Here's my trip report from Nov 26 to Dec 1. It's long and I considered breaking it up, but decided to give it to you whole. Thanks for all the great advice on this board!

This was my fourth trip to my new favorite playground (first was in April of this year) and I made this a serious gambling trip with a $3,000 bankroll. I chose this time of year due to the great rates at some great hotels and I was not disappointed. I spent a great deal of time on the internet and on the phone tracking down deals and making reservations. My goal was to stay at as many of the top tier hotels in my five nights as possible.

I started out the day at 5AM, leaving plenty of time to travel on the busiest travel day in the U.S. I arrived at the airport at 6 AM for a 7:15AM TWA flight to St. Louis. I had an e-ticket and no baggage to check so I went right to the gate. I thought I was in for an ordeal when the line to go through the metal detectors was 100+ people long. However, that was the only problem of the entire trip. I checked in at the gate, got an exit row window to St. Louis and an exit row aisle to Las Vegas. Arrived at McCarren 15 minutes ahead of schedule at about 10:15 AM and went directly to the Park Place Entertainment check in counter at the bottom of the escalator from the D gate train. No line and I was quickly checked in to ... what, Bally's??? ... but I had two free nights at Paris from a casino marketing offer. A call to the Paris casino marketing desk and I was given room 2172P. Having stayed at Paris in September and from reading other trip reports, I knew that I had scored a deal because rooms ending in P means you get a panoramic view.

I happily walk out to the Hertz shuttle and tell the driver that I'm a Gold Club member and he checks his handheld computer and says I'm all set. When we get to the lot, I see my name in lights and the car is all set with the trunk open and the keys inside. It's a maroon Olds Intrique (I reserved a full size which is usually a Ford Taurus) and it suits my purposes. A quick drive up Paradise to Harmon and Koval to the back entrance to Paris. I use the valet and walk right up to my room. It's at the end of the hall and has a view NNE of Bally's north tower out one window and WNW of Bellagio and Bally's south tower out the other window. The room itself is slightly different from other Paris rooms in that it has a long hallway/foyer after you first enter the room. There is also a full closet in addition to the standard Paris armoire closet. Nice king size bed, desk, Victorian type love seat, two stuffed chairs, shower stall and separate bath. Amenities included soap, shampoo, conditioner, lotion and the jackpot ? mouthwash.

After checking out the Paris digs, I walked across the street to Bellagio to check in to my internet special lakeview room for $129 a night. I was given room 16018 which is about six rooms south of the elevators (in center of hotel) and facing the lake/fountains and Paris/Bally's. I found it ironic that I could look out of my room at the Bellagio at my room at Paris and vice versa. Why two rooms, you may ask? Because Paris was free! I then walked back to Paris to retrieve my car which took about 5 minutes. I went straight down the strip to Vacation Village to spin for half my airfare. I had to wait until 1:30 so I dropped about $10 in VP while I waited. There were two people ahead of me who spun and got $1 each. It was then my moment of truth. As the wheel clicked away, my dreams of $185 jackpot diminished, but the wheel lady said the other jackpot was looking good. I watched in muted horror as I won two free nights deluxe accommodations. This jackpot is on the $40 position of the wheel and I asked for the $40 instead. The change lady was prepared to pay me, but the wheel lady said I could only get the free nights and to follow her. With my head down and my shoulders slumped, I trudged over to the slot club booth to sign documents that would let them send me the vouchers. I've never heard anyone defend the VV rooms so I don't think I will offend anyone when I say that I'll never use the free rooms because the thought of what they would be like gives me nightmares.

I hopped on Sunset Way to the mall across from Sunset Station to get my watch fixed. I then wandered around looking for a convenience store to buy some supplies. I like to drive aimlessly around cities of which I am not familiar with because I get to see a different perspective of the city and occasionally run into some hidden gems. Back to Bellagio and (thanks to advice from this board) used the North Valet. Rolled my luggage up to the room and unpacked a few things for the next two days. I mixed a drink and sat in front of the window to watch the first of many fountain shows. The room was larger than Paris and well appointed, but not worth a lot more money, in my opinion. The armoire is larger and I believe the TV is larger, but the bathrooms are very similar and the other amenities are no different. No mouthwash at Bellagio, but they do have shower caps, sewing kits and robes.

I ordered a pizza from room service and it was fantastic at a reasonable price. It took about 20 minutes and was delivered with style. The table was set up with everything uncovered and facing the TV (which was pulled out for better viewing) and it was obvious the guy was working for the tip. I paid accordingly. After eating, I felt it was time for my serious gambling to take off so I headed to the casino in search of playable VP. Lodestone's website provided great directions and I ended up playing a $1 triple play Jacks or Better machine near the Keno area, just north of the entrance to the room elevators. I had a great run and took $100 up to about $350 and then ended down $260 after about 2.5 hours and 660 points. At $30 a point, that turned out to be about $20,000 of play on just $260 - a feat I was unable to match for the rest of my stay. At Bellagio, after 125 points you get two buffets so I went to the slot club and got one of them (they give 2 single buffets or 2 buffets together) to use for breakfast the next morning.

I then crossed over to the Barbary Coast because I thought the 2X points was on Sunday, but it is on Monday from 6pm to midnight. I crossed to Bally's and did the free slot pull for a keychain, then walked through Paris searching for playable VP. Although Lodestone's said there was a $2 JOB, I couldn't find it and I hate to play short pay VP so I sat down to a $10 BJ table and played for about an hour and broke even. Although I had intended to play more at Paris to keep the free room offers coming, this is the only play I had so I think I'll be off their lists, but who knows?? I cross back over to Bellagio and rack up some more points on the $1 triple play JOB while staying even. Back to my room to finish the pizza and to watch a few fountain shows before going to bed.

I awoke with a start at 5 AM (I never set the alarm except on the last day because I rely on my body to tell me how much sleep I need) and decided to get going. I took a nice warm shower and got ready wearing the robe that was in the armoire. I was down at the buffet, hoping for a long line so I could use my VIP line pass, but nobody was in either line (I still used the VIP line for fun). I've had breakfast here three times previously so I had my expectations set and they were met. I always love the mango yogurt and I always hate the breakfast potatoes. The comp included a free drink so I chose a mimosa which may be considered a pansy drink, but I was man enough to order it and drink it all. As has been my experience at every visit, not the best service. The servers are not rude, but just kind of indifferent to serving you. One should never have to ask for coffee refills in any restaurant, let alone a buffet with very few patrons early in the morning. I believe a coffee pot should be permanently attached to the hand of every server.

With a full belly (is there any other kind in this town?) I found a multi-denomination VP machine in the 5 cent machine area by the north entrance. This comes in .05, .25 and .50 denominations and provides several different games. A trick for those looking for full pay VP is to choose a denomination and look at the pay table, then choose a higher denomination and see if the pay table is different. These machines were 8/5 for nickel and quarter, but 9/6 for .50. I began playing the .50 triple play ($7.50 a hand) and after ten hands ($75.00) I noticed my points were not adding up. I decided to switch machines after the next hand and promptly hit two flushes and a straight flush and I was suddenly up about $175. I hit the cash out button and the machine said 'Grrr, hmmmph' and the call attendant light came on. Within two minutes I had two slot techs paying me in cash so I asked why the machines would not register points. I was told that they should at the .50 level and they would look into it. I moved way over to another bank of the same machine near check in and noticed the same thing - no tracking at .50 level. Keep an eye on this if you are playing at Bellagio.

I took a quick walk through Caesar's Palace since I have only been there once before and I was down about $50 on FP JOB across from Cleopatra's Barge before taking a walk though the Forum Shops and seeing the animatronics show by NikeTown. Back to my room to plan my day and I decided to check out the VP at NYNY since they offer .67% cashback and weekday rooms for only 400 points. I took the tram from Bellagio to Monte Carlo and then out onto the street and into NYNY. I found a $1 single line 9/6 JOB and racked up 50 points in a short time with a $45 loss. The slot club said you need 150 points before getting cashback so I went back to Bellagio to focus my play where I stay. I ran through about $300 in ½ hour while only racking up about 20 points so I retreated to my room to recoup. I mixed several drinks while watching the fountain shows and then went down to the buffet for my free dinner. I loaded up a plate of various delicacies and sat down to wait for a server. I asked for water and a glass of Pinot Noir, which elicited a frown from my server. She had to walk all the way over to the bar and order it, then she had to walk all the way back to give it to me. It was just so much work for her to do this for me. How could I ever be so presumptuous as to ask for wine at dinner? Don't I know these servers are busy talking to each other in the kitchen. Sorry, I went off on that sarcastic tangent, but the server was rude. Point made.

Feeling rather tipsy (okay, drunk is the better word for my condition) I went to Barbary Coast to take advantage of their full pay Deuces Wild VP and 2x points. I had jeans and a sweatshirt on and this place was hot! It's smoky and crowded, which I can endure if the VP inventory is good, but the alcohol and variety of buffet food churning in my stomach made this rather unpleasant after an hour. I managed to rack up about 400 points (Coast casinos give points based on coin out rather than the normal coin in) without losing more than $20. I would have loved to keep going, but I needed fresh air so I crossed over to Bally's and decided to take a pit stop in by room at Paris. I stripped off my clothes and laid in bed watching TV at 7:30 PM and woke up to the maid standing in my room with chocolates at 11 PM. Always lock your room, especially if you are drunk. Feeling better, but with a massive headache (go figure!) I took a quick shower and went back to Bellagio to run up some more points. No good runs here so I quit after reaching my loss limit and went to bed.

I woke up around 6:30 am feeling refreshed and I ordered a Belgian waffle, coffee and OJ from room service. I timed it wrong and had to answer the door in my Bellagio robe and shaving cream on one half of my face. Good food, good service so why bother with the buffet anymore? I called my slot hostess whom I have never met (you would think they'd come around to see you when you are betting $15- $25 a hand at VP) and asked what it would take to get my room, food and beverage for two nights taken care of and she comped me one night and all meals (about $200 in comps) for my 1161 points. I also got $116 cash back on my total loss of about $1200 (about $35,000 cash in) Not such a good deal, but I still have 3 nights left. I also got a late check out until 3PM. My host said you need 750 points per day (about $22,500 cash in) for the room comp.

I called down to the valet to have my car ready and by the time I walked to the North entrance, it was ready and I was off to Venetian to try to check in early. No line at 10 AM and I got room 19-128 facing the north strip (Treasure Island, Pirate show, Venetian pool area and everything from there to the north). Large, beautiful room with a bathroom on the left of the foyer, then the bedroom with TV and armoire, then two steps down to the living area with a full couch, two chairs, desk and a dining table with four chairs. There was also a coffee table and another TV armoire that also contained the gravity sensing refrigerator. This room was a great deal at $109 via the internet and for that rate, I would choose it over both Paris and Bellagio. One problem was that the door can't be locked from the inside - you can only put out a privacy sign. Well, I didn't do this and I was sitting on the toilet with the bathroom door open, when someone knocks and, before I can protest, she sticks her head in the door and puts a spa flier on the foyer table. As she backs out of the room she looks right at me and laughs. Never apologized! Oh well, I'm laid back so no need to complain.

I had the LVA coupon for a free night at the Stardust and I wanted to get a feel for the hotel and casino since I've never been in either. I used the coupon only to get a look at the room and decide if I would stay there again. My answer would be no, unless it was free. Very standard room, but they pump in this air freshener to mask the other odors and it gave me a headache. This may be a good hotel for cheap rooms and easy comps, but I tend to look for something a little more upscale. If I'm going to run $15-20,000 through a casino each day, I'm better off doing it in style.

Back to the Venetian where I decided to find out what VP they had and promptly found a $1 triple play JOB in front of the entrance to the high limit slots. I put in $100 and after two losing hands I see J, A, Q, 10 of clubs and a 6 of hearts on the first line. I hold the appropriate cards and double, then triple check them before hitting the deal button. The first line draws a 9 of clubs for a flush and $30, the second line draws garbage for nothing, but the third line draws that beautiful King of clubs for a big $4000 jackpot. Being the calm, reserved guy that I am, I simply made a fist and said 'YES!'. My trip suddenly looked to be in the black for the first time ever. I sat for about 5 minutes with the machine playing this little tune over and over before an attendant showed up and took my driver's license. A suit then came up and he congratulated me, although he thought the first flush was a RF and I would get $8000. The attendant came back after about 15 minutes and had me sign the W-2G for the IRS and started peeling off $100 for a total of $4030. I tipped the attendant $100 and he and the suit seemed surprised at the amount. A note here for the IRS curious: On a multi-play machine, the jackpot is considered the total winnings from all three hands, not just the one. For example, I had a line that won $30 and a line that won $4000 so my taxable jackpot was $4030.

Back quickly to my room safe to assess my bankroll situation. I decide to stash the after-tip $3930 in the safe and stick to my planned allotment with daily session bankrolls and minimum/maximum stop limits. This would guarantee me a positive trip before taxes. I order a club sandwich and fries from room service and then I decide to use the free Madame Tussaud's coupon that I got at check in. I would never pay the $13.50 admission because this is not something that interests me all that much, but for free it was a good half hour diversion. Two costumed Venetian characters were hitting on me after the museum which boosted my confidence. At least I think they were flirting ? I've been out of the dating game for so long now that I could have been mistaken. Perhaps they were flirting with each other and I was standing in the way! Oh well, it doesn't matter since I'm happily married and I JUST ONE $4,000! I then realize I need to check out of Paris and Bellagio so I make quick trips there and no problems at video checkout at Paris and none at the desk at Bellagio.

Back to the Venetian for some VP play with limited results. Excluding my RF, after 8 hours of on and off play, I had 491 points (about $17,000 cash in) and I was down my $600 daily bankroll. I went to the slot club and upgraded my card to a Gold Card (I believe this was after 200 points) which entitled me to the Gold Club room, discounts on merchandise and 50% more cash back (from .33% to .50%). I was going to go to my room and call for a host, but decided to swing by the Gold Club and ask for one there. While I waited, I helped myself to the free beverages and snacks (tortellini and soup). A host introduced herself and we sat down at a desk in the lounge. She looked up my play and asked about my stay and then she said that she would comp all room and food so far plus another $25 for breakfast. She did say that they look for more play generally for that kind of comp, but since I was new and had a good rate, she would cover it this time. I thanked her and went to the room to have some crackers, cheese and some Merlot. I got drunk but stayed in the room where it was safe (and so was my bankroll).

Up a little later today as I tend to do in Las Vegas. Room service of Omellete, hash browns, toast, coffee and OJ around 9:30am. Great service with the food set up on the table rather than the food service cart. With my hangover slowing me down, I decide to take it easy and by the time I make it down to the casino, it's 11am. I stop in the Gold Club for some coffee and OJ and to read the paper, then I go to the ballroom for Grazie Gifts. This is a promotion during the holidays where the Venetian matches your slot points with Grazie points to be used to get merchandise that they want to liquidate before the end of the year. It's not bad gifts actually, but you need a lot of points to get the good stuff. TV's for 30,000 points, CD players for 5,000, leather jackets for 4,000. There were only two items for under 500 points - a Venetian T-shirt and two Kobalt blue wine glasses which they will ship home for no charge.

I checked out of the Venetian with no charges, $4000 in additional cash, $49 cashback and two free wine glasses. Now this is my idea of a good day! I get my car from Valet and get a free bottle of water while waiting (less $1 tip) and I'm off to Treasure Island (short drive across the strip!) I had internet reservations for a tower suite for $149 a night. No line at check in and I jokingly asked for an upgrade (hah!) The clerk smiled and said he couldn't do that but would get me a good suite. I asked for one facing the south strip and he said the tower suites only face the pirate battle which was fine. The room was 17050 and was the first room north of the elevators. It had double doors (always a sign of a large room) two columns in the entry way. Immediately in front was the living area with a couch, two end tables and a coffee table. A dining room table with four chairs and a mini bar with refrigerator were in front of the double wide window. The bed was a true king size and the armoire had a 36" TV and a Bose wave radio. The men's bathroom had French doors, a closet with safe, one sink, a toilet and a large sit-in shower. The women's bathroom had French doors, a walk-in closet with a dresser, one sink, a lowered make-up counter, toilet and Jacuzzi tub for two surrounded by mirrors. Amenities included (in each bathroom) two toothbrushes, toothpaste, large shampoo, conditioner, lotion, shower cap, razor and shaving cream. The women's restroom also had a sewing kit. Heavy cotton robes (much, much better than the thin ones at Bellagio) were in each bathroom. This was excessive for one person, but I just had to take advantage of the great deals because I may never get the shot again. I also justified the expense by thinking about it as research for my LV Talk friends!

I ordered a BBQ chicken wrap and onion rings from room service and it was delivered in about 20 minutes. Not the most friendly service, but it was a great sandwich and the onion rings were huge. It was enough for two meals and, with the fridge, I saved half for dinner. I then went to the casino with low expectations of finding decent VP. I was right because the only full pay JOB I could find on my first pass was the $5 machine in the worthless high limit salon. I couldn't find any $1 triple play that I am addicted to. There was a .25 single line progressive that was unplayable ($4090 RF) at the start of my visit, but was up to a decent $6700 when I left. After much searching, I took the tram to Mirage and played enough to get about 10 points on the card. There is no full pay VP here that I could find. I crossed to the Venetian and played some more at my favorite machines, but finally walked back to TI feeling a little down. But wait, what's this? A five play 9/6 JOB in a bank of multi denom ($1, $2, $5) multi game (short pay DW, some short DB and DDB, etc.) machines between the guest room elevators and the buffet. There's a bank of five or six and the second one from the left facing the outer wall is the only one with 9/6 JOB. Now, five play means $25 a hand and those $100 bills seem to go quickly, but I was also lucky on this streaky machine. I racked up about 464 points over the next 3.5 hours and I was only down $300. I went to bed a happy guy again.

Okay, my last full day and I feel that I need to see some sights. Also, based on my play so far, I'm not going to get room comps, but should have already earned enough points to cover my past and future food expenses. Therefore, it's time to rack up some points at other casinos.

I start out with room service breakfast of French toast, potatoes, bacon, coffee and OJ. Much better service this time. After getting ready, I grab the car from the valet (TI is a little slower than others I've used) and I make a stop at the Stardust to check out. The parking lot in the back is being resurfaced so I have to park far away. I'm able to check out via the TV with no charges at all. Off next to the Stratosphere to take advantage of their 100%+ VP inventory. My goal here was simply to find a multi-play .25 9/7 or 10/6 JOB machine and earn 50 points for a Tower Pass comp. The first machine was a 10/6 and I quickly dropped $20 with very few points. Time to rethink that free $6 comp! I find a .25 triple play 9/7 machine and promptly hit a straight flush and play it down until I hit the 50 points. I actually made about $15 on top of the tower comp! Off to the slot club to redeem my points and then I follow the signs to the tower. After wandering around the casino, I finally find the escalators and think I'm on my way. But no, I have to walk about a mile through a winding junk mall and then wait in line to exchange my comp for a ticket. I finally board the elevator and reach the top in no time. Great views and it really puts things in perspective. I didn't ride the Big Shot because I think there are some things one can do in Vegas alone without looking ridiculous (gamble, walk, drive) and other things that make you look like a pathetic loser (fine dining alone, thrill rides, shows, strip clubs, movies). Now, some may take exception to my opinion, and you have that right, but I would feel uncomfortable riding the Big Shot by myself. Who would I high-five?

Next stop is downtown to get 30 points at the Golden Nugget. Lodestone's site said there were 6 big purple 9/6 JOB in the hall leading to the North Tower elevators. I searched and searched before finally realizing where they were. They are literally in a hallway off the casino and it is very quiet at these machines. The machines are not quiet, but the buzz of the casino is diminished in this area. I drop $100 in and run it almost all the way down before getting back up to $55 and 30 points. I go to the slot club and am told that I get two buffets (not one and one, but two together) and $15 cashback. By using the buffet comp for lunch ($7.50), I end up with the Gold Card for $32.50. I should be able to save enough on future room discounts to make this a worthwhile investment. By the way, you don't get a different card, you just get logged as a Gold Card member. Too bad, I like flashing my Venetian Gold Card around and making people jump for me. Just kidding!

The Golden Nugget buffet was decent, but I thought it was small. Only one side was open for lunch and half of that was breakfast food that appeared to be sitting there since 7AM. The deserts were my primary focus, but I was a little disappointed with the crème puffs that get so much hype. Sometimes you set yourself up for disappointment by setting your expectations too high.

Back to TI for a rest and then off to the Aladdin to rack up some points. I park at the Paris because I know valet service is quick and I also need to stop by Barbary Coast to check on my points. Being sober and not wearing a sweatshirt makes the FPDW much more enjoyable for me. However, I can't get in to the busy .25 single line machines (they were open on 2X Monday, but busy on 1X Thursday?) so I end up on the triple play .25 DW machines. This appears to be costly until I hit four deuces for $250. A quick handpay and my points show over 900. Thinking this is good, I go to the slot club and ask for cashback. She scoffs and says I need 2500 before I can earn cashback. Fine, I'll take my winnings and go someplace where I am appreciated. More sarcasm here; I'm really laid back about these things.

The only full pay JOB at the Aladdin is supposed to be a bank of $1/$2/$5 single line, multi game machines near P.F. Chang's and a bank in the London Club. I decide to take a shot at the London Club and I find the bank of 5 machines quickly. Service here was slow and inattentive, which may explain why only 3 other players were in the casino. I had checked with the slot club downstairs to confirm that the slot card can be used in the London Club. Good strong drinks, but I had trouble getting the attendants attention. I ran through $200 and quickly got a 4 of a kind for $125. As I was sitting at one of these machines, a slot tech opened up all of the other machines in this bank and set them up with the double up feature. He told me it can be disabled on request. I took my $75 loss and 77 points and headed downstairs. Apparently you need 100 points to get cashback and I was not interested in risking more $ to get 23 more points. But then again.... I have a weakness for getting bored with VP and trying the new slot games and I hadn't tried a single one this whole trip. I sit down to a .05 Yahtzee machine and play the full nine lines with 5 coins per line ($2.25 a pull) and quickly lose it all. Aha, that is why I should never play the slots with serious money! I set off for P.F. Chang's and I search for about 10 minutes, but I never found the bank of FP JOB by the entrance. Have they removed these already? I think about searching the entire casino, but then I figure it's not worth it right now.

I pick up my car at Paris and head back to TI. When I walk by the .25 8/5 JOB progressive, the RF is over $6,000 so I decide to make a run at it. I spent about 3 hours and broke even, but never really got close to that Royal. I just hate getting full houses and only getting 40 coins. There is a guy hogging the $1 five play JOB machine so I don't get a shot at that one. At 8PM, I go to the room and catch the last half of the Lions/Vikings game while eating a Filet Mignon from room service. I also ordered a strawberry cheesecake and was surprised when I took the lid of the large plate and found the cheesecake. The steak, potato and vegetable were under the small plate! Great steak but a little underdone for medium rare. Excellent cheesecake.

I start out at 6:30 AM since I only have a few hours left. I made the mistake of going to the TI buffet for breakfast and it was awful. Limited selection, poor service and bad food. I've tried Aladdin, Paris, Bellagio, Golden Nugget, Main Street Station, Bally's, Flamingo, Texas Station, Reserve and Regent and TI ranks well below all of these. What was I thinking when I have almost unlimited food comps?

I decide to make a strong run at the $1 five play JOB and I quickly turn my $100 into $600. I cash out and have to get a hand pay since the machine only pays up to 400 coins. I take another shot at the progressive, but find it boring so I go back to my five play machine and run up another $225. My point total is now 843 so I go see my host at the slot club. She confirms that she will cover all meals, but the room rate was so good to begin with, she can't touch it. She does hint that she can get me a tower suite for a good rate in the future. We'll see about that. I also get my $84 cashback.

It's time to pack up and get the rental car back. I check out at the front desk and they have not taken off my room charges even though I spoke to my host about two hours prior. They made some calls and comped $140 in food charges. The valet was extremely slow and I was nervous that I would be late for my flight check in. I stopped for gas at Flamingo and Paradise and brought the car back to Hertz. As usual, they calculated my charges wrong because I had a coupon. I had to go to customer service to save $9. To my surprise there was no line at the TWA counter and they gave me an exit row aisle on the second leg, but I had to stay with an aisle in the back on the flight out of LV.

Off to the gate and a light snack and then I dropped my loose change in some slots with no results. Flights home were no problem and there was snow on the ground and it was 15 degrees - my body was in shock!

Best trip for gambling with the RF, but I enjoy my trips with my wife better. If I could find the right balance between spending time with her (non-gambler) and the machines, we would be happy. I went through all $3000 of my planned bankroll but never touched my $4000 jackpot. Take out $1500 for taxes and I'm down $500 plus expenses (air, car, 3 uncomped rooms). However, I feel that my play should warrant some decent offers in the future and I still have an unused flight coupon. I'm thinking of going back in late February. Thanks again for all your help, my friends!