It has been a long while since I posted a trip report, so by way of introduction....I am a low roller, coupon user, and promo chaser. I usually stay and play downtown, with forays to the Strip and other places. I stay and eat cheap, play mainly $5+ blackjack & $.25 video poker, and thus am able to hit Vegas 3 or 4 times a year despite my meager income. Sometimes lady friend & I come together, but this was a solo trip for me. 4/9 - 4/14, all hotel nights comped.

Flight out to Vegas was delayed an hour and a half, so not a good start. Then at McCarran it took a half hour for the bags to come out. This is the longest I have ever waited for bags, and it was not fun, since I had already worked all day before flying. Oh well, in Vegas in one piece, so not all is bad.

Debated for 5 minutes taking a shuttle, and decided to rough it on the Cat 108. Nice quiet ride, not crowded at the late hour, and soon I am downtown and checking in at the Vegas Club for 3 nights. After settling in, I proceed to run around downtown for several hours losing at virtually everything. BJ, VP, I even dropped a bundle into the virtual dealer 3 Card Poker bandit in desperation trying to break the spell. Eventually I made it to bed lighter in the wallet for all of four hours shuteye.

A new day, and only slightly still drunk. No problem, a long bus ride awaits to begin the South Strip run. First stop is Ellis Island though for breakfast and a lost match play. Being seated in the lounge area, I found I could smoke and eat in the same place. Cool! Unfortunately more chaos awaits as I run promos at Mandalay Bay, Excalibur, Tropicana, and Planet Ho, with a rest stop to play Sigma Derby for an hour of pure enjoyment at the MGM. Actually the Trop did me pretty well, turning $15 of promo chips & a match play into $100, the first win of the trip. At the Ho I lost both $25 matchplays, but made $45 on the $25 freeplay. Things would have been a lot better this trip if the matchplays hadn't turned their backs on me.

Off on the free shuttle to Palace Station where I lost on VP but won some back on BJ. This was the only place during the trip I played double-deck where the penetration wasn't horrible. Compared to the 50% (or less!) downtown and at the off-strip places, this was a pleasant surprise. Unfortunately I didn't win the $1000 drawing, so it was off to the Sahara where I got killed again on the promo chips & matchplay. After I make my way back downtown I am so tired I decide to crash early and fight the good fight another day.

Saturday morning and only one place to be, the El Cortez for double tickets for the Noon drawing. Well sort of. Two BJ sessions at the El Co and not even one dealer blackjack to earn a drawing ticket. This didn't prevent me from losing the other night, but did contribute to a winning session this morning. So, without needing to stick around til Noon, I head out to do the North Strip run.

More chaos reigns as I get killed at Circus & Slots-A-Fun. A quick stop in Casino Royale where I find existing cutomers can get the promo coupons (I played the $50 on the promo machines for a time waster), plus another quick matchplay loss at IP, and it's off to Margaritaville where a meet is supposed to happen with some folks from Trip Advisor forum. On the way I stopped to meet Bob at Bill's Bar, just because I had read so much about him in trip reports. Of course the VP paytables were horrendous, so just a quick hello, nice to meetcha. (Quick Harrah's rant - no more $10 DD in the Champagne Pit at IP - all 6:5, bad VP, high BJ minimums, this is not the way to attract customers. End rant.) Unfortunately at Margaritaville my TA hat does not garner anyone's attention, and the Yankee hat I was looking for wasn't found, so away I went down the center Strip to see if the Treasure Hunt $25 chip could be found. After counting craps tables, I take the elevator to look under the blue chair cushions, and found......nada. Someone else may have gotten there first, or maybe I was on the wrong floor. Either way, I didn't want security to think I was casing the joint by taking the elevator up & down one floor at a time, so I left and made my way to Paradise.

Paradise Road that is, starting at Terrible's for the Double Royal promotion and some more lost matchplays. I ate at their buffet with low expectations, with a half-price coupon it was only $5, and barely worth it. The desserts were good, though. Ten minutes left in the promo, and I'm finally dealt 4 to the royal, only to draw a rag. So it's down the road to the Hard Rock on a Saturday night. Now THAT's entertainment! Pole dancers, lingerie as a fashion statement, great decorations, and the guitars are cool too. $10 freeplay, WinCards, and a matchplay net me $35, but I just don't have it in me to stay for too long even though it is 6X points day. Back downtown where I have a good BJ session at the Fremont, only to lose that profit and then some at the Cal before giving in to inevitability and going down for the count.

Happy Easter, and moving day to the Four Queens. It has been a long time since I stayed here, and the room is much smaller than the one at VC, but classier. As ratty as the VC rooms are (cig burns in the rug for example) the room size is nice. Regular TV at VC vs flat screen at 4Q, but I didn't really stay much time in either room except for sleeping. I will however probably never stay at the Plaza again, as last trip my room didn't even have ESPN on the TV. After checking in, the first stop is the BofA ATM, as my original trip bankroll is nearly depleted. Luckily I do plan for this contingency, so there is plenty of backup in the checking account, but that's not the point, eh?

I meet up with T34D for lunch at Binion's Snack Bar. Despite countless trips to Vegas, this is the first time I have eaten here, and will do so again later on after discovering I have a bunch of comp dollars, and it's the only place open in Binion's after Midnight. I have a miracle run at Let It Ride, winning 5 hands in a row, and walking away with a profit. Blackjack is not so good to me, and I play at most of the downtown joints with mixed success. I end up drunk on pale ales from Main Street Station, and eventually drag myself to bed.

Next day T34D is kind enough to drive me to the Paiute Smoke Shop, stop for breakfast at Hash House A Go-Go, and drop me & my suitcases off at the Orleans, where I'm double-booked for my last night. The rockabillys are all checking out after a convention, and there are some cool old cars sitting in the Valet area. I get my room right away, and drop off the bags. Then it's off on the Shuttle to Bill's and back downtown on the Deuce to try and recoup some of my losses.

After losing another matchplay, winning some promo chips playing BJ, and getting killed again on video poker, this old (older? 60-ish I guess) oriental lady comes by and starts jabbering the usual, where you from, etc. I guess my BS-o-meter was on the blink based on what happened next, maybe due to the bad gambling run, and just being tired. So she says she just won 5 grand playing BJ at Golden Nugget, I say congratulations, and she keeps jabbering, finally saying that I look familiar, and she is from my home town too, what chinese restaurants do I go to? I tell her one, and she says no wonder I look familiar, she's the owner, her name is Kim, her husband passed away a few years ago, she took over the business and now she comes to Vegas once a year. She offers to lend me money, she knows I'm good for it, I decline. Somehow, she talks me into going to the Golden Nugget to play BJ together, and I'm assuming she will play her money on one hand, I'll play mine on the other. We hit the $25 DD table, and she tells me get out $600, I pull out $300 and this will have to do. Well instead of pulling out her own bankroll, she grabs half of mine, and off we go. And it happens. The miracle shoe. Dealer busts nearly every hand, and $300 turns into what I think is $700 in 5 minutes. Wow. New dealer sits in, and I grab $600, leave $100 out ($50 for each of us), and decide to play those chips until we lose. Well 2 hands later and the $100 is gone, so I tell oriental lady, time to cash. Color up, and get my first purple chip from a Vegas BJ table, plus $75 (miscounted earlier). Don't ask me what I was thinking to get to this point, I plead temporary leave-of-senses. So in line at the cage, feeling the adrenaline rush of the win, Kim says, I feel lucky, let me have the $75, and I will run it up for you. I tell her ok, you'll be at the same table, yes she tells me. So feeling great I cash in my purple at the cage, walk back to the table, no Kim. As a matter of fact there's no Kim anywhere to be found around the tables in the casino. Oops. I just got hustled for 75 bucks.

Now you can look at this two ways, and I decided to take the glass-half-full attitude. I thought back on the conversation, and most of her Q & A were "me too" questions - where you from, what restaurant, etc. I could look at it as being stupid and getting conned out of $75, or I could take some pride in Kim helping me make back $200 of my losses in 5 minutes that I would never have done on my own. So I grinned, and decided the lesson was worth it, and since I ended up ahead no real damage was done. The moral of the story is - beware of old oriental ladies, the hustlers in Vegas are not all hookers!

So I decide I have had enough downtown for one trip, check out of the 4Q, and head up the Strip on the Deuce. I'm still down for the trip, and want to hit Casino Royale to play the $25 bonus for 4-of-a-kind on VP promo from their coupon sheet. I am expecting lousy paytables, so I am pleasantly surprised when I find 8/5/2 Bonus Poker at the quarter level (99.1% return). This is the best game I am likely to find at the Orleans, so I am happy to settle in, and hope to hit quads quickly and grab the bonus payoff. Ok, $20 in, no quads, $40, no quads, $60, no quads, at this point unless I hit aces I will probably just break even including the promo. Fourth 20 in the machine, and get dealt a flush, with 4 to the royal flush. So I complain to the guy & his wife next to me, see I finally get dealt a flush, and I have to go for the royal instead. So I hit the draw button, and up pops the miracle Jack Of Diamonds. Oh. My. God. Holy crap! My first ever royal on a quarter machine. My only previous royal of any kind was on one out of 100 hands at the penny level ($40). I pull out my camera to take a pic, and can't get the flash to work. So I take a pic anyway, we'll see if it comes out. Some lady walking behind me sees the 4000 credits and says how nice, what is that forty dollars? Penny machines are taking over people's minds. No dear thats $1000, woo hoo! Call the lady friend, she's very happy for me. So no $25 bonus, but who cares, cash that ticket and let's go get something to eat.

Walk to Bill's to catch the Shuttle back to Orleans, and eat at Big Al's Oyster House. I read good things about the clam chowder here, and found it uninspiring. It had a bit of cajun flavor, not spicy hot, but certainly not as good as what I have eaten on the Cape. I also had the Scampi, which came in a huge bowl of linguini, and it was very good, plenty of perfectly cooked jumbo shrimp. Afterwards I dumped $40 in the Star Trek slots just for the experience, and at 35 cents a spin never got a bonus round. Not what I was expecting, yet a normal slots experience (lose lose lose, 5 credit win, lose lose lose, etc). I took a run over to Gold Coast to do a couple promos, but my heart wasn't quite into the gambling at this point, so I grabbed some beers and finished the final night off in the room watching Sportscenter.

The flight home was on time and uneventful, so a good trip overall, and thanks to the royal I covered my trip expenses and then some.

Some last thoughts and observations -

I got a lot of things checked off my "Never Done" list this trip: Binion's Snack Bar, purple chip, Hash House, royal flush, Bob at Bill's Bar, hustled by a con artist (this one wasn't on my list), Planet Hollywood casino, Star Trek slots, Big Al's chowder.

No more $5 single-deck BJ at 4Q or Binion's even on Monday afternoon. The penetration on double-deck was awful everywhere except Palace Station. Gold Spike has BJ tables, but I wasn't there while they were open (closed late at night). They have a sign showing a drawing promo for BJ players at 7 PM. Vegas Club never had $5 single or double-deck available, they did have 4-deckers DAS H17 open at night. The Downtown Double Deuces VP at the VC (100.9%) owe me 4 deuces at least twice over, maybe next trip. $5 cash back doesn't make up for a $100 loss. The Deuce is more crowded than ever, Strip crowds were plentiful, I'm so glad downtown doesn't have porn slappers.

Thanks for reading, and good luck to all.