Lengthy report from a craps player.

DAY 1

Flew US Air direct from Charlotte and used dividend miles to jump up into first class. Flight was perfect and up front is THE way to go for that 5 hour flight.

$15 cab to downtown on a very odd zig-zagging but quick route. Arrived at the hotel at noon, room was not ready. I left my bags at the bell stand and went straight to the craps pit. All they had at noon on a Monday were $10 tables. I decided to hit Fremont street to find a $5 craps table. First stop, as always, was Binions.

Now, I hadn't been into the Horseshoe (now just Binions) since Feb of 2005 and I didn't understand all the talk here about how bad Binions had gotten. In 2005, the place was under new ownership and I still enjoyed the dealers and the environment. Now, however I can see what people are talking about. All of the good dealers are gone, the entire crew was average to less than average. They had good craps action the whole time we were there, but the dealers just didn't cut it for me. Anyway, first session was there and wasn't too bad. I had some good rolls and ended up $100 (on a $200 buy in). It's such a shame what has happened to this mecca of gambling. Just sad. I will say this. I LOVE the table that opens up onto Fremont street, I still think it's the only craps table in the world where you can shoot almost outside. To Binions, don't EVER move that table.

On to the Four Queens. Some good action and 5x odds for all points. Had a good roll with some guys from Montana and some fairly lively dealers. Nothing too remarkable but finished up $150 on a $200 buy-in. So, first two sessions and I'm up $250. Anyone see where this is going?

By this point I had to head back to the Nugget to meet my Dad and Brother. They called right when I walked back into the Nugget and they were 20 minutes away by cab. So, I bellied up to the $10 tables at the Nugget and worked through some choppy action until they arrived. We played there for an hour or so and then went to check into the rooms. We booked a Spa suite for Dad and let me say that place is AWESOME! A full two-story suite with a master bath to die for. A full jacuzzi tub on the second floor overlooking downtown vegas plus a steam shower that was 6' x6'. The nicest thing about the suite though is it let us skip the monstous check in line! Note to the Nugget: you need more than 2 people checking guests in on every day of the week, lines that long are just unacceptable.

We made reservations for Vic & Anthony's and had a fantastic steak dinner. I would put it on par with any of the places I've eaten at on the strip including the Bellagio's steak house and Smith & Wo. We crapped it up at the Nugget after dinner and dropped a few on some very choppy $10 tables.

Off to the California where we found 2 $5 with lots of action and not even an elbow slot at either table. Now I can say I've seen the California and I don't think I need to go back.

Next was Main Street Station and again, I was underwhelmed. It's probably important to note at this point that to me, the whole craps experience at any casino is completely made or broken by the dealers. If they're lively and loud, the game is fun. If they're quiet and look like they'd rather be elsewhere, it shows and it makes the experience less than thrilling. Main Street station has great ambience, but the dealers were silent! Dropped a bit more, but not too bad.

Back to the Nugget where Dad called it a night at about 9:30 or 10:00 PT. It's always tough to make the transition to PST, but Vegas craps action helps! I had a pretty good session and went back to just barely up for the day. Bro and I went and had some drinks at the rush lounge and then ended the day with some single deck BJ. It's amazing how relaxing BJ can be after hours of craps!

DAY 2

One of my favorite sessions of the day is usually at around 6:00am. You still have some hangers on from the previous night drunk and loud and you also have much smaller crowds overall so it's a much more focused session. Dropped a few this morning, but almost turned the corner on several hands. Did the breakfast buffet when it opened at 7:00 with a VIP line pass which was very nice. Great buffet with great service. The buffet had everything I would find on the strip, it was just in a smaller space.

After breakfast, off to the spa for a whirlpool and steam/shave. The spa at the nugget is just as nice as what I've come to expect from the strip, again, just a bit smaller. Their renovations are evident in the spa as well and I thouroughly enjoyed it.

After the Spa, we went back over to Binions and hit that wonderful table ON Fremont street and ended up down a few. My Bro and I then hit the Carson street cafe inside the Nugget and had a great burger.

Back to the Nugget craps pit where we had some fairly hot hands and made a few dollars. As I mentioned, dealers make the game to me and the Nuggets dealers were great. Doc, James, Mike, Howard, Darren, Jeff, Pat, Hana and crew know their game and they make it fun to be there - thanks to those guys! As the time wore on, they all knew how I was betting and would assist making the bets and keeping track of what was going on. That's the mark of a good dealer, knowing what you're going to do next and helping you take those positions. We tipped heavily but those guys still deserve huge praise.

We ventured out to the strip to see the IP before it gets knocked down. A few years ago, we absolutely KILLED it at the IP and so it will always have a special place in my heart. Not too much has changed there except that they have what must be the longest tables I've ever seen. The must be 22 feet in length and it was tough to adjust, we saw lots of too tall rolls. Anyway, ultimately cold action there. We then walked through the Wynn as Dad and I had never seen the place. All I can say about the Wynn is WOW. I love the layout of the floor and I love all the deatil to quality. If I go back out to stay on the Strip, Wynn will be home. The landscaping they've done is amazing and the whole place just felt rich. The onsite Ferrari dealer helps I guess.

Back downtown for more action at the Nugget. We decided at this point that most of our action would be right at the nugget as we liked the dealers and we were being rated nicely. Had another fantastic dinner at Vic & Anthony's followed by more craps. Never quite turned the corner and ended up down for the day.

DAY 3

Great breakfast craps session this morning and another great buffet and Spa visit. By this point, we were seeing all the usual suspects at the craps table and enjoyed talking with lots of people including some real nice folks from Wisconsin who brought their 30-year old daughter (a Vegas Virgin). We got her hooked on craps and it was fun teaching her all the bets and tips.

Decided to go back to the strip to hit Caesar's Forum for gifts for the wives and had an ice cold hand at the Bellagio. I'm starting to wonder if I'd ever elect to stay on the strip again. The distances and crowds are so extreme, it's just not as nice as downtown for mixing up your gaming - just my $0.02.

We ate lunch at the grille in the sports book where Dad and Bro placed bets on the Virginia - NC State game (and won!). More craps action and actually had a pretty nice win after a nice hard 8 came in! Bro and I played the 3:00 No Limit Hold'Em tourney and both got eliminated fairly early. Bro got two pocket aces and lost both times! It was just that kind of day.

We did the Grotto for Dinner and had an awesome Italian meal with a great waiter. More up and down craps and ended up down for the day.

DAY 4

I had an 11:00 flight back to Charlotte so I had to be up and at 'em for one last breakfast craps session and a buffet. After breakfast, I had probably my best hand and turnd $200 into $475 and then had to leave.

Conclusions:

- The Golden Nugget ROCKS! They have done some great improvements and if you're waivering on whether or not downtown can accomodate you, I urge you to try it, I don't think you'll be disappointed.

- Fremont Street is a great party

- Binions...well, I think the fact that it's no longer even called the Horseshoe says it all....

- Downtown is great for young people who want to party, old people who don't want to walk 5 miles between craps tables, and middle age people who don't like the mob scene of the strip

- What is Trump's value add proposition in his new tower? I'm not seeing it...

- The IP will be gone, just a matter of Wynn (get it?)

- Don't players suck. Big time. I respect your right and advantage in playing th opposite side, just don't be a jerk. We had a don't on Night 3 who was cussing out the dealer and even getting belligerent to the shooters if they hit their point - that's totally unacceptable and that loser should tossed out. One other note on Don't players - they never stick around long, they always hit and run. There's nothing I like more than hitting a "No 5" and watching the don't curse under his breath and walk away.

- This was the first year I've ever had all my play tracked and the Nugget covered RFB for me totally. A very nice consolation in an otherwise losing trip.

Sorry for the length, thanks to Las Vegas, see you next year!