I went with three friends to take advantage of the dead period between Thanksgiving and Christmas arriving Sunday, Nov 26 and leaving Tuesday. We had our most successful gambling ever. We got a $59/night rate at the Paris. On the Internet, it was $69, but it was still being advertised in the LA Times at $59. At that rate, we had four separate rooms. Nobody wanted to share a room with me, because I snore.

We were raring to go and left San Diego at 6 AM. Got to LV in 4 hrs 45 minutes. We could see the horrible west bound traffic. Another friend said it took him 9 hrs to get to San Diego, leaving at 10 AM. It was virtually bumper to bumper all the way from LV to Barstow.

Got to the Hard Rock for their not listed steak and shrimp special for $5.95. No wait to be seated. The shrimp and garlic mashed potatoes were much better than the steak. I asked for medium and it was medium well and dry. It is a good value, but I wouldn?t go out of my way to get it again. The Hard Rock was a ghost town. There were more employees than gamblers.

We checked in at the Paris at 12:30. No lines again. I read that with a Hilton Honors card, you can use the VIP check in and get an automatic upgrade. Not true. You have to have a silver card to get the upgrade. They said that they were getting out of the program pretty soon. My room was a great deal for $59. Corner room with windows on each side, big marble bathroom with a glass shower, ironing board and safe. There wasn?t a refrigerator and I couldn?t find an ice machine. The Paris has a great location right next to the Aladdin, across the street from the Bellagio and katy corner to Caesar?s. Their $5 BJ tables would hit on soft 17 and had the continuous shufflers. The $10 tables would stand on soft 17 and had a shoe. There were a few $10 tables at night that had the $5 table rules and there were people playing on them.

We had the Aladdin dinner buffet for $19.95. 15 minute wait. It wasn?t as good as the Paris or Bellagio. There was a line for the only station serving the split cold King Crab legs. The dessert selection was ordinary. It had a variety of Middle Eastern items, but I thought the chicken shishkebob was way overcooked. I liked the roast pork loin. The Desert Passage is completely open. It had a nice mix of high end shops and regular places like Eddie Bauer. Commander?s Palace from New Orleans is open. They claim to have invented Bananas Foster and offered it for $7. The menu was real pricey. I thought the casino was pretty ordinary.

I went to Bellagio to play blackjack. They had $5 tables and I had one of my best runs for about 20 minutes. I couldn?t lose. I started off with a blackjack and won about 9 straight hands. Finally, quit after 30 minutes $100 up.

I couldn?t find any $5 tables at Bally?s and went to the Barbary Coast. I started off getting about $70 ahead, but left about $30 down. I had one stretch of losing about 10 hands in a row.

On Monday morning, we went to the Excalibur and had Krispy Kreme donuts. We had all heard about them and San Diego is really anticipating our first shop opening in December. Frankly, we didn?t think they were worth the 15 wait in line. They had too much sugar. We got a dozen and gave half of them away afterwards. There was a free Miss Rodeo America competition in the Tournament of Kings Theater. We watched the contestants take their horses through their routine. There were some really pretty girls and horses.

I took my friends to Arizona Charlie?s East for their first time. They played craps and I played VP. I only bet one quarter per hand and got 4A with a 4 kicker on a triple play Double Double Bonus for a 400 to 1 payoff. Meanwhile, my friends had a fantastic roll and came away about $180 each ahead. The four of us made about $600 in half an hour and we were feeling really good. The craps crew said that they only had about 10 players all Sunday afternoon.

We had the $14.95 Paris lunch buffet at 4:45. The dinner starts at 5:30, but we were too full when they brought in the King Crab legs for the dinner menu. It was as good as ever. It seemed like they weren?t seating anyone when it got close to 5:30. I still love their freshly prepared Banana Foster and fruit crepes.

That evening we were able to get some really great VIP seats to see the Blue Man Group at the Luxor. They were released around 45 minutes before the performance. They were dead center in the first row, F, behind the poncho seats (they had ponchos for the first 5 rows). We joked that they were the seats that they saved for the Mafia dons. We really enjoyed the performance and agree with everyone else that it is indescribable.

Afterwards we went to the Stratosphere to go on the Big Shot. My oldest friend, 73 years young, loved it. I tried a 50 play Jacks or Better at 5 cents per hand and won about $30. I got a couple of pat flushes. Their 50 play is full pay (9/6) even at the nickel level. I noticed that Main Street was 7/5.

Tuesday morning, we checked out and went to the Main Street Station for their breakfast buffer. I think that they are the best buffet downtown. Afterwards, we went to the Lady Luck to see one of our coworker?s picture on a banner for winning a $25,000 royal on a $5 VP machine. She says she likes Lady Luck because they give 5000 coins rather than 4000 coins for a Royal. When she got her royal, she said that staff was telling her about the husband and wife that both got a $25,000 royal on the same day. I can?t imagine myself playing $25/hand on VP.

We got some Hilo saimin noodles to go from the California Hotel and made it back to San Diego in 5 hrs 20 minutes. There was a half hour tieup at Victorville due to road construction.

We had a great trip. There were no crowds or traffic. We had great seats at a great show. Three out of four were winners at gambling. I won enough to pay for my entire trip.