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Madness I tell you, Madness!!!

Discussion in 'Vegas Trip Reports' started by HurricaneMikey, Mar 28, 2003.

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  1. HurricaneMikey

    HurricaneMikey A-List Buffoon

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

    My Trip Report

    Ok gang... It's after 1:00 am here in Nashville, and I've got to get up in the morning and move furniture. I didn't go out drinking or nothin' tonight...I stayed in and finished this report.

    Hope ya'll like it. By the way, it's 16 pages. You can get reimbursed for printer cartridges at the craps tables later on this summer. :D


    Madness, Sheer Madness

    I told everyone that I couldn’t make it to March Madness in Vegas this year, and I truly believed that. I’m still semi-unemployed, and no longer live a 4-hour drive away. It looked like the tradition was coming to an end. My buddies, however, would have none of that nonsense. They (Eddie B, Sam, Derek, and Ed W) were all going, as usual, and had been putting the pressure on me to be there ever since I moved to Nashville back in January. As Derek told me—“You’re the big green olive in our Vegas martini—you HAVE to go!” Well, I still had some cash left in the bank from the side-trip that Eddie and I took two months ago, and since I had no work scheduling conflicts to worry about, I started to consider it.

    The main problem was that airfare from Nashville was RIDICULOUS. Almost $500 everywhere I looked. Eddie and the boys talked of passing the hat again, but I squashed that idea. I told the fellas back in Phoenix that there was no way I’d be joining them this year, but I wished them luck, and asked that they just tell me all about it when they got back.

    So there I was; about a week away from the start of March Madness, depressed and dejected, drinking alone here in Nashville, unable to even bring myself to watch Oceans Eleven or Vegas Vacation. Then the phone rang. It was Sam, calling from L.A., asking me once more to consider going. He suggested I try Priceline.com, and since my schedule was open, any whacked-out itineraries couldn’t bother me too much. (I’ve always avoided that method for the past few years, since it seemed that they always route me through Cincinnati on a commuter plane. I hate that.) Well, we talked for a bit, and I told him not to say a word to the other guys, but if I could find something that afternoon for a reasonable price, I’d jump all over it. Sam swore an oath of silence and I said I’d call him back as soon as I heard back from Priceline.

    An hour later, I had a response. Delta actually gave me a rate of $199!! So, now the die was cast and I was on my way to Vegas. I was so excited that I pulled out my suitcase and duffel bag before I even thought to call Sammy back. I finally got hold of him, and told him the good news and we decided to keep it as our little secret. Sam would be flying in from LA about an hour after I got to town the following Thursday, and Eddie B, Derek, and Eddie W would be driving up from Phoenix a few hours later. We would surprise them, because they all believed I’d be missing this trip.

    I managed to keep my mouth shut, which was tough, because the guys in Phoenix were emailing me constantly over the next few days trying to get me to go, exerting ungodly peer pressure on me. Eddie was sending me links to Vegas pictures, Derek was quoting me Vegas movie lines, and Ed W was just trying to ‘guilt’ me into coming. I enjoyed the attention, but somehow they finally believed that I was serious about staying home this year; however they told me to keep my cell phone handy because if anyone won big, they’d be flying me out. I told ‘em I would definitely be there if one of them hit the Megabucks or the Elvis progressive.

    Of course it took a few hours to fall asleep on Wednesday night, as I kept visualizing another trip like the last one. I finally passed out at some point with a goofy grin on my face, just like a kid on Christmas Eve. My alarm woke me up at O-Dark Thirty, and I shot out of bed like Bill Murray in ‘Groundhog Day’ that time he realized he wasn’t in jail. After a quick shower and a shave I was on my way to the long-term parking lot, ahead of rush hour traffic.

    My flight left at 6:50 in the morning, and of course, it was on a ‘code-share’ commuter jet, this time to Dallas. Check in was fast and easy, and the security guy with the wand used plenty of lube, so it was quick and painless, too. It didn’t help, however, that he looked like Boggs on the Shawshank Redemption. I stopped and got a blueberry muffin, hazelnut coffee, a pack of gum, a Wall Street Journal, and the latest issue of ‘Cruising World’. I was ready to go, having visited the ATM and the cigar store the day before.

    Luckily, nobody sat next to me on the flight to Dallas, so I tried to read. It was impossible, because my brain wanted to think about dice, cards, cocktail waitresses, 3-team parlays, and free booze. I swear I daydreamed all the way to DFW and the flight seemed like it was about 15 minutes long. After we landed and drove a half an hour to the terminal, I had quite the hike to my connecting flight. I had a 3 hour layover, so it didn’t matter too much. I took my time, people watching along the way, and thinking to myself how lucky I was to be traveling for pure pleasure, when most of the people I saw were strictly business. I made a pit-stop, and then did a little bit of browsing at the newsstand before I went over to my gate.

    When I got there, the gal behind the check-in desk looked vaguely familiar to me, so I walked up and asked her if she used to live in Atlanta. She looked at me, grinned, and said that she had, and she remembered me too!! Her name was Suzanne and we had worked together at Macy’s down in Atlanta about 16 years ago. We’d even been out on a ‘group-date’ once, so we had quite the little reunion. Nobody else was checking in just then (I still had over 2 hours before the flight), so we spent a few minutes catching up. Since I was heading to Vegas, she said she’d start me off on the right foot and she UPGRADED ME TO FIRST CLASS FOR FREE!!! [​IMG] I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again—sometimes it’s good to be Hurricane Mikey, and this was one of those times! First Class is ALWAYS sold out, so I thought it was pretty cool to get a seat up there in that De-Luxe Apartment in the Sky… We chatted for a bit more, until other folks started to approach the desk, so I thanked her again, we exchanged email addresses, and I took a seat watching all the activity out on the tarmac.

    The flight to DFW might’ve gone quickly, but sitting there in the waiting area was pure torture. I tried to read again, but I couldn’t. I tried to watch a little bit of the war news on the TV. It didn’t interest me. I was bouncing around in my chair like kid amped up on too much cherry Kool-Aid and not enough Ritalin. I just wanted to get to Vegas and drink with my buddies! Let me on the plane!!!

    Finally, they let us board. I had a window seat next to a nice older executive lady who happened to ‘travel2vegas’ all the time. After just a few minutes, while the rest of the great unwashed were herded to their chicken coops in the rear, the flight attendant started passing out the free Heineken. I was still about three hours away from Vegas, but already partaking of free drinks and flirting with an older woman, so I thought it was a good sign. If someone would’ve walked up and offered me a timeshare, it would’ve completed the moment.

    My seatmate didn’t busy herself with work, like everyone else in first class, so we had a great conversation about the whole March Madness concept, blackjack strategy, Megabucks, and other great topics from Sin City. With the good company and the never-ending supply of Heineken, the fasten seatbelt light came on before I knew it.

    I had a great view of My Favorite City as we landed, and I wondered just what kind of adventures we’d have on this trip. Would it top January’s experience? I highly doubted it. Would it come close? I truly hoped so. Or would I get on a massive losing streak and never recover, sending me home with a bitter heart and a vow never to return. I sure hoped not.

    I had a little change in my pocket leftover from my purchases in Nashville, so of course I did something I’d never done before, and put a couple of quarters in an airport slot machine. I didn’t win anything. After a quick stop to relieve myself of the six-pack I’d had on the flight, I made my way to the baggage claim. I didn’t have to wait very long, and was on my way to the cab line shortly thereafter. There was quite a line outside, but I figured it would move quickly, which it did. I was on my way downtown about 15 minutes after I’d picked up my bags.

    I told the cabbie “Las Vegas Club, no tunnel” and was on my way. Traffic was a little heavy, and my fare was about $23 if I recall correctly. I gave him thirty bucks, hoping that the gambling gods might reward me for my generosity.

    Sam had told me that Eddie had reserved an MVP room at the Las Vegas Club, but since the room wasn’t in his name, we couldn’t check in until Eddie got there. Ironically, I was the first one from our group to arrive in Vegas, so I just gave my luggage to the bellman, walked up to the bar in the front of the casino, and ordered a big slushy drink. I raised a silent toast to all of the people that had no idea I was even there, yet wanted me to be. Then I sat down at a blackjack table.

    Being that March Madness was in full swing by the time I got there (about 2pm local time) the casino was pretty full. Of course, since it was during the first games of the first round, most of the guys in there were glued to the TV’s, so it was easy to get a seat at a table. I bought in for a hundy, and played two spots. I figured I’d play for a little while as Sam was only about a half hour behind me. I lost my first two hands, as the dealer pulled a blackjack right after the shuffle. So I was down $20.50 in gambling losses already. I made up for it when the dealer busted the next two times. It was a single deck game, and we were on about the fourth shuffle when Sammy showed up. We’d agreed to meet at the LV Club blackjack tables, and he saw me before I saw him. Of course, when he yelled “YO MIKEY!” from down by the cashiers cage, everybody else in the casino saw Sam about the same time I did.

    He sat next to me, and I went back to playing just one spot after the next shuffle. Sam assured me that the other guys had no idea I was going to be there and that they said they’d be in town around 7:30 that night. We were to meet at Joe’s slot machine at the Golden Nugget.

    What is Joe’s slot machine, you ask? Well, Sam’s brother, Joe, goes to Vegas about 10 times a year, and spends about 8 hours a day at the very same machine every time. He’s not really in ‘our group’ but he’s there a lot of the times we’re there, too, so we sometimes use his preferred location as a place to meet. It’s right on the end of a row just as you step up into the Sports Book area at the Nugget, and it overlooks the walkway between the casino and the pool area. So it’s a good place to watch people wandering by and meet up while downtown. Besides, “Meeting at Joe’s machine” sounds every bit as cool (to us) as meeting under the clock at Grand Central. It’s just a shorthand description that everyone in our gang understands.

    So it was about 2:30 in the afternoon, and we had five hours to kill. First things first, we had to get some sports bets in, so we wandered down to the Golden Nugget. The 12/5 seed thing didn’t look too good with BYU in there (besides being too late to bet it anyways), and the money lines weren’t nearly as juicy as they were in years past, so we just made a few bets with the point spreads. Sam made more bets than I did, as I kinda wanted to see how things went the first day and wait for the Friday games to bet more. I was most proud of my ASU and Central Michigan picks, however.

    After making our bets, we found a couple of empty slot machines, sat down, and pulled out copies of our brackets to compare. Every year, we have a big office pool type of thing going where everyone submits their brackets, pays a $25 entrance fee, and hopes for the best. You get 1 point for a first-round win, 2 points for a second round win and so on, except that if you pick the winner of the final correctly, you get 10 points. Of course the person with the most points wins. Second place gets fifty bucks; the winner gets the rest, except for $10 for the person with the worst bracket. This year we have 14 people in the pool, and Eddie was holding all of the bracket sheets—safeguarding them that weekend like the President’s nuclear launch codes.

    So after about an hour of making sports bets, talking about the tournament, and checking on the games in progress, we decide to hop over to the Golden Gate for our traditional first meal. Nothing says “I’m finally in Vegas” like sitting down to a deli sandwich, shrimp cocktail, and a cold draught beer from the Golden Gate. Sammy and I both got the French-dip, with no thoughts of renaming it a freedom dip. But just like the French army, it didn’t last long, either. The shrimp was great, too, and soon after that, we went to find another blackjack table.

    We decided to stay and give the Golden Gate a little of our business and we both basically broke even for a couple of hours. I think I left the table about $40 up for the day, and Sam was down about ten bucks. I didn’t want to play any craps until Eddie got there, but that didn’t preclude us from wandering over to Binions.

    As soon as we walked down to the craps pit, one of the dealers noticed me and said “Hey, Mikey is here! Step up—we’ve got plenty of room!” Sam just looked at me, shook his head and rolled his eyes, mumbling something about being a big fish in a smelly little pond. I told the dealers that I’d be back with 4 buddies in a couple of hours, but I had an appointment with the Elvis machine at the moment.

    So we wandered over to the same bank of quarter Elvis machines that we always play on, and fed about $60 bucks each to The King to begin with. The cocktail waitress showed up a few minutes later, and the Captain and Sevens begin to arrive, gratis, of course. We both hit a few ‘Play Elvis’ reels, but hadn’t had enough to drink to cause us to sing along.

    Sam wanted to play some more blackjack, so we cashed out after about a half an hour. I had $55 worth of quarters; Sam had none. After a brief stop at the cage where the alchemist turned our metal into paper, we were on our way to the blackjack tables. We gave our players cards to the pit boss as we sat down, and bought in for a couple hundred each.

    So far, we’d been breaking even for the trip, but this table was really good to us. It was one of those lucky streaks where the dealer couldn’t get the cards, and we kept pulling 20’s and 21’s. It was great to progressive bet and have the splits and double downs work like they were supposed to. The other guys at the table were big Notre Dame fans, but since they were playing ‘right’ and having a great time laughing with us, we didn’t mind too much.

    It was about 7 pm when we decided to cash out and head over to the Nugget. I was up about $280 and Sam said he had won about a hundred more than me (dude got a blackjack with black chip on the circle just a couple of minutes before we left). Anyhow, we got our cash and walked across the street, ready to collect some more cash at the sports book. ASU, Central Michigan, and Wisconsin-Milwaukee all covered, so I was a happy boy. Sam won some kind of parlay, too, so we were both up over $500 for the trip and Eddie and the boys weren’t even there yet.

    The Nugget was pretty crowded at the time, so we figured it’d be easy for me to hide. Joe was at his machine, so we talked to him for a bit, and told him about our plan to surprise the guys with me being there. I first met him the night of the ‘teef’ story, three years earlier, so of course he asked if I had another set with me. Sadly, I did not. After a few minutes, Eddie called Sam’s cell phone and said they’d just pulled into the LV Club valet. I went to a slot machine about thirty feet away, and tried to maintain a low profile and hoped that I wouldn’t be seen in the crowd.

    It took about ten minutes from the time Sam’s phone rang until I saw Derek and the two Eddies wander up. I was hunched down at my slot machine for a minute just watching them, all laughing and talking, and I stood up and yelled “HEY SOUL!!!”. All of them turned around and the look of ‘shock and awe’ on their faces was just priceless. I think I saw Eddie W mouth the words ‘No Effin’ Way’ or something to that effect. My buddies were just floored that I made it. They had no idea that I’d be there, so lots of high-fives and male bonding took place at Joe’s slot machine over the next few minutes.

    Anyhow, we were all laughing and carrying on and had our brief reunion, but the guys wanted to get a schedule and a list of the lines for the next day’s games. So after a quick stop there at the Nugget sports book, we decided to go back over to the LV Club and get checked in. We all milled around in the lobby while the two Eddies went to get the room keys. Both rooms were on the ninth floor, with views of the California, Main Street Station, freeway, and industrial parks of northeast Vegas. This is our third stay in the MVP room at the LV Club, so I’ll spare the details of the room. It was just as nice as we remembered it, and housekeeping brought up the rollaway for me and some extra towels right away.

    We turned on the news and watched for a little bit while we unpacked. Eddie W and Derek had the cooler in their room, but left us with some beers for our fridge. They came over to our room about 20 minutes later, and the first order of business was to check out the days scores and see how everyone’s brackets did on Day 1 of the tournament. Eddie pulled the big manila envelope out of his suitcase and got out his yellow highlighter. We were reading him scores and he was marking up all of the sheets. Then we had a moment of sheer comedy. Joe had printed out a copy of LAST years brackets, yeah, the 2002 tournament, filled it out, and faxed it to Eddie. Of course, Eddie just put it in with the rest of them without noticing it until just then with all of us sitting around with him. The funny thing was that Joe didn’t even have Maryland going to the Final Four. We laughed ourselves silly, and spent the rest of the weekend busting on him for this faux pas. Derek had the funniest line—“Dude, where’d you get that bracket, HistoryChannel.com?” We really got a lot of mileage out of that one over the course of the weekend, and the nickname ‘McFly’ stuck to him after his Back To The Future gaffe. Eddie immediately paid him ten bucks.

    After that, everyone else wanted to get something to eat at Golden Gate, and Sam and I agreed to go back; after all, it’d been almost 5 hours since we were there.

    Sam and I just had a beer and another shrimp cocktail, while the new arrivals all got the same plus sandwiches. Eddie insisted on buying my dinner, which was cool with me. While we were sitting there, we were entertained by a white-trash couple at the end of the bar screaming obscenities at each other. Security was called before a fistfight broke out, but we were hoping for one, so we followed them out into the street. No such luck, as they didn’t say a word to each other once they got outside. We wondered if they were the distraction for somebody pulling a scam at a table. They didn’t look smart enough to be that sophisticated, but we were digging our grassy knoll moment, anyways.

    Since we were already headed toward Binions, we naturally just went there next without even saying anything. Of course we stopped at Mermaids and got some beads first. This led to Ed W’s usual rant about how he wishes he would’ve been the one to come up with the whole ‘Girls Gone Wild’ idea. He is truly disappointed that he didn’t think of it first.

    We made our way down to the Binions Horseshoe Craps Pit, my favorite place in all of Vegas, and the dealers welcomed me and Eddie by name, which was very cool. We all managed to squeeze into a $5 game, and March Madness 2003 was now officially underway, as far as we were concerned.

    Derek, the king of the C & E, got the dice first, so we all tossed chips at the stickman. Wouldn’t you know it; his first 3 rolls were 12, 3, and 3. So we made a few bucks off of the sucker bets before he even set a point. His roll wasn’t much to speak of, and the dice made their way around the table without too much damage to our bankrolls.

    Before long, a well-dressed couple stepped up to the opposite end of the table. He was in a suit; she was in a too-small dress that was VERY low-cut. I was standing next to the stickman and whispered to him that if he would short-stick the dice when she was shooting, my end of the table would be very generous tippers. You all know what kind of tip-hounds the dice dealers at Binions are, so we prepared ourselves for a good show.

    Just a few minutes later, the dice went to their end of the table, and everyone was doing the usual encouragement for a lady shooter. She set a point, and the stickman pushed the dice back, but not quite all the way, so she had to lean waaaay out to reach them. She threw the dice again, got another number, and immediately everyone at our end of the table started making two-way bets for the dealers. It was pretty funny, because absolutely everyone at the table knew what was going on, and the stickman kept leaving the dice just out of her reach after every throw. The boxman just rolled his eyes and grinned to himself while all this was going on. The great thing was that this chick had a MONSTER roll going. She just kept hitting everything, and a few hard way payoffs made their way into my rail. And after every throw, she had to reach for the dice, giving us all a free show. Of course she loved the attention, and her boyfriend even said to the stickman, “Hey, you don’t have to be so obvious man; they're new, she loves to show 'em off…” It was a fun table for quite awhile.

    We stayed at that table for a few hours, and Ed W had a monster roll of his own later that evening, so everyone who stuck around pocketed a few bucks. Before we left the table, the pit crew gave us breakfast comps, too. Finally we stumbled away, much drunker and a few dollars wealthier. We played a little ten-dollar blackjack after that, more to rest our feet and smoke cigars than to try and keep our winning streak alive. Good thing, too, because I gave back about $250.

    Ed W and I wandered back to the Las Vegas Club around 3 am, and found the rest of our gang sitting at one blackjack table. Derek had a few stacks of green chips in front of him, so he seemed to be doing pretty well. We watched for just a few minutes, and then everyone except Derek headed upstairs for bed. He was respecting the streak.

    I woke up first the next morning, only because I was the only one NOT drinking scotch the night before. While my buddies dozed, I showered and got dressed. They woke up a little later when Ed W knocked on the door. After Derek showed up we went back to Binions coffee shop for breakfast. There was a small line, but we had comps. However, it took ‘em a few minutes to find a table for 5.

    I’m a creature of habit at the Horseshoe, so for breakfast I ordered Benny’s Natural again. It’s a huge ham steak with eggs, hash browns, toast, and coffee. I consider it the perfect hangover food. And we were all very hung over. When the waitress asked for our drink orders, we all said ‘coffee and water’. Just as she was about to walk back to the kitchen, I asked if she could also bring me a tall glass of milk, too. The power of suggestion kicked in, and everyone else asked for juice or milk, also. She chuckled a bit and wrote it all down.

    A few minutes later she came back with this tray full of drinks, and as she set them on the table she asked “You boys tryin’ to put out a fire this mornin’?” We admitted that indeed we were, and she said “You’ll never be able to drink all the liquor in this town—I don’t know why ya’ll insist on trying…” We had a laugh at that, and decided that even if we couldn’t, we had to give it the ol’ college effort.

    Over breakfast we discussed another March Madness tradition, which was we each put $10 in a pot, everyone picks one team, and we make a parlay out of it. Of course, this has never paid off, but it’s a lot of fun. And before you ask, we missed it by 3 games this year, too.

    After breakfast, we decided to head to the Strip and visit the Mandalay Bay. I knew it was going to be a zoo up there, but we needed a dose of the Madness. Cab fare from Fremont Street to the Road to Mandalay was quite substantial, but since we knew that Derek had the most successful trip thus far, we made him pay it.

    It was after noon by the time we got there, and the sports book was completely packed. It was insane. Guys were sitting on the floor down front, looking straight up at the monitors, the aisles were crowded with bodies, and honestly the room had the most cigars being smoked at one time this side of Havana.

    We tried unsuccessfully to get seats somewhere, anywhere, but gave up after about a half an hour. Didn’t get a drink, either, so we decided we’d rather gamble at the tables. Instead of watching war news or basketball games, we prepared ourselves for battle in the green felt jungle. Being that it was a Friday, and a busy weekend, Mandalay Bay had already jacked up their table limits, so we hiked over to the Luxor. There were still a few $10 shoe games to be found there, so Derek, Ed, and I sat down, while Sam and Eddie went off to seek their fortune at the Megabucks and video poker machines.

    We had a cool dealer named Luis who kept giving us good cards and busting when we needed him to. This, coupled with Derek’s obvious card counting bet spreads, brought a lot of scrutiny from the pit boss. It wasn’t long before Luis went on break, and Lasorda brought in the Closer from the Asian Gaming Room. So we all got up, went to the gift shop for a snack, and then just waited near the table till Luis got back. The replacement dealer just stood there, staring straight ahead, not smiling, for the entire twenty minutes. Luis finally came back and we all sat right back down again. And our streak continued until his next break. As soon as we got another new dealer, we each colored up. All three of us were up, but Derek was the all-star at third base, and had the biggest stack of chips, again.

    We wandered the casino a bit, drinking coronas, smoking cigars, laughing at freaks, playing a few hands here and there before ending up at a craps table. It was a fairly warm table, and one of my rolls made everyone some good cash when I kept hitting the hard 4 over and over again. We found Ed and Sam after a few hours, but they hadn’t hit the Megabucks. Eddie said that he’d gotten a couple of 4 of-a-kinds on the video poker that kept him playing all afternoon.

    We were starting to get a little hungry and wanted a change of scenery, so we decided to cab it down to the Barbary Coast. When we got there, the Big Elvis was performing for a packed house in the lounge. We stood in the back near the bar and watched for a few minutes, while I resisted the temptation to run up and jump onstage to sing and dance with him, ignoring my buddy’s offers of cash and pliant women. Big Elvis can sing, by the way. Close your eyes and you’d think it was actually The King, not the King Size.

    At the end of the set, we found the hot dog stand and each bought a couple. With a cheap beer they were the perfect snack to keep us going. The Barbary Coast is small enough that we all decided to just kinda split up and do our own thing, so Ed and I headed for the craps tables, Eddie and Sam opted for video poker, and Derek found an open seat at a blackjack table.

    Now, my losing streak at the Barbary Coast is four visits and nine months long, so I figured I was due for a little bit of payback. Luckily the table we ended up on had a very consistent shooter that kept getting us sixes and eights, so before long we were playing full odds and making some money. That felt great, because based on my calculations I figured that the BC owed me about three grand and a kiss or two. I made back about 1/5th of that over the course of the next few hours, while taking full advantage of their outrageously efficient drink service.

    (Side note—We never got our player’s cards there, which, in hindsight, was a pretty dumb mistake. We’ve played there a bunch in the past year, and while I’m in the middle of writing this trip report, we’ve planned our next excursion, and got a good rate at the Barbary Coast this July. So now I’m kicking myself for never letting them know who I was, because I’m sure we would’ve gotten some kind of room discounts and/or comped meals. I am a complete dork, in this instance.)

    Anyhow…the craps tables at the BC were finally good to me and Ed W, and we were smart enough to leave at the end of a nice long run. We found ourselves all meeting up again while sitting at the slot machines by the front door on the Flamingo side. As far as the other guys go, Sam managed to get a royal that afternoon, Eddie was still king of the four-of-a-kinds, and Derek said that he got a lot of heat from the pit critters while he was playing blackjack.

    We said goodbye to the Barbary Coast, with money in our pockets for once, and started walking north. We were all pretty lit up from the constant drink service there at the BC, so if anyone saw a group of 5 guys stumbling down the strip last Friday evening, laughing like hyenas, chances are, it was us.

    Not wanting to give the Flamingo or Oshea’s any of our winnings, we made our way down to another one of our usual stops, the Imperial Palace. Some folks say it’s a dump. I say it’s a classic. I love to gamble there. About the time we got to the casino entrance, a taxi pulled up, and this total street-bum-looking guy, (dirty t-shirt, ratty hair, 3-day-old beard, filthy torn-up pants) got out of the cab carrying a 12-pack of Pabst Blue Ribbon. He walked straight into the casino and towards the elevators. Sam pointed to him and said “Nothin’ says Imperial Palace like that dude right there…” I was only slightly offended, and laughed along with the rest of the guys, because I knew there was more than just a little bit of truth to that statement.

    All the craps tables were full, so Eddie B and I sat down at a Let-it-Ride table. I normally don’t play this game, but its fun when you’re working on a cool buzz, so we hung out there for a couple of hours. I didn’t win anything, but Eddie hit a couple of straights.

    While I was sitting there, I decided to smoke one of my Partagas. Well, after about fifteen minutes, I had quite the ash going on the end of my cigar, so Eddie tells me to see how long I can keep it from falling off. Everyone at the table was fascinated by this, so after awhile, I was holding this cigar straight up in the air and smoking it from the bottom, looking like a total jackass. Of course, everyone else was getting a huge kick out of this and holding their breath every time I moved my hand. Pretty soon, I had about two-and-a-half inches of cigar left, with about four inches of ash balanced precariously on the end of it. About that time Eddie was dealt another straight and bumped my arm, sending the ashes everywhere, most notably onto my shirt and into my drink. So the whole table had a good laugh at my expense. Being a nice guy, he offered to pay my tip on our next round of drinks.

    The other guys found us a little bit later, and we managed to all get onto a $10 blackjack table. It was a 6-deck shoe, hit-on-soft 17 game. We were playing for awhile, flirting with the cocktail waitresses, trading friendly barbs, and generally having a typical buddies-night-in-Vegas experience. We were all kind of breaking even at the table when Gigi, one of the dealers we’d encountered last summer, showed up. She’s a very attractive older Mexican woman, and she said she remembered us, and of course we believed her.

    Unfortunately, she was dealing some tough cards for about an hour. I got three twenties in her first shoe and lost each one. Every time she’d get a soft 17, I swear the next card out of the shoe was a four. It was unreal. Derek and Sam got pissed off and left to go play Elvis. The two Eddies and I stayed to make a run at it, mostly because we were comfortably numb and tired of walking around. Well, that, and Eddie B likes Mexican chicks.

    Our luck changed right after that, apparently having Derek and Sam leave the table seemed to change the flow of the cards for us, so we started winning a little back. I had lost about $170 in the first hour, but I made that plus another two hundy over the course of the evening. We stayed at that same table for a long time, and it was pretty late by the time we cashed out. On our way out, we stopped in the front of the casino and had a moment of silence in honor of the spot where Eddie groped the chick that had tackled him the year before. It was a moving, but brief, ceremony.

    Derek and Sam were nowhere to be found, so the three of us took a cab back down to Fremont Street right after that.

    We got out at Binions, but the place was completely packed. It was a Friday night, and the craps tables looked like they were 3-deep. It was impossible to get onto a table in there. We stopped for a beer, took a quick walk around, and decided to head back to the LV Club. I was really tired, my feet were killing me, and my buzz had changed from ‘mellow & pleasant’ to ‘I hope I don’t wet myself’.

    It was about 2:30 in the morning when we finally got back to our room, but Sam wasn’t there, and we figured Derek was still with him anyways. Eddie was asleep about 5 minutes after we got out of the elevator and I passed out in the rollaway bed with the light on.

    A couple hours later I woke up when I heard Derek and Sam come stumbling in, totally Fubar’d. Derek tripped over the end of my rollaway and fell down on the floor spilling his chips, disposable camera, keys, and glasses all over the floor. Apparently he’d forgotten how to use his pockets. He was still there six hours later when the rest of us woke up.

    We were rather lethargic that Saturday morning, and it took us a great while to get moving again. Eddie W knocked on our door around noon, asking if we’d seen Derek. We just pointed to the lump in the corner. We wished we would’ve had some masking tape, because we thought it would be fun to tape his outline on the floor so that it looked like a crime scene. Instead, we got his camera, and I dropped my pants to my ankles and bent over. I gave the ol’ brown eye while Eddie snapped a picture. So when Derek gets his film developed, there’s going to be a full-frame photo of my ass in the middle of the roll. [​IMG] I swear I’d give my left one to be at Walgreens the day he picks up those pictures! We laughed ourselves silly just thinking about it. After we calmed down a bit, we gathered his chips and stuff into a pile by his head and left him there for housekeeping to pick up, while we went to lunch.

    We had no comps for Binions, as we’d spent the entire previous day down on the strip. Eddie B and Sam opted for the Upper Deck, while Ed W and I headed over to Binions snack bar so we could get some chili. Man, it sure was good. I had a big huge bowl of their famous chili with cheese and onions, and a cheeseburger with all the fixin’s. I washed it down with a large root beer. Eddie ate the same thing and we finished every last bit of it. I had the greatest tasting burps ever for the rest of the afternoon. Talk about hitting the spot. I rate it in my top five best meals I’ve ever had in Vegas. It was that good.

    Once we got up from the bar stools, we spent some time at the craps table. It was a good run, and we both made a couple hundred bucks. The highlight, however, came when there was this grouchy old guy playing the dark side against us, and just scowling at everyone at the table. Of course, when we rolled, we did everything we could to knock his chips over, and whenever he lost a bet, we did our exaggerated cheering and high-fiving. Well, he finally got the dice, and we thought we’d go Dark Side on him. However, it took him FOREVER to roll the dice. He played with them forever, twirling them around, rubbing them on the felt, stacking them, unstacking them, just being a human rain delay. Everyone else was like “Let’s go, pops”, even before the boxman said anything. He rolled his point, so Eddie and I lost our bets, and he just sneered at us from the opposite end of the table. [​IMG]

    He started his little ritual again, ignoring the heavy sighs from everyone else at the table, when the guy next to me said “Come on Granpa, you ain’t got much time left, lets roll the dice”, to which I added “Hell, if I were his age, I wouldn’t even buy green bananas”. We all giggled a bit and he came back with the something along the lines of “I’ll roll when I’m darn good and ready, I’ve been shooting dice since you were in diapers!” He shoulda never said that. Of course you know what the quickest thinking smartass at our end of the table replied with—“Well I’m playing craps and YOU’RE the one in DIAPERS—So roll the F*CKING DICE ALREADY!!!” I wish I could’ve taken credit for that one, because everyone just doubled over in laughter. (I’d heard that line before, but somebody else beat me to it). The boxman intervened and said “Sir, you’ll need to pick up the pace a little”. He sevened out a few minutes later, and took his chips without even coloring up. Nobody was sorry to see him go.

    Eddie and I went to the cage a little while later, and then went outside to wander Fremont Street. We found Derek coming out of La Bayou, holding a tall glass of Hair of the Dog. We asked him about his evening, and he said he’d won over $2000 playing blackjack at the Golden Nugget, while drinking about the same amount in booze. He told us that Sam, Ed, and Joe were down at the Fremont, so we decided to walk down there.

    We found them near the sports book, hitting on the Miller Lite girls. They’d gotten some freebie shirts and hats and stuff, and made a few more bets. We wandered around the Fremont for awhile, watching some games, playing a little bit of blackjack, and taking full advantage of the free beer. The casino was pretty crowded, but Derek and I managed to get seats at a $5 table with four girls from Connecticut. Of course, all of my buddies were expecting a repeat of my success from the January trip, but I didn’t think I could deliver. (Eddie pointed out that I was two-for-two whenever we’d stayed at the LV Club in the past, so he fully expected me to find some girl willing to get freaky on the rollaway bed this weekend).

    Anyhow, we had a great time playing with these gals—they said they were in town for a ‘girls weekend’ which immediately put all kinds of thoughts into our heads, not all of them entirely honorable (Hey, 4 chicks come to Vegas for the first weekend of March Madness, where the ratio is like 10 guys for every girl, they stay downtown, they’re playing table games, they’re drinking heavily…Thoughts ranging from ‘SCORE!’ all the way up to ‘I wonder if my parents would like her’ and ‘I hope she’s a good cook’ all crossed our minds…).

    We enjoyed their company immensely, but I just got crushed at that table. Derek gave back some of his winnings too, but we couldn’t pull ourselves away. I swear if they only let ugly chicks play blackjack, I’d come home with more money every time. Men are weak pigs. We fully admit it. Derek pointed out that the three-to-four hundred we’d both lost would’ve bought us companionship that we could’ve more easily closed the deal with. Oh well, we still had a good time.

    We finally wised up and left that blackjack table, and shortly thereafter found the other guys watching a roulette game in progress. Joe was betting on it pretty heavily, saying he had a ‘system’. His system consisted of waiting until the ball fell in the same row four times in a row, then betting heavily on the other two rows (at 2 to 1). I saw it work for him twice, and even though we knew better, we gave it a shot. We lost twice before we gave up in disgust. Financially, it was a crummy afternoon at the Fremont.

    While we were there, everyone was talking about the 25-year-old kid winning the Megabucks down at the Excalibur. The neon telegraph had the news out all over the city, so those machines stood empty for the rest of the weekend.

    It was after 8:00 pm when we decided we were hungry again. Joe had some pretty substantial comps at the Nugget, so we followed him down to the Carson Street Café. Even though the restaurant was very crowded, we got a table for six without waiting in line.

    It took us forever to decide what we wanted to eat, having told the waiter to come back twice before we were ready to order. A few of us had the clam chowder, which was great, and along with the bread they kept bringing us, I knew I wouldn’t be able to finish my dinner. I ordered some grilled chicken pasta, and it was a huge portion. It was excellent, too.

    Over appetizers, we started a fascinating conversation about the Megabucks and how although it’d be fantastic to win it, how your life would change and all the stuff you’d have to do differently. Eddie asked the question “Would you rather win a $500,000 progressive jackpot—or something less than that from being involved in a 4-hour craps roll?” Man, what a great dinner topic. We debated and theorized for over an hour. We went off on all kinds of tangents on just how much you’d have to be betting and what kind of crazy luck you’d have to have. It was seriously one of the most interesting discussions I’ve ever had. (I think I’d take a little less money and hold the world record for throwing the dice).

    Dinner finally ended, and we were now primed and ready to try and get a world-record craps throw started. It was Saturday night, so Binions was packed solid, and we didn’t think they could afford us breaking them, anyways, so we headed back to our home base at the Las Vegas Club.

    There’s always room at the dice tables at the LV Club, so the five of us bought in (Joe stayed behind at the Nugget). We were laughing and carrying on, and we got involved in the retelling of the “teef” story that had happened at that very table three years before. The boxman was listening to us and said he was there that night and remembered the whole thing.

    We truly wanted to enjoy the craps table, but nobody could get a good roll going. The table turned ice cold on us after about an hour, so we bailed out before we got hurt too bad. We all kind of scattered throughout the casino looking for something else to do.

    I managed to get a seat at a $5 blackjack table, and played pretty well. I was having trouble with my progressive betting, because I couldn’t get blackjacks on my big bets—only on my smaller ones. That drove me nuts although I did fairly well for the session. After I got up, I found Derek and Eddie W grinding it out on a $25 table, and doing pretty well. It was about 2:00 am by this time and I’d stopped drinking, so I watched for a little while and headed up to the room.

    Sam and Eddie B were already up there telling stories and drinking the rest of the beer in the fridge. I joined them, and we did the inventory of the wallets. I left my house on Thursday morning with 10 Benjamins and 5 twenties on me. I was now sporting 23 Benjamins, and a few other assorted bills, along with 17 half dollars (I keep them so I can track how many blackjacks I’ve gotten when I bet the table minimum. [​IMG] ). I was pretty happy after I’d counted up all my winnings, however, my bubble burst a little when I thought of how much I’d lost that day. But I still had a winning ticket to cash in for taking the over in the Kansas/ASU game, so I was happy about that. But the Sun Devils got crushed. So I couldn’t decide how I should feel, so I just crawled into my rollaway bed—alone—and dozed off with another silly grin on my face. After all was said and done, I actually felt pretty good.

    The next morning, the alarm on my cell phone woke me at 8:00 am. I was very groggy and a little depressed, because this was the day we all had to go home. I must’ve stood in the shower for about twenty minutes, doing nothing, just trying to jumpstart my system. I had been on a really good high for three days, and I was starting to come down. You know, that feeling you felt when you realized how much you spent for Celine Dion tickets? Yeah, it worse than that.

    Anyhow, I showered myself out of that depressive funk, woke up the fellas, and started packing. Sam and I both had flights leaving around noon, so we had to get rolling in order to all have breakfast together.

    We had made plans to meet at the Golden Nugget buffet for brunch, and there was quite a line. Joe had some line passes and more comps, so we got right in. It was a great meal—I had a bunch of fruit, an omelet, and some toast, trying to do get my body to forgive me for all the abuse I’d put it through over the past three days. Ok, I did go back for some bacon, too. We all had another laugh at Joe, because he had the bad sense to order a mimosa instead of coffee. We immediately revoked his Man Card, and sentenced him to a month of Cosmo quizzes and ‘Sex and the City’ reruns. [​IMG]

    After we were done eating, we made a quick stop back at the sports book to cash all of our remaining tickets. Sam was the big winner in sports bets, and actually won a couple of halftime parlays. Unfortunately, he was still down about $300 for the trip, most of that going into the Megabucks machines and an unfortunate black chip split & double down where the dealer pulled a 21. He also picked 28 of the 32 first round games right, and was leading our bracket pool.

    We got back to the Las Vegas Club, gathered our luggage, and checked out of our rooms. It was a rather somber ride down the elevator, but we knew we’d be doing it again sometime later this summer. We all said our goodbyes down in the lobby, and the Phoenix guys went to the valet, and Sam and I shared a cab to the airport.

    He had a 50 minute flight to LAX. So did I, but on a different airline. Then I had to fly to Atlanta. My flight to Atlanta was completely full, and I had a coach seat next to the window. I was crammed in so tight, I felt like a big ol’ worm on a little bitty hook. It was the longest flight ever. Then I had to fly to Nashville. Luckily, I had a little more room and got to doze for a few minutes. I finally made it back to my own bed around 2 am Monday morning. I was completely wiped out. I slept until around 4 pm. But like the kid on the day after Christmas, I still woke up happy. I was still on vacation and instead of bunch of new toys, I had a pocket full of cash and some great memories. Viva Las Vegas.

    Final Thoughts

    • I finally got some Binions chili. Damn, was it ever good.
    • Speaking of Binions, the place was packed. I have no idea why they can’t turn a profit.
    • Derek has turned into a dangerous card counter. He won HUGE this weekend. I saw brother man hit a hard seventeen in a two deck game. He pulled the four.
    • I finally won some money at the Barbary Coast, but lost my ass at the Fremont.
    • My ‘nookie-streak’ at the Las Vegas Club is over, unless you count that alone time. Wait, did I say that out loud? Just kiddin’.
    • It’s friggin impossible to get a seat in a sports book during March Madness.
    • I’ve now had hot dogs at Binions, Golden Gate, Mandalay Bay, Caesars Palace, Harrah’s Carnaval Court, and the Barbary Coast. Still haven’t had a Ho Dog yet.
    • I was cutting through the alley between the old Mint side of Binions, and the original Binions, and saw one of the old craps dealers sitting out there smoking. He greeted me, and so I sat out there smoking with him during his dinner break, and he told me some great ‘old Vegas’ stories. It was a classic Vegas moment that I won’t forget. Good Times.
    • We can’t prove it, but we’re pretty sure that the Golden Nugget has put an electric-shock dog collar on Joe. I’ve never seen the guy more than a quarter mile away from there.
    • I don’t much care for Dan Rather giving us war updates during the middle of the basketball games, but we couldn’t really escape it this weekend.
    • I actually made a hop bet once this weekend. The dice did a ground-rule double, and before they went back to the shooter, I gave 3 red chips to the stickman and said “1-6, 2-5, 3-4 on the hop, five each”. The shooter immediately sevened out and all my buddies looked at me like I was an idiot. I pocketed the $75 bucks, and I didn’t do it again. I feel chastened.
    • We’ve already got the next trip booked. Last weekend in July at the Barbary Coast. I can’t wait.

    Thanks for taking the time to read this. I hope ya’ll enjoyed it.

  2. jack_retired

    jack_retired Tourist

    Jun 22, 2002
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    It was great. Thanks for posting it. [​IMG]
  3. Coaster Kikky

    Coaster Kikky Tourist

    Jan 8, 2003
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Thanks for taking the time to write it up, Mikey! Your reports are just the best!

  4. Bosco

    Bosco VIP Whale

    Apr 4, 2002
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Thanks, Mikey

    I printed this one and the last one for the boys to read on the plane Monday. I need to go out and get a new print cartridge.

    You are the MAN!!!!
  5. No Sevens

    No Sevens Tourist

    Mar 28, 2003
    Little Rock, Arkansas
    Thanks Mikey,

    Another great report as usual. (I just found this site, but went back and read all of your reports)

    I have stayed a number of times at the Barbary Coast and have always had a great time. Be sure and meet Pat Morgan while you are there. He is one of the pit bosses and I feel sure he will comp your stay by reading the way you guys play.

    I am not going again until September unfortunately. I look forward to your July report already however.
  6. No Sevens

    No Sevens Tourist

    Mar 28, 2003
    Little Rock, Arkansas

    One other thing I meant to add. At the Barbary Coast they will not let you a rollaway bed in a room with two other beds. You have to take a room with a king bed to be able to use a rollaway. Some kind of fire department deal is what I was told.

    Also, if you go for the king room, be sure and ask for one close to the strip. You get a great view of the Bellagio fountains.
  7. punkypete

    punkypete Tourist

    Jun 17, 2002
    Your Vegas stories always put me in the mood for another trip. Thanks for a great report and glad your trip was so successful money wise!
  8. milehiman

    milehiman VIP Whale

    Sep 21, 2002
    Scottsdale, AZ
    Once again a great read

    I wish I could have been a fly on the wall when you popped out surprising your friends.

    You made money, you had fun and you're back in Vegas with your buddies. What more can you ask for?
  9. spendo

    spendo Tourist

    Mar 12, 2003
    Ontario, Canada
    Mikey, excellent trip report, glad to hear you had so much fun and were able to make the trip.

    Spendo [​IMG]
  10. Ries27

    Ries27 Tourist

    Aug 24, 2002
    A great read as always. Thanks for taking the time out to share the adventure (and make us all jealous)!
  11. Absolutdrinker

    Absolutdrinker Low-Roller

    Jan 21, 2003
    Just to echo the comments of the others i guess.

    Good for you! high five's all around from the travel2vegas board.

    My next trip is this summer some time too.. cant wait!

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
  12. hgmom

    hgmom Tourist

    Mar 20, 2003
    Whoa Mikey! When I saw the length of your post, I just printed it out! Thanks though cause I am at work and forgot to bring any reading material tonight....good timing.
    I hope you don't mind, but I shared some of your funnier moments aloud with my co-workers -- we all enjoyed it!
    You gave me plenty of visuals -- I thought I had the classic one, thinking about a bunch of guys n "shock and awe" over a long cigar ash. That was until I read the part about your "picture" that was taken. [​IMG] Nice.
    And thank you, you have now explained why the dice dealers at TI last year kept leaving the dice at half table for me. I'll be sure to watch my "assets" a bit closer this year!
    Awesome trip report....sounds like you had a great time!
  13. gtomew

    gtomew Low-Roller

    Feb 15, 2003
    Trips to Las Vegas:
  14. Ellen8723

    Ellen8723 Guest

    As ususal, a good trip report Mikey. You do have a way with words! [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
  15. LVRon

    LVRon Well-Known Member

    Mar 15, 2002
    Mikey, take me with you next time! [​IMG]
  16. mudpuppy

    mudpuppy Guest

    Damn it Mikey, we want DETAILS!

    Excellent trip report. I read it aloud to my wife, and it had her laughing the entire time.

    Seventy-two more hours!
  17. GGecko

    GGecko Tourist

    Sep 25, 2002
    Great trip report Hurricane, but I have to disagree with you on one point. You stated that "sometimes it's good to be Hurricane Mikey" it sounds like it's good to be HurricaneMikey ALL THE TIME!!!!! :D

    Great report, your the man!! [​IMG]
  18. vegasbound

    vegasbound VIP Whale

    Mar 3, 2002
    Las Vegas
    Once again a great trip report! Sounds like another fabulous trip. Look forward to reading the next one.
  19. Smarra17

    Smarra17 Poker Queen

    Jul 28, 2002
    Brooklyn, NY
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    No wonder I always have to reach half way across the damn table to get the dice! My husband has his daily Vegas counter on his computer at work and I am downloading all songs that remind me of Vegas. Mikey thanks for the report you are the man. The looks on your friends faces must have been priceless. Glad you had a great time but too bad your streak ended.
  20. KingArgyle

    KingArgyle Tourist

    Aug 29, 2002
    Mikey, just so you aren't without a card the next time you go to Barbary Coast, go to their website now, and order one online. They'll ship it to you and you'll be all set. Can't have you missing out on comps just because you don't have a card.

    As always, wish I had your luck.

    (Plus don't forget to get their coupon book, some excellent coupons in there.)

    [ March 31, 2003, 06:43 AM: Message edited by: KingArgyle ]
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