling trip as I did not get into my Sunday envelope until Monday and never touched the Monday and Tuesday envelopes, thanks to the Craps and Top Dollar wins mentioned above. My next trip is coming up this weekend, Halloween weekend and I am going to try my hand at a live trip report with plenty of photos. It will be similar to this past trip, a solo trip with golf, but I am also meeting an old high school friend out there. He is the equipment manger for University of New Mexico and I am going to meet him at Sam Boyd Stadium on Friday when they are getting the locker room and press box ready for the game.