Friday, January 30th- thought this day would never get here. Husband (Rick) and I flew on Spirit, direct, out of Detroit. Unfortunately, we were delayed nearly four hours - a bad start since I abhor flying and Rick is impatient. Arrival and car rental pick up went very smoothly, as did check-in at Imperial Palace. Even though it was about 1 am (4 am Ohio time) we did manage to run some of our money through video poker machines before heading to bed after a very long day.

It was clear on Saturday that this was Super Bowl weekend as the number of men (mostly groups of guys) far outweighed the women on the Strip. We started out Saturday with a trip down to the Peppermill. First time for us. It looks like a Denny's from the outside and the inside is divided between a coffee shop and a lovely lounge with a fountain in the middle that so many have talked about. The food was nothing spectacular. I had something called San Francisco Joe which was a combination of every fried breakfast food imaginable, then covered with cheese. It was good and filling, but the after-effects lasted for three days, if you know what I mean. Since we had the car we decided to check out Encore as it was the newest casino on the Strip. It is a lovely place with Wynn written all over it but I've never been quite comfortable contributing to Wynn's fortunes. We did experience an extremely nice staff member at the slot card sign up booth. Rick's glasses broke and she had us wait while she called around trying to find some super glue for him. She was a sweetheart.

After a very long nap, we headed off to The Palazzo to see The Jersey Boys. Awesome show! Great music! We would highly recommend this show. After returning to our home base, the IP, we decided to stroll over to Bellagio to invest in my favorite slot machine, 'Ring of Fire'. This was the first of three unsuccessful attempts to recreate winning times with this machine. Need I mention that it is no longer my favorite slot?

We played some video poker and while I lost at every thing I tried that day, Rick managed to pull some money out of the Bellagio. We tried to find a table game at Bill's on the way there and back, but it was just too crowded with rowdy Super Bowl fans. When we returned to IP we found a quiet corner at a bar to play some video poker. While sitting there engrossed in the VP, a man walks up and asks if the seat is open next to me, I look up to respond, and damned if it isn't my brother, Dave, who flew in to surprise me- and surprised I was! Dave and I are genetically linked to a man- our father- who was almost a professional poker player in the distant past- before poker was popular. Dad, now deceased, was a frequent guest of Binion's, where he was a regular at their poker tables throughout the 70's and 80's. This was the first time, however, that Dave and I had ever met up in dad's favorite city. Time to honor dad's memory! Rick and Dave, along with hundreds of football fans, found seats at Let It Ride and Three Card Poker, while I continued my losing ways with video poker until I was exhausted and called it a night.

Early Sunday, Dave and I tried our luck at Black Jack Switch at Casino Royale. The table minimum was $10 and the game proved just to expensive with the big swings in cards that are typical. Bummer- I'm really spending through my gambling funds way too fast. Super Bowl Sunday was moving day. After a hearty brunch at IP's Teahouse-love their Cobb salad- we moved to the Rio for some comped nights. After finding no winning machines and table limits too high for my budget, Rick, Dave and I drove down to Hooter's to sign up for their new members slot card promotion. You get $100 in promotional credits to play on specific machines. You win only if you hit the highest two combinations. We were in and out of that promotion in nothing flat. Finally had a small win at a slot machine called 'Artic Avalanche' which is similar to 'Ring of Fire'. We finally found some $5 tables to spend some time at and came away, again, with a small win. Super Bowl celebrations were starting to get into full swing everywhere we went and Rick and Dave decided to watch the game from their respective rooms. Our 'suite' at the Rio was a very comfortable spot to watch the game. Since I am not a football fan I decided to use this time trying out every slot and VP variation at Rio, much to the dismay of my shrinking bank roll.

On Monday the crowds started to clear out. We went to the Orleans but still couldn't find much in the way of low-roller table games so we had the buffet for lunch. Rick and I went over to the Gold Coast where Rick had his biggest win of the trip with three of a kind at Let It Ride with the Three Card bonus.

Monday evening was spent downtown. I thoroughly enjoyed the Queen tribute at the Fremont Experience. The overhead light and music shows always have me dancing in the streets. We had the obligatory shrimp cocktail at Golden Gate - with a free coupon earned at the blackjack table. We provided a significant monetary donation to Plaza, Golden Gate, Four Queens and Fitzgerald's before calling it a night.

Seeking $5 tables, we returned downtown on Tuesday - our last day in Vegas. We visited the Fremont and Golden Nugget- my favorite downtown haunt. My luck turned around and I finally made some money playing deuces wild VP at the bar at Binion's and playing blackjack. In honor of dad, I spent about three hours playing $2-4 limit Hold-Em poker at Binion's. Dad would be proud. I didn't win, but I didn't lose much either, so it was time well spent. We had a wonderful lunch at the Binion's snack bar- a relatively new tradition for us. They have the best home made soup anywhere! We hung out until the last possible moment and then returned to pack up and head for the airport. Our flight home was uneventful (thank you, God) and another Vegas trip goes down in the books.

Some notes:
The Strip has finally lost its appeal to me. The table limits are too high, the machine's are too tight and everything is too crowded. The sights, well...been there, seen that. I'm looking to stay downtown in the future, when possible.

The look of the Strip is drastically changing- lots of new building skeletons that line the Strip- with no apparent work going on. The newest casinos- Wynn, Palazzo and Encore- are pretty interchangeable in my book and do not cater to low rollers like us.

Casino Royale and Bill's used to be favorite places but the word is out and now everyone's there and the elbow-to-elbow crowd is just too much for me these days.

I must seriously re-examine my money management in Vegas. Lost too much too early. Never hit anything at video poker- not even a four of a kind.

We went out there looking to have some great meals, even bought a bunch of specials. Well, that went down the drain as my stomach went sour with the very first meal and we just settled for one meal a day in places that were convenient for us. I think we will give up planning meals in Vegas.

That's it for this trip. I hope to make a girls? trip out there later this spring. In the meantime, I will continue to enjoy Vegas by reading every single trip report published here and dream about the winning trip that is in my future!

Donna in snowy Ohio