I have read these trip reports for a couple years now. I have found them to be useful and entertaining. Thank you everyone who takes the time to write them up. It's about time I contribute.

This was my first solo trip. My company, like many others, has asked everyone to take time off. I am glad to do it, especially compared to the alternative (lost jobs). So off to my favorite destination to sate my addiction.

Southwest flight was about 15 minutes late taking off. It was just one of those mornings where everyone decided they needed to carry on two bags. We had to wait while the stewards checked the overflow. I always check my bags with Southwest as they don't charge. Also, Southwest has only lost my bag once in about 30 flights. I like those odds. Arrival was only few minutes late and my bag showed up on the carousel shortly after I got down to it. I have my luggage, the first win of the trip.

My stay was from Monday the 9th to Thursday the 12th of February. I stayed at the Excalibur due to their low rates and location. They openned the check-in shortly after 11am. I stayed in Tower I. The room was on the 23rd floor facing the Luxor and Mandaly Bay. View was not bad, besides the Luxor and Mandaly Bay neon billboards, I could see the airport lights and the mountains beyond. The room was very worn but everything worked and was clean. There was a slight musty smell when I first entered. I openned the window and door and after a few minutes the smell was gone. I left the window open the entire time. The cleaning people also left it open. I had to turn on the heater one night as it did get very cold. I hate to waste energy like that but I am sensitive to bad smells. I could hear the people in the next room when they got loud as well as voices and door slams in hallway. On my last trip, I stayed with my brother at the THEHotel connected to the Mandalay Bay. That room (more like a 1 bedroom apartment) was fantastic and very quiet. The room at THEHotel, was like $229 a night while I paid $49.50 a night for the Excalibur (41 was the quoted price but after the 'additional fees' it came out to 49+, fyi) . As I was by myself and was only in the room to rest in the afternoon and sleep at night, this room was perfectly fine for me. I did actually make it down to the fitness room once (after promising myself i would go every day). The fitness room was small for the size of the Hotel but the equipment was state of the art. It was very clean and all the equipment worked. Also, I saw lots of security guards wandering the hotel. The security booth in front of the elevators was not manned everytime I walked by, but almost.

My addiction = Gambling: I am a low roller (although it seems like a lot to me). I set a hard limit for myself to a maximum of $250 a day in losses. Some days end early for me. I mostly play low limit Pai Gow (cards not the tiles), video poker and slots. I also do some sports betting. This trip I played lots of Pai Gow. I only had one losing session at Pai Gow, I played even or plus a few dollars all the other times. The Pai Gow dealers were very nice everywhere I went (Luxor, MonteCarlo, Planet Hollywood for my longer sessions). There was a cocktail waitress at the Monte Carlo that was particularly pleasant and came by often for drink orders. It is little things like that will bring me back to a Casino. As for video poker, I am no expert but I do look at the pay tables. I saw so many Jacks or Better machines with a 7/4 pay table. I saw several people sit and play at these machies. I did not say anything as I don't wish to offend someone having a good time but I sometimes wonder if I should mention the pay table to them. I never found a a 9/6 JoB machine in all the places I checked. I did find a bank of 25 cent ($1.25 per play) 9/6 double bonus machines (even money for two pair) at Mandalay Bay. I think perfect play on those is around a 95% return. Not that I have perfect play but I think Casino's should offer games with reasonable odds, so I try to only frequent those. I played the DB machines a few times but lost my daily alotment for VP pretty quickly. Before my next trip, I need to do some real in-depth research. I enjoy video poker but I would like to be able to have hour sessions, not just 15 minute ones. Finding good pay tables and making better decisions should make my money and enjoyment last longer. The slot machines were not kind to me either. I hit one $100 payout on a $1 Wheel of Fortune bonus spin. I had no long sessions as my money just played out without any large hits. One game I found that I really like was 'blackjack switch'. It is similar to Pai Gow in that you end up with lots of 'pushes' extending your play time. I played this at the Casino Royale. The dealer did something I felt was very rude. The guy sitting at the end of the table (last to get cards before the dealer) sometimes took a hit when the dealer was showing a 3 or 4. Not perfect play, but hey, it's short term odds on a five deck shoe and it's THEIR MONEY. What the dealer would do if they took a card that would have broken her was that she blamed him for everyones loss. She did this several times. We were all tipping her pretty well and she did not want the others at the table to reduce their tipping. Again, I am no expert, but I do know that it is a complete myth that 'third base hits' statistically affects the outcome for the other players. People come to have fun and a dealer should not make someone feel bad for a couple extra bucks in tips. One last gambling note. I was doing some future betting on my favorite sport teams. I grabbed some sheets while I was in a couple sports books (Luxor and Mandalay Bay), they had the same odds (both Mirage properties?). I went by the Venetion(sp) sports book and was flabergasted by the difference in future bets. When comparing the sheets, many of the odds were better at the Venetion and almost none worse. One example that sticks out in my head (since I am a big Cubs fan) was that Luxor had the Cubs at 5 to 2 to win the World Series, the Venetion had them at 6 to 1. Overall, I had a great time gambling. No wins but some lots of enjoyable play time.

Shows: I did not see any shows on this trip. I usually go to at least one. (Side note: on my last trip I saw Tom Jones who was great!) Both Monday and Tuesday nights the Mandalay Bay had cover bands at their bar between the restaurants and the casino floor. I don't know the names of the bands or the bar. Both bands were surprisingly good. I sat and listened to a set from each. The band on Tuesday night had a woman front singer and they did a couple Heart songs. She did great and it brought back memories for me. The first rock concert I ever went to was Heart openning for BTO. For those of you doing the math, yes, that makes me old. It is fun to hear those 70's and 80's songs being performed by people who had not been born when the songs were originally popular. The music was free'ish. I say free'ish because a Corona there cost me $10.

Mmmmm, food: The first night I went to the NYNY and had a seashell pasta dish at IL Fornaio with the house Chianti. Very good. Service was also good and I got a free desert coupon for doing a Phone survey. There was no wait and many open tables. This was around 6:30pm. The next night I ate at Diablo's in front of the Monte Carlo. I had the steak enchilada's with salsa chips and a Corona. It was also a good meal, not great. A bit spendy for the type of place it was and quality of the food. Service was fine. No wait for seating and many empty tables, time was around 6pm. My last night I ate at a place called 'Company' in the Luxor hotel. I had planned on the fancy steak place there but a couple who sat at Pai Gow next to me was telling me about how bad and expensive their meal was (the steak house there called is the Tender). So I avoided it and chose the Company since I had a coupon for a free appitizer. I had the Chipotle Salmon and the green salad with a fruit dressing. The meal was fantastic. It was the best meal of the trip. The atmosphere was very elegant as well. There was no wait and many empty tables (around 7:30pm). Although the restaurant was not crowded, it appeared that there was only 2 waiters on duty for the entire restaurant. Mine stopped by the table exactly twice, once to give me the menu and once to take the credit card. Service was saved though by a woman (who appeared to be the manager) and the water/bus boys. The woman took my order and was very pleasant and apologetic for the waiter (I had not complained). The water/bus boy brought my meal and drinks and asked me how my meal was. So I had great service even though it wasn't the waiter who delivered the service. Nice save! I left a 25% tip. I certainly hope the waiter shares as i never saw him again to tell him it was for his backup. I went back to NYNY for my free desert later that night. I had the chocolate rasberry cake. It was very good and free (I left a $3 tip). My only other meal note; I had lunch at Dick's in the Excalibur. It was a free appitizer coupon and convenience that brought me in. Their 'shtick' is to be rude to the patrons. I mention this as a warning as that type of humor may not work for everyone. I had cheese sticks and a salad. Food was not special but the cheese sticks were hot, the salad had fresh crisp lettuce and the price was reasonable. Again, no wait for seating and empty tables everywhere (noon). Overall a very good food experience this trip.

Odds and ends: I like walking around and people watching. No strange events or scenes to be found this trip. I liked the freedom of being alone but sometimes wished someone was there to share the fun with. One bonus of being alone, none of the time share/tour/free offer sales people ever stopped me (must be some kind of policy?). I was approached only once by a sales person. Late one night on my way back to my hotel, an attractive young woman casually started walking beside me and in a quiet voice, politely asked if I wanted company for the evening. When I sad 'no thank you' she graciously nodded her head and walked towards someone else. She did not touch me, stop my progess, ask me personal questions, shove brochures at me or get rude and pushy when I said 'no thank you'. The time share hawkers should be required to take lessons from prostitutes on how you treat potential customers. Although I saw a decent amount of people walking through the Casino's and in the hotel, it was obvious that the spending is way down. I saw open low limit tables everywhere I went. $5 blackjack tables were everywhere on the strip and had open seats. The cab drivers all mentioned how terrible their business was. Restaurants were only half full.

Return flight on Southwest was an hour late. No big deal, and no other issues. It may be late summer or fall before I can go back. Until then, please keep contributing your trip reports, it helps me get through till my next trip.