This was our (20th?) annual trip with the same guys...our poker group 

at home. Half the guys want to stay somewhere upscale and half the
guys just want cheap and cheerful. We end up year after year at
Ballys or Paris as a compromise. I had our fantastic host Jerry there
set us up for Paris.

I got an amazing upgrade to a "Nice" suite, with dining room, wet bar,
living room, etc. Sorry my wife was not with me to share. Really
appreciated it but didn't spend much time in the room. The big pop up
tv in the bedroom in a cabinet at the foot of the bed (like they used
to have at TI in their suites)and although clean, many of the closet
doors, and walls were just a bit sticky and needed a good scrub down.
the carpets and linens and bed were all in great shape but I don't
think the walls or doors had been washed with a cleaner in 10 years.

I like that you can now use your Total Rewards points in the stores
without having to go get a chit from the TR desk. Makes it much
easier for last minute snacks, juice, etc.

Flight from Toronto was completely full, with some overselling. We
had no bags and just zipped though. We also have the pre-screened
automatic retina scan registration Nexus card that let's you skip the
45 minutes US immigration line pre clearance in Toronto. Fantastic
technology and system for low risk frequent travelers. Only $50 for a
five year "skip the line" card. Well worth it.

I had our host arrange for a limo pickup and the guys were surprised
and it was fun. Since my room is often comped, I have more TR points
than I can use most trips, so it was a great way to use a few points.

We had dinner at the Strip House steak house at PlanetHo first night.
Excellent dinner (I had 6 oz mignon and lobster tail). We went there
in part because I could use my TR points but the system didn't work
well. I have about $900 in TR credit but it only showed $88 dollars
when I tried to pay for the bill. I am guessing somehow they were the
points earned in PH and not the total points. Anyway- I signed the
bill to my room at Paris, and then eventually paid the bill with TR
points. Although part of Harrah's, it doesn't seem to work smoothly
yet. Dinner was great.

Breakfasts were at Paris coffee shop in part because it is close, food
is ok, I can use points, and we can skip the line with my Diamond
card. The manager came by one morning to apologize for very very slow
service and cut our bill in half. We still tipped very generously, as
we do with all the staff. Most are working hard and we do the right
thing. From maids to valet parking to servers ....

Our second dinner was at a locals place west on Sahara. Rosemary's.
It had been recommended to us by a friend. Higher end locals place.
Fixed price $54 included an entree and two other items (appetizers or
desserts, etc.). Not a bad deal for this place but the service was a
bit overdone and formal. Food was good but not great, and we probably
won't be back.

Final dinner was at Memphis BBQ. We didn't want to go to the Warm
Springs location because of the airport area shutdown because Obama
was just landing, so we went to their other location a bit north and
west. It was fantastic. The best ribs, casual, excellent service, good
value. Very clean and fantastic food. We all had different style of
ribs. We will return.

We went to M resort for lunch one day and to play some 3 card and VP
there. I like video keno and there is almost none at Paris so we went
to M. And had another great meal at their new Hash house a go go. (It
is where their coffee shop used to be). Great service, huge portions,
excellent food, and an amazing view of the city. We had lunch
another day at the deli at Wynn. Excellent.

Funniest gambling (gaming?) story was our trip to Stratosphere. We go
to Laughlin once a year and love it there- especially at the Aquarius
hotel. From Canada it is a hard place to get to and I didn't want our
Aquarius points to expire. I had earned a few hundred dollars in comps
that were about to expire. We went to the Strat (it saw it's best
days in the 1980's) just to play a 20 or two and keep our ACE points
alive for 6 more months- same system as the Aquarius. I found out
that I had $41 cash credit sitting there so I took it. Took $40 at
the cage and gave the young kid a dollar from the $41. I put a $20
(their $20!) in the first video poker machine I could find and chose 3
row quarter DDB poker. Third play I held and A-J diamonds and didn't
even watch the draw as my friend and I were already set to leave.
There was some kind of meth head spaced out woman on my left and a
very drunk gentleman who seemed to live there on my right. I look down
and had hit the ROYAL. Cash out, to the cage, gave the same kind a
couple more bucks and we left $1,000 up on THEIR $20. sometimes you
love this town.

I hit a straight flush in Crazy-4-poker with $20 bet and trips once on
3 card with $20 bet. And a couple of nice quad aces with kicker (once
on triple double- yeah!)so ended up close to a thousand overall.
Great fun, good friends, good food. Back for annual Xmas holiday with
extended family.

We know our way around and rented a car at Hertz Paris. booked it
months in advance, and kept improving the rate as things changed. Got
a very good upgrade on the car for free as well.

tvbrat
Toronto