Hi all, Just a quick report on Super Bowl Weekend. I hadn't planned to go, but Monte Carlo sent me an e-mail offer of 3 nights comped any time in February and $150 in food and beverage credit. I had never been for Super Bowl, so I decided to check things out. This was a solo trip. Took a flight on United SFO-LAS right after work. Got in around 9:45 p.m., and took a shuttle ($6) to the Monte Carlo. I thought I was in luck, because the shuttle only waited 5-10 minutes to fill, but of course, I was the last one dropped off out of about 5 stops, so it took 30 minutes to get to the hotel. It's been years since I last stayed at the Monte Carlo and time has not been kind to it. The rooms are serviceable, and would have been considered nice 10-15 years ago, but the place is starting to drift into the low-end of hotels on the strip. Noticed scuffs on the walls and furniture, stains on the carpet, and the bedspread was getting a bit ratty. Monte Carlo charges a $9.50 resort fee (plus tax!) which they wouldn't comp. They've got newspapers in a kiosk near the elevators, two small (8 oz) bottles of water in the room, and you get access to the spa (which I did not use). I was in room 5126 which had an o.k. view of City Center, but not much else. What was nice is that 5126 is near the convention halls, and I was able to pick up a free wifi signal from one of the conference rooms. Restaurants: Aria Buffet ($25.89) - This buffet was nice. I put it a notch below the Wynn and maybe a smidge below the Bellagio. Service was good, and there was good variety. Nothing exotic like you would get at the Bellagio, but solid offerings. Beware iPhone users - this part of the Aria is a complete dead zone for AT&T. Craftsteak ($103.02) - Decided to blow the majority of my food and beverage credit here Saturday night. I didn't have a reservation and things were very busy, so I took a seat at the bar. I ordered the Caesar Salad, 16 oz Ribeye, and Yukon Gold Puree potatoes. I also had a gingerale, which they served out of an individual bottle - so no free refills. The Casear Salad was o.k. - there was a lot of it, but it wasn't dressed very well. After the first leaves on top, the bottom part of the salad wasn't dressed. So, it was like eating plain romaine lettuce. Could have used more croutons, too. So - mediocre salad. The ribeye, though, was excellent. I'd put it in the top 3 steaks of my life. (The top one being a steak I had at L'Atelier) the steak was well-seasoned and cooked perfectly. The yukon gold puree was very good - just note that it is definitely a puree and not mashed. The serving of puree could easily have served two. In fact, everything came out "family style" (i.e. on platters) and the salad and sides could have served two. They also served hot rolls, which were very good. The butter was cold, though, and not spreadable. All-in-all, a great steak and good sides. I'd skip the salad in the future. Oh, and I also found this to be a dead spot for iPhone 3G or Edge access. I mention this because for solo diners, the iPhone is a fantastic invention - better than a book while eating out alone. Another thing I'll mention is that the bar is very dark - the bartenders carry flashlights so that people can read the menu. Bellagio Buffet ($25.89 w/o champagne) - About as good as usual, though not as special as it was years ago. I do believe Wynn has topped them. For example, they still have the soft serve ice cream machines, while the Wynn and Aria serve gelato from the case. Service was good, though they did seat me right next to the door the busboys and waiters use, which was annoying. The Monte Carlo ended up comping about $138 worth of my bills. They didn't cover the tip I left at Craftsteak, but it also looks like there was no tax on the comps. Mr. Luckys - Coffee shop at the Hard Rock - basic coffee shop, but a good one. Had one dinner of Mongolian Beef comped there. It was o.k. Sports: Cal-UCLA Game - I watched this at the Aria sportsbook. I watched the Rose Bowl here previously, and I'm still not enamored with the set up. They have a strangely shaped room with large televisions and a couple of huge screens a bit high up on the walls all around. They have chairs on casters in the middle and padded benches along the walls. So, you end up on the benches looking up to watch the games. The angle just isn't right and you end up craning a bit. It's worse in the leather chairs in the middle. It's also a bit small, so for something like the Super Bowl or March Madness, this place is going to be packed. Also, the book itself is in a confined area, so with a big crowd it's gonna get crowded. One nice thing is that you don't need drink tickets or even to prove that you made a bet to get drinks here. Super Bowl - Practically every casino had some event going on. usually a mix of various restaurants offering specials - usually $100 all you can drink/eat sort of deal. A number of the nightclubs had deals going on, but they were charging for table service, so if you wanted to sit down, you had to pony up some cash. The Monte Carlo opened up their theater - free admission with food offerings. I watched the game from the Hard Rock sportsbook which was surprisingly uncrowded. Everybody else was in the Joint (VIP admission only) or in Wasted Space (nightclub with table service, $100 all you can eat/drink). The Hard rock had Go-Go dancers doing their thing at halftime, which was very nice. Oh, and I won my half-time bet, but lost on the Colts, so I got out even, minus the vig. Gaming: Limits were high all weekend. Finding a $10 craps table was a struggle, and most blackjack tables were $15 and up. The tables were absolutely packed with people. For the most part, I just treaded water - I played the same $300 all day on Saturday, until I lost it all at around 1 a.m. I played some craps at the Aria until they raised the limits to $15. They have really bouncy tables or sharp edged dice there, 'cause I was sending the dice off the table much more often than usual. Did some low-rolling at the Monte Carlo, but got tired of that after a while. I did most of my gambling at the Hard Rock, which is my main casino. I came home $200 lighter, but it easily could have been a winning trip if not for a couple of swings that killed me. At the Hard Rock, I had been playing $15 blackjack for about an hour, and had pressed my bets up to $25. I was up about $150, when I got dealt a pair of 3's against dealer 6. So, I split. Got another 3 and split again. Got a 7, and doubled for a 14. Got a 10 for a 13, and then got another 3, so I split again. Picked up a face card to make it 13, and I forget what I got on the last card - probably another 10. So, I had 14, 13, 13, 13 against a dealer 6 - one of the hands doubled - so, I $125 total. Dealer went 6, 6.....9! Goddamn it! Another swing was at the craps tables - I was playing a $15 table which is more than I'm capitalized for, but it was the only action available. I was doing pretty well - playing a passline with 1/3 odds and placing the 8 and 6 for $18 each. We had a shooter hit about 4 numbers and a bunch of stuff in between, so I was up about $250 for the session. Should have been up a bunch more, but I was playing conservative at that limit. Table started to turn, but I had a feeling on one guy who had shot well before, so I decided to go big and make up some earlier losses. He establishes 6 as the point, so I back that up with full odds ($75), place the 8 for $18. He throws the dice, hits the back wall, and I see a 2-4, but then the 4 slowly rolls over and becomes 2-5. I swear to God, it was like it was in slow motion. Arrrgh. Interestingly, somebody was having a costume party at the Hard Rock, and I saw Elvis, Scooby Doo, Velma (guy in drag), a number of priests, wrestlers, conan, etc. wandering about the Hard Rock. Also, I'm told Kyle Orton of the Denver Broncos was at the other end of the craps table from me, but I had to take some guy's word for it because I wouldn't have been able to recognize him. Got up very early this morning to make a 7:30 flight back to SFO. The airport was very busy - lots of cabs dropping off. I was flying first class on United, so I skipped the long security lines and used the elite line and made it to my gate very easily. I left the Monte Carlo about 5:45 and was at my gate at around 6:15.