My wife and I have been to Las Vegas 4 times, having stayed at the Monte Carlo, Excalibur, Harrahâ€™s, and then Ballyâ€™s. A few months ago we were offered our first comped rooms, so we booked 2 nights at the Rio followed by 2 nights at the Imperial Palace. We had never stayed at either hotel so we were looking forward to this trip to try something new. We flew out of Great Falls, Montana at 9:30 Sunday night, arriving in Las Vegas around 11pm on May 3, 2009. I didnâ€™t care for the late time, but it was an Allegiant Air flight that we got for $29 each, each way, so I figured I couldnâ€™t complain too much. We quickly got a cab and asked him to take us to the Rio. I asked him if he was going to take Tropicana to the highway and he said yes. I was not comfortable saying â€œno tunnelâ€, but I had no problem asking him what way he was gonna take. Yeah, I know, makes no sense to me either. We arrived at the RIO and immediately checked in. It was a nice room and a good view of the pool, so we were happy. We spent the next three hours gambling a bit and looking around the hotel. We caught the Show in the Sky at midnight and otherwise got familiar with the layout of the hotel. We ended up down a little bit from our first gambling session, and called in a night around 2am. We were up early on Monday, May 4th and had breakfast at the Sao Paulo restaurant as the All American Bar & Grille did not open until later. The breakfast was big and we enjoyed it. We then walked down to the Gold Coast. I was pleasantly surprised by that place. For some reason I was expecting a real dump but I found it be very nice. We gambled there for a bit and came out ahead, probably making up for what we lost the night before at the RIO. My wife and I and are not big gamblers, so if we lose 50 bucks we usually stop playing. By the same token, when we get ahead $50 we also tend to take the money and run. After the Gold Coast we walked over to the Palms. We didnâ€™t play there, just walked around and checked out the sights. We walked back to the RIO around 11am and went to the pool. We enjoyed the pool very much. There were some kids in the sandy pool, but otherwise it was pretty much adults only and very relaxing. Around 5pm we went to McFaddenâ€™s for dinner. I had purchased a $25 Restaurant.com certificate beforehand for $2.00 so I wanted to make sure I made good use of my 2 bucks. Another reason I wanted to eat there is because I lived in Ireland until I was 5 years old when my family moved to the U.S. Growing up I remember my Mother making Shepherdâ€™s Pie, and I absolutely loved it. So when I saw Shepherdâ€™s pie on the McFaddenâ€™s menu I was very excited. Here I was, an Irish boy about to have dinner in an Irish restaurant which offers Shepherdâ€™s pie, so of course I order bbq ribs! I donâ€™t know what I was thinking! The ribs were fine, but not what I wanted, and I canâ€™t believe I went to an Irish restaurant in Las Vegas and ate ribs! After dinner we went to see Penn & Teller. We got there early so we could listen to the jazz music as you find your seat. The music and the show were both very good. I bought higher priced tickets because I wanted to make sure we had good seats. But the theater was not very full on Monday evening, so much so that they did not seat anyone in the balcony; instead they placed everyone on the main floor. I think lots of people got perfectly good seats for much less than I paid for ours. I was quite impressed that after the show they stand outside the theater for pictures and autographs for no charge. That was impressive and very refreshing. After the show we gambled some more in the casino and went up to the VooDoo lounge to have a drink and enjoy the view. By midnight we realized that we were bored with the RIO, but since we would be moving to the IP in the morning we decided not to go to the strip on Monday night. We ended up going to bed pretty early, probably around 1am. Tuesday morning we went back to the Gold Coast for breakfast at TGIFridayâ€™s. They have a breakfast special for $3.99 for 2 eggs, hash browns, toast, and your choice of breakfast meat. That sounded like a good deal to us. The food was good and we were starting to learn that there are some advantages to being off the strip. Around 10am we checked out of the RIO and caught a cab to the IP. We went to check in but the whole time I was telling my wife that our room wonâ€™t be ready so we will have to store our bags and find something to do for the next 4 or 5 hours. You see, in our relationship, I am the Vegas expert so I have to explain these things to her. We get to the counter and immediately get our room key! That must have been the 4th or 5th time I was a knucklehead this trip. I have thanked my wife for her generosity and willingness to forgive me on many occasions! But when we got to our room we discovered one bed, when we asked for two, and no pool view, instead we were looking at a parking garage. So we went back downstairs to see if we could get different rooms. We left the bags in the room because I told my wife that since the rooms are comped, and it is so early in the day, they wonâ€™t have anything else for us and I was not going to drag our luggage through the casino for nothing. That was me putting my foot down because I am the Vegas expert! So we go back to the desk and say that we were hoping for a room with two beds and a view of the pool. The lady smiles and asks which floor we would like as she has many rooms available! Did I call it or what? We pick the 6th floor and my wife gets the new room keys and goes to the new room while I go back to the first room and grab our luggage and meet her on the 6th floor. I sure got out of carrying that luggage again, huh? After my wife laughed at me for a while we walked down to the Miracle Mile mall for lunch as we had some more restaurant.com certificates to use. We had lunch at the Ocean One restaurant. My wife really liked her chicken sandwich while I thought my meal was okay, nothing special. We then we walked around Planet Hollywood for a while. We made it back to the IP in time to change clothes because we had front row seats for the Phantom of the Opera at the Venetian. When I bought these a few months ago I asked the lady on the phone if these were too close and she said no, they are the best seats in the house. I think I would have to disagree with her. A few rows back would have been better. My wife and I really enjoyed the show and it was the highlight of our trip. After the show we spent some time at the Venetian before we made our way to Toby Keithâ€™s inside Harrahâ€™s. This is one of our favorite spots in Vegas. We enjoy most of the bartenders and have always enjoyed the way they interact with the customers. We had a good time and danced until the bar closed. We went back to the IP and gambled a bit more before going to bed around 3am. On Wednesday, May 6th, we went to the IP pool around 11am. This pool does not compare to the RIO. It is much like the pool at Harrahâ€™s, a big cement rectangle, but it served its purpose. The cocktail waitresses were very good and always seemed to be in the area. When we were done with the pool we went to Caesarâ€™s where we discovered the interactive blackjack machines. We really liked those machines! I won a few dollars and my wife won about $80, which for us is a huge win. We grabbed a slice of pizza at the food court in Oâ€™Sheaâ€™s. My wife chose the NY style pizza while I grabbed the pan pizza. Not surprisingly, hers was a hell of a lot better! Damn! After walking around Casers and the Mirage for a while, we went back to the IP where we broke down and bought monorail tickets with my wifeâ€™s winnings. We rode up to the MGM where we looked for another interactive blackjack machine, but we did not find one. We played some other machines before heading down to Hooters. We had free tickets (if you buy a drink) to the Mentalist, and then we planned on having dinner at Hooters. The show was okay. I would say it was worth what we paid. I would not have been very happy if I paid $40 or $50 see this show. After the show we went to Hooters where we had a coupon for buy 10 wings and get 10 free. Now, I normally get a burger at Hooters and I really like their burgers, but since we had the free wings deal, I decided to go against what I wanted and got the wings instead. (Are you beginning to notice a pattern when I try to think too much?) The wings were fine, but really nothing special and I certainly wished I could have gotten the burger instead. But we did find an interactive blackjack machine at hooters so we played for a while before walking around that end of the strip. We went into Excalibur and then NYNY followed by the Monte Carlo. We played a little bit in each of those places coming out just about even. As we were leaving the Monte Carlo my wife had to use the restroom. As I was waiting I placed 2 bucks into a poker machine. Since we have poker machines here in Great Falls, Montana, we never play them in Vegas, but I had 2 dollars in my pocket and a few minutes to kill, so I threw them in the machine and gave it a whirl. I won small amounts on a few hands before being dealt 4 Queens! This was a .25 cent machine and I was betting the max of 5 credits, so that was only worth $40, but it was pretty exciting for me. My wife came out of the bathroom (I canâ€™t say for sure if she washed her hands, but I assume so) to find me with a big grin on my face. That was a nice way to end the day. We got up pretty early on Thursday as we were leaving at 5pm that day. We checked out about 9am and stowed our bags and hoped the monorail for the Sahara. We had never been there and thought this was a good time to check it out. We joined their players club and found a few interactive blackjack machines. One of us lost all of our money on the machine, okay, it was me, and my wife ended up losing some, but still cashing out with some money. Since we put 10 points on our cards that day we got a free drink inside of a souvenir plastic cup. After we got the drink we were looking for a machine to cash in her ticket when we walked past another interactive blackjack machine. I put $10 in for me and my wife used her ticket which was for the same amount, and in a short period of time we had won $80! We got out of there pretty quick before we decided to keep gambling instead of cashing in. I worked once but I did not want to try it again. We went to the Wynn where we both lost pretty quickly. That was the end of our gambling for this trip. I would guess that we came out on the losing end this go around. Since we donâ€™t gamble very much, maybe $50 a day for each of us, we donâ€™t really have a budget or closely track how we are doing. It seems like we lost more than we won, but the winning sure is a lot more fun! We walked across the street and walked around the fashion Show mall for a while. After that we went back to the IP where we checked out the cars on the 5th floor with our free admission tickets. After that we went back to Toby Keithâ€™s for lunch. This time I had one of the best burgers in my life! I actually made a good food choice. My wife also enjoyed her lunch and it was a nice way to spend our last few hours in Las Vegas. While we were there we spoke with one of the bartenders and told him that things seemed different this time. While they were still friendly, there was not the same level of excitement or customer interaction this time around. He said they have a new food and beverage manager who does not want them doing some of the things they used to do. He said that some of their flair bartender stunts have been curtailed. It felt like a much quieter place, just like the hundreds of other bars in Las Vegas. He said that these new rules are also in effect at Carnival Court. I canâ€™t see that place eliminating the flair bartenders. People wonâ€™t go to an outside bar when it is over 100 degrees when they can get the same experience inside a well air conditioned building. But perhaps that is just me. After lunch we caught a cab to the airport where our flight left on time at 5pm. We were back home by 8:30 on Thursday, 5/7/09, and back to the real world. This ended up being along report, sorry for being so gabby. Thanks for reading.