This was my fourth trip to Vegas, my second time by myself. About 2 months ago, I had gotten an email from the Bellagio offering me 3 comped nights and $75 in slot credit. I always play in their casino because it is always happening, but I swear, I did not think that I had lost that much money there. Anyway, it was too good to pass up, so I booked. I then called Ballyâ€™s to see if I could stay there for free. They hooked me up with one free night at Paris and $75 in promotional chips. Booked that. Then, decided to stay one more night downtown. Saw a deal on here for Las Vegas Club for $16. Booked that. Had USAir frequent flyer miles, so I was getting there and staying for $16 (up front). Vegas, baby. JULY 11, 2003 I had a 6:10 pm flight on USAir direct out of Charlotte, arriving at 7:30. The plan was to jam on out to Vegas, check in real quick and try to catch Bruce Willis and the Accelerators at the House of Blues. The weather conspired against me and we did not leave Charlotte until about 8:30. Bummer. Flight was uneventful. Landed and took a $20 cab ride to Bellagio. Vegas was happening on a Friday night. No wait to check in. I slipped the check-in guy a twenty and asked for whatever he could do. He was really pleased with the thought and gave me a corner room with a â€œpanoramic view.â€ It was on a low floor, but the room was great. Had a nice view of the strip through two windows and the room was huge. Also had a whirlpool tub. I was very pleased. I am not sure how big the rooms are supposed to be at the Bellagio, but I think I got bumped up slightly. I was going to be there for 3 nights, so it was worth $20. The room comes with robes, so I felt quite regal. Went down to find out about the $75 slot credit. Took about an hour to get all of that straightened out, which was a pain. I asked one of the many people there why I was comped since I did not think my play was all that â€œimpressive.â€ He said that they were remodeling the hotel and currently had only about 70% of their rooms available. It was slower during the summer and they decided to make the offer to get people in. Worked for me. Played the $75 in credit on video poker and came away with $60 cash. Put $40 of my own money in and hit the blackjack table. Found a $5 table (on a Friday night late) and after about an hour and a half, colored up for $200. Time to hit the rack. So far, so good. JULY 12, 2003 Woke up about 10:00 and hit the Bellagio buffet, which is always excellent. This was a brunch deal, so I had eggs cooked to order, beef tenderloin and prime rib. This is always a great place to eat. I also had the best piece of carrot cake I have ever tasted (with ice cream). I was going to the Judah vs. Corley and Mayorga vs. Forrest fight that night at the new Orleans Arena. This was the first card there and there were 3 title fights. Off to the sports book to get down on the fight that night. I bet one long shot and 2 sure things. $25 that Judah vs. Corley would not go 10 rounds (favorite), $25 that Mayorga vs. Forrest would go past 9.5 rounds (long shot paying about 2 to 1) and $50 that Forrest would win (Forrest was the favorite). Played a little more video poker, cashed out even and hit the pool. The sun was very hot and the water was refreshingly cold. The pool had a good crowd and I settled in near some LA lawyer types. Took the book Wiseguys, the story on which Good Fellas is based (sort of a Vegas theme) and soaked up the rays for about 2 hours. The lawyer types were discussing their exploits from the night before. Apparently, their philosophy was, â€œWake and Bake, Bump and Dump.â€ Pretty funny. Had an excellent poolside strawberry dacquari. Back to the room for a whirlpool and off to the Barbary Coast to catch the shuttle for the Orleans. Lost $4 on the nickel video poker and had a beer. Big Elvis was not in the house and I missed him this trip. That is a must-do. Looked for the Elvis slots, but could find none. Off to the Orleans. I got into the arena and the fights had already started. I had pre-bought a good floor seat for $35. There were not a lot of people there and I got to speak to George Foreman, Jim Lampley and speak at Larry Merchant (he was off to take a leak). Foreman was great. Really worked the crowd. I moved up to the $250 section and started talking to this guy that goes to all the Vegas fights. Good dude. We got to stand at the rail and cheer for all the fighters as they made their entrance. Saw Tony Curtis and Ed McMahon in the crowd. About half way through the Judah fight, the guy Iâ€™m sitting with says he sees a couple of seats in the $350 section, a couple of rows from the ring. Off we go. We were sitting beside the press guys and were talking to them about the scoring. It was a lot of fun. The Judah fight goes the distance, so I lose that bet. We are sitting prime time for the Forrest fight and we are sure that Mayorga is waaaay ahead on the card. But it is a Don King fight, so you never know. Forrest loses, so I lose the big bet, but the fight goes the distance so I win the long shot and recover half of my money. I had some hope that maybe Don saved my bet when they announced that it was a majority decision. Some judge called the fight even, but it was not to be. Got the refereeâ€™s autograph after the fight and Harold Lettermanâ€™s (HBO score keeper). Met a girl that wrote freelance for Rap magazine. She was a trip and very knowledgeable about boxing. Tried to get Don Kingâ€™s autograph after the fight, but he was not signing anything. His hair is big. Got Chris Byrdâ€™s autograph and got a pound from Kadeem Hardison (Dwayne Wayne). This was the best thing I did in Vegas this trip. Took the shuttle over to the Gold Coast and walked over to the Palms. I love this casino. It is very live, the people are great and they play music in the casino. Great vibe. There were a bunch of people walking around in pajamas and I found out later that this was an annual party called â€œJimmyâ€™s Jammy Jam.â€ Very trippy. Sat down to play some blackjack with a pretty fun table except for one guy. He was absolutely loaded and I called him Teflon Man. He was betting at least $500 a hand and could not lose. He was rude and drunk, even flipping off the dealer once on a rare lose. Unbelievable. I got cleaned out and had to leave, but it was a good time. I want to stay there sometime. Went back to the Gold Coast and got the graveyard breakfast in the cafÃ© there. Eggs and steak. Good and cheap. I played about $10 in video poker and got a cab to the crib. JULY 13, 2003 By the way, tipping the maids results in towels and shampoo. My room also had a CD clock radio which I really enjoyed. I had a massage scheduled at the Bellagio Spa for 11:00 am. Got up about 9:30 and worked out a bit at the spa. The facilities are first rate. Massage was ok, but not as good as I expected. Probably wonâ€™t do that again, though the guy was really good. Took the Eucalyptis steam and talked to a guy about vacationing in NC. Spa was great, massage was a one time deal. I had a bus pass, so I was going to go off-roading a bit today. Walked over to the Aladdin to get a slot card and play in the slot tournament as suggested on the board. I scored about 6500 which they said was a bit above average, but not enough to get any more than the $20 voucher for food. Did not win the $1 million on the scratch card and by the time I made it to the buffet, it was closed. It was almost 3:00, I guess. Took the voucher to the cafÃ© there and had the meatloaf. It was very good as was the giant dessert I had. Caught the 301 bus outside Paris (the 302 express was running, too) and headed to the Strat to sign up for their card and play the $25 match play I learned about on this site. You will meet some interesting people on the bus, but it was a great way to go if you had the time. Lots of stops on the 301 but all the drivers were patient and helpful. Won the $25 match play at the Strat and all of a sudden I had $50 in free money to play at the $5 blackjack table. Played for about 2 hours and tried to work the count on a 6 deck shoe. Results were good and bad. When the count was high, I would bet a little more, but the cards did not always go my way. However, I did stand with 16 a couple of times against a dealerâ€™s face card when the count was high and won a couple of times. I was sure that was gonna get me kicked out. The Strat ended up cleaning me out. I guess the casinos really do love a guy that thinks he can count cardsâ€¦ Caught the bus back to Slots-O-Fun and did the free pulls and the $1 match play black jack. Lost on all of those bets. Took about $20 to the craps table and had a good time there. Thus began my true love for craps. It was expensive over the course of the trip, but I think I got the hang of the basic bets and had a lot of fun. Busted out that $20, had the 99 cent super dog and caught the bus back to the Bellagio. Express this time. Much faster with less stops. Showered and went over to Ballyâ€™s to check on my Las Vegas lottery bet. Loser. Went over to see Dennis Miller live at Paris. Casino services there had hooked me up with a ticket and they did me rightâ€¦fourth row dead center. Dennis was great, but I didnâ€™t like the opening act. Went to the Paris Casino and played some Pai Gow poker. Was up a little there and went to craps. Up and down there but had a great time. Bet the two-way hard 8 a couple of times and hit one. The guys there were appreciative but I eventually crapped out. Went back to Bellagio and played the $10 blackjack table and lost a lot in a hurry. Played some $10 minimum craps and really did not have enough of a bankroll to be in that game. Eventually lost, but we had a couple of good shooters. Called it a day and hit the sack. Got hit on by a prostitute at the Bellagio and declined. I was surprised to see them in this place. She was pretty skanky. JULY 14, 2003 Last day on the strip and I checked out of Bellagio and into Paris. Since I was a â€œguest of the casino,â€ I was able to skip the long line and check in quickly. I advised the check-in lady that this was a birthday trip (my birthday was in 2 weeks) and she gave me a room on 19 with a premium view overlooking the pool, the Eiffel tower and the Bellagio fountains. Great view. Picked up my promo chips and went straight to the craps table. You had to bet each $25 chip, so I couldnâ€™t change them in for reds. I watched a bit and thought I caught a guy on a good run. I bet $25 on the come out roll and it was an 8. I took 2 times odds on that and let the whole $75 ride. He crapped out and like that I was done with the promo chips. Went to the Ballyâ€™s cafÃ© for the prime rib sandwich. It was decent, not great. Hit the Paris pool for a couple of hours and decided to low roll this night. Went back to the room and watched the fountains a bit then went to the Eiffel Tower just after dark. Saw a fountain show from there and it was fabulous. I recommend it to everyone. Then went down to the Imperial Palace and got the slot card. Nice casino, helpful staff. Hit a couple of four of a kind on the nickel video poker and got up a little scratch. Lost it all and more at blackjack. Good time there. This may become my new strip casino. Hit the rack. JULY 14, 2003 Checked out of Paris and had the Paris buffet. Very good. Took the bus down to Las Vegas Club for the last night. Got checked in and got a south tower room. Big room, pretty run down, but it was quiet and cheap. Last time I was in Vegas, LVC was the only place I walked out of a winner. I was saving it for last. Took the 108 bus over to the Hard Rock since I had never been there. It was a long ride. The rock-n-roll stuff they have in there is great. Checked all of that out and signed up for a slot card and got a $10 match play for blackjack. Played that and won. Played some video poker and got up a little. Sat down at the blackjack table with 2 girls and a guy. They were more interested in chatting each other up than playing cards and the play suffered. The vibe there was very â€œcool.â€ Lots of posers. Busted out there, checked out the pool and got back on the bus. Stopped at the Strat and had no luck. Went back downtown and, in honor of Mikey, had to check out the El Cortez. Cool place. Very old Vegas. Played the $3 craps and lost again. It was a fun stop. Went back to the room and gathered the money I had left, about $300. The plan was to lose $100 at the Nugget, Binions and Las Vegas Club. After a quick burger at Binionâ€™s coffee shop, I headed over to the Nugget. All they had were $10 tables. I played for about an hour and a half with 3 other guys. One really young guy had no idea what he was doing, but he drank a lot, so he was okay. The dealer was very friendly and told us all we had to â€œembrace the 13.â€ It was good advice. After about an hour and a half, I realized I still had about $50 there and decided to shove that in my pocket and hit Binions. Sat down at a $5 table with a dealer named Cincy. He was great. Good stories and very personable. Played at a table with a blind guy, which made it easier to count, but never got a really good shoe. When Cincy left, I moved to the craps table and could not catch a break. Left there with another $50. Iâ€™m feeling good because I still have $200 on my $300. Over to Las Vegas Club for the finale. Played some $5 â€œmost liberal 21 in the world.â€ Lost about $50 very quickly so I switched over to Pai Gow. Held my own there and started chatting up the dealer and the pit boss, hoping to swing that free breakfast. Never could get them to come across with the goods. I was at about $65 of the $100 I budgeted for LVC and out of the corner of my eye, I saw the ever elusive Elvis slots. I figured I would pump the $15 I had made at Pai Gow into that and call it a night. I went over and the machine started giving. Elvis was singing his ass off and I was up quickly. The ticket thing on the new slots is great, by the way. I rotated around all 4 machines and they were all very giving. I finally hit a 400 quarter bonus and called it a night. Cashed out about $300 in tickets and was up $100 for the night. LVC got me well as I kept my $300 and put another $100 in my pocket to put a dent in my earlier loses. Checked out the next day and took the bus to the airport. I had a red eye flight that night, but was able to fly standby on an earlier flight and got back to Charlotte at about 8:30 pm. A good trip all around. I wanted to try some hold â€˜em, but the rooms were always crowded and everyone had on sunglasses. I sensed a lot of attitude and posing and did not feel like getting caught up in that. Maybe next time. Did not lose what I had taken out there to lose and with the free rooms and flight, I felt like I came out way ahead. Canâ€™t wait to go back.