We left on March 23rd, which happens to be my birthday. I would rather be 30, but if I have to be 63, I want to be in Vegas, so we booked the trip last fall right after we got back. Iâ€™m sure I will get some of this out of sequence. As you all know well, things begin to run together after a while! We had a lot of family joining us this trip. My wifeâ€™s oldest sister M and her husband T were going, as was their daughter A and her husband D, their other daughter K, who we took last spring as a college graduation present was going, as well as their son J who would be flying in from Phoenix on Thurs. My wife is from a town about 3 hours drive from Rochester. The family would be leaving before us and flying out of here. So Sun afternoon A and her husband showed up first. They flew out Mon AM. Mon night M and T, as well as K showed up for their Tues AM flight. So I had 2 days of excited happy people as we got ready for our Wed Am flight. I made 2 airport runs and each time wanted to join the crowd! Also, my sister A would be joining us. She is our usual Vegas traveling companion so she knows our routine well. Finally Wed the 23rd, our turn came. Our flight out was uneventful, except for flying coach for the first time in many years. I canâ€™t complain since I am still flying for free and will for a few more trips, but it is certainly not a fun way to travel since I have become so spoiled. Our bags came quickly and so did our cab. Our host offers us a limo every trip, but my wife says we are not â€œlimo peopleâ€. Maybe it is just herâ€¦because I think I am! In short order we were at Diamond check in at Harrahâ€™s. As we walked into the lobby, the entire family was waiting to meet us. A and D were staying on a package deal at the Bellagio but came over to say hello. M, T and K got a great deal from our host so they were staying at Harrahâ€™s. I already had completely forgotten it was my birthday, but they hadnâ€™t. We got our key and headed up to our suite. It was a nice 2 room arrangement overlooking the Mirage volcano. Within a minute of entering there was a knock and everyone came in with a cake and champagne to help celebrate. It was a nice gestureâ€¦.but I wanted to unpack and gamble!! I know, I am a degenerateâ€¦but proud of it. After they embarrassed me by singing happy birthday, My wife and I headed to KGB for some boobsâ€¦.errr, burgers. They still have those hot waitresses with Russian accents. I keep wondering where they found all of them. The blue cheese burger I had was great as were the fries. Then it was off to the sports book to get the line for the NCAA basketball games. For the second year running, I had a big wins betting Butler and most of the short ends. In fact I had a once in a lifetime run betting basketball this week. But those games didnâ€™t start till Thurs, so I spent the remainder of the day playing tables and slots. My horrible luck at BJ continued. I sat down at a table right away hoping things had changed. I cashed $300 for quarters. Placed one down and drew a 20. The dealer had a BJ. I dropped another quarter down and drew 20 again. The dealer again got BJ. I swore under my breath and dropped 2 quarters and again drew a 20, with the dealer showing a 2. Okay, this is the turning point right? The dealer flips over a 10 for 12 total, draws another 2 for 14 and then a 7 for 21! I again swore, this time not under my breath and picked up my last 8 chips. I never played BJ the rest of the trip. The game has my number right now, so I am not fighting it. We played around different games all afternoon. Various slots, some roulette and a little craps. I spent a good hour playing spin poker and had a decent run of luck, finishing up $600, which got me close to even for the day. We were both full from the KGB burgers so we didnâ€™t stop for dinner. The rest of the family went to see Ka and called wanting to meet at the Chandelier Bar for a birthday drink. It was 10 and I was already tired, but of course we went anyhow! The women Oooâ€™d and Ahhhâ€™d over the place, but the guys seemed less impressed. It is beautiful, but without a TV to watch my bets, I probably wonâ€™t be backâ€¦lol. I didnâ€™t see the bill since it was my BD gift, but I am guessing there were no $2 drafts on it. We headed back to Harrahâ€™s about midnight after a good look around the Cosmo. I was impressed with the place and the service. I think it will be a real winner and I plan to give them some play on a future trip. When we got back to our room at 3, we had been up well over 24 hours. I was tired as all hell, but there was a nice gift basket from our host. That picked up our spirits enough to open one of the bottles of wine and have a nightcap and a dip in the Jacuzzi tub. What I didnâ€™t mention was that the last of the group would be J. He would be flying in from Phoenix Thurs AM and staying on the pull out bed in our living room. He was only staying 2 nights, but it did disrupt my usual morning routine of coffee and a newspaper in the living room while my wife slept. But it was only for 2 mornings, so I survived. Thursday I was up at 6 after only 2 hours of sleep. The time zone change and the excitement make it impossible to sleep that first night. I got a pot of deaf going and went down for a newspaper. That killed an hour and I couldnâ€™t take it anymore, so I showered and headed into battle. I played some VP and spin poker for a while. It was yet another pre breakfast beating of about $500. Not a good way to start the day. Went back to our room where A and my wife were ready for breakfast. My wifeâ€™s family are late sleepers, so we never saw any of them for breakfast. We headed over to MAG where I had my usual steak and eggs. It was too chilly to sit outside, but they had the heaters going so we braved it. It was quite comfortable with the heaters going and the people watching was great as we sat right on the rail. After breakfast, we headed back to Harrahâ€™s where my wife and I placed our basketball bets. She loves betting and watching the games as much as I do. We had everyone coming to our suite this afternoon to watch the games and eat. We had several hours to kill so I spent some of them playing the horses at Caesars. I wanted to check on the availability of the Dubai World Cup on Sat AM. It is the richest series of races in a single day; with the feature race paying 10 million. With the time zone change, the races were starting at 6AM on Satâ€¦but I was glad to hear they would be taking action again this year. I ended up making an additional bet keying in on Butler. I was glad I did as they payed off again this year. I did okay with the ponies, breaking about even after dozens of bets at a few different tracks. I played the slots for a while and headed back to our room. My sister A was passing on the basketball party, but everyone else was coming, including J who had arrived and was settled into our room. A and her husband D arrived with a couple of cases of beer. I made a run across the street to the Carnage Deli at the Mirage. Those sandwiches are huge and I bought way too much food, but it was great. The games were a lot of fun to watch with everyone having different bets going. It seemed every basket made 2 or 3 people a winner and 2 or 3 others a loser. That kind of excitement is why people love to gamble on sports! I ended up having a really good day, making over $1,000 and I was also alive with 3 parlays going into the next days games. Everyone split up and headed downstairs for some casino play. I mostly stuck with my Buffalo machines for the rest of the night. I had one or two really good runs, but ended up losing for the night. Overall it was a positive day thanks to some good basketball bets. Friday morning I managed to stay in bed till 6, even though I was wide awake at 5 or so. Our nephew J was sleeping on the pull out bed in the living room, so I showered and went downstairs. My intention was to get a paper and a coffee and read for a bit. I got the coffee, but decided on spin poker instead of the paper. It was not a good decision as I managed another $500 loss before breakfast. I was about to head to the room when I decided on one more chance with my Buffalo machine. I had a great bonus round that retriggered a few times and won back $300, making the MAG breakfast taste much better. We ate inside this time since it was in the low 50s and windy. I walked back as far as the Flamingo and A and my wife headed back to Harrahâ€™s. My sister gets the shakes if she is not on a Keno machine or slot for a while. I played the horses and made a few more bets on the basketball games to be played later that day. We had another basketball party planned for our suite today so I only had a few hours of alone time. When I got back to Harrahâ€™s, my wife and I went over the room service menu and picked out a few snacks for everyone. We had a big family dinner planned for MAG at 7, so we didnâ€™t go too far overboard. The games were again close and exciting and I had another big day. I wish it was always this easy, but in 2 days of basketball bets I lost exactly one game! I again collected over $1,000 on my bets so I was a happy man as we walked over to Paris for dinner. I know a lot of you are in Vegas now, or have been recently, but I was glad to see the weekend crowds so big. It is a great sign that Vegas in coming back strongly! The walk was marred by an ugly incident. Just after I crossed the street near the Flamingo, this nasty fire hydrant jumped out of the crowd and attacked my shin! The damned thing drew blood. I had on tan slacks, so it showed through. I ended up with a nice painful knot the rest of the trip. That is probably the third or fourth time that same vicious hydrant has attacked me. I have come to the conclusion that fire hydrants hate Italians. I will get even when I get home and walk my dog. We had a really nice relaxed, comfortable dinner at MAG. A few apps, some wine, steaks and a few deserts. We got a ton of personal attention during the dinner. The manager even stopped by 3 different times to check on us. I found out why later. Our host had called ahead to make sure we were well taken care of. Just as desert was being served, they slid in another chair and he joined us! The entire bill was already taken care of by him. He does the craziest things to surprise and delight us. He has done his job very well as my wife wonâ€™t even consider another casino. She thinks of him as our Vegas friend who just happens to work for the casino we visit. In any case, it was one of those special/magical Vegas nights that I will always remember, as will everyone at the table. I even tried to make a toast, but being the softie I am, got chocked up and settled for Saluda instead. Our host even followed us into the casino and talked with us as we played. Before he left, he made sure the cocktail waitress took good care of my party. We headed back to our respective casinos a little after midnight. I played for another hour or so and we went to bed. Our room mate/nephew J was going clubbing with his sister K, so we knew we wouldnâ€™t see him for a while. We stopped for a drink at Chateau. It is right above the Sugar Factory and a pretty neat place for a drink. In fact as a lowly male, I prefer it to the Chandelier bar. At least you have a nice view instead of those glass beads J For the day I finished quite a bit ahead. But I will always remember the great day of basketball bets and that dinner. In fact, it is a day I wouldnâ€™t trade with anyone. Saturday I was up at 5 since I had to be at Caesars by 6 for the races from Dubai. I was not surprised that J had not made it back to the room yet. I was in my seat studying the racing form by 5:45 and ready for action. I was surprised at how many horse players there were that early, but it was the only place on the strip taking action on these races. I had very little luck with these races, but it was fun betting and watching them. For a country where gambling is not allowed, they do go all out. It is quite a spectacle with a lot of money on the line. After the last race was over I realized I had dropped over $500 on the races. It never felt that badâ€¦.but it sure as hell was bad! Everyone but us was flying home today. I was glad they all came, but we were also looking forward to doing some things on our own. By the time I got back to Harrahâ€™s it was time to say goodbye to M, T, K and J. J and K made it back just in time to pack! They flew home on no sleep, but they said it was well worth it. About an hour later we took a walk to the Bellagio to say our goodbyes to A and D. We took the opportunity to go through the conservatory and to see their room. I have heard people say the Bellagio is getting dated. Other than the old style TV, the room was still in exceptional shape. It didnâ€™t look a bit worn at all. They were impressed with the service and food they experienced all week. They had a beautiful view of the fountains. They confided in us that they hoped to get pregnant this trip. I am crossing my fingers for them! That would add some memories for everyone to this trip. Alone at last! We headed back to Harrahâ€™s to watch the afternoon basketball games. I was having a very good week betting basketball and it continued this day. I had increased my bets and cleared another $1,500 including some roll over parlays from the day before. I think everyone has runs like this, but this is the best I have had in recent memory. I made 8 bets between the Thurs and Fri games and another 4 on this day, so far I still had made only one losing basketball bet. For dinner we decided to try the new Sugar Factory restaurant. We had previously looked at the menu and it was interesting. They had things that you would find at several Vegas institutions. HHAGG style waffles and fried chicken, MAG style steak frites, California Pizza kitchen type pizzas, Steak burger type burgers, and big ass deserts like Serendipity3â€¦..it was an odd but interesting menu. To cut to the chase, the experience was horrible. We got seated immediately, but it was at least 15 mins before anyone took a drink order or even filled our water glasses. My wife ordered a pasta dish that literally was floating in grease. I had a steak that was delivered coldâ€¦..not cool, but ICE cold. My sister A ordered a fish dish that was not completely cooked! After each of us took a couple of bites, I told them to stop eating so I could call the manager over. He was apologetic, but not overly so. He asked if they could make something else for us and I told him I wanted a bill for whatever he felt this was worth. He said he would comp what we had eaten and drank and we could go if we wished. That is what we wishedâ€¦â€¦we left! It is a beautiful location as it mirrors the view of MAG, but this place needs a lot of work! I can understand and even accept service issues in a relatively new place, but the real issue here was horrible food preparation. I am hoping to read others experiences as I am hoping they work this place out. We walked across the street to Serendipidy3 and indulged in huge sundaes for dinner!....lol. So decadentâ€¦.but SO good! What really pisses me off is the day before, my wife bought 5 suckers at the Sugar Factory as gifts that cost me over $100! Yes, $100+ for 5 suckers! Guess who the biggest sucker isâ€¦.ME!!! My wife said she is worth it and I am not stupid enough to dispute that while on vacation in Vegas. Hell, I could have married a woman who thinks gambling is not fun and Vegas is an evil place. I have the shivers just thinking about that! After cashing my tickets at Harrahâ€™s, I was ready to continue my hot streak in the casino! Of course the gambling gods quickly brought me back in line. I found out very quickly that my luck was not going to extend to Caribbean stud. After a bit of a beat down there, I tried some roulette. That turned into a really good session as I ended up with this stack after coloring up. I think it was around $800. I actually got bored with it and went all in with my last $50 or so and hit my lucky number 25 with a nice stack on and around it. I then went to my old reliable, which right now is a certain Buffalo slot machine. This machine is magical for me. I hit it for over $1,300 last year. This time I had no single big win. But it just kept paying off! I was playing $4.00/spin and it seemed I got into the bonus round every 20 spins or so. Pretty soon I had it over $800. I hit another bonus round that retriggered at least 5 more times and it was now over $1,500. I couldnâ€™t hit the button fast enough. I was mad when the money wouldnâ€™t add up fast enough because I wanted to start that next spin as fast as I could! It eventually turned cold but I managed to cash out over $1,200. I headed up to the room as happy as you can be after a long, long, long day of gambling. I was so wired I had trouble sleeping. It was after 3 and I had gotten up at 5 so I knew I couldnâ€™t keep going. So I hit the Jacuzzi tub to unwind. It did the trick. A glass of wine and 20 minutes of bubbles and I was able to get some sleep. Sunday morning I managed to sleep till 7, which is nearly a record for me. My wife was already up and showered, which I am pretty sure has never happened in Vegas before. By the way, this room had the coolest shower. It had shower heads on 2 different walls. It was a gigantic shower room big enough to wash an elephant in! After we found my sister A, we walked down to MAG for breakfast. Okay, so we always go to MAG and I always have steak and eggs. I decided to shake things up. I was still on a sugar high from last nightâ€™s sundae, so I got one of those desert things that look like waffle. Iâ€™m sure there was a waffle under there someplaceâ€¦.but I donâ€™t think I found it! It may not have been as manly as steak and eggs, but I have to admitâ€¦.it was De-lish! I decided to pass on the horses this morning and make a few additional basketball bets. Unconscious is all I can say. I hit 4 of 4 bets again this day. For the week I made 16 college basketball bets and won 15 of them! I was betting with confidence and cleared over $4,000. As the guy in the Let it Ride movie saidâ€¦.I was having a very good day! In fact, at this point I was guaranteed a winning week unless we got rolled on the way to the airport. Before the games started, we hit the mall at P Ho. We had $1,000 in gift credit in some spring shopping fling. I never like to shop and my wife doesâ€¦.so I just follow her. I know I ended up with some golf shirts, some Tommy Bahama shirts ( which I love )â€¦.and whatever my wife bought for herselfâ€¦â€¦which I pretended to love. I just keep saying â€œthat looks great on youâ€ or â€œWow, that makes you look so skinnyâ€ till she finally buys something. Even after over 30 years we have to dance this same dance, but you go with what works. The fact is I was feeling invincible and wanted to be gambling, not shoppingâ€¦even with free money! After shopping we played for a while at P Ho. I looked around the casino in case Bonnie and her crew were around, but I never saw any of them. Maybe I should have been checking the bars? No real good luck there, I ended up losing about $500 or so. Plus I was lugging around 2 big shopping bags. We headed back to our room to watch the games. Our host called and left a message while we were out. He reminded us we hadnâ€™t been to the Range yet, so he took the liberty of making us a reservation. My wife is going to leave me for this guy! I forgot her favorite place to eatâ€¦.but he didnâ€™t! We watched the games for the next few hours and I was again hitting home runs! This was without a doubt the best streak I have even been on with sports betting. I have been a horse player since I was a young teenager and have bet other sports all of my life. But this was just unreal. I hit 15 of 16 sports bets this weekend. Several of the bets were parlays. Being a true degenerate, I was only upset for not betting more! If you asked me my method, it was simple. I think favorites are a few points too high in the NCAAs. People bet favorites, so the casino line has to be a bit high. If you donâ€™t mind betting the short ends, there is money to be made. It has worked more often than not, especially in the sweet 16. While most people start by looking at every favorite and asking themselves â€œcan they cover the spreadâ€; I start by looking at the team getting points and thinking â€œare they getting too many points?â€ It sounds simplistic and it isâ€¦.but I am convinced I look at sports betting differently than most people. We had a wonderful dinner at the Range that night. We had a great table right next to the window. We love watching the people traffic from that view. It was all so good and I ordered and far too much food. But it was a celebration of sorts. How often do you know you are going to have a winning trip a day before you leave? After dinner we again hit the casino. I hit my favorite spin poker machines and felt cheated because â€œI only broke evenâ€. But it was a session that lasted a good hour on one machine at 45 quarters/spin. Not good for the pocketbook, but I know the bean counters notice things like that. After that I again tried my favorite Buffalo machine and it took back $400 it had given me. I had trouble accepting I wasnâ€™t going to win on this particular machine, which is why I was stupid enough to just keep pumping in those hundreds. I found my wife shortly after that and we played near each other for a while. We rarely play close together and this wasnâ€™t really intentional, it just worked out that way. After I hit a bonus round for a couple of hundred, she decided my good luck was getting irritating, so she moved far away! I managed to make it to our room about midnight. The lack of sleep was catching with me and I could feel the effects. We made use of the Jacuzzi tub again and finished off the last half bottle of wine. Monday I was up, showered and out the door around 7. It was our last day and this was a trip I didnâ€™t want to end. Letâ€™s fact it, where is there a better place to be when you are feeling invincible? I was still feeling lucky and set out to test it before breakfast. My pre breakfast play is usually spin poker so that is where I headed. I again put in a solid hour of play and finished up a couple of hundred. I would love to hit a dealt royal just once with 9 active lines and max credits! I have never done so, but have hit a royal a few times on one or more linesâ€¦..which is what keeps me coming back to these machines! In any case, any decent run at max credits really builds compsâ€¦.so I still felt pretty good about the session. I collected my wife and sister A for breakfast. It seems A was up and playing early too. She was celebrating a $900 hit on one of her Keno machines. My wife wasnâ€™t having a bad trip, but she said it felt that way, since she wasnâ€™t able to hit a single â€œbombâ€ all week. We both told her this was her dayâ€¦.but it did not turn out that way. We made our way over to MAG for our last breakfast. I had my usual steak and eggs again. I didnâ€™t want to tempt fate on my last day of gambling. After breakfast we headed south towards the Trop and A walked back home to Harrahâ€™s. It was an easy walk down to the Trop on a Monday since the crowds had diminished a lot. I was suitably impressed with the Trop renovations. Impressed enough to drop a couple of hundred to help pay the bills. I almost never play a dime in a non CET casino, so I hope they appreciate my donation! We walked through NYNY as we hadnâ€™t been there in a while. I really donâ€™t care for the changes. When a casino has a certain image and personalityâ€¦..why change it for the worse? It seems almost antiseptic now. In any case, it no longer feels like anything to do with NYC. We continued our walk up that side of the street. Went through Monte Carlo and caught the tram to Aria. But not before an overpriced but very delicious cupcake! I wish we had one of those places at home. I keep thinking City Centre may grow on meâ€¦..but so far it hasnâ€™t. The place just doesnâ€™t have a vibe for us. When you look around at the casinos that helped make Vegas what it is today you have to wonder what the hell they were thinking when they spent 9 billion dollars on this complex. We walked through the Cosmo again just so I could see the sports book. I didnâ€™t bother with a playerâ€™s card or talking to a host because we didnâ€™t have a chance to give them any play this time. Next trip for sure though. We crossed the street and continued our wanderings on the CET side and played our way back home after stops at P Ho, Paris and Ballyâ€™s. I won a little in each place, but ended up giving it to my wife who wasnâ€™t having any better luck. We still hadnâ€™t made any plans or ressies for dinner yet. We decided to let A make the executive decision when we got back. She wasnâ€™t all that hungry, but I was! We eventually decided on a double header and did the Range for a second night in a row! For the first time ever at the Range, I had fish instead of a steak. It was good, but it wasnâ€™t like my usual porterhouse. I just didnâ€™t want to fly with 2 pounds of beef in my stomach! I even got the garlic mashed instead of my usual baked potato. Who says you canâ€™t teach an old dog new tricks? We did get one of those volcano deserts, which I definitely didnâ€™t need! After dinner we each hit the casino. I didnâ€™t do any serious gambling. I played some VP with no luck, switched to spin poker with less luck and decided I had used up all my good fortune with my basketball picks. So unlike me, but I protected my lead and headed to the room at 11 to begin the packing. Around midnight my wife showed up with a big smile on her face. She won $400 playing keno next to my sister. So she finished up the trip on a happy note! One last dip in the Jacuzzi tub and it was off to dreamland. Our flight on Tues was at 9, so we checked out at 7 and headed to the airport. Breakfast was at the California Pizza Kitchen where they have these yummy breakfast pizzas. Not a bad way to end the trip. Flights were right on time and we were in our house by 8:00. There is no such thing as a bad Vegas trip, but some stick outâ€¦..and this one did. Winning is not necessary for a great trip. There were elements that would have made this trip great even if we lost. Winning was just icing on the cake! Years from now I wonâ€™t remember how much I won, but I will remember that dinner at MAG. I will remember those drinks at the Chandelier bar and at Chateau. I will remember those basketball parties in our suite. The great thing is that so will everyone else that was there. That is what Familia is all about. Hope you enjoyed the read. It is longer that usual for me, but there was a lot of activity this trip!