'STOP!' Screamed my Liver TR 29 May - 3 June

'Pipe down liver!' I said, 'Another Crown Royal please bartender!'

Here we go again! My 12th trip to Vegas was upon me at last. This would be my fourth annual Memorial Day (week) trip to Vegas. The impetus for this trip was habit and the fact that some old Vegas friends were visiting this same week.

Sunday, 29 May

My flight didn?t leave until 4:15 pm but I was packed and ready to go by noon. I usually like to fly early in the morning and get a mid-day return flight, but these flights would have cost me almost $200 more than the American Airlines flight I ultimately reserved for $330 round trip.

As a reward for my thriftiness I requested a limo pickup from the Orleans. They charge $55 for this service but often comp it at the end of my trip.

Orleans had comped me 5 nights up front, something they haven't done for me in a long time. I also had two comped nights at Caesar's Palace through a mail offer. This has been the theme of my past several trips to stay and explore properties I have never stayed at before. It is a bit inconvenient taking an overnight bag and shuttling between properties but it is a new way to explore Vegas and I'm always up for something new.

Caesar's has tons of restaurants that I've never tried not to mention the ones in the Forum shops so I was looking forward to agonizing over which ones to try. Bradley Ogden's was definitely at the top of the list.

Of course I couldn't sleep so I was up early Sunday morning. Went for a long walk as has been my custom for the past 3 months. I finally decided to do something about my weight and have lost over 28 pounds to date. Vegas will not help my diet but you have to reward yourself sometimes!

Finally it was time to head to podunk Pensacola Regional Airport and my lovely bride kindly drove me there. I tried to talk her into coming along with me this time but it has only been a year since she was on a plane and it usually takes about 18 months to 2 years for her to muster the courage to climb aboard another one. To say she has a fear of flying is putting it mildly.

Swiped my credit card at the kiosk to check in and it asked 'Hey sailor, would you like to upgrade your seat on the Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) to Vegas portion of your trip to first class for $135?'

'You bet your sweet microchip I would kiosk' I replied!

I was concerned with all the delays that had occurred lately with the violent weather we've been experiencing across the Midwest, so I was keeping my fingers crossed that there would be no delays. The plane was a commuter jet but I was on the side with only one seat in each row so it wasn't really that unpleasant. Flight took about an hour and a half.

My flight from DFW to Vegas left on time too. I have not flown American Airlines very often, but I sure loved their First Class service. The bloody mary's kept coming steadily, and I was shocked that they served dinner on the flight. I usually fly AirTran and they only serve snacks.

Before the meal they served a small dish of warm mixed nuts. Very tasty. After that we had a choice of a grilled chicken salad or cheese enchilada. I played it smart and had the salad. Later on they brought out a warm chocolate chip cookie. It was all I could do to turn it down, but I didn't want to ruin all my hard work over the past 3 months in one day.

I enjoyed watching Vegas Vacation and read some of my book during the flight (Star Island by Carl Hiaasen if anyone is interested - good read). We landed a few minutes early and taxied to Concourse D. Yes, this always seems to happen and now I still have a monorail ride to get to baggage.

With a spring in my step I bounded towards the baggage area. There was John holding up a placard with my last name. This is the way to arrive in Vegas; no hassle with a taxi, shuttle, or rental car. Trust me, you don't want me behind the wheel of a car in Vegas on a solo trip. This is for your safety!

John helped me with my bag which took awhile to come out, and we headed towards the limo parking area. Orleans' limos are a bit old, and I think they still have some that used to be at Stardust. Don't get me started on Stardust; I still miss it to this day.

Made it to Orleans in only about 15 minutes; who cares if we take the tunnel? Tipped John nicely and headed for the registration desk.

Check in went smoothly and I was assigned room 1106 with a view of the strip. I've had this view many times and it's nice to look out the window before bed and first thing in the morning.

I dumped my stuff in the room and headed down for the last couple of errands needed before the party could begin. Stopped at the cashier cage and got some singles for the many tips I will be giving to the generous bartenders. Then it was off to the player's club for a new card.

It was nearly 10:30pm before my keister hit the barstool at the Alligator bar. There was Luis, who has been my favorite bartender at Orleans for years now. He is originally from Venezuela and is a very upbeat and fun guy to talk to. He has helped slow my play a number of times with lively conversation when things weren't going so well.

Luis quickly brought me a Crown Royal and I shook his hand and I tipped him well. Loaded my $50 in free play and decided to take a stab at dollar VP using my round-de-round method of play. That's basically playing all the games with some keno thrown in to slow things down.

I called my friend Mike (HomerSimpson969) who had arrived in Vegas the day before and he headed over for a visit. I hadn't seen him in a couple of years and it was great to catch up with him. We parted ways and it was on to the good fight.

The Crown Royal flowed nicely throughout the evening. I caught a few four of a kinds (4OAK) and a straight flush but still managed to lose slowly to the tune of about $160 by the time I decided to call it a night at a most reasonable hour of 4am.

Monday, 30 May

I was wide awake by 7:45am. There was no turning back. I showered and as I did a call came in from my friend Mike. The plan was to hit up the M Resort for some Hash House A Go Go (HHAGG). So Mike and his friend John met me and we headed out to the M Resort.

There was no line for seating, but that wasn't the case when we left. HHAGG is a very popular place! Mike and I split the chicken eggs benedict and John has a delicious looking egg scramble with guacamole and many other delicious ingredients.

They both signed up for players cards and Mike played both his and John's free play on a machine called 'Kikkin Ass' while John hung back to play blackjack. I just looked on and did some non descript no win/no loss VP.

Mike wanted to head out to Hoover Dam to see the new bridge but traffic reports dissuaded us all. Instead, we went in search of discount tickets for the Las Vegas Mob Experience at the Tropicana. We ended up parking at Hooters and walking back to the strip to the Coca Cola store. There a short line yielded $25 tickets to the LVME; regular price $39. We also scored some 25 percent discounted restaurant tickets for Emeril's Table 10 at Palazzo for the evening.

The Mob Experience was good fun. You get to choose the video narrator. The choices were Bobby "Bacala" Baccalieri (Steven R. Schirripa), Paul "Paulie Walnuts" Gualtieri (Tony Sirico), Phil Leotardo (Frank Vincent), James Caan, or Mickey Rourke. At my suggestion we chose Paulie as I always loved his character on the Sopranos.

So I won't give it all away but you walk from room to room and meet actors who give you directions to accomplish a mission to get in good with the mob and maybe get made one day. Along the way Paulie tells you about the history of the mob in Las Vegas. At the end there are displays of various mobsters' personal belongings.

All in all I'd say the Mob Experience was worth it for $25, but not for $39. I recommend this experience at a discounted level only.

After that Mike, John and I returned to Orleans and agreed to meet in a couple of hours for dinner.

At the agreed upon time I met up with Alaska (Doris) at the Mardi Gras bar and had some fun talking and playing the machines. She hadn't been having a good week and was headed home the next day.

Dinner at Table 10 was great. I had the filet, John had the lamb chops, and Mike had the special with shrimp and filet. We also shared a good bottle of wine. The boys enjoyed a giant wedge of a bananas foster-like cake; I declined but tasted a sample. It was fantastic! The bill was only $166 with the discount.

Upon our return to the Orleans I began playing in earnest. I felt I hadn't had a break since I arrived so I was enjoying just bouncing from machine to machine.

It was more of the same though; a slow bleed that deprived me of any royals but did pay off with one set of quad aces on the DB V P progressive for a nice $200 win. I frittered that away over the course of the evening, but still went to bed at a reasonable 3:30 am under budget bankroll wise.

It's really been a fun trip and I'm looking forward to checking into Caesar's Palace tomorrow.

Tuesday, 31 May

Same as it ever was; same as it ever was.

Woke up at 7:45 again and groaned since I'd left the curtains open last night. The sunlight bore a hole in my brain and I experienced a rare hangover headache. Hello Extra Strength Excedrin!

Got ready for the day and sullied forth.

Had a nice Bailey's and coffee at the Alligator bar then headed over to the Piano bar and had one of the best bloody mary's I've ever enjoyed. Bartender decided up front I needed Kettle One so that's what I got. Man it was good!

Bounced around throughout the morning with minimal losses as has been the theme so far this trip. Went up to the room to wash up before meeting my friend Rhonda for lunch and when I went to remove my belt the buckle broke off. Are you kidding me? I've never had a belt break!

On a hunch I went down to the gift shop and sure enough they had a rack of belts and the first one I picked up fit. OK, here's the luck I've been missing out on. Picked up a 2012-2013 Vegas calendar although if all the rumors are true I won't need the 2013 portion of it.

Crisis averted I headed down to the Mardi Gras bar as that was where I was supposed to meet Rhonda.

We had a great lunch at Big Al's Oyster bar. We both had the shrimp cocktail and a cup of New England clam chowder. Rock solid quality that never fails to please.

After lunch we met up with Duck (Dave) and Pebbles (Elaine) and her husband Tony at the Mardi Gras bar lounge. We're all like old friends now and we talked about everything under the sun until almost 3 hours had gone by.

Since I was checking in at Caesar's Palace Rhonda graciously gave me a lift (nice Lexus!). Check in was flawless and there was no wait. I asked the check in clerk if I could have a fountain view but if not that was ok. I was assigned room 3174 in the Augustus Tower which turned out to be just two doors down the hall with a fantastic view of the Bellagio fountains.

My bride called as I was getting settled and I had to describe the room. While it was about the same square footage as my Orleans room, it was definitely upscale in comparison. Beautiful furnishings, floor to ceiling window, bathrobes in the closet, Jacuzzi tub and glass enclosed shower. What a fantastic deal for free!

I quickly unpacked and headed to the casino. There really aren't many Video Poker bars which is my preference, but the sports bar was large, had great bartenders, and larger than normal glasses which conveniently held extra Crown Royal!

Not 4 hands in I hit the deuces on Double Bonus VP for a $100 win. Not long after I hit four queens on Bonus Deluxe for another $100. Those two wins plus a freakish number of full houses and flushes kept me playing on that same machine for 4 hours. During that time I chatted with other players, one chatty bartender, and generally just had a blast. In the end I cashed out $200 ahead. Who needs good pay tables when you're winning?

I took a break to clean up and was thinking about Bradley Ogden, Mesa Grill, and other options for dinner. I just didn't feel like dining alone. I guess that great dinner with Duck and John the previous evening had spoiled me.

So I headed over to the Bellagio and looked at the options there. I ended up at 'Snacks' which is just a sandwich and pizza place. It wasn't crowded so I was served quickly. Had a great BLT that I really enjoyed.

After that I walked around a bit until I found an Old 'I Dream of Jeannie' nickel slot. This was the original and I had to give it a whirl. Twenty dollars and 3 Crowns later I cashed out even. 'Hello Master'!

Played at the Fontana bar and was surprised to find that some of the machines had been changed out and some were at the quarter level. I always reserve a hundred to play these each trip because it makes me feel like a big shot, at least for a few minutes. So much for that.

Lost about a hundred at Bellagio and then returned to Caesar's. Duck came by to say hi and we chatted for awhile. Hit the hay about 12:30am down a bit but very happy with my experience at Caesar's.

Wednesday, 1 June

I awoke at 7 am and was feeling a bit raggedy. Imagine that. After I showered I called Duck and we met at Bill's. From there we walked down to Ellis Island for the steak and egg special. On the way we crossed the pedestrian bridge between Bill's and Bally's. A guy was sitting on the bridge with a sign that read 'Stranded in Vegas with puppy'. He actually had a puppy in a pet carrier. Sad or BS, who knows?

Duck had a coupon but as it turns out it was only good for items on the menu. No big deal as the total bill for us both was a little over 12 bucks.

The plan was to return to my room so I could collect my camera and then walk down to the Cosmopolitan to check it out. On our way there I had an idea. I really didn't want to stay at Caesar's again tonight as I was missing the Orleans. I offered Duck the room for the night and he really liked that idea. When we got to the room the maid was cleaning it so we grabbed my camera and headed to Cosmo.

On the way we checked out the conservatory at Bellagio; beautiful as always. The weather was perfect as we walked outside of Bellagio down to Cosmo. I must say I was really impressed with the place. Not huge, but everything was shiny clean and new. We signed up for players cards and got $10 in free play. I shot mine at the closest VP bar (you know me). Duck hit the floor and made a $5 profit. I lost $10. Meh!

I wanted to have a beer and the bartender handed me a menu! I chose the weirdest thing on it I could find: Rogue's Dead Guy Ale. It was fantastic and I highly recommend it.

So we returned to Caesar's and I got Duck fixed up with a key to my room and left him with the instructions on how to check out on the TV. My balance said $0.00 so I hope he doesn't have a Nick Pappageorgio party in the room while I'm gone!

Parted ways with Duck and grabbed a cab from Caesar's to Orleans. Tab was only $11 and tipped an extra $4.

My dogs were barking so I relaxed in the room for awhile, cleaned up and headed down to play. I've still got about half my bankroll and I have no intention of leaving the Orleans until I go the airport. Bartenders, start your engines!

Found a great machine at the Alligator bar - I wanted to slow roll it and this was just what the doctor ordered! This thing ran so slow that a keno bet of one coin lasted almost 15 seconds or so. Ding, ding, ding, dah ding. I caught 5 out of 5 on keno for a nice $200 win, coupled with a wild royal flush on deuces wild.

My friend Norm stopped by and we had a nice chat. I was sipping Newcastle's and they were going down just fine!

I racked up about $300 in wins from various 4OAKs over the next few hours. Now this is what I'm talking about - good bartenders, good drinks, good play.

Duck called and wanted to hit up the prime rib special at the Gold Coast buffet. I was up for that so I headed to the shuttle.

I was a little early for meeting up with Duck so I sat at the sports bar and, guess what, played some VP. Held my own then Duck arrived and I told him about the promotion I'd heard about earlier. Swipe your Boyd card and get some type of free play or bonus points on your card. I'd done it earlier and got 5,000 points on my card. Better than nothing.

Shortly thereafter Duck's friend Paul arrived and we headed to the buffet. Duck graciously paid my tab for giving him the room I had at Caesar's. He'd checked out early from Harrah's and saved himself a whopping $28. His new digs were obviously much fancier than Harrah's.

It was prime rib night at the Gold Coast buffet and I loaded up on salad, then prime rib, baked potato, and finished it off with an éclair. I was starving as I hadn't eaten since the Ellis Island breakfast this morning. Either I was food deprived or everything was really good.

Headed back to Orleans via the shuttle and sat at the piano bar for a long time listening to a group perform oldies. They were really talented and I was bebopping to the music while enjoying a few Crown Royals.

Took a break to clean up a bit and went back to the good fight. I was basically even for the day. Lots of 4OAKs and other helpful hands kept me even.

Luis at the Alligator bar regaled me with a fantastic story. There was a woman in her 60s that used to come in and play 4 card keno at 16 bucks a pop for many hours at a time. The belief was that she had inherited some money and just wanted to blow it. She played so hard that the technicians would have to come and empty her machine of bills. He said she would blow over 30 grand a day. She'd hit for 18 grand then put it all back. She had so many comps she could have stayed in a penthouse and ate every meal at the best restaurants. But she always ate at the Courtyard Café. She finally ran out of money and never returned. Wild tale!

I wasn't doing well but had only lost a couple of hundred for the day. Decided to reload and give it another try.

The rest of the night is pretty much a hazy memory. Shifted to dollars, bounced to 50 cents, and I assume there were no big wins. I don't remember any 4OAKs. So at the ripe old hour of 4am I hit the mattress and next think you know...

Thursday, 2 June

Is it really almost over? Damn, I still have money left, I need more days!

Alright, let's give it one more try. First order of business was inventory. Counted my remaining cash which was more than I should need for a day at the Orleans. I planned to up the playing level today and see if lady luck smiles on me or kicked me in the jimmies.

Food. Need food. Screw food. Need bloody mary. I ignored the screams from my liver!

Hit up the Piano bar where the bartender gal makes me another fantastic best bloody mary. Hit four 4's right off the bat on Double Bonus Poker.

Played the 3 plays and made some keno bets. Bounced around and stayed pretty much even. I forgot to eat breakfast so about noon I stopped into Big Al's for another cup of chowder and a shrimp cocktail. Love this stuff!

Checked out with the host. My self-imposed bed time is 8 pm as I need some sleep before my 6 am flight.

Hit some keno and banked 200. Played my ass off and drank Newcastle then switched to Crown.

Played the Wheel of Fortune progressive for a long time with lots of hits. Cashed out 200 ahead.

Time to pack. Rats. One more shot and off to bed.

Grabbed a slice of pizza from Sbarro's before heading up to the room. Hit the rack about 8 pm. I really hated doing that but last trip I went to bed late and was so paranoid about oversleeping I didn't get to sleep at all. Had the alarm set for 3 am and a wakeup call set up as well. Conked out (passed out) until about 1 am and decided to go ahead and get ready.

Packed everything up and decided to take one last shot at gambling. Sat at the Alligator bar and just had a couple of cokes. My body was pretty drained from all the alcohol I'd consumed during the week!

There were some people still up after attending the burlesque event the night before. Lots of people dressed up in flashy clothes. Not formal, sort of Guys and Dolls fashions. There was one guy at the end of the bar who just would not stop talking about the fact that he had just turned 21 and was going to drink all night. OK, I see a face in the toilet in your future Sparky!

I had to get out of there so I headed over to the piano bar and just had to have one last Kettle One bloody mary. The bartender gal there makes them just perfect.

Orleans gave me a kiss goodbye with a set of quad jacks in Bonus Poker Deluxe for a final win of $100. I'll take it!

Headed up to the room for one more look around and grabbed my gear and headed down to registration to check out. It was only 3:30 but I wanted to have plenty of time to get to the airport and through security.

Had a great taxi driver who was more than happy to take me straight down Tropicana to the airport. We had a nice conversation about people getting long hauled and he told me about 90 percent of the cabbies do this. Something about keeping their 'average' up. I found this amazing. I've been very fortunate I guess; have never had this happen to me.

Check in was smooth and painless. Upgraded myself to first class again to keep the party going a couple more hours. Sorry to have this trip come to an end but glad to have had an opportunity to meet some old friends and make some new ones.

In the end this was a classic losing trip in that I never lost more than my planned bankroll of $400 a day, but I pretty much lost that every day. No royals this trip either. I've been royal dry for quite a while now. On the other hand, the bride spent 2 days in Biloxi at the IP and she 'did' hit a progressive royal for just over $1200. Unfortunately she put it all back and now we have the W2G to deal with next year. Oh well.

So thanks for reading and I hope I was able to provide some entertainment and helpful information. It was a great vacation and I can't wait to come back.

My liver is now taking a break and has thanked me for finally stopping the abuse!