Hi VMBers, It's been a while since I've written a trip report, but after enjoying 109 pages on the trips of BeeJay and the crew, I'm inspired. First, a little backstory. For years, I've been enjoying at least two trips a year, but a medical issue forced the cancellation of last year's October trip. A difficult beginning to 2013 made it look like there might be no trips this year either. Thankfully, issues resolved themselves, and I was able to book an April trip, almost a year since returning from trip #29. Just to add to the intrigue, this trip would be my first solo adventure to Las Vegas since September of 2006. As always, I made all manner of tentative plans, and many of them went out the window. That's all part of Vegas for me, though -- intensive planning followed by sensory overload and spur-of-the-moment decisions after arrival. I knew, though, that I wouldn't be all by my lonesome for parts of the trip, since a couple Vegas buddies would be out at the same time. It would be nice to have mealtime companions, at the very least. Another positive would be having a proper bankroll for 0.25 VP play, which would be a welcome change from my previous solo trips. On with the show.... Day 1 - Wednesday, April 17th After a typical airport McDonald's breakfast, I was comfortably ensconced in seat 5F aboard a new-ish SWA 737. The plane left on time and then the only question was "Bloody Mary?" Why yes, thank you. After all, that plane was technically sovereign territory of the Republic of Las Vegas, so the "acquire drink" light was always lit. Enjoying a bloody on the flight over is always a good tradition to uphold, and I do not scoff at tradition. Following it with a Corona is an even better idea. After the libations, I enjoyed a short-ish nap, after which I saw that the ground had transformed from Midwestern green to Southwestern brown. Gettin' there....gettin' there. The majesty of the Rockies followed, and soon enough, Lake Mead was upon us. One last set of mountains brought the familiar joyous sight of the Vegas valley. It's. On. There's always something wonderful about arrival in Las Vegas. Before the first Franklin is put in a bill acceptor, before the first dice are thrown, you have before you a trip full of promise and hope. You never know if you'll be carrying a jackpot check in your limo back to McCarran Airport, or if you will have pawned your last set of clean underwear to make the WAX fare to catch your plane. The only thing you know for sure is that you will have a blast along the way. And that's how it should be. An on-time landing and a call to the Terrible's shuttle led to my first hotel check-in of the trip. As an aside, I know that many people have bad things to say about Terrible's in general, but I like the place and always have. Rates are great, the rooms are all either recently built or remodeled, and I enjoy the pool there. Since I always have a bus pass, the trip to the Strip is an easy one, and downtown is reasonably accessible as well. Beds are comfortable and the food in the cafe is good for the price. It is more of a blue-collar place, and if that bothers you, then you should look elsewhere. I've never had an issue there. Upon arrival at 10am, rooms were not ready, so I checked my bags with the bell desk and thought a bit about my next move. Eat? Hit the pool and relax? Head to the strip and walk around? Nope. It's time to start gambling. Terrible's VP has been decimated in recent years, but they still have 8/5 bonus (and full-pay DB and Loose Deuces, but the variance on those is out of my comfort zone) so in goes the first Franklin of the trip. The machines are as dry as the surrounding desert, and in no time, I'm down to $40. After moving around to several machines in the bank, I got down as low as $20, and then back up to $60. Zero quads in over an hour, and I'm licking my wounds, headed to the counter to check on my room. Fortunately, it was ready. The room was remodeled, with a comfortable king bed and 42" flat-screen. Nice. Since it had been almost a year, I decided that the first meal of the trip would be In N Out burger. After walking to Flamingo and Maryland Parkway, I stopped in at Walgreen's to grab a bus pass for my trip. The 15-day pass is $34, and it is all-access, and can be procured at Walgreen's and Albertson's, among other places. As I was traveling back down Flamingo on the 202, I realized that my hunger was getting the best of me. What better place for a quick bite to quell the hunger than the humble Stage Door Casino, across from Bally's? Okay, okay, I know there are 34,781 places better to fix your hunger problem than the Stage Door, but I LOVE this place! Quarter-Pound Dog and a Bud for $2.50? Jager Bombs for $2? Ice-cold Michelobs for a buck? Friendly bartenders and a total divey atmosphere? You bet, and I love it, every time. Straight away, I'm off the bus and seated at the Stage Door bar. Seated to my left were Kevin and his buddies, who were way past buzzed, on the way to wrecked. You see, it was Kevin's birthday and he decided not to remember any of it. I ordered a dog and a Bud and chatted up the birthday group. After getting all the slurred details of the day's events, I bought them a round of Michelobs, and they in turn sent me over a Jager bomb. After I bought a pack of smokes, we sat and drank beer for a couple of hours, and upon leaving the place, I was feeling no pain. I knew I had to take some time to sober up a little if I was to enjoy a long night of gambling, so a Strip walk was definitely in order. I walked the short block to the Strip, witnessing the sad demise of the Bill's, nee the Barbary Coast, along the way. I loved the dark wood and stained glass in that place, and I'm sad to see it go. Turning right, I noticed that the Deuce stop at the Flamingo had been moved, so I walked on, along a sidewalk that I swear was rocking back and forth! I figured I needed some sustenance, and two McDoubles from the McDonald's mid-strip would fill that void nicely. After picking up a Gatorade at Walgreen's, I continued up to the SDX stop at the Wynn, and hit downtown. The walk and bus ride sobered me up at bit, and my first stop was the D to check out the second-floor "Vintage Vegas" area. Sigma Derby junkie that I am, this had to be my first stop. I was pleased to find the Derby machine, as well as coin slots and an intact Vue Bar still containing the 8/5 Bonus with 3-way progressive. As I walked by, I noticed the progressive amount on the regular quads was $42, and I sat down to pick it off. As you know, theory and practice do not always match, and I was quickly down $50. As the progressive on the quads grew, however, my resolve strengthened, and I played on. Undeterred by variance, I stayed the course with the help from the friendly D bartenders and their seemingly endless supply of Corona. Just as the quad value peaked over $45, I hit quad queens. I was still down marginally but was enjoying my Vegas experience -- playing video poker, having a few drinks, chatting with those around me, and generally being happy with life. In the words of Anthony Bourdain, "What's the opposite of 'suck'? 'Un-suck'? 'De-suck'? This, my friends, does not suck." A few hands later, I was dealt deuces. Yep, wrong game, for sure! Painful, yes, but fifteen minutes later I didn't care, as I pulled quad aces for a hundred. This erased my earlier loss, and after playing it down to an even amount, I bid adieu to the D. The sun was down as I hit my next stop, the El Cortez. Much like the Stage Door, there's tons not to like about this place, but I love it. Old-school Vegas at its finest, right down to the stink. They were running a promotion awarding 5% freeplay for ATM withdrawals up to $1000, and of course I was all over it. After hitting the slot club and asking "is this for real?” I got my money and the $50 freeplay loaded onto my card. The LVA freeplay coupon netted me another $10, and I sat at the bar with $60 in freeplay. While enjoying Crown-and-ginger and Corona, I ran my freeplay through on video BJ and ended up with $66. Not bad for some quality time and several free drinks! Tipping the barman the extra $6, I took the $60 to the $3 craps table and bought in. I love playing craps, and at my bankroll level, their $3 table is perfect -- I can place my 6 and/or 8 and play come bets as I desire. This table was up-and-down, bringing me up to a high of $90 and a low of about $10 in a couple hours' time. I cashed out with a few bucks left, dead tired and smiling from the long, eventful day. A Deuce/202 bus ride brought me back to my room, and I was asleep shortly after hitting my pillow. Up next....Great times and great chow with Ms. Kiddo at MGM, why Quick Quads are a fickle mistress, and having a blast playing the (mechanical) ponies...stay tuned!