The following is my TR for my solo trip to Vegas for NASCAR weekend, Feb. 26 - Mar. 1 (Thanks in advance for indulging me the lack of brevity): Day 1 Thankfully, the latest in a line of monster storms on the East Coast and Mid Atlantic did not make it as far south as Blacksburg (VA), and my usually 2 hour long trip to Charlotte was only lengthened by about 15 minutes as I dodged Semis getting blown all over the place by the 60 mph wind gusts. Got to CLT and it was a madhouse, though - apparently, everyone traveling to the east coast had their flight diverted to Charlotte. Fortunately, it looked a lot worse than it was (at least for the folks going to places not covered by two feet of snow) and check-in and security were only marginally slower than usual. I got to my gate with enough time to grab a Coke and call work â€“ somehow, they were managing to get by without me Boarded the plane and after two Gram Parsons albums, a quick perusal of the new Road & Track, a catnap, and two Wilco albums it was time for the descent. Touched down at McCarran at 12:38 pm, a full 40 minutes ahead of schedule â€“ nice! I stepped out for a quick smoke, grabbed my luggage and by 1:18 (the time the flight was supposed to land) I was in a Towncar on my way to CP. Fingers crossed â€“ could my great luck so far hold out for the entire trip? Spoiler alert â€“ no, it could not. The limo driver was quite possibly the biggest bullshitter I have ever encountered. Not only did this guy invent MTV and the modern interpretation of the Vegas night club, but he was also, at one time or another, a renowned Deejay and the number one Ford/Toyota/BMW â€“ I canâ€™t remember which - salesman in the western United States. And just last month he had Steve Jobs as a fare and pitched him the idea for a â€œretro-themedâ€ Vegas casino â€“ how incredibly groundbreaking! Jobs, of course, seemed quite interested. Iâ€™m usually easily annoyed by these types, but hey, we were pulling into CP and nothing was going to bring me down at that point. Except maybe a really long check-in line. The regular line for check-in was incredibly long, and I was praying that the â€œspecialâ€ line would include Platinum members and not just Diamond or better, and yep, Platinum was included (the diamond folks had their own separate room)â€¦jackpot, only one couple in front of me. When it was my turn, I asked for any complementary upgrades, specifically an Augustus Tower Room (I had a comped Forum Tower Room). A few keystrokes later and â€œno problemâ€ was the reply. Unfortunately, neither the upgraded room nor my room was available for â€œaround an hourâ€. So, rather than wait, I just asked her to find whatever else might be available. A few minutes later, I ended up in a Palace Tower Room. It could have been worse and she did put forth some effort to find me an available room that was at least nominally an upgrade, so I tipped her the 20, and took the long trek up to my room. The room was decent, but certainly nothing to write home about. It sported fairly stylish dÃ©cor - I liked the dark built in armoire/cabinets - and had a pretty nice bathroom with a huge Jacuzzi tub (that I would never use, of course) and separate shower. But, the carpet and walls were looking as though they could use a little refreshing, and the TV seemed pretty small and was not HD. Overall, though, there was nothing really to complain about, at least not when itâ€™s â€œfreeâ€. The view was okay. It faced north and had a good view of the Mirage, Venetian and Wynn as well as the mountains in the background. It would have been a fantastic view if not for what appeared to be an employee parking lot directly below. I canâ€™t remember exactly, but I believe it was the 24th floor, or there about. So, after unpacking, drinking a $4 12 oz. Pepsi from the mini bar, and a quick look through the coupons I received at check in (they were all the usual Harrahâ€™s suspects), it was on! Vegas, baby! This was the first time I had stayed at Caesarsâ€™ in about 8 or 9 years, and I rarely, if ever, play there, so I decided to make a quick walk through of the place. It was roughly as I remembered it â€“ a few new restaurants, a little bigger, but essentially the same. I then headed out to the strip and decided that Bellagio would be where I made my fortune today. The Bellagio was the same as ever. Looking a bit dated but still nice and thereâ€™s even a bit of class wrapped up in all the Vegas tackiness. I found myself an empty $50 BJ table with good rules â€“ 6 deck, S17, double after split, surrender and re split aces. I played by myself for about 45 minutes or so and then two well dressed middle aged Texan couples sat down. They were fairly nice, but some of the worst BJ players I had ever seen, especially at a $50 table. I have cured myself of the idea that otherâ€™s terrible plays actually affect my results in the long run, so I just had a few drinks, talked with the Texans and had a pretty good time for a while. That is, until Mr. Stand-On-13-Against-Dealerâ€™s 10 starts bad mouthing my (perfect basic strategy) play when things donâ€™t go his way. I ignore the first couple under the breath comments, but eventually, the fact that Iâ€™m losing pretty bad combined with his heavy sighs every time I hit a total that has a chance of busting start to get to me. Time to find another table. I leave the BJ table having bought three $400 Miller Lites and figure that maybe itâ€™s time for a little craps. I find a $10 table with the perfect amount of people on it â€“ plenty of room, but not too desolate. Things start off great. An older Hispanic guy with more black spread out than â€“ well, I donâ€™t have a metaphor for this one, he just had a lot of money on the table- was hitting everything and my $300 doubled in a matter of minutes. Now, weâ€™re talking. Of course, as soon as this cat finally sevens out, he colors up about 10-15k, and lady luck leaves with him. I play for another hour or so until my $300 is nearly completely gone. Regardless of my luck, this table was a blast. There were a few Virgins that everyone was having fun with and the camaraderie was really quite good. And the dealers were among the best I have ever seen. They knew my bets after only a few minutes, and were very personable and funny â€“ an absolute pleasure. I sure hope casinos realize how much of an asset a really good dealer is. I would really hate to see the rapid craps become a huge success and see the regular craps tables go the way of low limit 3/2 BJ. Well, by now itâ€™s about 5 pm and Iâ€™m getting a bit tipsy and hungry and am already down 1500. Time to take a break from gambling and grab a bite to eat. Iâ€™m in the mood for a good old burger, so I start of for the Mirage and the BLT Burger. The BLT Burger was pretty happening for as early as it was, but there was plenty of space at the bar and I sit down next to a group of Canadians watching curling. Man, those Canucks love them some curling! I get schooled in the finer points of the sport and do my best to try to get into it, but when my burger arrives, I give up and start to eat. The burger itself was excellent. Very juicy, cooked exactly as I ordered it and just had a good â€œburger tasteâ€. The fries, on the other hand, were mediocre at best. And, everything was a little pricy. Two beers, a BLT Burger and fries and a tip of 20-ish percent ran me 40 bucks. By the time I was finished with dinner, the wounds from the Bellagio were beginning to heal and I was ready to head back into the fray. I found myself another $50 table with great rules â€“ this time 2 deck, S17, double after split. I played for about an hour just treading water, until a new dealer stepped up and my luck finally started to change for the better. I had switched from Miller Lite to Gin & Tonic and the liquid courage it imparted had me pressing my bets aggressively. After winning a few hands at $50-100, I went up to 150-200-300-400 and just kept winning. Eventually, I had $600 bet and then Murphyâ€™s Law took over as a pair of sevens sat in front of me with the dealer showing a 6. I split and the first card was a ten â€“ okay, not bad, coulda been worse. The next seven got an Ace. The dealer tried to convince me to just hit it, but Iâ€™m a slave to the basic strategy, so I pushed another 600 alongside it, andâ€¦another 10. The dealer then turns over a three and then that bitch the queen of diamonds. Ouch! I colored up $2500 from an original buy in of $500 and another buy in of $500. So, even with the hand from hell, I still made back my losses from the Bellagio. Unfortunately, I did not quit while I was ahead, or rather, even. After taking a little break, I hit the craps table where I lost a few hundred, then the baccarat table, where I won a few hundred and then back to blackjack, where my luck from the Bellagio returned. By about 1 am or so, only five of the original 40 bills remained in my pocket â€“ time to call it a night! (But not before I gave away the remaining 500 to the Caesarâ€™s BJ tables.) Day 2 I must still be on Eastern time as I wake up at around six and canâ€™t get back to sleep. But, Iâ€™m not ready to face the day yet so I order up some pancakes and sausage from room service and watch the same Sports Center a few times. The food was okay. And, I suppose for room service, thatâ€™s about as good as one can expect. But, I do remember the flapjacks from Paris being far tastier a few months ago. Maybe the bitter taste from the beating I took the night before was affecting my palette. Eventually, I get in the shower (fantastic water pressure, in fact, almost too much), get dressed and start contemplating my day. Iâ€™ve got tickets to the Nationwide race (kind of like NASCARâ€™s triple A league for those not familiar) but there are some ugly clouds to the north and I have no desire to sit in the rain all day hoping for the race to start. So, I head downstairs and decide to walk the strip for a while. I head south to Paris and then just make my way north up the Harrahâ€™s dominated East side of the strip. I throw a few buck in various slots and have a few cups of coffee in various casinos until about 12:30 when I find myself staring at an open $25 double deck bj table in the Flamingo (with typical horrendous HET rules). The dealer is a cute Asian gal who goads me into sitting down, so I grab $200 from my pocket and promise myself that is all that Iâ€™m going to lose until much later in the day. Fortunately, Iâ€™m able to not only keep my promise, but also bank a nice $1000 profit after about an hour and a half of play. My spirits lifted by the win, I decide itâ€™s time for the first of the day and to see if the race had started. I walk to the Bellagio in the rain (along with sunny skies) and sit down at the sportsbook bar. The race has a rain delay, so I watch some hoops, drink a few beers and chat with the bartender. Eventually, I get bored, cash out a $50 VP win, and hit the strip again. I make the long trek north up to TI, stopping at the Mirage for a beer. I eventually cross the street to check out the Venetian, where I drop a quick $500 at BJ, then head south, making sure to stop at Casino Royale for a $1 Mich Light. Eventually, I end up in the Flamingo again and catch the last half of the race at a bar there. After the race, I decide that I need to go over to Billâ€™s to check out the rapid craps that Iâ€™ve read about on the VMB. It seemed to be quite popular and all the seats were filled (at about 6:30 pm, Sat.). I didnâ€™t want to be looking over anyoneâ€™s shoulder so I really couldnâ€™t get a good idea about the actual mechanics of the game. It did, however, seem nothing like craps. It was quiet, everyone had their attention fixed to the screen in front of them, and there was no back and forth between players or player and dealer. I understand that there is a place for this game. And, Iâ€™m certainly not going to complain about a company trying to improve its bottom line. I just hope that traditional craps doesnâ€™t suffer too much as this game expands. While at Billâ€™s, I decide to try a little of their (awful) bj. The dealer and pit boss are very friendly and personable and I spend a very enjoyable hour or so at the table and walk away with a $500 profit. Well, my pattern of winning at HET properties and then giving it all (and more) to MGM properties would continue with my MC â€“ Bellagio â€“ Mirage trips after leaving Billâ€™s. Each one taking me for $500 bucks or so. Tail between my legs, I head back to CP to freshen up a bit and get some dinner. Probably because it was the first restaurant I saw after coming back down from my room, I decided to stop in at Raoâ€™s for dinner. It was about 9:30 or so and the place was quite busy, but there was plenty of room at the bar, so I took a spot next to a dentist from Orlando and a divorcee from Southern California. The bartender was great and the conversation with my neighbors was good. And, I had an excellent dinner â€“ a house salad and the lamb chops. I couldnâ€™t quite place exactly what was in the sauce on the chops, but it was very subtle and I liked it a lot. While the meal was great, I would have a hard time recommending it as my dinner for one was well over $100. And, while that price could have certainly been mitigated by leaving out the two glasses of wine and espresso after dinner, Iâ€™ve had a number of meals that good in Vegas for around half or Â¾ of that price. Hopped up on espresso and with a full belly, I went out for some more gambling. I Dropped a quick $500 at $25 craps at CP and then decided to return to the only place where I seemed to be winning much â€“ Flamingo. I grabbed a place at a $10 craps table and things really started to get fun. The table was great â€“ a bunch of young guys not too familiar with craps and a couple guys about my age who were. We old guys helped out the young bucks and we were all winning and having a great time â€“ lots of cheering, high fives, fist bumps and way too much booze. The dealers were great, too, and this was, without a doubt the best time I had had so far. After a couple of hours, the table started to get cold and eventually, we all just started leaving one by one. I colored up with a $1500 profit and decided it was time to call it a nightâ€¦right after I try this open bj table. Of course, I then gave back nearly all of my craps winnings at the bj table. Then I looked at my phone and saw that it was after 4:30. Holy crap, Iâ€™ve got to be up in three hours to pick up my rental car and get to the NASCAR race! Day 3 7:30 had never felt so early when my phone started beeping at me. I reset the alarm to give me another hour and promptly went back to sleep. 8:30 wasnâ€™t much better, but at least I wasnâ€™t still drunk! I managed to get myself out of bed and into the shower â€“ this time the water pressure was way too strong. After dressing, I went down to the sportsbook to put some money on the race: $200 on Kurt Busch, and $100 on Montoya and Boyer. (All three would get caught up in accidents not of their own making well before half way in the race.) Then, I got the rental car and it was off to the race. The race was actually pretty boring for a Vegas race and I was in terrible pain the entire day. Note to self: hangovers and 43 850-hp cars droning on for 400 miles do not mix. After Jimmy Johnson passed Jeff Gordon (seriously Steve Latarde, how do you go with only two tires with the four time champ breathing down your neck?!) with about 20 laps to go, I figured it was over and headed down to beat the traffic. I got back to the room at about 6pm or so and flopped down into the bed. After trying to convince myself to get up for an hour or two, I finally gave up, ordered up some room service and watched the closing ceremonies for the Olympics. Man, am I getting old. Day 4 Monday morning was pretty uneventful. I got up, checked out and headed off to the airport. The plane left on time and after a soundtrack provided by The Band and some mid 60â€™s Dylan, I dozed off and awoke as we descended toward Charlotte. All in all, a fun trip. It was my first completely solo trip and I enjoyed it quite a bit. And, while itâ€™s always more fun to be with friends, thereâ€™s certainly something to be said for always being able to do exactly what you want to do and never having to wait on anyone. After the $5K+ beating I took, I decided that I was certainly not coming back for a long timeâ€¦ â€¦of course, that was two weeks ago, and things do change. Venetian â€“ its your turn come May!