Category: 2009
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Another trip to Vegas.... here's a prelude of what happened before my trip as well:

Originally, I promised myself (and to my wife) that we wouldn't be going to Vegas this year as we went 4 times last year already and that was more than enough. We then decided to fly to LA with our 22 month old son and take him out to the Disney parks, Knott's soak city and Sea World in San Diego. Then my wife's mother decided to come as well and this made my wife decide that we "need" to drive to Vegas to show her around as this would be her first trip. No complaints from me! Let's drive to Vegas baby!

When we arrived in LA, within the first 2 hours, we had the worst luck that any vacationer can have. While I was lining up to get our rental car, my mother-in-law got conned by a team of luggage snatchers and they made off with her carry-on bag containing $1700 in cash. That totally killed our vacationing mood and was a poor start to our family vacation. LAPD was called and we gave our report. Got our car, and went to our hotel.

This is where things got better and we haven't even left for Vegas yet. Over the span of the next 3 days, I went to the Commerce Casino in LA and proceeded to win her $1700 back! I played baccarat there and won it slowly with $100-$300 bets. This was my first time in a casino in California and there was some strange shit going on. The game I played was called 21st Century Baccarat. This is not exactly the same as regular baccarat. Here's a list of some strange things I noticed:

1. The Commerce Casino takes a minimum of $1 collection fee for every bet up to $100 you make. So even if you bet $25, you still need to pay a $1 fee whether you win or lose that bet. If you bet $200, it'll cost $2. What a rip off!
2. The Commerce Casino doesn't bankroll themselves. They have a third party independent company that bankrolls it and every table in the casino has someone from this company who sits there with stacks of chips that they use to pay the players when they win and collects the chips when players lose. When I first saw them, I thought they were high rollers! Heh
3. Baccarat rules are messed up there. If player and banker ties with 0 vs 0, banker wins. WTF? And the draw charts are messed up as well. Banker will draw if player draws a 8 or 9 if banker first two cards total 4 or 5. Now that is weird. There were some more weird rules but I didn't take note of them.

Anyways! This website is about Vegas so on with the trip report!

Tuesday, June 30th

Drove in to Vegas around 12:30pm and my host at the Luxor actually called me wondering when I was arriving. They must be hurting for business. I checked into VIP lounge and they gave me a VIP parking pass where I could self park right in front of the north entrance. This kicked ass in a big way. They were fantastic spots and shaded too. We got a 1 bedroom suite and an extra roll-away bed for the mother in law. I was staying at the Luxor on a promo offer where I got $1225 in promo casino chips and $825 on resort credit for food, spa, gifts, etc. The room was included of course.

We went up to the suite and unpacked our luggage. I went downstairs afterwards and got my $1225 promo chips from the high limit cage. I wasted no time and went to play some double deck blackjack. Now here is the part that kicked ass. The way promo chips used to work is that when you win, they replace your promochip with a real casino chip. So really the best you can ever do is win exactly $1225. Well guess what? They let you keep the promochips now until you lose the hand! It doesn't get much better than that. I won about $2100 before I lost my last promochip. I even hit a blackjack with a $500 promochip bet out. I stopped right there and quit after the last promochip was gone while I was ahead for that session. Nice start for the trip!

I then gathered up the family and had some lunch at More Buffet (used to be called Pharoah's) at the Luxor. Nothing special. The service was there but the employees didn't seem happy at all. My son was making a bit of a mess on the table and we apologized to the waitress for this behaviour. She just looked as us and kept walking without saying a word. I later said it to her again in case she didn't hear us and she gave us the same response! We got the silent treatment. Sigh. Can you say 2% tip? I normally give 15% tips but not this time. We then walked over to Excalibur. Wife and mother-in-law wanted to shop around so I went to gamble. Excalibur's high limit area was closed so I bought in their regular double deck BJ table for $1500 and quit when I was $800 up. I then bought in at craps for $2500 and some bad rolls were happening. I was down around $900 but then a good roll happened and at one point I got my losses back and colored in up only about $150. But a win is a win so no complaints here.

We then went to NYNY and I bought in at their high limit double deck BJ for $2000. There was another guy at the table who was getting spanked playing two hands. I noticed he played on feel rather than statistics. There were times he didn't double on 11 vs a dealer's 10 and I always make that play unless I know there weren't many face cards left in the decks. At first the play was pretty choppy and there was one shuffle that absolutely killed us. But in the end we rode it out and hit a great shuffle and I was up about $1000 and colored out. I honestly got lucky here as I only had $300 left at one point and went all in and won for the road to recovery.

We then toured MGM Grand and proceeded to walk back to the Luxor because my wife and in-law wanted to drive to Caesar's to shop. In NYNY, we saw one of those kiosks that sold a 3D image of you inside crystal cubes. We wanted to buy one but then discovered how expensive they really were. My wife wanted to buy the diamond shaped one with a lit pedestal and the guy said it would be $344!! Wow! I had the money of course but I didn't buy it based on the principle of something like that costing too much for what we were getting. I would have paid $200 max.

By now, it was getting dark out and the strip lit up. I love how this place looks in the evenings. I drove to Bellagio instead and had them walk to Caesar's from there. They were ok with that. I went over to their full sized baccarat table and bought in for $3000. I was the first to sit down and open the table. The deck went back and forth and then there was a Spanish guy who sat down and bought in for probably $5000. He seemed extremely uptight and would have some loud outbursts when asked questions by the dealers. I took this as bad vibes and started to bet opposite from him. Heh. There was then a ride of 10 bankers in a row that netted me $2500 in winnings and Spanish guy bet on player for all of them. Needless to say, he busted out quickly and left in disgust. What's cool about this table too is that the minimum bet was $100 and the players can actually take turns to deal the game. Now this was fun. Mandalay Bay has this game as well but the minimum was $500 a bet. The shoe came to an end and I colored in for the win. I'll have to play more often at the Bellagio. I like the self dealing game a lot.

While waiting for family to return from shopping, I strolled around Bellagio to soak in the scenery. I must say that there are some hot, hot women around this place strutting their stuff. My neck got sore from all the hottie alerts. =D My family returned and we headed back to the Luxor around 10:30pm to get some late night room service to satisfy the hunger. We got some chicken tenders, chicken breast and Australian lobster tail. Very tasty! Tipped the food staff $15 when he delivered it. He was extremely happy with that.

After the meal, the family went to bed and I went out to gamble. I hit the BJ table at the Luxor and bought in for $1500. Within 30 mins, I couldn't catch a nice run and ended up losing my buy-in. My first losing session. Now this is where most people would buy back in but I know better. A losing table will remain a loser so I left and went over to the Mandalay. I bought in for $5000 at their full sized baccarat table. There were 4 other people playing which made for a nice atmosphere. My bets ranged from $$300 to $500 with a few $1000 bets when I felt good about the next hand. I played for about an hour where I took a 10 min break in between during a losing streak. I finally caught a nice run and recovered my $1500 loss plus and additional $300 win. I colored in and cashed out. Nice! Time for me to go to bed. It was around 3:00am by then and I was tired.

Win for the day: +$6850

Wednesday, July 1st

Happy Canada day! Woke up around 7:30am so my family could go to Nurture SPA for a massage. My son and I headed to More's Buffet for breakfast. The service was a bit better and waitress actually said hello to me. When I was done, I went to meet the family and they wanted to go to Caesar's again to shop again. Off into the van we go and I self parked in on the 4th floor. While they shopped, I went to buy in for $2000 at craps. The table was horrible and this old guy on the other side was so slow at making his bets. He would throw down $30 on the 6, then he grabs another $30 for the 8, then he throws another $25 for the 5'¦.. god, put all your chips down at once and get the game moving for crying out loud. The dealers would keep the dice between every roll for this fool to make his bets and then seven-outs made people pissed at this guy for delaying the game. I colored in with $400 left as I knew where this was headed. $1600 loss at this table.

I walked over to the high limit area and bought in for $4000 at their baccarat table. No one was there playing. My goal here was to just win back the $1600 I lost at craps. I was betting around $300 - $500 a hand and after all was said and done, I won back the $1600 and plus another $700. I colored in and went out for a walk to Flamingo, O'Sheas and Harrah's. At first I wanted to play at Flamingo's high limit Double deck BJ game. I then learned that you can't double after split (DAS) so I refused to play. Dumb rules I tell ya. I later saw the same game at Harrah's and began to realize that all Harrah properties must not offer double deck DAS games. Oh well, I bought in for $1500 and proceeded to win $800 anyways. Played for 20 mins and I was done! This is why I like MGM Mirage properties better. Their BJ rules cater much better to my needs. I went to get the family to head out for lunch. We drove to china town to eat at a place called Pho Saigon. We love Vietnamese food and it really hit the spot. This was the only place we ate at where the casino couldn't comp our meal since it wasn't on MGM Mirage property. Heh. No big deal.

After lunch, we headed back to the Luxor for a swim in their pool. It was probably 105 degrees out so the swim felt fantastic. I had my son with me (22 months old) so he was splashing, screaming, having fun in general. There were people there that didn't like kids around and really I don't blame them. I tried to move him away from others when I could and we were successful most of the time. Interestingly enough, it was mostly the ladies who didn't want their hair wet or makeup smeared who scowled at my son being in the pool.

After the swim, my mother-in-law said there was something she forgot to buy at Caesar's. OMG! So we headed there for a 3rd time now. I dropped the family off and bought in for $4000 again at Caesar's high limit baccarat table. This time I won $2000 after 10 hands and colored in. Nice and quick. No need to stay any longer. I then walked around doing nothing and even called my wife to see when they'd be done. She said I had another hour to kill to I went back to the baccarat table to play. This is when things turned ugly. I bought in for $2500 and lost it in about 15 minutes. It was rough. I walked away from this table and bought in for $7500 at the high limit BJ table and played two hands at $500 each. I have never seen such a bad run of cards. The only time I ever won a hand was when the dealer busted, and it wasn't often. I kept losing my 20's to his 21's and he even got two BJ's in a row and that was a quick good bye to $2000. I lost my whole buy-in and now I'm stuck! Ouch. I quit right there and walked away to cool off. I let logic take over and didn't play until I was sane again. I was pretty pissed off but I didn't let my emotions take over. Patience will reward in the end.

We headed back to Luxor around 8:00pm and I went to sleep.

Win for the day: -$6500 (ouch)
Win for the trip (so far): +$350 (ouch)

Thursday, July 2nd

I woke up at 3:00am, took my $5000 original bank roll out of my luggage and went over to the Mandalay to set off on my mission. My goal was to win back 50% of my buy-ins over multiple sessions to try and get back my losses from Caesar's. There were two others at the baccarat table and I bought in with the whole $5000. The cards were great right from the start and I was up another $5000 within 30 mins. I stopped there and took a break. I know if I keep playing non stop, the table will take it back. I then went to a different table and then started to slowly lose about $3000 before getting a streak that allowed me to recover that again. So I'm still up $5000 ($10000 total in chips including my buy-in) and I went back to my original table again after they finished a shuffle. I was able to get my chip count to $13000 and I then placed a $2500 bet on banker as I felt good on it. If I was to win this bet, I will color in and walk away. The cards were dealt and Banker had a 7 and Player 0. Player now draws and I felt really good since the only way I could lose is if it draws an 8 or 9, which had really low odds (2 in 13). Player draws a 9! OMFG. I lost my $2500 bet and I actually jumped out of my chair in disgust. The dealers were speechless as they know I got my ass handed to me on some really bad luck. I came back and took a short 5 minute break to cool off. After I calmed down, I started to play with a focused mind again and it paid off. I was able to get my chip count to $14100 and I colored in to walk away a winner! I took a cheque for $10000 and got the rest in cash. This gambling session was amazing for me as I just won almost 200% of my buy-in in 5 hours with repeated breaks in between. I never stayed playing at the same table for too long. Not easy to do so I would say I got very lucky here. It was about 8:00am now and I headed back to my hotel room.

My family was already awake and starting to pack up. I called VIP service to verify how much casino credit (from the $825) we still had left. They told us we still had $560 to spend so we all went down to the gift shops to splurge on Nike golf shirts, Ed Hardy footwear, purses, etc. We actually overspent but I had a feeling with my casino play, my host would more than likely comp me. After we shopped, it was time to pack our belongings and my bags was already done. My in-law and son went upstairs so I hit the double deck BJ tables again at the Luxor. My wife joined me for this session so I toned it down and bought in for only $500 between the both of us. I wasn't paying much attention to win/loss betting $25 a hand and just played to spend some quality time gambling with my wife. We eventually lost the $500 by staying at the table too long but we had fun. My wife went back upstairs to help with the packing and I pulled out $2000 to win it back. I played at the deserted table and slowly recovered the $500 plus and extra $1200! I was betting about $200 a hand. Kick ass. I colored in and then bought in at the craps table about 50 feet away from me for about $1000. I think I survived about 3 seven-outs after the point (including my own roll) and had about $450 left. The dice moved over to this nice looking European girl with her husband standing there. I knew right away that she'd be a shooter so I bet heavy and called it right. ! won back everything plus $200 before coloring in. I cashed my chips in and that was it! My gambling was done in Las Vegas. I went back upstairs to bring the luggage down and checked out in the VIP lounge. My host was there to greet me and we had about $400 of over charges on top of the $825 credit that we use up. She comped it but I did have to pay $44 in tips to the Spa massage personnel as the casino doesn't comp tips. So there you have it. The whole stay was virtually free baby and I was coming home with winner. I wanted to tip my host but she cannot accept cash tips unless they were in a form of gift certificates. Too bad. I'll have to find some way to slip it under the table to her. Heh.

Win for the day: +$10500
Win for the trip: +$10850

We drove out to Pho Saigon one more time for a late lunch and then drove back to LA. We did some more fun stuff out there and now I'm back in Calgary in one piece.


Thoughts for the trip:

1. The strip was packed with people walking to and from hotels but barely anyone gambling. The slots and tables were maybe 20% to 50% occupied in any of the casinos I was at.
2. The recession is hitting Vegas hard. Barely any high rollers at all. People were oooing and ahhing when I bought in for $1000 in non-high limit areas.
3. Even the 'working girls' are looking for more business. I never even get looks from one when I'm there and this was the first time one said hello to me. Heh. They must be desperate if they think I'm potential business! LOL.
4. On my whole trip I only met one guy like myself who was smart enough to leave the tables when they were up. This is why more people lose when they go to Vegas. They don't know when to quit, whether they are winning or losing.
5. In LA, I sat beside a girl who had $1000 in chips at the baccarat table. She won $1000 on a streak of players ($2000 in chips now) and when I colored up with my $1200 win, I said she should leave now or you will lose it back. She said she wanted to win more. I smiled and left. I came back an hour later and she had about $85 left in her stack. I gave her a glance and she didn't look happy at all. Gotta quit while you're ahead!
6. I could have stayed one more day to make it more complete. But it was still a great trip!

I hope you enjoyed the report.