Like so many others on this board, I tend to over plan and schedule the trip before departing. While that might help give me the Vegas buzz for three months prior to the trip, upon my return I compared the plan to reality and wondered why I spent my time planning it in the first place. This is my approximate 45th trip to Vegas. This report will be fairly detailed, but doesnâ€™t contain show reviews, fine dining reviews or thread count comparisons. It does contain a few funny stories, a few minor gambling successes, and a little different approach to time spent in Vegas. Originally, the trip was planned four months in advance. Constant searching of airfares finally yielded a time when the trigger needed to be pulled and tickets were ordered. This trip was to be unusual, in that my only travelling companion will be a brother in law (S). Usually itâ€™s a larger group of people. Unfortunately, we had to book a one stop noon outbound flight in order to get more time in Vegas on day one. Approximately two months before departure, Frontier changed the layover time in Denver, causing an arrival in Vegas of about 3:30pm. Then, about two weeks after that, I received two emails. One, from S, telling me he probably wonâ€™t be able to take the trip. The second, from Frontier, asking me if the change of schedule was ok with me. Disappointed about S not going, I called Frontier as instructed. For no charge, they were able to change my itinerary to a 6am flight with only a half hour layover in Denver, arriving in Vegas at 9am. DONE! Iâ€™LL TAKE IT! Next came the planning for hotels. Every week Iâ€™d check offers from M-Life, Harrahâ€™s and BConnected. I decided on two nights comped at Monte Carlo and two nights comped at Orleans. Then, I received a mailer from Silverton for three nights comped. I decided to stay the first two nights at Monte Carlo, and the next two nights at the Silverton, and book the Orleans for the last two nights as well. They all gave me add-ons with the comped room. The last part of the plan was to purchase a coupon book from ACG, visit various websites then trade on a few boards for the coupons Iâ€™d use, while letting others use the coupons I wonâ€™t use. Everything in hand, I was able to spend time during the last month planning each day making full use of the coupons for free play, match play and food discounts. Woahhhhâ€¦â€¦.Just a minute bucko. S called a week before the trip saying heâ€™s going. Fantastic. Sunday 4/3/11 Set the alarm for 3:30 am in order to arrive at the airport by 4:45 for the 6:00 flight. Why would I ever think Iâ€™d need the alarm? After watching the clock hit 2:30, 2:45, and 3:00, I decided Iâ€™d start the journey at 3:15. Why is my anxiety so high before heading to Vegas? Iâ€™ve been there plenty. I guess itâ€™s my Disneyworld. I had checked in online because I donâ€™t check luggage, and headed right for the long security line. Did I say long? Both people in front of me moved through quickly, so I was past security with a good hour until boarding. The line at Starbucks was significantly longer, since it was the only vendor open at that ridiculous hour on a Sunday morning. I ran into a Vegas buddy at the airport who was flying with his family to Cancun at the same time. Their gate was adjacent to mine, so it was nice to pass some time until S arrived at the airport. I was able to get us both emergency exit row seats for both legs outbound. The flight to Denver was typically quiet for that time of day. Our layover of Â½ hour was extended to an hour for some â€œairlineâ€ reason. We arrived in Vegas about Â½ hour late and headed right to the car rental buses. I sure like the Vegas system since they moved to an offsite location. I rented a mid size car for the weekly rate of $94 from Thrifty. Of course, taxes add $65 to that. Iâ€™m a Blue Chip member and found the new Vegas system for us to be speedy. They finally took a hint from other car rental companies. My name and parking place were identified, and I went right to the car, and off the lot. I was overly anal about checking rental rates. I probably changed my reservation a half dozen times because I found less expensive rates online. Tuesday mornings seemed to be a good time to check, because by Wednesday, they were higher again. By the time we left the rental facility, it was close to 10:00. I figured the Monte Carlo would be crowded with people checking out, so we headed to Mandalay Bay to get our new M-Life players cards. We played slots for a while with no damage, and then went to MC to check in. Even the Invited Guest lines were long, so we grabbed some food in the food court, and checked in about noon. I got room 31-209, S was a couple floors lower. One big down side to Vegas for me is that after the construction boom of this decade, the views from the southern strip have become crap. Limited lights, and the feel of Indianapolis, or any other city of that size, but nothing special anymore. After playing slots (+$50) at MC, we decided to take the tram to Bellagio and walk back from that part of the strip. We played BJ at the IP (-$15), and at Oâ€™Sheas (-$50). Played slots (-$60) at Flamingo. We crossed the street to see the Cosmo. It sure didnâ€™t give me an impression of wanting to be there. Very generic to me, nothing special and smallish. Walking down LV Blvd, I made one assumption. The sizeable Sunday afternoon crowd consisted largely of Southern California residents, not tourists arriving by plane. Maybe Iâ€™m generalizing here, but it seemed to be mostly Hispanic and the tats and â€œcolorsâ€ were speaking volumes. Being in my early 60â€™s, Iâ€™m probably more a target than an instigator. But as we walked past a homeless person, he found it appropriate to walk up to me and put his arm around my shoulder and mumble something incoherently to me. I spun around and rather loudly told him not to touch me. Twice. He walked away, but I still reached to be sure my wallet was where it should be. For the rest of the afternoon and evening, I followed my carefully designed schedule to hang out in the south end of the strip. However, something went haywire, because according to plan, I was supposed to win money. (-$250) in various slots at various places said otherwise. With my tail between my legs, I had enough and went to bed around 11. Monday 4/4/11 The central time zone is two away from Vegas. Just because my body says itâ€™s time to get up doesnâ€™t mean it is. The clock says 3:30, idiot. Go back to sleep. Luckily, I did for a short while. Still down by 5:00, trying to recover from late yesterday. Only dropped $60 in various slots at MC before going to Ellis Island for breakfast. Armed with two ACG coupons, I was ready to go to battle with the usually uncooperative employees there. Both were met with smiles and open arms as we used a 2:1 menu item at breakfast. I then ran $10 through VP so that I would have $10 FP on our return this trip. No problems at all. It was about 7:45 when we left, so we decided to drive to the Pawn Stars shop on the north end of the strip, closer to downtown than the strip. We tried twice last year and werenâ€™t able to get in due to filming. This time, there was a short line, so we took our place at the end. It was 8:10. The sign says open 24/7. WTF? I addressed the folks in line ahead of us by asking if anyone knew why we were in line if they were open 24/7. The response wasâ€¦â€¦.they open at 9. The 24/7 thing is for the drive up window. A drive up window for a dumpy pawn shop? Are you kidding me? I was not about to spend 1/103 of my trip standing in line, waiting to walk through this place, just to say I did it. We left and drove to another sad story. The Sahara . For a place with so much history to succumb to the economy of Vegas is very sad indeed. Progress, huh? The giant, rusted shell of some structure to the south of the Sahara speaks volumes to progress. We used valet and went in to get our players cards in order to use the ACG match plays we had. The players club is conveniently located near the front entrance, and there were THREE willing employees behind the counter to help us. There must have been at least 25 customers in the entire casino, so 1 employee for every 8 of us is a pretty good ratio, I thought. After telling them we wanted to apply for a new card in order to use the match play coupons, and hearing their answer, I wondered what their department mission statement must read. I was told they were closing in a month and werenâ€™t issuing any new cards. So, why on earth are three of you standing here behind the counter? The merely told us we werenâ€™t able to use the coupons without a players card. Quite the dilemma. No problem, weâ€™ll just play a while without using the MPâ€™s. The dealer was an old timer, very friendly, and not feeling sorry for himself. Despite the nice vibe there, it was not profitable (-$10). We planned on playing at the Mirage and TI for the rest of the morning, so I drove to the Mirage valet. What? My room key? On Monday morning? Are you kidding me? We drove around to the TI valet. Thank you sir, pick up is right over there when youâ€™re ready. We played in TI for a couple hours (-$100), then walked back to the Mirage and played till lunch. (-$100). We then had to walk back to the TI valet to get the car. F you Mirage. The schedule called for Terribleâ€™s and Tuscany for MPâ€™s and lunch. Back to MC instead. No lunch, just slots and a short nap until 5 for our 5:30 reservations at The Flame in Elco. We left MC at 5, taking Industrial Dr, west of the strip to avoid traffic. It went as planned, and we got over to LV Blvd just north of The STRAT . Low and behold, thereâ€™s the Pawn Store again, and no line. Letâ€™s go. We parked, went in, spent 10 minutes in awe of the mostly junk on display. No â€œPawn Starsâ€ were working unless you count the oversized bouncer. Ok, now I can say it. I was there. Big effin deal. We drove up to Elco, arriving about 6:30. Oops, missed the reservation. We really didnâ€™t feel like a big meal anyhow. Did the FP and won $20 at BJ. Great dealer, friendly employees. I expected much less from this place. It is not somewhere Iâ€™d stay, but I thought it was better than most other downtown places overall. We walked up Fremont St. to use the other FP and MP coupons we had. Vegas Club had the best results. I always inform the other players at the table that I plan on only playing one hand, and offer to sit out until a shuffle. I know how I feel when some dork comes into the middle of a shuffle, and screws up a good deck. I only played one hand and was dealt a blackjack. $30 MP gain. There is a summary at the end of this report showing results from all casinoâ€™s. I am impressed with the improvements made to Fremont St over the last few years. Watching the folks have fun on the Zip line, the overhead light show and the various street vendors bring a carnival element to being downtown. Itâ€™s just different. It wouldnâ€™t impress me for days, but a few hours is cool. We later drove back to the MC and played BJ (+$50) and slots (+$50), then called it a night by about 11. Just could never get on a roll at the tables. Not having the typical streaks in BJ result in no big gains and no big losses. Tuesday 4/5/11 Moving and golf day. Prior to checking out at MC, I lost $80 on penny slots. The Rock Star bonus never lined up. For those familiar with this machine, stupid grapes and olives. Also, as nice as the hotel employees are at MC, the casino employees seem indifferent. Still, itâ€™s nice checking out with a zero balance. Zero? Oh wait, sir, we have this â€œresort feeâ€ of $29. What a rip off. However, I never complain about spending $100 per night in any hotel in the country, why does it irritate me to spend $14.50 per night here? Went to the Palms and Gold Coast, per plan. Won $10 at BJ, although the MP bet lost, and won $2 at the Gold Coast, although the MP bet lost. Like I said earlier, just no streaks at this streaky game. It was about 11 am, and I had double booked the Silverton and Orleans for two nights to take advantage of their offers. Both offers included FP and food comps. I drove to the Orleans and checked in, never even going to the room. We then drove to the Silverton and checked in as well. My room was on the second floor from the top, just like the MC, except here it was the third floor, overlooking construction on Blue Diamond Road. Iâ€™m not criticizing, merely presenting the differences. This place has a good vibe to it, has enough variety, is free, has pleasant employees, is clean, but being off strip, one might as well be in an Indian casino in Anywhere, USA. For us, with a car, it didnâ€™t matter at this point in the trip. S was able to get a room for $29 per night, eventually comped. Per his choice, I left him stay there for the afternoon while I went golfing at Rhodes Ranch, up in the western mountains a few miles. Iâ€™ve golfed this place many times, and must say there is a huge improvement in conditions and employee attitude. I use a company called Sterling golf www.golfinginlasvegas.com to book my reservations. Itâ€™s usually for larger groups. They do an outstanding job for me, and even rented me a set of decent clubs for less than baggage checking fees would have been. They delivered the clubs to the hotel, and picked them up, all for $30. Thanks Steve, great job as usual. Weâ€™ll just say I golfed as one would expect from someone who hasnâ€™t played in five months of winter. Still nice to see lush greenery, feel warm breezes and be out in the sunlight once again. We had agreed to meet a BIL and SIL that live in Vegas at 7:30 at the Silverton. As usual, it was great seeing them again, just like every year. The buffet at the Silverton is above average, plentiful, fresh and clean. The variety is decent, as long as you donâ€™t have fine dining expectations. The guys played BJ for a few hours, and I made a whopping $35. The BIL used to be in the pit at the Trop, and knew the pitboss here. We had a lot of fun playing at the table alone, but once the lady, no guy, no lady, no guy dressed like one, sat down, things went downhill fast, and the vibe left. So did we. We hung around the Silverton, with four of us playing various slots and VP together. I lost about $50 for the rest of the night. Wednesday 4/6/11 A new day, I could just tell things were going to change for the better. After playing .25 slots (+$50) at Silverton for a while, we went to the Orleans for breakfast. I actually went up to the room to make it appear someone was actually there, then checked out. Thank you for staying, sir, freebies are good. We used my food comp and played the FP and MP, netting zero. The plan for today was to do something I havenâ€™t done in 15 yearsâ€¦â€¦..visit the casinoâ€™s on Boulder Hwy. We drove across Tropicana until we got to the East Side Cannery. After signing up for a players card, I used the $5 in FP to get in a Monopoly bonus game that netted $25. Then we drove across the street to the Longhorn. I had a couple ACG MPâ€™s I wanted to use. Holy cow, what a hole. But a fun sort of hole. To lay out this place for you, we walked in the front door, past BOTH BJ tables, and noticed no craps, roulette or other games. There were about 150 old, dingy VP and slot machines scattered about. We walked to the players club, and on the piece of cardboard that covered the window, there was a handwritten note that the employee was busy helping security load the ATM machine and would be back in 15 minutes. 15 minutes from when, it didnâ€™t say. So I wisely spent my time on an old .25 jokerâ€™s wild machine. Shortly after starting, I hit 3 jokers to spin the wheels. Credits mount until a devil pops up on the wheels. Before you knew it, I had accumulated $88 in credits during the bonus game. It actually spit a ticket, not quarters. 15 minutes must have been up, because the piece of cardboard had been removed, and a human was behind the counter of the players club. The woman struggled through enrolling two people, but accomplished it in decent fashion. Players cards in hand, we split up so that we could each use a match play on different tables. I gave the dealer my $10, placed the chips on the spot with the MP coupon underneath, just like every other one Iâ€™ve done over the years. Thatâ€™s when it struck me, these were $1 minimum tables. We both won our bets. When the dealer came to my hand, at first base, he took the coupon and placed 4 more $5 chips in front of my 2 chips. The player sitting next to me, betting $1, rather loudly said â€œWOWâ€. I couldnâ€™t stop laughing. We went to the lone cashier to cash our chips and my ticket. Somehow, I felt like we robbed the place. Although, if my face is on a wanted poster there, I doubt Iâ€™ll ever be back. Next stop, Samâ€™s Town. We stayed quite a while here, playing BJ (-$50) and slots ($0). Everything seemed pretty packed in here. We then hit the last stop at Arizona Charlieâ€™s. I lost $30 in various slots here, then had lunch at the buffet using an ACG 2:1 coupon. Being a senior citizen, the two meals cost us about $7. Again, decent, fairly clean, average. What do you expect for the $$? We drove back to the Silverton for the rest of the afternoon. Here I played .25 VP for a while on a decent pay deuces wild game. Low and behold, Iâ€™m dealt the 8d, 10d, jd, qd and Aced. No way could I not try for it. The draw card? 8s. Nice! NOT. It would have been my first royal and my first W2G in Vegas. Our last night. We decided to go back to EI to use another 2:1 menu item coupon and my FP. We played BJ (-$35) while waiting to eat. Itâ€™s difficult to accept the playing styles of some players. I know it doesnâ€™t affect things in the long run, it just always seems to mess up a shoe when someone doesnâ€™t hit a stiff against a 10, or worse yet, splits face cards. The coupon was graciously accepted by our over the top friendly 4 foot tall waitress. She was fun. Now itâ€™s time to get serious. Letâ€™s go to NYNY and lose $160 on slots. Done with that, letâ€™s go back to the Silverton and drop another $225. Yuck, Iâ€™m going to bed, itâ€™s already 2:30. Thursday 4/7/11 Travel day. I had one of the most unusual bonus games on Monopoly as Iâ€™ve ever had. It was some .01 Space game. Shortly after starting, I was awarded 9 spins in a certain galaxy. Some spins award credits, others award more bonus levels. It took well over 20 minutes to use the 9 spins, going deeper and deeper into space and planets and galaxies and who knows what else. Overall, it was a riot, and I had won $152 in that bonus. Played more BJ and won $30 here. We checked out, again owing nothing. They offer a kiosk near the front desk that will print boarding passes. I tried to use it, but it was going to cost $5 per internet minute plus printing charges. I went to the front desk and asked them to clarify those costs for me, and she offered to print my pass for nothing from her terminal. They just couldnâ€™t have been more accommodating. Iâ€™m impressed with this place and would return. We parked at MC, and used my FP ($15) there. We walked over to NYNY to get some of my money back from last night. Thanks, Richie Cunningham, the Happy Days slot gave me $100 of it anyhow. After hanging out at MGM for a while, BJ netted another zero, and we were ready to gas up the car, return it, and head home. When we got to the rental facility, I wondered what was taking the attendant so long to check in my car. I wondered no longer as I looked at the car ahead of me in line. I have no idea what this guy had plowed into, but Iâ€™m sure he didnâ€™t rent a car with a baby tire and a smashed in left side. Good luck to him. Everything was smooth from this point on, leaving in very high winds, but they were tail winds, and we arrived home Â½ hour early. As I boarded our plane, the person right in front of me was a golf buddy for many trips. Small world. Final thoughts: Ba humbug to â€œresort feesâ€ The strip has lost some charm. Thanks to those board members who traded ACG coupons. Sad to see the Sahara go, although I hadnâ€™t been inside for 20 years. Guess Iâ€™m part of the cause. $370 hotel comps used $50 food comps used +$20 MPâ€™s +$80 FPâ€™s Kudos to the hotel employees at MC, and all employees at Silverton Thanks to Sterling golf, once again, for a job well done.