Hello all, This was my second trip to vegas and will be my first trip report. I hope you enjoy it. I'll break it up into a thread per day as it will probably be pretty long. PREAMBLE: Trip planning and getting to Vegas When my friend Kevin and I were first discussing meeting up in Vegas this summer, we were looking at Thursday-Sunday. But his friend Dave and his wife were coming along and Saturday-Tuesday worked better for them. And once I saw the difference in hotel price between a Friday night and a Sunday night, I was on board too. The only downside is that flights into Vegas on a saturday tend to arrive too late, depart too early, or cost too much. I decided that sleep was for wimps, and booked an early flight in on saturday and the red eye back on Tuesday. So with my US Airways flight scheduled to leave Detroit @ 7am, I set my alarm on friday night for 2:30 am (I live a 2 hour drive from Detroit). I am normally a late riser as it is, though, and the upcoming day was pretty exciting, so sleep was not to be had. Around 12:30 i give up the ghost on getting any sleep before the flight. An hour later I have gotten ready and decided that sleepy and bored at an airport terminal is better than asleep at the wheel, and I depart an hour earlier than planned. The drive was uneventful. I stop at the border for some currency exchange (thank you Alberta oil for your effect on the dollar), then go to the airport, where I have about two and a half hours of waiting for me. Thankfully, the plane is on time and I am off to Vegas. I had hoped to sleep on the flight, and had the row to myself, but it was no dice. I nodded off for about 2 minutes at one point. Oh well, it was going to be a long first day in Vegas but I was up to the challenge. DAY ONE: Saturday My flight gets in around 8:15 am. The baggage claim takes a long time, but I don't mind as I am waiting at the airport for Kevin's flight from Denver to get in, as the room is in his name. His flight arrives around 9:15, along with his buddy Dave and dave's wife. Dave and his wife are going to be staying at Harrah's for the night, then moving over to Monte Carlo (Kevin's parents have been in town for a night already and are doing the same). Dave has a brief ill-conceived plan of coming with us to Monte Carlo and all heading over to Harrah's, but eventually we convince him that 2 cabs and an agreement to meet at Harrah's for brunch is a much better plan. We get to the hotel shortly after 10am. We check our bags and check in, but are advised that our room will not be ready for half an hour or so. We take the long, broiling walk to Harrah's, and I begin to discover that cheap sandals were a bad idea. We get to Harrah's close to 11 and get in line for the buffet, which Kevin's parents have coupons for. For this group, it appears buffet and coupons are the only words that need be said in making a dining choice. The line takes about 10 mins, and we arrive at the counter, we discover that Harrah's does their 'champagne' brunch on Saturday as well as Sunday, and when it is offered, it is all that is offered. They also don't really go out of their way to let you know its a Champagne brunch. They just charge you more, and its pretty much up to you to know you can have all the sparkling wine you want. I wasn't overly impressed with this, but I had bigger fish to fry as it was time for my first Vegas overconsumption meal. The food itself was pretty good, but I stuck mostly to breakfast fare. The 'champagne'? Pretty cheap, but not undrinkable. It would help if they offered mimosas, but instead we end up ordering the juice and the champagne and mixing at table. They had flutes for the first round , but by the time we order round 2 they must be short on dishes, because its sparkling-wine-in-a-goblet time. After the buffet we make our way down to the Wynn to have a look round and get show tickets at the Fashion Show mall half price booth, encumbered only by the fact that Dave can't stand still in one place for more than 5 minutes without putting money in a slot machine. He did his first gambling still at the airport while we were waiting for baggage claim, and has begun a regular theme of buying in while we wait somewhere, printing his ticket when we are ready to go, THEN realizing he needs to go find a cashier. Anyways, Wynn was uneventful. I was a bit disappointed that there was an admission charge for the Ferrari dealership, and my compatriots feel that 15 dollar blackjack is a bit rich for their blood, so we move on with the planto go over to the ticket booth. They have a deal on Penn and Teller, but I'm the only one who really wants to go. Most of the others want to see Wayne Newton and I am not down for that. Eventually we settle on a plan. Kevin and I will see Penn and Teller and the others will see Wayne Newton. We'll meet up for dinner first near Harrah's, then Kevin and I will take the shuttle to the Rio. Around this time, my feet are just killing me, as well as that nagging feeling you have when you haven't seen your room yet, so Kevin and I head back to MC. We decide to take the monorail from Harrah's. This was an adventure in itself as I stare at the monorail ticket computer. 1 day pass - $8. 3 day pass - $40. 8/1, 40/3. Hmmm. Around the time I convince myself that I'm not crazy and the 3 day pass is an epic ripoff, I discover that Kevin was paying less attention and got the 3 day. I pick up a 1 day pass and we're off. We finally get to our room and get settled, and I finally get to the sweet relief of my running shoes. The sandals are banished to pool duty only. It is about 2pm at this point, and we aren't meeting back at Harrah's until about 4:30, so its finally time to start losing money. We go downstairs and scout the blackjack tables at the MC. Lots of $10 tables and one very busy $5. We settle in at the lone $10 table that doesn't hit soft 17. I sit down at the table, buying in for $200, my per-day bankroll allotment. I take my seat, and get that oh so familiar feeling like being home after a long journey. There is something about a blackjack or poker table that cries out to me "this is where you belong". We win the first 3-4 hands, and then I basically lose for the rest of the first shoe. Kevin is doing better, but I go from up $40 to down almost $50. Then I settle into a pattern where with each new show I'm unbeatable for 4 hands, and then suffer afterwards. After maybe an hour or so, I catch a run, and get back just north of even. Part of my gambling strategy for this trip was not to push my luck @ the blackjack. Most prolonged blackjack sessions end badly, so after a couple drinks and some good times where I was mostly behind, I am glad to cash out for a $5 profit. Kevin plays for 5 more minutes, then colours up up $100 bucks. We're doing well so far. Kevin calls to check with Dave and his parents and we agree to meet up at Harrah's. We head over to MGM and take the monorail back up to Harrah's. We all meet up and try to decide where to go before dinner. After some discussion, we decide to go over to IP to check out the dealertainers. The ladies go and find a penny slot to play, and Dave settles in at a dealertainer's table. I watch the dealertainers for awhile, but I'm too alert and sensible at the moment to play short-pay blackjack just biggest its being dealt by Dolly Parton. I find a standard $10 table on a nearby row and take my seat. Our dealer is Ida Mae, and she is a lot of fun. Of course, every dealer is fun when you are winning, and Ida is being very nice to my chipstack. I cash out after 45 minutes or so up 80 dollars. The others wrap up their playing in the next 20 or so minutes and its time to make a dinner plan. Nobody is really intent of a big meal after our late brunch, and my companions are also not up for anything fancy, so we do our best to recall what is in the area, and settle on Toby Keith's "I love this place" at the back of Harrah's. I had the fish and chips, and it was suitably yummy. The other entrees at our table looked pretty good, too. I have a couple drinks with the meal, and they start yelling at the bar that they are giving out free shots, but by the time I finally decide to go up and inquire, the lovely barkeep has climbed back down off the bar and is no longer pouring booze in people's mouths. She takes pity on the late arrival and pours me a shot that probably had less liquor content than a can of O'Douls. My share of the tab with tip came out to $25. After dinner, Kevin and I take the shuttle and head to the Rio. We pick up our show tickets and catch some the free show in the casino. We still have some time before seating, so we head down to the WSOP convention room to check things out. Since 2005, the featured area seems to me to have gotten bigger and more spectator friendly. In addition, we had pretty good timing. We got there in time to watch a little bit of a heads up final table between Scotty Nguyen and Eli Elezra. Also, the bar for the featured area ran a promotion where Andy Bloch and a barkeep handed out free beers (Milwaukee's best light was a sponsor) to people watching, so we had a beer, killed some time, and headed back to the Penn and Teller theatre. The show was great. Very funny and with some excellently designed tricks. And personally I find them going better with Penn's matter of fact approach and humor than with a typical magician's pomp and glitz. Afterwards, we were both exhausted, so we headed back to the hotel and went to bed at about 11, and I got my first sleep in about 42 hours. Final Gambling tally for the day: up $85 -------------------------------------------------------- Aside on my gambling 'strategy' for the trip: I learned alot from my first trip to Vegas, which was a lot of fun, but where I blew my bankroll for the trip and came away surprised at just how much of the town I HADN'T seen. The sights to see problem was one of not having a plan (so I went this year with a rough to do list in mind), and the gambling losses were about not having a GOOD plan. I had brought a fairly small bankroll, and didn't manage it well. It was also meant to be covering food and entertainment as much as possible. There were two problems with that approach on that trip. First, when I would have a good day, win, or even just break even, I rolled over the gambling bankroll for the next day. Second, I was very undisciplined at how long I stayed at the table. The end result was that I lost a large portion of it in one long sitting at the blackjack tables. As a result, for this trip I gave myself some guidelines and some out and out strict rules. I had roughly $1000 in cash for the trip. $200 was for food and entertainment (the rest to go via plastic). And I alloted myself $200 per day to gamble, no matter what game I chose to play. If some of my $200 per day (or if I made money), it all became part of the spending money. If I felt like splurging, I could, and if I did well early in the trip, then shows, food, and tourist stuff could all be done in cash. The second rule was more of a guideline than anything. i made a conscious effort to limit the length of my blackjack sessions. I love to sit at the table and play, but most of my worst blackjack experiences have come when I had an opportunity to get up and go and decided to play just that little bit longer. Still to come on day 2: a poker tournament, a blackjack reversal, a musical, and an unexpected arrival. Oh, and the most horribly planned trip to downtown ever.