What to do when you win $20k on your way to Vegas...
Some of you may remember a trip report I posted last September titled What to do when you lose $14k of a $15k bankroll on the 3rd day of a 5 day trip...that story ended nicely, although I really would prefer never to experience a repeat performance. This trip, which took place March 23-28, would be my 31st trip to Vegas (as best I can recall) and fortunately would be with my lovely wife.
It would also be my annual Seven Stars trip from Caesars. They're covering the airfare, up to 5 nights, and limo to/from the airport, as well as a $500 dining credit. Planning this trip proved to be quite a chore since everything has to be booked by the host...so getting the right flights and the right seats on the flights took many e-mails and phone calls. Complicating things a bit more, we'd be staying 2 nights at Caesars and then moving over to Wynn. As a result, the flight back didn't match up with our hotel check-out...that's not against the rules, but it caused enough confusion.
What's that?!? You don't really care? You want to hear about how this trip report got its title?!?
Missing Our Flight With a Good Excuse
Astute readers may remember from my last trip report that I won $10k playing a promo at a casino "on the way home" from the airport. Well, that same casino proved lucky again. This time, the plan was to stop off at that casino to collect some freeplay we had on both our accounts. The total amount to pickup was $600, which was significant enough that I didn't want to blow it off when we found ourselves running late that morning on our way to our 11:30am flight. We pulled into the casino at 9:45am and I knew we had to be walking back out the door by 10am to make our flight safely.
I fed our coupons into the machine and bumped up to $5 denom to hopefully play the 24 hands necessary in less than 2 minutes. I was blazing along when all of the sudden the familiar descending first notes of the jackpot music start playing and I don't just have a flush on the screen, I've got a ROYAL FLUSH:
Now, this isn't my first $20k royal...but it had been a painfully long time since my last one. Additionally, this is the first time I've ever hit a royal just swinging by to pick up my freeplay at a local casino. Makes up for all the times a similar trip results in $0 profit. My wife was ecstatic...I was a little concerned we would miss our flights.... and then equally concerned I already had $20k in my pockets as my trip bankroll and now would have $40k on me.
Unfortunately, hitting a big jackpot at that time of day in a small casino tends to be a big deal...so after about 20 minutes I realized all hope of making our flight was lost. I thought about taking a check for the amount to be safe, but opted for cash instead. We headed off to the airport where we indeed missed our flight by about 15 minutes and unfortunately, the next flight was 4.5 hrs later.
I made the executive decision to drive back home and deposit half of my bulging pockets and return to the airport. It felt weird to check our bags and then leave the aiport, I was afraid that would trigger some TSA alert, but it didn't. We made it back to the airport with 2.5 hrs still to spare for our flight and now I'd be gambling with house money the rest of the trip.
We're here...we're finally here.
By the time we arrived in Vegas, it had been 12 hours since we first left the house for the day...we were both quite exhausted, the limo was waiting and within minutes we were checking in at Caesars. Normally, I'd try to get the best room I could, but since we're only there two nights, I took whatever Augustus Tower room they were pitching. We had a nice north view on the 33rd floor. I think we both would have liked to crash but we had dinner plans with a couple friends that we wanted to keep. Not just any dinner, but my Celebration Dinner for being Seven-Stars. In addition to the annual trip which I outlined above, you also receive a one-time $500 dining comp at any Caesars property restaurant. Since it had to be used by 3/31/12 for the 2011 year, I really didn't want to try and reschedule it. We chose Bradley Ogden in Caesars and it certainly didn't disappoint.
They gave us a nice corner booth and since they know you're here on a $500 comp, they do everything they can to make sure you fully utilize your comp. We had a great 3 hr dinner with some good friends who happened to be in town at the same time. Everything was very flavorful and the somelier steered us towards a very nice Pinot Noir that complemented the meal. I had the rib-eye, my wife had the scallops. I don't tend to take any food porn pictures, so you'll have to settle for my description. There were cocktails, appetizers, salads, wine, entrees, desserts, and after dinner cordials...in the end the bill came to exactly $500. I'm sure we were a little over, but as I said, they know what you're working with and look to make you happy.
By this time we were exhausted. We attempted to play some video poker, but honestly, bed seemed like a much safer bet. We broke our own rules and we were in bed by 10:30pm.
Saturday 5am - Time to start gambling!
Of course, by 4:30am, I'm awake. One of my favorite things to do is gamble in an empty casino. I also knew that play before 6am would count on yesterday's gambling day so going to bed so early wouldn't hurt my ADT as much. I got ready and by 5am I was walking into the high-limit slots area.
What's this? All the 9/6 Jacks machines are taken. I realized pretty quickly by their rate of play that these were VP pros and they must be playing on some kind of promo that made these games a positive expectation for them. I have no problem with that...I do it quite frequently at my home casinos. When I'm in Vegas though, I'm not as concerned with only playing with an advantage. I am concerned with keeping up my averages to keep the comps high though. I walked around the casino a bit to see if there was anything worth playing. There wasn't...however, when I returned, a machine was opening up as a player cashed out. Within seconds I slid into the seat....the player next to me immediately, and rudely, told me the machine was reserved and I couldn't play there. I politely told her it didn't appear to be locked down and started to feed money in. She huffed and said she planned on playing two machines.
Playing two video poker machines?!? There's no way that's more efficient than just playing one as quickly as possible. I flashed my Seven Stars card and told her I could get a slot attendant but I'm pretty sure they'd side with me. I learned later there was a promo drawing based on points accrued that weekend. It explains why the machines were locked up with pros. I played quickly for an hour to get my play in before 6am and then relaxed a little bit after that and played a bit more leisurely. Things didn't exactly go well in the session, I lost $2500 while giving them about $40k coin-in during that time. By 7:30am, my wife was awake and anxious to get going on our day. We had breakfast at Central.
We had a few meals here during our stay, including breakfast on three days. Since we had a $500 dining credit to use during our stay, the prices didn't bother me. However, a couple simple bacon and eggs breakfasts will run you $50 or so. Each day we were there we attempted to order their doughnut holes from the menu. By the third day of saying they weren't available we asked what the deal was. Turns out Chef Michel Richards was in town and did not like the way they appeared and removed them from the menu until they could produce a better looking doughnut hole (at least that's what we were told).
The plan for today is to walk down to MGM and pickup tickets I had purchased for Ka (more on that later). We left Caesars, crossed over to Bills and walked as far as Ballys when I decided that there wasn't much I really wanted to see between PlanetHo and MGM, so let's just hop on the monorail at Ballys. A short-time later we were walking through a very uncrowded MGM. It was still before 10am, so the crowds were light. I decided since I was using some comps for dinner and Ka that night, giving MGM some play was in order. I had some trouble finding some of the $5 9/6 machines I had played in the past in the high-limit area. I wandered around for a while and ultimately bounced from machine to machine...playing some $5 8/5 Bonus Poker as well as some $1 9/6 Jacks Spin Poker (the 20 line version...so $100 per "spin"). At one point I was down another $3k here...but made a comeback and by the time I reached my coin-in goal of $50k, I was actually ahead $700. Nobody ever said $5 denom video poker was for the faint of heart. Picked up my tickets and then crossed over to NYNY to walk north through the casinos on that side of the strip.
A Swing By Aria
I got a text from a friend with whom we were having dinner that night that he was at Aria, so we decided to stop by to say hello. He and his wife were there for a slot tournament. We chatted for a while and then he asked if we wouldn't mind playing their VP machines while they went to a second-chance drawing for the slot tournament. I said sure...of course, since they were playing $5 machines as well, this meant I'd be giving MGM a bit more than my planned $50k coin-in. The drawing took longer than they expected and by the time they returned I had wagered another $17k and lost $200. Afterwards, while walking around the casino, I felt the urge to play some Blackjack. BJ was good to me as it resulted in a $750 win after just two shoes. At this point of the trip I'm down about $1300. Still riding the high from yesterday's hit, I wasn't too concerned....besides the trip is young.
Dinner at BarMasa
Dinner that night was at BarMasa at Aria. My wife and I finished our stripwalk back to Caesars, took a quick nap from being up so early, and then cabbed it back to Aria for dinner with our friends. Our friends and I had decided prior to the meal we'd split it 50/50 both using Express Comps. I'm Platinum at MGM properties, he's Noir. BarMasa is modern japanese cuisine. The menu is very diverse and is tapas-style in portions. So we each ordered roughly 3 dishes for the table. Our friends are far more adventurous in their cuisine than my wife and I. So while we stuck with spicy shrimp and california rolls...they chose sea urchin and fish eyeball soup (ok, so there wasn't actually fish eyeball soup on the menu...but the soup did have more fish parts than your standard broth). The tab came to $480 for the four of us...that's not to bad for a party that size. However, as my wife pointed out after dinner, nobody ordered alcohol. Anyway, after dinner we cabbed it to MGM for the 9:30pm show of Ka.
Twice the Ka Would be Crap
I've seen all the Cirque Vegas shows except Believe, but my wife still has some gaps in her collection. I was happy when she chose Ka as her choice for this trip as it had been about 8 yrs since I last saw it. Since I wasn't staying at an MGM property this trip, I called mLife about 3 weeks prior to our trip to find out how I'd go about getting comped tickets. They told me I could use my Express Comps (which was fine by me). I was all set to use $400 or so for the best seats in the house. The nice gentleman at mLife informed me that the cost would be $115 EC's per ticket...hmm, where would those seats be? I asked.
"Oh don't worry, we have a block of the best seats in the house for mLife players." he said. I was dubious.
When I picked up my tickets I was amazed...9th row, center. I think even Gregrio would agree those were near perfect seats. Indeed when I checked online, these seats go for $198 each. So there's your nugget of useful information from this trip report: Use mLife to get the best seats in the house for Ka at over 40% off retail price. Of course, with Express Comps its more like 100% off, but still a great deal. The show was fantastic as usual. Even though I knew what was coming next, I was still amazed.
After the show we cabbed it back to Caesars and attempted to casually gamble for free drinks. I usually sit next to my wife at the bar or at video poker machines and I'll play $1 denom while she plays quarters. However, drink service was really slow and playing at lower stakes makes it quickly boring for me. Once again we were in bed by midnight. Bankroll still in tact around -$1300.
Sunday 7am - Time to gamble!
I was up around 7am and down to the casino to put my play in again. My plan was to give Caesars about $50k coin-in today. Today the machines were all open, I guess the earning period for the drawing had ended. I was playing mostly $5 denom today, but bumped it up to $10 denom here and there if I got ahead. I was able to hit this pretty hand:
I ended this session up about $1300, so the straight flush was much appreciated and I was back to even for the trip. We spent some time walking around the Forum Shops today as we had a $500 Total Rewards Gift Card from an AC promo and the Forum Shops are the best place to use it. I think the pressure of having to spend $500 was too much for my wife and I, as we only ended up spending $80 on the day despite going store to store to store.
At 3pm a limo was coming over from Wynn to pick us up for the second half of our stay there. I still kept the Caesars room for one more night. First, so that we wouldn't have to check-out at Noon, and secondly, because I still have about $400 of my $500 dining credit yet to use!
This seems like a good place to stop until part two....here are some teasers for the second half of the story:
- Tower Suite at Wynn...
- MUCH more gambling...
- A visit to Red Rock Canyon...
- My luck changes...for the worse!...
- Farewell O'Sheas...
- Dinners at Rao's and SW...
Last edited by CaptainJack; 04-12-2012 at 11:11 AM.
great start to this TR..... can't wait to read the rest.
More more MORE!!!! Great TR! Keep it coming
Great first part of your trip report! Missing a flight is never fun but for 20k I think it would be alright
I would never be that lucky, than again, I don't play $10 VP, I just keep feeding hundreds into regular slots, that I still don't win at....hummm maybe I should try this, yeah I keep saying it, but I don't! Congrats on the huge win! The way I gamble that kind of bankroll would do me just fine...lol!
WOW...excellent report. Eagerly awaiting the rest!
I'm enjoying the report. It must be a great feeling winning your bankroll before you get to Vegas!
Well done. Well written and a great story thus far. How many W2 did you end up with?
Only 20k? Just kidding, that is freaking awesome!!!
Great job so far....you got me hooked Captain.
Great TR! I'm hooked, lol.
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