The SET UP
Hadn't been to Vegas since July, 2000 (see my TR Posted by: Pete - Florida on 07/15/2000) and it had been gnawing at me ever since, but especially this year for some reason. Every time I'd try to talk Pam (referred to as P from here on in) into going she would talk me into something else, like a cruise. Now a cruise is nice, but the casino percentages suck, literally. Those who have gone know what I mean - their VP and slots must have a payback of 53%!
BTW, I'm a retired sailor of 31 years now working as a navy contractor. Bride no longer works but is a professional bingo player by day.
Finally decided to set it up. P still didn't want to go but my Jones won't go away. P agreed to let me go solo so the game is afoot! Called my host at the Imperial Palace in Biloxi, MS. (which by the way is reopening after Hurricane Katrina around Christmas time. All rooms renovated and casino completely redone - should be beautiful!) Host said she could hook me up in Vegas.
Host put me in touch with another host at the Stardust and set me up with a standard room for six nights and agreed to look at my play as the week went on. Even with paying casino rate for the room it was only $40 a night. Was offered a limo from the airport to the hotel and accepted. So now I'm looking at my bride and saying 'Are you sure you don't want to go?' Finally, she gives in and agrees. So much for a solo trip!
With the room reservation taken care of the next step was flight reservations. In my past two jobs my relentless bosses have made me travel excessively on U.S. Airways. Now it was about to pay off. With mucho miles on my frequent flyer card, I was awarded a free roundtrip ticket from Pensacola, FL to the Mecca! Had to pay for brides ticket but it's half of what I would have paid without the comped ticket. A win!
Day 1 - Sunday - 12/11/05
Up at 4am and already packed and ready to go. Arrived at Pensacola, FL airport for our 6:05 am flight. Parked in the airport garage and to hell with the cost - gonna win that back anyway, right? TBD (to be determined).
Flight left on time. Changed planes in Charlotte, NC and then it was touchdown in Vegas at about 11:30am. Got to the bottom of the escalator to baggage claim and there was our limo driver with a sign with our name on it. A first for us and a great treat. Nana was our driver and helped with the baggage. Off we go in a stretch limo - very nice!
It was the last day of the rodeo and traffic was snarled. But who cares, we're sitting in a limo! Not long after we pull up in front of the Stardust. I tried to keep track of the route but all I can remember is went past Hard Rock and Terribles.
No one at check in counter in the invited guests line. Tried the $20 trick but they told us that rooms set up by a host can't be changed. Asked for a strip view and got it - room 12817 facing the strip and Wynns.
About the room. Standard, standard type room. Had a closet, which helped. His and her bathrobes too - nice touch. We got out all our stuff for the week, ironed it and hung it all up so we wouldn't have to mess with it for the rest of the week. I will say that someone screwed up when they installed the showerheads. You have to duck to get your hair wet unless you're under five feet tall. Also, the shampoo was the worst I've ever used. It just wouldn't lather up! Good thing we brought our own. Also, asked before we came and was told no coffee pot in the room. Not true. Has a one-cup maker that you just put your cup under. Mouthwash and lotion provided as well.
Finally we were ready to head down to the casino. Took a walk around the property. Very nice feel to this place. Liked it better than the Imperial Palace where we stayed on the last trip. Headed over to the players club and picked up our cards. we're locked, loaded, and ready to go.
Took our free spin on the big slot machine out front. It was the last day for it as it was getting too cold to leave the poor guy out there all day. Got skunked on both pulls and ended up with a free deck of cards and hot dog at the Sports bar.
Ready to eat so headed over to the Island Paradise Café - basically a coffee shop with lots of choices. We weren't starving so had some appetizers. P had the ribs and I had the mini-sliders. Very tasty.
One of the things we like to do is use the free security deposit box service at the cashier's cage. Used an idea I saw in a previous trip report and put our daily allotment in envelopes marked by day. Once the daily envelope money is gone we agree to call it a day.
P and I usually play a little together and a lot apart. Mostly VP and some slots and a rare table game of 3 card poker or roulette. This trip was no different. Played some at the VP bar near the registration desk and lost. Split up and I hit the Royal bar which had phenomenally high progressives for each suited royal flush. No luck there so off to the Baccarat VP bar near the Keno area (I'm not sure of some of the bar names so I'll use geographic locations). Up and down there. Made some bets at Keno on my favorite numbers but never hit anything big.
Roamed around awhile and found the Star Wars slots (they only have two at Stardust). I had to try them since I've read so much about them here. No wins but had fun playing. I must say here that the cocktail service as Stardust is first rate. They know what we chronic alcoholic gamblers want - strong drinks served frequently! I'm a Crown Royal lover and P is a non-drinker, by the way.
Played some Spin Poker - love this game on videopoker.com - but it ate my money quickly. Went back to the Baccarat bar and had my first hooker sighting. Not many twenty-year-old gals smile at my 50+-year-old kisser!
Was getting ready to call it a night. It was about 1:00am and with the jet lag we were getting tired. I stopped by a .25 cent DDBVP machine in the Keno area and a few spins later - 10, J, K, Q of hearts - and, you guessed it, A of hearts pops up! My first night in Vegas and a Royal! Cool! Called P and told her the good news (think Ricky Ricardo accent: 'Honey, I got the Royal!'). Was given a t-shirt as well.
Played some .25 cent WOF and it would just not let me lose. Got more bonus spins than anytime I've ever played this game. Cashed out with a $250 profit and was off to bed about 2:00am with that warm Vegas feeling of a win on the first day. Made sure to peek out the window at the great view and all the lights. All is right with the world...
Day 2 - Monday - 12/12/05
Who can sleep? Well, P can. She sleeps on average till 11:00am every morning. But we had an agreement this time. Until I hear from her on the cell phone I'm on my own. So I'm up, showered and out the door by 7:15!
Heard a lot about Peppermills so crossed over the street. Very chilly but calm, not windy. Hardly a soul on the street. Stark difference from July! Had a great order of eggs benedict. The portions are huge and I couldn't finish it. Love the look of this place. Not many people in there at this time of day but the staff was friendly and service was great.
Strolled over to the Riviera. I love these older properties. It will be a shame when they're gone. That will mean only downtown will retain that classy 50's and 60's aura. Signed up for a players card, got my $2 in free play. Sat at the VP bar and started my day with a very tasty bloody mary and played some older, slow multi game machines. Played deuces wild for what seemed like and hour and cashed out an extra $20 of my buy in.
Since Circus Circus was right across the street I gave it a look. Was pretty sure there wouldn't be too many kids there this early on a Monday morning and I was right. Very weird layout but an interesting casino. Signed up for a players card and got the free slot tournament entry. Didn't play here as thought it might be about time for P to get up so headed back to the Stardust via Slots-a-Fun. Not much to this place so gave it a pass and walked by the closed down Westward Ho. Sad sight. Remembered from watching Vegas Vacation that this was the background for when Rusty Griswold got his fake ID in the movie. Too bad - wanted to feel like Nick Poppageorgio!
P was up so we went and had our free hot dogs at the Stardust Sports Book. Never had a Ho-dog but this must have rivaled it. Couldn't finish half - it was nasty.
I told P about the free slot tournament so we headed up there so she could sign up too and play. I qualified with 2500 points but in the end we didn't go back for the 2pm playoff as all you get was a spin at the wheel to win $500. Odds didn't seem worth it. I had fun playing though.
We strolled down to the Frontier on our way to check out Wynn's new place. Sat down at some slant-tops at the bar (first and only time I've ever seen these). Bartender was real friendly and told us only coins worked in the machines. Played some on these and I caught a quad so we walked away even.
Walked down to Wynn's. I see why so many people are ambivalent about this place. Not a great feel, but not bad either. Signed up for the players cards and were told we only had to earn 50 points for two free buffets. I guess this has changed since I recall reading that it used to take 500 points. We knocked that out in no time on very little buy in on a non-descript VP machine and we were off again and planned to use the comp another day.
We had reservations at William B's at the Stardust that night so we went back to the room and got ready. Dinner was excellent. P had the shrimp scampi (huge, prawn size shrimp) and I had the small filet mignon. Absolutely excellent and service was wonderful. We have been signing everything to our room at our host's suggestion and were hoping our play would cover most of it. More to come on that.
We played and played with very few wins. Finally called it a night at about 3am. Still ahead so we are pretty happy. Had to peek at the view again before calling it a night.
Day 3 - Tuesday - 12/13/05
I'm up by 8:00am this time. Not quite as perky as Monday since many Crown Royals had been consumed the night before. I decided to try the Island Paradise Café for breakfast and was pleasantly surprised to find they had Portuguese sausage. Had this was eggs and it was fantastic. I'm originally from Massachusetts and never see this (called chourico back home).
Today I'm intent on trying my hand at a Texas Holdem' tournament. It's only a $40 buy in but I'm still intimidated because I know doing it for real is not like WSOP on TV. I was right! Sat down at the #1 spot and proceeded to be taught a very fast lesson. I won one pot, folded 3 hands (which would have won) and then went all in on pocket 5's and got beat on the river. Oh well, $40 is a cheap lesson.
Still early so I drag my loser butt out to the bus stop and buy a $2 ticket on the Deuce double decker and plant myself on the top deck, front seat, headed south. What a great way to see the strip! I finally get off at Caesar's Palace as I've never been past the front portion of the casino. I strolled through the Forum shops and checked out the robotic show. Eh, it was ok. Took a look at the spiral escalators and decided I had to head back to one of my favorite casino's - Bellagio.
Took the walkway from Caesar's to Bellagio and stopped at a couple of VP bars. Last time I was here I loved to play $1 at a time on DDB VP. I tried the same for old times sake but it didn't work out as well as last time. Lost quickly. Interestingly, had one of those 'only in Vegas' experiences. While I was playing, some 20 something guy plops down at the end of the bar and starts talking on his cell phone about his 'bad beat' at Texas Holdem'. Something like: 'Yeah, I had two pair and raised $18,000 and then this bastard goes all in and catches me on the river so I lost $50,000. But it's no big deal cause I still have about half my bankroll'. Made me feel considerably better about my $40 loss earlier in the day!
After that I walked through the conservatory and checked out the Christmas display. Beautiful. Loved the choreographed fountain 'spurts' is what I would have to call them.
Walked on to Paris as I had read on the forum there was a meet at the La Central Bar at 3:00pm. Hung around until 3:30 looking for DaveyDoesmore in a 'brown Caesar's ballcap' but no one showed up. Was I at the wrong place? I asked the bartender and he didn't know a thing about it. Sorry I didn't get to meet anyone - maybe next time.
One of the 'must do's' on my list was to see Big Elvis. Walked over to Barbary Coast via the walkway and started playing VP near the stage. When he didn't show up I asked the bartender and he told me that he'd called in sick. Apparently this is becoming a frequent thing. Another - 'maybe next time'.
Every time I tried to play today I had lost. $20 here and there turned into many $20 losses. Hoofed it back to Stardust from Barbary Coast. Whew! I'm not as young as I used to be, especially with a few CR's under my belt. And what is it with that glare from the sun this time of year? I spent all of my northbound walking acting like I was saluting. I thought I was back in the navy! Walking northbound was fine, but it was getting chilly and I needed to get inside.
Met up with P and she had already ordered room service. So I was on my own for dinner. As I said before we agreed to let me 'walk around' and do what I liked this trip since it was originally planned to be solo. I decided to return to Riviera since I'd had luck there this morning and maybe get a bite to eat. Only things open were fast food and I wasn't here for that so took another shot at the Deuces Wild bartops with no luck.
Since I had enjoyed Peppermill's so much the day before I stopped in and ordered a French Dip sandwich with potato salad. Man was this goooood! I so wanted to get P over there as they have her favorite, Shrimp Scampi, on the menu but it never happened. Wherever I stay on my next trip I'm going back to Peppermill!
It was getting late so I crossed the street back to Stardust. P is losing, as she had been, and I gave her more $. We hadn't broken out of the win column yet thanks to my Royal on Sunday so I took what we had left it profits and started hitting the .25 cent VP machines back by the Keno area. Played a Shockwave machine that was only four machines to the right of the DDB VP machine I'd had the Royal on two nights before and got many quads with no subsequent quads on the bonus spins. Then, presto! Caught a quad and on the last bonus spin got two 3's and then the other 3's came up. Same as a Royal! Got my $1,000 but no free t-shirt - no problem!
Feeling frisky I went back to the Baccarat bar and played and played with many quads but no big wins. I had already replenished the safety deposit box so took my last $100 and entered the high limit area and settled on a $1 DDB VP machine. A few spins later caught the deuces with a kicker for $800! Put most of that in the safety deposit box and headed off to bed (4:00am, ugh). we're now up about a grand for the trip. Incredible!
Day 4 - Wednesday - 12/14/05
Today is the day I over did it. I'm sure most of you know the feeling. I'm not sure what the right number of days in Vegas is, but it is not six if you don't show restraint. Maybe if I had used restraint it would have been better!
I'm up again at 8:00am. I should have stayed in bed a little longer. Today, though, I know I want to check out the properties at the south end of the strip that I've never seen. My plan was to see all of these and get back to take P downtown as we hadn't seen it this trip - I wanted to see one of the light shows.
Caught the Deuce bus all the way down to Luxor. Man, it took toooo long - about 40 minutes. Was going to go all the way to Mandalay Bay but I decided to cut it short. Walked thought Luxor casino - pretty nice - I like a dark casino. Sat at some low seated bartops and played for a long time as I nursed my hangover with delicious bloody marys. Ahhh. Feeling refreshed (not really) I took the people movers to Excalibur and grabbed a bite in the fast food area (I know, I said no fast food but I was famished). Saw the unique Aqua Massage machines. Never saw anything like this before. You hop in fully clothed and get a water massage without getting wet. Maybe I should have tried one!
Ended up in NY NY but didn't play - wanted to see MGM. My gawd! They need the Deuce bus in this place. My goal was to ride the monorail back to Sahara then cab it back to Stardust to pick up P for the Wynn buffet in the afternoon. Well, it took me almost an hour to traverse MGM. Stopped at Starbucks for a Mocha cooler to maintain my dwindling stamina. Caught a lion cub display along the way - they were playing which was pretty fun to watch.
Finally found the monorail and was glad to have a chance to sit down. I loved the trip. It was cool to see how fast you can traverse the strip compared to the bus. Thought about getting off at Harrah's but decided to get my $3 worth and went all the way to Sahara. Again, I liked Saharah's older ambiance. Sat at the VP bar and enjoyed a Baileys' and coffee while I played some Bonus VP.
Went out to look for a cab but ended up hoofing it back to Stardust. Now I was really wiped out. Unduanted, I hoofed it with P down to Wynns and enjoyed our comped buffets. I have to say I enjoyed it. P was not impressed but she is from Alabama (not that it means anything) and enjoys only down home cooking. And there weren't any red beans and rice to be seen. I, however, enjoyed trying everything. We both loved the chocolate moose, and I had a 'floating island' - a marshmallow in a sea of vanilla/butterscotch sauce.
After that I demanded we do something different. I wanted to go see (in this order) Wayne Newton, Tom Jones, Mama Mia, Hoover Dam, Forever Plaid, the 9 Fine Irishmen Restaurant, Deuling Pianos, Mac King (who we saw in 2000), Rita Rudner, and, if we had time, Dionne Warwick. So, we went to Madam Tussaurd's Wax museum instead. I must say, it was enjoyable. We used the $4 off coupons we found on LVOL. But, wouldn't you know it? I forgot my camera.
I forgot my camera so many times this trip I ended up only taking a handful of pictures. What a shame. I have to tell you though that my lovely wife, bless her soul, is not a fan of fancy dining, shows, or anything other than 'eating and gambling'. So I tried to balance this out with running myself ragged in the mornings after a night of drinking, which was not a smart thing to do.
After Madam Tussaurds, we grabbed a bus back to Stardust. Neither of us were hungry, so we decided to just gamble and go to bed when we were tired. I ran out of cigarettes, so I went back up to the room for some, and that is when 'it' happened.
As I was about to leave the room, my nose started bleeding. I learned later that people from humid climates (Florida) that come to dry climates (Nevada) get dried out quickly. Well, apparently that is what happened because my nose had apparently dried out along with the rest of my body, and it was running like the Bellagio chocolate fountain. Well that was it. I spent the rest of the night propped up pinching my schnoz and trying to recuperate. I hope that's not too gross for everyone but that is what happened. Sad thing is I was hitting like crazy before I went 'down for the count' so my wife grabbed my winnings (after making sure I was alright) and spent them all while I nursed my wounds.
Day 5 - Thursday - 12/15/05
By 8:00am I'd been sleeping (or at least lying down) for 13 hours. It was time to find out if I was 'healed'. I got up, showered, had my coffee and after I was reasonably sure I was semi-ok, I headed down for more coffee.
I was hungry, but I didn't want to push it. So I just sat at the Royal bar and had coffee and played awhile. Wasn't doing too well so I went off and roamed the casino.
I have to say I love the Stardust in the early morning. There isn't anyone around. You can pick your machine or table game and have at it.
I had to take more money out of the safety deposit box so I grabbed a few hundred and sat down at a roulette table. I play certain numbers only - a 'slice of the wheel' if you will. They were clicking and soon I was up $200. Moved over to a 3 card poker table and proceeded to lose $100 fairly quickly. I finally settled on a 100 play penny VP machine and proceeded to have a great time. I played $100 in this and mind you, it can go pretty quickly at 500 coins per hand. I was playing DDB and not getting many good hands. And if you don't get a pair of Jacks or better from the go it can be a very losing experience. To make a long story short I played it for hours, only drinking coffee and playing slow. P called to say she was up around noon, and I told her where to meet me. I was down to my last roll, and didn't have enough to play 100 hands, only about 48. I pushed the button and got dealt quad 3's! That's 400 coins (without the kicker). Of course I kept them and proceeded to get 48 hands of quad 3's and about 8 of them were with kickers. Left it on the screen for P to see and cashed it out at about $228.00.
I'm still feeling too wimpy to run around today so we stayed at home base and played all around. I found a Terminator penny machine and enjoyed the action but won nothing. Had some luck on a Multistrike 5 cent machine. Like Spin Poker, I love the game but it can clean you out quick. I probably make about $80 on that but it took two hours to get there.
Decided to try Tony Roma's for dinner. I know this is a chain but we don't have one back in Pensacola so we gave it a shot. We loved it. P had baby backs and shrimp and I had the chicken and shrimp. Absolutely fantastic. Service was great. Many of you know mid December is the slowest time in Vegas and we never had a problem getting in any of the restaurants. We didn't even need reservations.
Played on and on and started losing really badly. I had the most hooker sightings of the trip this night. They were really aggressive. One kept pointing at me and giving the beckoning finger routine. Don't they know we old farts are married or just too much of a gambling junkie to care about hookers? I'd say with age comes wisdom except for my Wednesday debacle!
Early to bed for me tonight - still on the mend. As always I checked out the view and sighed that I had only one more full day in the Mecca. I know now that I will not get to do everything I had planned. Sigh.
Day 6 - Friday - 12/16/05
Up around 8:00am. I know that we have only one day left. Checked my priorities and decide to cab it to the Orleans to check it out. I've read a lot about this place. We almost stayed here this trip because I had found a rate of $18 a night Sun-Thurs and thought that even if we weren't comped we could have stayed here and not gotten hurt even if they charged us for the whole stay.
Had some basic breakfast fare at the Island Paradise Café. This would be my last meal there and I was glad I chose it. In retrospect, it would have been nice to try other places outside of the Stardust, but I was feeling more confident that we'd 'nutted' most of our meals so I stuck with it.
Grabbed a cab in front of Stardust. Driver was AMERICAN! Too cool - he was about to cough up a lung the whole trip but he was very courteous and friendly. He took the freeway which made me a little concerned about being long hauled but he said 'there is an accident on Industrial, trust me'. He even turned off the meter when we were stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Total cost was $11.85 (minus tip). Not bad I thought.
I was 'very' impressed with Orleans. A massive casino. Many more VP bars that I had seen anywhere else. Movie theaters, bowling alley, even a Subway and liquor store (with reasonable prices). I could definitely stay here. Too bad it's so far off the strip, but there is the shuttle to Barbary Coast. But I think I could do a few days here without leaving at all. Others have reported in their trip reports that they have stayed without leaving and were not concerned about missing anything. I played one JOB bartop for a good long time on $20. Didn't win, but liked the longevity of play.
Grabbed another cab back to Stardust. This time I got a gentleman of Russian persuasion and he wasn't nearly as friendly. Wanted to show me the 'gentleman's clubs'. Not interested. Poor guy's seat kept falling back at will. I was a little concerned this could cause an accident but he seemed to be used to it. He did not turn off the meter in traffic so final cost was $13.20 minus tip. Still, don't think I got screwed on either of the rides.
Back at Stardust P wanted to try out the buffet. It was standard buffet fare, but not bad at all. Big difference is that Stardust makes you peel your own shrimp, while Wynn's does not. (I hate peeling my own shrimp when I'm hungry!)
We checked out our bankroll and we're only down a few hundred for the trip. Amazing! P is tired of it all and wants to go home. But I give her good news. Before meeting up I met with our host and everything is comped based on our play. The room, all meals, drinks at the bars (non VP bars), plus the limo ride from and back to the airport!
I convince her that it's time to go 'balls to the wall' on gambling. Even if we lose our bankroll we've had a great vacation. So we close out the safety deposit box, split up the remaining money, and off we go with the plan to meet at Tony Roma's again later (her choice, she loved it, I love her, so ok!).
I start off at one of my favorite 50 cent VP Bonus machines. I've never mentioned it until now, but this thing feeds upon itself. On previous evenings (our strategy all week was to always base our evening play at home base) I'd played this machine for several hours at a time with either a $100 loss or a $200 win. One time I'd been dealt fours aces, four deuces, etc., so it had been a pleasant experience. No TITO on these so it's a trip to the men's room after each cash out to wash off the coin grit.
Today though, this sucker ate my money faster that you can say 'color in'. So I moved over to a DB VP 50 cent on the opposite side of the bank. If you've been to Stardust there are only 10 50 cent DB VP machines and they are located near the Keno area. Well I ended up hitting four 4's right off the bat, then another four of a kind at the machine next to it. Within 10 minutes, I was ahead $300.
After that we met again at Tony Roma's. P and I both had baby backs and shrimp that night. We also ordered the onion loaf. Erk! Good but too greasy and meant for younger eaters with higher metabolisms!
P is down to almost nothing, I'm ahead. So we split it all up and off we go again. I'm playing everything and settle at the Royal bar for awhile. The progressives on each suit is up to $2,000 plus on all suits but hearts. No luck even after playing for two hours. Back over to Baccarat bar and another four hours nets me nothing. With only a few hundred left I hit the high limit area for another $100 and a long roll but no luck. Time for bed, have to get up early to catch the flight out at 11:15am.
Day 7 - Saturday - 12/17/05
Bummer! Up at 7:00am for the perfunctory shower, etc. Order some room service - delivered in 20 minutes! Good, standard breakfast fare. Call the host - all is comped, no need to check out, leave the keycards in the room or at the drop box. Limo will meets us at 9am. Wow! What a great stay this has been - shame we have to leave.
Check the bags and take our few hundred left and try one more time at the Royal Bar to catch one of those progressives. One of them has fallen since last night. Still no luck so it's finally time to cash in our cash back - $200 for the stay between us - not bad! Considering we've paid for nothing but gambling all week.
Grab the limo to the airport. Check in was not a problem, very smooth. Enjoyed the security video of all the celebrities talking about what not to take through security. Carrot Top - yer over the top with that giant knapsack!
Flight home was uneventful. P is prone to airsickness and looks like death warmed over everytime we get ready to land. No airsickness bag was required but was in hand at times. Got home tired and relaxed for only a couple of hours before we had to hit the hay - I slept 9 hours, P slept 12!
- not seeing some shows or some properties I had missed before
- if I had gone solo on this trip I may have actually come home with a profit. But no regrets in that area - I did better than ever before on a Vegas trip.
I told P I want to come back at least once a year. P says - next time I CAN go solo. Hmmmm, maybe I will finally find those FPDW downtown!
Hope you enjoyed the report. Some details may be omitted due to the liquid erasure I consumed. BTW, the weather was great - cool but not cold except at night.
Would love to catch a meet sometime - enjoy all your reports here. Till next time, Sailor53 is back to work for some much needed rest!