This truly was a â€˜Diamond in the Roughâ€™ Vegas trip! Thought Iâ€™d share . . . Background: Since becoming a Diamond member with HET about 4 yrs. Ago Iâ€™ve been making roughly 2 trips out here per yr. â€“ usually for about 6 nts. Centered on both some Slot or VP tourney offer and of course different combinations of free rooms! The offer this time was for the $35,000 â€˜Diamonds in the Roughâ€™ Slot Invitational at the Flamingo. This trip also had another excuse: the Wis. Badgerâ€™s playing UNLV (9/8)! As a WI native, Badger Alum and huge Badger fan this made it a no-brainer. We left out of STL on Sat. a.m. (9/8) â€“ no problems using SWA, on time in Vegas at 1055. Got a 2 day Hertz weekend rental ($31.57 total cost!!) thinking weâ€™d head out to Sam Boyd Stadium with the mass of Badger fans that night. After hearing stories about the lack of ticket availability and tired from the long travel day we scrapped the idea. We ended up watching it in the Bellagio Sports Book. A good choice! (Comfortable Leather chairs, free drinks and small crowds â€“ all at the game?) Oh, by the way â€“ WI need a 4th Quarter comeback to win by 7 (were favored by 26+ pts.) Room: The original booking was for the 1st 3 nts. @ the Flamingo with the last 3 @ the Rio. The Rio has been our principle home the past 4 yrs, but we were excited to try a new hotel. Upon check-in we inquired about being able to stay at the Flamingo for the entire stay and we were accomadated! This pleased my girlfriend (C) and made sense as the slot tourney was here on Wed. and Thurs. (9/12 â€“ 13). We of course tried for the GO Room (Flamingoâ€™s pink retro remodeled rooms â€“ complete with flat screen TVâ€™s, remote drapes, IPOD docking station etc. etc. We could have it for $50 addâ€™l â€“ we declined. In hindsight, I wish weâ€™d have said YES! Our room was very plain (#28134). On the top floor directly overlooking Caesarâ€™s and Pure â€“ could see about half of Bellagio on down to the Mirage. We were told the room had been remodeled on 04â€™ â€“ was old to us. Had 1 27â€ Phillips TV, small sitting area and old bath. While functional I was disappointed â€“ it seems as though HET is constantly tightening the screws, a few yrs. Ago we managed an Augustus Tower room overlooking the Bellagio Fountains! I guess Iâ€™ve been spoiled by the rooms Iâ€™ve had! Food: Each day it was mainly a Snack in a Diamond Lounge and one meal. Our 1st meal of the trip was Sunday when we were downtown. We decided to do the champagne brunch at the Fremont. Donâ€™t laugh! For $10.99 it was pretty darn good! On Monday, we headed out to the Silverton before returning the car. We had an early lunch of burgerâ€™s at the Sunset Grill (2 for 1 with room key and out of state ID) â€“ excellent! After returning the car â€“ we cabbed it to Ellis Island. This is a must-do for me each trip. I love the micro-beers, small time laid back atmosphere and of course the $4.95 steak special, which to me never disappoints. Note: Iâ€™ve heard that they just raised the special by $2 (includes a micro-beer or home brewed root beer) â€“ still one heck of a bargain!! Tuesday was our â€˜strip crawlâ€™ day. (Harrahâ€™s, TI, Mirage, Caesarâ€™s, Billâ€™s) We decided to try Harrahâ€™s â€˜Flavorâ€™sâ€™ Buffet â€“ what a GEM!!! This will be added to our list for future trips â€“ right up there with the best buffetâ€™s Iâ€™ve had! (Used Total Rewardâ€™s creditâ€™s w a $5 off coup) Hint: order the orange juice!! The dessertâ€™s were amazing! Wednesday we did the Paris buffet. They have moved the Diamond sitting to right in front of the buffet and offer you unlimited crab legs if you choose. This is still a favorite of ours. Thursday we decided to use our $50 food voucherâ€™s from the slot tourney at Jimmy Buffetâ€™s Margaritaville. Good choice!! Fun atmosphere!! We ordered 2 of there signature items to share. The Volcano Nachos (could feed 6) and the Cheeseburger in Paradise. Had enough left over for 2 Margaritaâ€™s and a Bahama Mama! Left feeling no pain! Gambling: Pretty darn good for me and just so-so for C. I ended up about $450 for the week (before the slot tourney tale which is still to come . . . .) C ended down roughly $800 (?). Sports betting was unbelievable for us!! C was 7-1 with College Football and I was 8-2. On Sunday we did one bet â€“ threw $30 combined into a 4 team NFL parlay, with C picking 3 of the teams! It hit!! We collected $390!!! I had incredible discipline (except for the last afternoon at the Flamingo were I gave back $380 at short play Video Poker and 6 card Pai Gow??) this trip, each time I got a nice VP hit, CASH OUT! Highâ€™s were 4 4â€™s at MSS Sun. for $100, 4 Aces at Ellis Island for $200, 4 3â€™s w Kicker at Paris for $200 and 5 play .25c DB Super Times Pay at Caesarâ€™s â€“ had 9, 10, J, Q clubs dealt w a 5X â€“ hit the King of clubs w a flush and straight for over $400 â€“ CASH OUT!! I also had consistent luck at PaiGow and small wins at Blackjack. One slot I had heard about and we had great fun at is the .01c â€˜Goldfishâ€™ â€“ while I didâ€™nt win, it was FUN entertainment!!! Shows: Only one show, Vinnie Favorito. He was hilarious! We managed to escape his wrath â€“ but he found a lot of material from his audience â€“ good stuff! We did see a few Fountain shows, including my favorite: Time to Say Goodbye, from Sarah Brightman and Andrea Bocelli!!! Staying at the Flamingo w Billâ€™s being so convenient â€“ I saw Peter Vallee and Big Elvis at least 3 times, including a full set! I enjoy him a lot!! Heâ€™s been renewed through 08â€™ Yes, he has lost 475 lbs. â€“ still wants to lose 200 more! Did it all on his own, no surgery â€“ good for him!! Our last trip in May we did see Celine Dion (@ $175 a pop) and thoroughly enjoyed it!!!! Slot Tournament: On to the $35,000 â€˜ Diamonds in the Roughâ€™ Slot Invitational . . . While these are a nice diversion we always go in with low expectations. Sometimes they include nice gifts or an upscale awards banquet. So here we go . . We were given a 12:40 time both Wed. and Thurs. and I had C do each of the 10 min. sessionâ€™s (I cheered her on hard with drink in hand!). She absolutely blew everyone away!! At the end of day 1 â€“ we had 13,385 points!! She managed to twice get Diamonds in the Rough symbols all the way across!! The closest after Day 1 was 12,100 with 10 others above 10,000 pts. Oh, and by the way, the prize structure was based on 750 entrants â€“ they had 1300!!! They adjusted the prizes as follows: 1st: $10,000 to $15,000 2nd: $5,000 to $7,000 3rd: $2,000 to $2750 4th: $1,000 to $1250 (?) etc. So, when Day 2 rolls around we are excited but know that anything can happen. We get ready for the Big Event by having 4 â€“ 5 Blue Moonâ€™s at the Flamingo back bar near the Spa (what a hidden gem this was â€“ just us and the bar guy â€“ Joe from Chicago). 12:40 rolls around and itâ€™s on . . . C gave it her best effort â€“ but the magic from yesterday was gone â€“ 5085 points. Oh well, a prize of some sort awaits! That eve. As we head to catch our cab and our 7:30 flight I decide to see if the results have been posted (prizes were to be mailed if you couldâ€™nt be there) â€“ they had just finished posting â€“ 2nd Place, $7,000 Baby!!!! 400 pts. From $15,000! We were excited beyond belief! Now what? I know Iâ€™ll have to sign some tax form. Where to go? Can we get the $$ before we head out? We do! They meet me at the Cashierâ€™s cage and count out 70 $100â€™s!! What a way to end the trip!! Random thoughts: - I love downtown (home during my tripâ€™s in the 90â€™s) and wish we could have spent more than the half day on Sunday. I canâ€™t believe the job they did with the Golden Nugget â€“ awesome pool area! - While the Flamingo served our needs, has a nice central location, decent pool (although not as nice as Caesarâ€™s or even the Rio in our opinion), very nice spa and gym (which I used each a.m. bright and early at 6 â€“ couldâ€™nt quite adjust to the time change), I donâ€™t think weâ€™ll be back (in order of preference of HET properties itâ€™s Caesarâ€™s, Paris, Rio with the otherâ€™s last). I did not like the feel of the casino, the rooms (unless you can score the Go Rooms) the general crowd (very middle America â€“ no â€œbeautiful peopleâ€ you would see at Caesarâ€™s or the Rio). - The Silverton was great. Enjoyed the aquarium, look of the casino, lack of Crowds, good beer selection. It reminded us of Green Valley Ranch. - If you get the chance, use Caesarâ€™s spa. I went on Wed. for the 2nd time and it is a real treat. I had the spa to myself the 1st hour. They have an Artic Ice Room which is 50+ degrees with snow falling from the ceiling, along with all the usual spa facilities. - The weather was sunny and 100 â€“ 103 every day. I only spent a combined 2 hours at the pool â€“ spent 3 hrs. ea. Morning working out and using the spa. - Many, many drinks were consumed. My favorite being the Blue Moon beers (Complete w a slice of orange at Billâ€™s â€“ Yummy!) - Give the .01c Goldfish a try if you havâ€™nt â€“ good cheap fun!! Thatâ€™s it â€“ a trip to remember!!!