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Gone with the Wynnd

Discussion in 'Vegas Trip Reports' started by JimboRob, Apr 9, 2007.

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  1. JimboRob

    JimboRob Tourist

    Mar 16, 2007
    Trips to Las Vegas:

    My Trip Report

    If you like your trip reports short and succinct you have most assuredly come to the wrong place. Escape while you can. I’m making no apologies - this one’s a monster, and this time the epilogue comes first.

    This seemingly eternal report was all but put to bed, ready to be posted. Just one more addition was needed. A decent opening.

    So there I am sitting at my computer, deeply contemplating a witty and entertaining preamble to the report. Alas, nothing, and I mean nothing, is coming to mind. My arms are folded across my chest, my head is tilted downward, and my eyes are closed…thinking…thinking. Nada. Deep in the creative recesses of my brain, the crickets are chirping. I’m not coming up with a thing, and I desperately want this trip report to just end, already. But the words just aren’t there.

    I then hear a commotion coming from the backyard. I rise from my chair and walk to the window to ascertain the cause. My young dog, Pepperpot, is going bananas (please note: I am not going to take responsibility for giving my dog the embarrassing moniker, “Pepperpotâ€. My daughter will take credit for that. You must understand that a much more fitting name for this dog would have been “PissPotâ€, or “StinkPotâ€, or perhaps, “IlovetoeatmyownpoopPotâ€. He is the biggest pain in the ass that has ever walked this planet, testing my patience at every turn with his mischievous and, at times, disgusting antics. But, truth be told, when the mood strikes him – which is often - he is also the most affectionate and loving creature I have ever known. I love him to death).

    Pepperpot is part terrier, so he is a digger by nature. His incessant digging has transformed my backyard into an ugly, cratered landscape, the likes of which could only be effectively mowed if you happened to be the lucky owner of a contraption that was built to be a hybrid between a John Deere and a NASA lunar rover. I’m not quite sure what Pepperpot is specifically looking for when he digs up the yard, but this I DO know – he apparently hasn’t found it yet.

    So there’s Pepperpot, digging furiously in – d’oh! – my wife’s garden! He occasionally will stop momentarily just to bark – at nothing – as if beseeching the world to, “Look at me! I’m digging a hole!â€, and then he’ll commence once again with his excavating shenanigans.

    I move quickly out to the screened-in patio, and I yell toward him, “Pepper, NO!! Pepper, NOOOO!!!!†(You will note that I refrained from using his full name, “Pepperpotâ€. This was a calculated decision. I am a considerate man. You see, I do not want to cause my neighbors to wet themselves laughing at me).

    There was no way I was going to go out to the backyard and physically stop Pepperpot from his digging and barking. No, sir. Pepperpot has got to learn that my word is LAW. I need to establish with him that special relationship between dog and master whereby no physical intervention is ever necessary. You know - kind of like a human/canine Vulcan Mind-Meld.

    Regrettably, there was no “Meld†in this case. Pepperpot briefly stopped to look up at me, his muzzle caked with dirt, and the twinkle in his eye indicated to me that he felt confident that he possessed the upper hand in this battle of wits and will. He then promptly stuck his head and front paws into the ever-growing hole in the ground and started digging anew, as if he hadn’t the time to be interrupted from his mission of reaching the Earth’s molten core before supper (served as a scrumptious bowlful of canned dog food which, based on the looks and smell of it, consists of equal parts swamp mud, ground pig’s snout, carcass-flavored Jell-O, and Jimmy Hoffa).

    Maybe a little bribe is the ticket.

    “Pepper wanna cookie?†I called out. (A “cookie†in this case is defined as super-compressed sawdust shaped into a bone, with a half molecule’s worth of dairy by-product added for flavor and nutritional value. These are known to you and me, of course, as Milk-Bones)

    Like a bullet, Pepperpot flew toward the house, completely forgetting about his hole to nowhere which had meant the world to him just two seconds ago. The two of us went into the kitchen. As promised, I reached into Pepperpot’s “cookie†jar, and handed him his prize. Bribed by a stinkin’ dog biscuit. Sucker.

    Pepperpot took his biscuit, but he did not eat it. Instead, with biscuit in mouth, he bolted for the screened-in patio and scooted through his doggy door which led to the backyard. I reached the patio just in time to see him dropping his dog biscuit into his beloved hole. He then looked up at me. The expression on his face was very easy to read. It read, loud and clear, “Sucker-erâ€.

    And there you have it. That is the preamble to my trip report. It’s not witty. It’s not entertaining. Hell, it has absolutely nothing to do with Las Vegas; a description of my dog digging a hole in the yard, and me subsequently being outwitted (yet again) by the wily bastard.

    This is the best I could come up with. Sorry, guys.

    And if you think THAT was bad……..

    Day 1 - Monday April 2

    Since discovering Las Vegas in 2003, I have visited this wonderful city a total of eight times, all but the first being solo trips. For me personally, the best thing I can say about Las Vegas is this: it never lets me down, it never disappoints, and this holds true even if I lose a significant amount of money while gambling there. It’s sensory overload in the most compelling way, at least for me. I live in suburbia in southwestern Connecticut, so I do get the opportunity to go into Manhattan once in awhile. While I enjoy visiting New York City and soaking up its energy, it’s a far cry from the way I feel when the plane touches down at McCarron. Some folks can conjure this type of inner excitement when they set foot in, say, Disney World (such a greedy trillionaire mouse), or step on board a mega-cruise ship (“did I just sit on a wet deck chair or is that Norovirus soup in my shorts?â€). Las Vegas has its warts, of course. But, if you’re like me, you think of them as really cool and somehow forbidden warts. And things forbidden are usually quite attractive, aren’t they? To paraphrase an old Dave Barry line, for me Las Vegas generates an energy level equivalent to throwing a live squirrel into a room with five million Labrador Retrievers.

    In my previous trip report (in May 2006, under my former username of jddmr2218 – and don’t ask why the dry, confusing user name – quite frankly, I’m still trying to crack the code myself), I finished up the report with an earnest promise to myself that on my next trip – this one - I would stay and play Downtown (all seven of my previous trips were spent entirely on the Strip). Absolutely, positively….Downtown.

    Have you ever made a promise to yourself that you knew you wouldn’t keep? Of course you have - you’re human. So am I. I stayed at Wynn.

    I flew via Southwest (I could go off on a rant about the changes they’ve made to their Rapid Rewards program, but this trip report is far too long as it is). The flight was uneventful, on time, and mind-numbingly boring. I sat next to a guy who could’ve passed as the twin brother of a younger Sylvester Stallone, I swear. I even said something to him along those lines, taking care to make it sound like a compliment. He told me that he hears it all the time, and that amongst family and friends his nickname has now been solidified as “Rocky†(which he apparently is not fond of but tolerates). Remarkable resemblance. Completely different voice, though. The highlight of this flight for me was when “Rocky†smirked and said, “You won’t believe what my middle name isâ€. “What?†I asked. His reply? “Adrianâ€. I laughed – probably a bit harder than I should have – but I can assure that at no point during this long flight did I employ the word, “yoâ€. Assuming that’s a word.

    I had arranged for a Town Car (Bell Trans) to pick me up, and in rather quick fashion I found my driver. We headed for the baggage carousels. Little did I know that the entertainment was going to start a tad early this trip.....

    Don’t you just love it when perfect strangers, in the form of married couples, allow us to bear witness to their anger and disdain for each other when it’s absolutely none of our business that they are miserable together? Some people can become so self-absorbed with their problems that they either don’t care who listens to their very personal rantings, or perhaps they don’t realize that they can be heard across half of the airport.

    Along with about 150 other passengers, I was milling about the baggage conveyor, patiently waiting for my golf clubs and luggage – which, by the way, bears a striking resemblance to 80% of all other luggage – to come down the belt.

    Directly in front of me, on the other side of the baggage carousel, there was a married couple arguing (ok, I’m assuming they were married). As the argument wore on, their voices became louder – much louder. Where at first I could only pick up a word here and there, it was now as if they had somehow commandeered the airport’s public address system, and we were all now privy to the fact that the wife absolutely did NOT want to be here in Las Vegas, especially when her mother was home alone and, apparently, quite ill. Her husband was now getting an earful (he wasn’t alone in this regard, trust me) about what a selfish asshole he was to leave Mom home alone under such circumstances. I could see that the husband was about to explode; his face was beet red, his fists were clenched, and if he furrowed his eyebrows any further they would have gone under his nose and formed a temporary mustache. I was half expecting him to belt out the classic Ralph Kramden threat, “You’re goin’ to the moon, Alice…..BANG-ZOOM!†But instead, the poor guy, ever humiliated, kind of threw his hands up in the air, turned and started marching toward the exit for the shuttles. As he did so, he let out a bellowing, “BITCH!†in the general direction of his bride. The wife just stood there for a few seconds, discernibly seething, and I’m sure that she was so deeply immersed in her own rage at that moment that she had no idea that a rapt audience was waiting anxiously to see what she was going to say/do next. This was better than any reality show, I assure you (mainly because it was – get this - actually REAL). Where else but in Las Vegas can you get a free show at the baggage carousel? Wifey finally decided she wasn’t through badgering her man quite yet. She moved quickly towards the exit after him (luggage? lady, your luggage?).

    My driver, who was standing next to me, asked rhetorically, “Why didn’t she just stay home with her mother and let him come alone?â€

    “Because that would have made him happyâ€, was my immediate response. My driver smiled dolefully and nodded, fully understanding that any happiness or joy this guy had ever experienced in his life was now a tiny dot in his rear view mirror.

    It was about then that my bag and golf clubs showed up. To only my slightest dismay, I never did see the end of the show. Security people were making their way over to the area, so maybe I didn’t miss much after all. I had better things to do anyway, of course…..

    For me, one of life’s really cool “feelings†is that feeling I get in my belly when I am being transported from the airport to my hotel while visiting Las Vegas. The realization that this trip is now directly in front of me instead of being some abstract thought in my head is enough to have me smiling for the duration of the whole ride, traffic be damned. I just love this part of the visit – that semi-giddy anticipation that just about anything can happen over the next four days.

    As my driver pulled into the Wynn south entrance, the sight of the fancy Wynn stretch limousines admittedly left me feeling a bit intimidated as I emerged from my “peon†Town Car. Hell, I felt as if I might as well have just arrived sitting atop an old, straw-chewing, half-lame donkey.

    Steve Wynn’s hotels are ostensibly known for great service, so even had I truly arrived on top of a donkey, I’m sure they would’ve been courteous toward me. The bell guy enthusiastically whisked away my bag and golf clubs after I slipped him five bucks and I was on my way.

    This was my first stay at Wynn. In December of 2005, while staying at Caesars, I visited Wynn for a couple of hours and became quite smitten with what I saw. I made a mental note to myself that I would try to stay here in the future.

    Now was the future. I initially booked a standard resort room, but then I noticed that the Tower Suites were given a 5-star rating, and considering that it was only $90 more per night for the Tower Suite ($289 per night), I decided to go for it, and so I changed the reservation. This is the lowest rate I’ve seen at Wynn for the Tower Suites. This must’ve been a slow week as far as conventions and/or other Vegas events.

    One of the perks of staying in a Tower Suite is that you have a separate check-in area away from the masses. Here’s a general comment about the décor of the check-in area, and Wynn in general – if you are going to San Francisco and you need some flowers for your hair, stop by Wynn first. They have lots of ‘em.

    As I approached the check-in counter, the pretty desk clerk smiled at me, a smile that lay somewhere between forced and lobotomized. My smile, conversely, was quite genuine as I told her my name and laid out my credit card and driver’s license onto the counter. As she started punching info into her computer terminal I noticed that her smile began to fade. She stared at her monitor and a look of concern befell her otherwise attractive face. A moment later, her look of concern kicked it up a notch, and now her expression was flat out consternation.


    By now my smile had also taken leave. Although she hadn’t uttered a single discouraging word to me, I was not particularly encouraged by her expression or demeanor, either. Then she kind of mumbled something, and she might have been talking to herself. I thought I heard her say, “This can’t be rightâ€. I asked her if she could repeat what she had just said. She looked up at me, clearly puzzled, and said, “Sir, it seems that all of the Tower Suites are…..â€, and then she stopped herself from finishing the sentence, excused herself, and waved to one of her peers to come over to her station. There they spoke in hushed tones, and I thought I picked up the following phrase from my clerk as she discussed whatever this situation was with her boss, “…Tower suites completely bookedâ€.

    Ay carumba. I felt my stomach mutating itself into a knot of dread. Dammit. I was so looking forward to staying in one of these highly rated suites. Although they hadn’t officially said anything to me yet, my head was now swimming with ideas on how I would respond to them when they broke the terrible news to me.

    Now, the “compassionate, empathetic, nice guy†part of my brain would want me to say, “I understand. It’s not your fault. I’m aware that resorts such as yours often over-book their rooms slightly to compensate for no-shows and last minute cancellations. I’m also cognizant that, at times, some high-roller guests may decide to extend their stay past their reservation and you must accommodate such valued customers. No, my dear ladies, don’t you worry your pretty heads one little bit – I understand completely. I’ll just mosey on down to El Cortez and see if they have any suites available.â€

    The “raging, homicidal, psychopath†part of my brain, however, was screaming for me jump up and do a belly-flop onto the counter, reach out and grab the two women by their respective throats, lift them off the ground, knock their heads together – Stooges-style, and then shake them like rag dolls until their eyes popped out of their heads and rolled around on the floor like four macabre billiard balls.

    But then…….they were suddenly both smiling and chuckling….and my comely young clerk looked……could it be?…..yes!….she looked…..relieved!

    She turned her attention back to me and apologized profusely for the delay and the “slight confusion†as she put it. She then set me up with Tower Suite # 908.


    Wynn marketing crows that their Tower Suites are not so much hotel rooms, but more like “intimate residential apartmentsâ€. As I first laid eyes on my dwelling for the next four nights my initial thought was this: “Who am I to argue with Wynn marketing?†Oh, baby. Where once upon a time I was immensely impressed with the new Augustus rooms at Caesars, those same rooms would be considered squalor when stacked up against this vision (ok, maybe that’s a little harsh). Actually, if I may contradict myself for a moment, the two have quite a bit in common. The physical amenities are not dissimilar between the Augustus room and this one. They both have the two flat screen TV’s, couch, table and chairs, big double-sink bathroom with soaking tub. Both rooms are approximately the same square footage. It’s the WOW factor that slaps you in the face when you walk into the room at Wynn that truly disassociates the two. Augustus doesn’t have this. Wynn takes more chances with the layout – the room is more colorful, and just everything about it is more aesthetically pleasing to the eye and senses. There are also many more smaller amenities here as compared to Caesars. Wynn marketing is correct – this doesn’t have the “feel†of a hotel room, at least one that I’ve ever stayed in before. It’s more than that. I’d have to possess the vernacular of an interior decorator to properly explain it, which I don’t. It’s simply stunning. How’s that for a layman’s Melba toast accolade?

    Although I wasn’t particularly high up (9th floor), I still had a very pleasing, if not spectacular view. My room was centered directly over the pool complex and further out I could see the Wynn golf course. After unpacking I sat for a short while next to the expansive wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling window just to soak it all in. Ahhh, I’m here.

    I could have sat there and savored the view for quite a bit longer save for the fact that I began to feel a little twinge in my belly. No, it wasn’t hunger pangs. That little twinge was a gentle reminder as to what time it was. It was time to gamble.

    When the elevator doors opened up to the Tower Suite lobby (leading to the casino) I felt what Dorothy must have felt when she stepped out of her tornado-strewn house into the Land of Oz. To me, this is the “official†start of my vacation. The pesky particulars – the tedious travel, the wait for the luggage, the check-in, the unpacking – were all behind me. Now it was time to do what I came here for – have fun.

    The talented people who are hired to design casinos are charged with the mission of evoking a “positive†inner feeling from the people who frequent them. With some people they succeed in this quest, and with others, they do not. Everybody’s different when it comes to what makes them feel good or comfortable within a particular environment. The people who designed Wynn’s casino hit a bull’s-eye with me. I just loved it. I wish my living room was just like it. Hell, I’d even be willing to part with my yellow bean bag sofa, lava lamps, and shag carpet (but if you want to remove my plastic-framed “Dogs Playing Poker†wall hanging, we’re gonna fight. Same goes for my Farrah Fawcett poster).

    Steve Wynn’s favorite color must lie somewhere between maroon and blood-red. This is the primary color of the carpeting and the general theme of the casino. The casino is surrounded by nice bars and restaurants, and there is a lot of natural light as you near the atrium section at the edge of the casino. Another nice touch is that they seemed to have turned down the volume a couple of notches on the slot machines. The music they pump through the speakers is at a perfectly enjoyable volume, and the music is light vocal jazz in the morning, with slightly more upbeat music at night – never any wild, heavy stuff. And here’s something I didn’t notice until the last day – all the vocalists seem to be female….I don’t recall any male singers (but maybe I just didn’t notice them). Make no mistake – this is a classy casino.

    One of the many bonuses of staying at Wynn is the selection of decent VP. I generally play 9/6 JoB or 8/5 Bonus, sometimes multi-line, and always at the dollar or higher level. Wynn is not lacking for these types of games. With Caesars gutting most of their good VP, it’s my opinion that Wynn has taken over as having the best VP on the Strip (at $1 and up, that is). That’s just my take, of course. I might be wrong. In any case, it fit my needs quite nicely.

    I don’t know why I bother doing this, but I am always putting together a personal VP strategy prior to leaving for Vegas – you know, kind of an anal blueprint that I draft in regard to types of games played, bankroll for each game, maximum time playing each game, etc, etc. Once in Las Vegas I rarely follow these strategies, of course, at least not for very long. After a torturously long cross-country flight, once I step off the plane I can barely remember my name, never mind a stupid VP strategy. Nevertheless, I always go through this pre-Vegas exercise for about two months before my trip, practicing my strategy on the VP software at home. More than anything else, I think doing this helps me relax – it keeps me from “watching the Vegas countdown clockâ€, if you know what I mean. That particular clock seems to run slower than most, don’t you agree?

    Well, lo and behold, I actually stuck to my little strategy during this trip, for the most part anyway (there was one very distressing exception, which I will detail later). If tedium is your thing, here’s how it works:

    - I supply myself with a trip bankroll of $8800, or exactly $2200 per day. If I lose $2200 in one day, that’s it - I’m done playing for that particular day. Note: during my software practice sessions this never happened, although I came dangerously close several times.
    - I play a total of five sessions within a given cycle – one hour of $1 JoB ($300 max loss), two hours of $2 JoB ($800 max loss), and one hour of $1 3-play JoB ($500 max loss). Then I put $300 into a $5 8/5 Bonus machine – if lose it, I lose it. But if I double it ($600), then I’ll keep playing until I fall back to $300, and then quit. If the machine gets hot, I’ll keep building my money, but I’ll use $300 increments as a stop-loss. (Example, if I build my winnings to, say, $1200, I’ll quit if I drop down to $900, etc.) During practice, many more times than not I lost the original $300 pretty quickly. But if you get hot, especially if you hit a bonus quad, you can make a killing pretty quickly, too. And this happened enough times during practice to catch my attention. This particular strategy is dangerous, but a lot of fun. For the last of the five sessions, I put $300 into a $1 9/6 Spin Poker machine (playing all 9 lines). The same money strategy works here as it does with the $5 8/5 Bonus.
    - I do NOT play the machine at its fastest speed. It’s slow or medium.
    - For the trip I play this cycle of five sessions a total of four times (one per day). It equates to 3.5 to 4.5 hours of play, and anywhere from $16K to $24K coin-in per day, depending how well (or poorly) I’m doing.

    Is there anything magical about this particular VP strategy? Hell, no. Indeed, I almost always had a losing trip during my practice sessions – most of which were set on auto-play. It’s just that I don’t feel comfortable going to Vegas without at least some semblance of a gambling game plan (regardless of whether I follow the plan or not – which sounds extremely idiotic, I know). In a nutshell, I don’t want to be shocked by how much money I lose. Does this make any sense at all?

    I found a $1 9/6 JoB machine, fed it $300, and played. An hour later, $250 of the $300 was gone. Not exactly an auspicious start but not altogether unexpected, either.

    By this time I was starving – that box o’ crap that Southwest Airlines serves up had been long since digested – so I headed over to ZoozaCrackers, Wynn’s high-end deli that was named in honor of that great American patriotic songwriter, John Philip Zooza (and his dog). I had what they call an overstuffed kosher deli sandwich (mostly pastrami). It was $14, but it was damn good. (And save your replies – I know it wasn’t named after John Philip “Sousaâ€. It was a joke, and not a terribly funny one at that. Hey – I’m a burp tester at the Tupperware factory, not a writer for The Simpsons, ok?)

    I went back to work on video poker after my meal, this time matching wits with a $2 9/6 JoB machine. I got slammed. $800 was lost in 1.5 hours, and toward the end of the session I began to mumble filthy words incoherently, some of which I invented on the spot (and a couple of these made-up words I found so eloquently vulgar that I have incorporated them into my permanent vocabulary).

    Four Vegas trips ago (at Caesars), I hit a $20,000 royal on a $5 JoB triple play machine. Ever since that big win, I had been slowly giving it back, session by session, day by day, trip by trip. Stupid statistical probabilities.

    After the VP session I explored the property some more. Wynn’s esplanade of extravagant shops was quite a sight – meaning virtually nobody was shopping in them. I think this is because even the price tags themselves cost more than most people can afford to spend (either that or the shops were holding a KevinL Fan Club convention – unfortunately, the only one who showed up was a Ring Ding wholesaler).

    Now, that was completely uncalled for, wasn’t it? Oh, well.

    I took in a relatively short walk, crossing over to TI, mostly just to stretch my legs and get the blood flowing. I’ve stayed at TI twice in the past, just after they morphed the place from a pirate theme to a….well, to some non-descript theme that ostensibly appeals to the young, hip, affluent crowd. I enjoyed my stays at TI, but I doubt I’ll ever stay there again. (And if it’s no longer hip to use the word “hip†– as my daughter suggests – please don’t tell me. I don’t want to live in that world. I just can’t groove on that scene, can you dig it, man?)

    Back at Wynn, I rested for a bit in my room, and then hit the casino again for some more VP action. This time I played a $1 3-play 9/6 JoB machine. Early on I was dealt 4oak for a nice $375 hit, and my good luck sustained itself for most of the hour that I played. I cashed out with a tidy $625 profit for the session, and with it a significant chunk out of the overall deficit was filled back in. Now, that’s more like it.

    For dinner I had room service, ordering a Caesar salad and an appetizer (coconut shrimp). The salad was excellent, the shrimp – not so much. They were ok, not great – a bit on the bland side, actually. I also ordered a $40 bottle of Chardonnay – the least expensive on the menu. The total cost was $103, including the gratuity, which is automatically added to all room service tabs (18%, and on top of that a $5 delivery charge.)

    Fully fueled, I went back to VP, putting $300 into a $5 JoB machine. It was back and forth for about twenty minutes before the money was all gone. It was fun while it lasted, though. I then put another $300 into a $1 Spin Poker machine. I ended up about even for this session (quite frankly, I found myself getting very sleepy at the machine, so I quit).

    It was only about 10pm by now, but I was shot. The first day in Vegas for me is always tough (coming from the east coast and all). So, I didn’t fight it. I went back up to the room and crashed. If you had asked me on that first night if the Wynn beds are as comfortable as advertised, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you. I was out the second my head hit the pillow, and I believe the same result would have been yielded if Wynn had furnished my room with a bed of flaming spikes.

    Day 2 – Tuesday April 3

    At 4am, I was on the phone ordering room service – just coffee. I had not yet discovered that Wynn has a small 24 hour café (inside the “Drugstoreâ€) where I could get take-out coffee and light breakfast stuff (the room service delivery guy mentioned it to me after I jokingly requested that he pull some women’s hosiery over his head and pretend that he had a gun in his pocket so I could mentally reconcile signing this $15 room service bill just for coffee). I enjoyed my coffee and the view from the window for awhile before heading down for some VP.

    This might be my favorite part of the day in Las Vegas – up well before dawn and feeling like you have the casino pretty much to yourself. It was a virtual ghost town down there at this hour, at least by comparison. There were still a few table games going, and I could hear the occasional giddy roar at the craps or blackjack tables, but generally it was very peaceful at the machines. I felt thoroughly rested and relaxed as I pushed the buttons on my $1 JoB machine, sipped my coffee and, god have mercy on my soul, smoked an occasional cigarette. I played for about an hour, and this session brought with it a small profit of $50.

    After the VP session I decided to head back up to the room to shower. As I stepped onto the elevator, there was a young couple right behind me, looking as if they had been partying all night. After we boarded I asked them which floor they wanted so I could perform the button duties. They told me, and then they promptly proceeded to make out and clumsily grope at each other’s erogenous regions like there was no tomorrow. Clearly, they knew I was in their presence, and just as clearly they didn’t care. I felt a little bit like Rodney Dangerfield. No respect. I just stood there like a dope, gazing up at the floor numbers flying by on the display as if this were much more compelling subject matter as compared to an attractive twentysomething couple having fully-clothed sex just a few feet away from me. What in the world do you say to people under such circumstances?

    (“No, no, no! Son, you’re doing it all wrong! You’re like a bull in a china shop. Slow down! There’s no flow to your movements. Have her turn around so you’re both facing the same way. This way, you can still make out but now both your hands are free for the ol’ double reach-around. Always remember that the female is pleasured first. You will reap the rewards later, trust me, young stallion. Yes, my naive protégé, you have much to learn in the fine art of foreplay………oh, and by the way, please tell your girlfriend that she, too, is completely out of control and that she would do well to pay closer attention to what she is doing – she currently has her hand wrapped around MY crotch.)

    No, this was quite uncomfortable for me, especially considering the relative smallness of the Tower Suite elevators. Gratefully, I only had to go to the ninth floor, so I was able to get off before...uh…they did. Vegas.

    Back at the room I showered and got ready for some golf on Wynn’s fancy guests-only course.

    Ok, I have a question for you – what kind of moron would pay $500 for ONE round of golf? No, wait – I have a better question: what kind of moron would pay $500 for one round of golf TWO DAYS IN A ROW???

    Um….well, I think we all know the answer to that particular question.

    Oh, shut up. You only live once (the exceptions being Elvis, Shirley MacLaine, and my wife’s menopausal symptoms).

    Here’s what you get for your $500 – the use of a golf cart, rental clubs (if you haven’t brought your own), a fancy Wynn bag tag, “free†soft drinks and fruit, and 18 holes of golf played on a ridiculously expensive piece of Nevada desert (indeed, in 3 or 4 years they plan to rip it up and build Wynn’s version of MGM’s current CityCenter project on the land). Caddies are supplied, but the golfer supplies the gratuity (so, throw another C-note onto the pile). Wynn’s golf course, as you might expect, is eminently lavish, although I wasn’t overly impressed with Fazio’s design. The course is in immaculate condition, and it is obvious that they dumped an exorbitant amount of money into it. But is it worth $500 per round? Of course not. So why did I pay the freight – twice? The short answer is that I’m an exceptionally lazy vacationer. I loved the idea that I could just walk outside of my resort – on the Las Vegas Strip, no less – and play golf on a PGA spec course. So that’s what I did. And I don’t get too bent out of shape about spending money, in case you hadn’t guessed (us burp testers – or simply, “Burpstersâ€, as our union is known by - command top dollar for our services, so I am well able to afford my frivolous indulgences).

    Going in, I wasn’t particularly optimistic about shooting a decent round today because 1) I had a couple of layers of rust from not playing since August, 2) this was an unfamiliar course and, 3) I stink at golf.

    For playing partners I was hooked up with a pleasant California family (Mom, Dad, and their 16 year old son). Our caddie was named Keith, and he did a great job (I had Keith for both days I played).

    Ok, this is when it really hits home that you’re in Vegas. Get a load of this – we’re about to tee off on the first hole at 8:45am when suddenly two golf carts carrying four Asian guys comes racing down to the first tee (from the clubhouse area). A Wynn employee is riding on the back of one of the carts. The employee pulls Keith aside and whispers something to him. Keith then waves us off the tee so that the Asian guys can jump ahead of us. WTF?! This is OUR tee time! Keith then huddles us together and softly tells us, “I’m not supposed to tell you this, but the guy in the blue shirt lost MILLIONS last night. He decided to take a break and play some golf.â€

    Alright, then. As long as there’s a legitimate reason. Holy shit.

    It then dawned on me that we were in the presence of a filthy rich gambling lunatic. I was tempted to yell out, “Hey! Ten million bucks says that you can’t split the fairway at 350 yards! You wanna piece of that action?â€

    Obviously, I refrained. (Damn. You never know how this nut might have responded, though).

    As far as the way I played.....I shot a 91. My usual range is mid-80’s to low 90’s, so I can’t complain too much about the score considering it was my first time playing in about seven months. To be perfectly candid, my score should have been even worse; I chipped in on two holes, and one of them was a lucky skull job that propelled the ball across the green at NASCAR speed before hitting the pin flush, jumping straight up and falling into the hole. When that happened, I immediately shouted at my playing partners and caddie, “Don’t anybody DARE say “nice shotâ€!! Nobody did, but they didn’t hold back from taking part in some good natured ribbing at my expense, either (which I liked and, in fact, joined in on).

    For lunch I decided to try out the Wynn buffet. I like to eat just like the next guy, but I don’t like to overeat, which is why I normally shy away from buffets. It’s too tempting to gorge myself, and then I end up feeling lethargic and crappy, and this, of course, would be the most unforgivable of sins in Sin City. The plan here was to take one plate of food and refrain from going back for more. I grabbed a plate and went on a reconnaissance mission before taking any food, checking out the various stations. At this buffet they seem to prepare the food in a relatively fresh manner, meaning there weren’t any gargantuan spreads where food has been sitting out for who knows how long. They replenish quickly and often, or so it would seem. Everything is presented quite attractively. This was most decidedly not your old-fashioned chuck wagon buffet/trough. I had some type of Chinese chicken dish, some oriental salad, and some leg of lamb from the carving station (“What’s this thing you’ve put on my plate – a toy? Do you recall me telling you to stop carving, my friend?â€). I thought the food was good, but I’ll be honest with you – I thought it would be better. But, again, it’s just a buffet, and I didn’t sample many things. I can’t comment on the desserts as I usually pass on them, so I didn’t have any (and didn’t really look them over). By the way, the décor of the buffet was quite impressive – stylish, but not ostentatious, colorful, open and airy, especially in the atrium section.

    After showering to cleanse myself of both the sweat of the day and the stench of my golf game, I made my way down to the casino for some nice relaxing VP and a couple of beers.

    Here’s a little incident that I thought was kind of humorous:

    As I was playing, the cocktail waitress came by and I requested a Heineken. She came back several minutes later and said, “Here you are, sirâ€, as she placed a Bud Lite down next to me. I very politely informed her that I had ordered a Heineken. She looked at me, somewhat doubtfully, and said, “Are you sure?†I assured her, again politely, that “Bud Lite isn’t even part of my vocabularyâ€. She apologized, scoffed up the beer, and told me that she’d be right back. Honest mistake. No biggie.

    A few minutes later she returned and put my beer down next to my machine – you guessed it – another Bud Lite. Well, now I’m laughing. My initial thought was that she was just making a little joke with me. But then I quickly scanned her tray, and I didn’t see the Heineken that I was sure would be there. Then I looked at her. She seemed perplexed by my amused reaction. Holy shit – this is legit - she did it again!! This realization made me laugh even harder. “Heineken! Not Bud Lite!†I said to her, still chuckling. She rolled her eyes when it dawned on her that she had repeated her mistake, and then even she had to let a smile cross her face ( I think she was also happy to see I wasn’t being a prick about it). “I’ll get it right this time, promise!†she said as she headed straight for the drink service area. Funny.

    I tried to imagine the verbal exchange between her and the bartender in the service area before she came back with the second Bud Lite (after the first mistake):

    CW: “Hey, can you swap this beer for me? The guy says he doesn’t want a Bud Lite…..he wants a Bud Lite instead.â€
    Bartender: “He’s the boss!….here you go!â€

    My nice cocktail waitress was perfect after that. Chalk it up to a moment of vapor lock – something we’ve all suffered from on occasion. Her tips from me were not adversely affected because of it.

    I played for about 3 hours total, first $2 JoB, and then $1 3-play JoB. I lost $550 for the combined sessions.

    After that I went for a nice walk on the strip, heading down toward the Venetian and Harrah’s area. I stopped into Harrah’s and cashed the bounce-back check they sent me from last year’s visit to Caesars. A whopping $27. That might very well have been the last money transaction I’ll ever have with the Harrah’s group. Hey, I can’t really complain – when all is said and done I ended up extracting more from them than they did from me. Significantly more. (But of course, the lucky $20k royal had more than a little bit to do with this)

    I crossed over to the Mirage. What the hell have they done to this place? It’s different from what I remember from my stay here in June 2003 (my first visit to LV – the only one with my family). It’s to the point of being truly unrecognizable in some respects. Beatles, Beatles, Beatles. Don’t get me wrong – I LOVE the Beatles in a big way, and in fact I would be coming back Thursday evening for the show. But this is just wrong. They’ve somehow managed to simultaneously cheapen both the Mirage and the memory of the Beatles in one fell swoop. No, this is wrong. (I’m not referring to the Cirque show here; I’m referring to the casino)

    Day 3 – Wednesday April 4

    I was standing on line when they opened the flood gates at the Wynn buffet this morning and we all slowly poured in there like cattle to slaughter. I was half hoping somebody would yell “FOOD FIGHT!†just to see what would happen (while I’m well into my middle-age years, I am still an immature, pizza-faced, adolescent dork at heart). I had a golf ressie for 9:30am this morning, so I needed to get in and out of here quickly so I could hit the practice facilities before tee-off.

    Once again, I thought the food was good, but pretty standard. I stuck to the basics, though – eggs and breakfast meats. Gotta have the protein, man.

    And…I have a confession to make. I did a very bad thing. Let me put it this way – if a Victoria’s Secret model had stopped me as I left the buffet and asked, “Is that a banana in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?â€, I would’ve been compelled to respond, “Right on both accounts. The one in my left pocket is the banana.†That’s correct – I stole a banana from the buffet to consume later on the golf course. And if Satan is going to poke me in the ass with a pitchfork for this petty larceny, then I’d hate to see what he’s going to do to Steve Wynn.

    For whatever the reason, I was much more relaxed on the golf course today as compared to yesterday, and my play reflected this (with some help from my caddie, Keith). I shot an 86, and that was after starting with a double and triple bogey on the first two holes. On the tee of the third hole, Keith politely hinted to me that my hands were drifting too far forward on my address, and I’ll be damned if that didn’t seem to turn it around for me. I didn’t putt very well as I had difficulty gauging the speed on the greens – a couple of my putts were downright comical. But this isn’t unusual for me early in the season. I was very satisfied with my tee-to-green play, however. I gratefully handed Keith a $120 tip, $100 being customary. I enjoyed myself immensely.

    (Oh, in passing I asked Keith to name some of the celebrities he had caddied for in the past. He told me that he had caddied for Bill Clinton and George Bush (dad) in the same group. He said that Clinton, while a very charming and friendly guy, cheats his ass off (“He hits three balls in the water and then tells me to put him down for a bogey.â€). The most “fun†celebrity he had caddied for was, surprisingly, Willie Nelson (“Great sense of humorâ€.). Keith said that 90% of celebrities are shameless cheaters (We’re talking golf here, right?†I asked him)

    After golf I joined my two playing partners for a beer (a couple of real estate moguls from the Boston area). We reveled in our mutual hatred of the Yankees. When I told them I was a Mets fan, I could see the almost palpable sting in their eyes left over the 1986 World Series. I think that one still hurts the Sox fans even though the curse has since been broken. I twisted the knife a little when I winked and told them that my favorite player of all time was Bill Buckner. I’m capable of being quite cruel. I picked up the tab for the beers, though.

    After showering it was down to the casino.

    In the years I’ve been playing video poker there are only a handful of sessions that stand out in my memory. The session I describe here will surely be one of them. I put $500 into a 3-play $1 JoB machine. When I got down to where I had approximately $50 left on the machine, I distinctly remember that I looked at my watch. Fifteen minutes had gone by since I started. I had lost $450 in fifteen freakin’ minutes. By all indications, this session was going to end even faster than Britney Spears’ first two rehab stints. I was not happy, but I pushed on, just to get it over with. A typically crappy deal came up, and I held one card - the queen of hearts - and pushed the draw button with about as much enthusiasm as I displayed as a kid on liver and onions night.

    The next thing that my brain registered was reading “Call Attendant†on the screen, and hearing clown-like music coming from the machine. Initially unnoticed by me, on the second line the four remaining cards needed for the royal filled in (my brain was too busy residing in Bizarro World, contemplating the bio-physic possibilities of actually inflicting pain on an inanimate object to pay close attention). Four grand!! Cool!

    I’ve had several royals in my VP career (including ones more lucrative than this), but this was one was the biggest shocker of them all, considering that I was getting pummeled in such a big (and expeditious) way just before it happened, and that I had held only one card. Damn, that felt good!

    There was a guy playing a couple of machines away from me. He came over to see what had happened, and his reaction was just great – and refreshing. He seemed extremely happy for me – genuinely so. Understand this, folks – this is a rare reaction from a stranger, at least in my experience. In the past when I’ve hit a royal most people have looked at me as if they wished me harm. Oh, sure, some say “congratulationsâ€, but you can see it in their eyes – they might as well come out and say it – “You lucky f—k. I want you dead. I want your family dead. Now.†But this guy insisted that I give him a high five (ugh), so I did, and then he went back to his machine saying, “You’ve inspired me!†And, no, he didn’t appear to be drunk.

    The floor people took care of me in fairly short order (I tipped $60), and I was on my way. But first I placed a $100 bill in front of the nice guy who had so graciously congratulated me and I said, “Put this in your machine - now it’s your turn. Good luck, man!†He was somewhat taken aback by this gesture. He thanked me, but I gotta tell you – he also looked at me as if I was nuts. I don’t know what happened after that, but I sure hope he did well. I like people like him, and I don’t give a damn if he just pocketed the money.

    I went over to the Fashion Show Mall to pick up a couple of gifts for my wife and daughter. From there I headed north in order to visit the New Frontier for the first time (the word “New†in the name New Frontier must have a manifestly contrary meaning from what I was taught in elementary school). To say that my visit here lasted five minutes is most likely an overestimation. This is all I’ll say about this place and then I’ll move on – if the New Frontier was a person, it would be an itinerant, bedraggled stew bum sitting against a building on a busy street holding forth a tin cup with a quivering hand. Gee, I just had a frightening thought - I sincerely hope they didn’t mistakenly implode the wrong building last month. P.U.

    If there’s one thing I dislike about going to Las Vegas solo, it’s dining alone. I think it’s accurate to say that this would be the only time I feel the slightest twinge of loneliness. And when I dine in a fancy restaurant like the SW Steakhouse, it’s lonely AND awkward. I had read some wonderful reviews about this place, so I made a dinner reservation for one. Needless to say, being that I was by myself I wasn’t awarded a prime table outside near the Lake of Dreams, but that was ok with me. The food, service, ambience – all top-notch. I ate like a Clydesdale, starting with shrimp cocktail and Caesar Salad, and then a 9 oz filet mignon (with three types of sauce on the side), and a side of potatoes au gratin. Out-friggin’-standing. Oh, and they serve bread that I would bowl over a little old lady for if she happened to make the mistake of reaching for the last piece. Of course, they’re not giving away the food for free (at least not at my gambling level). The cost, including tip, was $167. I also enjoyed two glasses of wine with dinner – but no dessert. Wow, what a meal. I cannot recommend this wonderful restaurant more enthusiastically. Call me when you dine here. I’d like to join you – even if that means me sitting on the floor begging for scraps like the dog that I am.

    After dinner I found a seat at the B bar, ordered a B&B straight up, and played some $2 JoB. There was a fairly drunk guy sitting a couple of seats down from me. Rather than partaking in video poker, this man instead spent his energy being an obnoxious loud-mouth toward the bartender and anyone else who would listen to him (actually, “listening†wasn’t necessarily mandatory). He just wouldn’t shut up, complaining about everything under the sun. You know the type – everything and everybody except him suck, and because of this most unfortunate happenstance, his life…well…sucks. What a whiner. He’s just the poor victim of everyone else’s bad karma. Nothing is ever his fault, of course. Damn, it must really be terrible to go through life being so self-righteous (read: miserable). Yeesh. I could only take Danny Downer’s blathering for about fifteen minutes before pulling up stakes and heading for the slant-tops. I suppose it takes a certain type of personality to be a bartender without eventually going Manson on somebody like this drunk guy. As I left the bar I said “good luck†to the bartender, and it was clear that he understood my meaning. He gave me a wink and a wry smile as if to say, “It comes with the territoryâ€.

    I played VP on a slant top for awhile, but I couldn’t shake the bloated feeling from eating too much food at dinner, so I went for a long walk down to Paris and back (different side of the Strip each way), occasionally popping into a casino for a walk-around. I say the same thing in every trip report I write – I just love these walks to nowhere. The lights, the music, the commingling of various pleasant scents in the air (and a couple perhaps not so pleasant), and the general vibe that is unmistakably the Las Vegas Strip. It just doesn’t get any better than this. Slap those cards all you want, boys, for I will pay you no mind.

    I crashed around 11pm (that’s 2am at home, and that’s what I go by while I’m in Vegas). I must say, I slept very soundly on this trip, which is unusual. Must be the Wynn beds. Or maybe it was the Nyquil, my latest flavor-of-the-month addiction.

    Day 4 – Thursday April 5

    Las Vegas hookers. They are reportedly legion in population, yet for my first several visits to LV, I went home with the semi-notion that this was an urban legend. I was never approached by one nor did I see any (to rephrase, I didn’t see any women who I could point to and say with confidence, “that’s a hookerâ€. I probably DID see some but didn’t realize it.). That all changed during a visit two years ago while staying at Caesars. Nowadays I seem to practically trip over them whenever I visit our fair city. My first encounter with a hooker was detailed in my trip report from April 2005, and I’m going to reprint that part of the trip report here to demonstrate to you how poorly I handled the situation (also, I need some filler so that this trip report won’t be too short). I acted like a timid, sniveling nerd who had never spoken to an attractive woman before. What a wuss.

    From April 2005’s trip report (Caesars Palace):

    It was around 1pm or so, and I found a seat at the VP bar, ordered up a Heineken, and began to play. The bar was pretty full but there were a few seats available. One of these seats was just to my right. A very attractive 20-something lady stands next to this seat and asks me if anyone is sitting here. No, it’s open, I tell her. She sits down, the bartender comes by and asks her what she wants to drink, and she informs him that she is waiting for a friend, and that she’s OK for now. So far, nothing unusual.

    “Are you winning?†she asks pleasantly. I told her that I had just started playing a few minutes ago. Still, I’m oblivious.

    “Are you here on business?†she asks a minute or so later.

    Like Ray Walston in “My Favorite Martianâ€, the antennae goes up at the back of my head (this antennae is invisible to everyone but me. Facial twitch.). I’m still not certain, but I am suspicious of this line of questioning. Unlike James Bond, I have never been considered a “chick-magnetâ€, and even less so when the chick is a knock-out.

    I not only tell her that I am here on vacation, but I go as far as to tell her that I am here ALONE. I am mentally kicking myself the second these words exit my mouth. You idiot! If indeed this is a hooker, you just waved her in like a frantic third base coach.

    There are uncomfortable pauses in between her questions, but she is not giving up, even as I keep my head focused on the VP game (that’s a laugh – I could’ve thrown away a dealt royal flush and not even known it). I’m hoping that my increased silence is sending her a message.

    She’s trying hard to keep the conversation going. “So, what do you do for a living?†she asks. I tell her. (edited to add: Not one to brag, I did NOT tell her that I was a burpster. I made something up - a job so low on the employment food chain that it would almost certainly freeze-dry the loins of any woman, hookers included. I told her that I earned my living as a joke writer for Bob Saget. End edit)

    Then I turn to her and look her directly in the eye and ask, “So, what do YOU do for a living?â€

    She smiles at me and says, somewhat coyly, “Well, I’m kind of self-employedâ€.

    We have confirmation. It’s a hooker.

    I give her a knowing smile and say, “I understandâ€. Then I immediately turn back to my VP and act like I’m really concentrating. At this point I looked at it this way – I know she’s a hooker, and she knows that I know she’s a hooker. So, I figured that if I ignore her she’ll just go away, right?

    Suddenly she gets up from her seat and says, “I’m going to go over to the other sideâ€. I thought she meant she was going over to the other side of the bar.

    Phew!! I wished her a nice day. She said, “No, I’m just switching seatsâ€, as she moved over to the seat on my left side. WTF?!

    As I sit here and write this, I still don’t have a clue as to why she did this. Did she think I would be more responsive if she spoke to my left ear instead of my right?

    (“Ooohhh, now I get it! You want me to pay you a whole bunch of money and then you’ll allow me to have sex with you. Why didn’t you say so??! SURE!!!........and it’s a good thing you switched seats. My right ear is REALLY dense!â€)

    She was not giving up on me. I thought for a second that maybe she would start working on the guy directly to her left, but no, her body was shifted a little to face in my direction.

    Then she asked me, “Would you mind buying me a drink?â€

    Ok, I’ve got to nip this in the bud right now. I turned to her and said, as politely as I could, “Look, Miss, I’ll be happy to buy you a drink, but you have to understand that I’m really not interested in anything else, ok?â€

    She smiled at me very sweetly, very genuinely, almost as if she thought my obvious awkwardness was “cute†(my face was probably 13 shades of red), and told me, “That’s ok.â€

    She ordered a Merlot, I charged it to my tab, she got up from her seat, gently touched my shoulder and told me she enjoyed meeting me, and thanked me for the drink. And then she was gone. I was ashamed and embarrassed as to how I handled this situation.

    It’s a little funny - she never would’ve wasted her time on me had she realized that what she was trying to do was akin to extracting milk from a mechanical bull; I didn’t bring my “pills†with me on this trip.

    Back to the present.

    I still cringe when I think about that encounter. No balls. Anyway, I handle things differently now when approached by a hooker. I send them packing in a flash. (By the way, I would never, ever consider having sex with a hooker, and I wouldn’t care if she was the last woman on earth. I’m far from a prude, but that’s just a disgusting and revolting profession from where I sit, and it most indubitably flies in the face of my personal moral values. Well….that, plus the fact that I have a small penis and I wouldn’t want the hooker to laugh at me).

    This trip’s hooker showed up while I was playing VP at about 5:15am this morning. Jeez, not too obvious – just about every VP machine in the casino is available, but she plops herself down at the machine next to mine. Oh boy, here we go. I took a sideways peek at her. She appeared to be mid-twenties, wearing an evening outfit, nice shape, blonde hair.

    I just played VP and waited for her inevitable first move – the “are you winning?†question that, based on my experience, seems to be a universal opening line in the hooker’s playbook.

    After a couple of minutes, she turned to me and asked, “Are you having any luck?†(See? I was close.)

    I responded with a spiel I used once before under such circumstances (with marked success). It went something like this -

    “Not really.†I said. “My wife made a killing on this machine last night, but its gone cold now. But when she shows up she’ll throw me off the machine and play it herself. She’ll claim that it’s me and not the machine. Why blame the machine when you can blame the husband, you know what I’m sayin’?†I then gave her an exaggerated smile, your basic shit-eating grin, which I hoped was sending the following message: “I know you’re a hooker. Get lostâ€. She smiled a half-assed, confused smile, like maybe this guy she was talking to wasn’t “quite rightâ€. She said, “I guess soâ€, or something like that. She played a few more hands of VP, got up, and left without even saying “take careâ€. There’s nothing worse than a rude hooker. I smiled to myself. Well played, Jimbo.

    As there was no golf planned for today, this was my time to put the pedal to the metal on video poker. I had two long sessions this morning, broken only by going up to my room to shower and to eat a light breakfast from the take-out café. The first session was a good one, yielding a profit of $350. The second session was something else altogether. Still feeling heady from yesterday’s astonishing $4k royal, I broke away from my “strategy†detailed earlier in the report. I did this because I was starting to get bored. Boredom is bad, but greed is worse. I put $1500 into a $1 FIFTY-play machine (9/6 JoB). Yep, that’s $250 per hand. The worst thing that could’ve happened, did happen. On my very first hand I was dealt three of a kind. The draw resulted in four 4oak’s and a couple of full houses out of the fifty hands. This pushed me into W2-G country. Well, that was pretty damn easy, I thought to myself. And therein lay the proverbial rub. It was TOO damn easy. If I had just blown through the original $1500 bucks, I would’ve walked away, and chalked it up to general stupidity on my part. But now I was about to enter a realm of idiotic decision-making the likes of which I hadn’t seen since…..well, since that last time I did the same thing two years ago at Caesars. I wasn’t even drunk, yet I suddenly felt bullet proof. I ended up losing my original $1500 stake, and then I lost the W2-G money. Was I done yet? Surely, you jest. Another $1000 in, another $1000 lost. Quickly, too. How about now – had enough, Jimbo? Pish-posh. I actually flagged down a floorperson and asked her to hold my machine while I went up to the room to grab a handful of cash from the safe – I was in such a state of bug-eyed gambling dementia that I didn’t even count how much I was taking. I went back down lost another two grand. Then a little voice inside me finally spoke up….stop…..stop right now…..you’re done.

    I am blessed in that I am almost always able to find at least a modicum of humor in most things. Consequently, in my trip reports I make an effort, effectively or otherwise, to inject some humor into them. As I write this portion, I can find nothing funny about this incident. Folks, don’t ever do what I did. I’m serious. It’s NOT fun. God damn it. Las Vegas is the only place I ever gamble, but I am definitely prone to falling hard when I do. It seems to happen, to varying degrees, once per trip. If you had read my TR from April 2005, the paragraph above is almost a cut and paste from that report. I don’t consider myself a dumb person, but maybe I am, because I don’t seem to learn. That bothers me. It’s not necessarily the money lost that concerns me so much, it’s my penchant for morphing into a serial imbecile while playing video poker in Las Vegas – a helpless inability to control myself. I played right into the hands of the casino – and I KNEW this while I was doing it. I despise my own weaknesses. And I think I’m overdue for my meds.

    I had lunch at ZoozaCrackers again, and I while I ate my pastrami on rye (excellent!) I tried to cheer myself up by reminiscing about my shockingly lucky royal flush from yesterday - you know, the glass half-full approach to straw-grasping rationalization.

    I now had a decision to make. I had read on LVA that a meet was being held today at 1pm at Terrible’s. To attend, or not to attend? Now, I’ve never been to Terrible’s and know nothing about it, but I’ve always held a strange curiosity for the place. It has always struck me as such an odd name for a business. I would’ve loved to have been a fly on the wall way back when, during the meeting when they were deciding what to name the joint.

    Guy 1: “How about calling our casino ‘Terrible’s’? What do you think of that name?â€
    Guy 2: “Terrible’s, huh?.... Hmmmm….. Oh, I get it! You’re going for the “truth in advertising†angle, aren’t you?â€
    Guy 1: “Precisely. This way, we’ve pretty much insulated ourselves from any criticism about how crappy our casino is. It’s right out there on the sign in big letters!!â€
    Guy 2: “Brilliant!!â€
    Guy 1 and 2: (hyena-like laughter and multiple high-fives exchanged)
    Guy 1: “Then it’s settled. “Terrible’s†it is…..Ok, let’s get back to the business at hand.â€
    Guy 2: (looks at his cards) “Got any 3’s?â€
    Guy 1: “Go fish.â€

    In the end I decided not to attend the meet. I’d hate to go all the way there just to find that nobody showed up (which happens quite a bit, from what I’ve read). Also, I don’t consider myself to be well-practiced in social situations where I don’t know anybody. In person, my sense of humor leans heavily to the dry/sarcastic side, and I deliver most everything I say with a straight face whether I’m serious or not. If people don’t know me, they sometimes can’t tell if I’m joking. They give me “that look†(you know, like the “I want to laugh at what he just said, but what if he’s not kidding†look. It’s kind of funny – the opposite sometimes happens with people I DO know. I’ll say something completely serious, and they’ll laugh thinking I was joking. My marriage proposal to my wife comes to mind. Oh, how it warms my heart to think back on how hard she laughed at me.)

    But, most importantly, after this VP debacle I felt as if I had no sense of humor whatsoever. Why go to a meet when you’ll only be remembered as a humorless stick-in-the-mud?

    (Meet Goer #1: “Boy, that guy Jim sure is a grouchy bastard, isn’t he?â€
    Meet Goer #2: “Grouchy?! Is that what you’re calling it?! Ten minutes ago he walked up to me and called me a ‘fake-boobed, bottle-blonde Texas whore’! Can you imagine the nerve of that guy?......I’m from Brooklyn!â€)

    My mood considerably improved, that evening I walked over to the Mirage with an appreciable spring in my step. I was on my way to see the Cirque show, ‘Love’.

    I’ve been a Beatles nut since I was a little kid. I vividly remember seeing their American debut on the Ed Sullivan Show. I just as vividly remember my jaw practically hitting the floor at this vision. And that was it for me - I’ve been a die-hard fan ever since. Their music is timeless, and as corny and cliché as it sounds, they have supplied a huge chunk of the soundtrack for my life (bunch of others, too, I suspect). Such astonishing talent and charisma. I could go on and on about these guys. The Fab Four, indeed.

    Going in, I knew I was going to enjoy the show immensely, no matter what the Cirque performers did as far as acrobatics or dancing. I didn’t really care about that stuff. Hell, as far as I was concerned I would’ve been perfectly content to watch them all sitting in a circle onstage snapping their fingers to the music (as long as it was death-defying finger snapping, of course). It was this beast of a sound system that I had read about playing Beatles music that I was fired up for. Nothing short of me hearing Yoko Ono’s patented caterwaul coming through the speakers could’ve ruined this show for me. Gratefully, John never became so obsessively lost in love with her as to anoint her an official member of the band. It was wonderful. The sound system was glorious – very loud, but crystal clear and chock full of depth. They have small speakers in the back of each seat to supplement the overall sound. Simply a mind-blowing system.

    And the music itself? C’mon, what do think I’m going to say – that it sucked? I thought the editing of the songs was inspired (with one exception – I disliked the joining of Get Back with Glass Onion. The transition was awkward and choppy, I thought. They’re both fine songs but they don’t belong in the same room together, never mind attempting to “marry†them. There were also a sprinkling of alternate tracks included - songs that were eventually scrapped in the recording studio in favor of what came to be the final (and famous) versions. The one that took my breath away was George’s “While My Guitar Gently Weepsâ€. In my humble opinion this should have been the track that made it onto the White Album, not the Clapton-enhanced version. It was beautiful in its simplicity, and this arrangement much more aptly paid homage to the lyrics. Seriously, it was a tear-jerker, and it could be that this was what George was shooting for when he composed the song.

    I paid $165 (including tax) for my ticket, second row from the stage (reserved in early February). Some reviewers claim that too close to the stage is not optimal for this show. I had no complaints whatsoever. Indeed, I thought it kind of fun to see the facial expressions of the performers.

    As with all Cirque shows, there’s too much going on onstage most of the time to keep track of it all (especially being so close), so I didn’t try to. I would generally focus on one aspect of the performance and enjoy that, rather than having my eyes dart around trying to soak up everything. While it’s true that there are less acrobatics in this show when compared to, say, Mystere, there were a couple of sequences that were WOW moments that almost made me ignore the Beatles music for awhile.

    The costumes were outrageously wild (another Cirque trademark), and blazingly colorful. The various sequences of movement by the Cirque players were pretty much in sync with the music; at no time did I think “that doesn’t fitâ€, although some of it went a little overboard in the “silly†department.

    Overall, I had a blast (and based on the extensive standing ovation at the end, so did many other people). If you’re a Beatles fan, you should seriously consider this show the next time you’re in Vegas. And the converse holds true, too – if you don’t like Beatles music, go see another Cirque show. (I’ve got a vice-like grip of the obvious with that last sentence, huh?)

    Departure day – Friday April 6

    I saw a host this morning to see what kind of bone they would throw me for my play. They picked up three nights of my stay. Based on point accumulation, I put a little over $120k through the machines. A good chunk of this was when I lost my mind on the 50-play machine (....and we shall never speak of this again). I ended up losing $2900 for the trip. And, remember, that’s with a $4k royal.

    Instead of cash back, you accumulate free-play on your card as you go along. Mine was worth $270. I played it through a $2 JoB machine and ended up cashing a ticket for $410. Cool.

    The cab ride back to the airport brought with it a certain amount of sadness, but not overly so. Four nights in Las Vegas is enough for me. The thing that bothered me most was that I won’t be able to come back until next year. I used to be able to visit twice per year, but my schedule no longer permits this indulgence. The family and I are going on a Caribbean cruise during the summer. That’s nice, but….it’s not the same for me. My wife and daughter both hate Vegas (they tried it once). I shouldn’t complain about this, of course. I do get to come here on my own, and that has its advantages (don’t worry about them – I take them to plenty of places that they like to visit, too).

    The long plane ride home actually seemed to go by pretty quickly for a change. I kept myself busy for five hours – six if you include the airport wait - by laying down the skeleton (and a lot of the flesh) to this trip report, which was kind of an odd thing to do, because at the time I really believed that there was very little chance of it ever being posted. I figured that once I arrived home, I would never finish it (but I did, spending a sizable chunk of the weekend at the computer, trying to capture the trip while it was still fresh in my mind, all the while keeping myself sugared-up with Easter jelly beans and stale Peeps). Relax – this is my last report. These things are just too much friggin’ work (for both me and you). It’s getting old. So am I.

    I walked in the front door of my house around midnight. Pepperpot came running out from the bedroom prepared to rip apart this intruder coming into his house. He went nuts when he realized it was me. My boy! He demonstrated his joy by jumping up on me and having his urine make the trip from his pee-pee to my pant leg, like one of those celebratory tug boat fire hoses going off. No matter. I gave him the scratching of his life to show him that I was just as happy to see him. My wife then emerged from the bedroom, sleepy-eyed. She kissed and hugged me but, unlike Pepperpot, she managed to refrain from urinating on me.

    But considering that I was in Vegas vacationing by myself for the last four days, I can’t say with absolute certainty that the thought didn’t cross her mind.

    And that’s it. There’s probably no point in me apologizing for the agonizing length of this report. Anyone who has read my past reports knows that I’m hopelessly incapable of writing short ones. My DNA configuration simply will not allow it. But I want you to know, regardless of whether or not you found the report enjoyable or informative, that I appreciate your considerable time and effort. Truth be told, I actually edited out about 2,000 words – there are several gaps in the timeline to this report, stuff that had I written but subsequently removed because it was even more boring than what I included (try wrapping your brain around that possibility). That’s right – this was the condensed version. Imagine that.

    Thanks for reading, guys. I sincerely hope you enjoy Las Vegas as much as I do.

    Now, if I could just come up with a decent opening for this report….oh, crap….my dog is barking his fool head off in the backyard….gotta go…..

    Pepper! NO!!

  2. musicman

    musicman Tourist

    May 7, 2006
    Thanks for the report! Love to read reports as always, especially long ones! Agree 100% on Love, I tell everyone I know to see it when they stop in town.
  3. DonD

    DonD Super Moderator

    Nov 5, 2004
    So Cal 91748
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Very nice report, Jim. Being approached by a good looking hooker can be fun. Always a good story to tell the boys back home. Thanks for the report.
  4. Smarra17

    Smarra17 Poker Queen

    Jul 28, 2002
    Brooklyn, NY
    Trips to Las Vegas:

    Jim, that was a great report. Ok it took me three tries to get through it but damn you had me laughing.

    I for one hope that this isn't your last written TR.

  5. sin

    sin VIP Whale

    Jun 25, 2004
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Excellent tr! I love the really long funny ones! You certainly have to keep writing them!
  6. HurricaneMikey

    HurricaneMikey A-List Buffoon

    Jan 25, 2002
    Southeast of Sin City
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Wow. What a well-written and entertaining trip report. I bow to your greatness, sir. :nworthy:

    Normally, whenever I start to read a VP-only trip report, my eyes glaze over and I last about two minutes before hitting the 'Back' button. This, however, was a thing of beauty.

    I loved every bit of it. Well, except maybe the part at the beginning about the dog...

  7. Jer

    Jer I kinda did a thing...

    Jan 20, 2002
    Southern California
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    I echo Mikey's opinion...

    This was some good stuff!!!:thumbsup:
  8. BigBadBudgie

    BigBadBudgie Tourist

    Sep 5, 2006
    Vancouver, BC
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Thank you for this trip report :thumbsup: I laughed and laughed and laughed. And the part about Pepperpot, I don't own a dog, but now I want to get one! You captured the feeling of vegas that many try to write about but rarely can one identify with. I liked your budget too, same as mine less about 2K (holy crap but then I'm canadian eh!) I'm off in approximately 19 days, I hear the Parasol Lounge is supposed to be good, did you go there? I gotta ask the question, what year were you born? (only cus of the luv of the Beatles)
  9. JimboRob

    JimboRob Tourist

    Mar 16, 2007
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Thank you, guys, for the kind responses.

    HurricaneMikey - In 2003, before my first trip to Vegas, I tried to educate myself by reading trip reports. I ran across some of yours on the trip report website. It was actually YOU that inspired me to write my own reports. I used to laugh my ass off at your prose (still do). I am indebted to you for those reports. I bow to YOU, sir.

    BigBadBudgie - I'm an old fart - 51. I was 8 when the Beatles were on the Ed Sullivan Show. I haven't grown up yet, however.
    Also, I went for a drink at Parasol Down, but I sat at the bar - the patio tables were all full. If you can get a table outside - do it. Not cheap, though. The least expensive glass of Chardonnay was $13. Parasol UP is on the main floor, in the midst of the hustle and bustle. Looked nice, though.

  10. PHU-KNA

    PHU-KNA Tourist

    Jan 9, 2007
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Could it be?


    Is this the Jimborob from LV Talk? The one? The only? The best trip report writer ever?

    Welcome aboard, Jim (assuming of course, that I, as a lowely "Junior" member, was ever granted the authority to do so). You are a fantastic addition to this already colorful and fun bunch of degenerates.

    Ever since I read your first trip report, I have been hoping that luck would have it that I would sit down next to you at a 9/6 JOB machine, recognize your Connecticut accent, that you were drinking a Heineken, smoking, and then say - "Please put that out, smoke bothers me". Then invite you to the closest salad bar for a plate full of croutons and Milkbones.


  11. gmoney590

    gmoney590 VIP Whale

    Jul 8, 2006
    Tacoma, WA
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Excellent TR. Once in a generation a writer comes along that can mkae you laugh, make you cry, make you dream of things that can be; and, you sir, are that writer.:nworthy: Well, maybe it's just the Remy talking, but, it was still a damn fine read.
    Let the drunken olympics begin
  12. Emerald

    Emerald Low-Roller

    Mar 29, 2007
    Milwaukee Wisconsin
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    OMG, that was a great TR, you had me laughing so hard people at work thought I was going crazy. Thanks
  13. Lori R

    Lori R Tourist

    Apr 21, 2006
    San Diego, CA
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    This was an amazing report. I think you should wait a few months and post it again with all the parts you edited out. I'd read it for sure. Not boring at all---even liked the dog stuff. Your humor and editorial comments are superb.

    We're about the same age--I was almost nine when the Beatles were first on Ed Sullivan. A watershed experience for me as well. Saw Love and fully agree with you. As long as they gave me $150 worth of stuff to watch, I simply was happy to listen.

    Love your prose style. Please keep writing.
  14. timmysmom

    timmysmom Low-Roller

    Apr 26, 2006
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Jim, your TR was the best I've ever read; so well written that I feel as if I just came back from Vegas! Seriously, you should consider writing as a career.
  15. BigBadBudgie

    BigBadBudgie Tourist

    Sep 5, 2006
    Vancouver, BC
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    51 eh and you think you're an old fart, try born in 53 (year the Queen was coronated) and you'd feel a wee bit older. Thank you again for your trip report. Tho I will admit, when I need a really good dose of vegas, I look to Hurricane Mikey and his personal blog. The both of you are great writers! waiting to see articles in the New Yorker (seriously). Amazing talent. I'd do one of those Smilies but I've lost my printout on how to do it...so :thumbsup: (wow, I clicked on the more thingy on the right and it showed me how to do it..seriously I'm not that big of a luddite!)
  16. Dean Martin

    Dean Martin VIP Whale

    Jan 16, 2003
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Jimbo...what an excellent read:) I can so relate to your golf and VP experiences it was almost like I was in Vegas myself:) Ever since the Mirage was remodeled (is that what you'd call that butcher job?) we've stayed at the Wynn for our Vegas trips. This June we're even skipping Vegas all together and going to the Beau Rivage in Biloxi.

    As a side note I couldn't agree w/ you more re; the Mirage... what's amazing is MGM pissed away millions to make it look that way. What a shame.. it was such a cool place and absolutely timeless design.
  17. luckylori

    luckylori Tourist

    Nov 14, 2006
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Excellent excellent writing! I think your wife is crazy for not going with you. My husband and I have fun wherever we go, and you sound like you'd be fun fun fun. It's so amazing for me to hear that a room is only $90 more a night. To me, $90 a night for a room is pricey. But I love to hear that, because it helps me dream.
    You sound like a very kind, generous guy. That was so sweet of you to surprise that guy with a hundred bucks. I genuinely look forward to the day when I have some extra bucks to be able to do all kinds of pay-it-forward type acts.
    p.s. I don't think, however, that you should've bought that first hooker a glass of wine. She could've bought her own. Or gotten someone who needed her services to buy one for her. However, you are a very kind, generous guy, like I said.
    Loved your report...thanks!:nworthy:
  18. queentata

    queentata High-Roller

    Sep 20, 2005
    Crosby, TX
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    please never stop. As I sit here, with two of my pups wrapped around me, I am partially relievedof my longing for Vegas.
  19. Wanger1969

    Wanger1969 Iowa Nice

    Mar 8, 2005
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    You've inspired a TR or two yourself. Very entertaining read!
  20. PokerrNutt

    PokerrNutt High-Roller

    Feb 5, 2007
    Stuart, FL
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Excellent read! It took a couple of sittings to get through it - but it was a smooth, easy, fun read!

    Just a side note - you're comment about the Wynn color decor (red, red, and a little more maroon) - I was told that Asian's lucky color is red - another one of Steve's tactic to bring in the Asian business.
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