Al and Sal return for trip #32 – three nights for two 50-somethings with a thirst for bar-top video poker and as many drinks as possible. Landed on Tuesday afternoon, picked up the rental car and down the strip by 3PM. First up is Ricardo’s Mexican restaurant on Flamingo for a late lunch – shared the chicken burrito special which was plenty for two – along with an ice cold Dos Equis, Sal had a pomegranate banana margarita which she reports was satisfying. Excellent off strip food and easy to find. Next on to the nearby Orleans Casino to play our first VP of the trip at the Piano Bar, site of no less than three royals over the years. Goal today is to rack up 300 points – which activates the weekly promotion gift giveaway. Easily done in about 20 minutes of play and a couple of Coronas. What is the promo gift today at the Orleans??? Well come on down and pick up your fancy Emeril Legasse inspired Spatula / fork things! BAM!!! Not sure what they are “for” (maybe pasta?) but they do make excellent back scratchers. I guess that means I’m checking my bag on the way home. Played a bit more VP in the back bar and hit a couple of four-of-a-kinds, then decided to go check in at the Trop. Easy valet at the Trop, but there are stairs to get to the check in – oh they have a ramp way over there??? Whatever, they don’t call it “luggage” for nothing. Great staff at registration, asked for a room in Paradise tower on advice from this board – good call – and received two warm chocolate chip cookies as well as a high floor strip view room. This was on a mailer for two free nights, no resort fee, no tax... all in was zero dollars and a mighty-fine deal. Trop Notes: Staff is excellent, Rooms have a nice beach theme décor, with plantation shutters, slightly mismatched and gently worn furniture. It was quiet. Windows can open a bit, which is OK for taking a photo if you don’t mind risking dropping your camera but otherwise serves no purpose. Also, the windows are covered with white mesh that takes away the views which would have been pretty spectacular otherwise. The elevators were a bit slow and clunky – you can see through the crack in the door while it’s in transit and that’s just plain creepy. Plus the “bing” sounds were inconsistent for each floor and sometimes didn’t work at all. The casino is small, I found it a little on the boring/slow side but Sal said it was just fine and had no complaints. I kind of liked the orange floral carpet but there is an overabundance of bright whiteness otherwise. Also, no decent VP at all, well drinks at the bar are gunned and just so-so, didn’t eat anything other than Starbucks. The pool is nice and opens at 10AM, I rolled around on the (real!) grass and lounged under the shade of a palm tree one morning while Sal slept in. Too bright for me. Nice carpet though. Ran into an unusually large number of Europeans staying at the Trop. I pretended to be English myself while chatting up a family from Leeds in the elevator – but they caught on straight away and gave me a well deserved eye roll. Easy walk from the Trop to ExCal / NYNY and S. strip. Walkway to the MGM is closed for construction. No fee to self park at the Trop. Walked to the Monte Carlo one evening to partake of the MyVegas Whisky tasting. I can’t recommend this enough. This is the third trip we had this comp but the first time we actually made it over to the MC. I sure wish we had made the effort previously and will absolutely try it again next time. The Hit bar is quiet and dark, with comfy chairs/couches and a view into the casino. All the drinking choices are excellent – three choices from one of five different groups. The comp is worth 40 bucks. We each got three pours – three single malts for me and three straight bourbons for Sal. She only tasted half of one so I downed the other 5 and a half all by myself... I tried each one neat, then added water to each glass and finished them up over the course of an hour. Regular prices for flights - not the same selection as MyVegas flights. One of these was 135 proof.... Was it worth it? Yes it's worth it! I’m 99% certain that they were all good but honestly have no idea what they were or what happened after that. One or three left an impression of pure unadulterated rocket fuel. There were phenols and some good smoky flavors. Left a ten for a tip and slowly walked back to the casino floor, eventually found myself playing video poker at the front bar while Sal sipped on a Mai Tai and watched the kids shoot pool and knock the foosball around by the front door of the Monte Carlo (MC has pool tables?!) before walking back to the Trop. I found out later that there was a whole casino (NYNY) that we walked through on the way home – who knew??? Thank god for Sal to direct me on the right path. The next day we packed up and left the Trop, never checked out – just got our car out of valet and never returned. The promo was for two nights but we had double booked for two nights at the M, which is a no-brainer transition. Stopped for breakfast at the spanking-new Black Bear Diner on the South Strip, right at the outlet mall. I had a steak sandwich and Sal had the “bears choice” breakfast. Both tasty. I’d give it four stars and a thumbs up. Afterwards a stop into the South Point to play bonus video poker at the bar – site of no less than two royals over the years. There was a national bowling championship going on and it was fun seeing all the bowling league guys/gals running around with their matching jerseys and pulling special luggage for their gear. I’m sure some of them had two or even three bowling balls in their carts. Sal hit a straight flush and several four-of-a-kinds, but I had no luck at all and was grumpy. A couple of Sam Adams to change my attitude and then we headed down the strip to the M. The M-Resort is our favorite place to stay in all of Vegas. Fantastic rooms with huge windows, sweeping views, and amazing bathroom. Nice pool – but it was too windy outside for us. They have a great staff throughout. The casino is perfect in every respect – good VP at all levels, $5 craps at all hours of the day/evening, excellent well drinks poured from a bottle, not gunned – and made with name brand liquor i.e. Makers Mark, Tanqueray, etc. Attentive, friendly and fun bartenders. The buffet is very good and includes beer/wine. Good selection of music piped through the casino, beer bar with excellent selection on tap. The whole place is squeaky clean and has a good feel. Food choices are limited, no food court, no chain restaurants, and limited hours on the in-house eats, but there are enough choices to keep you going, and it’s all pretty good. This trip we tried out the Jayde Fuzion restaurant which is an excellent Asian / sushi place with the odd part being you pay one price ($24 per person) and select from either the 1) unlimited sushi or 2) unlimited Asian food - but no sharing between two people! There are about 20 things from the Asian menu so that’s what we both did. Tasty in every way! We had Miso soup, cucumber salad, chicken lettuce wraps, pot stickers, crab Rangoon’s, a spicy shrimp thing, a spicy beef thing, a spicy chicken thing and a very nice bottle of Sauvignon Blanc for $96 including tip – charged to the room if you please. Most of our time was either at the “center bar” or the “32 degree” bar playing bonus video poker, occasionally three line and occasionally something more exotic like triple-your-money-loss double fancy-pants bonus bonus poker... something like that anyway. I think we each got a straight flush and four aces, many other assorted four-of-a-kinds, but no royal. Its overdue now I think and I may just have to file a complaint with corporate. Straight flush porn! Between us we went through about $700 out of pocket over three days, which is peanuts for most VP players but feels right for us. The thing is we are focused on one thing – drinks poured and placed down in front of us, and hitting the right buttons, and remembering where the closest bathroom is, and something else too... I forget. I keep track of drinks by tallying the number of single dollar bills I lay out on the bar and knowing approximately how many singles I had at the start. One dollar = one drink. By this meticulous method I concluded that we downed 120 individual drinks for the trip. Absolutely text-book binge drinking behavior that we do not condone or recommend or advise that anyone every try. Oh, I also laid down a couple of fivers along the way so it was probably closer to 130 drinks –but who’s counting? This is by far our most valuable comp so we max it out every trip. One morning we drove across the street for breakfast at “The Bar” at Bermuda and St. Rose, very close to the M. This place is really very good. Super dark inside and music not too loud. At 10AM we were the only ones eating in the restaurant part so had a waitress all to ourselves. I had a tasty omelet and Sal had “The Original” - three eggs with sausage and sourdough toast that was actually dripping with butter – like you could hold the toast up and drops of golden goodness would form along the bottom edge. Nothing better! After a couple of bloody Mary’s it was time to return to the M after a quick stop at Dotty’s for cigarettes. I want to say something about “Dotty’s” too... it was recommended by the Orleans bartender as a place for cheap smokes, and they have many locations around town. After our brief visit I would recommend that you should stop in if you are driving past one. Just go check it out... not somewhere to hang out for a long time, but there is something special about the quiet country store ambiance and the VP clientele. In any case, The Bar was a nice change of pace from the casino and well worth a stop at any time - its 24/7 and also has several locations around town. We give it two thumbs up, five stars, whatever. Couple of other notes: Dollar rental car : No issues, no complaints, no troubles. Shuttle takes a bit longer because of construction around the airport, but not a problem. Gas was about 2.45 / gallon. Valet parked at both the Trop and the M and our car mostly sat in the garage since we were usually “busy” inside at the bars. Southwest: Flights all good, no issues, had the middle seat open both ways = SW first class, and they gave us each a couple of free bourbon drinks on the way home just in case we were still thirsty.