Trip From January 21-26

Day 1

When we finally finished feverishly packing it was 1:30 AM. We knew sleep would be hard to come by with visions of Las Vegas in our heads but we were exhausted. The Alarm went off at
3:30 AM and luckily I my wife takes longer to get ready that I do, soooo I got to snooze a bit and dream of big the wins that were sure to come. We were out the door by 4:50 AM about 20 min later than I wanted to but I always wanna leave a little early to be on the safe side.

It's a 45 min drive to Houston Intercontinental from our house but at 5AM on Sunday morning the vehicles I normally cuss for being in my way were still at home in their garages and driveways so we made it to the Parking Spot in about 30 minutes. Board the shuttle and to the terminal. There were more TSA agents at security than there were passengers so going through security was a breeze. I was not selected for the body cavity search so that was a bonus as well.

The flight was on Continental and left on time and arrived about 10 min early. After a short pit stop to clear some inventory it was on to baggage claim where it took forever for the conveyor to start up. When it did about 10 pieces of luggage trickled off and then time seemed to stop, at least for those waiting on their luggage and the baggage handlers who apparently were busy and not damaging our luggage by putting it on the conveyor belt.. As a few of the pieces of luggage rolled by me I noticed reach had a tag on them claiming priority and had an elite tag on them. I assumed they have a special place on the plane for this elitist luggage and the commoners bags would be out shortly. In some casinos, I receive free offers and am treated well, but to the airline industry I am a peon, a mere blip on there radar so I have to ride with the rest of the cattle in a cramped coach. and my luggage comes out last. 20 minutes after the 'Elite' luggage came out our bags finally arrived.

It was then on the Dollar shuttle where I had reserved a car. Upon arrival the attendant checked my ID and told me to pick a car. I picked a Dodge Charger and was off the lot 10 minutes after our arrival..

The drive to Caesars was uneventful except this time I chose to take the tunnel. No, no one forced me to or hoodwinked me into taking it, I just wanted to take the risk. Live on the edge so to speak. I'd tell you about it but you know....What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. Just kidding. the tunnel route was uneventful and I can see how it is a long haul in a taxi but if you have a rental car, I say go for it at least once.

Upon arrival at Caesars we valet parked and went to check in. A room at 9:30 AM, Preposterous you say. Well I didn't expect one either. (This is an example of foreshadowing for you literary types) Now this is the first time we have arrived with the coveted 'Platinum' status. and it showed. We went to the Platinum/Diamond check in and inquired about our room. We had two comped nights in the Augustus Tower that included a leather jacket. We asked for a room high up with a fountain view and we told the clerk we would be happy to wait for a room. The clerk burned up the phone and found us a room that was ready that met all our requirements. Within a few minutes we had keys in our hand and were ready to go to the room. For her hard work, I tipped the clerk $20 and she was very appreciative. And I pulled the $20 out of my pocket so I know she wasn't influenced by the blood of money.
I opened the door to our room and walked in soaking up the atmosphere, I looked at my wife and we both telepathically wondered what the poor people were doing.

We then drove to a place that has been recommended on this board for lunch/brunch. The Hash House a GO GO. It is a bit off the strip West on Sahara in the 6800 block. I don't know how to describe this restaurant other than to call it something out of the Texas Chain Saw Massacre or a Barney on the Farm Video. The food however, was awesome. My wife had Crab cakes on top of homemade hash browns/home fries Two eggs, bacon and a biscuit with some type of tree sticking out of it. I had the Fried Chicken over mashed potatoes, drizzled in rendered maple syrup, two eggs and the tree biscuit. The portions were huge and could have fed a family of five.
The food was also outstanding and I give this place a freaky recommendation. The bill was about $45 w/tip. Very reasonable for a Vegas Sunday Brunch.

We drove back to Caesars as we were anxious to continue our video poker career. I did notice that the Video Poker near the food court had been degraded a bit. When we were there 4 months ago Jacks or Better was 9/6. This time 8/5. The Double Double Bonus that was 9/6, sadly now was 9/5. I saw that the JOB by the Sports-Book was 7/5 and the bartops were 6/5. I told the bartender that they ought to be ashamed of themselves with 6/5 JOB and he told me 'Hey, I just pour the drinks.' Harrah's might as well be sticking a gun to your head with 6/5 JOB. The moral of the story is VP players beware. Search out those good machines.

We played VP for a couple of hours and I could get any thing going. Not 1 quad in the bunch. down about $250. Because of the lack of sleep we decided to go to the room and take a short cat nap and we slept a few hours.

Awoke and walked through the Forums Shops to the Cheesecake Factory for dinner. We had Buffalo Wraps for an appetizer and split a Chicken Picatta for our main course. We wrassled over what cheesecake to order and the Co Pilot won choosing Strawberry. I wanted Banana Cream for those keeping score. The Food was excellent as always and was around $35 w/tip.

Back to Caesars where we went for round two. I was playing DDB and finally got my 1st Quad and a straight flush. These were the only scores of note and only prolonged the agony. I did play for several hours though and when we went to bed, I think I was down about $400 for the day. A wise man told me once that in Video Poker, 'no quads = no win.' In the room, We watched our Plasma TV and drifted off on our pillow-top bed. The one with the comforter and the high thread count sheets that I cant afford to own at home.

Day2

We awoke around 9AM and out the door by 10:30AM. We stopped and played a little VP when Lightning struck again for me. I was playing on a DDB machine that my wife had got a royal on last year. I was about $60.00 in when I was dealt a straight AKAJ10, where the ace was a club and the rest were hearts. Well, as any good VP player would do, I discarded the ace, held my breath and drew the Ace of Hearts for the ROYAL!. My wife was sitting next to me and had brought me some of that lady luck. I quickly cashed out and was felling much better because I was now winning.

We decided to go to In & Out and get a burger. It's cheap and the burgers are good. Maybe Its because I can't get one in Texas but I think they are awesome. Have one 'animal style' and you won't be disappointed.. Two burgers combos were approximately $10.

Next Stop was the Pinball Hall of Fame. This is a place where they have about 50 pinball machines from the 50's 60's 70,s and 80's and you can play them for a quarter. I found several that I remember from when I was a teenager and had a great time playing them. I remembered a few of them and found that I hadn't lost my touch, winning several free games.

We then thought about driving out to Lake Las Vegas but after asking directionally challenged individuals no one could give us a straight answer or good directions so we reluctantly gave up and headed back to the strip and ended up at Hooters where we played more VP and I ended up about $40 playing Deuces Wild. Some of the VP there was acceptable 9/5 machines if you searched for them. There was also an abundance of 7/5 rip off machines and gone was the 10/6 JOB machines that were there four months ago.

We ten went over to Planet Hollywood/Aladdin to eat the buffet. It was a bit expensive at $52 for two but the King Crab Legs were excellent as well as the Tempura Shrimp. The Aladdin itself was nice and seemed to be finished on the inside. I like it but rally didn't like any of the VP I saw so we moved on.

Paris was next and I should have stayed with the freedom fries as I dropped a couple of hundred in record time. We went through the tunnel toward Bally's and yes I drooled over the million in cash they had on display. Once inside Bally's I found a 8/5 Bonus poker machine and played for a long time on $60 and had a couple of quads to keep me rolling. Overall, Bally's sucked for VP with a lot of those fun sucking 7/5 JOB machines about. Wife was really feeling bad with a cold she had developed so we went to the room around 11PM.

Day 3

Awoke around 9ish and were gonna try and make the Noon Poker Tourney at The Orleans. We also had to check out of Caesars and move to the Flamingo. We figured we couldn't do everything we needed to do and still make the Orleans by Noon so we decided we would shoot for tomorrow.

Upon arrival at the Flamingo we used the Platinum check in that us high falut'in, hoyte toyte people get to use and that we have come accustom to in such a short time. They didn't have a groom available yet but at least we were slated for a premium view, GO Room. We went to eat at the Flamingo's coffee shop which was fairly decent. I had the Fried Chicken and My wife had breakfast. The bill was about $28.00 including tip. Played a little DDB VP there but couldn't get any quads which up to now has been the theme of the trip.

We drove down to the Gambler's General Store where we perused the items only buying a few decks of casino card to use in our home game. My wife was having trouble with her nose due here severe cold and the dry air. So we found a CVS Pharmacy so she could stock up on over the counter medicine that doesn't really work but its always $10 a bottle. Once done there we headed downtown and parked at the Golden Nugget. Now, I don't know how may bazzillion dollars the spent revamping the casino and pool but they did an excellent job. I loved it,. especially the pool which has a aquarium in the center with a water slide that goes through it. The owner of the Nugget is from Houston and must have an aquarium fetish cause he has a lot of restaurants with aquariums as a centerpiece and they serve mediocre, expensive food. Anyway I found some VP to my liking, mostly 2W and DDB and played for a long time on $40. I then found my wife at a Black Jack table and bought in for $60. I should have had my head examined for playing as I lost the $60 faster than you can say sarsaparilla.

We walked down to The Las Vegas club where we found a bank of BP Progressives where the prize for the royal was almost $1600. I figured it was way 'due' so we sat down a while. We played for about an hour and although we couldn't get the royal, I ended up $30 and the co-pilot was up a $100. I was happy as it had been a long time since a winning session even if it was a small one. We would have played longer but we had dinner reservations at Joes Steak and Stone Crab in the Forums Shops.

We went back and go our GO Room which was very nice but seemed smaller than the regular rooms. The Plasma TV was awesome. and we had a great view of he Bellagio Fountains. The bed was a pillow top and very comfortable. The Bathroom had a TV built into the mirror and the room had automatic curtains.

We headed over to Joe's and arriving a little early. The place was packed due to the concrete convention in town. so we waited in the bar area. I tried to get my wife a drink at the bar but couldn't get the bartenders attention due to the crowd so I gave up. We were finally seated about 20 min late from our reservation time but the room was nice albeit loud with all the drunk concreters around. This dinner was to celebrate our 19 year anniversary so I told my bride that money was no object. after much debate over the menu I decided on the stone crab bisque and a bone in rib eye. My wife had a crab cake and the filet and stone crab. The bisque was to die for and the steak was very good. The filet and stone crab were good according to my wife but the size of the filet was small and she only got four crab claws. Not much food for $50. It was plenty for her but I would have been munching on the toothpicks if that's all I had ordered. The bill was $145 w/tip and I would be happy to go back. Just remember, it's not too romantic for an anniversary dinner though.

We waddled back to the Flamingo where I played some 2W VP hoping to hit the 4 deuces. It was not to be and I left after a couple of hours down $20. Upon arriving at the room I was hoping for some Anniversary 'what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas' but my wife's cold was giving her fits so I would have to take a rain check.

Day 4

Nothing like some Jerry Springer to get your blood pumping in the morning. Lots of punches thrown from people that should have had lobotomies early in life or should at least be prohibited from reproducing.

Out the door and looking for a Fatburger on the way to the Orleans. I couldn't remember where the one on Flamingo was so we decided just to get a bite at the Orleans so we wouldn't be late for the poker tournament. We settled on Terrible Mikes and the name wasn't far from the quality of the food. In reality, the food was ok...but $18.50 for two burgers, one fry and two drinks was a tad much. And don't get me started on the IQ of the employees there because it was just above the lobotomy candidates that were on Jerry Springer. How hard is it people....Two Burgers....One Fry....Two Drinks...Geeeeeeze.

Signed in for the Hold-Em Tourney, $40 and a $5 add on for the dealers. I called an all in early with the top two pair. Problem was there was a straight possibility and you guessed it the guy had a straight. It was a bone head call and I way no better than that. So I ponied up the $40 for the rebuy. For the next few hours I played solid poker. I had a few bad beats to flushes on the river but I won a bunch of pots and made it to the final table albeit, a little short stacked. A few players went out and I finally had a good hand, AQ unsuited . Although I went out on this hand the last two tournaments I've played in and I consider it my 'nemesis' hand I brazenly went all in hoping the third time was a charm. The chip leader called and when she turned over AJ I thought 'eureka!' The flop included a queen and I was about a five to one favorite when runner, runner clubs gave her a flush. DRAT! Well, I place 7th for $195 and I had a $5 bounty so I was pretty happy. My wife did not fare so well in the tournament and she went out in the second round. After she busted out she begin winning in blackjack and even scored two comps for the buffet.

I then found a DDB 9/6 machine and caught fire. Two quick quads then the four aces came. I was sad there was no kicker but the 4 deuces were dealt to me soon after and I drew the kicker!
I cashed out $400. We the went to the buffet and with the comps, saved about $32.00. Now, this buffet used to be really good and I think the quality has gone down. I did like the cheesecake though and it was one bright spot on the buffet. We left the Orleans and I was happy as I left there about $500 richer. We went back to the Flamingo where I played a lot of 2W VP wanting to get the four deuces. We played for several hours and I broke even for the session putting a lot of points on our Harrah's Card.

Day 5

Awoke and out the door. We headed over to Paris to lunch at Mon Ami Gabi for the first time. We sat outside and the weather was great. I had the lobster bisque and the steak sandwich. The co-pilot had a crab cake and a seafood crepe. we split a Crem Brulee to finished the meal. The appetizers were just ok but the main food and desert was really good. The seafood crepe was outstanding for 'girl food' and I wish I was confident enough in my masculinity to order it next time. I guess I'll just have to sneak bites. My wife was looking forward to seeing the Bellagio's Fountain show but they were performing maintenance on it while we were eating. That was a bit of disappointment but I recommend this place and will try to eat here every trip. $82 w/tip, thanks Harrah's.

My wife wanted to see a show so I suggested Penn and Teller and she agreed. We went to the Flamingo Box Office to get the tickets and just our luck they were on vacation. The clerk suggested a comedian that was playing next door at Oshea's named Vinny Favorito. I had heard good things about him so I said ok and we bought the tickets around $46 ea.
We went to the Flamingo Poker room were I was played 1-2 No limit. There was a guy at the table who was cracking everyone up,. joke after joke He left to go smoke and the dealer told us he was none other than Vinny Favorito himself. He came back and I told him that not only had he been taking my money at the poker table, I had bought tickets to his show for that night. He laughed and was funny the whole time at the table.

I was down about $150 when I caught fire. AA, KK, JJ twice and played them for wins. I was back to even when I was dealt 77 in early position so I just limped in with a call. I flopped a set and checked as the flow was a rainbow. One guy bet $25 and I just called. The turn was a king and the guy I was heads up with bet $25. I raised as now there was a flush possibility and he called. The river was a 7! giving me the quad. I checked, he went all in with his flush and I called with my quad 7's. I won a pretty good size pot as well as a high hand jackpot of $221. I tipped the dealer the $21 I stayed around for a while and ended up cashing out up $200.

I played some VP and came back to check on my wife who had been playing 2-4 hold-em. She told me that she had just had four 3's for a high hand jackpot of $121. She was happy and cashed out ahead.

We went down to Harrah's and decided to have the buffet because it was quick. Well, besides the Crab and Shrimp it was basically just a notch above Golden Corral except it cost almost $50 for two.

Arrived at Oshea's a little early for the show and played a little 2W VP still hoping for the four deuces. Down about $40 when it was showtime. I tipped the doorman $20 and he sat me in the front row. The show was great and we laughed and laughed. I recommend the Vinny Favarito show and will probably see it again myself.

After the show we went back to the Flamingo and I played some more 2W trying again to get the top prize. I was down about $100 when I switched to Bonus VP to preserve may bankroll as I am close to even. Heck, maybe I'll even get another royal. Well I was down another $100 when I switched to DDB. I had been drinking a little and decided Screw the bankroll. Not usually a good thing to do when drinking. Anyway, two pushes later I get dealt AA2AA. Four aces with a kicker for $500. I soon cash out up $300. I am now up $200 for the trip. Off to the room to make up for the other night as my wife was feeling much better.

Day 6

I am now in Bankroll protection mode and do not want to gamble. This will be an unprecedented third trip in a row that I've won so I must protect the bankroll. We check out and head to find the Fatburger we couldn't locate the other day. we went a little further West on Flamingo and there it was. We had to Fat Deals and it was almost $20. That's a lot in my book for fast food. It was good as always but I have to choose In & Out over Fatburger in the Vegas Burger War because of the cost. No wonder In & out was jam packed and Fatburger was pretty empty, even at Noon.

Well, after Fatburger, I gave into temptation and we stopped in at the Orleans for a last shot at some VP. My wife's last bit of bankroll was also burning a hole in her pocket and she lost it post haste. I played some more 2W in hopes of getting those darn 4 deuces. But it was not to be and we left on to the airport. Upon arrival, everything else was insignificant all the way home.


Final Thoughts
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All in all a great trip. Hard to imagine I could match the last couple of trips in the amount of fun and win for the third time in a row. I'm pretty sick of buffets and find that their quality has diminished and the prices have risen.

Vegas really never seemed like it was crowded even with the 80,000 attendees of the concrete convention.

I know some of you hate Harrah's but they have always been good to me. when I was low on their radar I always got a couple of nights free and the rest at the casino rate. Now that I spend a little more I usually get all the nights comped and almost half of my meals paid with our points and I am by no means a high roller. I have found their customer service to be excellent with everyone being friendly. I am disappointed in their trashing of the VP pay tables and that dreaded 6/5 JOB games they had on the bar tops. If you look hard enough you can still find good machines though.

If you go to Vegas, I recommend that you rent a car and explore. The city is easy to navigate aside from the traffic and has many hidden gems.