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TR 4/27 - 5/2: A cheapskate financial planner does Vegas

Discussion in 'Vegas Trip Reports' started by Kuch1000, May 3, 2008.

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  1. Kuch1000

    Kuch1000 Low-Roller

    Joined:
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    Messages:
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    Trips to Las Vegas:
    15

    My Trip Report

    Note: I also posted the same report on TripAdvisor, so if you see it there, there's nothing new!

    The financial side of me thought it would be interesting to document dollar by dollar my exact costs for our annual Vegas trip. It’s easy to lose track of $$ in Vegas and think you’re even at gambling only to realize $200 is missing somehow. So I gathered up coupons, looked for the best deals, and saved every receipt. We are low-rollers when it comes to gambling, preferring 25 cent video poker and $5 Pai Gow, though we will play $10 if we have to.

    Here are the details of our April 27 to May 2 trip:

    Day 1
    We had 2 free tickets on Southwest for using their credit card and some business trips I had last year, so we only had to pay $10 in security fees. Southwest flight left Kansas City on time and we arrived 20 minutes early in Vegas. Great start.

    Checked out the line at the MGM airport check-in and it was about 12 deep. Decided to pass on checking in since we could use invited guest check-in at the hotel since we have the MGM credit card. Grabbed our bags and hopped on the rental car shuttle to the Rental Center. I waited in line about 2 minutes and was helped, and within 5 minutes we were in our full-size rental (Chevy Impala) from Priceline/Avis (Grand total = $133.45). Drove to MGM to see if we could get our room early (it was about 11:30 AM at this point). I did not attempt the $20 trick since very few rooms were available at that time and we were more interested in getting the room than an upgrade. The MGM check-in clerk did offer a Hollywood Suite upgrade for $40 a night, which isn’t bad, but since we were staying our last 2 nights at Palazzo, I figured that would be our suite experience, so we declined. Got our room (9-115) and headed out to grab lunch and some drinks. Went to Jack in the Box, which we do not have locally so it’s a treat to us, and spent $12.67 on lunch. Drove over to Target and spent $28.66 on drinks and snacks for the room. Drove back to MGM Grand to unpack and rest up a bit before heading out.

    We drove over to the Palms since they have good video poker machines. We had free play coupons and ended up winning $22 on video poker, tipping 50 cents for drinks. ($21.50 profit)
    Headed downtown to the El Cortez where we like to play $5 Pai Gow. We signed up for their player’s club and got their funbook, which included $5 off at Careful Kitty’s, so we decided to eat dinner there. My wife had the Fish & Chips and I had the Reuben. It was a ton of food and tasted really good. Service was excellent as well. Total was $20.35, $5 off made it $15.35 and we tipped $5. Headed to the casino to play Video Poker and Pai Gow. I took some hits at Pai Gow, but my wife did alright. I went to play video poker and did OK. We also did a $5 Blackjack matchplay each (I lost – my wife won with a BJ). When we totaled everything up at the end of the night, we were down 60 cents and tipped 50 cents ($1.10 loss).

    Headed back to the room for the evening as it had been about a 20 hour day at that point.

    Day 2
    I went down to the sportsbook at MGM to check out the hockey lines. On another thread on this board I had discussed my theory of always betting the road team. However, that has proven to be a bad strategy this season, so I decided to go on gut feel. The Canadiens were plus 130 so I took them for $10.

    Since the forecast was for a lot of wind and to be cooler later in the week, we decided to hit the pool at MGM. I had been there once before when just a couple pools were open. I think it’s a very nice complex overall, though it gets a little crowded in some areas. We floated around the lazy river 3 or 4 times and soaked up some rays. Total cost was $1 which was for a locker rental while we floated around the lazy river. It is a long walk to the pool which is the biggest downside; otherwise had a great time once we got there.

    After cleaning up, we grabbed a late lunch at the Carnival World Buffet at the Rio. We go to this buffet every year and love the amazing number of choices available. We always try to go during lunch hours to pay the lower price. Buffet was very good again, and total cost was $38.61.

    We decided to head over to the Palms again so I could try my hand at full pay deuces wild. My wife also wanted to play Pai Gow here. After having no luck at video poker, we tried some Pai Gow and got destroyed. The dealer was constantly hitting full houses and actually hit a natural Royal Flush that was one card from being a 7-card straight flush. That’s a butt-kicking. Total damage including a 50-cent drink tip was a $72.90 loss for our trip to the Palms.

    My wife had never been to Circus Circus or Slots a Fun, so I warned her and then we made the drive over. I thought she might as well see them before they’re imploded. Circus Circus definitely has one of the most unique layouts of all casinos. It feels like a large house with lots of hallways and secret rooms. As we avoided being run over by strollers, we burned through $5 in free play in some slots and watched an acrobat show. My wife was not impressed. Walked over to Slots a Fun just to see it and left within 5 minutes. It would be nice for cheap gambling, but it is very claustrophobic in my opinion.

    We headed back to the room to rest up a bit, and then decided to do the Bellagio fountains since the wind later in the week we thought might interfere with the fountain show schedule. We stayed for 4 fountains shows and they were as wonderful as always. We headed inside and checked out the conservatory, which had a nice spring theme and was much better than in the past few years.

    We swung by Jack in the Box for some late-night shakes and jalapeno poppers and took them back to the room. ($9.02 total) I turned on SportsCenter to see that the Canadiens had lost, so I lost $10 on the hockey bet.

    Day 3
    Went down to the sportsbook again in the morning and decided to bet on the Red Wings in their game at Colorado. I wanted to parlay it with something else to get a better return, so I did the Detroit special and parlayed the Wings with the Pistons for $10. I played a little Video Poker in the casino and lost $1.

    We decided to go to Terrible’s since I had a 2 for 1 coupon for their breakfast buffet, and we decided this would be our greasy breakfast for the week. Also had 2 $10 matchplay coupons, so we did our Roulette trick where I bet $10 + Matchplay on black, my wife bets $10 + Matchplay on red, and then we bet $1 on 0, $1 on 00, and $1 each on 3 numbers. This is guaranteed to win money, so we sit back and watch. It hits on Red 12, so we lose the $15 on the numbers and black, and win $20 on red for a $5 profit. Headed upstairs for the buffet, which is just what you’d expect. No fine dining, but for the $6.38 including tip, it beats the heck out of McDonald’s or other fast food.
    We headed downtown so my wife could grab some cheap souvenirs and do a little gambling. We played Pai Gow and video poker El Cortez and won $63.25. Minus $1.25 in tips, we netted $62 and went shopping. We got a Las Vegas t-shirt for a nephew and I picked up a 2009 calendar for work ($13.99 total).
    We went over to the 4 Queens to play some video poker on $10 free play coupons we had. We did good and cashed out $31.
    We were getting a little dehydrated so we grabbed a couple bottles of water at ABC for $1.50 total and headed back to the room to rest and clean up before our evening, which included the 7:00 showing of KA at MGM.
    We had a $25 dining credit at MGM as part of the special we signed up for. We were in the mood for some Asian food, so we ate at the Grand Wok. I had the shrimp and scallops with macadamia nuts and my wife had the shrimp fried rice. Both dishes were excellent and the service was fantastic. I would say it was maybe just a bit better than PF Chang’s, but the prices were about double. I would probably not eat here again without a dining credit, but that it totally a reflection on the price, not the food or service. Billed the $59.26 total cost to the room.
    We walked by the sportsbook to check out the Red Wings score and they were up 4-2. The Pistons had already covered the 9.5 line, so if the Red Wings held on, I would be a winner on my parlay.
    Our package at the MGM also included 2 free drinks at the West Wing Bar, so we headed there for a pre-show drink. I thought the West Wing bar was really nice. Great décor and good bartenders. The doors to the outside are right in the bar, however, so it did create a lot of excess traffic on that end of the bar. Tipped the bartender $3 and charged it to the room.
    We walked through the West Wing which feels very claustrophobic. The ceilings were only about 7 feet tall, and I’m 6’ 2â€. We arrived at the KA theatre just as they were opening it for the 7:00 show, and headed to our seats. The theatre is very interesting itself and the time before the show passed quickly as we looked all around at the set. We really enjoyed KA and the stage effects. We had seen Mystere and O in previous trips, and both felt KA was 3rd to those two, but it was very enjoyable and we had a great time. The seats are great and you have lots of leg room, which is important to me.
    We left the show and hit the Pai Gow tables. We played for a while and left the session when some loud smokers showed up with a $23 profit. We had a coupon for a 2 for 1 Haagen Dazs so we each had a way-too-big-but-oh-so-good Dazzler. I couldn’t finish mine and was stuffed for 12 hours. Total cost $7.81.
    We drove to the Las Vegas Hilton where we had $10 match play coupons. We tried the roulette trick again, but since the inside bets had a minimum of $10, we had to put 10 chips on numbers instead of 5, which wiped out the red/black profit, so we gained $0. We went to the darkest video poker area I have ever seen and won $10.50 on jacks or better before calling it a night. Found out the Wings held on so I won $26.45 on my bet.

    Day 4
    Woke up on our last day at MGM and decided to play some 50-hand video poker and lost $10 at it. We checked out of MGM Grand and settled our bill.
    Room/Tax for 3 nights: $150.42
    Dinner at Grand Wok: 59.26 - $25 dining credit = 34.26
    Drinks @ west wing Bar: 24 + 3 tip – 24 credit = $3.00
    2 days Internet = $27.98
    Total = 215.66 - $125 MGM credits = 90.66
    When I showed my wife that our out-of-pocket cost for 3 nights, dinner at Grand Wok, drinks at West Wing and 2 days of Internet was $90.66, she could hardly believe it. Not a bad deal in my opinion, and a good reward for using our MGM Visa.

    We headed to Planet Hollywood and had lunch at Todai. I love the sushi buffet and the other seafood and desert buffet are great as well. We chose lunch since it’s the same food for $10 each less. The only thing not on the lunch buffet that is on the dinner buffet is cool crab legs (which I don’t eat) and peel-and-eat shrimp. Total with tip was $43.

    We headed over to Ellis Island to try the roulette trick with a $10 match play coupon, but the roulette table was closed, so we left. We drove to the Palazzo where we would be staying for the next 2 nights. I hadn’t told my wife yet, though, since I wanted it to be a surprise. I just told her we were staying an extra 2 nights. She figured it was Planet Hollywood since I had talked about the good deals people had been getting on Priceline. So we parked in the garage underneath and headed up to the casino. We walked around a bit, and checked out the lobby areas. I then asked my wife, “Well, are you ready to check in?â€. She said “Yeah, right†and I said “No, seriously, let’s check inâ€. It was a nice surprise and they had a room ready for us at 12:30. My wife grabbed a coffee from a Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf near the room elevators ($5.39) and we headed up to the room (16-917). It was absolutely wonderful and huge. From the bathrobes to the deep tub, the heavenly mattress, the DVD player and 3 flat panel HDTV’s, everything was so welcoming and had all the comforts of home. We had a view of the Wynn and Encore and the golf course. We generally view a room as a place to sleep and get ready to go out, but we decided this was a room that we wouldn’t mind spending some time in.
    Even though I bought the room on Priceline, they still gave us a $25 free slot play coupon and some other dining coupons that we didn’t use. You also get $15 for signing up for Club Grazie, so between us, we ended up with $55 in free play, which we promptly turned into $37 after some bad video poker hands, and cashed out.

    We walked over to Wynn on the elevated bridge. This area really is starting to feel different with Palazzo and Trump there, and Echelon and Fontainblue coming soon. We signed up for the Wynn Red Card since we knew about the 25 points for a free buffet offer. You get $10 free play, so it was off to the video roulette machines to earn our buffets. Similar to my match play strategy, we bet $18 on black, $18 on red, and $1 on 0 on each roll, which earned us a free buffet after 7 rolls and lost $1 on each spin. We cashed out with $3 left each of our $10 free play, so we each took a spin at the $20 million Megabucks jackpot and lost both. So no profit or loss, just 2 free buffets.
    We hadn’t played Pai Gow yet today, so we headed to Terrible’s for some $5 Pai Gow. They did not have a table open, however, and the pit boss said it would probably open at 7:00 (it was currently 6:00). So we headed down the street to the Hard Rock, where I have always had bad luck at Pai Gow. However, luck was on my side that night and I quickly won us $70, tipped out Mimi $5, and left with a profit of $65. I play the fortune bonus occasionally, though I know in the long term it’s a loser. On this night, I was getting killer hands and should have played it every hand. I actually hit a straight flush which would have paid 50 to 1, but I didn’t play the fortune bonus on that hand. Oops.

    We headed back to Terrible’s to see if they actually had the table open, and they did. We played for a while and I was just doing average. My wife carried us to a $13 profit, which after a $1 tip, left us with $12 for our efforts.

    We decided we should eat our Wynn buffet that night, so we parked back at the Palazzo and headed over to the Wynn. The buffet line was about 10 minutes at 8:30. We enjoyed the buffet, though I don’t know that it lives up to the hype and I certainly would not pay $34.99 for it. I actually enjoyed the vegetable selections more than anything else. They had great sweet corn, asparagus, and mushrooms. The turkey was tough, and the crab legs were served cold, which is never popular with me. I say boil a little water and serve them hot. The dessert selection was excellent, but the Tiramasu I had was virtually tasteless. Service was average. Total cost $0.

    We decided to call it a night early and enjoy our room. We walked back to the room, put The Office Season 1 in the DVD player, and enjoyed a wonderful, relaxing evening in the sunken living room.

    Day 5
    I woke up and toured the pool area while my wife got ready. It is very nice looking, however the sun does not hit the bulk of the pool until after noon. Definitely not a hotel to stay at if you are into a hopping pool scene. But like I said, it was very nice and felt very Italian. I tried my hand at a little video poker in the casino and broke even.

    We drove out to Red Rock Canyon and paid $5 to take the drive. It was very nice and I would recommend it as a nice side trip, especially if you are visiting the Red Rock Casino. It was only 58 degrees while we were there and was windy, so a couple of the scenic stops were quite chilly, but it was fun. We left there and drove back to Red Rock Casino. We had heard good things about the buffet, so we hit our 5th buffet of the trip. It was very good, even better I would say that the Carnival World buffet, and the total cost for us was $21.54. They beat Wynn on their turkey, and had mashed potatoes that had something in them that made them a little sweet – so good. We played a little Pai Gow and video poker there, tipped a $1, and left with a $10.25 profit.

    We drove over to the JW Marriott resort and Rampart casino. We had $20 match plays there, so the roulette trick netted us $13 and they gave us 2 free T-shirts and 2 decks of cards for signing up for the players club.

    We went back to the room to check in online for our flight and get A boarding passes. We relaxed a bit which for me meant a bath in that wonderful tub while watching a hockey game on the bathroom TV. We headed out and parked at the Casino Formerly Known as the Barbary Coast and walked to the Flamingo to visit the habitat. They had some type of event going on, so we only got to see the Flamingos, some ducks, and a few koi before having to head back. We definitely began feeling the Strip getting busy as this was Thursday night, and the weekend crowd was arriving. This is not a good thing for us, as we do not like wall to wall people and traffic jams.

    We drove to Terrible’s to play $5 Pai Gow. Won $3.25 before getting hungry. We weren’t starving, so we decided a Jack in the Box run was in order, and we had dinner there for $13.52. We went back to Terrible’s and while driving in, saw a man standing at the intersection of Flamingo and Paradise peeing in broad view of everyone. No effort to conceal himself in the slightest. We headed into Terrible’s to play Video Poker. My wife did OK, but my cards were, well, Terrible. We played Pai Gow and lost a little more and after a $1 tip left down $21. We grabbed some pop for $3.58 at a 7-11 and headed back to the room for the night.

    Day 6
    Our last day in Vegas. I woke up after a relaxing sleep and flipped on the TV to see video of the damage in Kansas City from tornadoes. I had my wife call her parents to check on our house and them, while I emailed some people on my team for details. Most of the damage appeared to be from 4-8 miles from our house. My in-laws called back to say our house was just fine and not even any hail damage to the car I left out. That was good luck!

    I lost $4 at the Palazzo on Video Poker while my wife got ready. She had another coffee at Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf for $5.39. We sadly checked out of the Palazzo and vowed to return. They did not charge us for the internet, so our final cost was the $328.95 we paid to Priceline after a winning bid of $140 a night.

    After all the heavy food we had during the week, Subway sounded like a great lunch, so we did that and it made my stomach happy. Total cost $10.54. We headed to the Palms for one last Video Poker session. I hit one straight flush but not much else. We also attempted Pai Gow again with the same result as before. Total damage from our last fling to the Palms was $70.25.

    We gassed up the rental car at a Terrible’s on South Las Vegas Blvd. for $36.00 and returned it to the car rental facility. Took the shuttle to the airport and quickly checked our baggage and got through security. I would estimate the time from when we pulled into the rental car facility until we were through security at 25 minutes. Fastest I’ve ever experienced. We had an expensive dinner at the airport Burger King for $13.23 (2 sandwiches, 1 fry, 1 drink – airport food prices are ridiculous). Our flight took off 40 minutes late due to the Midwest weather, but we landed only 20 minutes late and were home in no time.

    Total costs for 6 days/5 nights:
    Airfare: $10
    Rental Car: $133.45
    Hotel: $419.61
    Food/Groceries: $241.19
    Gas: $36.00
    Souvenirs and Misc: $19.99
    Gambling winnings: $129.70
    Total Cost: $730.54

    Overall, it was a fantastic trip. I really would not change much other than the fact that I would have avoided the Palms since I had back luck there. We would have doubled our winnings if we had just skipped the Palms! But we saw many new things, stayed at the newest hotel and made it to a Cirque show, and even made a small profit. It was 6 wonderful days, and I cannot wait to head back in 2009! Thanks to everyone on the board for your fantastic advice and thoughts!
     
  2. Kuch1000

    Kuch1000 Low-Roller

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    I forgot that we did actually pay for the KA tickets! $151.80 total including taxes, so the total trip price should be $882.34. I forget when I pre-pay for things in advance.
     
  3. PokerrNutt

    PokerrNutt High-Roller

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    Great TR - I always wanted to do that - keep track of everything.....I always start out doing it, but by the third day, I've given up keeping track of it.

    Good for you! And was the $$$ outcome what you expected or higher or lower????
     
  4. rustytrombone1027

    rustytrombone1027 Tourist

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    I am all for saving money. I do go a little overboard in Vegas because, well, it's Vegas. But I think it is great using coupons and getting the most for your buck. The one thing I don't like though, is anything less then a 1$ tip for your drinks. These woman work hard, give then a buck per drink bro.
     
  5. LITTLECAESARS

    LITTLECAESARS Tourist

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    kuch1000:

    Nice TR. Thanks. My wife and I experiened the room splendor when we stayed at the Venezia Concierge. I didn't go out at all the first night. Just enjoying the room was enough. I did learn not to take the items out of the fridge and look at them though. Once removed, you are charged for that item.

    LC
     
  6. gmoney590

    gmoney590 VIP Whale

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    Great report. I've always wanted to keep an exact total of how much I've spent and what I've spent it on when I'm in Vegas, but, after a couple of drinks that goes out the window. I admire that you're able to do that.
     
    Back where we belong
  7. Souette

    Souette Tourist

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    I smiled all the way through the report as I could visualize the whole thing.
    Laughed out loud at your "expensive" meal of a grand total of $13.23 at the airport! :licklips:
    I am no good at keeping tabs on my money in Vegas. What I figure it's going to cost....ends up being double. The tipping and taxes always add up quickly.
    And I HATE the 30% tax and fees on car rentals. :grrr:

    Thanks for taking the time for a lengthy report and sharing your finances with us.
     
  8. hardinger69

    hardinger69 Tourist

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    Thanks for the report and detailed accounting. Way to use those coupons! I didn't realize how easy it would be to get that free Wynn buffet. We're definately doing that when we go.

    Dude relieving himself in the middle of the intersection, LMAO!
     
  9. KimberlyJ

    KimberlyJ Low-Roller

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    I enjoyed reading your TR . . . sounds like you had a lot of fun! I have always wanted to keep track of all those "little" expenses on my Vegas trips.
    I don't think I would have the nerve to only tip 50 cents for a drink . . . I used to be a waitress, so I know what hard work it is.
     
  10. Kuch1000

    Kuch1000 Low-Roller

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    Yeah, I think I will up my drink tips to a $1 next year. I guess I had gotten into the habit of 50 cents when playing Pai Gow and getting lots of 50 cent pieces as part of the Pai Gow commission process. I guess I see so many people not tip anything that I feel like I'm at least giving something, but I guess I will give a little something more.

    Pokerrnut, the total was probably a little less than I thought it would be. I was figuring an even $1K, which it would have been close to if we had just broken even at gambling. It always has been in year's past, but I usually have only gone 4 days instead of 6 this year.
     
  11. DBear

    DBear VIP Whale

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    Wow, sounds like a great time. $140 a night for Palazzo on Priceline seems like a great deal.
     
  12. dung bug

    dung bug Low-Roller

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    Nice Report.....
     
  13. Kuch1000

    Kuch1000 Low-Roller

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    I've seen a couple people get Palazzo for $138 or $139 on Priceline, but not really any cheaper than that. I was very happy at $140, and the hotel was every bit as good as I hoped it would be. Anytime I actually look forward to getting back to the room, you know they are doing something right! I realize that unless Steve Wynn personally blesses a hotel that some people will never be satisfied, but I would be happy to go back next year and pay $140 for 5 nights. I'm afraid the cheap deals won't last as Palazzo hits critical mass.
     
  14. JackPeyton

    JackPeyton Tourist

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    how do people live without Jack In The Box?

    It is amazing that you spent only this much. I thought i had a great deal staying at the trop for 80 a night.

    i am def gonna have to learn where to get cupons and whatnot to cut down my spending before i go.
     
  15. rustytrombone1027

    rustytrombone1027 Tourist

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    Very good to hear.
     
  16. VermonterJohn

    VermonterJohn Low-Roller

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    Cheapskate Report

    That was an awesome trip report. Thanks!
     
  17. dewey089

    dewey089 Guru of Value

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    Great trip. It seems that you had fun. I think it is great to keep track of expenses. I do it in a more rounded off fashion, but I like to know what it costs me to go on vacation, and it is good to compare that cost to trips other places. I agree that $1 is a better tip.
     
  18. Mixn123

    Mixn123 Newbie

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    Very nice trip report. Really enjoyed all the details.

    I'm all for getting the most from my $, but I would personally be embarrassed tipping $.50 for drinks.
     
  19. judy

    judy Low-Roller

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    wynn buffet is awesome!

    " We enjoyed the buffet, though I don’t know that it lives up to the hype and I certainly would not pay $34.99 for it. I actually enjoyed the vegetable selections more than anything else. The turkey was tough, and the crab legs "​


    I respectfully disagree with you about the Wynn buffet. If you like plain food, I can see why you would not like it. If you like turkey- maybe try a less exotic buffet.Now listen, about the Jack in the Box! Yuck. Next time you gotta try In n Out Burger -much better!

    Thanks for the detailed trip report-well written and the numbers are much appreciated!
     
  20. matchu

    matchu Low-Roller

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    I'm gonna have to agree about the Wynn buffet. I was not impressed.
     
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