My trip West was from April 22- May 10th. Part with family. Part solo. Rather than a full trip report I thought I would just touch on the things I learned this trip that might be useful to other travelers: HOTEL SUMMARY: Imperial Palace - first night (Saturday) $79 which I paid for with accumulated poker comps. They add $2 an hour to your card. Orleans - mailer - 3 free nights- one more for $67 to Utah - At Dollar caught a free rental upgrade to Chrysler 300. Sweeeeet! Four Queens - one night $37 using Travelworm.( Charged me extra $3 parking) Plaza - 2 nights for $30 total, using ACG- say no when asked if you used the safe and you can save a dollar. Las Vegas Club - 2 nights for $30 total using ACG El Cortez - Tower- 3 free nights and two added for $25 each A total of 15 Vegas nights for $214- $14 average a night. So after the family left, I turned in the rental car and saved two weeks on that. OVERVIEW: 1. DEUCE DEBASEMENT The magic of the Deuce bus has dissolved due to our American love of obnoxious advertisements. Over what once were fine clear picture windows is mounted some sort of a black screenlike grid and on that advertisement is spread over the entire bus so from the outside it looks like one huge billboard. You cannot see in from the outside, but you can see out if you like looking at shadowy forms through a dark black maze. Great disappointment. What used to be a beauty of a bus is now a whore for big business. if you want a decent view, fight for the upstairs front or wait for the next bus as not all have been sent into prostitution yet. Going to the DTC downtown you can get a choice. 2. I rode the 108 bus from downtown to the Hard Rock. Not a bad trip. It avoids the strip and passes this World Shopping Center Iâ€™ve wanted to visit. Anyone been there? The bus then moves in close to the monorail at Sahara . It passes India Oven which Iâ€™ve seen advertised wanted to try and a new Korean Place next door to it. With the $5 daily pass you can hop on and off. The 108 bus goes to Terribles and then to the Hard Rock so you can use up those coupons. The VP there is terrible. I did find one 9/6 JOB but the DB was incredible. How can young hip people be dumb enough to play it! I remember when they had 10/7 at a fine bar there. 3. Since that daily bus pass is for a full 24 hours I actually managed three days of travel using two passes. But stay off the Deuce during the busy hours unless you like a slooooooooooow ride. 4.Did my laundry at the Plaza for the first time. Tiny room that I had all to myself. You need a room key to enter. Washer was four quarters and so was the dryer. One very large load drying and I still did not use up the dollar. Good deal! Used the tables to read and clip coupons from all the magazines while my laundry washed. 5. Played a hell of a lot of 10/7 video poker and had my VP head handed to me on a platter. Lost $1456 and only saw aces once and deuces once and a half dozen other quads for the entire time. Only two 10/7 machines left at the El Cortez. Only had one day when I won more than I lost. Brutal gambling this trip. But I played with Jackie Gaughan again and saw a shaking old alcoholic slip in to hit him up for a $100 bill. â€œOne for the Money.â€ Favorite 10/7 machines: EL CORTEZ: Old quarter machines deliver the cards very slowly, so they keep the suspense. They are my favorites. Only two 10/7 left in the classic section. FOUR QUEENS: Quarter progressives along the back wall. GOLDEN NUGGET: Nickles near the Sportsbook and in one other spot not too far from the poker room. RIVER PALMS: Scattered. ORLEANS: all over the place MAIN STREET STATION: Add a scratch card for each 4 of a kind and offer a buffet or two with certain levels of play. 6. My live poker was great. Best game was a 3-6 at Flamingo in Laughlin. Worst was getting caught by the early morning locals at El Cortez. Loved the Plaza. You can tip in quarters relative to the size of the pot, and they lower the rake for groups of five or less players. High hand awards are not the impossible to hit big bad beats, but just little awards for 4 of a Kind or straights. Easy food comps ( play a while and ask quietly away from the table of players) take you to the buffet which is quite good now. In live poker games I broke about even for the trip. 7.FOOD: The cheapest evening buffet is at the PLAZA Buffet. I loved it, especially the beef. Iâ€™d avoid the chicken, which was cooked in fat that was too old. Donâ€™t go for lunch as that is $2 more than supper. I had a very thick and good prime rib with some killer hot horseraddish served afternnoons at Careless Kittyâ€™s in El CORTEZ. ( I hate most of their food- was not impressed with Mr. Porterhouse- ) The Patty Melt is also not bad; just uses up the free $5 poker comp. It is a cheeseburger on rye toast. Loved sitting solo at the counter at the GOLDEN GATE. A really fine diner ambiance and you can watch the cooks. Also you get good service there. No waiting for water as the servers are walking back and forth in front of you. The pecan pie was just okay. Looking at the pies and cakes in this mirrored display case was great fun. Their graveyard specials were a bit more than the Upperdeck at Vegas Club, but there was no line if you ask for a counterseat . I had read about the beef stew. Not impressed; my stew is so much better. I always love the Main Street Station Buffet. If you play 1000 points you get it free for lunch. Last trip it cost me $200 and this trip, even with one scratch off, it cost me $170. Still, I do enjoy that pulled pork in the Hawaiian section and the greens are the best as well as ice cream sundae toppings of butterfinger crumbs. Loved the FLAMINGO Buffet in LAUGHLIN. Lots of Mexican food and free unlimited wine or beer. Used a coupon for a free hot dog at Slots of Fun and it was a foot long and came with a free drink from the bar. Ate 75 cent sauerkrat dogs at the Sportsbook of the Gold Coast. Used the ACG coupon for the seafood buffet at the GOLD COAST. $17, but great food, especially the fried oysters. Also had HOT CRAB. Iâ€™m rarely impressed by seafood night and think most of them are just an excuse to raise the prices, but this was really good. Especially since my buddy Slick picked up the tab. He felt bad for taking all my money in our last hand of poker at Flamingo. Thanks to old Slick treating that expensive day, my food bill for the last five days, using comps and coupons, was under $30. Frugal. If you love sushi, check out the new buffet at the Alladin near the Harmon Avenue entrance. All you can eat seafood for $25 and all seafood. Looked very good, but I am not a sushi kind of guy. 8. Took the free day bus to Laughlin. Nice, but a bit long. 3 hours to get there with all the hotel pickups and a change of bus at a vitamin factory. An easy 2 hours back, however, with a movie. The bus unloads at Flamingo. I fed the carp up to the River Palms, lost some money at VP there and then got it back in live poker at the Flamingo. They take your card and rate you. I have started getting some mailings. Maybe deals will follow one day. I am thinking of staying there a while on one of these trips when I do have a car. Rooms are cheap, so I would not have to play VP to keep up my mailings. 9. A computer handicapper playing poker at El Cortez gave me number 8 for the Kentucky Derby and I almost hit an exacta with it. Stupidly, I did not bet it to win. So I lost. 10. I made my first baseball bet, Marlins as underdog playing at home. Lost. 11. MOST FRUGAL COUPON DAY: Did a nice match play coupon run and made $50 on that. Here is how it went: Started on the 108 bus to the Hardrock, $10 freeplay and two matchplays, walked to Terribleâ€™s for $2.49 breakfast using coupon and another match play, . Walked to Ellis Island for match play ( too full for a dollar microbrew or senior special). Walked to Westin and played Win Cards on blackjack. Walked to Barbary Coast and took free shuttle (no one asked for a key) to Gold Coast for 2 free drinks (ACG) and a dollar hot dog from the sports bar. Ate and listened to the great sounds of the Royal Dixie Jazz Band. ( I bought their CD but it is not that good) Played a little live poker and won. Walked to the Palms and discovered I have $38 in food comps, so I played a little to protect it for another year. Walked to Rio for Ron Lucas and Masquerade Show. Took Rio shuttle to Ballyâ€™s and walked over to the Alladin for the $20 free play and the newly designed free cup (tapered and black). Bussed back to downtown in time to see Ryan Ahern play piano on his fine big truck. Great music! No wonder he won the Liberace award two years. 12. Saw three comedy shows. I donâ€™t like improv; but the family loved Second City. The new KRAVE at Alladin was hard to find and featured â€œPudgy! Queen of Teaseâ€ who just wandered the room and harassed couples to sing parts of songs. She had the wit of an obnoxious party guest. Worst act I have ever seen even on a $10 coupon from a magazine. No wit. Riviera was fine. I did not have my coupons but Tickets 2 Nite had half price to the Riviera. Iâ€™ll go there again. Next trip I will do my homework on which comic is playing before I go. 13. Saw a great band and Elvis impersonator at Brendanâ€™s at the Orleans and the waitress let me use a Gold Coast free coupon from the Orleans funbook for the second drink. Great to get a martini and a pint of Beamish along with free entertainment and all for free. 14. Fed lots of carp all along the Riverwalk in Laughlin. Great fun to try to feed the carp around the aggressive ducks. 15. Played all low level limit live poker and enjoyed it. Excalibur, Plaza, Flamingo Laughlin, Flamingo Vegas, El Cortez. Watched 3-6 games at MGM and at Paris, but was not attracted. Played the funbook 25 for 20 buy in a 3-6 at Stratosphere , lost, and could not get my comps for a cheap late night breakfast. They just donâ€™t post that dollar per hour that they advertise. If you play a long session, you can get a food comp, but donâ€™t expect to collect comps on your card and go back six months or so later to redeem them. It ainâ€™t happening. also the funbook is down now to only one matchplay. $10 craps. BJ went to a bonus. Mini Bacarat went away. Also comps at Paris go away in six months. 16. Visited two bird places. The Flamingo is clearly getting rid of that exhibit. We saw the penquins just two days before they moved to Texas. We walked around the nine ponds at the Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve. Really a fine place for water birds. We saw a long billed dowager, American Coots, American Avocet, Grebes, mallards, and other interesting fellows. Had the place to ourselves. I loved watching the Avocets swoop in patterns of fast grace. Bring sunscreen and a hat. No shelter. 17. Valley of Fire was great. I had forgotten about the petroglyph trail. Good fun. 18.I saw Ron Lucasâ€™ ventriloquist act at the Rio and loved it. I used the ACG coupon so the price was $9, ostensibly for the drink. The margarita wasnâ€™t bad. I also realized that right after seeing that show I could get a good spot for the 5 PM Masquerade in the Sky show, so travel time dedicated to a trip to the Rio hits two shows for one. 19. Swam at the Plaza pool. They are improving that pool. No one checked me for a key. I walked over from the Vegas Club too. I could have walked from anywhere downtown and not been bothered. When they are working on the cement, however, the pool gets dirty with cement dust. Nice clock nearby on top of Binionâ€™s so you donâ€™t need to check you watch. 20. TWO FREE SHUTTLES : Dumped the car early at Dollar and asked for a shuttle to the Plaza. A fellow came in a car and gave me a free lift back to my hotel. It was May 1st and the Hispanic demonstrations blocked traffic and tied up the roads, but he knew all the short cuts. El Cortez shuttled me free back to the airport, so I will plan to stay there last on every trip. Sign up 24 hours in advance at the main desk and leave before 2 PM. By the way, I also learned that it does not matter where you drop your car with Dollar regardless of what your reservation states. But the downtown Nugget drop is gone. The closest is Circus Circus. All this helped me dump the rental early and save money. 21. We drove up to Bryce and Zion Canyons in Utah and I highly recommend those beauties as side trips for a few days. I liked them better than the Grand Canyon and they are closer. We drove up through Zion and stayed near Bryce, hiking canyons and admiring the hoo-doos spread out like a thousand sand castles made by giants. 22. Saw the greatest street performing â€œstatueâ€ downtown who was a robotic man complete with sound effects. 23. Coupon notes: Some casinos: Riviera for example, have $5 matchplay coupons but no $5 tables. Ask. They let me play my one hand on a ten dollar table using the $5 coupon. Okay, enough. Hope your next trip is as enjoyable, but hope you win so it is also cheap. My next trip is in December, from the 4th to the 27th to celebrate turning 60. Iâ€™ve invited everyone I know to meet me sometime that month. It should be great fun. I better go now and save some money.