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4 months of planning for 4 days

Discussion in 'Vegas Trip Reports' started by jamesNC, May 13, 2004.

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  1. jamesNC

    jamesNC Tourist

    Feb 22, 2004
    Trips to Las Vegas:

    My Trip Report

    This will be a very long entry building up to the trip and as a comparison to some reports a long report for such a short time. I am a fifty plus single male and traveled from Raleigh, N.C. to Las Vegas on Friday May 7 and then returned on the red eye flight Tuesday May 11/12, always travel alone being that I am single and most of my friends do not have the same passion that I do for Las Vegas. So now on with my plans and then the trip…

    It is January, once again I desire or should I say want to spend some time in Las Vegas. So, I begin the search for making the plans of my trip; first let’s get the transportation out of the way, which will also lock down the dates. I search many websites and eventually purchase a ticket for the first week of August at a very good price. Then I start looking for hotel reservations and find that six months is to far out for making hotel reservations. Now I must make decisions or be patient and wait it out until I can start getting rates and make reservations for the hotel.

    Now as many know when the desire for a trip to Las Vegas consumes you, there is no patience and all logic is cast aside. I begin to lurk around on Vegas web sites and the desire to go grows more each day. The decision is made and I decide to find a flight on a date that is closer, again back to the websites. This time though after realizing that many of the tickets purchased on some web sites (priceline.com for one) can not be changed or refunded, I decide to look at travel a little more carefully. I found that going directly to the Airlines web sites that the prices were virtually the same as most of the discounting sites and by purchasing there also included bonus miles on the Airlines mileage plan. I purchased a flight from United Airlines on the ual.com website for May 7 to May 12 from RDU to LAS at the price of $185 roundtrip. This flight is flown by US Airways and added 1000 bonus miles to my united mileage account.

    Time to start making the hotel plans again, I search the entire strip and acceptable downtown places that I have stayed at in the past, which includes many, since I have been going on this get away for many years and have done both the luxury trip and the extreme tight budget trip. After checking prices on the internet and calling the hotels direct, I decide that I am going to use comps and discounts for a room at Harrah’s. I know that many who write trip reports and several of the threads on the web sites speak badly of Harrah’s, but I have stayed there many times and found that the rooms in the Carnaval Tower are basic hotel rooms (ignoring that the view is not often spectacular) and that the rooms in the MardiGras Tower are basic, but very small (view is sometimes improved). They always treat me very good and as for gambling, I play some slots and I avoid, do not play the dreaded 6:5 blackjack that was started at the Flamingo Hilton several years ago and now has caught on everywhere, why must businesses think they need to make a profit.

    With all the plans made, now I just need to collect coupons, set aside the cash and decide what all I want to do on this trip. I purchase the American Casino Guide from overstock.com, printout coupons from internet. I am now ready and have just a couple of months to wait and dream, so I continue to lurk on web sites and read threads and trip reports.

    It is just a week before my trip and Lady Luck Casino sends me a mailer with coupons for $20 each day, and three days, two nights free. This is tempting to change my plans, but instead I decide that I would just add a reservation with them to have a place to rest and cleanup at downtown and take advantage of the coupons and free nights. At this time since I am re-evaluating my trip and the monorail is not going to be completed. I start thinking and reading threads about ground transportation. I do some checking and make a reservation for a basic economy car with Thrifty, it totals to $88 and some change, I keep the price down by including a rental car policy addition to my personal car insurance which only costs a few dollars per year. I quickly justified the rental car with calculations that if I have trips (shuttle or cab) to and from the airport, bus for downtown, and a cab to go to and from a golf course that it would total nearly the same or more and not be anywhere as convenient, an added bonus is a place to store luggage after checking out of hotels on the last day before late flight.

    All plans are made and now it is time to go after waiting all this time (it seems like months when the plans are set). Off to the airport and I whisk through security, it didn’t take more than 15 minutes to check a bag and get to the gate, so know I have an hour wait. Flight is to Charlotte, NC and then continues to LAS. As in US Airways fashion the flight to Charlotte was on time and even got there early, but the flight out was delayed by approximately an hour, but we must have had a good pilot and flight plan adjustment, because touchdown in Las Vegas was only ten minutes later than scheduled.

    Do the walk through McCarran to get the luggage, notice that as I have read many of the returning passengers have long faces and look worn out and most of the arriving passengers have smiles and are scurrying to their destinations. Get luggage quickly, catch Thrifty shuttle, and get my red Dodge Neon reasonably quick without any problems.

    Drive directly to the hotel and check in, I get a room in the Carnaval tower on the 14th floor, which is a clean basic hotel room with two queen size beds, a T.V. cabinet/dresser. I change clothes and proceed to the Casino; since it is 10:00 p.m. Vegas time (1:00 a.m. NC time), I decide to just give Harrah’s some time this night, got to play there some. I am tired and do not feel like playing blackjack and also could not find a table that I wanted to play, so I decided this night would be spent playing slots, video poker and drinking. I go to a location and play a quarter machine that I had won on last year and hit several small jackpots and one larger, cash out for $280 play the machine next to it with a $20 bill and cash out after just a few minutes with $120. Wow, this is really going to be a good trip and also, this ticket in/ticket out thing that is new since I was last here is actually not that bad, very easy to walk over to another ATM like machine and put the ticket in and out comes the money, much easier than the scooping coins.

    Now I decide to play dollar slots and loose most of what I had just won, so I go to the bar and play video poker, yes I know video poker selection is not that good at Harrah’s, I just held even at this, but drank many drinks and kept the bartender well tipped, before calling it a day/night, it is now 4:30 a.m. Vegas time and I am drunk and tired and down about $80.

    Sleep for 4 hours, get ready and decide to eat at the Aladdin buffet this day, so I walk there in and out of several of the Casinos on the way, biggest change in this is what Caesar’s has built across the street (very impressive). I get to Aladdin use coupons to get $10 free coin and a cup, play the $20 required winning some and play the $10 free and still win a little more, how awkward this machine has coins to scoop up, cash out for $127.50. Then I decide to play the slot tournament, did not get many credits, something like 3900 (need 9000 for cash), they gave me a $20 voucher for the buffet and added $10 more on my card, played the $10 through and won a jackpot for $300. With this I go and eat the buffet, reading all of the threads about buffets and food, I am just not a big buffet person although I had decided that I was going to do several. This buffet is good with good choices, but it is just buffet food, nothing fantastic ate mostly the prime rib and had several glasses of merlot wine, dessert bar was good, but only had a piece of some dark chocolate cake. Decide to go somewhere else now that I was full and had $400 more than I started with.

    I walked around at most of the hotels between the Aladdin and Harrah’s playing blackjack wherever I could find an acceptable table (which for me now days is mostly a six deck shoe with basic rules and a $10 minimum). Although, I enjoyed this and had several drinks used the ACG coupon at Barbary Coast and got a free hot dog and beer. The blackjack cards were not falling right for me this day and I did see a lot of strange play going on, actually saw a woman split tens which I have not seen for some time.

    Watching people and spending a day like this is what I enjoy about Vegas and gambling, it is more fun when winning, but I am now playing on my win this morning, so there is not that much pain. After playing at most of the main casinos on this walk I am now back at Harrah’s and down $300, where did my win go? Oh, it was the blackjack and a few dollar slots that I played.

    I now decide that I wanted to see the Star Trek rides at the Hilton, so after sobering up some in the room I changed and went to the Hilton and rode both of the rides. There was a wedding there that day so the Klingon ride was tied up for several hours which I went and made some blackjack donations at the casino while I waited. I was impressed with these rides and the display; this is really a part of the Disney Vegas that I have mixed feelings about, but it is worth seeing if you are a Star Trek fan.

    It is late evening on Saturday and I am down so I do not want to loose a lot more today, so I found a $5 table at the Casino Royale next door to Harrah’s and played there until 2:00a.m., for the first blackjack session today I was up by $20, too bad I am still $280 down for the day.

    Wake up at 8:00 a.m. and decide to do the Aladdin thing again this morning since it worked out so well the day before. Amazingly it worked out about the same, I had more coupons got another cup, won on the $10 free play coins, lost the tournament, won on the $10 free play tournament coins and stuffed myself at the buffet. Left there up by $260, but this day I decided there was other things I needed to do, so I only played a few slots on the walk back to Harrah’s, winning $100 dollars at Bally’s on a ten times pay quarter machine.

    Now today I need to check into Lady Luck, get my $20 coupon, check in was easy and I got a room on the 15th floor in the west tower, these rooms are O.K. for one or two nights, but I would not spend my whole vacation at a place like this, for me though free with $20 each day and only being used as a place to cleanup, it was great. The room is basic hotel style, but worn down and the whole place has the nasty smell of the buffet with cigarette smoke throughout. Probably the worst thing about these rooms in the west tower is that you take an elevator up to the third floor walk across a bridge then take another elevator to your floor, the first elevator has large crowds waiting at different times of the day. Took the $20 and decided I would get their fun book which had a couple of match play coupons, lost all of them, which always seems to be the case for me with match play coupons, but I played a triple bonanza quarter machine and won $40.

    I now decided to walk Fremont street and see what Harrah’s has done to Binions, now for me although I have seen Binions when it was at it’s best (I lived in Reno for a year many years ago) this place has always been one to walk around get a steak at their diner and not do much gambling. I actually like that they have removed a lot of the slot machines, although I question the choice of machines and the location, the room seems more open and not nearly as crowded. I decide to sign up for the Binions card; they are not accepting the coupons in the ACG, because they were printed before the takeover. I sign up and the clerk tells me they are having a drawing at 6:30, which is 15 minutes away, so I slide my ticket into the drum and wait around, knowing that I never win these types of drawings, they pull out ten numbers of which none are mine, but two do not claim before time and they proceed to pull two more the first ticket is 3845, look down at my ticket and that is my number, what. I draw an envelope and win two tickets to Clint Holmes and two tickets to Ron Lucas, these are suppose to be good ticket vouchers, which I don’t use and am now trying to give to someone here at home.

    Since I am up for the day and they are holding satellite poker tournaments I decide to play in one, I play on the internet all the time for free money and do fairly well, but here I get wiped out after just a few hands. I believe I was the third person bumped from the table, but enjoyed doing that, will most likely play at poker rooms more often.

    I continue my walk down Fremont street drinking, playing blackjack and a few slots and video poker, won $40 at a slot in The Four Queens, but lost that and more at blackjack, this trip is developing a pattern, which is backwards of most, I normally win at blackjack and loose at slots. After a free ACG beer at the Las Vegas, I am back at the Gold Nugget and was walking around and saw a triple Bonanza quarter machine like the one that I had won on earlier at the Lady Luck, so I decide to set down get a drink and run $20 through this machine. The cocktail waitress was quick at getting a drink to me and she had no more than handed it to me when the machine hit a triple-7- triple for 900 credits. It took forever to get paid on this and lost $40 in the machine next to it while waiting.

    Get back to the Lady Luck, use my Emerald Player card to get a free drink at the Gold room and go to my room, took a nap and shower and waited to sober up before driving back to Harrah’s for the night. It is now 12:30 a.m. and I have just gotten back to my room at Harrah’s after resting at the Lady Luck I decide to change clothes and go out about for the evening, after walking to the Treasure Island, I walk around and play some slots and blackjack, still operating on this trip in backwards mode I lost several hundred at the blackjack tables and won some of it back at the slots. The most memorable two was one of the quarter Elvis machines that kept hitting the play about every third spin, the payouts were small though and a Big Times pay that was by itself in an aisle that I played a couple of quarters in and it started winning. I cashed out of that machine for $60 with only $0.50 into it.

    I then decided to leave the Treasure Island and walked to the Venetian, didn’t play much there, but enjoyed watching people and watched some strange playing, saw some of the dedicated slot players guarding their position. I then started heading back to the room and decided to see if I could play some blackjack on the $5 table at Casino Royale, which I did, but should not have, because as blackjack was going on this trip, I lost again. It is now 3:00 a.m. and I have plans to play golf in the morning so I need to go get some sleep. I get back to the room at Harrah’s and check the cash status to discover I am still $180 up for this day.

    Drive to the golf course on Monday morning is heavily congested as any city is on a Monday morning freeway drive. I had played the Badlands several years ago from their black tees, which is the professional tees and wanted to play it again since my game has improved a little over the years. I do not need to go into too much detail here, because the golf was maybe even uglier than the blackjack has been for the past several days. I do have one thing to mention is that I use to carry my personal clubs to Vegas every trip, and deal with them through the airport and at the hotel. I have found that if I only plan to play golf once or twice it is easier to carry balls, shoes, etc and rent the clubs, most places rent Calloway or TaylorMade clubs which are in good shape.

    After golf I decided to get something to eat and since this is a buffet trip (maybe that is why the blackjack is bad), I decide to go to the Orleans which I had never been before. After making a quick run by the Lady Luck to get my $20 coupon cashed, I drove to the Orleans and walked around this 20 football field sized casino and then ate at the buffet. It cost $3.70 using the ACG coupon that is two for one or 50% off. This buffet is like any buffet the food selection is good, but it is buffet food, again I ate mostly prime rib and sampled a few other items. Their desert bar was good; I had a piece of chocolate cheesecake. Walked around the casino, did not play any table games here, because I am getting beat everywhere I go, but do decide to play a quarter wheel of fortune machine which eats me for $60, then I play some nickel machines, loosing on them as well. Back to the quarter machines I spot a Big Times Pay quarter machine and set at it for hours like the people that I always am amused with (like I am the only one to play here), I lost around $80 thinking this machine was about to hit which it never did. Started to leave and on the way out I walked past a woman that had just hit a video poker machine for $2500, and another woman playing a triple chili dollar machine. I stood and watched her from a distance for a little while since those use to be one of my favorite machines. She lost and got up, so I decided to play and won $240, being about even I decide too return to the room.

    It is Vegas, I am exhausted, but cannot stay in the room, so I decide to go back out and try another run at the blackjack tables. Again I take a beating and return to the room down about $400 this time.

    It is now Tuesday morning and I need to checkout of two rooms and finish up this trip. I pack and get checked out of Harrah’s for a total cost of $37 and some change. It is 10:00 a.m. so I drive downtown to get my last $20 coupon and checkout of the Lady Luck. I get the $20 and decide to run it through the triple Bonanza machine that I was lucky on just a couple of days before, it hit a triple-Triple bar- triple and a few spins later hit a triple-Double Bar-triple. I played for a little while and cashed out for $200.

    I now have about ten hours before I need to be at the airport to return home and there are places that I have not been to that I always try to go. I decide to stop at the Circus Circus since I have a few match play coupons and fun book for there. Guess what, I lost on all of the match play coupons, played slots and was down the $200 that I had won earlier. Was on my way to the car and decided to give the slots one more try, so I walked past a ten times pay dollar machine and after a couple of small wins was over $300 so I played down to $300 and left for even money. Oh yes, this place has kids running all over the place and even running through the casino, the place has an odor that smells like they use dirty diapers to mop and wipe down with, so I could not have stayed there very long.

    The last stop is on the south strip area and for my last buffet of the trip. I like the Luxor, I am awed at the place when I walk in and usually have a decent gambling experience there. Park the car at the Luxor self park area in the back which walks you by the pool area walkway, interesting walk. I walk around this casino which has been moved around a lot since my last visit a year ago. I have $17 in comps from last year so I use that to buy my buffet, this was my least favorite of all that I tried, the selection was smaller, but I do believe I may have been getting really tired of buffet food by now, not being a big fan anyway. After eating I walked around this corner of the strip to the other casinos and then returned to the Luxor to do my final session of gambling. As with all other attempts on this trip, I could not get anything to happen at any of the blackjack tables, so I started playing slots and was not winning at this either, tired and feeling beat I sat down at a wild cherry quarter machine next to a small bar with a band playing and proceeded to slow play it to just past the time for the next several hours. It started hitting small wins about every third or fourth pull and built up a credit of 200 coins at which time my slow play had turned into aggressive play as fast as it would let me hit the button. I cashed out for $40 after several hours of this; it was a good machine for building comps.

    Time has expired and I need to go return the car and head to the airport, after all the times I have been here and rented cars, I actually made a wrong turn and went out of my way on the way to the airport, duh. Return the car without any problem and caught the shuttle to the airport, had an hour wait at the gate and watched people playing the slots there which I seldom do, but I decided to run $20 through the quarter wheel of fortune and after spinning the top wheel for a win of 100 quarters I cashed out.

    Flight home was a typical bumpy flight for this time of year, but I slept most of the way and was woken by the stewardess and the guy next to me to turn off my Ipod for landing in Charlotte. The Charlotte flight was delayed by two hours, if I had a car I could have driven there faster.

    Overall I lost money on the blackjack tables and carried myself on the slots, I do believe if I had only played slots this time I may have come back with cash, but as it stands I made my donation at keeping the bottom line good in Vegas.

    One last comment the flight that I had originally scheduled in August is now back on and today I made reservations at Harrah’s for that trip. When I went to their web site and looked for the cost of two days in August it came back with a cost of FREE, so I booked it. Now I need to start getting money and coupons together again and cover a couple more days of hotel…
  2. kgovegas

    kgovegas Guest

    Great report! I agree with you that sometimes it's not so much about the gambling but more about the people watching. I am so happy when I have a drink and I'm at a slot machine, soaking it all in. Of course, it's even better if you're winning! Have a great time if you go in August.
  3. ncgirl

    ncgirl Guest

    great report. I think you did very well with the time you had in vegas.
    Hey if you want to get rid of your show vouchers I will be glad to take them off your hands.
    Hitting Vegas June 16-22 [​IMG]
  4. KathyinNY

    KathyinNY Tourist

    Jan 29, 2002
    Upstate New York
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Sounds like a good time. [​IMG]
    I can't believe none of your friends want to go to Vegas. I haven't been since 2002 and boy do I miss it.
  5. BigSlamNtee

    BigSlamNtee Tourist

    Mar 16, 2004
    Raleigh, NC
    Great Report. I fly out of RDU on 5/27 for five days. I guess you know SouthWest does LV out of RDU with no stops? [​IMG]
  6. Very nice report James. I am glad to see that having a weak crew didn't stop you from having a great time in Vegas. I am in the same boat you are, end up going by myself most of the time. How is the course at Badlands? Looking at playing there this summer. It is an American Golf course and their courses up here don't always get the best maintenance.
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