Trip Report 12/21-24 My girlfriend and I drove from SoCal and made it to Vegas in a shade over 3 hours. I think the new 210 freeway shaved at least 20 minutes off the drive. I ran into some rain around the CA/Nevada border and even saw snow on the ground, luckily most people were driving safely. The night before we left I looked through my coupons and found 2 $10 match plays each for LV Hilton and Flamingo; 2 $5 match plays for Ballyâ€™s and 2 bet $10 win $15 coupons for the Tropicana that all expired at the end of the month. And it was COLD â€“ I can honestly say Iâ€™ve never been in colder weather than the last few days in Vegas. Iâ€™m surprised people werenâ€™t ice-skating on Lake Bellagio. Hotel We stayed at Treasure Island and were given a great south-facing view of the whole strip; it would have been better if we were up a few floors, but we were floor 14 (which is really floor 13). They were going to give me a Pirate Ship view but the only room available had a block on it. I have another trip booked for TI in late-March, so perhaps they think Iâ€™m a regular because the clerk kept trying to find a good room for me. The view we had was awesome; I could see some or all of nearly every property from the Venetian on the left to the Rio on the right, except for Luxor, Aladdin, and the MGM. But you could see Luxorâ€™s light and MGMâ€™s emerald lights illuminated the overcast sky the first night. And we had a great view of the Mirage Volcano and saw some of the Bellagio fountains. The room itself was a duplicate of the room I had at Mirage, only decorated with lighter colors. The bathroom smelled like burnt matches right when we got there, but that went away after I christened the toilet. I like the location of TI, youâ€™re short walking distances from the cheaper north strip and trams of the south strip. Day 1 After we got settled in the room and I bundled up, we walked to the Forum Shops to finish up Xmas shopping (Vegas must be the Beanie Baby capital of the world). We ate at The Cheesecake Factory and I had the Chipotle Chicken Pasta, which was overpriced and average. They butterfly the chicken breast to make it look they give you 2 breasts, but itâ€™s only 1. I refuse to pay $8 for a piece of cake, so I still havenâ€™t tried their cheesecake. After the Forum Shops we picked up my car and found a SavOn drug store on Sahara to buy some booze. I saw another Tacos Mexico in the shopping center, theyâ€™re everywhere in Vegas. I think Iâ€™ll stock up on liquor next time I go to Vegas considering the average price is about $3 less per bottle than in California. I got a 750ml. bottle of Captains, a 2-liter of coke and some Bass Ale â€“ all for about $5 less than I wouldâ€™ve paid at home. We made it back to the room iced down the beer and pounded about half of the bottle of Captains. At this point we stumbled down to the casino where I was up and down all night but lost $60 in an 8/5 JOB video poker machine. My pre-gambling age girlfriend broke even; she always does. Day 2 Woke up about 8am, showered and went down the sportsbook to check the football odds. Saw the Chargers were 2.5 point underdogs to a Priest Holmes-less KC and put $60 on the Bolts hoping to reclaim my losses from the night before. The Angels were 4/1 to win the AL Pennant and 9/1 to win the Series, not bad. I had 2 $10 match plays, a 2-for-1 buffet, and 2-for-1 drink at the LV Hilton, so we drove over there for breakfast. The monorail is going in so they have the front of the place all torn up. Iâ€™m really not sure how beneficial the monorail will be as I heard it goes from the airport to the Hilton to the Sahara, but I probably heard wrong. We had the $12.99 champagne brunch buffet, which wasnâ€™t bad, but I wouldnâ€™t eat there unless I had a coupon. The quality of the food was good, but the selection was pretty limited. This was my third time eating there and I still have no complaints, other than the â€œsteakâ€ which had good flavor, but had the consistency of shoe leather. After brunch we walked to the sportsbook to watch the start of the Chargers game and play some 9/6 JOB video poker. The Chargers go down 7-3 in the 1st, so I went to use my match plays. I lost on the first match play, and split 6â€™s against a dealer 4 on the other match play. The dealer busted, so I took my chips and ran. We got back to the room and watched more of the game, the Chiefs scored another touchdown so we decided to take a walk and use more of my matchplays. I found a $10 table with Charger fan for a dealer. I lost both matchplays and a few more hands then called it quits. We went over to Ballys to find a $5 table so I could use more matchplays but there were only $10 blackjack tables, and all the craps tables were full. We walked down to Aladdin to check out the prices for P.F. Changs and I wanted to see how bad the Bolts were losing now. To my surprise, they were winning 22-21 with about 8 minutes left and had the ball around midfield. Both the bet and the Chargers season were looking good. We stayed in the Aladdin sportsbook â€“ which is a close second to NYNY at having the worst sportsbook on the strip. A bittersweet ending to the game as a bad spot and subsequent field goal put the Chiefs ahead for good as Reche Caldwell fumbled away the Chargers season. On the bright side the Chargers covered the spread and I won 60 bucks. At least I have the LA Kings to root for, especially with the Clippers and Lakers both playing like crap. Spring Training cannot come fast enough. I had a coupon for 3 hot dogs for $2.99 at Nathanâ€™s, so we went over to NYNY and ate lunch. This coupon rules considering 1 hot dog at Nathanâ€™s is $2.75. We took the MGM monorail to Ballyâ€™s and walked back to Treasure Island. After I cashed in my ticket at the sportsbook, rested and liquored up, we made our way to California Pizza Kitchen at the Mirage. We ate the spinach/artichoke/cheese dip for an appetizer and had the carne â€œestradaâ€ pizza, which was good and a cheap bill for 2 people. After having too much alcohol, we took the CAT up to downtown and I bought my woman one of those alcoholic slurpees (no extra grain train). I got her a mix of red and blue â€“ for what itâ€™s worth, the bartender called that flavor â€œAtomic Sex.â€ Grain train or not I canâ€™t stand those drinks, and the fact that it was 30 below outside didnâ€™t help. Other than the people watching the spraypaint artist, downtown was deserted, probably because of the weather. About the only bright spot was the midget playing video poker, and the New Mexico football coaches I saw at the Golden Nugget. I looked around for that giant piece of gold for the third time and I still canâ€™t find it. Does anyone know where it is? Back to TI for some more VP, and more losing â€“ 99% payback, my ass. Since my girlfriend thinks sheâ€™ll get carded at the tables, we decided to try the wagerworks style blackjack machine. Nothing beats playing with other people at a table, but the machines are cool if you want to play $1 blackjack on the strip. Since Iâ€™ve learned basic strategy, I gave her my strategy card and we both doubled our $20 in very little time. Day 3 We woke up around 8 or 9 again and walked up to the Peppermill and ate breakfast. The couple with 5 screaming kids at the table next to us made the meal below average. My parents took me to Vegas when I was 8 and said it was the worst vacation of their lives. I still had matchplays for Ballyâ€™s and Tropicana, so we walked to Ballyâ€™s. I found a spot at a craps table and used the first coupon, the shooter hit the point right away, and I tried to use the other coupon when the dealer told me only one coupon per day, even though it says nothing about any limit on the coupon. The shooter hit a few more points and I was up about $80 before I walked away â€“ and of course I didnâ€™t tip the dealer. Not only did the Ballyâ€™s craps dealers not let me use 2 matchplays, they were very quiet, only calling out the number rolled. Iâ€™ll never play there again. We took the tram over to MGM and walked to the Trop. I had 2 bet $10, win $15 coupons to use and quickly found a table after I got my free deck of cards. A hot Asian cocktail waitress spilled her tray of drinks right behind me and got beer all over the table and the dealer. The jerk that bumped into her just watched as she cleaned everything up. You think that would happen a lot in a casino with the way everyone is walking around or cheering at a craps table, but that was the first time Iâ€™ve seen it. I pulled a hit-and-run again winning both coupons, one by doubling down on a soft 17 with a dealer 4, and I split 7â€™s on the other hand and won both. I gave the dealer $5 and left. We hoofed it back to TI and took a well-deserved nap. I played the blackjack machine a few more times and every time I put in $20, I would cash out $30 or more; the only drawback is that the machine only lets you double down on 10 or 11. I wanted to try Border Grill at Mandalay Bay for dinner, so we made the walk with help from the Bellagio and Excalibur trams. We find the place only to see that the dinner prices are jacked-up and decide weâ€™re not spending over $20 an entrÃ©e. I think the combination of the cold weather, alcohol, hunger, and too much walking had something to do with us ending up at the Excalibur buffet. You can tell by the cheddar cheese and Ritz crackers that this buffet was geared towards the Excaliburâ€™s clientele. I made a salad that was pretty good, but the Mexican and Chinese food was horrible, and I didnâ€™t want to try anything at the carving station. Altogether the buffet wasnâ€™t that bad, but not worth the $12 price. Back to TI for more profit at the blackjack machine and more losing/breaking even at VP. Day 4 We ate at the Peppermill again. I ordered the pancakes this time and made it about 60% through them. Next time Iâ€™m gonna finish the whole stack of pancakes in one sitting. We were full and all gambled out, so we left and made it home in about 3.5 hours. Other My next Vegas trip is scheduled for 3/31-4/3, but it looks like it will be moved back because the Angels open the season at home this year. I might be going to Laughlin next month. Iâ€™ve never been there, but I heard itâ€™s full of bikers and whitetrash. Sounds fun. My first winning trip ever; next time I hope to pay for room, food, and shopping with my gambling winnings. If I stayed clear of the VP I wouldâ€™ve won a lot more than I did. I noticed the single deck 6 to 5 has spread to pretty much every casino. Harrahâ€™s had a ton of 6 to 5 tables and they were all full of people. They were converting all the machines at TI to paper ticket payout when we were there. I like the ease and cleanliness of the paper ticket, but for some reason I had the strong urge to put it into another machine when I was walking to get real money for the damn thing. I guess you don't think about that when you have a bucket full of quarters. I wanted to go to the Gamblerâ€™s General Store to get a craps felt, but we never made it, so Iâ€™ll have to get one next time or check for them on eBay.