I had (and still have) a trip booked for the week of April 16th, but when the Plaza sent me a slot tourney offer, my brain said 'do you really want to wait another 7 weeks' You could go in just 2 weeks!? I checked SWA and found a $195 tax included RT fair, and booked it.

Saturday March 4th.

I arrived at McCarran at 11:30p Sat night, expecting it to be dead. 'Who else would arrive in Vegas in the middle of Saturday night?' I asked myself. Lots of other people taking advantage of cheap airfares, that's who! The place was a zoo! It took forever for a hotel shuttle to pull up and take us downtown. I arrived at the Plaza shortly before 1am.

I didn't have a Saturday night hotel room (read : cheap!). I'd seen all the discussion on this board about spending Saturday night in Vegas sans hotel room, but I tried it anyhow .. and it worked. More details at the end of the report.

Sunday March 5th.

I moved from blackjack table to blackjack table (all downtown) from 1am to 8am. Walking around the Gold Spike and El Cortez at 3am was pretty risky, but being a 6'4" 250lb guy helped negate some of that risk.

I switched to Video Poker at about 8am, and alternated between blackjack and VP between 8am and 3pm. I got checked into the Plaza, South Tower room. It's worn and the bathroom was ultra tiny, but it would work just fine for showering and sleeping. There was a definite odor in the hallway; fortunately I couldn't smell it in my room.

After wandering and asking around the Plaza, I finally figured out that the slot tourney was being held at Vegas Club. I found the registration reception and stood in line to get registered. I passed on the free food and drink at the reception, as I'd promised my appetite the Garden Court Buffet at Main Street Station.

I played some more VP before dinner, and ended up getting a comped meal from my VP play. Bonus! I headed back to my room with a full stomach and ready to sleep. I fell asleep @ 7pm.

Monday, March 6th

I woke up @ 2:30a and contemplated heading out for some blackjack. Instead I opted to fall back to sleep, which was fair to my body, as I'd deprived it of an entire nights' sleep on Saturday. I woke up @ 6am feeling very refreshed.

I hopped on the Deuce for a quick strip visit. Walked from Stardust to Casino Royale, where I took advantage of some blackjack and VP matchplay / bonus coupons and had breakfast at the Subway. Yum!

I was back downtown in plenty of time for my 11:30 slot tourney session (#1 of 3). I'd never played in one or seen one so I didn't know what to expect. It was kind of fun and funny at the same time. I'll jump ahead and say that I didn't have spectacular results for any of my 3 sessions and didn't bother attending the awards presentation on Tuesday.

From 12pm to 7pm was non stop blackjack and VP downtown. As I was walking through Main Street Station at one point, I heard this deep and warped satanic voice say 'Hello Master!'. What the .... - After a moment of looking around I realized that one of the I Dream of Jeanie slot machines had its audio system messed up, and was playing the sound bites very slow. The man and woman playing the machine were laughing while playing this machine ... I joined them in a quick laugh and left the casino.

I sat down at the Gold Spike blackjack table (there are only 2, and if you haven't played at them ... you're missing a life experience), and this guy sitting next to me bought $100 worth of green chips and laid them all out on the betting circle. The dealer dealt the hand and he lost. While the hand was being played out, the pit boss lady had printed out a photograph from her computer and was comparing the photograph to this guy along with a security guard. After the next hand was dealt, the security guard asked the guy for his ID, then told him he wasn't allowed to play the tables at that casino. He must have been a card counter. He got up from the table and left the casino without saying a word.

At 7pm I decided to hit the sack and woke up @ 1:30a

Tuesday, March 7th

More blackjack and VP downtown from 2a to 2pm. I noticed that the blackjack conditions have gotten worse since my visit in December. None of the casinos had double after split or re-splitting aces, whereas several of them had this rule back in December (on double deck games).

I encountered a dealer at Vegas Club who was extremely rude. He let a player stand on 10 (7 and 3) and when the player hit to 21 (like 8+4+9) he let him take another card instead of simply moving on to the next player. It was obvious this player had too much to drink and I suppose the dealer was taking advantage of that and letting him make as many stupid mistakes as he would. I don't know where a dealer's responsibility to give advice to a player stops, but I'm pretty sure it's somewhere short of letting a player stand on a 10 or hit a made 21.

As I was leaving my hotel for the airport a group of college kids on spring break were playing beer pong in one of the Plaza's conference rooms. Not something you see everyday in a hotel conference room!

I got my 3:40 shuttle back to McCarran in plenty of time for my non-eventful 6:15 flight home. Leaving Las Vegas is much easier if you already have your next trip planned and it's only a month away!

Summary:

The sole purpose of this trip was gaming. Gambling sucks in the Chicago area, and there's just nothing like downtown Vegas for fun gaming and drinking. I love it!

On being in Vegas Saturday night without a hotel room:

In my humble opinion, this is a good idea if, and only if, the following criteria apply to you:

1) You are traveling solo. It'd be torture wondering if the other person was doing ok the whole time. I knew I was doing just fine.
2) You prepare for and expect that you're going to be pushing and challenging your body. This doesn't work if you're on a R&R vacation. Several times I had to remind myself that I was challenging myself to do this ... and push to stay awake and active.
3) You regularly force yourself to drink water and eat nutritious snacks. I think this made a big difference for me. I didn't have 1 drop of alcohol the whole night (Sunday and Monday were a different story though!).
4) You are mentally and financially prepared to gamble for at least 12 hours straight. There's really NOTHING else to do overnight except gamble. It helped to move from casino to casino every hour or so.
5) You can allow yourself a healthy night's sleep (like 12 hours) the next night.