I dubbed this trip the WSOP tour because we ended up spending the first two nights at Binions and the last three at the Rio. Other than a little video poker, it otherwise has nothing to do with this fine American game. I will warn you that this report does contain some mature content but probably not enough to be all that interesting. That being the case, many of you will decide to read it anyway because you are all junkies and need some sort of Vegas Intervention. I guess I do too. That cast of characters here is myself and my degenerate gambler friend (we'll just call him DGF from now on) whose real name will not be revealed to protect the guilty. There will be a brief appearance from our friend Jason and his girlfriend. Other than that, the only other people described will be random encounters on and off the streets. We flew out of KC (well, the plane did) at 3 PM and arrived in Las Vegas almost exactly 3 hours later. As usual, Southwest was our airline of choice. It is the only nonstop service to Vegas from KC and usually gives us a good price and this was no exception. Pretty smooth flight with a few crosswinds making the landing exciting for a moment or two and we were on the ground. Quick trip to get the luggage and off to the cab line, except there isn't one. Well, there are cabs but practically no one trying to take one. Now arriving on a Saturday probably helped but I've done that before and never seen less than a couple of twists and turns worth of people in line so that was the first sign that the economic problems are indeed having their effect on the city. Remind me not to start my vacation downtown. Pretty pricey cab ride but I should have known that from before. Oh well, we're rich and happy at that point so no big deal. Taxi let us out at the wrong end of Binions so we are walking around for 10 minutes trying to find registration. I joked that we should slip the desk clerk a $20 and ask for their worst room but we didn't. I have to say that, while it was no palace, Binions was OK. Room was clean and beds were comfortable enough. Yeah, the TV and decor looked Reagan-era but it was cheap and it isn't like we were going to hang out and watch TV anyway. Ended up with a view facing away from Fremont Street though we were never in early enough that the noise would have bothered us. Sixteenth floor with a nice view of the Cal and the sad remains of the Lady Luck. What's this? The window opens right up. Was sort of nice but I have just enough of a fear of falling that it also kind of freaked me out. For the record, no one jumped. After settling in and making a few required phone calls, it was time to hit the street. First stop was the Golden Gate for a snack. We grabbed a beer along the way and signed up for our slot cards and proceeded to the deli for the obligatory shrimp cocktail. I ate one. DGF had two. Most of the rest of the evening was just making the rounds downtown. Hadn't even been there on the last two trips so it was kind of fun rediscovering the place. Caught the opening light show which was pretty lame (mostly an LG commercial) and did a little gambling here and there after I lost DGF to the tables at the Fremont. Nothing good to say about the machines this night. I always end up trying to win (big?) on the lonely Loose Deuces machine at the Fitz and it always ends up sucking up far more money than should be donated to a nickel video poker machine. Drink service was pretty good. In fact, it was good most everywhere including the Rio and Caesars Palace. Seems as though the casinos were trying harder to get their smaller customer base liquored up in the hope of picking up a few more dollars. Before long it was time to get something to eat and that was when the adventure started. It hasn't been too long since downtown was just crawling with all night coffee shops and food specials and, well, that just isn't true anymore. Nothing at the Plaza, Vegas Club, Binions or Fremont. The coffee shop at the Cal was open but the line was long. Ended up at the Four Queens and settled for an overpriced Cheeseburger and Fries that tasted pretty good. Then again, we were pretty hungry. After that, it was time to call it a day. Up early on Sunday (I was up early the whole trip) and I suggested we hit the buffet at MSS. I've always enjoyed eating there and this was no exception. Far too many tasty options to choose from and what I'll still say is the best buffet drink service anywhere, along with a price that's right, make this a must-stop if you are visiting downtown. Sometime after brunch, we pretty much lose DGF for the rest of the day. I think he had made some pretty good coin on Saturday night and probably gave a lot of it back during what was practically an all day, all night marathon. I used this quality alone time to go check out the new Gold Spike. Wow...what happened here? It was clean and there were hardly any street people and, good Lord, the cocktail waitress is cute and has all her teeth. Even the new diner looks like regular humans might want to eat there. Settled in for a little session of penny slot action (Caveman Keno may be the best time killer ever created) and, after the first drink and tip, the waitress pretty much chased me around the place wanting to know if I needed another. No...it wasn't just my charm. The place was pretty dead. Not more than a dozen other people there the whole time I was. One annoying feature of the place is that the machines (or the ones I played) didn't have a ticket-out feature so, if you wanted to cash out your massive winnings, you had to contact an actual person. I was just playing a few fives here and there to kill time so I wasn't expecting to cash anything out but I would have been a little annoyed if I had put a hundred in or if I had hit a massive jackpot. Next was a visit to the El Cortez. What is it with this place? I don't think I'm supposed to be happy there. I want to like it but it doesn't like me. At least this time the video poker machine just ate my money quickly. I didn't end up passing out in the keno lounge or leaning over a craps table like before...but it is the principle of the thing. Why can't we be friends? Finally reconnected with DGF and we sat down at the Fitz together and became fixated by the Indiana Jones slot machines (and the way-too-fast drink service.) Ended this little marathon after a couple of hours and a six pack of beer each. I can't say I did well but it was kind of fun and the machine paid off enough that you didn't feel like you were just flushing your money down the drain. Pretty cool slot actually. DGF retired back to the tables and I wandered around downtown, enjoying several light shows and finally met up with our friend Jason and his girlfriend. They spent one night downtown and we tried to make the most of it with some drinking and general merriment. Was good seeing him again though the time was too short and we never did get to hang out again after we parted ways Monday afternoon. My "dinner" for the evening was two hot dogs and a fried Twinkie from Mermaids. I have to say that, while the alcohol may have impaired my judgment, I really enjoyed my fried Twinkie and I'm thinking I'll do it again. Up again fairly early on Monday and only slightly hungover. Couple of Ibuprofen and some coffee and it is time to meet up with Jason and GF for breakfast. Ended up at the Fremont. It was OK but we arrived fairly late and the buffet was transitioning to lunch while we were trying to eat. The food went down well (at least for me) and was definitely needed after 24 hours of brews and snacks. Checked out of Binions and walked over to the Plaza where Jason's mom (great lady...they live in Vegas) had agreed to give us a ride to the Rio where our story will pick up in Part 2.