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Category: 2011
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This was my 16th trip to Las Vegas. This year's trip was mostly for Business (annual conference that my company has and I help plan), but I was able to spend a fare portion of my time at the tables. I brought the wife along with me. While I was working, she spent time in a pool Cabana and at the Spa.

Day 1

Flight Out

In February, I cashed in Frequent Flyer Miles w/ American, and booked 2 First Class tickets from RDU to LAS (via DFW). I left the house around 6am for our 7:45am flight to Vegas. Checked our bags, and it was smooth sailing through Security. Both of our flights left on time, and thanks to a lot of free Amstel Lights & a few Bloody Marys, the time flew by quickly. We arrived at 11:40am.

Arrival

Picked up our bags, and had The Mirage had a Limo waiting to take to the Hotel. This was definitely a perk included to a few people in our group to hold our conference at The Mirage. Another perk was being able to go to VIP Check In (little room between the main entrance & normal Check In), it went very smoothly and amazingly, they had a room for us at 12:30. In our Room Block for my conference,

Our room was a Tower Suite on the B Floor (27th floor) with views south down Las Vegas Blvd & the pool. The Tower suite has den area w/ a wet bar & TV, a dining area, then thru a doorway to the Bedroom. The Windows were floor to ceiling, and the bathroom was immaculate w/ a separate Shower & tub, and marble floors. This is by far the nicest room I have ever stayed in Las Vegas. I've stayed in the Jr. Suites at the Monte Carlo and Palms before as well as the Le Mans Suite at Paris. The Tower Suite put them all to shame. One of the perks, was the Bedroom TV that rises directly out of a console at the foot of the Bed. My only complaint was that the Love Banner outside the hotel distracted our views of the strip during the day. It is like looking through mesh. Obviously, this was a minor issue. I would recommend the Tower Suite to anyone.


After getting situated in our room it was around 1:30, we went down to the casino to play a little before my wife had a spa appointment at 3pm. This trip, I mainly suick to the tables w/ (3 Card, Craps, Black Jack), the Poker Room and the occasional themed Video slot machine (Survivor & The Hangover). We sat down at an open $10 BJ table. We played for about 45 minutes, and left up around $150. The wife decided to leave early for her Spa appointment, and I proceeded to go to the Poker Room. After about a 15 minute wait, they opened a new $1/$2 NL table. I bought in for $300. I played for about 2 hrs. The table was mainly tourists, butI was up and down. I don't think there was a variation of $100 either way from my original buy in. I cashed out down about $20. The biggest hand that I was involved in was $300 pot. I had AQ (not suited) and flopped 2 pair w/ 2 clubs showing. A guy went all in for about $140, and I called. He had KQ c, and rivered the last club. It wasn't really a bad beat since he flopped a pair of Queens w/ a flush draw.

After poker, I found a bank of Survivor 1c machines near the elevators and BB Kings. I played for about 10 mins., hit the bonus round and won about $30. I met the wife back at the room around 5:30. Waking up early, and her massage wiped her out. Instead of immediately showering and heading to the Luxor for dinner prior to seeing Carrot Top that night, she ordered room service, and I grapped a Pastrami sandwich at the Carnegie Deli (around $20). We showered and cabbed down to the Luxor for the 8:30 show. I will preface that I've seen Carrot Top twice, but they were both over 15 years ago. I'll definitely tell you that his show now was incredible. I laughed nonstop for the entire show. I highly recommend catching his show.

After Carrot Top, we grabbed a drink at the bar while debating whether to gamble some more. However, we both were wiped, and we headed back to The Mirage around 10:30 and call it a night.


Day 2

Like most of us, I have a difficult time sleeping in Vegas. I woke around 5:00, and tossed and turned until around 5:45. I got up , showered and was down in the casino around 6:15. I was waiting for BB Kings to open for breakfast at 6:30. So, I decided to hit the Survivor 1c Video Slot. I put in $40, and played a $1.50 per spin. After about 10 pulls, I hit the bonus round again. I hit the small jackpot for $32. I cashed out for $56. ($16 profit) which paid for my breakfast plus tip. I got the 111 special (1 egg, 1 smoked sausage link, 1 pancake), and after 2 cups of coffee. I headed over to Harrahs for their 8am NL poker tourney. I got to Harrahs around 7:30, went and paid my $25 buy in. I had 30mins to kill so I found a bank of 1c Hangover Video Slots. I played for about 20 minutes, hit the bonus round 3 times, but ultimately gave the machine my $30 buy in. I headed back to the Poker room and grabbed a seat for the Tourney. There were 18 players and 2 tables. The first hand of the tourney I was on the button, and got dealt AA. It was great to get AA, but it would have been great to get it later in the tourney. I raise small trying to keep as many players in the hand as possible, and got 3 other players to stick around. The flop was AJJ. A player in early position raised, the 2 other players dropped and only called knowing he had another J. The turn was nothing. He raised again and I called. The river was nothing. He raised again. At this point, 2/3 of my stack was gone, so I reraised all in. He called. My Full House beat his 3 OAK. I was able to ride my chip stack to the final table, but slowly my stack dwindled. I ended up finishing 4th. The top 3 ended up splitting the money. It was good cheap entertainment for that 90 mins., but I went back over to The Mirage $55 down.

For the rest of the day, we have a Pool Cabana reserved. ....Note: If you want a Pool Cabana at The Mirage, you should plan to reserve it at least 6 weeks in advance. Also, be prepared to prepay w/ no refunds if you back out..... Their pool is awesome. As expected, it was very crowded and a wait for open chairs. So, getting a cabana worked out well for us. We spent from 10 - 3pm at the pool. The wife went to the spa for 3 hours, and I hooked up w/ a buddy who came in for the conference to play cards. We played a little 3 Card (broke even) and BJ (down $20). Then, I broke off and went over to the Poker Room again for $1/$2 NL. There was no wait, and I was seated at a table near the rail. I played for about an hour, and I was up about $200 (bought in for $300). Then, I ran into a pocket pair and a flopped Full House beating my 3 OAK. It wiped about $400 off my stack. I played for a few more hands, and cashed out down $180. I headed back up to the room to shower and get ready for a night to Fabulous Downtown Las Vegas.

We got our cab around 6:30 and were dropped off at the side entrance to Binion's. We had 7:00pm Reservations at the Binion's Steakhouse. I had heard rave reviews about the place, but I thought it was average. I had the Prime Rib w/ a Caesar Salad. After dinner, we went to take the Zipline over Fremont St. It was a lot of fun. We'll probably try it again on our next trip. After Ziplining, we went into 4 Queens to grab a drink, and ended up gambling. The wife headed over to a $5 BJ table, and I headed to a $5 Craps Table. I bought in for $200 and within 15 minutes I was down to $40. I took my chips over to the 3 Card table, bought in for another $100. I proceeded to make a comeback. It was a $5 table, so I put $5 on the Pair Plus and $10 on the ante. For the next 90 minutes the dealer was dealing me pairs, straights and flushes, no 3 OAKs or Straight Flushes, but it was a really strong table. I turned my $140 buy in and cashed our for $380. After the Craps disaster, I was up $80 at the 4 Queens. We weren't ready to cab back so we went back to Binion's. The wife headed back to Black Jack, and I went to the 3 Card Table. I bought in for $140 and over the next hour I went on another run. They had the progressive jackpots here and I put up my $1 along my $5 pair plus and $10 ante bets. I proceeded to hit a 7-6-5 straight flush and 2 3 OAKs (10s & Qs). I cashed out w/ $800. My wife didn't fair so well. She lost about $500 playing BJ between Binion's and 4 Queens.

We cabbed back a little after midnight, and went to bed.


Day 3 - Monday

I have some pre-conference meetings were starting 2pm today. So, I took it a little easier today. I got up around 7am, showered and hit The Mirage Buffett. I am not a fan of lunch and dinner buffets, but I usually hit at least one buffet for breakfast on my trips to Vegas. Their buffet was good. I loaded up on a Western Omelet, bacon, sausage and fruit. It was now 8:30am, and we were getting another Pool Cabana today. However, we couldn't check in until 10, but I wanted to get back to the room around 9 to get my wife up and order her room service breakfast. I decided to sit down at another 3 Card table. I bought in on a $10 table for $140. I played for about 20 minutes and ended up $30.

We went down to our Pool Cabana at 10. I was only able to stay until around noon, but the wife ended up staying to 5pm. I went to my meetings from 2 - 6pm. The wife ended up crashing that night. I had a dinner scheduled for about 16 people at BB Kings beginning at 6:30. BB Kings is a great place to have a few beers and listen to good music. However, for hosting a business dinner, it isn't that swell. The 1st band came on at 7pm, and it was incredibly loud. We finished up dinner and drinks around 9pm.

After dinner, a small group of us went back to the casino to gamble. We immediately sat down at newly opened $10 BJ table. Everyone of us lost our buy ($200) in in 30 minutes. We broke up and me and one of my colleagues hit the Craps table, buying in for $300. After 20 minutes or so of choppy play. We finally got a shooter. He made 5 points and hit several of my prop bets. I had a streak of 4 hop bets in a row. After he eventually 7ed out, we stuck around for one more shooter who hit 3 points. Then, I cashed out for $700 even w/ a $30 tip to the dealers. Later that night, the group broke up, and ended up at a $10 3 Card table. I bought in for $200, and after 30 mins or so of goiing up and down w/ very few hits, I hit 3 OAK (3s) again. 3 OAK w/ the pair plus and ante gets you $360. I stuck around another 20 mins or so and lost $100 back, cashing for $505. By now, it was around midnight. My conference would start at 8am the next day. So, I went back upstairs to bed.

Day 4 - Tuesday

Our conference took me from 8am - 7:00pm that day. After my last meeting, I grabbed the wife and went to dinner at Canaletto at The Venetian. Very good food. I had Gnocchi w/ Meat Sauce and the wife had a Chicken dish w/ a white cream sauce. After dinner, we decided to go over to the Palazzo to do some gambling. On a previous trip, the wife won $1000 playing BJ at the Palazzo. However, our luck was not so good this time. I lost $300 at the 3 Card table. She lost $300 at the BJ table, and we headed back to The Mirage.

It was now around 11pm. Once again, I had an early day the next day, but we decided to give the tables one last try. I'm glad we did. My wife won $300 at the Roulette table. I went back to my favorite $10 3 Card table. I bought in $200 and cashed for $350 aided by 2 straights and several flushes. This helped soothe our beating at the Palazzo from earlier. Then back up to the room around 12:30am.

Day 5 - Wednesday

This was the last day of my conference, but once again, it was a very long day. I started at 8am and ended at 5:30pm. We had a large group dinner that night at The Range Steakhouse at Harrah's. I really, really like The Range. It always has good food and ample portions. My filet was excellent, and 8 glasses of Cabernet later around 9pm, for some reason, I decided to join some co-workers playing BJ at the Venetian.

We played there for 34hours. I bought in for $200 and eventually lost my whole buy in. However, it was a lot of fun. I headed back to The Mirage, and crashed. My wife decided to stay in was already fast asleep when I got there.

Day 6 - Thursday

This was our last day in Vegas. I had to only ship a few boxes, and my work was over. I got up around 7:30, and went down to the Buffet for breakfast. After that I headed over to the Business Center to get my boxes packed and shipped. It was now around 9:00, and i decided to skip the tables. I headed over to the Surviovor 1c Video Slot game, and bought in for $40. I played for 15 minutes (felt like a lot longer). I hit the bonus round twice, and I hit the smaill jackpot for $35. I ended up cashing out w/ $101.40.

I was able to swing a Pool Cabana at the Mandalay Bay through a colleague of mine. We got to the pool around 10:30, and ended up staying until close to 5pm. As much as I like the pool at the Mirage, the Mandalay Bay is just several notches above The Mirage. We hit the lazy river multiple times, the wave pool multiple times and had a very good lunch in the Cabana. My wife decided to get a poolside massage around 2pm. At that point, I decided to head in and try the tables for a few minutes. I found a $10 3 Card table w/ no players. So, I bought in for $200 and went heads up w/ the dealer. After about 5 hands, a guy from Ireland joined me to my right. He got dealt first, me second and the dealer last. The very first hand I pick up my cards to see a King of Diamonds showing. I immediately put my 'play' bet up w/o seeing the last 2 cards. After the dealer shows her cards (qualified w/ an Ace), the looks at the Irish guys discarded hand. Then, I ask her to 'slow roll' my cards because I only saw the one King. The first card she flips is the Queen of diamonds. Then she flips the 3rd card and BINGO, it''s the Jack of Diamonds for a $470 win. I tip her $35 and give the Irish guy $35 for sitting down when he did. I cash out for $560, wait for the Corona I just ordered and text my wife that I hit another Straight Flush.

After collecting my Corona, I wander around the Video Poker area,. I find a machine to put $20 and finish my beer. After 10 mins, of play, my Corona was gone as was my $20. I then head back to the pool. My wife was still getting her massage, and didn't see my text. Needless to say, she was happy, and I was able to give the Masscuese (spl?) $180 (inc. tip) from my winnings. We hung out in the Lazy River for awhile, and left back to The Mirage around 5pm.

That night, we had 2 things on the agenda: 1) Dinner at Benihana, 2) Sky Jump at The Stratosphere. After showering, we cabbed it over to the LV Hilton around 6:30. We had 7pm reservations, but decided to try and check in early. We were seated within 10 minutes. At our table was family from The Netherlands. They were very interesting group. One of them was literally a Rocket Scientist.

Eating at Benihana is a tradition for my wife and I. We eat here on every trip to Vegas. Last year, we were here at the start of the Star Trek Convention and had our picture taken w/ George Takei. No Celebrity sightings this trip, but as always our food was great. After dinner, we had some time to kill before our 10:30pm reservations at the Sky Jump. We head to the LV Hilton Casino. I know it's not the nicest or most modern casino in Vegas, but we always seem to have good luck here. My wife has exclusively only played BJ. So, we hit a $10 table. We sit here for around 45mins. Between the both of use , we are up $200. I finally convince her to sit down at a 3 Card Table. We only play around 45 mins here, and now my wife is hooked. She wins $250 by herself (her biggest win of the trip). I cash up $40. Then, it was off to the cab stand to The Stratosphere.

We get to The Stratosphere at 10pm. We head up to he tower thru the maze of retail stores. We buy some stuff for the kids, and head to the Sky Jump check in. For both of us to jump and get a DVD of our experience, it sits us back about $250. I will preface that I have never Sky Dived or Bungee Jumped before. I was pretty calm getting my suit on, and going up to the observation deck level of the Stratosphere tower. We head out for final instruction, and then they open the door to the jump area. My nerves kicked in immediately at this point. I got roped in, and the next thing I know I was jumping off the Stratosphere tower.

The Sky Jump attraction is a controlled jump. You are guided by wires and go fast at the top and slow towards the landing area. The jump takes about 15 seconds to complete. Because we were getting the DVD package,, they give you a wrist cam w/ a mic. My DVD would have been rated R for extremely foul language. The Junp itself is an adrenaline rush, but I will never do it again. After my wife finishes her jump, we collect our DVDs, and head back to The Mirage around 11:30. Once we get back, we pack up for a 4am wake up call.

Day 7 - Friday

We wake up at 4. We are out of the room by 4:30. Once again, the limo drops us off at the Continental gate. We check our bags at the Sky Cap, and collect our tickets for our 6:10am flight to Houston. The flights were uneventful and we are back in Raleigh by 5pm.


Highlights

Multiple good 3 Card Sessions - Up over $1000 for the week
One good Craps Session
The Range Steakhouse
Cannaletto @ the Venetian
The Mirage Tower Suite
The Mandalay Bay Pool

Thanks for reading! Be on the lookout for my next trip report mid year 2012.