so its off to vegas again for the annual March Madness - been doing this one for a few years now with a friend of mine from England (miles - tractorboy on here). for this year our other friend (Pete) swung the trip as well. been watching the deals for ages before the trip. ended up with direct flights from Tampa on Southwest. changed my flight from the evening to the Thursday morning and got flight credit as well. Result and a win. Hotels. was booked into the plaza and El Cortez. Black Friday sale dropped the Plaza price by 50% so ended up with a room there for 200 for 6 nights! Then the Gate send me a comp offer for 3 nights so I took that and added a further 3 nights for a massive $60. No resort fee at the gate if you are comped. I put Pete and Miles in the plaza room and spared them my snoring as I took the gate and cancelled El Cortez. early start on the Thursday - up at 3am for a 6.50am flight. Off to the airport and was prepared to take a bump if it was offered (as I had about 8 hours in vegas before the boys arrived from the uk). Nothing doing so a five hour flight and touchdown slightly early. got my bag by 9am and I knew that there was a wax bus due at 9.16 so I headed to ground level zero and got my $2 limo to downtown. dropped in at the gate to drop my bags but as I was comped they let me check in early. In the room, with a great view of the alleyway, and unpacked by 10am!! oh yes! VEGAS IS NOW MINE!! (the room at the gate was 240 - right above the casino but never heard that. did hear the occasional thump thump late at night from Fremont but nothing else. small room - enough for a queen bed (soft but comfy) and room ro unpack all my stuff. Bathroom was tiny - small bath with a shower that I never could get working properly -it was always cold or scolding hot. clean and they did a decent job of keeping it fresh daily. AC was poor - you had to have it on full blast all the time to maintain a reasonable temp - but that as background noise drowned out everything else. I wouldn't stay there in the summer because of that - but otherwise I'd use the gate again) off to MSS for a traditional pint of black chip - no trip has started until I have one of them. Had a couple of them as I surveyed MSS and let the noise and atmosphere and the reality of Vegas sink in. took a walk through a few casinos and checked out various table games and other ways to wager my cash. I ate lunch at binions as I still had plenty of comps on my card. A club sandwich and a coffee in the new café (which is an improvement over the old open version - but I still wish they had the downstairs café operating). after dabbling in a few slot games (winning very small but managing to keep a drink in my hand) I headed back to my room with the idea of grabbing a nap (I love naps) before the boys turn up. However although it was a great idea my body rejected it as I was in vegas. My liver demanded drink and my brain demanded games of chance. I gave in and settled down for a quick bj session which I ended up slightly down. The boys landed and texted to say they were on their way, so I walked over to the plaza and checked into the room. sorted them out (decent room - north tower at the end of the corridor) and offered them a chance to eat, rest, shower or whatever before we headed up to the strip. they declined... so back to MSS for more beer and to meet murph (atcmurph) so we could share a cab to the Board suite party at the cosmo. More later - probably in less detail as the memory did get hazy occasionally..