Sam’s Town and Downtown Trip Report March 11-15 Background I travel to Las Vegas approximately 4-5 times a year. I have been going to Las Vegas since the early 90s (pretty much since I turned 21). During that time, places that I have stayed have changed. During my 20s it was always strip only with a few side trips to downtown. During my 30s it has been always been staying Downtown with a few side trips to the Strip and/or some off-strip casinos. However, this time I received a great offer from Sam’s Town on Boulder Highway and I decided to stay there. This was a decision that I did not regret. As I have gotten older, I have found the Strip to be less and less appealing. As well, my travel companions have also changed. In my 20s, trips were primarily with friends and sometimes solo. Now I seem to travel quite a bit with my mother and brother. This has influenced my decision about where I stay because safety has always been a major concern for my mother and both my mother and brother like a more laid back atmosphere. This trip report will not be broken down by days but rather by categories, as I do not remember what I did on what days. Part A: Sam’s Town I absolutely love this place. They were really good to my family and me. The offer that I had received from them was five nights comped in a park view room, with $100 in free play, as well as a gold card. The gold card allows for you and a guest to have unlimited dining in any of their restaurants. The unlimited dining means one appetizer, one entrée, and two drinks per person. It also means that myself and my guest (without me having to be present) can go to any of the bars and/or lounges and have unlimited drinks (including top-shelf alcohol) at any time. I found the drinking option to be particularly helpful as when I wanted to take a break from gambling I could sit at the bar and have a couple while I was waiting for my family. As well, the host that I dealt with at Sam’s Town also sent a Cadillac Escalade to pick me and my family up from the airport as well as provided us return on the day of departure. Finally, with the amount of gambling that I did, the hotel covered through my points all of the room charges for my mother as well as all of her food. In essence, the trip cost me my gambling and flight ☺ Also, I love the fact that they have the shuttle to the strip and downtown. This was perfect for us to gamble in the areas that we like during the day and gamble in a more laid-back atmosphere at night back at the hotel. Rooms The rooms were great for what I like to do – have a quite, clean room with a comfortable bed. The room that myself and my brother were in was a park view. My mother’s room was a mountain view and although the first one was okay, the air conditioner did not work. When I went down to the front desk they were very helpful and they switched my mother’s room to a park view as well. I have to say that I really liked the rooms here. Although they are not glamorous like some of the strip rooms that I have stayed in, nor were they trendy like the rooms at The D downtown, I found the rooms to be very spacious and clean. In particular, I found them similar to the rooms at Main Street Station but for some reason they also seems more airy (I don't know why). I also liked the fact that the rooms overlooked the atrium of the hotel. If you have not been to Sam’s Town, they have a large atrium with mechanical wolves, bears, etc. that move during a laser light show. The only downfall for Sam’s Town is that the rooms do not contain a safe, which forced me to carry my cash with me and find some inventive hiding places for amounts I didn't want to bring. Gambling The gambling here is excellent. The tables have low limits with great blackjack rules. As well, video poker is typically full pay. Even their craps is 10x odds. The casino can be a bit smoky (I smoke but I like to not be surrounded with it and will go outside often to have one) but it was not typically busy and so that helped. I know I’m weird – a smoker who doesn't like the smell of smoke. I had about three hand pays – all of them were for between $1500 and $2000. I did hit for four Ace’s with kicker on double double bonus, which was good. I also one $1500 on a drunken bet. It was one of those where you are heading up to your room after four double manhattans and it sounds like a good idea at the time to put a hundy in a nine-line dollar machine. I was so used to hitting max bet that I did again on this machine that I didn't notice it was $45 a spin. Second spin I hit the bonus and it paid me a little more than $1500. That typically does not happen on these kinds of bets. One thing as a side note that I find annoying is the how different casinos deal with taxing wins. Being Canadian, I am taxed at 30%. At most casinos downtown, they will take your information but will not withhold this amount. Sam’s Town seems to behave like most of the strip casinos in that they take it off prior to paying. That just means more work for me – not that I am complaining about winning, just complaining about taxes! One other interesting note, the $1 double double bonus machines that I was playing for most of my time here had a progressive jackpot for the Royal starting at $4900. By the end of the trip, it was up over $5600. Five times I got dealt four to a royal and got nothing – and I mean nothing – no pair, no straight, no flush and not the elusive royal. I have been playing video poker pretty hard-core for ten years now and have not hit it one time. Restaurants Overall, the restaurants at Sam’s Town are good. The buffet was eaten quite a bit for lunch. Although there are things that could be better, I never left hungry. My family absolutely loves it. In particular, I like the fact that they have an ice cream parlor station with about ten choices. I also think their selections of Asian food to be very good. We also dined one night at Billy Bob’s Steak House. Having great food and outstanding service made it a spectacular meal. Unfortunately I should have come hungrier as the portions are huge. The rib eye that I had was cooked to a perfect medium rare and the baked potato was excellent. I had clam chowder as a starter and it was great. They also were able to make great cocktails. The only disappointing thing was the desert. I had the crème Brule and although it was good, the custard had a little too much egg in it and was not as creamy as it should have been. As well, it was cool whereas I like crème Brule to be slightly above room temperature. I will definitely go back here again but next time I would get the lobster – I added a tail to my steak and it was huge (must have been eight oz.) and I could have gone for that. To compare, I was at a really fancy restaurant in Toronto for work. Being the “Boss” I picked up the tab for that meal which was over $1200 for five people. This one, (if it had not been all comped) would have cost about $250 and it was way better. One last note was TGI Fridays at the hotel. My family likes chain restaurants. I can take or leave them as I spend most of my time in them due to work. Both times we went the food was horrendous. The second time, the service was also terrible. Typically I am a 20% + tipping for good service – this was one of those rare occasions where I left no tip. In May, when I return to Sam’s Town, I will not be going there. Part B: Downtown I love gambling downtown. I love the atmosphere and I love the quirkiness of the place. My favorites have always been Main Street Station (Video Poker at the Boer’s Head Bar with their on-site brews in hand), Golden Gate (Craps atmosphere is great), and the D (Blackjack and roulette when I want to be in a more party atmosphere). Unfortunately, Main Street Station really let me down this time. I did not receive one four of a kind the entire trip. Typically I get three or four of their scratch cards a day. Oh well, not to be for this trip. Golden Gate continues to be fun. I believe that I broke even playing craps here but I don't remember. I was tipping the waitress pretty well both times I was here and lets just say I was drinking bourbon neat. We went to DuPar’s for breakfast a couple of times, which we all love, and it was good as usual. Although they are known for their pancakes, and they are spectacular, I particularly like their corned beef hash and their home fries. The D is also great. We went to the D Grill for breakfast and I have to say that I actually like it better than Du Pars the only problem is I find the service to be a little slow, but I don't mind if I get hot food. I had to have their stuffed French toast – which is French toast with a white chocolate creamy middle – because this is something that is a beautiful thing – and it did not disappoint. I played some slots and blackjack here and lost a little bit but had lots of drinks. I decided at one point, also because of drinking, to plunk down a $100 black chip on 25 on roulette and it hit! This $3500 payout was the best that I have done in a single bet on roulette. Unfortunately the dealer spoiled it because I gave her a $200 tip (which I thought was very generous) and the dealer’s reaction to the tip was so bad that a pit boss came over and told her to apologize to me. She had said something under her breath that he heard and my Make’s Mark mind did not. The Pit Boss tried to insist that the tip be given back but I refused and stated that it was earned and to be kept. In regards to Downtown itself, the cast of characters is getting a little out of hand. Although I appreciate the “sexy” atmosphere of Las Vegas, I don't like that there are some topless people on the street. In particular, I watched a family with three kids, ranging from guessed ages of 3-7, pose for a photo with one of these ladies. I guess I am getting old – this kind of stuff didn't bother me even a few years ago. My mother, in particular, has started to feel that it is unsafe. It is not like we wont stay there again, and we will continue to visit every time, its just getting a little tired for me. The Strip We went here for one of our days on the shuttle. I don't even bother playing hard down here because I find the rules for the tables to be too bad and the video poker pay tables to be horrible. However, I still enjoy it and I will typically play some slots at around the $3 a spin range. I continue to love Casino Royale and their $1 Michelob beers. Many nights were spent here getting their foot long hot dogs after some hard-core drinking, clubbing, and chasing girls. I still like the old school feel of it and had fun. I also have to say that the renovations done at the Quad / Imperial Palace are great and I thought their drink service was better than I saw at most places on the strip. We also went to The Buffet at Aria using a comp through My Vegas. Although it was good, and the deserts were great, I would have to say that I have found the buffet at Sam’s Town or at Main Street Station to be slightly better and done at a much lower price (although I don't typically pay). I wouldn't be in a rush to go back but I also wouldn't not go if I was hungry. Finally, I took my mother and brother to see Million Dollar Quartet at Harrah’s. We had third row, center section on the aisle seats. I loved this show and thought it was very well done and I would highly recommend it. Although not as good as Jersey Boys in my opinion, my mother and brother thought it was better. It definitely is one of the best shows in Vegas currently. Anyways, that's about it for me. Next time I will try to make more detailed notes for my trip report. I read stuff on this Board quite frequently and I think I need to pay back to all those that have provided me with entertainment during breaks between trips.