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TR 7/27-7/29/2003 @ Aladdin (long & detailed!)

Discussion in 'Vegas Trip Reports' started by pacman711, Aug 7, 2003.

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  1. This was my first trip to Vegas as a gambler. I was there a long time ago with my parents when I was younger, but that doesn't count since I couldn't gamble. I've gambled in just about every other city (tahoe, st.louis, new orleans...), but this was my first time to gamble in the big daddy of them all: Vegas! I took my girlfriend (which I'll abbreviate GF going forward) on this trip as well. I got a great deal on Southwest... I got a roundtrip ticket (using a 15% discount code that Southwest puts out once in awhile) for $146 from Austin. Plus my girlfriend got to fly free since I have a companion pass. We stayed at the Aladdin for 2 nights, and got the standard room for $69 per night which also included some freebies like free breakfast, $10 in slot play, spa discount. I'll try and be detailed especially on how much I spent, since that is one thing that I wish more people would have written about on other trip reports I read before I went... so read below for more details. Its probably the longest report for the shortest trip, but hope you enjoy it!

    Sunday (7/27/2003)

    Left Austin on a direct flight to LV around 4pm. Flight was oversold amazingly, and they were offering vouchers to people willing to take the next flight... we didn't take it since we were on a tight schedule. On the flight, drank a gin and tonic, a beer, and part of GF's bloody mary. Arrived on time in LV, and had no problems getting a cab. Told the cab driver not to take the tunnel (thanks to the suggestions on these message boards), and it took about 15 minutes to get to the Aladdin [total for the cab ride was $16 including the $2.00 or so tip]. At the Aladdin, there were only a couple of people in front of us for check-in... quickly got up to the check-in counter and got a nice lady. I asked if I could get a room with a view of the Bellagio fountains (I did not offer her any money nor use the "$20 trick" since we were going to be there for only 2 nights, and I planned on not spending too much time in the room)... she said that the bellagio fountain view rooms were an extra $30 per night, and I politely declined. She said she would get me a strip view room facing the MGM at no charge, so I said that would be great... she seemed to be looking real hard at the map of the hotel, and assigned me Room 2034 in the SOUTH Tower (You'll see why I emphasize the "south").

    We got our luggage and headed up to the 20th floor in the south tower. Opened the door to our room, walked in, glanced to our left and noticed a spacious bathroom with a marble tub, separate shower, and two separate vanities/sinks, then I made my way past the king sized bed, and opened up the curtains to one of the two windows facing the so called "MGM Grand". The room overlooked the two Aladdin Swimming pools, and right onto the strip, Bellagio and the fountains! We could also see the hot air balloon for Paris as well as the Eiffel Tower all from this room! I don't think I could have asked for a better room and view! The lady at the check-in counter really hooked me up, and it didn't cost me a dime! All it took was being polite and friendly. I can't remember her name, but I was considering going back down there and thanking her (I don't think she did it by mistake, because when I was checking out on our last day, another lady at the check-out counter asked what room I was checking out of and I told her 2034 in the south tower, and she immediately knew it was a great room and said, "wow you had an excellent room with a great view..."). Also at night we could partially see the fountains going off from our bed since our bed faced the two windows. We got settled into our room and since we had some time available, we went downstairs to the casino area to join the Aladdin comp/slot cards. We also got the free scratch off tickets that the Aladdin offers to all slot club members for free (its free to join). We scratched off the cards and none of the numbers matched so we just tossed them in the trash... I thought you were suppose to match the numbers on the actual card, which none of them matched... I found out the next day that you're suppose to match the numbers on the cards to the posted numbers from a random drawing (more on this later...). Gave $20 to GF for slots in order to earn the free $10 in slot play and ended up winning a net of about $30 and cashed out. I stopped by the blackjack table and lost a quick $100 in about 10 minutes. We headed back to the room to change and get ready for dinner and the 10:30 "O" show.

    We walked to the MGM Grand to eat at Wolfgang Puck's Cafe... not too crowded since it was sunday night, but it was hot! We ordered a margherita pizza and a chinese chicken salad, and shared it. I also had a couple of michelob ultras with dinner. The food was nothing to write home about... the chicken salad had just some shredded letttuce and cabbage along with a few very thinly sliced pieces of chicken breast (not impressed at all). Total bill for dinner including a nice tip was about $46. I chuckled when I saw the price they charged me for my two bottles of michelob ultras... $4.25 per bottle. I got a kick out of it cause I could have gotten those for free (plus $1 tip for the cocktail waitress) just a few feet away on the casino floor while gambling: oh well... welcome to Vegas! Let the money start flowing out of my wallet!

    We headed over to the Bellagio to pick up our "O" tickets and to check out the place. Saw a bunch of people gathered around the fountains for the show to start, but we didn't stop since we could see this from our hotel window... I now wish we would have stopped to watch it along with the music, since we can't hear that from our window. Got to the Bellagio and got our tickets... walked around the casino and hotel area since we had plenty of time before the show. I played a little blackjack at $25 per hand. I ended up winning $150 in about 20 minutes. Quit while I was ahead, and went to get our seats for O.

    I had tickets in the balcony (Section 303 Row DD), which was the second to last row in the whole theater, but our seats were lined up directly with the middle of the stage... the tickets were $99 each, which I thought was pretty steep, but GF really wanted to see this show (I originally wanted to see Blue Man, but I could see them on tour in just about any city... you can't see "O" on tour since the stage is one of a kind). Bought a program for $10 which had pictures of the cast... amazed at how most of the performers were from many different foreign countries. We had a good view of the whole stage, but we couldn't see any of the clown act that went on in the lower section at the very beginning of the show. Its kinda hard to describe the show in words... its like a circus act except more artsier and in water. There is so much going on at one time on the stage/water, that it kinda makes your mind spin, and I was getting a little drowsy (partly due to all the drinks I had so far and the jet lag)... I did manage to stay awake through the whole thing, although I could easily have dozed off if I wanted to. I can't imagine being on the lower level and any closer than the balcony, because the stage is huge and there is so much going on at one time that it would be hard to take it all in if we were closer and lower. I noticed that some of the synchronized swimmers and divers weren't jiving perfectly... I'm not a harsh critic nor an expert on swimming or diving, but I don't think they would have qualified for the olympics. The best part of the show that I liked most was the music, which is performed live. It kinda reminded me of the techno-opera in the movie, "Fifth Element" with Bruce Willis. They sell the CD soundtrack, but decided not to get it since I could burn a cd off Kazaa (do a search for "cirque o"). Overall, I enjoyed the show, but I think its way overhyped. GF loved the show, and I guess thats what really matters (as I hear the whip snap... hehe).

    After the show, I was feeling lucky since I won earlier at BJ... so I played BJ again at the bellagio casino before heading back to the Aladdin... ended up giving back the $150 I made earlier. I had intended on going to Red Square at Mandalay Bay for some martinis after the show, but we were both feeling real tired (could really feel the time zone difference), so we went back to the Aladdin. I stopped by the craps table at the Aladdin casino and ended up losing $100 in about 15 minutes... every roller was sevening out after a couple of rolls including me! Decided to call it a night and hit the sack around 2 am.

    Monday 7/28/2003

    Woke up around 8 am (since we were still use to Central Time). Went downstairs to the Aladdin Slot Center and signed up for my GF to do the Slot Tournament. It costs $25 to do it, and you automatically get $20 in dining vouchers good at any restaurant in the Aladdin plus $10 in free slot play. Not a bad deal... here's how it works... you pay the $25, then you pick out a machine in a roped off section for the tournament (you can do this any time throughout the day). You get about 100 spins (I think) on the machine, and it accumulates points based on what you hit. You can't switch machines during your 100 spins. If you score 9000 or more before using up your 100 spins, then you get $50 in cash I think. Also if you have the high score of the day, then you get a free pull on every $1 slot machine they have (one of the employees told me the average payout from doing this is about $500). GF scored about 5000 as I was rooting her on... but at least we earned the $20 dining voucher which I planned on using for the lunch buffet the next day. Immediately used the included $10 slot credit and didn't win anything. After that, we walked over next door to Paris to try out the Paris Breakfast Buffet that I heard so much about. No line to get in, I guess since it was a monday morning and still kinda early. It cost about $27 if I remember correctly for two of us plus I left a $3 tip so about $30 for a really good breakfast... ate a lot including smoked salmon and made to order omellettes (made with Egg Beaters upon request). I especially like the bacon (very crispy and not too fatty just the way i like them).

    After breakfast, GF wanted to go back to the Bellagio and check out the Andy Warhol exhibit they had going in the Art Center. Since she likes that kinda stuff and I would have been bored out of my mind and not worth it for me to pay $15 for admission, I told her to go ahead and do that while I gambled at the Bellagio. While she was doing that I wanted to go and check out the poker room, and to see what was going on... they had a bunch of satellite tournaments going on for no limit hold'em. The top winner at each table would advance to the next round at noon, and if you kept winning I guess you would end up on t.v. like they always televise on the travel channel and ESPN2. The Buy-In for the satellite tournament was $130, and you get $1000 worth of play chips and you compete with 9 other people at the table. I am by no means a good poker player but I know enough on how to play from watching the Travel Channel which has been showing poker stuff quite a bit. To make a long story short, I was the 4th person (out of 10) eliminated... I enjoyed it so much that I slapped down another $130 to join another satellite tournament that was starting up (they have many satellite tournaments going and starting up at a time as soon as they get 10 people signed up for a table). This time I was the third person eliminated. Blew $260 on poker with nothing to show for it, but I had a great time and it was a neat experience. I think I might read some books on poker to be better prepared next time. Meanwhile GF was done with the Warhol exhibit, and she was playing some slots while waiting for me to finish up with the poker tournament. She didn't win anything from the slots. Stopped by the BJ tables and ended up donating another $100 before leaving the Bellagio.

    We headed back to the Aladdin to get into our swimsuits and lay out by the pool. The pool area is not impressive at all... just a plain large rectangular pool (there are two of them). Didn't see any head-turning chicks, but then again it was a monday afternoon. We grabbed a lounge chair and laid around. Ordered a couple of overpriced drinks from the cocktail lady walking around. I wouldn't recommend drinking by the poolside... my sapphire and tonic was watered down and it cost me $8 for it served in a plastic cup. I had arranged a spa treatment for my GF at the Elemis Spa in the Aladdin at 1:30, so she left for that as I headed downstairs to the Aladdin Casino to play some craps and BJ to recover some of my losses... wishful thinking! I ended up blowing $290 in about 30 minutes playing craps and BJ. The craps tables were just cold! Decided the Aladdin was just bad luck for gambling and quit so I could have some money to gamble elsewhere later. I walked around the Dessert Passage mall to kill some time while my GF was being pampered. We got dressed and ready to go to Delmonicos at the Venetian for dinner. Took a cab from the Aladdin to the Venetian cause I didn't want to get all sweaty and nasty since we were semi-dressed up ($10 including tip). We had about an hour and half to kill before our dinner reservations, so we walked around the hotel and the canal shops... very nice! We decided to rest and sit on a bench that was near a guy that was painted and dressed in all white, so that he looked like a statue. He was real still and didn't move. It was funny just watching the reactions and comments of other people walking by and staring at him...

    Finally, it was time for dinner and we headed to Delmonico. Let me preface this by saying that I am a big Emeril fan. I have eaten at Nola in New Orleans, Emeril's in Orlando, and his newest Tchoup Chop in Orlando as well, and I was excited to try Delmonico. We each got a salad, and I had a couple of Saphire and Tonics, a Saphire Martini, and a glass of Emerils Red Red Wine with my steak. Girlfriend had two Apple Martini's. GF ordered some chicken dish for her meal and I ordered the steak filet. The filet was very tender and cooked they way I wanted it (medium to slightly medium rare). The way the meat came out was a little strange, it was a just a piece of filet steak in the center of a white dish...kinda plain... usually I'm used to a little decoration and sides (you have to order the sides as extras). However, the steak was really good and tender, and you could almost cut it with your fork. I think the best filet I had was at Nola... that actually camed glazed and seasoned in some Emeril's cajun spices. Service was outstanding... there were two waiters that waited on us (a younger guy and an older man). For dessert (which was the highlight of the whole meal), we ordered and shared the chocolate souffle.... it was damn good! If you go here, you've got to save room and order this! The whole meal and drinks cost about $160 for the two of us and after tip it was just slightly under $200. Definitely worth it in my opinion!

    After dinner, we decided to walk back towards the Aladdin. I had originally intended on going downtown to catch the Fremont Street Experience and do some gambling down there, but GF wasn't feeling too well, so I told her we could stop by Casino Royale which is on the way back towards the Aladdin, and I could play some craps there. Casino Royale is not your high glitz casino! It was dark and real smoky. But its got the best deals in craps ($3 min. with 100x odds) and blackjack (Single deck with BJ paying 2 to 1). I started playing craps, but pretty soon GF was feeling sick cause of all the smoke, so she went ahead and walked back to the Aladdin. Everyone at the table was sevening out, and I was losing money... plus I was worried about my girlfriend so I couldn't really focus and enjoy the game. I ended up losing the remaining $200 of my gambling budget at the craps table and decided to call it quits for gambling on this trip. I headed back towards the Aladdin and stopped by the Barbary Coast so I could purchase some actual Casino Dice (They scratch a slight line through one side of the dice). I found out about this from a lady when I was looking for some dice at the Aladdin gift shop... I don't think there are too many casinos that sell real Craps dice). The pair of dice cost fifty cents (or was it fifty cents per dice... either way it was cheap). I would recommend this place if you are into setting/controlling dice and would like to have a pair to practice at home. It started sprinkling a bit as I was walking back to the Aladdin. Was relieved GF was feeling better after her little bath in the tub.

    Tuesday 7/29/2003

    I decided that today would be a non-gambling day (since I had blown my $800 gambling budget plus an extra $90)... our flight was leaving at 7pm, so we checked out of our room and checked our bags. We ate breakfast at the Zanzibar Cafe in the Aladdin... I used the free breakfast voucher that came with the room. It was a descent non-buffet breakfast and very filling, but I definitely would not have paid the menu price which was $12.95... for that price you could just go to the Paris Breakfast buffet and have an all-you-can-eat of better stuff). GF wanted to check out the M&M store thats located next to MGM. So we walked there. We saw the 3-D M&M movie and bought some souvenirs... we did avoid buying actual M&M's... they have all sorts of crazy colors of M&M's, but they charge $9 per pound, but people were buying them like they were going out of style! Funny, considering you can probably get a 2 pound bag at Walmart for about $2... good thing I'm not a big junk food fan. We also checked out the Coca Cola Store which is right next door. I had to get a cold bottle of coke after seeing that everyone was drinking one. It cost $1 for a small 8 oz bottle of coke, but there is something about drinking a nice cold coke from a glass bottle that makes it taste so much better! Bought some Coke souvenirs and decided to head back to the Aladdin so we could do some more shopping at the Desert Passage Mall. On the way, we stopped by Walgreen's and got some water and a few more souvenirs (here's a tip: Walgreen's sells just about the same souvenirs as the hotel gift shops do, but at cheaper prices). I had planned on using the $20 food vouchers from playing the slots tournament for eating lunch at the Aladdin Spice Market Buffet (heard good reviews of the food), but decided to wait for the dinner buffet since they started serving dinner at 4pm. Since the dinner buffet costs $20 (vs. $13 for lunch), I gave $25 for my GF to play in the Aladdin Slot tournament so we could get another $20 dining voucher. This is a good deal since you're basically spending $5 to entertain yourself with a chance to win some real money. Actually you're almost coming out ahead, since they give you the $20 dining voucher, which we were going to use for dinner, and they also give you $10 in Free Slot play after the tournament. Of course we ended up losing the free $10, and we didn't rack up enough points on the tournament to qualify, but it was fun and worth it. I highly recommend this Slot Tournament to anyone thats staying at the Aladdin and even to people that are not! We were the first group to get into the dinner buffet. They had a wide variety of food! I ate a bunch including snow crab legs, raw oysters, sushi and rolls, tandoori chicken, and a bunch of other stuff... too much to recall and name. The desserts looked real good and fancy but I was too full to try anything. The overall quality of the food wasn't the best, but it was good and I thought it was well worth the price (actually we used two of the $20 dining vouchers and ate for free... shelled out a $3 tip to the bus boy). After our last gluttonous meal in Vegas, we got our luggage and took a taxi back to the airport. I know this won't be my last trip!

    Some random thoughts reflecting back:

    1. Lost $890 gambling (which I had budgeted for)... but had a great time (expensive form of entertainment)... proud of myself for calling it quits after blowing my preset budget and not hitting the ATM like I usually do.

    2. Wish I could have made it to Fremont Street for the light show and gambling. I also wanted to have a martini on the ice bar at Red Square... there's always next time.

    3. Don't just go to Vegas strictly for gambling! I was glad I had planned other things to do like taking in a show and a nice dinner... it definitely gives you a boost and something to look forward to if you've had some bad luck at the tables.

    4. Avoid ordering drinks by the pool! Overpriced and watered down!

    5. I'm gonna read some books on No Limit Hold 'em poker before I play in another tournament... who knows maybe you'll see me at the final table on ESPN.

    6. I loved the Aladdin... too bad they are in financial trouble and recently got bought out by Planet Hollywood. Probably why I got such a good deal. I highly recommend playing in the Slot Tournament!

    7. Casino Royale is a dump, but I think its got the best deals on the strip when it comes to playing craps and blackjack.

    I know this was a long and detailed report, but hopefully it was entertaining and you got something out of it. Good luck and hope to see you in Vegas!
  2. Falcon_Rob

    Falcon_Rob Flying Winnebago

    Jun 29, 2003
    Columbus, OH
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Nice report pacman!

    Sounds like you packed quite a bit into a two-night stay! Sorry to hear about the losses, but that's what the budget is for! Congrats for not going over it.

    Was the indoor thunderstorm working in the Passage while you were there? I walked through there on the Tuesday you were there, and it wasn't running.

    Phil Helmuth has a decent book out right now (encompassing hold-em, and other games) that has helped me as a beginner. I think it's called Play Poker Like the Pros. Unfortunately he does not have a chapter called "playing against drunken idiots", because those are the guys who usually eliminate me!
  3. Coaster Kikky

    Coaster Kikky Tourist

    Jan 8, 2003
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Thanks for some valuable information! We're staying at the Aladdin in late September, so hope to use your advice to score great rooms (4 in our party, so 2 rooms). My friends were wondering exactly how the slot tournament works, and you gave us a great idea of what to expect - it sounded too good to be true at first! And hubby has gotten into poker as well (I love to play on my computer but don't yet have the guts to try in person) so your description of the satellite tournies at Bellagio were helpful. Unless he gets it into his head to blow his entire gambling budget trying to make it onto ESPN or the Travel Channel... ;)

  4. pezarino

    pezarino Guest

    Great trip report. I love "long and detailed" [​IMG]
  5. Charlie G

    Charlie G Tourist

    Aug 4, 2003
    New Jersey
    Excellent report pacman!
    You hit the nail on the head on the info you provided. I am sorry that you took a lose but maybe on your next trip you can leave LV a winner. My GF and I are heading out next week (14-20 Aug) and I will make sure that we enter the slot tournament at the Aladdin as it sounds like a really good deal! Thanks again!
    Charlie G

  6. loridmc

    loridmc Guest

    I love reading these reports. I get great tidbits from every one. I appreciate the detail pacman

    Where exactly is this oft mentioned Walgreen's on the Flamingo? [​IMG]
  7. HoyaHeel

    HoyaHeel Grammar Police & Admin

    Feb 24, 2002
    North Carolina
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    There are a few drug stores on the Strip. There's a Walgreens further north, across from Stardust, next to Riviera. There's a Walgreens across from Monte Carlo, near MGM, M&M World and the Coke store. And there's a CVS next to Boardwalk (also near Monte Carlo). But they're building drugstores at a quick clip, it seems---there may be other new ones since I was last there. Did they stick one next to Venetian, where the lobster restaurant used to be?
  8. HardEight

    HardEight Low-Roller

    Aug 6, 2002
    Dallas, Texas
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Thanks for the great trip report Pacman. I appreciate the details. Sorry to hear that you didn't have much luck at the tables. You were smart to stick by your budget. I will be staying at the Aladdin next week (thurs. - sun.), I will make sure that I participate in the slot tournament.

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