Its been a while since I wrote a TR. I feel like so many of my trips are repetitive that I cannot imagine its interesting for members to keep reading the same stuff time and time again. But, as I said, its been a while, and this most recent trip was a short one, so it should be easy to write. So off we go …. My family scatters for Thanksgiving, so I found myself alone as usual. Normally, I won’t travel on holiday weekends (too many crowds), but I realized I could wait until Thanksgiving day to leave, have a fun 36 hours in vegas, and then continue on to the west coast for some quick work I had to do at the start of this week. Besides, I assumed Vegas would be pretty empty for this holiday (I was wrong!). So I left Thanksgiving morning on the one direct flight from BNA to LAS. Flight was completely full. That was my first clue that the crowds would be larger than I expected. Still, I don’t mind a long flight. Gave me plenty of time to read, watch the early football game, and relax. Landed in vegas about thirty minutes early and headed off to find my driver. I stayed at Bellagio this trip. I had not stayed there in more than a year. I was not really happy with some of my past treatment there. But my host has worked hard over the past year to salvage our relationship and I appreciate that. Besides, its an incredibly nice hotel. So I decided I shouldn’t let my frustration with some bad employees in the past ruin my experiences at a place I otherwise really enjoy. Nevertheless, considering this trip was the hotel’s effort to win back my business, it got off on the wrong foot. I walked down to the baggage claim area and no driver was to be found. I called VIP services and they indicated that my arrival did not get on the transportation team’s schedule. They said they would send a car immediately and I walked down to zero level to meet the driver curbside. Not the best start, but it was quickly fixed. Still, it made me wonder how much Bellagio really wanted my business back. I sent my host a text as I rode to the hotel and he told me to check with him when he arrived for work that evening. A short ride later and I arrived. The hotel was packed! I have never seen the line in the lobby at Bellagio so long. Thankfully, I was coded for VIP checkin, so I slipped past the crowds and went through the VIP doors. I was stunned there were so many crowds. I assumed most people travel to see their families on Thanksgiving, not go to Vegas. But even still, I assumed most of them would have checked in on Wednesday, not Thursday afternoon. It was a madhouse there. My room wasn’t ready yet, so I pushed past the crowds and went to the Café for lunch. After a quick and easy meal of eggs and hashbrowns, my room was ready. The host comped me a Bellagio Suite on the 32nd floor with a fountain view. The fountain view is always fantastic. And the Bellagio Suite is the perfect size when I am on a solo trip. After unpacking, I headed down to the high limit room for some baccarat. I guess this is as good as place as any to talk about changes in my gambling. So any members that have read my posts and TRs from years past probably know a little of my gambling history. I used to low roll, but then went on some incredible streaks and built up my bankroll to a much higher level. My average wager peaked a couple years ago at around three yellow chips per hand. Then, the winning and losing swings really started to bother me, so I took a large chunk of my bankroll out of gambling circulation and reduced my play to an average bet of one yellow chip and in the past year its much closer to one purple chip. Still, I use a negative progression when betting, so I would still have some trips with big swings. In 2015, I was up six figures by March, down over $200k by the summer, and finished the year up six figures again. So far, 2016 has been virtually identical, up about $122k by March, down $150k by the summer, with another up and down since then. The last big loss for me was about two trips ago and I realized the bankroll swings were taking all the fun out of the gambling for me. So I decided then to cut back not just my average bet, but also the amount of hours I play. I know it sounds strange, but winning five or six thousand is just as fun as the high rolling trips when I would win $50k and more. And the losing trips (which is inevitably big) always suck. So after the last big loss, I decided I would simply cut back. So far, its been successful and fun. I plan to keep up this style of gambling for the foreseeable future. Back to Thanksgiving. I walked into the high limit and looked for a table with a lower minimum. I had decided before the trip that I would bet one purple chip a hand and call it quits if I got up a few thousand. Only problem, all the lower limit tables in the HL were packed. Apparently, there was a baccarat tournament going on that upcoming weekend (a bunch of the big tables were set up in the back rooms of the HL for the tournament) so there were a lot of bac players in the house and a lot of reserved tables. In fact, the only open table was a $1000 minimum! Drat! Still, I wanted to play, so I sat down and took out a marker for $20k. The shoe started with a few more bankers than players and I was quickly up a couple thousand. Should have stopped there. After that, the shoe got really choppy I hate the chop and betting against it has cost me more money than I care to remember. Worse, the third card kept killing me. It felt like I reduced every time or the dealer improved. Still, I breathed deep and kept it under control. After sixty hands, I found myself up about $4500 and decided to color up. Great start to the trip! After that, I hit up the gym for a quick workout and made a plan to meet up with Mike841. Bellagio has one of the nicer gyms on the Strip and I got a solid workout in and hit the steam shower in my room. Love those steam showers! After cleaning up, Mike and I made a plan to meet in the Bellagio sportsbook and watch the Pittsburgh/Indy game. I made my way down there, but walked past the craps table on my way and couldn’t resist. I found an empty table, raised the minimum to $50 and started shooting from the dark side. I won three straight on the darkside, switched to the pass line and promptly sevened out. I went back to the darkside, got another quick score, and then another gentlemen walked up to the table. I still had the dice and decided to switch back to the pass line since that’s what the new guy was betting. I hit two points before sevening out and made the other guy a lot on his come bets. I also hit the Tall (which the other guy bet; I did not) and was a snake eyes away from hitting the Small and All. After that, I colored up and headed to the sportsbook. A bunch of the usual seats at the book were replaced with poker tables for some poker tournament that was taking place that weekend. So I grabbed an open seat in the race book side. I made a $300 wager on Pittsburgh at the start of the season and got a line of -3. So I loved that game! I think the line that night went off at -8. Mike and his wife showed up at the end of the first quarter. Really great people and it was a pleasure meeting them. We all hung out for a while and they took off to head over to Planet Hollywood. I went to find my host. He apologized for the car mix up at the airport and he confirmed I had transportation and a late checkout for Friday. We caught up for a bit and then I decided to head back to the high limit before meeting a couple friends for dinner. I found a $500 table this time with a couple friendly people. After two dozen hands, I was up another $2k and my friends texted me that they had just arrived. Perfect timing! I colored up and headed over to Olives for dinner. Dinner was solid, but the cocktail menu has changed since I last ate there in September. Still, the waiter knew what cocktail I was describing from their old menu and he had the bar make me one. The friends and I ate, drank, caught up and then I went upstairs and crashed. Watched one late night fountain show from my window and went to bed. Woke up early the next morning and hurried down to Palio. Considering the crowd at the hotel, I expected a line out the door. But Palio was basically empty. I got a quick pastry and some juice that I took back up to the room. My plan Friday morning was a workout followed by a spa appointment. But I realized I had enough time to hit the craps table again. This time, I played at a $100 level. It really turned into a hit and run. Made $1500 on the darkside and headed off to the gym. Another workout, quickly cleaned up, and got ready for my massage. I got the 100 minute custom massage and it was good. I was disappointed to learn, however, that the meditation room at the Bellagio spa is being updated. It was closed and had I known that, I probably would have booked at Aria instead. Still, I took advantage of the other amenities and decided to go make some sports bets. At least that was the plan. Actually, I got greedy and decided to break my own rule of limiting how much I gamble. I found a $100 bac table and started playing $200 a hand. Fortunately, it went well and after 30 hands I was up several hundred. Actually, it was a strange shoe. Six of the first twelve hands were ties. Wish I bet those! Decided I would use my winnings for lunch, sports bets, and VP if anything was left over. I headed over to Cosmo because I had some old tickets to cash. I made some wagers on a few NBA games Friday evening and actually bet against my team (UK). The line was UK -28.5. I was confident they would win, but having watched every game this year, it felt more like a 20 to 25 point win. I placed my bets and headed back to Lago for lunch. Lago was very good. I sat at the bar, watched the end of the Baylor/UL game and ordered a few small plates. All the food was good. I had never had the green lasagna and so glad I did. It was delicious. After lunch, I decided to find a VP game to play until the UK game tipped off. I found a mediocre dollar JOB game and started to play. Up and down a little bit for twenty minutes before I finally hit a quad and cashed out! Perfect timing. I walked over to the sportsbook and got an open seat at the bar right in front of a TV showing the UK game. I played a little VP at the bar, but mostly watched the game. The comped drinks policy has gotten so bad that I didn’t even ask. The game was really the reason I was there. Over the course of the first half, I lost thirty bucks on VP and noticed that my team was playing better even though one of the starters was hurt. At halftime, I headed back toward my room. I stopped by the HL cage, paid off my marker, and cashed approximately $8500 in chips. Very happy with that result, so I walked upstairs to pack. Watched the rest of the UK game (lost that bet; they won by forty!) packed my bags and headed to checkout. My host had already picked up all my dining charges without my asking (great move on his part) and I used express comps to pay for the spa. No problem with transportation this time and actually made it to the airport with a ton of time to kill. Overall, a great trip. Won money, ate great food, won most of my sports bets, met/saw some great people, and relaxed a great deal. Headed back to vegas twice next month, including to see my Cats play against UNC at the phone arena. Not sure when I will write a TR again, but I hope you enjoyed this one.