May 5 So I wasn’t planning a Vegas trip until February 2015 Super Bowl weekend, but the wife took a girls trip to New York a couple months ago and when she got back said I should schedule a trip to hang out with my buddy Pete. This was an offer I couldn’t refuse so I started thinking about a trip and shortly thereafter I received an offer for a “Cash Grab” at Sam’s Town which included a free room May 5-8 and a chance to win $25-500 so I booked it. The best flight option was on Southwest from Dallas, also booked my rental car through Hotwire, and eagerly awaited the trip. When booking flights on SWA Dallas to Vegas you can’t do a non-stop due to the Wright amendment (which goes away in October) so I try to select a flight without a plane change and did so, stopping in Amarillo on the way out and in El Paso on the way home. I was A57 and snagged an aisle seat and the flight to Amarillo was great, no middle seat mate. The leg from Amarillo-Vegas I wasn’t as lucky as a young couple with an infant sat in my row, and they got up about 3 times to walk with the kid to settle him down. I didn’t think anything about having to get up 3 times to let them out and 3 times to let them sit back down, until later when I realized I had cut both of my calves somehow. There must have been something sharp on the bottom of my seat that cut them, but it was a couple hours after the flight when I noticed the dried blood on my legs. I was likely getting some looks on the plane and later at the airport but nobody bothered to say “Dude, why are you bleeding?” Shuttled to the rental car, was booked with Alamo and there was no line, the clerk was efficient and didn’t try to upsell any insurance, and I grabbed a Nissan Altima. Now Pete has been a buddy for 35 years and lives in California where we went to college. His flight wasn’t coming in for another 2+ hours and I usually meet him at baggage claim, but he is legally blind so I thought I would surprise him as he walked of the plane. I drove to the airport and got a pass to get through security and went to his gate and he was surprised I was there when he arrived. Back to the car and off to Sam’s Town we went. Check in was cake and we were headed to the casino. We both play video poker 90% of the time with maybe some craps, horses or sports bets, so video poker it was. We both lost a little at some machines and then Pete said he wanted to bet the Clippers and the under, so I walked him over to the sports book and he made his bet, then he wanted to play some bar top VP and listen to the game. He has very little eyesight but can play vp if he gets his face about 5 inches from the screen. This gets some weird looks from passersby occasionally at upright machines, frequently at slant tops, and consistently at bar top machines where he almost has to stand up and lean so far forward to see the cards. Another thing you need to know about Pete is that we have a had a 35 year running joke about how he often spills his drinks because he can’t see very well, but he also seems to have the power to make others around him spill their drinks. We call these “vicinity spills” and it is uncanny how often they happen when Pete is around. So, we sit at the bar and order drinks, and there are two young guys sitting next to Pete drinking and watching the game. After about ten minutes they start asking Pete about his eyesight, can he see the cards, etc., and literally less than two minutes later one of them knocks over his entire draft beer. I see it happen and start cracking up, and immediately Pete does also, since he heard the glass fall over. The two guys can’t figure out what is so funny about one of them dumping his beer all over the bar…maybe we should have let them in on our inside joke. Then, to add icing to the cake, the bartender had witnessed the spill, comes over, and informs the two guys they are being cut off. I told Pete I didn’t think the guys were drunk or obnoxious, and only he has the power to get sober guys cut off. This was good for another quality laugh. After dinner we played a little more vp and I played some dime Double Double Aces and Faces and hit 4 Queens with a kicker twice for $80 each went to bed ahead slightly. May 6 One thing I dislike about Sam’s Town is the lack of a true café/coffee shop for breakfast, so we grabbed the car and went to Blueberry Hill, which I highly recommend as they have a lot of good options. I ordered chopped ham and eggs and some pancakes and they were great. After breakfast we went to the Eastside Cannery which I never been to before. It was a nice place, clean and spacious, and we played for a couple hours there, where I hit quad 8’s. We then headed back to Sam’s to do the Cash Grab. They invite 75 people for these, you go to one of their banquet rooms where they have ice cream, and then based on a number you pick (1-75) you go up to a table and pick a T-shirt which has a hidden tag with the dollar amount you win. I was the fifth person to pick and got $50 which I thought was the smallest amount but later saw many people only get $25. I believe the top prize was $500 and I know there were $400, $300 and $200 winners. I told Pete I thought we were the youngest people in the room and later we joked that Sam’s Town must be where old people take their parents to gamble. I had bought tickets to see comedian Vinnie Favorito at the Flamingo that night so we got the car from valet and headed there. Once we found the back entrance to the parking garage (I am NOT a strip person and rarely go there) we headed to the box office and picked up the tix and had couple hours to kill so we grabbed some pizza at their Pizza Joint, it was decent and not terribly overpriced for the strip. We then found a bar and played a little bar top, no wins and the drinks (greyhound for Pete, Crown and Coke for me) were decent but small. We had more time to kill so we started walking and found O’sheas, they had room at their bar but their stools have no backrests so we kept walking and found a bar at the Quad that knows how to serve drinks. The C&C I got there was served in a glass that probably was 16 oz. or more and it was pretty strong. Pete ordered a bud light in a bottle and shortly thereafter he (of course) spilled about ¼ of it. After we stopped laughing he says “finally” like he had just broken some personal streak of not spilling. I replied “finally? We haven’t been here but 24 hours!” and that lead to another round of laughs…I almost got Pete to spit up some beer with that comment. Shortly before we had to head back to the Flamingo for the show I hit quad 3’s for $200. Pete hadn’t had much luck so even though I had bought the show tickets I told him I would get our drinks inside. If you are unfamiliar with Vinnie Favorito, he is a politically incorrect insult comic in the Don Rickles mold, and if you like that type of comedy I can’t recommend him highly enough. He was awesome, he has some structured material but really shines with his crowd work. I have seen probably 50 comedians and his show ranks in the top 2-3 based on the amount of laughs he got from me. Pete agreed, saying he thought he was one of the best he had seen. After the show we headed back to Sam’s to crash. May 7 I got down to the casino before Pete so I played their 20 nickel DDB progressive vp and hit quad 2’s for $80. Once Pete made it down we decided to hit a few of our favorite casinos so we headed to South Point, but not until after breakfast again at Blueberry Hill (ham steak and eggs). On the drive to SP we had a horse racing show on the radio and they gave out two horses running at Belmont that day, so we headed to the race book and placed a few bets, but not until we hit the sports book and each made a future bet on the Super Bowl (Colts for Pete, 18-1 I think, and Panthers for me at 30-1). It was a spur of the moment wager, don’t ever say “Johnzimbo thinks the Panthers are a lock to win the Super Bowl”. We bet a few races, including the two radio plays, but none were winners. After a little vp and video keno Pete announced that he wanted to play a Wizard of Oz slot machine so we start searching for one. We walked the entire place and didn’t find one but did find a bank of Quick Hits slots that my ex-MIL told me I should play, so I told Pete I needed to play $20 in one. There were six machines and four were occupied, so I sat at one and Pete at the other. Neither of us had ever played these before and the woman playing between us could tell the Pete needed help finding the slot to put his $20 in so she started helping him, including which buttons to push. In the meantime I started playing max bet of $1,50 per spin and on the third spin I got 7 of 9 flashing Quick Hit symbols and hit a $246 progressive payout. I wasn’t sure if I had actually won that so I asked the woman helping Pete and she said yes but not in as friendly of manner as she was using with Pete. Either she thought Pete was cuter than me, or she was pissed a newbie had hit one of the minor progressives so quickly It was about 1 P.M. and Pete was moving to the Orleans for the night, so we headed that way but decided to stop at the Gold Coast for a while. We played some vp there and I hit quad 2’s with a kicker for $200 to keep me flush. They were having some drawings for cash if you swiped your B connected card so we did that and we had played enough to get free dinner buffets. I know Pete doesn’t like buffets because they are hard for him to navigate but since he wasn’t having much luck in the casino he surprisingly said the buffet sounded good to him, so I told him I would assist him in filling his plate. We get seated and head to the stations and he chooses some Spanish rice, chile verde, corn on the cob, and a slice of prime rib. We get back to the table and Pete sets his plate down on what he thinks is our table but in actuality is the very edge of our table, and his entire plate falls onto one of the chairs. This is what hanging with Pete is like…we laugh and I tell him just to hang tight and I will go get another plate with the same items. The food was average, certainly nothing to write home about but it filled us up. We drive over to the Orleans and get Pete checked in, and I notice they have remodeled their rooms and did a nice job, but still have those lame sliding pocket doors between the room and the bathroom which my wife hates and means we likely won’t be staying there in the future. Pete gets settled and down to the casino we go, where I suggest we try craps. I but in for $100 and after the shooter sevened out I make a $5 passline bet and take $10 odds. Four shooters later, including me, no one has made a point and I leave the table with $30 and my tail between my legs. Not far from the craps table is a spin poker machine that my wife hit two royals on so I stick a twenty in and quickly lose that. It was only about 8:30 P.M. but I was running out of steam so I headed back to Sam’s and was in bed by 9:30. May 8 Down to the casino around 6:30 and I decide to try penny hundred play vp so I stick $100 in and start with DDB. I can’t hit anything so I switch to Bonus Poker and still nothing, so I try the other three options, deuces wild, DB and joker poker but within ten minutes I have lost half of my hundred so I cash out and move over to spin poker deluxe and try some Super DDB poker with max bet being 30 lines at $.10 per line, $3 total. Again I can’t hit anything big and drop down to about 350 credits so on what will likely be my last spin I am dealt three Jacks and hit a couple quads and quads with kicker for about 4200 credits so I can continue playing. I drop down again and am getting close to busto when I get dealt three Jacks again and hit several quads, some with kickers for 9200+ credits and am almost even for the session. I play down to about $80 and cash for a small loss, head up to the room and check out on the tv, grab the car from valet and head to the Orleans to have breakfast with Pete. My flight back to Dallas was at 11:30 but Pete’s flight wasn’t until 5 or 6 P.M. so we say goodbye and I get to the airport with plenty of time to spare. The flight to El Paso was fine, I was B9 so I got an aisle seat. In El Paso about ¾ of the passengers deplane and before they start boarding those going from EP to Dallas they announce we are on a ground hold due to storms in Dallas and they will update us in 30 minutes. I decide to move closer to the front of the plane and snag a seat in the exit row. Being 6’4” I need an aisle seat so I can stretch my legs but an exit row seat is even better After 30 minutes they say the next update will be coming in 30 more minutes, so I exit the plane, grab a snack and take it back on the plane. So after a little over an hour delay, they start boarding the plane and the flight to Dallas is fine. I came home with about $100 more than I took so it was a successful trip for sure. Only downside is, it will be a long wait until February.