Just got back! Had a great time. This came out a bit more winded than I expected, but hope you enjoy it. Thursday: Arrived at Oâ€™Hare and made it through security and was at the gate in about 20 minutes. Surprisingly, the terminal was not very crowded. We left the gate on time, but had to wait for about 40 minutes before we took off. Once of the reasons I really dis-like flying out of Oâ€™Hare. My first choice is Midway, but Southwest was about $40 higher than American for less than ideal times. However, we made it to Vegas on time and got our bags in about 20 minutes. Several weeks prior, I booked a pick-up with Presidential Limo, but our driver was nowhere to be found. Just as I was about to call, our driver called in to see if we where there. Minor mishap. Between the time I booked, and when we actually flew our flight number was changed. A few minutes later we were on our way to Ballyâ€™s. While in the car out drover asked if we needed to stop someplace. Even though we had brought some liquor, we decided an extra bottle of vodka and some mixers would be worth picking up. The driver informed us she limo drivers get a discount and took us to this shady looking liquor store/bar not too far from the strip. I think it was called the Office or something. Prices were cheaper than what we would have paid at a Strip store, but not as cheap as a grocery store. We ended up getting a bottle of Black Cherry Effen Vodka, 2 gallons of Cranberry Juice, and 4 4-packs of Red Bull (my one friend loves the stuff) for $69, including the $3 limo driver discount. A few minutes later we were at Ballyâ€™s and checked into the room. We tried unsuccessfully for a suite upgrade. (My friend handed the clerk a $50 bill folded against his credit card. She quickly handed it back, and he apologized, playing it off as if he inadvertently grabbed the card and the bill at the same time.) We were, however, offered a suite upgrade for only $150 per night. We declined. THE ROOM: This was my fourth time staying at Ballyâ€™s. Once again it pleased. The room was spacious and well appointed. The furniture and fixtures looked fairly new. We were given an accessible room, as it was the only 2 queen smoking room available. We were on the 23rd floor with a decent view facing North. We could see Ceasars Palace, the top of the Mirage and Treasure Island, the Barbary Coast , Flamingo and Wynn. The plus side to the room is that is was close to the elevator. The only drawback was the bathroom. It looked very nice with newer marble and fixtures, but in lieu of a tub is a walk/roll in shower with no â€œcurbâ€ between the shower floor and the rest of the bathroom. As a result, most of the bathroom floor got wet every time someone showered. In addition, it was a handheld shower with only one â€œhookâ€ which was about 4 feet off the ground. It would have been nice if the was a second higher â€œhookâ€ to hold the shower head at a higher level. We thought about asking for another room, but did not want to go through the trouble of moving. In the end, the wet floor was no big deal. We just asked for extra towels to lay on the floor. THE CASINO: I like the Ballyâ€™s casino. For one, it is large without being huge. You could tell someone to meet you in the casino and actually find them without too much trouble. It is not as exciting as many other places on the strip, but it makes a great home base. When I played there I found the staff to be very friendly and courteous (with a few exceptions, of courseâ€¦ but that is the case any where). Back to the trip: After checking in and changing into some fresh clothes, we hot the ground running. We started at the Barbary Coast and made our way North hitting the Flamingo, Oâ€™Sheaâ€™s, Casino Royale, and eventually ended up at the Imperial Palace. We were hungry so I suggested we try the Tea Room for their late night specials. After we get up there and sit down we find out once Harrahâ€™s took over, they got rid of the late night specials. Those were the only things the Tea Room had going for it. Without them, itâ€™s just a mediocre at best over priced Coffee Shop. We should have just left, but at that point it was already 2:00 am and we were tired and hungry, not having eaten since lunch time. I had a taste for a steak. But, instead of enjoying the $5.95 steak and egg special I had most recently had this past New Years, I ate a $17.95 strip steak from the menu. Again, it was mediocre at best, and not worth the price by a long shot. After dinner we made our way back to Ballyâ€™s and went to bed. It was about 5:30am Chicago time by that point. FRIDAY: We had rented a Cabana and today was a pool day. I have to say the Cabana was some of the best money spent on this trip. While the pool was not overly crowded, it was nice to have some private space to ourselves and be able to relax. The cabana itself was pretty roomy (about 12 feet square would be my best guess). It could have easily accommodated 8 comfortably, so the 3 of us had plenty of room. It was appointed with 4 chaise lounges (much nicer than the standard poolside ones), a table with 4 chairs, plus a fridge stocked with water, pop, and juice. (We were told those were unlimited and to ask for more if we were to run out.) The cost for the day was $225. (For those interested, it is $175 if I recall correctly Sunday â€“ Thurs). Around 5:00 or so we showered and changed in the room to get ready for dinner. We tried Ah Sin in Paris. We sat in an enclosed terrace facing the strip. The outside part of the terrace faces the giant fountain in front. The food was pretty good. I ordered Mongolian Beef and Hot and Sour soup. The soup was no better than I could get here from a good place in Chinatown, but the Mongolian Beef was the best I ever had. The service, however, left a little to be desired. I would not call it bad, but it was poor enough for us have to think about how much of a tip to leave (versus leaving 20%, no questions asked as we usually would). In the end we left 15%, which we all agreed was generous. After dinner the evening consisted of drinking and gambling at various properties. We started at the Bellagio, and over the course of the evening made our way through Ceasars, Wynn, Mirage and Treasure Island before making our way back to Ballyâ€™s around 3:00am. I do have to share a Vegas moment. While on the Tram between Treasure Island and The Mirage, a large group of friends go on the same tram car. They were all young (21-23), attractive, â€œtom-boy lesbiansâ€. They were all pretty drunk and clearly having a good time. On the same tram, there were also 2 40 something couples. The 2 ladies were very attractive (textbook MILFâ€™s, pardon the expression) and began to give their husbands pole dances in the tram car. The other girls began to root them on. Once screamed â€œupside downâ€. The one older lady said she was too old for that and that she should do it. Well, they did. At that moment the young girls made use of the remaining polls in the tram to give us all a show. They were able to get upside down with little ease. Of all the times for my camera battery to die! After a brief walk around the Mirage, we ended up back by the main entrance, where there is a large brass Mermaid stature. One by one the girls were mounting the Mermaid and feverishly rubbing its breast. Along the wall I could see the security guard. The look on his face said it all. â€œI know they shouldnâ€™t be doing that and I should tell them to stop, but I just canâ€™t!â€ Again, what a night for my batteries to die! After this, we head to Oâ€™Sheas for a few more drinks and Blackjack. This is when I saw a new sucker bet I have never noticed before. It was called â€œLucky Ladiesâ€ Blackjack. If you chose, you could make a $1 min side bet, which entitled you to special payouts should your first 2 cards total 20, the higher payouts involved receiving 2 queens, more if they were suited. If I recall the highest payout was 4000 to 1 for 2 suited queens against a dealer blackjack (this was a 2 deck pitched game. I saw other â€œLucky Ladiesâ€ tables with slightly different bonus rules based on the number of decks.) Around 3:30 or so we called it a night. SATURDAY: My once friend got up to play in a 11:00 am poker toury in Ballyâ€™s with a $120 buy-in. My other friend and I played a few slots and Rouette until the poker game was over (he did come in first and won $700). That afternoon a friend of my poker playing friend flew in and met up with us at Ballyâ€™s. We decide to head to a late lunch at the Aladdin Buffet. At this point is around 2:20. When we are about to pay, they tell us the buffet will close and they will remove the food at 3:00 to prepare for dinner. Forget that, we got the Zanzibar Cafe for sandwiches. The food here was very good, but service was horrible. There was a shift change during our meal and it seemed it took our server a while to realize we were her table. After lunch it was more of the sameâ€¦ gamble some, drink some. Some of the group went to play poker, while the rest of us, me included, went to Margaritatville. What was going to be a stop for 1 drink before moving on, turned into about 3 hours and several drinks. They make a mean perfect margarita! Very smooth. Almost too smooth. You donâ€™t feel it until you get up. Since when were these floors so crooked?? This was the night of what we called the â€œGhetto Casino Tourâ€. We cabbed it to The Stardust (or as my one friend put it â€œGodâ€™s Waiting Roomâ€) and had Steak and Lobster ($9.95 with coupons!) in the Coffee Shop. For ten bucks, it is not bad at all, and that price included soup or salad. After dinner, it was on to Slots-A-Fun, Circus Circus, The Riveria, and then back to Ballyâ€™s. Bedtime was about 4:00. SUNDAY: My one friend went to play poker, and my other friend and I head over to the Bellagio for Champagne Brunch. The cost was about $30. I hate to say it, but this was the first time I was ever disappointed with the Bellagio Buffet. The food was excellent, but there was not much of a selection. I was expecting more of a variety for the price. I should have tried to get my moneyâ€™s worth in Champagne, but I would have faced a wicked headache which is often the effect of too much wine or Champagne for me. After brunch we walked it off gambling here and there (mostly slots). We then headed over to the LV Hilton to have some exotic, bubbly, smoky drinks at Quarks. I had 2 Captain Kirk Teas (basically a blue long island), made to smoke with the addition of dry ice. As in the day before after Margaritaville, I was feeling no pain (for the time being, anyway). This was our â€œniceâ€ night out, which began with dinner at Prime, followed by â€œOâ€ at the Bellagio. Prime was excellent. â€œOâ€ was a great show. From the Bellagio, we took the Monorail to MGM Grand, then New York, New York. More drinking. More gambling. Around 2:00 I started to feel a wicked headache coming on. (So much for no pain!) I was going to head back, but the others wanted to as well. On the way out we all stuck $20 into a megabucks machine. At one pint we were on fire, having doubled our money, and then gave it all back. We were not meant to become millionaires that nightâ€¦ We eventually made it back by about 3 and I took some Advilâ€™s and went to bed. It was touch and go for a while as I came close to barfing up my $100 steak, but thankfully my stomach settled and I woke up the next morning feeling OK. MONDAY: Today was our last full day. These days are often a mix of emotionsâ€¦ happiness that you still have a whole day in Vegas, and sadness that your trip is coming to an end. The day stared with an early lunch at the Paris buffet. While in previous days we were up and out of bed by 10 am or so, the late nights and drinking were beginning to catch up as we were not out of the room until after Noon. The Paris buffet was pretty good. No surprise that much of the food is French or French influenced. I forgot what it was called, but I had some chicken slow cooked in red-wine dish that was amazing. Still I do prefer buffets along the lines of Wynn, Bellagio, Aladdin etc. that have food from a variety of ethnicities. After lunch we gambled and drank some more (drinking wise I took it easier today as I was still recovering from the night before, and I knew I had to be on a plane the next day.) Later that night we met up with a friend who lives in Vegas and visited the new Red Rock casino. What an awesome place. Beautiful casino, very attractive cocktail waitresses, great service, and just a great elegant, laid back vibe. Once cool touch: ALL the chairs by the slot machines were height adjustable leather chairs. I would definitely consider staying there a night or two in the future (I like the strip too much to spend an entire trip away). Before heading back to Ballyâ€™s at 3am, we had a Fatbuger from the food court. For fast food, it was a great burger. Although, for $11 (the cost of the combo meal), I would expect that. When we got back, it was up to bed. The next morning we packed and then headed home. A few random thoughts and observations: -There is poker everywhere now! My once friend loved it as he is an avid player. Every casino had some nitch, partition, or roped off section called a Poker Room. -I saw a male cocktail server for the first time working Ballyâ€™s. I did not think there was such a position. -Harrahâ€™s kind of sucks. Even though I thought we gambled a fair amount, our total comps were about $30. They did not even reduce our room rate. My one friend even took out a line of credit and still we got nilch. At once point after sitting at a Pai Gow table for about 3 hrs, averaging at least $25/hand, my friend asked the pit boss for a buffet comp. He was told to take his card to the rewards desk to see if he had enough points! Now it is back to reality as I look forward to the next tripâ€¦ Not sure when it would be as there are a lot of things coming in the next few months, but I am hoping as soon as New Years, but no later than next spring or summer.