This is long, but I think you will enjoy it!

I met four friends from California for our 2nd annual vegas trip. Last year we stayed at Bally's, but spent most of our evenings downtown, so this year decided to stay downtown. We were there three days and never left downtown.

My friends got in earlier than I did. On Friday morning, two of them made the walk from the Nugget to the Western. I had told them about the Western and they just had to check it out. It did not disappoint. On the way there, a guy tried to sell them crack and a Rolex. He wanted $500 for the Rolex. They thought this was hilarious and was one of the highlights of the trip for them.

I got to the hotel around 11pm Friday night and was way behind. After a beer and a shot of tequila, we headed out for the night. I play blackjack and count cards, so my buddies were kind of waiting for me to get in town to start gambling. We started out at the Plaza. I had never played there before, but I heard they had good blackjack. I found a $5 table and sat down. The first thing I noticed was they dealt their double deck game face down. After visiting a few more downtown casinos, I realized they all of them deal their double deck game face down. I don't think that was the case when we were in Vegas last May, but oh well. It took me a few hours to get used to counting the face down game, but I finally got the hang of it.

Over the next two days, we hit every downtown casino, including the Western. Played BJ in most of them. My favorites were Golden Nugget, Golden Gate (played $25 a hand for 3 hours and got two Bay City Diner comps), and El Cortez. We played most of Friday night and Saturday early morning at the El Cortez. All the dealers were Asian and very nice. The pit boss lady (we called her dragon lady) was not so nice and would watch our dealer like a hawk (I guess Mandy was new) and when she made any kind of minor error, she would jump her case. I did not count that much as I was too liquored up and we left about 6am. I was up about $100. We got a kick out of all the Asian dealers having American names, like Mandy and Jason.

Ate breakfast at Nugget restaurant, breakfast burrito was okay, hangover was already kicking in, so nothing would taste too good. In bed about 8:30am

Got up Saturday about noon. Head hurt, could not go back to sleep, so got up and showered and went next door to Golden Gate to play. We played there the night before and had a good time. Played 3 hours $25 - $100 per hand and left ahead only $2 but got 2 comps for Bay City Diner.

Back to the room, the guys were just getting up. Watched the IL vs. Louisville final four game. After game, we all headed over to Bincheros (Binion's Steakhouse, we call it Bincheros, it's a long story). We were early, they did not start seating until 6pm. We all had a drink in their lounge and then were seated. Nice booth, with great view of the strip. I got crab legs, they were great. Everybody else got some kind of steak. The horseradish sauce for the prime rib is the hottest stuff in the world. We all took turns trying it and about died. The five of us ate and had a couple of drinks and the total bill with tip was about $350. Our waiter was Try (or Tri) and he was great. We asked him where the best topless bars were in Vegas, and he replied "personally, I go naked". He was hilarious. We did not hit any topless bars, but we had fun messing with him. We were surrounded by couples in their 70s on up, so I'm sure they all were completely offended by our behavior, but we were having a blast.

After dinner, we started hitting some more casinos downtown. We went to California, walked over to the Gold Spike (just walked through, did not stop to gamble, very small casino), and then back to the El Cortez. This is where things got a little crazy. All five of us found a BJ table that was empty. We all got our chips. My buddies got $100 and I got $200. Well, that got the pit boss's attention, as he motioned to the other two bosses "number 2" with his fingers. I was sitting in the second seat. On the third hand, the count went positive, I doubled my bet to $30 and got a blackjack. The same pit boss came over and went through the discard deck, saw that the count was positive and announced to the other two pit bosses "black polo". I was wearing a black polo shirt. The heat was on. The three pit bosses stared me down for the next 35 minutes. I continued to just bet $15 per hand and made it clear I was not counting by not even looking at the table. But they were not buying it. One more big bet and my ass was going to get thrown out of a casino. I had bragged that my goal was to get kicked out of a casino for counting, but when the heat was on, I chickened out. After about 40 minutes of heat, I said enough was enough and cashed out about $125 ahead. My buddies were beginning to think something was up, they noticed that I was not changing my bet amounts and the bosses were all over our table. We all left and had a good laugh on our way back to Freemont Street. I was nicknamed "Black Polo" the rest of the trip. We walked back over to the California and then to Main Street Station. Lost at both places. The count would go big in my favor, I would bet big, and lose. Not my night. Had a late night dinner/breakfast at Binion's cafe in the basement about midnight. Had our favorite waitress, Rhonda. Rhonda was our waitress last year, she was a blast. We gave her the nickname Sweet'n Low. If you are ever in Binion's Cafe in the basement, ask for Sweet'n Low, they will know who you are talking about. Food there is good and after 11pm, very cheap. Four of us pigged out and the bill before tip was only $16. Headed back up to the room after that and crashed.

Sunday morning, full night's rest and ready to go. Most of my buddies leave in a few hours, but my flight does not leave until midnight. We used my comps at Bay City Diner in Golden Gate for lunch. I got a steak dinner and Mexican Meatball soup. It was not that great. This diner has cheap food that is okay. Nothing special. My buddies head to the airport around 1pm. I spend the next 8 hours or so playing blackjack at the Golden Nugget. Started out at a double deck $10 game and lost a couple hundred in a hour. Then saw my favorite dealer in Las Vegas, Jim from Mass. He was dealing six deck BJ. Jim is the greatest dealer of all time. He is fun to be around and really pulls for you to win. He will help you if you ask and is very polite to all who sit at his table. He is the best I've seen. I had a great run with him last year, but this year I was not so lucky. I told him about sitting at his table last year with my buddies and getting crazy, and he remembered us. Started down and spent the rest of the day getting back to even. His shift was over at 8pm and we said our goodbyes. I headed to another table, with only a couple of hours left before I had to head to the airport. I played single deck BJ at a $25 table. I was counting with $25 to $100 bet spreads and got no heat at all. They could care less if you are counting and only bettng $100 per hand. It was great. Golden Nugget is my favorite place to play BJ.

At 10pm I made my final bet on BJ. The count was positive, so I put down $300, my biggest bet I have ever made on a hand of BJ. Lost the hand. Still had a great time can't wait to get back to the Nugget.

Grabbed a cab to the airport. Got there at 10:30pm. Took an hour and 10 minutes to get my boarding pass and get through the security line. I was shocked at the number of people at the airport at that time of night. Figured it would be slow, but I was wrong.

Landed on time in El Paso at 2:40am on America West. Got up and went to work the next morning!!!