Greetings fellow VMB’ers, Electroguy here. Just got back from my trip and wanted to share some highlights with you. First of all, it was a profitable trip! Yes, I made money and brought my original bankroll back intact but it was a modest profit, a little over a thousand dollars or so. I know this is peanuts to some of you but believe me, for someone who has been taking a beating for the last 4 trips or so, it was refreshing, uplifting, exciting, and….very much needed. For my spirit if for anything else, lol!! I decided to do this trip report more as a reflective type of report, talking about my experiences and how I felt about how things are now in Vegas as opposed to the past trips I’ve taken. It might ramble a bit, but honestly, I grew tired of posting a day by day type of report. I felt it was boring to read. But maybe this format will be worse, lol!! So join me if you wish, for my 2nd profitable trip in 17 tries in this wonderful city we love and call Las Vegas! This trip was with my wonderful Wife, who makes a perfect Vegas partner. She doesn’t like to go to Vegas often, preferring to go once a year so she lets me go solo from time to time. The trip was also coordinated with her sister and her, (sigh) husband. My wife enjoys going to Vegas with her sister. They love playing slots and VP together and like to enter slot tournaments. For those of you who wonder why there is a (sigh) after her sister’s husband, there are some threads on VMB written by me addressing this (sigh) husband of hers. Most recent was “Boyd Gold Card bites my BIL in the A$$” and an older thread that was titled “I wanna go to Vegas…but not with you”. Anyway, you can search these threads out but let’s just say this (sigh) husband is a challenge to go on a trip with. ‘Nough said. We stayed at the Cal from 3/15 to 3/20 then switched to the Orleans for 3/20 to 3/21. The Orleans was very smoky, something I haven’t noticed before. Maybe my asthma has gotten worse over the years but I don’t think I’ll stay there anymore. I like the casino and would still visit but the smoke can be bad in certain areas, especially by the buffet area. The Orleans also charge now for early check-in and I was charged $17 and some change for this. They also have a prominent sign that says a mandatory resort fee will be charged per day and also shows the services the resort fee provides. But upon check-out I was not charged the resort fee on my comped rooms. That was nice. But the early check in fee is annoying to me. The Cal renovations are very nice. The Hotel looks a lot fresher, cleaner, and brighter. The Sports Book is a huge improvement over the old one but not even close to Strip standards. Still, it was March Madness and it did attract a huge crowd. But I doubt there would’ve been a huge crowd if it was the old Sports Book which looked like a hole in the wall. The Casino is done as far as renovations and the West Tower has all the newly renovated rooms, which is where we stayed. The rooms are really nice, especially the bathrooms and shower. I didn’t take pictures but if you browse the Downtown threads you will see some members post pictures of the rooms. Really nice and a great improvement compared to what the rooms used to be. We didn’t get a chance to eat at the newly renovated Redwood Grill but in my opinion, I don’t care for the transparency of the new renovation. You can see the diners while walking past in the Casino and the diners can see you. I don’t care for this. I like intimacy, warmth, and privacy while dining in a nice Steakhouse. I don’t like to be on display and have people watch me eat my steak and crablegs. When we do get a chance to eat there I’ll ask for a table more on the inside of the restaurant. The Cal Noodle House is a fairly new restaurant that replaced the old Pasta Pirate and we dined there one evening and it was a disappointment. Now in all fairness, food critique is subjective. Some people will love it and some will not. Everyone tastes are different. We didn’t like it. Too spicy, and “weird” is the honest assessment I can offer to some of these dishes. My wife and I love simple, meaning when we eat bok choy or choi sum, we want to taste it, not some overpowering sauce or spice that masks instead of complimenting the true flavors of the ingredient. But that’s just us, and we’re old, lol!! I’m sure the youngsters love it. And that’s the thing with this new Cal improvement. I am positive it is attracting the younger crowd, which is a good thing for business for the Cal. But I often wonder about the older clientele that has been patronizing the Cal for years and years. They love to play the old “3 reel” machines like Blazing Sevens, Red White and Blue, Triple Stars, and such. These machines are still around, but not as much as before, being replaced by newer penny machines. I think this is good because I believe the younger crowd likes to play these more that the older ones. I just hope there will always be these older machines for the seniors to play. Overall, I think Downtown as a whole is doing something great. They are, without a doubt attracting the younger crowd as a value alternative to the Strip. I’ve always stayed Downtown and I can see how it’s becoming a great place for the younger crowd to hang out and party. I believe this is due to the insight of Dereck Stevens who transformed the Golden Gate and the D into a party haven for younger people. Of course I’m sure this spurned other casinos to follow suit. But I’m of the older generation. Will old farts like me still feel comfortable downtown? I remember the Cal being a haven for all the old grumpy men to play craps. I’m not kidding. MSS, Fremont, and all the other casinos would have a mixture of young, old, and in between gamblers at the craps table but the Cal stood out as the place where the old farts hung out. Now it’s changed. Lots of younger people come to play with the old farts. I’m sure it’s a good thing for the Cal, if that’s what they wanted. I’ve noticed that the younger people who buy in at the craps tables hardly ever buy in over $100. And the majority of them are clueless as to how to play. There’s a thing I call “fun drunk”. I like “fun drunk”. You’re having a great time and everyone is laughing and enjoying the fun times and each other. Then there is “stupid drunk”. Or “obnoxious drunk”. Disrespectful. Disrupting. A downer to the table vibe and everyone there trying to have a great time. The table slows down. Arguments about bets that were never there. Or yelling (screaming even) and acting like there was a mega-buck win over a simple won 5 dollar bet on the field. Again, not bashing the young people. Many of them are respectful and fun to play with. But there is an alarming amount of them that are simply out of control. A lot of the older folks can be just as bad. But this is what I saw and observed. Maybe because I was in Vegas during March Madness. Naturally there will be more younger people on vacation. Maybe that’s it. There definitely was a lack of older players shelling out thousand dollar buy-ins and betting in a synchronizing and flowing manner, where everyone contributes to the flow and continuity of the game. There definitely was a lack of these types of players. I think I’ll avoid March Madness in the future. O.k. Enough of the rambling. I mentioned that this was a profitable trip for me. The highlight of the trip was this Royal I got at a quarter machine at MSS. The machine is located right after you get off the escalator and right next to the craps table. I remember there was a VMB thread about handpays at the MSS for Royals. VMB member Joe said his wife had handpays for Royals at the Boars Head bar. Another member mentioned he had a TITO for his Royal at MSS. I chimed in my wife had a handpay for her Royal at the coin droppers in the back of MSS. And my Royal spat out a TITO. It all depends where you are at MSS, I guess lol!!. Here are some pictures of my chips while playing craps at the Cal. I also had a winning session at the MSS craps table. I went to Fremont to play craps but the tables were nuts. I couldn’t get on so I played a 5 dollar slot machine and won 200 something bucks. Here are all the other VP wins I had over the course of the trip. Oh, and my wife had 4 deuces on a quarter Deuces Wild machine. She won 2000 credits so it was a winning trip for her too! My In-laws rented a car so we drove all over Vegas while there. We visited Suncoast often. My In-laws stayed there at the beginning of their trip and loved the rooms. They also enjoyed the machines there. It seemed that Suncoast has some machines that Downtown doesn’t have. I enjoyed playing this VP machine that has a bronze, silver, and gold spin wheel that comes up for bonus credits if you have a 3OAK or better on your first deal. Fun to play and I did pretty well on those. We trekked out to Aliante Station one day now that Boyd bought that place. We still had to sign up for their cards as they did not take our Boyd cards. The lady at the players club said by June Boyd will have gotten all things straightened out there and whatever we played that day will not be lost. But we all felt we will not return. There’s nothing there that you can’t find at a closer Boyd property. We tried their Buffet and it was…meh. The casino is big and looks like Red Rock. It’s just in the middle of nowhere and too far out to venture again. My wife and I stayed two days after my In-laws left to go home. We were at the Orleans so we ventured out to the Strip one day utilizing the Orleans shuttle and saw a show at Ballys. It was the group “The Bronx Wanderers”. Pretty good show. Something like the Jersey Boys without the story format. They play live instruments and again, they were good! One of the bad parts of the venue is not the group itself but how they CRAM you inside the showroom. My wife and I were glad we did not purchase general admission. I felt sorry for them. They were in chairs literally touching SHOULDER TO SHOULDER throughout the show. Shame on the show management. My wife and I were sitting away from each other because they alternate tables and seats. Hard to explain but if you do decide to see this show, ask to be seated together. The seating chart is misleading and you won’t be able to see exactly how the seating is arranged. Too bad. The seating sucks but the band is good. Well, that’s it. My wife and I had a wonderful time, and the icing on the cake was we won money. Not much but everything we took bankroll wise came back. With more. Whoo Hoo! On my last solo December trip it was such a losing experience I didn’t want to write a trip report. The previous 3 trips were not any better so it was nice to have a trip like this to lift the spirits! My wife’s sister and (sigh, lol!) husband did not fare as well. I hit my Royal Flush on the morning that they were scheduled to leave to go home. I texed my wife the picture of the royal and told her not to tell them of the win because they will be sad. They still don’t know. As much as my brother-in-law irritates me on Vegas trips I still feel bad when he chases his losses. He was losing so badly I gave him a hundy on the day I won at craps just to lift his spirits. But this was not a good gambling trip for him and I know how that goes. For me personally, I’m a little anxious if my Cal experiences are a sign of things to come. I’m older, prefer quieter atmospheres, and shy away from loud, hooting, yelling, screaming gamblers at the tables. I like the usual yell and shout at the tables, but I simply abhor obnoxious behavior. I love craps but it’s the smooth, orderly flow of the game that I love, not a game where it gets slowed down or stopped because the players are too drunk to focus on the game itself. Like I said, I like fun drunk but do not like stupid or obnoxious drunk. I mentioned earlier, it might have been because of March Madness. Maybe I just need to avoid it. Thank you so much if you’ve managed to read this far. I don’t know when my next trip will be but I wouldn’t be surprised if a solo trip is in the future, maybe during the summer months. I definitely would also like to take a November trip if possible with my lovely wife. Good Luck everyone on your next Vegas trip! Regards, Electro.