This was to be the longest trip I have ever taken to Vegas. The reason it was going to be that long is that I had originally planned a trip from Thursday to Monday with a group of friends. Half the group decided to push their trip to Monday through Thursday, and so I just decided to stay for the duration. I hadn't been to Vegas since May so I was ready to get reacquainted with my favorite city. In addition, I was pretty excited to be hitting Vegas on days 15-19 of ESPN's 19 days of football. Unfortunately, my buddy had a death in the family and had to cancel at the last minute. So, faced with a weekend in Vegas alone, I did what any guy would do when faced with absolutely no other options-I decided to invite my girlfriend out for the weekend. Just kidding, but seriously, to me, Vegas is all about the guy stuff-excessive drinking, degenerate gambling, and womanizing. So, here goes: Day 1: Thursday 11 November-No Gambling Unfortunately, I had to work very late Wednesday night, and decided, after a few drinks following work, to just stay up all night. I knew this was a mistake, but I am always a little paranoid about oversleeping and missing my flight. Had a 7 a.m. flight out of Key West on Continental. Connected through Ft. Lauderdale and Houston on my way to a 3:45 p.m. arrival in Vegas. It was really a long day of flying made even worse by a 4 hour layover in Houston. It is always interesting to look around at the people at the gate to try and see who else is going to Vegas. I had to sit through about 4 iterations of these groups until my flight was finally due. I love the feeling of finally being in Vegas. Quickly grabbed my bags and headed to the longest taxi line I have ever seen. Finally arrived at the MGM where check-in was very quick. Got a nice big room on the 11th floor with a king-sized bed (requested a king at check-in as I had booked a room with 2 beds). The rate at MGM was $169 for Thursday and $269/night for Friday and Saturday. My girlfriend wasn't due to arrive until Friday afternoon, so I had to find something to occupy my time Thursday night. I had a few buddies who are Navy pilots in for the Nellis Air Show. They were in Key West the week before and I just mentioned that I was going to Vegas and they said that the next air show was in Vegas. Had I known this, I probably would have just gone out solo for the weekend and linked up with them at night. I touched base with them at about 6 p.m. and they said the plan was to get together at about 10. Tried to get a quick power nap before the meet up, but mostly just laid in bed and watched ESPN. Met up with the guys in the MGM lobby at about 11, and we decided to head over to Mandalay Bay by way of NYNY. We ended up hitting Coyote Ugly ($10 cover) for a few beers while in the NYNY. I was not really impressed with Coyote Ugly. With the exception of watching the girls dance on the bar (some of whom should never be allowed to dance on a bar), there really isn't much going on. It is really hard to get to the bar, so we ended up drinking draft beer from a keg stand in the corner. After about 5 beers we headed to Mandalay Bay. On the tram from Excalibur to Luxor, we had our first encounter with some working girls. One of my buddies started chatting up two hotties while we waited for the tram. He told them we were in town for the air show. She said something like, "Oh, that's nice. There are a lot of shows in Vegas..." Not sure that she got the air show reference. On the way out of the tram, one of the girls slipped a business card into his back pocket. We had a good laugh at that one. We ended up at the House of Blues ($10 cover) in MB where a band called Metal Shop was playing. They were very entertaining. They are sort of an over-the-top cheesy 80's metal tribute band. Had a few more drinks there, and when the show ended they called last-call. We met a few girls at HOB, and all decided to head to Red Square. This place is nice, but a round of 4 drinks was $40 ($55 with tip). The drinks were very stiff, so, not really that bad. After having a few rounds of the hard stuff there, we just ended up heading back to MGM. We ended up splitting up at that point. One of the guys and his new friend went to Studio 54 and we headed for the Studio Cafe for some much needed food. The menu at Studio Cafe was pretty limited on Thursday night. The food ended up being pretty good, bill was only $32 ($45 with tip). After eating we said our good-byes and made plans to meet up the following evening. I went to bed at about 4:30 a.m. and slept like a log until about 11 a.m. Despite several attempts throughout the weekend, that was the last I saw of any of my pilot buddies. At the end of my first day in Vegas-no gambling! A first for me, and hopefully a last. Day 2: Friday-The Girlfriend Arrives Woke up about 11 a.m. and headed for the Spa at MGM. The fitness room at MGM is very nice and scarcely used. In addition, for the $25 daily fee you get access to the men's spa area with jacuzzi, steam bath, sauna, etc. Adjacent to the spa they have a nice lounging room with big leather chairs and sofas and a big screen. An added advantage to this area is that they have complimentary juices, fruits, and granola bars that can easily substitute for breakfast. In my opinion, $25 very well spent. I ended up just using the fitness room for about hour until I got the call from my girlfriend that she had arrived and was nearing the MGM. So, on this day, $25 not very well spent. Went back to the room and showered in time for g/f's arrival, and we headed out in search of food. Most of the restaurants in the MGM Studio Walk only serve lunch until 2:30 and then close until 5:30 for dinner. Since it was past 2:30 by the time we got going, we ended up just hitting the strip. We walked through the Desert Passage Shops at the Aladdin, and ended up eating at Cheeseburger in Paradise (I think). Great cheeseburgers, and pretty cheap. Lunch was $31 ($45 with tip). After eating, we ate we headed over to check out my favorite gambling spots-The Flamingo, O'Sheas and Casino Royale. I really was itching to play some craps, so first we hit the Flamingo. I like the craps vibe at the Flamingo. There are usually a lot of old-timers there and I enjoy getting on a table with them. The dealers are always really friendly, as well. I bought in for $200 on a $10 table. I played for a while and the table was neither hot nor cold. I just stayed steady for a while, and eventually cashed out ahead $10. Went from Flamingo to O'Sheas and bought in for $100. After the table went cold, I cashed out down $10. Back to even. Man, do I feel like a loser. Went to Casino Royal and could not get in on a craps table, so I settled for the $0.50 roulette table in the hallway. This is about as low as I roll, but I have had fun at this table in the past, and when there is a seat available, I find it hard to walk by. So, I bought in for $40 and just started playing a lot of different numbers. Surprisingly, I was hitting a lot, and before long, I was up maybe $80 and that was a huge pile of chips. I noticed no one at the table was tipping the dealer at all, so each time I hit a number, I ended up tipping him $5-10. When they switched dealers, I started a downward spiral and decided to cut my losses when I was back to my original $40. During this time, I got three drinks and tipped the cocktail waitress $5/drink and gave the dealer about $40 in tips. So, even at a $0.50 table, I felt like a high roller for a while. We ended up making our was back to the MGM by way of most of the casinos on the way. I stopped in the Boardwalk for the first time, and decided to give their craps table a try. It was pretty slow in the casino, but I bought in for $100 on one of their short little craps tables. There were only about 4 people at the table, and for a while I was up and then I was down. Ended up cashing in down about $6. So, at this point, I am not sure if I should be happy that with $440 worth of buy-ins, I am down only $6 or feel like a complete loser because I just haven't stuck anything out. We end up back at the MGM and decide to try to nap for a while as my girlfriend had a 6 a.m. flight and was pretty beat. We (read she) ended up sleeping until about 11:30 p.m. We then got ready and proceeded to head to the Luxor to meet up with the pilots. By the time we got there, it was late as hell, and a call to the guys indicated that they were already passed out and/or had called it a night. The guys who were flying in the morning couldn't drink anyway and the others apparently got sloshed pretty early. We made tentative plans to meet up Sunday night after all of the flying was done to really hit it hard at the Hard Rock, no pun intended. Well, all dressed up, and no place to go, we ended up just walking through the Mandalay Bay, Luxor, Excalibur, and NYNY on the way back to MGM. I stopped fairly frequently for refreshments. We ended up back at the Studio Cafe for some late night eats. The full menu was available, and there was a lot to choose from. Bill was $22 ($32 with tip). I set the alarm for 8:30 a.m. so that I could get down to the Sportsbook in time to make my college football bets for Saturday. The 3 hour time difference had screwed me numerous times with sports bets while in Vegas. Football at 9 and 10 a.m. just doesn't seem right to me. Day 3: Saturday-College Game Day Baby I somehow, manage to get up and down to the sportsbook in time to pick my bets on the early games. I made 15 different $50 bets and returned to the room to await the kickoffs. For the most part, my Saturday was spent watching football in the room, in the sportsbook, in the room, at various bars, etc. My girlfriend ventured out on her own to do some shopping and site seeing, and sort of left me to my own devices. She knows college football is my religion and Saturdays are the holiest of days. I ended up cutting it a little too close at the Sportsbook for the 4 o'clock games and of course picked the wrong guy to get behind in line at the counter. I made another 3 bets of $50 (2 more picks were closed by the time I hit the counter). We ended up just eating some decadently delicious chili dogs and chili-cheese fries from Nathan's for lunch and that was fine by me. By the end of the day, I had basically gone dead even on all of my bets and was down a little on the juice to the tune of about $22. We decided on a mexican restaurant in the MGM-Diego for dinner on Saturday night. They have a lady who makes fresh guacamole at your table when you arrive. Another guy comes out and asks what types of salsa you prefer and then brings out three types of salsa and chips. I was really blown away by the level of service and the guacamole was the best I have ever had. I had ill-tempered Seabass and my girlfriend had one of the specials-enchiladas, I think. The food was great, but again, the service was really incredible-probably made more so due to the presence of my girlfriend. The bill was ($92 charged to room, and $50 cash tip). After dinner we went over to NYNY for a while and then returned to the room for some quality time. Again, I set the alarm for 9 a.m. so that I could get down to the Sportsbook for the NFL games. Day 4: Sunday-Hotel Swap and Meet The Parents Got up at 9-ish a.m. and headed down to the Sportsbook. Picked 3 early games and 3 late games, and 1 NBA game and bet $50 on each. Went back to the room, and packed our stuff for the move to the Hard Rock. We cabbed it over to the Hard Rock and checked our bags with the Bell Desk. I grabbed a drink and a peak at the NFL games in progress. At the Hard Rock Sportsbook, I noticed the line for MNF was down to Eagles-6.5 (it was 7.0 at the MGM), so I bet $100 on that game. We grabbed the free Hard Rock shuttle to the strip. We made our way to the Forum Shops at Caesar's for some shopping and lunch. Basically, we were just trying to kill time until the 3 p.m. check-in time. We ate at the Cheesecake Factory, where, as always, the food was great and too much to eat. Lunch was $32 ($45 with tip). We did some browsing and shopping in the Forum Shops and went back to the Hard Rock for check-in. Our room was in the older side of the hotel, and I have always been in the new section. The rooms are basically the same, but the bathrooms in the older rooms are very small. I love the feel of the Hard Rock, and the very minimal decor in the rooms makes the room feel much bigger. The rate at the Hard Rock was $59/night. As a pure coincidence, my parents were arriving in Vegas on Sunday for a convention. They were booked at the Riviera, I guess due to it's proximity to the Convention Center. I touched base with my Dad and we agreed to meet at the Riviera later in the night. We napped for a while and finally got up to get ready about 8 p.m. I called my parents thinking maybe a late dinner was in order. Unfortunately, I forgot they like to eat early, so they had already eaten a few hours ago. No free meal for me tonight. We cabbed it down to the Riviera and called my parents. They were up in their room, and said they would be down in a few minutes. At that, we ran across the street to Slots-A-Fun and I burned through $50 at the craps table, while my girlfriend ate at Subway. I grabbed my $53 beer from the bar at Slots and headed back to the Riviera for the meet. I found my parents wandering through the casino, and made the introductions. We ended up sitting at the casino bar at the Riviera for a few hours catching up, and having a few drinks. I was surprised at how expensive the drinks were at the bar-I think I was spending about $25 a round for three drinks. To me, it just seems like sometimes in the older places, things should be cheap-like at O'Sheas. My parents had not been to Vegas in many years, and were not at all impressed with the Riviera. I stayed there like a year ago, so I knew it wasn't the nicest. From my previous stay there, I also knew about the great food counter at the Westward Ho. We said our good-byes and were on our way. My girlfriend was a little nervous about the meet and felt that my parents didn't like how young she is. I might not have mentioned, but my girlfriend is 20. That's right, not yet 21, and not a very good age for Vegas. As you read, you may notice that I only refer to my drinking and gambling, as she did neither. She was just happy to be in Vegas. Anyway, we went over to the Ho, for a Ho-dog, a few shrimp cocktails, and a strawberry shortcake. I think I actually managed to spend about $10 at the Ho, which is actually quite a feat. She was very impressed with the sheer amount of food and we both left very satisfied, but yet feeling a little disgusting. Those of you who have visited the Ho's food counter no doubt know the feeling. We walked for a little while, but with the wind it was pretty chilly, so we ended up cabbing it from the Frontier to the MGM so I could cash in my sports tickets. On the way we passed the old DI which was all prepared for implosion. I saw on the news later that night that they were planning to implode the building early the next morning. The new Winn Hotel looks very nice. I ended up winning about $20 on the day, as once again, I very nearly split my wins and losses evenly. The streak of mediocrity continues. My girlfriend has a very early flight out in the morning, and I am beat anyway, so we cab it back to the Hard Rock and call it a night. Day 5: Monday-Girlfriend Leaves/Buddies Arrive-Train Wreck Ensues Got up at about 6 a.m. to get girlfriend in a cab to the airport. I go back to sleep for a few hours. My two buddies are due to arrive at 2 p.m. At about noon, I headed down to the Rock Spa at the Hard Rock. The charge for use of the fitness center is $20. I think that entitles you to use the spa also, but I have never explored those areas. I worked out until the guys called and said the were on the way. Went upstairs showered and by the time they arrived, we headed down to Pink Taco for lunch. We all got tacos and a bucket of beer, The food was great, but in a restaurant full of pink taco, we had the only disgruntled gay waiter. Not that there is anything wrong with that. The service did suck, though. Bill $42 ($52 with tip). Let me preface this next section by saying this: I have stayed at the Hard Rock many, many times. I love the place, and have always had pretty good success in the casino. This trip at least changed my opinion of the casino. We all hit the casino with a vengeance, and the casino struck back with extreme prejudice. We all were wiped out to the tune of about $200 on craps and $100 on roulette. I made one more stab at craps and dropped another $100 making me the biggest loser of the session which lasted less than one hour. I probably should have taken this as a harbinger, but I was foolishly optimistic. Now I was longing for a revisit to my earlier days of mediocrity. We had booked a room at Harrah's starting Monday and going through Thursday. So, we were double booked at Hard Rock and Harrah's for Monday. We decided to head down to Casino Royale and gamble until we could check-in at Harrah's. I have to apologize in advance for the lack of detail that will follow. I can set the scene by saying that by 4:30, I was bellied up to the craps table at Casino Royale with a Johnnie Walker Black and water in hand and a cocktail waitress on a 5 minute rotation. About two hours later, my buddies reappeared and I told them I was staying put. At least, that is what they said I told them. I am a little fuzzy. Fast forward roughly 8 hours or so, I am at the O'Sheas craps table with only one other guy. I am down to a small rack of chips and then I catch fire. I am betting the pass-line, with odds, and making two-way bets all over the horn and hardways. The thing is that I am hitting these crazy horn bets one after the other. The dealers are loving it and we are all having a great time, and my stack of chips is growing. Then they come out with "this will be the last roll, we are closing this table." I couldn't believe it. Anyway, I colored up, and noticed a black, and several greens, so I was feeling pretty good. I stumbled back over to the Casino Royale and got on the little mini-craps table. I continued gambling and drinking, and I don't think I did too well. Well, at some point, I checked my messages, and my buddies had gone to the Hard Rock to sleep since they couldn't find me, and couldn't check into Harrah's without me. This is where I encountered my most embarrassing moment of the trip. Apparently, I decided to check into Harrah's. After getting the keys, I then left Harrah's in search of some late night food. I ended back at O'Sheas or maybe Casino Royale and got a sandwich from Subway. At this point, I got another call from my buddies who said that I should check into Harrah's. I agreed that was a good idea. So, I promptly walked back to Harrah's and walked up to the counter and tried to check-in again. I kinda recognized the guy at the desk (only guy working), and he thought it was pretty funny, but damn did I feel like an idiot. Pretty funny, huh. Well, that's not all. So, my room is 1648 which I assume means that it is on the 16th floor. Well, the elevators that I encountered only went up to 15. Very confusing to me in my current state. In addition, Harrah's apparently numbers the rooms the same in the Carnival Tower and Mardis Gras Tower. More confusion. After what seems like hours I end up back at the front desk. You guessed it-same guy. So the elevators to floors 15 and above were just past the elevators for 1-15. I just didn't walk far enough. At this point I have decided, and the front desk clerk probably agreed, I have drank myself retarded. I finally get to the room, and pass out with my Subway and a big bottle of water from the mini-bar. My buddies call me in the morning (i.e. 2 hours later), and tell me that they are going to check out of the Hard Rock and come to Harrah's. They had to pack all of my stuff and haul it with theirs over to Harrah's. In a little moment of redemption, they couldn't find the room either-ending up in the wrong tower, and they were sober. Thankfully, they grabbed by betting ticket for MNF, as I vaguely remembered asking someone about the game and they said the Eagles killed the Cowboys. A rare win at this point in my trip. Day 6: Tuesday-Recovery After catching up with the events of the previous night, I was not really able to piece much together. Based on phone messages and chips in my pocket, I gathered that I gambled at Casino Royale, O'Sheas, and Flamingo. I didn't actually know how much money I left the Hard Rock with on Monday (I tend to think about $900), but I only had $35 when I woke up. I had about $350 in various chips from O'Shea's, Flamingo and Casino Royale. Ouch! Well, we sat around and laughed at me for a while, and contemplated golf, and plans for the day. I decided that they should go and I was staying in the room. I slept off and on and watched TV until they got back to the room about 7 p.m. We decided to get some food and maybe check out the Improv Comedy Show at 10:30. We went to Kahunaville at TI for dinner. The food was pretty good, but the place is kind of annoying. Lots of goofy sh*t going on all around. It was cheap for dinner, though. Cost was $42 ($60 with tip). We then went back to Harrah's to get tickets for the show, which started at 10:30 p.m. Well, apparently during the day, my two buddies had been experimenting with some system of progressive betting on roulette. They would skulk around casinos until they saw a board with 4 or 5 consecutive red or blacks. Then, they would bet on the other color, progressively doubling the bets until it hits. They said they hadn't lost all day doing it, but by my estimation hadn't really won anything really big either. But, it started an annoying habit of theirs to just lurk around the roulette tables. Not my idea of fun, at all. So, we head to the Improv. The tickets were $28 each. Three comedians, one who acted as the host. The first lady was not that good, but the second guy (Greg Ott-I think) was really funny. The main feature was Judy Tenuda (sp?). She was not bad, but a little annoying at times. Drink service was really slow, and the drinks were very weak. We got two rounds-$18 each ($25 with tip). After the show, we were all pretty beat, so we went up to the room. We talked about taking a power nap and heading out in a few hours, but I know how that usually goes. They fell asleep, and I watched a pay-per-view movie (Napoleon Dynamite), and then went to sleep. Day 7: Wednesday-Golf, Drinking, Gambling, Drinking, Drinking, Drinking We all wake up pretty early on Wednesday, and decide we should play golf. We check on a course we had played before in Primm Valley, but it was a little pricey and far away. We end up just calling one of the golf booking services in the Yellow Pages-not sure which one. He sold us on the Las Vegas Golf Club at $39.99 each. He said we could cab it there, but we decided to go ahead and rent a car from the Hertz desk at Harrah's. We went down and rented a Chevrolet Trailblazer from Hertz ($75/day). I am glad that we rented, because it seemed like it would have been one hell of a cab ride. After getting the car, we hit the Harrah's buffet. I think it was $11.99 each. Not bad, not great, but we all left full. We got the car and heading to the golf course, running a little late. The rental car was really nice, but my buddy who drove said it had some bad blind spots. We could have planned it a little better if we had planned to play golf, but we all had to rent clubs ($17.50 twilight rate), buy balls, tees, and gloves. That ended up being about $100. The course was nothing special, but it was truly a beautiful day, and it ended up being a really good time. By the 13th hole, we were all getting doubles from the beer cart girl, and starting to feel pretty good. We are all hackers, which our scores indicated, but I won with a 101, followed by a 102 and 113. We finished up right before dark at about 4:30. We planned to see the Penn & Teller show at the Rio at 9:00, I think, so we decided to head back to the hotel. We stopped at the Hard Rock to cash in my bet ticket. We decided to gamble for a while, and again the Hard Rock wiped us out. I ended up dropping about $300 there and that basically crushed my gambling spirit for the rest of the trip. I decided to play Let It Ride for a while, and was doing OK. My buddy joined the table later, and proceeded to win one hand out of 22. He said he will never play that game again. We scrambled back to Harrah's to get ready, and picked up our tickets at the box office in Harrah's. We took the shuttle to the Rio, and immediately grabbed a few cocktails from the first bar we encountered. We grabbed one more drink inside the theater and then grabbed our seats. The show was pretty good. A lot of dialogue by Penn. Tickets for the show were $75 each. We got our picture taken with Teller following the show, and proceeded to just be drunken idiots until we ended up at Ra ($20 cover). We met up with another buddy who was in town, again by coincidence, and had a blast at Ra, drinking and dancing and having fun. By about 3 a.m., we suddenly remembered that we hadn't eaten since the Harrah's buffet at 10 a.m. Two of us left Ra and made our way to Fatburger. I have never been to In & Out, but Fatburger is always a stop when we are in Vegas. After eating we went back to Harrah's and found our third friend passed out in the room. He had no idea when or how he got back to the room. He was mess, and I was just glad it was not me this time. Although, none of us were in very good shape. In bed by about 4:30 a.m. Day 8: Thursday-Last Day, Leaving On The Red-eye We woke up at about noon on Thursday. Unfortunately, the rental car was due back about 10. We gassed up the car and returned to the Hertz counter hoping for some mercy. None to be had. Two days charged. We debated keeping the car and exploring GVR and maybe downtown, but in the end our hangovers won out, and we just turned in the keys. We then went to the Cheesecake Factory for lunch and back to the room to just be lazy for a few hours. In the evening, we hit the strip and wondered around. I made my way through all of the casinos where I had remaining chips and cashed them in while my buddies lurked around the roulette tables. We went to Gameworks and bought 2 hour access cards and just had some fun playing video games. We went back to Harrah's and grabbed a bite at the Garden Cafe. The seating was slow and they really looked understaffed. We were lucky enough to get a good waiter and the service and food were pretty good. Bill was $42 ($60 with tip). We ate quickly and grabbed our luggage and cabbed it to the airport. Check-in and security went quickly we were on our flight by 1 a.m. I really hate the sickening feeling of leaving Vegas. Back into Key West by 1 p.m. on Friday. Summary: This was my longest trip to Vegas ever, but I have to say, in many ways it wasn't long enough. This trip was different from most because I mostly just like to gamble and hit a few bars. The shows and golf were enjoyable, but in the end I just didn't quite get my gambling fix. I love Vegas because every time I go it is completely different and similarly comforting. I didn't get to hit GVR and I have yet to truly explore downtown, which were two of my goals for this trip. This was my first trip to Vegas during cold (or at least not hot) weather. I really enjoy hanging out at the pools during the day, and that left a void on this trip. I really enjoyed MGM and Hard Rock, and would also stay at Harrah's again because of the price and location. Plans in Vegas just don't seem to work out. As I said, I never did link up with my pilot buddies again, and couldn't manage to meet up my parents either. Based on the unpredictable nature of the evenings in Vegas, it is really hard to commit to anything during the day. As always, I can't wait to get back to Vegas to win back some of my money. I hope this report wasn't too long. Just writing it brought back a lot of good memories from the trip. If I can figure out how to include some pictures, I will add them later. Thanks for reading it.