My First Trip Report, so please be easy on me. Hopefully this won't be too long and it will be able to give a good accounting of what we did in Las Vegas.

This was going to be our first Christmas away from home and to be quite honest I was looking forward to being away from all our nieces and nephews and having to do the annual dine and dash to have dinner with my folks and then the in-laws. As we have no kids of our own it was quite easy to disappear for a week as long as there were presents left behind.

Our flight out of Toronto was delayed due to bad weather at the original destination in Montreal, but the pilot was great and made up most of the time in the air. We were trying out Jetsgo as a cheap alternative to Air Canada this time out. Flight was only 50% full and we were each able to have a row to ourselves to stretch out in and catch some shuteye since it was 9:20pm by the time we took off. Smooth flight with no problems!

We touched down in Vegas at 10:25 local time and it was about 10:45 by the time we were at the taxi stand with our luggage waiting for a ride to the Imperial Palace. After about 10 minutes we were on our way with one of the most rude drivers I have ever encountered in any of my travels. After loading us into the cab he proceeded to tell us that he was taking The Tunnel to which I said no, Paradise to Flamingo will be fine. He then asked where we were from and told us how much he hated Canadians because one had stiffed him for a big tip when he gave him some night club passes. Then he cuts up the British, then mid-west farmers who think .20 is a huge tip. If he was trying to be funny the humor was totally lost on me and the Mrs. When he dropped us off I rounded up the fare to the nearest dollar and he had himself 40 cents for his babbling.

Into the Imperial Palace and the VIP check in. I had called before we booked our airfare and got our first 3 nights comped Room and Food. We upgraded to a Luv Tub suite for an additional $20 per night, but planned on using our point balance on our Players Card to cover all costs.

Our room was overlooking the pool and quite comfortable. Dropped off our bags and headed downstairs. My wife went straight to the slots and I walked over to Subway at Casino Royale for traditional welcome sub. We both played for a couple of hours and I headed in for the evening with a bucket quarters from quad fours and sevens back to back! This was not an omen of things to come!

December 24th was the date of the Caesar's Palace meet and I was geared up to meet all of the great posters on this board. Walked down to Stardust to pick up my $9 a day car rental. Since no cars available right then I sat down and played some Blackjack until Enterprise called me. $100 buy in lasted @ 55 minutes. The dealer must have hit 6 consecutive BJ at one point and made them all the hard way. Ouch. Car just got more expensive. Had to be taken to a sub lot on E. Sahara to get the car and then headed back to the IP to meet my wife. Wife's cousin was in town from L.A. and the two of them played phone tag most of the day before they finally decided to meet for a late lunch at 3:30! Oh well, since we haven't seen her in 4 years I guess I was going to MISS THE MEET. We had a pretty decent dinner at Changs at @5:00pm, but I figured I can't be too upset as they had a lot of talking to do before they were actually ready to eat. We piled into the car and headed over to The Palms for some more VP play. Bad move as I couldn't hit a thing! Scooted over to Terrible's for a late snack and another losing session of video poker. At one point both the guy to my left and the lady to my right had hit for Royals. She was max coin and he was happy with his 250 credits. (quarters) Back to the Imperial Palace for some late night Let it Ride.

'Twas the night before Christmas and I was paying the house
The table was cold and the dealer a louse
Ten straight hands and not even a pair
When a cheap guy from Tulsa sat in the next chair
He places his three chips in the circles with care
No bonus bet for him, why would he dare
He called to the waitress ?please bring me a beer?
When what in his hand should suddenly appear
Four, five, and six of spades in a row
He showed me the cards, 'should I stay or should I pull?
?Let it Ride my good man, you must take a shot?
'that's five bucks? he screamed ?I'd much rather not!?
The dealer then flipped over a spade - number seven
Tulsa pulled back again and I looked to the heavens
She flipped the final card with a deafening hush
Three of Spades! He had a Straight Flush!

While I was quite happy for Tulsa, I had to laugh as he cost himself $4,000. The way I look at it, if you aren't willing to take the chance, why play the game. Oh well, we called it a night and headed to bed with the hopes that Santa would stuff good luck into my stocking as I had no winning sessions today.

Merry Christmas! Called home to find that everyone was having a great time. I had bookmarked the Web Cam at IP on Dad's computer so I had a chance to wave and say hi to everyone. My nephews got a big kick out of this. Had a quick Christmas lunch at the IP buffet. The Emperors buffet takes a lot of bad ribbing, but to be quite honest, the food was pretty good. It was quite simple fare (a Christmas dinner with the trimmings), but actually the quality has improved a lot over the past couple of years. And since the price was right (comped) we couldn't go wrong. We then headed out for a drive around town and out to Mt. Charleston and by Red Rock. By the time we got back it was pouring rain so headed back in for some gaming. Played some Let It Ride for 3 hours and was only down $30. Pretty good stretch. I also had a nice bet going on the Hawaii Bowl taking the under at 70 ½. Looked good with 21 seconds left and a 34 - 27 score, but a 81 yard touchdown forced overtime and accounted for a BAD BEAT! Oh well, can't win them all. We went over to Barbary Coast and played some not so good VP. Best I hit was a couple of full houses on DB game. Perhaps Bally's would provide us with better luck. No it wouldn't, but I was sure that the Bellagio would! Sometimes you get lucky, and other times you do not. Strike three and I was done for the night!

When I went back up to the room to watch the news and see what had happened in the world over the past 48 hours there was an interesting story that came on. With all the rain that came down that afternoon, it had caused a flood in the entrance to the parking garage at the Imperial Palace. People were apparently asked to refrain from exiting until the high water level subsided. A group from California did not pay attention and tried to make it through. Unfortunately they got stuck and the water kept rising above the level of the doors and they had to be ?rescued? by hotel staff who were tied down with safety ropes. Just in case you were counting, I didn't win diidily squat today, and my bankroll was starting to dwindle.

Friday was shopping day for the Mrs. We headed to Belz for some after Christmas bargains. She actually got fed up with the poor sales and pushy shoppers after an hour and a half and wanted to go Downtown. Yes! I absolutely love playing Downtown. We arrived around noon and started our tour with a stop at the Golden Nugget for a bite to eat at the cafe and some more Video Poker. For some reason I always hit at the Nugget. $20 in and 3 sets of quads. While waiting for a coin jam to be fixed I got talking to the technician. He told me that the new owners had already advised that they would be installing new machines - Ticket In Ticket Out and that a lot of the attendants would be out of luck. Hopefully they will be able to find something elsewhere. Cashed out $150 and moved on. Played some Blackjack at the Horseshoe and held my own, got smoked on VP at 4 Queens and just had a great time at the Las Vegas Club walking around and taking in the atmosphere. My wife had wandered into the Golden Gate for some shrimp and it was here that she almost became one of Las Vegas? working girls. An interesting looking fellow with a ton of gold rings, chains and a feather cap kept eying her while she was playing her nickels. I found her in the nick of time as I am sure he would have been pimping her on Fremont in the next half hour. Kind of brings new meaning to ?Ho Ho Ho?. Made a final stop at the Fitz where the wife hit a $250 hand pay on the slots and headed on home. I was hoping to get my hockey fix at the Orleans, but arrived 20 minutes before game time and the line was too long to get a ticket before the puck dropped. Thought better of it and headed into the casino to check it out. I was very impressed with the layout of the casino and the property in general and would definitely consider staying here in the future. On the way back stopped at In and Out Burger to see what all the fuss was about from some of the comments on this board. It was a decent burger, but not one of the best I have had. Found my wife and headed to Casino Royale for some action. There was none to be had. While she was racking up the credits I was dropping twenties. Over to the Venetian for a stroll around and then over to ti! (what the hell is that all about anyway) and the Mirage. Since S&R are still a long way away from ever performing again, I am surprised that they still hold such a presence on their billboards and inside the casino. Didn't really matter who was on the billboard, the VP here vacuumed everything out of my wallet anyway. With the exception of the Golden Nugget quads, I was still down for the day and getting dangerously low on my bankroll. Maybe I would be a tourist for the next 3 days!

Had to return the car to The Stardust on the 27th and wanted to extract some revenge on the Blackjack tables. It didn't work. My $100 did last about 20 minutes longer then the last time. On the way out the door stuck twenty bucks in a DDB VP machine and caught four deuces and an ace! Cashed out and left quite happy with myself. Also had a $10 discount on retuning the car since they were too busy to give me a ride back asked if I wouldn't mind taking a cab.( I actually walked). Sounded like a good deal to me. I was really happy that I had more money in my pocket then when I woke up this morning! This was also going to be a day of football and hockey at the sports book. Watched some football at Harrah's and Bally's and then back to the IP for some Saturday Night hockey. None of my bets panned out today, but my wife was making a killing on the slots. But like most slot players and probably most Vegas gamblers in general, doesn't know when to quit and handed almost everything back to those one armed bandits. We did however have an invite from the IP to attend a cocktail party on the 5th floor lounge where we met several of the hosts. This proved to be quite beneficial at the end of our stay. There were probably about 40 guests with a great pianist (piano player that is, kind of reminds me of the guy who wishes for the 12?, oh never mind) I finally headed up to bed at around 2:30am but did not see or hear from the wife until sometime after 5:00 am. I am beginning to wonder if that guy at the Golden Gate ever found out where we were staying!

Out early Sunday morning to place some bets and get some breakfast. Here was my logic for the last week of the NFL. Playoff teams were going to probably play starters first half and then play back ups rest of the game so played first halfs for early games. Lost. OK, try something different for afternoon games and took Minnesota and Green Bay on a nice parlay. At least half the ticket was nice. Since I am a true black and gold Steeler fan I had to take them Sunday night even though the line dropped 1 ½ points. It truly was nice to actually win a bet. This was the first time that I actually had a chance to just sit and watch football all day long. While I have been in Vegas on a Football Sunday in the past, I have never just sat and watched as my wife has usually had big plans that kept me on the go. Since I was quite happy with myself, I found my wife and we headed up to Ming Terrace for dinner. Not bad, but it did hit the spot. We walked down to Bally's for more VP play and I actually hit 5 Aces on the Progressive Bonus Deuces for $128 and then hit it again for $103. You remember my comment about not knowing when to quit? You got it. We went over to the Flamingo and I left my winnings with the nice people who make the Game Maker machines. I stopped off at one more machine, put in my card, pressed a few buttons and out pops $200! Too bad it was the bank machine. Since this was our last night in Vegas, we decided to take a long walk up the Strip and just soak it all in. Man, no matter how often we visit, I just love this city.

Today is our final day in town. Since our flight was not scheduled to leave until 11:40pm, we decided to keep the room for the last day and not worry about having to check out early. I went down stairs to find a host and see what we could do about the bill. As it turned out, we didn't have to pay anything. Our host was quite nice in making sure that nothing was going to come out of our pockets. The Imperial Palace has recently started a new comp system whereby you can earn comp dollars in addition to the points earned on your slot card. Comp dollars can be applied to food and beverage at any bar or restaurant, and our Host advised that although it is not advertised, comp dollars can also be applied to your room. Since we had a decent balance, it was applied to the bill and we were all set and we still had our ?points? that could be used for cash back or gifts etc... I was determined that before the day ended that I would either go home broke with just enough money for a snack at McCarron, or I would hit something that would lessen the sting from the previous 5 days. I wandered over to Harrah's and promptly deposited $40 to their bottom line. I figured that I could make it back to Bally's and hit the Bonus Deuces again, but stopped at Flamingo on the way for a cup of tea. Sat down for some Triple Double Bonus Poker. Since the good pay tables were not doing much for me I figured why not play a bad game. I should have figured this out earlier. My first nice hit was four 3s for 600 credits. Before I was down to 500 credits I hit 4 Aces for another 1200 credits. With $425.00 on the screen I cashed out, took my ticket to the cashier and headed back to show my wife.

By the time we knew it, it was time to go. Made our way out to the front and caught a cab to the airport. This cab driver was really quite funny. Had us laughing about our adventures and the 'new Year Drunks?. He said you couldn't pay him enough to make him work New Years Eve. We were at the airport in no time and ready to head home. Unfortunately, Jetsgo had other ideas and kept us waiting a full hour. This wasn't really too bad. One of my staff members had headed down at the same time with eight of his buddies and we sat and talked about our adventures. We had a smooth flight home and are wondering when we will get the urge to head back again!

Some observations

Even though I had a nice win at the end of the trip, it was still a losing trip. Blackjack sucked everywhere I played. There were a lot of players that cost me money and I am sure that a few made me some money as well. VP was not good to me this time around.

The Imperial Palace is really trying to improve their image and upgrade their facilities. In addition to the Dealertainers and Champagne Pit, they have added a bunch of new coinless slots and VP. They have also fixed up the washrooms on the main floor and are building an access way to the monorail station that they will be sharing with Harrahs. Our new host told me that they are also upgrading a lot of the rooms over the next 18 months as well. The restaurants at the IP are really not as bad as everyone says.

The Orleans is looking like a place that I would like to spend a night or two. I joined their slot club in hopes of an offer.
I thought that I would not like the coinless slots and VP that much. My wife really like the sound of the coins hitting the tray, but it is just so easy to take your ticket and go.

Thanks for reading and hope to make a meet the next time we are in town!