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First-time trip to Vegas! (2/28-3/7)

Discussion in 'Vegas Trip Reports' started by Ries27, Mar 9, 2003.

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  1. Ries27

    Ries27 Tourist

    Aug 24, 2002

    My Trip Report

    This is a long one, but I just had so much to say. Hope you all in enjoy... feel free to comment and/or ask questions.

    Well, my first trip to Las Vegas is complete, and while I didn’t quite match the level of debauchery of Mikey’s last trip, I had a wonderful time nonetheless.

    I had fully intended to give a day-by-day account of my trip, but I quickly realized that calendars and clocks are useless in Vegas because every day just runs into the next. As a result, I’ll just break everything down into categories and give as much detail as I can remember. The gambling accounts will pretty much follow a day-to-day order, though, so there will be some chronology in that section. Hopefully it’ll be interesting…

    Pre-trip plans:

    I was heading to Vegas with my Aunt, a Vegas veteran, and my cousin, another Vegas virgin. My birthday is on February 27th, and this year, Spring Break from school happened to fall on March 1st, so I could think of no better way to celebrate my 21st birthday than in Las Vegas.

    We booked a flight on Northwest Airlines through Orbitz for only $176.50 (after taxes ands fees) round trip from Columbus, Ohio (I live in Cincinnati and my Aunt and cousin are from the Columbus area). We would have to make one stop (in Detroit), but this was a small inconvenience considering the money we saved.

    We were going to stay with another Aunt of mine who lives in Vegas. I would have liked to stay on The Strip for my first trip, but not having a huge hotel bill for the week would certainly free up the wallet for other things, so I wasn’t complaining. (We actually ended up staying on The Strip after all… more on that in a minute).


    I left Cincinnati for Columbus about 7:30 a.m. for the 90 minute-plus drive to Columbus. We got to the airport about two hours before our scheduled 1:30 p.m. flight to Detroit and security lines were fairly long. Columbus airport seemed fairly efficient, though, and we made it to the gate with a few minutes to spare. Our flight to Detroit was uneventful. We went out on a puddle jumper, but the seats were fairly comfortable, and the flight was under and hour, so there were no worries.

    Detroit airport is fairly big, and we ended up having to walk to the other end of the terminal to catch our connection to Vegas. The airport does have an express tram, but we didn’t realize how long of a walk we had until we got to the gate. We made a mental note to take the tram on the way back if our gate wasn’t in sight when we got off the plane.

    The flight to Vegas was also uneventful, and the anticipation of the trip made it go by rather quickly. The three of us played cards (with a deck from Caesars that my parents brought back when they were in Vegas last summer) to get warmed up a little bit. Money didn’t change hands yet, but we had a good time. I ended up losing the game of 500 we played by a few points, but I thought it was better to get my losing out of the way early before any money was on the table.


    While we were waiting at the airport, my Aunt let us in on a little secret. Due to a last minute change of plans, all three of us would not be able to stay with my Aunt in Vegas. She works at Luxor, though, and was able to pull some strings to get us a room there for the whole week, absolutely free. There had been a cancellation at Luxor, so we were able to get that room. I thought that was pretty amazing, considering that we were going out on NASCAR race weekend, when most hotels were either sold out or going for around $300 more than normal.

    We stayed in the West Tower of Luxor on the first floor. We didn’t have a view of anything special, but the room was located right around the corner from the casino, so its convenience more than made up for the lack of a view. We knew we wouldn’t be spending much time in the room anyway, so it didn’t really matter what was outside our window.

    The room was standard, with two beds, a closet on each side of the front wall, and two chairs and a small table by the window. The bathroom had a shower and a separate tub. There was also one sink, and the toilet (of course), with a phone on the wall next to it. Luxor gives free hand and face soap, shampoo & conditioner, and a shower cap. The hotel also provides a hair dryer, which fits in a holder on the wall.

    Overall, I was very happy with the room. My Aunt kept saying that she would move us to a better location after the weekend when other rooms became available, but honestly, I think we were in the best location. We insisted on staying in that room the rest of the trip, because it was right around the corner from the casino, and even closer to the west valet area for when we needed to catch a cab or get dropped off at the end of the night. We could actually be back in our room two minutes after being dropped off at the west valet area.



    The Cannery - We began our gambling adventures at The Cannery. We had gone to dinner with my Aunt and Uncle at a place called the 5 & Diner near their house, and then to a local bar called Champs that my Aunt likes to do Karaoke at. Champs was right up the street from The Cannery, so it was convenient to start our gambling there. Since the casino just opened, my Aunt hadn’t been there yet either, so it was a good time for her to check it out too.

    I had intended on playing Blackjack and Craps for the most part, but The Cannery wanted at least $5 for each, so against my better judgment we ended up playing Roulette. They had a table with $1 chips and a $4 minimum on the inside and outside. I know all about the 5+% house edge on Roulette, but on this night the gambling Gods were looking out for us. I was making four 4-number bets for the most part on each spin, and for a while I was hitting on every spin. I turned my $20 buy-in into a pocket full of chips, and I was quite happy, although a little surprised by our luck at Roulette. I was on quite a streak when it was time for a dealer change. A woman, who loved to sing along to the songs being played next door at the bar, took over. When she saw me putting chips into my pocket (which I had done all along) she told me all the chips had to be kept on the table. I explained that I wasn’t going to keep the chips (I knew that Roulette chips had to be exchanged at the table), but she either didn’t understand me or wouldn’t have it. So, against my better judgment, as I could no longer respect the streak, I put the chips on the table. Soon after, the wheel turned against us, so we figured it was time to cash out while we were still ahead. I turned a $20 buy-in into $55 and my cousin was up $16 for the night on his $20 buy-in.


    Mandalay Bay & Excalibur- I was feeling pretty good about being up $35 dollars after my first night in Vegas. The next day we decided to check out Mandalay Bay and Excalibur since they were easy enough to get to from Luxor. We took a peek in the Mandalay Bay sports book and I placed a $5 bet on my Xavier Musketeers, who were playing George Washington later that day. I knew better than to do this given the 18-point spread, but I just couldn’t bring myself to bet against them.

    Mandalay Bay would have been a nice place to gamble, but even before noon they wanted at least $10 for all of their table games. After a few minutes exploring Mandalay, we took the tram across to Excalibur. I didn’t care much for this casino, as it was crowded and confusing. The medieval theme also seemed kind of tacky. Given my first impression, I should have had sense enough not to gamble here, but I gave into temptation. They wanted at least $5 for Blackjack and Craps, so we decided to hold off on those games, as we knew they could be played cheaper elsewhere. We found another $4 minimum (with $1 chips) Roulette table, and since we had such good luck with the wheel the night before at The Cannery, we decided to give it a go at Excalibur. This was a mistake, as my $20 buy-in was gone in a matter of minutes. My cousin held on, and he started to hit a few numbers. At this point, I jumped back in for another $20, and immediately the table went cold again…another $20 gone in minutes.

    After this, I decided that I wouldn’t be giving any more money to Excalibur, so we decided to leave. Once we found our way out of the maze, we went back to Luxor so we could meet up with my Aunts and my Uncle for evening activities (including Blue Man Group - more on that in the shows section). We caught the end of the Xavier game in the Luxor sports book, and of course Xavier didn’t cover. Had I gambled with my head instead of my heart, I would have been collecting money off of George Washington, as Xavier needed a last second watch-the-replay-to-make-sure-it-went-in shot to beat The Colonials.

    Boulder Station (trip 1) - My Aunt and Uncle frequent Boulder Station, so we went there for dinner and gambling. They had $2 Craps with 10x odds, so we figured it was time to roll the dice. We had a great time playing for a couple hours, as the other players and especially the dealers were very friendly. The table was up and down, but after a while of some fun rolling, I cashed out up $6 from a $20 buy-in. One guy next to us was asking the dealer, Dominick, what odds to put down on every bet. He was asking the same questions on every roll, but Dominick was always friendly and helpful. I respected that a lot, and gave the dealers a few more tips after this. I probably would have told the guy to buzz off after about the fifth time.

    After the run at Craps, we decided to give Roulette another chance because Boulder Station had $2 minimum tables with 50-cent chips. This table was choppy, so after about an hour or so I cashed out even from a $20 buy-in. My cousin actually almost got into it with the Roulette dealer during this session. He had been making four-number bets like I had, but finally decided to make a 2-to-1 row bet in the middle. It paid off, but the dealer racked his bet. When my cousin called him on it, he got upset and wondered why my cousin was arguing over $2. ($2 is $2, that’s why. The casinos set up the games to rob us, so why not argue over a win, no matter how small.) He was just about to go on break, though, so the dealer told the pit boss what happened, and they eventually gave my cousin his winning bet. Needless to say, we left that table soon after.

    We went back to the Craps table again, and after being up and down for an hour or so, I cashed out my original $20 buy-in. We had a blast rolling again, though, so all was good. I left Boulder Station that night still up $6 for the night.


    Fiesta Henderson - We had a full plate on Sunday, so our gambling had to wait until the evening (more on the entertainment for the day in that section). I had read about the $1 Craps with 10x odds at The Fiesta, so I wanted to give it a try. We found a table and both my cousin and I lost our $20 buy-ins fairly quickly. Immediately I felt bad vibes in this casino…this should have told me not to gamble here anymore, but I pressed on.

    We had been carded a few times so far (my cousin in 27 and he still got carded at every table). This didn’t bother me at all because I know the casinos are just doing their jobs and protecting themselves from the Nevada Gaming Commission, but The Fiesta was card happy. We actually got carded twice at the same Craps table during one continuous session! I guess we magically got younger as we were standing there. One of the dealers thought this was funny because we had been playing at the table longer than he had been working it.

    We moved on to a Roulette table at The Fiesta, again with a $2 minimum and 50-cent chips. The lady who carded me at this table said the picture on my ID looked scary. This is something I know, but I didn’t appreciate the fact that she pointed it out… more bad vibes from The Fiesta. After playing for a short time and not having much fun, we both cashed out about even for our $20 buy-ins.

    We should have known better, but we went back to The Craps table for another go. After being carded again, I bought in for $10. That was gone quickly, so we both decided we had had enough of The Fiesta. I went to find my Aunts and while waiting for one of them to get paid from a video poker win, I was carded again, just for standing there! I thought this was funny, but at this point I was annoyed with The Fiesta the guy that carded me for the final time said that if we were staying for a while I could get a wrist band and not have to worry about getting carded anymore. I politely told him that we were leaving and probably wouldn’t be back.

    Luxor - We had been beat up pretty good on Sunday - I was now down $34 for the trip - but my cousin wanted to try a few slots at Luxor when we got back. I declined and he went out to give the slots a go without me. I dozed off for a minute, but my cousin came back a little while later and said he had a hit for $50 on one of the slot machines there that had a car as the top prize. He talked me into going back out with him, but this turned out to be a mistake because I lost another $15 in Luxor’s slots (which put me down $49 for the trip.


    Bellagio - On Monday we decided to do our first serious exploration of The Strip. My Aunts went to a jewelry show at The Mirage while we walked around. We made it to Bellagio after checking out most of the hotels on the way, and then decided it was time to relax. We went over to the sports book in Bellagio and plopped down in their big leather chairs after ordering two beers (for $4.50 each) in the bar. We settled in and enjoyed a few games and races on the huge screens. I made a $4 Exacta bet on one of the races, but it didn’t come through. What did come through, though, was excellent drink service. Had we known it was so great to begin with, we wouldn’t have wasted our money at the bar. I ended up ordering two Bloody Marys in short succession (and so did my cousin when he sat down again after putting some money on his Buckeyes for next year’s Sugar Bowl). Since I hadn’t eaten anything yet that day, I was already feeling a bit of a buzz, so I declined a third Bloody Mary and simply relaxed and enjoyed the posh surroundings at The Bellagio. We both decided that if we hit it big on this trip, we would move in to The Bellagio for a year or so!

    MGM Grand - While at MGM Grand, we decided to get tickets for David Copperfield that night (more on that later). After our R&R in the Bellagio sports book, it was time to head back over to MGM for the show. While we were waiting, I played some Elvis slots and stopped before I lost any money, as I could not get anything going. I hit “Play Elvis” a few times early on and was up a few bucks, but I couldn’t get anything to hit after that. I cashed out with my original $20 on that machine.

    I moved on to a 2-coin, nickel Red, White, & Blue Machine, and I actually cashed out up $4.95 after hitting three blue 7s for 300 or so nickels.

    I would have liked to play tables here too, but they wanted at least $10 by the time the Copperfield show was ready to start.

    Boulder Station (trip 2)- After Copperfield, we hooked back up with the family, and decided to go back to Boulder Station since we had so much fun there before. My cousin and I went back to the Craps table and both bought in for $20. We were up and down during this first session, so I cashed out up $6 and decided to walk around a bit before we tried again.

    I played video poker for a few minutes, and actually ended up with $3.50 more than I started with. I didn’t think this was too bad, since I hadn’t had much luck (or much fun) with the machines.

    My cousin played for a little while longer on a VP machine while I decided to go back to the Craps table. It looked pretty hot, so I jumped back in. During the first session we had met a nice older lady named Linda who was putting some serious money out on the table. She was still there when I came back, and she told me I had to stand next to her. This turned out to be a good thing, because the table started to get really hot and Linda started to make a lot of money. My cousin had come back, and Linda made him stand next to her on the other side. He had a good roll and made Linda a lot of money. Then she started making bets for us, and she was increasing our odds behind the pass line with her money. After she hit a big hardway bet, she tossed $50 each to me and my cousin, and she was giving a lot of money to the dealers as well. She also made a 4-way hardway bet for herself, my cousin & I, and the dealers, which she parlayed - that would have made all of us a ton of money had my cousin been able to roll it…unfortunately he didn’t. We still had an awesome time this session, and after a few hours I walked way with $70. We both gave Linda a hug and thanked her for her generosity. It’s much easier to make money in a casino when other people are giving you money.


    Caesars Palace - On Tuesday, we picked up where we left off exploring The Strip, and started out at Caesars. After quoting a few lines from “Rain Man”, we decided to check out the sports book at Caesars so we could bet on the ponies. I picked up a racing form and decided that Sunland looked like a good track to bet on. Trufway Park, near where I live hadn’t been running very much lately because of the weather. My cousin was winning just about every Win/Place/Show bet he put down, while I stuck with Exactas and Trifectas. Twice I had two horses on the Trifecta wagers, but the third horse wouldn’t come through for me. I was down about $20 and about ready to leave - the book at Caesars is nice, but we were there for at least 3 hours and didn’t get one drink (if we had been betting for that long at Bellagio, we probably would have been passed out!). There was a race coming up, though, that only had six horses after a few scratches. Seeing this, we got the bright idea to split a Superfecta box bet. Since $1 Trifecta box bets are only $6, we weren’t expecting to pay that much… wrong. I asked my cousin to find out how much a Superfecta box would cost before he made the bet, but he went ahead and placed it without asking (I didn’t go to the window with him). A $2 Superfecta box bet will cost you $48 bucks. We did split the money, but that was about $20 more than I wanted to spend on a single bet, especially after being down $20 on my previous bets. To add insult to injury, we didn’t win the bet - we got the Trifecta (of course, because this was the first time I hadn’t bet a Tri all day), but the jockey on the #3 (which had been in the money all day before this race) came out of his stirrup right out of the gate). To rub salt in the wounds, we found out that had our $48 bet paid off, we would have only won $55. We left Caesars soon after, with our heads hung low. I was now down $41.50 for the trip.

    We did get some amusement later on from our trip to Caesars, though. An old man had been talking to us every time he went to the window and we told him about our losses that day. My cousin joking asked him if he had any tips. He said under his breath, real serious, to take the Hawks for $25. We thought better of it. The Hawks won but didn’t cover. I’m glad I decided early on not to take the advice of anyone in the sports book.

    Boardwalk (trip 1) - We went to see O at Bellagio Tuesday night (more on that later), and on our walk back we decided to check out the Boardwalk. Even though this place looks really cheesy from the outside, we were attracted by their advetisement for low table minimums. We went in and found a lone $3 craps table. I was skeptical at first, as this was a small table - not a sit-down table, but still pretty goofy looking compared to the big tables and with mini dice to boot - but we decided to buy in for $20 each anyway. It looked pretty bleak at the beginning (my cousin even had to buy an extra chip to put down the correct odds on a 6 when we were both down to our last few chips after only a few minutes). After that, though, we got hot and we were both hitting points. I think I was up to about $100 before the table got cold again. I decided to walk with $84, happy to be up over $60 given our bad luck at the beginning.


    Binion’s Horseshoe - We had to be up early Wednesday to go to Grand Canyon (more on that later), so our gambling didn’t begin until late.

    We ended up getting back to Vegas with a few hours to spare before bedtime, so we decided to go to downtown. The first place I had to go was The Horseshoe. This was the casino that I was looking forward to visiting the most because of its history as a serious gambling establishment. We soaked in the atmosphere for a few minutes and then went out to catch the light show. After that we hit a few of the casinos downtown. I had the shrimp cocktail for a buck at Golden Gate, and my cousin and my Uncle got big drinks from La Bayou. For some reason I passed on those $7 drinks, but wished I wouldn’t have, because they both had a huge buzz after only one drink.

    After the light show, we headed back to Binion’s for some $3 Craps. One of the dealers there, Howard, was very friendly and we had a good time rolling at Binion’s. The table got a little choppy, so I cashed out up $7 from a $20 buy-in, excited that I had won money at Binion’s. We walked around a bit, and then went back to another $3 Craps table, next to the one we had tried before. We got another friendly dealer, Giorando (sp?) - I think he said his first name was Denny and Giorando was his last name - and we got to play for a long time. I hit a few points before the table got a bit cold, but I cashed out this session with $40…up $27 for the night at The Horseshoe.

    I had a great time Downtown and I wished we would have stayed longer. Binion’s was also a lot of fun. The dealers were asking for tips, which I didn’t care for, but I did give them a few tips anyway because they were so friendly.

    Boardwalk (trip 2) - The family was ready to call it a night after our trip to The Canyon and Downtown all in one day. My cousin and I were pretty tired too, but the dice were still calling us, so we decided to go to The Boardwalk again since we had such good luck there before. We noticed that they had installed new felt at our lucky table and almost decided not to play, but threw $20 down anyway. After being up and down for a while, I cashed out $6 ahead. We took a break for a little while before giving it another go. This session was not so good and I cashed out down $17 after a short time. I was still up for the night, and up $31.50 for the trip.


    Stratosphere - This was our last full day in Vegas, so my cousin and I decided to fill in with things we hadn’t had a chance to do yet. After riding Manhattan Express at New York, New York (more on that later) we took the CAT down to Stratosphere so we could see the best view in town and also ride The Big Shot (more on that later as well).

    After seeing the sights and riding the ride, we went downstairs and found a $2 Craps table. They only offered 2x odds on $2 bets, so we actually ended up betting $3 so we could get the better odds. We played for a little while, but the table was rather cold. I cashed out down $2 before the losing got too bad.

    Boulder Station (trip 3) - Since we had had the most fun gambling at Boulder Station we decided to go there for our last bit of gambling for the trip. Our first session was pretty good. I made a few points and turned a $20 buy-in into $36. We quit after a little while when the table got cold.

    Since I was up $45.50 at this point after a week in Vegas, I was feeling pretty good. I decided I had to give Megabucks a try. At this point, I was up over 36 million, so I thought $20 might be a good investment. My cousin had put his $20 in Megabucks earlier in the week at MGM and didn’t have any luck. I should have learned something from that session. I lost $20 in thirty seconds. Really, thirty seconds. I didn’t hit one spin. The machine didn’t even tease me.

    After that went back to the Craps table while my cousin and my Uncle had a second round of beers. I quickly lost $16 of my $20 buy-in, as the 7s were coming fast and furious (unfortunately not on the come out).

    My cousin and I decided to try one more time, but it seemed our luck had ran out. I was down another $20 quickly, so I went from being up $45.50 at the beginning of the night to down $10.50. Still, I considered myself extremely lucky to be down only that much after a whole week in Vegas. It could have been a lot worse.

    I actually bought in for another $10 after that because I think the beer and the Bloody Marys were starting to take over. There was a guy next to us mostly playing the Field. I know this is a bad bet, but he was winning, so I decided to give it a shot. Before this I had turned the $10 into about $25, so I had a few red chips in my hand. I won my first field bet, and waited a few rolls. I was going to put down another field bet, but didn’t… big mistake, as someone rolled a 12, which pays triple at Boulder Station on the field. After this, I asked the guy if he was feeling the field again and he said no, because an 8 was just rolled and he never makes a field bet after an 8. Of course I didn’t listen and put the rest of what I had in my hand on the field… it was quickly snatched away after a “5 no field 5.” That was the end of my gambling in Vegas.

    All in all the gambling in Vegas was great. With the exception of the 5 minute ass-kicking at the Excalibur Roulette wheel, and the bad vibes at The Fiesta, all of our gambling sessions yielded a great time and fairly long play each session. Megabucks wasn’t fun, but it’s like my cousin said: had I won the big one, I wouldn’t have been bitching about only getting to spin for thirty seconds.

    The big bet at Caesars that didn’t pay off was also not very fun. If that was going to happen, I wish that we had been betting at Bellagio instead of Caesars, because there we would have been laughing instead of crying had we been drinking those great Bloody Marys.

    I fully expected to lose a ton of money out there, but thankfully I ended up down only $20. Even after my stupidity toward the end at Boulder Station, while it would have been nice to walk away in the black, I can just chalk that $20 up to a week’s worth of entertainment. Gambling is actually just like going to an arcade for a night of video games. If you drop $20 that’s fine, as long as you have a good time. We certainly had a great time gambling, even though we both ended up a little bit on the minus side (I think my cousin was down about $40 or $50 for the whole trip). And at least with gambling as opposed to the arcade, there is a chance to walk home with more money than you came with.


    Blue Man Group (Luxor) - This was the show I was most looking forward to in Vegas. I’m a fan of Blue Man’s music, so I couldn’t wait to see them live. My Aunt was able to get free tickets for me, my cousin, and my other aunt, which made the experience even better.

    It is true that the show is difficult to describe, and I’m sure it’s not for everyone. I don’t want to go into any detail about the specific action, as it would ruin the show for anyone who hasn’t seen it, but I can say it was very entertaining. The show has a great mix of music and comedy, and it has a wonderful positive energy that should make anyone smile, if nothing else.

    David Copperfield (MGM Grand) - Copperfield was very entertaining. I joked with my cousin that he actually makes you feel stupid, because you know the stuff isn’t real, but he still amazes you with every trick. After every illusion, we would ask ourselves “How’d he do that?”

    The show was also neat because my cousin got to participate in the final illusion. Copperfield made 13 audience members disappear. They made every one swear to secrecy about how the trick was done after the show. My cousin did end up telling me the secret (which I won’t reveal here in case David reads this board!), but he said he still wasn’t exactly sure how it was pulled off because he felt like the audience should have been able to see how they did it.

    We almost decided not to go to Copperfield and do Penn & Teller instead since they’re a more “Only in Vegas” type of act (P&T were on vacation until Friday, though), but ultimately I’m glad we went to Copperfield because it was really fun.

    O (Bellagio) - This is an amazing show. I’m not a big fan of the circus, but the stunts that Cirque Du Soleil pull off are pretty outstanding. The music was excellent - I was surprised to see that a lot of the music was performed live (in two booths on the side of the stage) - and the acts were incredible. The stunts are difficult to begin with, but to add to the difficulty, most of the equipment is wet to start with, so it’s really something that the performers pull off the stunts flawlessly. I enjoyed the two sections of the show that incorporate fire the most, and the clowns were fairly funny. The stage is also an attraction in itself - if you blink you might miss the change from land to water and back again.

    Midnight Fantasy" target="_blank">Fantasy (Luxor) - My cousin and I had been in Vegas for a week and we had yet to see a naked woman - unless you count the thousands of flyers for “escorts” littering the sidewalks on The Strip - so we figured it was time. My Aunt was able to pull some more strings and got us free tickets to this show as well. We felt pretty special, as our seats were covered with a sheet that said “Invited Guest” - we were rubbing elbows with the Whales I guess.

    This show was entertaining… (it’s a T&A show, how could it not be)? In all seriousness, though, the girls were beautiful and great dancers, and the female comedian (whose name slips my mind) was funny.

    This show was strange, though. There were a bunch of old women in the audience! I didn’t get an accurate count, but there were probably just as many older women there as horny twenty year-old men. My cousin and I were joking before the show that they must not have known what the show was all about, but it does say right on the ticket that it’s a topless show.

    It is a fairly tasteful show, though, with just enough suggestion for those horny twenty-year olds. The sex jokes from the comedian might have made some people uncomfortable, but I imagine the people offended by sex jokes probably wouldn’t be at this show to begin with. I didn’t see any of the old women walk out, so I guess anyone else should be able to handle it as well!

    Miscellaneous Entertainment/Attractions:

    NASCAR Race:

    I’m not a NASCAR fan. I don’t even enjoy watching it on television, as it seems like the same thing over and over again for four hours. My Uncle is a fan, though, and he was able to get free tickets for the race on Sunday.

    I actually enjoyed the experience much more than I thought. I don’t think it is something I would pay for, but it was definitely entertaining and I’m glad we went.

    I would definitely recommend it for people who are fans of the sport, because the setup of the track and the race is really fan friendly. The driving teams set up merchandising trucks outside so that there is a huge mall for fans to browse before the race. You don’t even need a ticket to the race to gain access to that section. Also in that area, they set up games and other pre-race activities for the fans. Once inside the race, there are food booths like one might see at a festival or a county fair. All of this is nice, because with 140,000 people attending the race, it is necessary to get there very early to get a good parking spot.

    Even though I wasn’t looking forward to it, I did have a good time at the race.

    IMAX Theater (Luxor):

    We saw Luxor’s IMAX Space movie in 3D, pretty much because it was there. It wasn’t boring, but I don’t think I got my full $9 worth. We have an Omnimax and an IMAX theater in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, though, so maybe that had something to do with my enjoyment of it.

    Manhattan Express (New York, New York):

    Both my cousin and I are roller coaster fanatics, and we both agreed that it was a waste of money. It wasn’t very fast and just not very exciting. I’m sure people who don’t have access to places like King’s Island and Cedar Point could enjoy it, but coaster buffs would do better to save their money. We were glad that we had a coupon to take the cost down from $12 to $10, but even then we felt ripped off.

    Madame Tussard’s Wax Museum (The Venetian):

    This was a fun attraction. I’d been to a wax museum once before, but that couldn’t compare to the life-like sculptures at Madame Tussard’s. It’s especially cool to look across the room at one of the celebrities, because it looks like any minute they are going to come to life. I was a bit disappointed in the length of the museum. I didn’t look at my watch, but I bet it took us less than 15 minutes to get through the whole thing (for a $15.95 admission). We got to the last room and I immediately said, “That’s it?”

    My cousin did get a good picture of me flipping Joe Montana the bird, though… a small payback for Super Bowl XXIII, in which he defeated my beloved Bengals in the last few seconds of the game.

    The Big Shot (Stratosphere):

    Now this is a thrill ride. I’ve been on other towers like this that shoot straight up (even some bigger than The Big Shot), but there is something about being up that high to begin with that makes it more thrilling. We paid $13 a piece for the combo deal that gives you access to the tower and The Big shot, and I think we both agreed that it was money well spent.

    The Grand Canyon:

    The drive is long (about 6 hours each way from Vegas), but it is highly worth the trip. Seeing Grand Canyon for the first time is simply amazing. There had been a lot of snow recently at The Canyon, so we had the added bonus of seeing it covered with snow (I never thought I’d see snow in Arizona). We only got to see a few of the lookout points because the other areas were closed because of the snow. We ended up driving about 12 hours for only 1 hour of sightseeing time, but in the end I’m glad we did. Grand Canyon is something everyone should see once.


    Pyramid Cafe (Luxor) - This place was expensive ($9 for a short stack of pancakes and an OJ) and not very spectacular.

    Pharoh's Pheast Buffet (Luxor) - We ate lunch here. They had a wide variety of choices (a Chinese station, Pizza, Salad Bar, various chicken entrees, a couple Mexican items, and a huge dessert selection). We ate there free, but it would have been well worth the $10 for lunch.

    Cafe Logo Buffet (Caesars) - We also hit this buffet for lunch. It was a bit more expensive than Luxor's lunch buffet ($15 w/drink included), but I enjoyed it more. They had Prime Rib, Beef, Chicken, and Pork for main entrees, 3 different kids of salad (I got the Spinich salad), a host of other cold salads like potato salad, a pasta station, pizza, an Oriental station w/ Dim Sum, a meat station (with capacolla, and salami), a plate of lox (yummy), and other assorted dishes that I can't remember. In addition, they also had a huge dessert selection with a variety of cakes, pies, and cookies.

    Things I learned in Vegas & Other observations:

    Be careful of the showers at Luxor. Our shower had two settings: very powerful and extremely powerful. The shower also sounded like a jet about to take off, so I’m sure people in the room next to us could hear it. The shower was always hot, though, and I guess having good water flow is better than the dribble in most hotel showers.

    Always make your own race bets. If you don’t, you might end up making a $48 Superfecta bet that only pays off $55.

    I didn’t know it was possible to buy a $15 drink until I went to Vegas.

    The Bellagio is all right. If I come into some money before my next trip, I’m definitely staying there. Even though it’s fancy, I never felt out of place. That place really seems to take care of all of its visitors. The Bellagio sports book is #1 as far as I’m concerned.

    Boulder Station is a nice, laid back atmosphere in which to gamble. If you can make it that far off The Strip on your next trip, I would definitely recommend it, especially if you’re a gambling beginner.

    We didn’t play one hand of Blackjack. Every table we walked passed (especially on The Strip), didn’t look like anyone was having fun…dealers or players. Half of gambling for me is having fun, so I wasn’t about to lose money and not have fun at the same time.

    I wish we would have spent more time Downtown. Binion’s was awesome, and the whole vibe on Fremont Street was just cool. There’s also a lot less walking Downtown, as all the casinos can be hit in a matter of minutes. I’ll make more time for Downtown on my next trip.

    The Fiesta Henderson is bad. Bad. Bad. Don't waste your time there.

    I kept a detailed log of my gambling. I would advise everyone to do this, as it will prevent you from going home at the end of the trip wondering where it all went.

    I don’t know why the casinos (especially Excalibur) put up directional signs. After following an arrow for a while, it suddenly disappears and it is necessary to walk through the entire casino again to get back on track.

    There is almost too much to do in Vegas. We crammed a ton of stuff into a week, and I still feel like we only saw a fraction of what Vegas has to offer.

    Vegas is a great place to visit and I can’t wait to go back!

    If you got through this whole post, congratulations. I’ll give you the secret to Copperfield’s trick… just kidding. ;)

    [ March 09, 2003, 03:27 PM: Message edited by: Ries27 ]
  2. bigdogmom

    bigdogmom VIP Whale

    Mar 9, 2002
    Prescott Valley, AZ
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Wow! What a trip! What a trip report!

    I love reading long, detailed trip report, and yours was great. Sounds like you had one heck of a fun trip!

    Thanks for writing, Ries!

  3. HurricaneMikey

    HurricaneMikey A-List Buffoon

    Jan 25, 2002
    Southeast of Sin City
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Hey Ries...

    That was a great trip report!! Isn't it great to get deflowered???

    Hey, I know Howard the dice dealer at Binions, too! Nice guy. I'm glad you went there and enjoyed it. It's my favorite place to gamble in all of Vegas.

    By the way, it's not called "debauchery" when I'm in Vegas. It's called "normal" :D This is why I go back so much!

    Man, what a great week you had. Thanks for the good read.


    [ March 09, 2003, 01:09 PM: Message edited by: HurricaneMikey ]
  4. Absolutdrinker

    Absolutdrinker Low-Roller

    Jan 21, 2003
    haha nice t.r

    how did you expect to lose a lot more when you kept throwing down 20 dollar buy in's? As long as you dont keep throwing 20's out there, you wont lose much. You should've gone to the Sahara, as they had dollar craps and dollar blackjack, that way you couldve played what you wanted at the price you wanted, albeit Its pretty boring there, since a dollar a hand doesnt produce any fluctuations that make me jump outta my seat. not spending 7 bucks on a La Bayou drink= bad idea, since they mess u up.

    Anyway, glad u had a good time, and funny how the table minimums all skyrocket on the weekends.
  5. Michguy

    Michguy Tourist

    Dec 27, 2002
    Great Trip Report!!!!
    There is nothing like your first ever trip to LV. You can't even explain the place to friends that haven't been there, and do it justice.
    Glad you had a great time, and for low-limit gamblers there is no where better than downtown.
    Congrats on a great trip, I wish I had an Aunt with "connections". LOL
  6. bluestreak

    bluestreak Tourist

    Dec 21, 2002
    Northern AZ, South of Mars
    Thanks for posting, I did not make it to Vegas until I was 34.

    On Roulette-your colored chips were representing $1 for your play. But they might be representing $5 or higher increments for later play. That is why they don't want them off the table.

    The Fiesta should have told you about the hospital style wrist-bands from the get-go. This is a standard practice. Don't give up on the Fiesta, they offer low table minimums and great VP.
  7. Ries27

    Ries27 Tourist

    Aug 24, 2002
    Yeah, I explained to the Roulette dealer that I knew about values of the chips and such (and that I was going to exchange them before I left the table), but there was either a language barrier or she didn't care.

    I just didn't want to have a big pile of chips in front of me. It would have been too tempting to start making stupid bets that way.
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