You can also read this stuff on my site at www.regularguycolumn.com. It is in multiple posts of that works better. Some of this was written with a non-Vegas audience in mind so apologies if it sounds too elementary in points. The room When I travel alone, I generally need pretty simple accommodations. A regular hotel room meets all of my needs. That’s why I booked the most affordable place I could when I went to Las Vegas earlier this week. My wife and daughter had other plans, so I took the chance for a solo trip to gamble, eat too much, and sleep too little. I arrived late Sunday night at the Imperial Palace, ready to check into a room which cost me just over $100 total for three nights. A great rate and a great location. I didn’t plan on spending a lot of time in my room so I didn’t need the fancy furniture or hot tubs I could find at other hotels. Especially since those things come with a price tag I didn’t want to pay. Flight delays across the country made the line to check-in pretty long, even at 10:30 p.m. By the time I got to the front, I just wanted to get my key, drop off my things and play some poker. Little did I know that the woman helping me had a different idea. Originally, I planned to try the $20 trick but I passed on the idea because I figured a tired clerk and full hotel didn’t put the odds in my favor. I made just one request. I wanted to be away from Carnival Court. The clerk made jokes about how she would make sure I had the closest room to the noise as she looked through over a chart which showed the location of each individual room. I wondered why she was taking so much time picking one for me. Finally, as a couple next to me complained to their clerk about the wait and how the hotel only had no more non-smoking rooms available, my clerk said six words I could not believe. “I put you in the penthouse.” A little stunned, I fished around in my pocket for the $20 bill I had decided not to flash and slid it across to her after she explained how to access the top floor. I managed to find my way there, wondering what kind of room awaited. Maybe they just have regular rooms with better views up there, I thought. Since the IP has some years on it, so maybe the penthouse room wouldn’t meet my expectation. I knew that thought was wrong when I saw the steps to the upper floor upon entering my room. Yep, I had a two-story suite, complete with a bar, jacuzzi and two bathrooms. And they didn’t charge me a penny extra. The gambling I discovered one important thing on this trip. Poker is bad. I love playing the game, but runs like I had recently really make me question why I bother. I could hardly get any good cards and, when I did, someone else would turn over a hand that would edge me out regardless of what I had. On my last night, I didn’t have a playable hand for probably close to an hour. All garbage. Down to my last $50 or so, I get Q-10 with only five players playing. No one raises so I get to the flop, finally. Pair of 3s and something else. The turn is a 10 so I have two pair and am feeling good. River card is a 3 so I have a pretty good full house, as long as no one has a pocket pair of face cards. We’re down to three guys now, both of whom were aggressive usually and kind of weren’t up to the river. I go all in with my whopping $24, and they both call. One guy has a 10 like me, and I could deal with splitting the pot. The other guy had a 3. Game, set, match. That pretty much summed up my experience for the trip. I did finish second in a pair of single-table tournaments, but they were winner-take-all so that didn’t mean much. They were fun and provided me a chance to experience the stereotypical drunken poker-playing douchebag at Harrah’s one morning. He was really ripped and ordered three drinks within his 20 minutes or so at the table. He never shut up and pissed off everyone at the table. Finally, his cell rang and he left the room for a while. Even the poor chick he was with was getting annoyed. When he came back in the room, he realized that he had knocked over a drink the waitress had left on the floor for him since he was ordering them so fast. He got pissed, went all in without looking at his cards and was knocked out. Thank God. The bad part was that that the guy who eventually beat me was the one who knocked the douchebag out. That hand really helped his stack, which put all of us on our heels the rest of the game Not a big deal. The rest of my gambling was s-so. I mostly played penny slots. I did win $50 in video poker within half an hour of hitting the casino, but pissed that away at the poker table. I also had $50ish loss at video poker at Mirage one day, which blew because I had gotten ahead playing slots. I managed to win a $50 pot in penny slots at New York, New York on a Star Wars machine, The force was totally with me there. I also really enjoyed the Top Gun, Wizard of Oz, and Rocky slots. The one that treated me best was probably Money Storm. I only played blackjack once the entire trip, and that was in a tournament at Planet Hollywood where I got a free entry for joining the players club. I didn’t win at my table, but had fun. For the whole trip, I spent my bankroll and came home with nothing to show for it. The way I see it, I stayed within my budget and people from several different states will stimulate the economy with the money they won from me at the poker table. The entertainment Last time I went to Vegas, I didn’t see any shows. I wanted to make sure I at least saw something this time. As I planned my trip, I kept checking the comedy clubs to see if anyone I knew would be in town. A few days before I left, I hit the jackpot. Bobby Collins, one of my favorites from XM, would start at the Improv at Harrah’s on my last night in town. Perfect timing. Even though I waited until late in the afternoon on the day of the show, I got a pretty good seat. Tickets only ran 30-some bucks so I thought I made out pretty good. When I went to head to my seat, I saw a sign which said no outside drinks allowed. That kind of confused me and pissed me off since I had just sat patiently at a slot machine, playing as little as possible until I could get a free beer from a cocktail waitress. I also had a bottle of water since it was July in Las Vegas. The really, really old guy at the door saw me stop and told me not to worry about it and signaled me to come in any way. I thanked him and he noted my two drinks. “You’re greedy,” he said. “Nah, I’m just thirsty,” I said with a laugh, figuring a joke wouldn’t hurt in a comedy club. “No, you are greedy. Come with me,” he said stone-faced. I assumed he wasn’t performing that night. They advertised three comedians, but the first one didn’t perform for some reason. I didn’t really mind because the opener – Lowell Sanders– was pretty funny. He also came close to starting a riot. A couple walked in about five to 10 minutes late. As they approached their seats, he greeted them. “Hey, how you guys doing? Glad you could make it. Good to see you. Have a seat. Get comfortable. Do you need anything? (pause) Like a fucking watch?” The guy in the couple cracked up. The woman didn’t find any humor in the joke. She turned into something out of Jerry Springer yelling up at the stage, wagging her index finger. Lowell reminded her that no one could hear her because he had the microphone … and because we were all cracking up. Then, he pointed out something which was announced to the entire audience before the show, something she obviously missed. This was a comedy club. He was there to tell jokes so she needed to lighten up. I had never heard of Lowell Sanders, but I will keep an eye out for him on XM in the future I also liked the fact that the other comedian wasn’t there because it gave Lowell longer and led us right into Bobby’s set. Bobby pretty much admitted that he was there to work on new material because he said he forgot his notes, which I don’t think a guy like Bobby Collins needs unless he’s testing new material. This made his set a little uneven, but still pretty damn funny. He really swung and missed on his political stuff, but his observational bits still kill me. That was about it for my entertainment on the trip. I didn’t even get to see the Bellagio fountains. I wasn’t over there at night and, when I thought about it, I just didn’t feel like walking over there. I did catch them feeding the lions at the MGM Grand, which I hadn’t seen before. That was pretty cool. I also got a chuckle (again) out of the Dealertainers at Imperial Palace. They actually have one who looks a lot like the person they are impersonating – Billy Idol. And the Stevie Wonder and Billy Joel guys sang on their own. Not bad for a free show at the IP. The food On my previous two Vegas trips, I have made mistakes. I have had a little too much to drink early in the trip, which has set me back a little. One of the consequences of that action was that I didn’t really get to enjoy a lot of good Vegas food on those trips. I made up for that this time. I didn’t overdo it on the drinking at all and had some really good meals along the way. Because of the heat and my fondness for fruity drinks, I enjoyed a few frozen daiquiris along the way. A handful of places sell them along the strip, and they came in handy because they didn’t get warm as quickly as beer did. Just a tip for those of you who brave the summer heat in Vegas. I also mixed in a lot of water due to the heat, which kept me from drinking too much. My only complaint is that cocktail service at the machines was pretty poor, especially for water. I know we are freeloading, but it’s 110 degrees out. The servers at Imperial Palace usually carry around several cold bottles of water on their trays, but not many other casinos did this. Have a heart and keep people from passing out at their machine, OK? With the drinking in check, I followed up on a few recommendations I found online. My first breakfast was at Planet Dailies at Planet Hollywood. I had read this was one of the better coffee shops in town, and it did not disappoint. The coffee was superb, the waffle just right, and they have a nice extra touch by providing a complementary copy of USA Today. For lunch on Monday, I hit BLT Burger at Mirage. I head read about this place as well and wanted to give it a try, especially since it had only opened a few months ago. After walking around for a few hours, I could really go for a few beers (they have 20-some on tap) and a hunk of beef. I again came away very happy. I had a regular burger and thin fries with a pair of beers to wash them down. The amber ales from Sin City Brewery and Fat Tire got the day’s drinking off to a perfect start. I sat at the bar and had really good service. They also have plenty of TVs to keep you occupied. I got carried away checking out some other places and ended up having dinner pretty late at the Pizza Palace at Imperial Palace, my home base. I couldn’t find anything wrong with the mozzarella sticks and personal pizza I got and managed to save enough for lunch on Tuesday. On Tuesday morning, I felt pretty good despite not enough sleep (as usual in Vegas), so I set out for the Bellagio breakfast buffet. I wanted to do breakfast at one of the really good buffets and don’t regret it for a second. The bill was less than three dollars more than my bill at Planet Dailies and I ate way more than I did the previous morning. I started out slow with some fruit and a muffin, then got an omelette and bacon. The omelette was a little too cheesy, but otherwise delicious. The bacon was really good, but I only took one bite of a sausage link I tried before giving up. I wasn’t full – it just didn’t taste that great. I finished off with a few pieces of toast and leisurely enjoyed my coffee while I read the paper, which I had to buy this time around. I don’t know if I would pay more for this buffet on weekends, but it’s great when the price is only $15. I lunched on leftovers, then searched for a good dinner place. I decided to try New York, New York and was disappointed when I read the menu at Nine Fine Irishmen, their pub. The choices weren’t as casual as I wanted at that time, so I moved on. I almost picked their Mexican place, but finally found the perfect restaurant to end my Vegas trip. America. Yes, they have a restaurant called America. I settled down at the bar, had a few cold ones and ordered the American platter, which consisted of a quesadilla, Buffalo wings, potato skins with chili and cheese, and mozzarella squares. I couldn’t finish the whole thing, but felt very American when I waddled away. Breakfast before my flight was in the Teahouse, the coffee shop at the IP. It hit the spot and sent me home happy. Best of all, I enjoyed a few new places and didn’t gain any weight. The rest of the story • On my last night, I noticed a distinct change in the clientÃ¨le at Imperial Palace. After some research, I discovered that a roller derby convention started on Wednesday. Let’s just say that the hookers who troll the casinos wouldn’t have any competition from these “ladies.” Mullets and tattoos everywhere. • Besides the drunken idiot I described in my poker post, I saw two other incidents in poker rooms. One night at the IP, a guy went all in and his trip queens lost to someone else’s trip kings. The loser pounded on the table not once, but twice before storming off. Good thing he lost all his stack because I don’t think he would have been welcome there any more. The funny thing is, he was never ahead in the hand so I don’t see why he got so upset. Sometimes, good cards beat you. The second incident came at Harrah’s during my first tournament there. At a cash game next to us, a guy and a chick were arguing non-stop. She said he was being sexist and demeaning. He said he was just having fun. I did hear a few things he said that weren’t so kosher, but she just wouldn’t let it go and eventually started accusing him of saying stuff when he never said anything. The floor people and dealer did a great job keeping things from escalating. • While taking photos outside Paris one day, I saw what looked like a homeless local speaking very passionately to some young tourists. I felt bad for them. • I took the monorail for the first two times ever. Both times, I was at MGM and didn’t feel like walking back to the IP. The $5 one-way fee is a little steep, but in late July, I just sucked it up instead of braving the heat. One tip to the monorail folks - put more benches at the stations. We’re riding your trains because we’re tired so don’t make us stand and wait for the next train. • I had planned to go downtown, but just never fit it in. Maybe next time. I had a good time there last year so don’t want to pass that trip up every time. • Make sure to sign up for player cards, especially at the casinos not owned by MG/Mirage or Harrah’s. I got $5 in free slot play at Planet Hollywood which I turned into $20. At Wynn, I used my $10 of free play to win a little, which I used on the Top Gun machine to work toward 25 player points. I used more of my money for that and, after I hit the 25 points, I “spun the wheel” at the player’s club booth and won $10 more in free slot play. I took that to a Wizard of Oz machine and won back a little of what I used on Top Gun. • When I was looking around my suite at all the cool stuff, I opened a drawer and found a surprise - about a dozen porn cards. I don’t know if the previous occupant left them or the maids were trying to hook me up.