Rolled out of the rack on the Wednesday after Christmas with visions of breaking the bank at Vegas on my mind! Well, actually visions of enjoying a comped vacation with my best friend, Kurt and a buddy of ours, Mike, home on leave from the military.

Its a four hour drive to Vegas from my house, if traffic is OK. It wasn't. It was the worst traffic that I have ever seen for midweek. Stop and go for the last hundred miles into Vegas. On top of that we got rearended on the way. Luckily we were the last car in a line of five cars that got slammed and our damage was pretty much non-existent. Two cars were damaged pretty badly and one was totalled.

Finally we untangle ourselves from the wreckage and by now I am busting a kidney and we stop at the Gold Strike for a pit stop. The Gold Strike did me wrong a few years ago (a slot club horror story) and while I won't drop a coin into their tight machines, I will use their bathrooms.

Get to Vegas about 8:30 PM (having left about 1PM-much longer trip than usual). Get to the New Frontier stand in a short line for a very long time. Not the people that are working check in fault, weird requests/demands from people who don't speak any language that I can identify even the base origins of- and neither can the multilingual staff at the check in- eventually they resort to hand signals and picture drawing. Very strange check in.

After that, check in clerk is so flustered that he 1) fails to see that I have a comped reservation, (2) fails to give me three keys for our room and (3) puts us up in a beautiful Atrium room- with one bed...first floor...view of Valet Check-in...Now, I don't ask for much, but I'm not going to pile in with two male friends. Now that we have 3 bads things under our belt (traffic, accident, wrong room)- the lucky stuff starts!

Go running back to check in, get last room...really high up...good view...TWO refrigerators (one, apparently just for beer), two soft beds and a wonderful hard couch for Mike (hey, he's a soldier, what kind of a friend would I be if I let him get soft- he's just back from Bosnia! He has to stay tough!).

relax in room (if you are ever staying at the frontier get the Atrium rooms, it is well worth the 20 dollar upgrade price over the aging regular rooms) for about two minutes and hit the casino hard. I had lots of old matchplay coupons, the Frontier used to offer a funbook with 4 five dollar matchplays (the new book has only one five dollar matchplay, for blackjack)and I had lots of these books. Get down bets on everything (only 4 matchplay bets per day out of the funbook, but by this time its late and since the day technically rolls over at midnight...).

Win lots, everything I am betting is hitting. Split Aces, get dealt more Aces, win, win, win! Then its on to VP. The Frontier is one of the few bastions of full pay VP on the south strip. I am play full pay Deuces (easy to play whil loaded) and win. Then I take my money over to the Five-Play machines (where Deuces does not pay full and luck and the House usually reign supreme) and BAM- dealt 4 deuces on the initial draw.

Very, very carefully I touch the cards to be held. I am thinking, "easy, easy you are drunk and this is not really likely to happen again so don't blow it". I touch the 4 deuces and reflect in their glory as the "Held" sign goes up on all five hands. Very carefully hit the draw button, and..........DIDN'T BLOW IT. Lights go off, sirens wail, patrons weep as I am crowned the newest diety in the pantheon of the ridiculously-not-even-close-to-full-pay VP machines.

Well, patrons did not actually weep and sirens didn't go off, but an old guy who forgot to put in his teeth congratulated me with this, "I hit a Royal Flush once, son (I am 34). I hit it 25 years ago on a machine is this casino. Better enjoy this, I've never hit another big Jackpot in my life and I'm almost done. This is probably the only time that you'll ever have this."

The thing is is that he thought that he was being nice!

I got my hand pay and hit the bar, not a lot else to do when I had just had the greatest hit that I would ever have in my life...Tipped the host, waitress and change person good- what the heck, my last chance, Father Time had just pronounced me finished.

More tomorrow.