Well, just returned from a relatively short stay at the Trop. Had been almost 5 years since my last trip to the mecca, and the Trop was begging me to come back - well maybe not begging, but they offered me 3 free nights, $60 slot play ($20 per day), and 2 free tix to Laugh Factory. That was good enough for me. Chose to stay in Paradise Tower, and had a regular king room. It was just me and my girlfriend (we're both hovering around the 50 yr. old mark - I'm hovering a little higher then her). Flew out of JFK on Saturday morning on non-stop Virgin America flight. Virgin is my favorite airline. I like the mood lighting and the entertainment center at each seat. Was lucky enough to grab one of the $139 rates each way, and used a perk on one of my credit cards for free companion flight (well not totally free, but only around $50 processing fee). Flight took off and landed right on time - no turbulence almost the whole ride, so I was a winner right off the bat. I was thinking about upgrading to first class, based on some things I read, but upgrade fee was $299/person, and they wouldn't negotiate, even though they had empty seats in first class. I wasn't spending $600 for 2 upgrades. I was thinking I would spend $300.00 or so, but $600 was too much for me to sit in the big chair. Upon arrival in Vegas, I had to wait on pretty long line to board bus to go to rental car center. I don't remember doing that 5 years ago, but I could be wrong. I hate waiting on line, and that bugged me, but it moved pretty fast. Got to rental car center, and picked up car at Payless. No line at counter, and got my mid-size Altima right away. Girl at counter copped an attitude when I didn't go for any of the insurance options. They all seem to do that, but I don't care. Car cost me all of $47 for the 3 days, including all the airport fees. That is a bargain. I lose that on an odds bet at craps table. Drove right over to the Trop. Was good to see the place all cleaned up and bright. I prefer the bright casinos, and although the casino in Trop is pretty weak with the volume of table games, I like the fact that it's easy to navigate and well lit. Check in line around 2pm was pretty crowded, but it was a Saturday, and line moved fairly quick. Waited on line about 20 minutes before I got to check in. I asked the check in person if any upgrades were available (with the $20 in my hand), but I was already on a comp, and figured I had little or no chance of a free upgrade. I was right. There was a suite available in one of the other towers, but it was an extra $130/night, or so, so I passed. The king room in Paradise is about as basic as you can get. No frills, and some chills (at least air was working well!). Needed the air, since it hit 100 degrees that weekend. No refrigerator or coffee maker in room, but I don't care that much. It was nice and clean, and bed was comfortable. Bathroom was nice, and unfortunately, I spent way too much time in there (thank you buffet of buffets). Dropped off the bags and headed right back down to casino. They had 2 craps tables going, and neither one that crowded. Craps is my game of choice (I used to be blackjack player in my 20s - now I can't stand to even sit at blackjack table). Craps tables were either $5 or $10. I play no lower then $10, and usually more. I played for about an hour (maybe even less), and cashed out on the plus side, around $300 or $400. I usually start our losing, so that was a shock. My girlfried is mostly slot player, and found enough of the newer games to keep busy. Went back to room to change to check out the pool. The Trop used to have one of the nicer pools in Vegas. Although it's still nice, it's not as nice as it used to be. Not sure what's missing (maybe waterfall), but I'm guessing it dropped a few notches on the best pool list. It was hot and sunny, around 95 degrees, and didn't want to stay too long, so maybe hung out there for an hour. Chairs were plentiful, and so were towels. Right next door to Trop pool was Bagatelle. Music at Bagatelle was blasting, so if you are into that, it's your kind of place. I liked it, but it's not for everyone. Went back to room to change to head downtown. I purchased 2 tickets off travelzoo to see Gordie Brown at Golden Nugget, and it came with free buffet. Got to buffet around 6:30pm and line was short. Got right in. Nice buffet (I'm a buffet guy - like to try different foods instead of just getting one dish), and ate enough to feel pretty full. Gordie Brown was decent. Tipped the usher a whopping $5 and got moved to second or third row (I can't even remember - memory fades too damn fast lately). I remember tipping $5 or $10 maybe 15 or 20 years ago. Maybe the recession is still in effect - $5 tip still goes a long way. Anyway, Gordie has full band and does alot of impersonations. He's spot on with some, and no so spot on with others, but for around $30/person, including dinner, it's worth checking out. Hung out downtown for a bit after the show. They had some special event going on (think it was Elvis weekend), so they cancelled the normal light show on the top of the hour. Oh well - I wasn't going downtown again on short trip, so Fremont Street Experience was going to be missed. I got to see Turf, and if you watch America's Got Talent, know who he is. He does contortionist stuff, and some of it makes you look away. Played some craps at Nugget and won a few bucks there too. 2 wins in a row - something strange was going on. Headed back to the Trop, and got back there around 11ish. Casino was jumping, and girls in lingerie were dealing craps and some other table games in one section of casino, and some girl was pole dancing. Not used to seeing that at the Trop, but it was all good. Played craps, and won again. Nothing big, but anytime you leave craps table with more then you started, it's a miracle. I did lose in the sports book, as I had bet some parlays, and $100 on the Knicks, as those didn't connect. Went to bed around 1am, and after coming in from east coast, I was bushed. Sunday was Mothers Day. Took my gf to, guess what, a buffet for brunch. Went to Terrible's, of all places. Used a coupon for freebie from the ACG. it was ok, but I would not go back. Drove down the strip after breakfast/brunch, and parked in the Flamingo, figuring we would do the middle of the strip walking tour. We walked all the way up to Wynn, and then back around on the other side to Bellagio. It was around 100 degrees, and alot of walking. My gf absolutely loved the Venetian, and Wynn was pretty nice too. I would have preferred to hang in dumpy Casino Royale and play some craps, but didn't get to do that. We spent a few hours doing the walking tour, and finally, around 2pm or so, headed to what might have been the best meal I ate in Vegas, at Jack in the Box. We don't have Jack in the Box on Long Island, and I don't even know where on east coast there is one. I used to go there when I was 18-21, after a night of drinking, and eat that crap food, and it was damn good. It's still damn good, especially the tacos. Screw Taco Bell - Jacks is the place. Back to Trop to catch the pool for a bit. I hit craps table first, and won again. Small wins, but so far, I hadn't lost at craps table. I play $10/$15 pass line, and either place the 6/8, or come bet, and spread money out and press and do 6/8 hardways. I do full odds on 3/4/5x tables, so you can lose alot fast when dice go cold. So far, they didn't get cold. Spent an hour or so at the pool, and was planning on utilizing the free pass I had for 2 from Total Rewards credit card to get the buffet of buffets, and then go see Raiding the Rock Vault at LVH. Our first stop for buffet of buffets was Rio. The manager initially said I couldn't use the buffet pass on Sunday night, because it was a holiday (Mother's Day). After I said you have to be kidding me, she let me use it. Carnival buffet is great buffet - I highly recommend, especially for free. After dinner, we headed down to LVH to see Raiding the Rock Vault. One of the local coupon books had a buy 1, get 1 ticket coupon. I got down to LVH around 7:30pm (show started at 8pm), and I went to get players card. The guy at the players club was wearing a Raiding the Rock vault T-shirt (I think all the employees were wearing them). I asked him if he had seen the show, and he said he had, and they were offering 4 free tix for Monday night show to all players card members. I signed up for 2 free tix for Monday night, and quickly left the LVH and headed back to Trop to go to Laugh Factory. Got tix for 10:30pm show, and played some craps. And, I won again. That never happened to me before. I actually went 2 days in a row without losing at craps, but it would catch up to me next day. Show at Laugh Factory was funny as hell. Tipped $5 again, and sat really close to stage. Probably a bad choice, as one comedian picked on me, but I didn't mind. I laughed along with the crowd, and cried like a baby later (just kidding). Played some slots after the show, and won a few bucks there too. Damn, what did I step in. I even cashed a parlay ticket for baseball. Gambling gods were smiling at me so far. Monday morning, I went down to craps table while gf was getting ready, expected to feel the punishment, and won another $300.00. That is when I should have stopped, because that was the end of the winning streak. Went to breakfast buffet at Paris (really good), and went to top of Eiffel Tower. Used Total Reward points for that, otherwise its around $14/person. It was neat to be up there and look around the city. Had picture taken and bought it for around $30. Nice souvenir. Went back to Trop, and did the walking tour of the south part of strip. Played some games in game area at Excalibur. Won some crappy stuffed animals like I was still a kid. It was fun. Did NYNY, and that was my first losing session at craps. I knew the party was over. I even hit a Fire Bet (I only had $2 on it). I was the only player at table, and I hit 4 points. That pays 25/1. I established new point (the 8), and if I hit that, it would be paid 250/1. After thinking about it, I should have layed the 8 at that point for around $250, so I could have guaranteed myself at least a $200+ win. What do you craps players think about that strategy? I got cold after that, and cashed out down around $80. Not alot, but my first losing session. Ending up eating buffet lunch at Planet Hollywood. Just picked, as we weren't that hungry, but sampled some stuff and had a few drinks. It is pretty nice buffet there too. Got back to the Trop around 5ish, and played some more craps, and lost. Only good thing - I bet against the Mets, and won an easy $100. I'm a Mets fan, but I know a stinky team when I see one, and man, they are stinking up the joint. Drove down to Rio and wrapped up the buffet of buffets with dinner. Didn't eat much again, but picked a few new dishes, and then headed over to LVH for show. We picked up our 2 freebies for Raiding the Rock Vault, and got row G I think, so we were pretty close to stage. It started out cheesy, but the guys were talented musicians, and did some good, old fashioned rock classics. Not every song was one I would have picked (how do Bryan Adams and Supertramp get thrown in to a classic rock show), but overall, a good time. My ears were cursing at me that night - it was LOUD. Had a bad craps session right before the show - yep, things are normal again. Went back to Trop and played slots for a while with my gf, and then hit the sack around 1am or so again. Tuesday was getaway day. Had breakfast at Palace Station, only because we wanted to hit big souvenir area near the Strat. It was cheap and not that good. Bought the obligitory souvenirs, and then headed back to Trop to pack up and head to airport. Virgin flight home, right on time. Got to watch my Knicks get beat up by Indiana on the plane ride. Yikes - that was worse then turbulence. Overall, a winning trip, but after being up around $1500.00 after first 2 days, dwindled down to around $500.00. Even though I won, felt like I lost, because I ending on down note. Some observations: Employees at all casinos were friendly and helpful as can be. Think it is an improvement over the years. Nice job. New gimmick is photographers taking pictures before buffet, and then bringing pictures to your table to buy while you eat. Another way to grab your travel dollars. I got suckered in a few times to this. Trop is decent hotel - not big like the others, but nice and comfortable, and I would go there again in a heartbeat. And, they made a nice sportsbook in there too. Still hate timeshare people that bug you. Overall, a great time. Can't beat Las Vegas, even if you lose a few bucks.