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Trip Report: “The Birthday trip - Slumming it in Downtown”

Discussion in 'Vegas Trip Reports' started by Mike, Oct 27, 2005.

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  1. Mike

    Mike Tourist

    Nov 28, 2001
    Carlsbad, CA, USA

    My Trip Report

    Trip Report: “The Birthday trip - Slumming it in Downtownâ€

    Trip Report: 10/20/05 to 10/23/05
    “The Birthday trip - Slumming it in Downtownâ€

    This was my first trip to Vegas since going through the divorce thing. It’s pretty much finalized, and of course, the wife wins big and the husband loses big. Even though my Vegas bankroll isn’t affected, money will be especially tight for the next 5 years, so I’ve got to be even more frugal and shrewd than in the past. I had about 10 free offers to choose from, so I chose the ones that I could totally stiff and not give a crap about.

    In a nutshell, I stayed at The Plaza for one night and The El Cortez for two nights. I was determined more than ever to “make†money on this trip, as opposed to doing Vegas for entertainment. I only had one losing session at craps & BJ and did a few coupon runs and made conscience efforts to end sessions while ahead. The strategy worked well and I gambled enough to take care of some minor jones.

    jones (jŌnz) n, vt. A habit of an activity, a craving or urge to perform an act often to the point of excess. An addiction, esp. to drugs, sports, gambling, and other enjoyable actions. Borrowed from the cartoon “Fat-Albert†and the drug-ladened 60’s and early 70’s.

    THURSDAY October 20 (Day 1)

    Up at 3am. Packed up my coupons, clothes, and jerky, and hit the road by 4am.
    Exactly 310 miles and 4 hours later, I arrived at Krispy Kreme near Green Valley Ranch to use a free coffee coupon with any purchase. Since they were giving away donuts this morning, I got 2 donuts, coffee, and free Wi-Fi for 87 cents (-1)

    Off to FIESTA HENDERSON to do a little hit and run. The VP session didn’t go so well (-20). I should have quit while I was ahead. For craps, I won a $50 free bet coupon and a $25 MP (+155).

    Headed over to THE CANNERY for a 500 point sweat shirt promo and a couple of coupons. Nice sweat shirt. VP -18, Craps +20.

    Headed over to FIESTA RANCHO for another hit and run and to use up a free buffet coupon for lunch. VP +40, Craps +25, BJ +20.

    FIESTA RANCHO FESTIVAL BUFFET (Standard lunch): This is a 100% middle-of-the-road buffet which has gone downhill over the past 5 years. Average patron age is ~60+. It’s smaller than your typical Stations buffet and is 20% smaller than The Orleans and Gold Coast buffet and about the same size as The Palms. The atmosphere was pleasant, the service was adequate, and the food quality and selection was slightly substandard. For free it beats fast food (-1).

    (10/10 is perfecto, 7 = good, 5 = edible, 3 = not fit for human consumption)

    Atmosphere = 7.0
    Service = 7.0
    Variety = 6.0
    Quality = 6.5
    Value = 7.5
    Overall experience = 6.5

    1. Turkey Tetrazini (6.5)
    2. Baked Ziti (7.0)
    3. Penne pasta in seafood marinara (6)
    4. Meatballs (7.5)
    5. Stir fry chicken (7.5)
    6. Beef with broccoli (6.0)
    7. Egg roll (6.5) (it was pork but not labeled)
    8. Green beans with some kind of sauce (7.5)
    9. Fried pork wontons (6.5)
    10. Mongolian Grill (DNR, but has all the standard ingredients)
    11. Carved ham (6.5)
    12. Carved turkey (5.0) (dry with poor flavor)
    13. Fried chicken (7.5)
    14. Taco (8.0) (you have to ask for the cilantro)
    15. Pork ribs (7.5)
    16. Italian sausage (7.0)
    17. Popcorn shrimp (5.0) (why even bother with the shrimp?)
    18. Fried cod (5.5)
    19. Black eyed peas (5.5)
    20. Chicken fajitas (6.5)
    21. Collard greens (5.0)
    22. Egg drop soup (7.5)
    23. Wonton soup with mushrooms (4.5) (that was not a wonton soup)
    24. Bread pudding (8.0)

    Since the Texas Station coupon was only for $10, I decided to skip it and head for THE PLAZA to check in and relax a while before the birthday dinner party in the Triple Crown ballroom. This party was part of the free room mailer.

    After checking in and catching a few Z’s, I scoped out the entire casino to look for the remaining FPDW machines. There is only one left in the entire casino (-40). Headed over to LVC to play a couple of craps MP’s (+5). Back over to The Plaza and settled in on a bank of nickel 8/5 bonus machines. Met an older couple there who were also invited to the birthday bash, so off we went. I was surprised to find myself in the middle of a geriatrics convention. Out of ~300 at the event, I swear I was the youngest person there. Oh well, free is free and food is food. The roasted pork dinner also came with a nice gift bottle of wine. The drawing was too drawn out and hokey, so grabbed my bottle and skedaddled.

    That was enough for one day. I was bushed. What a long first day.

    VP: -$38
    CRAPS: +205
    BJ: +20
    MISC (Food, accommodations, transportation, tips, etc): $-2

    FRIDAY, October 21 (Day 2)

    Today’s plan was to hit The Elco for the funbook/breakfast, hit The Cannery for the 5x promo and gift cards, head over to Fiesta to do a MP hit-and-run, check into the El Cortez, and go to a meet at 6:30pm.

    Since I wanted to get an early start to the day, I got bold and called Gary (Grenadier) in his room at 7:30am. Good thing they were up (sort of). Anyhow, I played BJ at the Plaza while waiting for them to get ready (+90). They still have a great game.

    After consuming a very tasty breakfast at The El Cortez (courtesy funbook coupon), we decided to use the matchplays on BJ (+40).

    Off to The Cannery. Since they didn’t have any gift card promos today, we just played a short session of 8/5 bonus on the nice slant-tops (-10). Both Gary and Henny each hit aces. Regarding the 50 coin bonus coupon, they’ve totally cracked down on the “one per year†restriction. I finally lost a don’t pass bet with an MP coupon (-10).

    Over to Fiesta Rancho. Gary and Henny each played a $25 MP for me on craps (on the don’ts). I lost mine, but they won theirs (+75).

    Back over to downtown. Check in at the Elco was sort of a hassle. They were totally booked for the BJ tournament, so they had me at the Ogden house, which was unacceptable. After speaking with the host and the hotel manager, they put me up in a vintage mini-suite. There is a large “GAMBLING†sign in front of the Elco. I was right next to the sign. Nice large room with separate living/TV area, separate office desk area, and gold fixtures throughout. It was suppose to be a non-smoking room, but let me tell you, that was the smokiest non-smoking room that I’ve ever experienced. For free, who cares?

    I was telling Gary about the decent free room offers at MSS, so we headed over there to sign him up and play on his card to see what kind of offers will come in the future. We played FPDW for about 30 minutes (-60). I had a particularly bad session so I called it quits.

    After parting ways, I headed over to the Plaza to do their free slot tournament. As usual, I didn’t do squat. While looking through my coupons, I noticed this $20 discount coupon for the Plaza gift shop. I was thinking $20 off of some kind of minimum purchase, but NO! It was a $20 comp, period. Try spending $20 at the Plaza gift shop.
    Here’s the tally:

    (4) Lipton green teas
    (1) Lipton original
    (2) bags of rice crackers
    (1) dried papaya and pineapple chunks
    (1) bag of pretzels
    (2) Hostess blueberry muffin loafs
    (1) Hostess banana nut muffin loaf
    (1) Hostess powdered donuts

    Over to LVC for their free slot tournament. And as usual, I didn’t do squat. While looking through my coupons, I noticed this $20 discount coupon for the Vegas Club gift shop. I was thinking $20 off of some kind of minimum purchase, but NO! It was a $20 comp, period. Try spending $20 at the LVC gift shop.
    Here’s the tally:

    (2) Starbucks Mocha Frappucinos (Lite)
    (2) Starbucks Vanilla Frappucinos
    (4) Lipton Green teas
    (1) Stainless steel tweezers
    (1) pair of dice
    (1) bag of Raisinets

    With 4 bags of “groceries†in hand, I headed all the way back over to El Cortez to put all that crap in the car. What a load. There was this real nasty smell coming from the Mermaids area. Must be those deep fried Twinkies. With all of those groceries, I thought for sure I was going to get hit up on by some bums.

    After dropping the stuff off, I headed over to MSS for the 6:30 meet. Attendees included Char (Charlotte) and husband Mark, and JC Houston (John) and wife Cathy. It was a good mini meet. Real nice folks. After the meet, they all headed over to Center Stage at The Plaza for dinner, while I headed back to the Elco to fetch a few coupons for the meet folks. Back over to the Plaza to drop off the coupons.

    Are you noticing how inconvenient the Elco location is?

    Headed over to The Golden Gate to meet up with my neighbor and his buddies and play some BJ (+25). I started to get hungry so back over to the Elco for my free Chinese seafood buffet.

    EL CORTEZ CHINESE KITCHEN BUFFET (seafood night): This is pretty much the same as the old Plaza Chinese buffet. Master Chef Tang came over to the Elco after Barrick took over the Plaza. He doesn’t speak much English, so keep your questions to a maximum of 5 words. Regarding the buffet, this is your typical small-town Chinese buffet. For $8.95, it’s not worth it, but for free, it’ll do the trick. It’s very small (appx 25 ft in length) and prepared in mass. The atmosphere is pleasant and the service is adequate. Ate with host Nords Malilay. He’s a hard working guy but has an uphill battle working at the Elco. It was incredible how many people interrupted our dinner (-2).

    (10/10 is perfecto, 7 = good, 5 = edible, 3 = not fit for human consumption)

    Atmosphere = 7.0
    Service = 7.0
    Variety = 5.5
    Quality = 6.0
    Value = 6.5
    Overall experience = 6.0

    1. Chinese chicken salad (6.5)
    2. Hot & Sour soup (6.0)
    3. Seafood eggflower soup (6.0)
    4. Eggroll (7.5)
    5. Fried tempura-style shrimp (7.0)
    6. Steamed crab legs (6.0)
    7. Mussel w/ black bean sauce (6.0)
    8. Steamed rice (7.0)
    9. Shrimp fried rice (7.0)
    10. Sweat & Sour fish (7.0)
    11. Pan fried shrimp with green beans (5.0)
    12. Kung pao shrimp (5.0)
    13. Beef with broccoli (6.0)
    14. Chicken chow mein (7.0)

    While passing by the craps table, I noticed an open spot at SR1, so I decided to buy in for a short session (+75). I know that craps is for everyone, but my God, there are so many dimwits out there that have no idea of what they’re doing. There was this one chick that was making $5 & $10 line bets with no odds, and kept playing the field. She kept screaming “pay the field baby, pay the field, ooooo yeah baby!!!†While most of us were making money playing correctly, she pretty much broke even on the hot shooters. I’m sure you craps players know what I mean. You see it all the time.

    Anyhow, time to end the evening on 8/5 bonus and 9/6 DDB (-100). I picked an end machine so I could do some people watching. I’m telling you, the Elco is a genuine freak show.

    VP: -$170
    CRAPS: +$140
    BJ: +155
    MISC (Food, accommodations, transportation, tips, etc): -$2

    SATURDAY, October 22 (Day 3)

    Plans for the day were quite simple. Free breakfast, free BJ tournament, free lunch with a local BJ pro, free dinner at Binion’s, and lay low.

    Slept in until 8am and started off the morning on 9/6 DDB (0). I was up over 100 but gave it all back. However, I got 2 solid hours of play for free and racked up plenty of useless points (2x for birthday promo).

    Time to get another free Elco funbook. It’s a pretty good book. Anyhow, I ate breakfast again for 87 cents (-2).

    Over to 8/5 bonus to kill some time (-100). That wasn’t a good idea. I found the 100.9% (16/13/4700) Downtown Deuces and hit quad ducks within 30 minutes (+480). That was nice. Also received a nice jacket (any jackpot over $300).

    Time for the BJ tournament. Even though I was the most knowledgeable player on the table, I was ousted by a lucky rookie. I couldn’t win a hand when it counted. Nevertheless, I was glad that my obligations at the Elco were finished.

    Met up with the BJ pro and his buddy (John) at Careful Kitty’s and we used up my $25 dining cert. Good meal.

    Time for some gaming. I order to watch him play without being seen with him, I bought in at the craps table next to his BJ table (+40). Apparently, the floor started giving him heat (and the dealer crap) for a 10x spread. Time to bail.

    Over to the Western. This is where it got pretty interesting. BJ pro starts out flat betting $25 on a single deck game. The next thing you know, he’s near the table max. The next thing you know, he’s nearly double the table max and wins. The dealer was about to pay up in blacks, but the pit boss put a stop to that and only pays the table max. Time to make a quick exit. He made about an $800 in about 30 minutes.

    We laughed all the way back towards central downtown where we parted ways. Pretty interesting.

    I stopped in at Binions to collect $20 worth of free food “to-goâ€. Even though I was still stuffed from lunch, it was a use or lose deal, as the coupon expires at the end of the month. I ate a bowl of tasty chicken gumbo while waiting for my 2 “slammers†(Roast beef w/ swiss sandwiches) and pumpkin pie. Back over to the Elco to put them on ice and load up the car.

    I had a football game to play in at 8:30 the next morning, so I turned in early (~10pm).

    VP: +$380
    CRAPS: +$40
    MISC (Food, accommodations, transportation, tips, etc): -$2

    SUNDAY, October 23 (Day 4)

    Up at 3am and on the road by 3:15.
    Home by 7:15.
    Slept for 30 minutes.
    My team got killed by 3 touchdowns. I should have stayed in Vegas… NOT!
    I think my priorities are changing. A bad day of football is on par with a good day in Vegas. Go figure.


    VP: +$172
    CRAPS: +$385
    BJ: +175
    MISC: -6

    NET PROFIT: +$726

    - 3 room nights
    - 4 slot tournaments
    - Blackjack tournament
    - doughnut & coffee
    - Cannery sweatshirt
    - Fiesta Rancho buffet
    - birthday dinner party
    - bottle of wine
    - 4 Elco breakfasts
    - $20 worth of stuff at the Plaza gift shop
    - $20 worth of stuff at the LVC gift shop
    - El Cortez Chinese buffet
    - $25 dining cert at Careful Kitty’s
    - Elco jacket
    - $20 worth of food at Binions
    - standard toiletries


    - Without a doubt, downtown is the place to be if you’re a real gambler.

    - Downtown is freak show central. I never used to mind it, because I used to be one of them.

    - Mermaids is really stinky.

    - The El Cortez is now an acceptable place to play, but I don’t think I’ll be back. Bad location.

    - “Quitting while ahead†is probably the best money management strategy going. It’s just too easy to give it all back.

    - I’m now convinced. The don'ts is the best way to use a match play coupon.

    - I was absolutely determined to make this a winning trip... Mission accomplished.

    Thanks for reading.
    God Bless America.

  2. Coaster Kikky

    Coaster Kikky Tourist

    Jan 8, 2003
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Nice report, but all I keep thinking is "hmmmm, I was Downtown and at El Co at the same time you were... was I *that* bad off??" But I've never put money on the field in craps, so at least I know that wasn't me!
  3. doctor_al

    doctor_al VIP Whale

    Nov 25, 2002
    Twin Cities
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Nice scuffler TR. Gonna have to re-read later for all the coupie details...
  4. IllMarty

    IllMarty Orangutan

    Dec 7, 2004
    Will Co., IL
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Is this..

    Yahtzee Mike from LVT?

    Nice TR. You should have let us know you were going to be there. I spent 95% of my time DT during the same days. Glad you had a winner.

  5. Buckeye Bob

    Buckeye Bob Low-Roller

    Apr 30, 2002
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    I thought that was Yahtzee Mike as I recognized the TR format with the rating system for buffets. Welcome to T2V. Hope you love it here like we do.

  6. Jacko

    Jacko Tourist

    Jun 16, 2004

    Good trip report!

    Thx for sharing.
  7. 21wins

    21wins VIP Whale

    Aug 16, 2002
    Great report. That's the way to do Vegas- room and food for free and WIN at the tables/machines. Coupon runs are the best!!
    Nice Very Nice!!
  8. noodles

    noodles Guest

    Great trip report...I've learned that I don't eat enough when I go to buffets. :)
  9. Mike

    Mike Tourist

    Nov 28, 2001
    Carlsbad, CA, USA

    I appreciate the nice replies. Those TR's are not easy to do.

    Yes Marty, yes Bob, it's Yahtzee. I've been a member here for 4 years. I haven't posted here in a while, but I finally figured out my password again. There are certain members on that other board who just piss me off. You know who they are. At least it's very civil here.

    see ya in Vegas.
  10. IllMarty

    IllMarty Orangutan

    Dec 7, 2004
    Will Co., IL
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Don't be a stranger Mike. I recognized your format just like Bob. Your TRs always have great info.

    Yes the other board is not very nice sometimes. That is why I am here.

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