The Event: Celebrating two birthdays: Ryan and Brianâ€™s The Participants: Ryan, his wife, Carrie, Brian, and his wife, Toni. Hotel stayed at: Bellagio, Bellagio Suite (Ryan and Carrie) Lakeview room (Brian and Toni) Hotels gambled at: Bellagio, Mirage, Bills, MGM DAY 1â€”Sunday The day broke early as Brian and Toni picked us up at 4:45 am to catch a 6 am flight from Des Moines. After shoe horning all the luggage, including two golf bags into Brianâ€™s Blazer we were off to the airport. The Des Moines airport is fairly small and check was in a breeze. The flight left on time and after connecting n Denver we arrived at McCarran 20 minutes early. Got the luggage and went over to the car rental center to pick up our ride for the next 4 days from Alamo. The pick-up itself was fairly easy, we had reserved a mid-size SUV through CarRentals.com; get to the counter and the agent tells me that while it may have appeared to be, the rental insurance wasnâ€™t through Alamo and maybe I should trying calling the other company, cancelling the insurance and getting insurance though Alamo, or alternatively just go ahead and get Alamo insurance tooâ€”canâ€™t be too covered! (picture slimy agent smirking here). I politely told him that in my efforts to avoid a hassle I thought I was already getting screwed and he was too late to the party to join inâ€”just let me sign the contract and point me towards the car. Got to Bellagio about 10 am and tried checking inâ€”Brian and Toni were able to check in immediately and upon mentioning that they were celebrating his birthday they were upgraded to a Lakeview room. I tried getting my non-Lakeview Bellagio Suite upgraded to a Lakeview but no dice; however, upon mentioning we were celebrating my birthday as well I did get a line pass for the 4 of us for the Buffet and the CafÃ©, I also got a high floor which I liked. We were told we would need to wait until about Noon to actually get our room. Our friends room was pretty niceâ€”a few observationsâ€”a big CRT TV instead of a flat screen and no in-room safe. Other than that it seemed nice enoughâ€”I discreetly checked to see if there were any traces of bed bugs (thanks Dewey) and found none. We hit the Buffet and I immediately realized just how valuable the line pass wasâ€”I would swear that there were people who were in line when we went in that we still in line when we left. The Buffett itself was pretty goodâ€”they had great Eggs Benedict and excellent omelets. Right before we left they brought out some excellent sushi. The four of us waddled out of the Buffet, Brian surprised Toni by having her son drive in from California to spend the day with them and they went off on their own. We went to get our room keys since it was now almost 12:30. Slight complaint: We had already checked-in yet still had to wait in line to confirm that had a Suite ready and to get our keys; plus when we got to the room we realized it was a â€œsmoking allowedâ€ suite, we didnâ€™t ask for another one because the only way we knew it was a â€œsmoking allowedâ€ suite was the fact that there were several ashtrays in the room; without the ashtrays we would not have known they had allowed smoking in that suite. The room itself was spectacular. Huge bedroom with his/her baths, separate sitting area and a gust bathroom. Our view was primarily of the Cosmopolitan Hotel. The menâ€™s bathroom had a steam function in the shower were you could turn the shower into a steam bathâ€”very cool; the ladies bathroom had a jetted bathtub. The suite also had an in-room safe, and flat screen TVâ€™s throughout, including the bathrooms. After we unpacked and got settled in Carrie decided to make sure the Jacuzzi tub actually worked, after 40 minutes she pronounced it satisfactory. We headed over to the Mirage to pick up tickets for LOVE, wandering through Caesars and Forum Shops. After we picked up the tickets we walked back stopping in Carnival Court to pick up some pop for the room. When we got back to Bellagio we hung out in the Suite until it was time to walk over to see LOVE. I had previously seen LOVE and found it to be as fantastic the second time as the first, the others were equally impressed. After LOVE Ate dinner at California Pizza Kitchen before heading back to Bellagio and calling it a night after being up for about 21 hours. Gambling wise we really didnâ€™t do much gambling the first day, which is the way it seems to be when Iâ€™m in Vegas with Carrieâ€”itâ€™s not that she objects to me gambling, thereâ€™s just other things to do besides gambling. I think Carrie lost about $40 in various slot machines that day. DAY 2â€”Monday Up at 5:45 am for 8 am tee time at Paiute, itâ€™s about 46 degrees when we tee off at 8 am on the Sun course, but hey, get a hot coffee and a strong Bloody Mary and its game on! For golfers this is a wonderful course. The entire course was meticulously groomed, since we were the second group off we hardly ever saw anyone else the entire round. The staff was top notch and the overall experience superb. The cart had GPS, while we never felt rushed or hurried we still finished 45 minutes ahead of pace. This is a course Iâ€™ll definitely go back to at some point. Meanwhile, while Brian and I are trying to stay warm on the course Carrie and Toni sleep in and hit the Spa around 9:30 for massages and other pampering. For you ladies all I can tell you is when both myself and Brian asked our wifeâ€™s how the treatments were they responding with a simple AWEEEEEEEEEEEEEESOOOOME. Given neither lady tends towards hyperbole I would say thatâ€™s high praise. Got back to the Bellagio in time for a light lunch at Palio (in the Bellagio), headed over to Bills for some gambling. First tried a little craps, it was, crapâ€”would make a point and then lose two, make a point or two and then lose some more, finally gave up down -100. Played some single deck blackjack and won $150. While Brian and I are playing Blackjack Carrie and Toni are hitting various slot machines enjoying mixed results. Cards started to go cold, Brian, Toni and Carrie decide they want to go check out the Las Vegas morgue since they had never been thereâ€”of course Iâ€™m referring to Crystalâ€™s in City Center. We go over to City Center and walk around Crystalâ€™s; personally I find the whole place depressing. Maybe if they would have at least a few shops that most of the people walking thorough could afford they could fill the placeâ€”sorry but if I could afford the kind of wares that many of those in Crystalâ€™s peddle Iâ€™d make them come to meâ€”just never seen many millionaires in a Mall. Got back to the Bellagio and got ready for dinner at the Palm. The Palm may be a chain, but they are a very good chain. They had a special for $49 wherein you got a small lobster tail, a 9 ounce filet, a side dish (which could feed two) and desert, for $5 more you could get a 14 ounce filet. The food was excellent, the service attentive and unobtrusive. I really like this place, add in the people watching if you sit â€œoutsideâ€ and it makes for a fine experience. Head back to Bellagio for more gambling. Lost about $150 playing Blackjack and ended up watching other lose lots more. I never seen a dealer so hotâ€”at one point the dealer won 16 straight hands. Ugh. Finally limped away and played a little JOB winning $20 before calling it a night. DAY 3â€”Tuesday No golf todayâ€”sleep in and grab breakfast at the Buffetâ€”slightly disappointing, Eggs Benedict slightly cold, Carrie said her French toast was also cold, on the other hand Brian and Toni sing the praises of the omelets . Carrie and Toni decide to go to the Premium Outlet Mall for shopping, Brian and I head to MGM for poker. Play 1/2 No Limitâ€”Brian, who has never played in a live poker room before wins a few small pots before losing a few on his way to an overall win of about $20. I play way too loose, chasing straights/flushes and have brief affairs with AK and AJ (twice) on my way to losing $50--kept getting good cards but the cards in my hand just never synced with the flop or any of the following cards. I head to the craps table, winning back the $50 I lost playing poker; we then play a little JOBâ€”after losing $20 Brian declares that itâ€™s more fun playing the real thing, so back to the Poker room for a session playing 2-4 Limit, where Brian ends up down $2 and I end down $6. Walk back to Bellagio for lunch with the ladies who have returned from shopping. After lunch just relax in the suite before heading to American Fish for dinner. American Fish offers wonderful seafood, served by pleasant efficient wait staff, in a non-descript setting for hefty prices. We had two appetizers: lobster rolls and prawns; for the main course I had diver scallops in a lemongrass broth, Carrie had a mixed grill of Tasmanian trout, calamari, and prawns; we split a dessert and each had a glass of wineâ€”total with tip: $225. Iâ€˜m glad we went, Iâ€™m also glad that I hadnâ€™t planned any other comparable meals. Headed back to Bellagio where Carrie played slots while I played 1/2 No Limit. My streak of bad cards, and/or missing the flop continuedâ€”add to this a group of pleasant, but highly aggressive card players all of whom had larger bankrolls and you have the recipe for a pretty good beat down. I finally left down $300, Carrie having already gone to bed. DAY 4â€”Wednesday Up around 6:15 am to make an 8 am tee time at TPC Las Vegas, itâ€™s a balmy 46 degrees, with the wind it feels about 39, lots of coffee plus Bloody Maryâ€™s and we shall overcome. I said earlier Iâ€™ll play Paiute again, Iâ€™ll play TPC the next time I go to Vegasâ€”what a fun course! Itâ€™s a tough course that places a premium on placement but man was it fun. Thereâ€™s just something about having to hit golf ball over an abyss to get to the green. For a golfer there are quite a few forced carries and a couple of holes where water is in play. The only potential negative is houses on the course. Brian and I got done with golf around Noon and cabbed over to Carnegie Deli with Carrie and Toni for lunch. Tried the Woody Allen and got about halfway through it before calling it quits. For those of you who are not familiar with the Woody Allen, itâ€™s a humongous sandwich about 7 inches thick comprised of 6 and a 1/2 inches of corned beef and pastrami with two Â½ inch slices of rye bread. After we got done at Carnegie Deli Brian and I played 1/2 No Limit at the Mirage, Brian called it quits down around $60, I was having better luck than the night before, I finally quit up around $44 after being up as much as $100â€”after the beat down the night before I was pretty determined to finish positive for that session. Found Carrie and Brian playing Blackjack and watched that for a while before discovering that the Mirage had a $5 craps table. Went over to play craps and almost quit before it got good. The 3rd shooter of the session was a young woman standing next to the dealer. By her own admission she had no clue what she was doing and slowed the game down to a crawl, which may be good in Baccarat or Blackjack, but seems to work against the players in craps. Before she sevened out (of course she managed to hold the dice long enough for me to have the maximum amount of bets out) she managed to hit a large stack of chips in front of the boxman, scattering chips everywhere. When she sevened out the dealer said â€œHoney, weâ€™ve e got a saying here: She was cute but she couldnâ€™t shoot.â€ Thankfully the next two shooters had better luck for the table and a -250 loss turned into a $200 win. Brian, Toni and Carrie were tired of gambling so we headed back to Bellagio. After a quick shower and a little TV Brian calls and says he wants to try poker again. We had down to the Poker room and settle in for a session of 4/8 Pokerâ€”I finish up $48. Everyone is now hungry since no one has eaten since lunchâ€”we head to Cafe Bellagio for a late last dinner in Vegasâ€”had talked about going to Margritaville but no one was interested in the hassle involved calling it a night. DAY 5â€”Thursday Nothing really to report. Up at 7 am, grab a light breakfast at CafÃ© Gelato and head to the airport. Flight home was uneventful. RANDOM OBSERVATIONS Our experience with Bellagio was excellentâ€”every staff member we dealt with seemed genuinely interested in offering excellent t service. Got some great golf tips from one of the security guards checking keys at the elevator; Having said that, some of the excesses at Bellagio (and Palazzo from my prior trip) are just annoying; ordering a 6 cup pot of coffee from room service costs $17, breakfast that morning at the Buffett cost $16; Never thought I see the day when the Bellagio would have 5 craps tables, 4 at $10 minimum bet and one at $25, also hadnâ€™t seen $5 craps at the Mirage in a long time. If I had not broken the cardinal rule of gambling (Never chase a losing streak) I would have broken even, instead I finished down about $104 , Carrie lost about $200. Great trip canâ€™t wait to go back.