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Fairfield Grand Desert Oct 8th-10th, Harrahs DIAMOND CARD!

Discussion in 'Vegas Trip Reports' started by mgm21, Oct 11, 2005.

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  1. mgm21

    mgm21 Tourist

    Oct 11, 2005

    My Trip Report

    Trip Report – Oct 8th thru 10th 2005

    Fairfield Grand Desert

    Here is my first go at a trip report, probably pretty boring compared to some I’ve read on this forum because there are no pictures, no security officers, no getting back roomed or banned, no strip clubs, no brothels. I’m more or less documenting this so that much later in life, I can remember more details about how much fun I had.

    This was another one of our two night trips. Because of work we can rarely do more than a 3 day weekend trip. This is our 8th trip to Vegas in 2005 (4 business, 4 personal) with two more scheduled. Our Oct/Nov/Dec trips weren’t planned, but we felt obligated to go out when we got a Southwest airlines Ding! Offer which totaled $105 with taxes. Plus my wife flies free with my companion pass, so that brought airfare down to $52.50 per person. My prior all time best deal on paid airfare was $149/person round trip a couple weeks after 9/11/01. We consider ourselves low rollers and usually gamble about 4hrs/day at the $25 tables at MGM. This is usually enough to earn us a buffet once every other trip. MGM has been pretty stingy with the room offers to us, maybe because they can see and forecast that we’ll be back even without an offer. The last offer I got wasn’t as a result of blackjack play, it was from the slot club for a reduced price room due to me playing $20 in a slot machine.

    Saturday Oct 8th
    Woke up and finished getting everything printed out and ready for this weekend’s trip. UH-OH… When scanning through my email it occurred to me that I never booked a rental car. Priced them several times, but never hit reserve now. Alamo on their prepaid program was $65.00 including taxes for a midsize for 2 days, but now they jacked the price up to $129. So did Hertz, Dollar, etc. Seems they like to penalize those of us who reserve a car for same day pickup now. Anyway, I booked a car on budget for $75 and then quickly cancelled when I saw that Las Vegas was a featured city on avis.com ‘last minute weekend specials’--$64.00 w/taxes.

    In Cleveland, I had hoped that long term parking was full so I could get preferred short term for the long term rate like last time. Unfortunately that was not the case, so we parked in the oldest and furthest away garage. They are doing repairs to the garage because it’s falling apart. In our opinion they should be tearing it down. I’m no engineer but it looks like it’s ready to collapse. Parking spots were blocked off because of fallen concrete chunks. Once inside the airport we made it through security line quickly, only about a 3 minute wait overall. Fortunately we’ve learned that carry-ons are the way to go for Vegas flights, nothing to check in..

    6pm, landed in Vegas, had a nice uneventful flight, glad we didn’t make the news etc. It was off to Avis to pick up our car, where we received a full size Ford Crown Victoria instead of the Midsize that we reserved. Upgrades used to be great until the gas prices went up! Still, it’s Vegas so we put up with the big boat, I mean Crown Vic.

    6:30pm, off to Orleans to use a 2/1 Buffet dinner coupon. For $13.99 a person, it’s a good value, even better with coupon. For cheap wine drinkers, you can get a bottle for $5.00 with buffet purchase. However I can only rate this buffet a 6 out of 10. To earn a higher rating they would have had to: 1) serve Coke products instead of Pepsi 2) have a waitress that comes to check on us at least every 10 minutes to bring us a drink refill, and 3) redesign their buffet so that it’s not as noisy and 4) serve split crab legs like at Harrahs and MGM. Because the kitchen, food prep, and dishwasher areas are right behind the buffet and not separated by a wall, it was especially noisy. I ate an assortment of prime rib, turkey with cranberry sauce, lasagna, pizza, and had rich chocolate cake for dessert with ice cream.

    8:30pm, drove to our hotel (Fairfield Grand Desert @ Harmon/Koval), and checked in. This timeshare resort is our favorite place to stay when it is available. We got a deluxe 1 bedroom apartment suite in Tower 1. We dropped off our bags in the room and went in the hot tub to relax. Met a nice group of people from Buffalo while we were in there, and traded some good Vegas pointers and each shared our horror stories about driving to the casino in Niagara Falls.

    10pm, called and made reservations for Hypnosis Gone Wild at Bourbon Street. We had a 2 for 1 from the showcase magazine in the rooms (also on their website), so it came to $25 a person with tax instead of $50. The Bourbon street casino is on Flamingo behind Barbary Coast. I saw online that it was going out of business so we figured we should see the show this trip. The casino was a dump, gift shop closed, several machines marked out of order that will never be repaired due to the closing. We got our tickets and walked through Barbary Coast and Flamingo, stopping to play some $10 6/5 blackjack. Of course I hit 2 blackjacks in a row playing 6/5 which I never play except for when I have to get some gambling in before an 11pm show. I left up $150. Walked back to the show at 10:30 and saw that there was a line approx 150 people deep to get in. We thought about tipping the usher to cut the line and get better seats, but we didn’t and still ended up with front row seats on the side. The show got volunteers from the audience they basically were told what to do and the audience had fun. I was tired and didn’t enjoy this. It seemed like the same type of show as the audience participation at Showgirls of Magic, Except there was no nudity or magic tricks at this one.

    12:30am time for some pizza at Ellis Island Metro pizza. It hit the spot and for once their casino was fairly crowded. We even played craps at their single-dealer small craps table for a bit

    1:30am, drove to MGM and found a $25 Blackjack table, stand on soft 17, that had my name all over it. We played till about 3pm and then we had to go back to Fairfield to sleep since it was 4am east coast time… Now most of us were up for almost 24 hours, and a few mistakes at the $25 table could add up quickly. I left down $200

    Saturday Oct 9th
    10am we went to Ellis Island for their $3.49 8oz NY sirloin breakfast special, plus we had a 2/1 coupon which made the whole meal cost $4 + tip for my wife and myself. The food was great as usual and the $5 match plays on the menu went to good use. We each won our match play—my wife had a blackjack. We left Ellis Island up $22.50

    12pm—We started our drive to Laughlin. We talked about going to get our $1 chips for our collections, but what really got us there was the Harrahs buffet. The LV Harrahs buffet is our favorite but since they are remodeling it, it’s closed and the temporary one is terrible. We arrived shortly after 1pm and parked in the self parking lot at the Riverside. Then we walked through from casino to casino, getting $1 chips at each cashier. Not much to mention here except that most of the casinos seemed rundown. The view on the riverwalk from casino to casino was excellent, sometime we want to rent Jet Skis and take them on the Colorado river here. The walk from the last casino to Harrahs seemed like a mile and it was all uphill in the heat. My wife made it perfectly clear that we were not walking back to our car. She said we’d find a taxi if there were any in this town, see if Harrahs had a water taxi to the Riverside. She joked that if it came to it, she’d flash someone in exchange for a ride.

    The Harrahs buffet didn’t open till 4pm, so we had almost an hour to gamble first. I lost $100 at their blackjack tables, they have horrible rules. Blackjack pays 1.5:1 which is good, but you cannot double after splitting. They told me that when I had a pair of 8’s against a 5, and split and pulled two 3’s. I was so mad that I couldn’t double that I walked away. I forgot that I was there in Harrahs to also try my luck at earning the coveted Diamond card. I had 0 points on my card and it was deactivated since I hadn’t used it in so long, so I requested 2 new cards. They told me their day went from midnight to midnight. I found a $1 9/6 JOB Video Poker and played until dinner, down about $100 but I had 125 points. I had till midnight to earn 1000 for a Platinum card or 1800 to earn Diamond. The math told me that was $10,000 coin in for Platinum or $36k in for a Diamond. Dinner was great, had prime rib, lasagna, chicken tacos, chili, plus lots of dessert. I had a small portion of Cherries Jubilee and Chocolate ice cream with raspberry sauce, plus enjoyed a slice of Lemon Meringue pie.

    6:00pm, I went back to play more video poker. My machine was still available, and I hit a few 4 of a kinds which gave me 400$ in credits. Eventually these credits ran out and I was stuck putting in another $200 in, but I was at 800 points.

    8:30pm 1004 credits= Platinum card! Good thing I found the turbo mode!! I couldn’t believe I went from 125 to 1004 points in 2.5 hours, more than 500 hands per hour. Turned in my card to the players club booth with a smile on my face. Harrahs probably had a bigger smile because this card had cost me $300 to earn so far. The attendant at the players club joked that I had 3.5 more hours to earn the Diamond card in a day.

    I returned to the machine with my new platinum card to blow the $65.00 left on my cash out ticket so that we could get going back to Vegas (our free VIP passes to the Voodoo Lounge at Rio expire at 10pm). The $65 lasted a lot longer than I expected, though, and earned me 200 more points. Sheesh, why leave now with 1200 points when “only†1800 will get me a Diamond card and surely some free/reduced price hotel stays? I looked and only had $300 left in my wallet, most of the cash was back in the room. I also had another obstacle—I was sure my wife was getting bored and ready to tell me it was time to leave at any time. I played as fast as possible, max $5 bet and got up to 1400 points, before sinking another $100 in. I was seriously sweating if I’d make the points or go broke, and how was I going to get cash if I did go broke and needed just a few more points. I was all set to bum money from a friend when my wife came back over, she was bored and wanted to play a few hands. I said sure but I only have $200 left, she said she had her own money. She had a $19.00 cash out ticket from nickel slots, and put that in and started playing $1 (SINGLE COIN!) next to me. I put in another $100, and she watched me blow most of that with 1600 points now. 200 more points to go!!! On her fourth hand she hits a ROYAL FLUSH which made all of us sick. She was thrilled to have hit for $250, but it would have been $4000 if she had played max coin. I said that was it, time for her to play max coin since she was lucky tonight. Within 5 minutes she won another $250 for a straight flush.. I finally stopped sweating now that I knew we had enough capital to earn the 1800 points. The Platinum-Diamond card cost me $600, but fortunately my wife cashed out for over $450 from her half hour of play, lowering the impact to about $150.

    10:35pm Having earned 1829 points, I walked to the players club and got my diamond card. The attendants were so happy for me, and they all got excited when they saw me walking back up. We took the water taxi back to Riverside ($4 per person) and drove back to Las Vegas. We stopped at In-and-Out burger on Maryland and Tropicana for a late night snack, then it was off to Harrahs. I checked my comp balance at the desk--$50.29 yippee. We had a drink at Carnival Court, which was busy but the bartenders weren’t up to as many tricks and amazing balancing acts that they usually do. Around 2am we drove to the MGM Grand to hit the tables. We played $25 blackjack till 3:30am and then went to the Fairfield to sleep.

    Sunday Oct 10th: 9am: woke up, checked in online for our flight back, got our A boarding passes. My wife wanted to try Peppermill for breakfast and I happily obliged. We had seen this in the Vegas shows and I’ve read about it on the board here. We were seated quickly and looked through the menu. Everything I’ve read on the forums here are true.. The breakfasts are HUGE and I could never finish one of their TEN EGG omelets. My wife and I split the Blueberry pancake platter and there was some left over. We almost bought a container of their confetti sugar when paying the bill, but $8 for a little jar of sugar seems steep, plus we never drink coffee or tea.

    11am: we stopped at Westward ho to join their players card to get a souvenir before they close down. We drove to the Las Vegas Advisor building and picked up our coupon books. We ordered on Oct 1st and were hoping that it would show up in the mail before our trip. Unfortunately since we leave a few hours from now the coupons will have to be used on another trip this year.

    12pm, went to Frys electronics to check out their deals, nothing spectacular, we were hoping to get the new Magellan Roadmate 800 GPS but they didn’t have any yet.

    1pm Went to MGM to play some more blackjack. Found a $10 table open. I played $25 a hand for a while, then dropped to $10 a hand to preserve my proceeds from a winning streak. We cashed out $500 ahead. I paid off my markers at the cage and went to retrieve the car from the valet. Then we stopped at Coldstone Creamery on Paradise & Flamingo where we split a Chocolate ice cream mixed with fresh raspberries. yum!

    3pm, Gassed up the car, retuned to Avis and almost had a heart attack when my bill printed for $130. Fortunately I still had my original rental reservation which said $64.00, the agent at the counter looked over everything and saw that my corporate rate overrode my confirmed emailed reservation. She said it does this every time. This is disappointing if true since it will require me to go into the office whenever I use a different promo code.

    3:50pm arrived at airport gate after reprinting boarding passes using self serve kiosks and waiting in a 10 minute security line. Piece of cake! We were about 10th in the A-Line and sat in the second row on the right side of the aircraft. Arrived 5 minutes early into Cleveland and drove home. For some reason subway at the 24hr truck stop on the way home always sounds good at 1:30am…. Now it’s back to reality, back to work. Until next time…..

    Here are our plans for our next trip in November: 1) Nellis Airforce Show, 2) Voodoo Lounge at the Rio, 3) Do a coupon run with our LVA match plays, 4) treat my wife to a heated stone massage at a spa (Maybe Venetian or MGM?) 5) if we have extra time, drive an hour north of Las Vegas to pick up more $1 chips from the 5 or 6 casinos right on the Nevada border.
  2. Coaster Kikky

    Coaster Kikky Tourist

    Jan 8, 2003
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    That is an *outstanding* first post!! Thank you for writing it up! Sounds like a wonderful time. Of course, I had to read quickly through the Laughlin escapade at first to see if your wife actuallly DID have to flash to call a cab out there! LOL

    Nice job!! :thumbsup:
  3. bluestreak

    bluestreak Tourist

    Dec 21, 2002
    Northern AZ, South of Mars
    How about that! You walked all the way from the Riverside to Harrahs. One trick is to come in at the bottom of River Palms on the river walk go out the front door and then use the parking garage elevators to the top level. There are 86 steps to get into Harrahs.

    Please keep us informed on what mail you get for Harrahs Laughlin and other joints. I don't know if their charters get that far east.

    Did you play the best BJ game in the world at Golden Nugget? That would be $10 single deck, H17, DAS, RSA(4) 3/2 BJ.
  4. mgm21

    mgm21 Tourist

    Oct 11, 2005
    bluestreak--thanks for the info regarding the shortcut. Also, I didn't know about the great rules at Golden Nugget.. That game does sound great, it shows a 0.0469% house edge on wizardofodds house edge calculator and my bj21.com newsletter shows that they have the best BJ odds in Laughlin. (I guess I hadn't planned to play blackjack there or else I would have studied the guide closer.. I figured all the casinos in Laughlin were ripoff blackjack rules after I had looked at the first few).

    Usually I play the S17 multi deck tables at MGM since they have so many tables $5-15 min bet on weekdays with a relatively low house edge of .26% with surrenders.

    As far as your comment about the best BJ game in the world, I don't think that's completely true.... Barona in San Diego has 3 tables with a 0.022% house edge. Single deck but it's a high limits table $100 minimum. Same rules as the Nugget but with surrenders. H17/DS/LS/.

    So far Harrah's.com recognizes me as Diamond and it offers me free entry into their Winterfest slots tournament plus 3 nights lodging at Rio or Harrahs LV for free. The rooms are mid week only though, and the free entrance fee is only worth $20, so I'd put the total value of the offer in the $150 range. A friend of mine is a Diamond and he's gotten some great room rates for weekend/prime convention time periods, so we'll see if I get so lucky. I'll keep the thread updated.
  5. Thekiller

    Thekiller Tourist

    Jan 6, 2004
    Great first TR mgm21. I enjoyed your quest for the diamond card. Good luck in November and thanks for the write up.
  6. mgm21

    mgm21 Tourist

    Oct 11, 2005
    First offer came in: Laughlin $10k macys gift card giveaway invite, includes 3 free nights at Harrahs laughlin Nov 4 5 6 (weekend). Unfortunately I can't make this one. Even if I did I don't think I would spend 3 nights in Laughlin, and my wife wouldn't let me drive to & from vegas every day.

    Hopefully some goodies come for Harrahs Las Vegas. right around CES time in January would be wishful thinking!
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