Las Vegas - April 2006 Trip Report

Summary & Ratings:

  • Hotel: Caesars Palace Augustus Tower (7)
  • Restaurants: The Golden Steer (8.5); Casa Di Amore (8.5)
  • Casinos: Caesars (7); Bellagio (7); Golden Nugget (4); O'Shea's (2); IP (6.5)
  • Games: Blackjack; Let it Ride; Video Poker; Slots; Craps; Horse Racing

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So, it's April 2006 and I'm heading to Vegas. Sitting in the airport . . . actually, nothing much to write about here - I don't remember anything. I popped an anti-anxiety pill and by time I hit the plane and downed some stiff bloody m’s, well, let's just say I felt fuzzy. Before you judge - no - I am not a pill popper - I just hate to fly. If there's anything that will take my mind off the fact that I'm trapped in a steel death tube that was built with parts made by lowest bidders . . . . give it to me.

I do remember losing to Whale Jo on this flight – something like $70. We had invented some hybrid card game that involved guessing which card would come up . . . ok, not a good start playing something with 1/52 odds.

One thing I should have mentioned at the start – something you already know if you’ve read some of my subsequent trip reports - I was traveling with a "crew." If I was twentysomething, I would feel cool about calling my travel partners this - but I'm not. However, I like using cool overused words, so I'll continue. My crew consists entirely of white collar workin' folk - you know, people who have jobs that pay way too much and make them think they are way too important? That's me. Actually the crew I went to Vegas with is very very cool and any rude comments about them - well, that's purely for entertainment purposes - I like to embellish.

Arrival. Really, what is there to write about arriving at the LV airport? It takes a heck of a long time to get out of there. Plus you walk by a lot of slot machines that you know you'll be plugging your last hard earned quarter into while waiting for your departing flight, trying to figure out how to justify to your wife that you maxed out all three credit cards while on a supposed recon mission at a local strip joint. Oh, the one interesting thing I do like looking at is the smoking death cube. I think every airport in America should have one of these. Better yet, what about a reality show where we put smoking execs in one of these cubes with 20 cartons of ciggies and see how long they last before their skin turns yellow . . . no rant here - I have been known to take a puff or two - especially in Vegas.

So, let’s hyperspace this story to check in. This trip had us staying in the Augustus Tower at Caesars Palace. All I can say about CP is that it really feels like the heart of the strip. You're smack dab in the middle with relatively easy access to Bellagio on one side and Mirage on the other. Please remember, however, that "easy access" in Vegas means at least a 10 min. walk.

Actually, forget the hyperspace – getting to the CP was pretty fun. Me and the boyz had a stretch Humvee pick us up at the airport. There were only six of us - but dangit - I wanted to go large on this trip. On the outside, the limo was impressive - however, on the inside, I felt like I was riding in a condom leftover from a frat party. Stained seats, ciggie burns, stale smell . . . well, you get the picture. Nonetheless, once we were underway, none of that mattered, I was in Vegas baby.

We had our driver take us to some liquor store - don't ask me where - somewhere close on the strip. We had decided to have the limo take us up the strip just to look at the sights and to allow us to “get our drink on.” Maybe we forgot that free booze was being poured in the casinos, I dunno, but once we brought our respective juice back from the store into the limo, you would've thought we were preparing for Prohibition.

So, with booze in tow, the limo took us on a quick twenty minute tour of the strip. All the while, me and the crew drooled with anticipation at the thought of finally being able to lay some quick bets and make some fast money. Oh, oh, oh, how I wish those sugar plum thoughts had come true . . . .

With baited breath, our limo finally takes us up the CP drive and deposits us curbside. All the crew had carryons, so luggage handling wasn't a problem. Yet, for some reason, I felt compelled to check in a bag of 12 beers with the bellhop . . . . I didn't think it would look right checking in carrying it.

So, finally, here I am - Vegas - CP - checkin steps away - I can hear the siren call of the slots . . .I'm about to explode - then I realize I hadn't taken a wiz since boarding my plane - mother nature had finally caught me. I decided to take the risk of wetting myself and decided to try and check in. Thankfully, I was able to bypass the general public line and go straight to the counter where a comped player should go. I should admit here that it wasn't "I" that was getting a comped room - rather one of my crew, good ole Whale Jo, through his everlasting gambling generosity, had been able to secure us a room in the Augustus Tower. Bless him. I am not one to shy from riding on coat tails.

If you ever find yourself thinking of staying at the Augustus Towers, do yourself a favor and book a room with a south facing view - frankly, I can't imagine a better room (save of course the ultimate high roller suites). We were high on the 40th something floor - staring straight down on the Bellagio fountains and looking right down the pipe of the southern strip. If there's heaven on gambling earth, I had found it. Word of caution - do not touch any of the wares that CP has put in the mini-bar. Taking a page out of Steve Wynn's book, those items are linked to some master computer and if you even look at a Snickers Bar for more than 13 seconds, boom, $5.98 goes on your room bill.

After getting to the room and throwing my bag into a corner, it was time to start counting all the money I foolishly thought would come home with me. Mind you, I am not a high roller . . . .probably not even a medium roller in most people's minds . . . but I had enough of a wad to make me think I could make some magic happen. Once I was able to decide on a decent amount to take out for the afternoon, I hit the casino.

First stop - race book. It's become a tradition for me and the crew to make a few bets on the ponies, suck down a few brews, and get reacquainted with lady luck. Accordingly, I spread a few dollars around on some east coast races, mainly picking horses that had three or more vowels in their names. While I wasn’t able to muster any winning tickets, Whale Jo, using nothing but gut instinct, had decided to make a trifecta bet on a race by boxing the 1-2-3 horse. Well, guess what - he hit it. Not only that, but he had somehow made a double bet - so he got twice the money. Bam - right off the bet my man was up $800. He cashed this ticket and decided to get some lunch. On the way to finding that food - bam - he hit a $200 slot payoff. $1000 up . . .this was going to be one heck of a ride.

Life was good - one of the crew was up. I wasn't too down. And, thankfully, I could still walk a straight line. It was time to hit the tables.

After a quick stop in some food court at CP (burger was decent, though definitely a shy kind of weird smelly cousin of any BK burger) we headed to the tables. Prior to this Vegas trip, I had taken a virtual blood oath that I would not play blackjack. It seems that I have no will power when it comes to this game. For example - if I see an empty table amidst a sea of buzzing casino activity, I'll sit. If the first hand I get is a losing 20 to a dealer's 5 card BJ, I'll raise my bet. If I lose 5 hands in a row, I'll reach into my pocket and bet it all . . . and when I walk away having lost all my dough, well, I start thinking about getting more $$$ and taking another run. Not good.

So instead of hitting some BJ tables, I find one of the newer games - WSP Hold Em - or something like that. Basically it's some BS game created to suck in wannabe poker players who think that their knowledge of the game will carry the day. Sorry to say, you don't need to know more than you do to wipe your crack - a blind monkey could play this game and not lose any worse than I did. I'd try and explain the game in detail, but that would be boring - so it goes something like this:

(1) You get two cards, look at them, if you have A-J or bigger or pairs, you win some sort of bonus - this doesn't happen a lot, so you never really come out even;

(2) After looking at cards, don't think, just bet - it doesn't matter what you have - screw the odds, you are in Vegas - odds are you don't make good decisions anyway.

(3) The dealer will turn over three cards - don't look at them - instead, put out some more money and declare "I'm all in" - don't worry about putting the right amount out - the dealer will politely correct you.

(4) The dealer will turn over another card - since you already have all the necessary money on the table, look disinterested and yell "cocktail". This will get you immediate service.

(5) The dealer will turn over one more card - when she does, yell something out like "I'm going to freak out!" This should draw a crowd.

(6) Don't bother checking to see if you won - you won't - I didn't.

So after playing this game for a while, I was down. Big deal, I had plenty of time to hit a nice run. I mean, I was traveling with my lucky binkie and a picture of Lenny Dykstra taped to my back, how could I lose?

Time runs fast in Vegas, so after getting my feet wet at the tables, it was time to head back to the room and do some prepping for dinner and beyond. Tonight's dinner destination was the Golden Steer. It's an old school steak joint about two blocks away from the Sahara and definitely worth going to. [author’s note – this was written in 2006 when the GS was still good . . . it no longer is]

The boyz and I caught a couple of taxis over to the Sahara for some pre-dinner gaming - I thought I'd be able to win enough to cover dinner. No sale. I lost. How? I don't remember . . .could have been a nickel machine . . . I think I may have played BJ . . . . if I did, the memory has been removed from my mind.

Dinner time came around and we headed over to the Golden Steer - though two blocks away, you'll want to take a taxi - it's worth the $4.00.

You know the first time you set eyes on something new and, voila, love? Oh brother, that's what I felt when we filed out of our cab and stepped through the threshold of the Golden Steer. I have got a fairly active imagination, but there was no effort needed to pretend that I'd stepped back in time to old Vegas. How so? A couple of things stand out - first, the waiters are all dressed up - no B.S. here - one look and you know you want these guys serving your meal. Second, the red leather. Oooooh, if I could have cut a swatch of the seat leather and brought it home to rub, and to cuddle, and to call my own. . . Third, a surly bartender trying his best not to earn any tips. Fourth, some nice VP machines at the bar that, at times, paid off my boyz and put some dough in their pockets prior to dinner.

Before this trip, I had decided to class up our dinner a little bit and had pre-arranged to have the staff put a chilled bottle of Dom at the table. This was a very nice touch and put the crew in such a smooth mood for the evening. It put me and Whale Jo in such a good mood that we unilaterally decided to pick up the tab for everybody . . . I kinda wished we had waited until the final bill came, but whatcha gonna do - it's Vegas. For the record, we figured the total tab would probably be around $600 . . .

I do truly wish I could remember each intimate detail and describe in unfiltered fashion each tender bite of each morsel of food I stuck in my mouth - but I can't. My memory isn't that good - I'm already a little fuzzy on what I had for lunch today. I can tell you that the appetizers we ordered were out of this world - I remember clams, I remember oysters, I remember shrimp - and I remember being full by the time my table side Caesar was prepared. No worry - I always find the best way to hasten digestion is to drink several glasses of wine in a short period of time. By the time our waiter Bruno was done mixing the salad, poof, I was hungry again. Best Caesar I don't remember eating.

Next up - entrees. I had the pepper crusted steak - and if I had it all to do again, this is all I would have ordered. I don't know if they have little elves in the back that put each spicy little peppercorn on the raw steak or if they use magic cows, but dang diddly if this wasn't the best piece of meat in Vegas. Seriously. Screw Prime, screw Charlie Palmer's and screw Delmonico. Posers all of them (at least until the next time I dine at one of those places). [Again, author’s note, I wish I could punch myself for writing this back in 2006 – WTF – “screw Prime?” – I’m an idiot]

I'm pretty sure I only got through 3/4 of my meal - same with most of my table mates - but that wasn't because of taste - it was as I mention, because we overate. No worries for my boyz- they weren't paying.

In order to energize prior to hitting the night, we ordered a nice round of some espresso . . . .I think it was good - though I would have preferred it served in a mug rather than a thimble. Once coffee was done, out came the check and . . . cough . . . .I was a little off on the estimate. For six of us, total bill ran $1280 . . . .oh well, it's been a good year.

After we made sure everyone had their gambling bells on, we called upon a limo to come pick us up and deposit us . . .[cue dramatic music] . . .downtown . . . Golden Nugget. Things were about to go downhill in a hurry.

After going over the top with the dinner bill, the Golden Steer was more than happy to procure a limo for my crew to head downtown. We'd decided to give a little play to the Golden Nugget. Honestly, I don't know why we did this - I've never won downtown, never had fun downtown, and was already thinking in the back of my mind that I was going to lose.

We arrived at the GN sometime between 10 and 11 . . . game faces on. Now, I know a lot of people out there love downtown . . . love the fact that it's not the Strip . . .that it offers cheap stuff . . . that it offers some of the feel of old school Vegas . . .I can appreciate that. There is something different about walking into the GN, as opposed to, say, the Bellagio. Moreover, the majority of the patrons are cut from a different cloth. If I was to pick one distinguishing trait, it would have to be the intoxication level. People just seemed more drunk downtown (and I'm not including the winos here).

In any event, I could not have scripted a worst case gambling nose dive than I experienced. First, I tried a little BJ . . . if you've ready any of my other comments, this is a bad idea. I never won a hand and blew through my cash. Thankfully, I was able to realize that I should stop playing . . . . BJ that is. I next tried some three card poker . . . then Let it Ride . . . then video poker . . . then slots . . . why the casino let me walk out the door, I'll never know. Perhaps their security cameras picked up that I was trying to use my last penny as a marker . . . I promised it was good collateral . . . I was told to try the Gold Spike.

With pockets empty, I slouched my way out of the GN . . . it was time to regroup with the crew. As we did a head count, we realized one of our brethren had disappeared. Usually not a worry, but this fellow was a Vegas virgin . . . we hoped he had just gone back to CP for pillow time . . .

I don't think anyone came out ahead at GN . . . plus it looked like dinner was finally catching up to my mates. It was time to call it a night and go our own ways . . . one of us stayed at the GN to play low stakes poker; one of us walked out into the murky night - not quite sure what destination was in mind; and the remainder of us cabbed it back to CP.

As opposed to the nice clean limo we took to the GN, the limo we had back to CP was as worn as we were . . . windows didn't work, the heat was perpetually stuck on 85, and it smelled like someone had taken a dump in one of the coasters. Thankfully the ride wasn't that long and I was too busy trying to figure out my next move, i.e., hitting the casino for a late night bender.

Once back in the safe confines of my room at CP, I had a moment of unusual clarity. It was time to throw the towel in. I counted the cash in the safe . . .plenty left for tomorrow, no need to push it today. It was time to open the mini-bar, crack open a $10.00 beer, lay back on the bed, and stare aimlessly out the window . . . Whale Jo of course decided to give it one more go however . . . as he left out the door, I drifted off to sleep . . . .

"Wake up . . . wake up!”

I was vaulted back into reality from dreamland - I think I was dreaming about being a shrimp farmer – Whale Jo was waving a wad of cash in front of my face. I caught a glimpse of the clock . . 3 a.m. . . .what the f?

"Dude, I won. I won a jackpot. Here's $800"

He peeled off eight bills and put it on my night stand.


"I hit a $5,000 slot machine jackpot!!!"

I went back to sleep. I was dreaming . . .

When I finally woke up . . . .I wasn't so sure . . . I looked up at my nightstand . . holy shnizzle, there was $800. It had happened.

You may be wondering at this point, why do I get a cut. Lucky, I guess. Whale Jo and I have been friends for a long long time . . . and it's just one of those things - we agreed beforehand to give each other a 25% cut on any jackpots won over $1000 . . .

So, here I was, my first morning in Vegas and I had an additional $800 to play with . . . it was going to be a good day.

Waking up after my first night wasn't that bad. I could see, I had full balance, dang, I even was hungry for some monster room service.

The promise of another day in Vegas was oh so sweet - there were still riches to make out there . . plus, I was beginning to realize I never really made my rounds in the various casinos, so I made a mental note to start early.

What to do about the hunger - easy - room service. I never have high expectations for room service - probably has to do with my usual order of Eggs Benedict - that is a dish that should never be made in a rush.

Whale Jo made the call and $100 later we had our first round of room service - eggs, bacon, sausage, cereal, danishes, fruit, smoothie, two pots of coffee . . . . mmmmm, life was good.

In the middle of the meal, one of the crew called to check in. It was the fella who had disappeared from the Golden Nugget. I heard something about him getting in a car with gangstas (not gangsters) and he was immediately invited to join our room service fest.

In between the time it took for him to travel a few floors to our room, Whale Jo and I decided to order another round of food. So, another $100 bill, and we had our waffles, more eggs, more bacon, more smoothies . . . . life was still good, but I was getting full.

The absent crew member arrived - we'll call him Lone Sue - and he dug right in and told us his story. Seems ole Lone Sue had ditched us to get back to the strip and see the sights (this was his first visit). With a few cocktails in him, Lone Sue becomes quite the friendly talker and seems that's what he did. Saw some dude sitting in front of CP, started chatting, and next thing you know he's in a pimped out ride, with a different sort of crew, rolling down the strip. Though drunk, Lone Sue wasn't stupid, he exchanged pleasantries and asked nicely to be dropped off . . . luckily, his new friends complied.

Well, the food was finished, and we realized time was a wastin'. We called the other boyz and found out they had rented a cabana at the topless pool at CP. Hmm. Might as well stop by and visit.

I was very very surprised at how empty the pool was on a beautiful Friday. It was almost enough to make me want to put my suit on and set up camp poolside - but my money was begging to be played. We found the boyz in the cabana. Looking around, I wondered whether they were telling the truth about this being a topless pool . . . I saw some other dudes laying around, and one woman with what looked like to little basset hound puppies on her chest - oh wait - nevermind.

We all told our various stories from the previous night and then it was time to take Lone Sue on a mini-tour of some of the properties close by. First stop, Bellagio.

Oh Bellagio, how regal you aspire to be . . .

We walked through the shops where nobody shops and made our way to the casino. We did a quick stop at the poker room to see if we could see any of those lame WPT stars schlepping in a $4 - $8 game. Nope.

We were almost out of the casino with no bets made, when Lone Sue decided to take a pit stop. That gave Whale Jo and myself time to start pushing twamps into $1 slots. Nothing.

Lone Sue found us and we moved on - but not before Whale Jo started laying cash bets on the BJ tables as we walked out . . . boom, up $100, down $100 . . . . thank god there was a money wheel right at the exit - nothing like putting a bunch of cash on every number except 1 and seeing the wheel hit, yes, 1.


The previous night's activities had started to catch up to Lone Sue, so he opted to return to CP and hang out at the pool. Whale Jo had arranged a noontime massage, and had to ditch me for that. Which meant, I was alone. Gulp. Will power be damned, it was time to hit the tables.

So now I was alone . . . what on earth could I do? I could go walk out on the strip and take in the sights . . . I could go see some afternoon show . . . ride a coaster . . . swim . . . .shop . . . I chose none of the above.

Actually, I didn't have that much time - about two hours to be exact. I briefly entertained the thought of hitting the tables and striking up conversations with strangers - but as I wandered around the CP casino, I felt the pull of a VP machine . . . and not any machine.

It seems I've developed this habit of humanizing VP machines . . .I actually think they can talk and have feelings. Not all of the machines mind you - just the ones I play. And this little machine I spied, tucked in some odd corner of the casino, was such a machine.

When you first meet one of the “live” VP machines, it is very important to follow a few rules. If you don't, the machine won't pay off. (The whole idea is to get the machine to like you - if it likes you it will pay you money because it doesn't want you to leave). If you are one of those people who ascribe to the “There Is No Such Thing As a Hot Machine” school of thought, you may be upset by reading further and I suggest you go back to your Time magazine.

So what do you do first? Make introductions by gently tapping on the screen. People walking by will think you are checking the pay tables, but really, you are asking the machine, "Hey, is it OK if I slap your buttons for the next thirty to forty minutes?" I was pleasantly surprised to discover that I had stumbled across one of my favorite breeds - a 9/6 machine with the double up option.

The next step is to give the machine a "gift", i.e., money. You could stick a one or a five in the machine - but generally I've found that machines prefer big denominations. If I think I'm really going to hit it off with a machine, I'll stuff a $100 in it right away. In this case, I felt a little shy, so I started slow and put in a $20.

Though this was a .25 machine, it played me pretty tough at the outset. I attribute this to the lack of a cocktail - most machines really really love it when you drink. The more the better. I've been told that they think drinking brings out the best in humans. So, during the five minutes I sat there without a drink, the machine didn't let me have anything over Jacks or better. My first $20 was gone. It was time to step it up. I put another $20 in. And I got my drink. Now we were going to see who was boss.

It is important to remember not to verbally berate the machines. While they can't talk back, you have to remember, they hold all the cards . . so to speak. While you may be tempted to take out your anger on a machine and say all sorts of dreadful things - save it for the penny slots – those machines are so dumb they don’t know whether they’re coming or going.

My machine was slowly starting to flirt with me - first it gave me a three of a kind - which I doubled. Then a flush - which I doubled. I immediately rewarded the machine by touching the screen rather than the buttons. As any veteran VP machine player will tell you, the level of intimacy shoots up a notch when you touch the screen. And indeed, my machine responded. Boom, a full house. And you guessed it, I doubled up. Now I was cookin'. Unfortunately, I made a crucial error - one that I'll never make again -- while I was playing my machine, I reached over and started playing an adjacent machine. Tsk tsk . . .VP machines are quite the jealous creatures.

All the winnings that had been given to me were taken away. I immediately realized my bone headed error and focused on my now jilted machine. I even upped my gift and put a $50 in it . . . I gently pressed the screen, I cooed, I thoughtfully patted the side of the machine . . . even when I had $1.25 left, I was still holding out hope that I could rebuild our relationship. I missed the fun side my machine had displayed . . . the cold calculated robotic shoulder I was getting made me sad.

As I took a big slug of beer and got ready to play my last hand, I gently whispered, "Machine? Machine? Just one time baby - I promise I won't leave you."

And you know what? My sweet nothings worked. This was a surprise, because every time I had tried this in the past, the VP machine would laugh and spit out a 10-9-6-3-2. Instead, my machine gave me four sevens. A four of a kind!!! Because people were around me, I could not kiss my machine . . .but I did give it a nice rub. (A quick note - when you do rub your machine, do it in circular motions - rubbing up and down makes them mad - they aren't genie bottles for goodness sakes).

Another important thing to remember - when you feel a connection with a machine - ride it. Ride it hard and ride it long . . . . oh wait - that doesn't sound right . . . .sorry. Let me try again - if you feel a connection with a machine - keep playing and keep gambling. In this case, I decided to double up my four of a kind, and my machine responded. Now I was getting somewhere. What's that cheer? Action! Action! We Want Action! A-C-T *clap* *clap* *clap* I-O-N! Just another small note here - if you do resort to cheers, you better be on real comfortable terms with the machine - and I mean REAL comfortable - like being able to sleep in a sleeping bag with your second cousin because your life depends on it and not because she's hot comfortable. I've been around VP machines for a long time, and I'll tell you what, the majority of machines that I've met have some serious issues with cheers. If you are lucky enough to find one that will humor your sophomoric antics, I say, well done sir (or madam), well done.

I won't divulge the sordid details, but suffice to say, I ended up walking away from the machine a winner.

Unfortunately, as I've discovered in life, "winning" is such a relative term. The truth, dear reader, is that I had only managed to scrape together a +$30 payoff. What did I get for that $30? Some sort of twisted memory of a relationship with a VP machine - a memory that now haunts me. I still can't believe I sat at that machine for two hours in some sort of hallucinating stupor.

As I walked away from the machine, reality began taking shape again. I realized that I needed help and needed to quit playing games where I thought machines were talking to me. It's just not right.

It was time to do something a little more productive with my time - I needed to call Whale Jo and get him on the floor ASAP.

Unfortunately, the floor was not so kind.

After decompressing from a couple large hits, Whale Jo and I decided to go low rent and hit a couple of the down and dirty places on the strip. We attempted to navigate from CP to the Mirage, but the throngs across the street at O'Shea's caught our attention. If there were that many people there it had to be fun, right?


As we got closer, it looked like a space time portal had opened up and allowed the ghost of spring breaks past to set up shop in O'Shea's. I guess if I was twentysomething and thought $1 was a lot of money, it may have held some appeal.

Let me be real honest here - O'Shea's is a dump. What makes this place a dump? Um, how about having a midget on the bar dressed as a little wee person from Ireland, blowing a whistle and pouring shots for people who are acting like they've never seen booze . . . or a midget. I was amazed that the line was six to seven people deep . . . I was tempted to throw myself right in the middle of the crowd and yell "Fight!" . . .but I am fearful of the little people and have to stay at least 30 yards away from them, lest I break out in hives.

Once you get past the "fun bunch", you are met with even larger throngs of people - except these ones aren't in search of cheap thrills from a midget - no, these poor misguided people are trying to focus their drunken eyes on really cheap gambling. It kinda seemed like twisted zombies on parade - except the people weren't zombies . . .and I guess there wasn't a parade . . . nevermind.

What really got me was the dealers - if there's a minor league to the big show on the strip, it's gotta be O'Shea's. I swear every one of them had a look on their face that said, "Dangit, I just pooped my pants and I don't get a break for another twenty minutes." Bless them for sticking with it . . . maybe they'd be happier if management let them paint their faces green and they could talk gibberish to the customers. I'd like to see that. I like talking gibberish. I suggest trying it at a department store - when one of the perfume ladies comes up to you and sprays a sample on you, yell out real loud, "Gee blob gee bloook! Geeeee bob geeeeeeeee shloook!!!" Throw in a couple jerky head moves and eye blinks and you are sure to get the royal treatment.

Anyway, safe to say, we left O'Shea's. Next stop, the Imperial Palace. Not quite sure why IP has the entrance set back from the strip and why they make you go through some stupid bar, but I guess every place has its quirks. I was heading towards full tilt at this point - I was fully expecting IP to be no better than O'Shea's . . .thank goodness it wasn't.

We walked in and I could immediately feel a different vibe. The air was cleaner, the tables were cleaner, the people were cleaner. I like clean people. They make me happy.

Whale Jo and I pulled up to a WPT Poker game . . . At this point, because I had played the game twice, I considered myself a pro. As I laid out a couple of crisp bills, I had a very very good feeling that I was about to become a hero. I could even hear my own personal soundtrack starting . . . "We built this city . . . we built this city on rock and roll . . ." Oh yes, my time had come.

Did it happen? No. I fully expected to only play about $40 total, but after 30 minutes I blew through $300. Oooops. It was time to change games. Looking across the casino, I spied an open craps table. I grabbled Whale Jo and we hit it. I just didn't expect it to hit back.

We both went through a couple of rolls - nothing big. But then during the middle of one roll, a very nice looking female walked by and gave a football ass slap to Whale Jo. You should have seen his face – just like Christmas. Happy day. The dice got hot. Money was flowing, confidence was growing. It's at this point where I should write, “then we walked away, up a significant sum.” Sigh. Same old story. Boy earns money. Boy plays money. Boy wins money. Boy plays more money. Boy loses all money. Boy needs a night job at AM-PM to help pay off gambling debts.

So craps didn't work out. It was time to move to blackjack. Thankfully, this part of the story has a semi-happy ending. We were able to make a nice run at the table - the problem was, I was shell-shocked and keeping my bets to a minimum. Thus, even though the table went hot, my overall payoff was lower than it should have been. Nonetheless, that left a good taste in my mouth going into the sweet Vegas evening. After watching one of the Dealertainers make a fool of herself, we headed back to CP to meet the crew. Dinner time was approaching. Destination: Casa di Amore.

There was supposed to be a complimentary limo to pick up the crew at CP for our ride to Casa Di Amore - unfortunately, someone else ranked higher on the leaderboard, and we ended up taking two cabs out there. My cab was driven by an escaped convict from somewhere in the South. There were a couple clues that tipped me off:

(1) The I.D. picture on the dashboard did not match the driver . . . maybe he's color blind, but I'm pretty sure even color blinded folk can tell the difference between black and white.

(2) "New Car" smell . . . no, I don't mean like right off the lot new smell - I mean this as a polite code word - dude was smokin' somethin' that I don't think you can buy at AM/PM . . at least not inside.

(3) Familiarity with back roads - this is what tipped me off the most. Rather than taking what seemed to be the most direct route to Casa Di Amore from the strip - this guy had us weaving and bobbing through some pretty nasty looking neighborhoods. If there was a Mr. Rogers that lived in one of the neighborhoods, well, my guess is he's featured prominently on the Clark County sexual predators website.

With that said, we did make it to the restaurant faster than the other cab.

Casa Di Amore is nothing to look at from the outside, but oh boy, what a treat on the inside. First, let me say, we weren't expecting this to be a "first class" dining experience - rather - we were looking for some authentic Ital-Americano food and a little atmosphere to boot. We got both in spades.

I suggest if you do dine here, that you enter through the bar door, rather than the front. I'm going to try now and see if I can't compose this in first person narrative - I think the last time I tried this I was in third grade, so forgive me:

I swung the door open and immediately caught the smell of second hand smoke, lined with a touch of veal parm and warm red wine. The bar was very very dark, for a moment, I thought the power had gone out, but looking around at the patrons, there was a good reason why management was skimping on the electric bill.

Enough of that . . .

So you walk into the back of this joint and are greeted by the dimly lit section of the bar. It's your typical Vegas off-strip bar - loaded with VP machines. If you go on the right night, you might be lucky enough to be served by the best looking bartender in Vegas. Seriously. Even if she is not there, take a good look around. You'll see old Vegas photos, red leather, dark colors and live entertainment. I don't recall who was singing - it was two old guys - but man were they good. Not only that, but our table ended up being right in front of them and we were able to easily talk over the music.

So, the crew saddled up to the bar to play some VP. Things started off pretty good - someone hit a 4 of a kind right off the bat. Someone else followed that with another 4 of a kind . . . pretty soon it looked like dinner was going to be paid for. However, the crew was pretty juiced, so instead of cashing out, all winnings went back to the house. I started getting bored with VP and switched my machine over to video Keno. Dumb. I blew through a couple of 20s pretty quickly. I then switched to video BJ . . . oooooh . . . . much better. I started to put some good streaks together. Then I noticed a button called "let it ride", or something like that. Anyway, if I won a hand, I could let all the winnings ride on the next hand. Holy rollers - this was beautiful. Pretty soon I had made back my losings and was up a bit. I looked around at the rest of the crew and noticed that they too had been bitten by the video BJ bug. Whale Jo seemed to be doing the best - I swear he was up three hundred or so at one point.

Once I got up $40, I cashed out, thinking I had had enough. I thought I was going to get coins right there - but turns out that the bartender pays you off. Hmmmm. I put a $20 back in the machine, was up $5 and cashed out again. Another visit from the bartender. I put $10 and won $2.50 . . . .another visit, another smile. Then I realized something - I was starting to develop signs of DOMD - Dirty Old Man Disease. I cashed out one more time and went outside for a breath of fresh air.

I was amazed at the difference between being inside Casa Di Amore and being outside. It was like a time/space portal existed in the doorway. At one moment, you're back in time, no sense of reality, and then boom, your outside in modern day Vegas, somewhere amidst the sprawl, a little scared knowing that if you walked one or two blocks away from your location, you would likely get shot.
After waiting enough time, I proceeded with re-entry. Just in time too - our table was ready.

We were seated at a nice round (or was it square?) table - all six of us with plenty of elbow room. From right to left you had, me, Whale Jo, Lone Sue, Frankie Styles, Buzzy, and Chaz. The waiter quickly arrived and we just as quickly informed him we wanted wine - but nothing pricey - we weren't going to notice the difference between a properly cellared Marguax or a sufficiently chilled Mad Dog. Just something red.

Appetizers were next - and we learned nothing about our over ordering problem from the night before. Out came a couple of orders of calamari, clams, mushrooms, and some other stuff I can't really remember. Well, actually, I do remember the calamari. God it was good. So good that I wanted to be able to shrink myself down to one inch and curl up amidst the toasty crumbs and salty steam. Mmmm. The clams and shrooms worked well too.

Next came salad - decent. The Caesar wasn't as good as the tableside from the Golden Steer - but a nice filler and I'd get it again - maybe a little less dressing.

Finally - dinner. I had the veal parm. If you go - get it. I'm sure the waiter will try and sell you on the house veal - cooked in a cream sauce - and while good - it didn't hold a candle to the veal parm. I'd fly down there tonight just to eat it. I think at some point I just gave up on trying to be civilized with those fork and knife things and just put my face in my plate and pretended I was a cheetah at the Bronx Zoo. Roar.

There must have been a side dish - but the veal was so good I don't remember.

So, there you have it - the meal at Casa Di Amore was a success. What's more - for the six of us, we ended up with a very reasonable bill. If I am remembering correctly, it was around $270 or so for all of us, including drinks and wine.

It was time to decide what to do next . . .

Strip Club.


Let me say this - I am not a fan of the strip clubs. I don't see the point. Well, that's not true - I understand the point – but I’ve never gotten totally in to it. If you've never been in a strip club, here's my short definition:

An establishment that has sometimes attractive females dancing around in nothing but their underwear. Pay enough money and they will dance on your lap.

What's wrong with that you say? I guess for many people, nothing. It's just not my cup of tea - if a woman is going to take her clothes off and dance for me, I want in done because she WANTS to do it - not because I've tucked a C-Note in her panties.

So with that mental backdrop, I decided to join my crew in a trip to a strip joint. We initially decided on Spearmint Rhino, but as we were getting ready to leave, one of the "fellas" came up to our table and asked if we were talking about going to a strip club. He proceeded to tell us if we were, he had a guy who knew a guy that could get us a limo and free entry into a club called Scores (if you ever listen to Howard Stern - it's the same place - just in Vegas). He talked up a good game and said this place had the hottest girls, the best dances . . . etc., etc. I think at this point in the evening we could have been convinced to go to a zoo to watch monkeys sling crap.

We ditched the Spearmint Rhino idea and agreed to go to Scores. The limo was supposed to pick us up in five or ten minutes.

It took over an hour for it to show up. With such a short amount of time to spend in Vegas, every hour is precious. This was the biggest waste of time in the history of man - or so I thought at the time - I could have been doing any number of things - but no - I had to sit in a plastic chair from Target, in some concrete alley way far off the strip, and listen to some HS softball game being played in the distance. Weeeeee!

The smart thing would have been to ditch the limo and return to the strip. But we weren't smart. We entered the limo and were driven to Scores.

When we arrived at Scores we were welcomed by the typical posse of guys who flunked out of community college and only know how to lift weights, i.e., bouncers. We were ushered into the place and given a table right in front of the dance stage. The place was packed. Heck, the interior was even kind of cool - soft colors, pumping music, high ceilings . . . .maybe this wasn't going to be so bad after all.

Then I spotted her.

Look, while I don't like strip clubs - I have been to one or two and I know the general drill. You sit down, buy an overpriced drink and then wait for some stripper to come over and pretend to talk to you while she slowly moves onto your lap. Almost like a fantasy date I suppose - except instead of going dancing or getting something to eat - you slip her cash and she rubs her bum in your face. So I knew what was coming.

Unfortunately, I had been spotted by a very large stripper. Not fat large - just out of proportion large. She was bigger than me. If you brought her to Central Casting, she'd probably be given a role as a large unhappy Swedish Nurse. I tried to avoid eye contact - unfortunately, the only thing I had to look at was some small drink menu. Could I hide behind it? She was getting closer. I thought about running to the bathroom - but was scared that I'd get tracked down by another stripper. My crew was still surrounding me - so I thought for a minute I could get them to surround me and provide a protective barrier from this beastly stripper clomping her way towards me. As I leaned over to propose the idea to one of the guys - I noticed he had grown an ass in his face. Shoot. I was done for.

"Hi, mind if I sit here?"

I looked around as if I thought she meant sitting in a chair. No good, she plopped onto my lap. I tried to straighten my legs in an attempt to have her slide off, but she didn't budge - perfect balance I guess.

The first thing I noticed was that she carried a lot of mass in her hips. My thighs started burning from the weight. I was determined to get rid of her. I decided to try the "I'm not interested" body posture.

This didn't work. In fact it made things freaking awkward. There she was patting my shoulder, trying to make small talk, and there I was, not moving, looking straight ahead, hands to my side. This wasn't going well.

Finally, I decided to just say no.

"Um, you look real nice and everything, but I just got here and want to sorta look around?"


Boom. She was gone. I was free. I could feel my legs. I took inventory of my surroundings . . . every member of the crew was now, um, occupied. I was doomed.

When you last left me, I was sitting in a strip club (Scores) and had just braved the first salvo from a very large stripper. As I looked around, I initially thought my crew had disappeared. Not so . . . upon closer inspection, I understood my confusion - they all had strippers on or near their laps. Some were smiling - some not. I noticed one of the crew getting a shot poured down his throat . . . . out of some stripper's breasts.

My buddy Whale Jo had found a very very friendly stripper. I noticed they were talking like old friends . . . I decided to get in on the conversation in hopes that if I looked busy enough, no more strippers would visit me.

I did have a very pressing question I wanted to ask: "How do you tell a stripper 'no'?"

Her answer was actually fairly benign, though helpful. Basically, make up whatever you want.

From my question, she must have sensed that I wasn't happy with the strip club's offerings. She was soon trying to figure out if there was any type of stripper that I would allow to sit on my lap. Jokingly, I said, "a cartoon stripper."

"You mean like Jessica Rabbit?"

"Sure" I half laughed. There was no way they had real cartoon strippers.

I watched as Whale Jo and his gal walked away - they were going away to the hinterlands (i.e., upstairs where dances are more private and expensive). Comfortable that I was probably not going to be bothered any further, I settled into my chair and tried to watch the stage.

Unfortunately, out of the corner of my eye I caught a flash of blonde. Squinting through the smoke, I could see a very tall blonde talking to Whale Jo and his companion. Gulp.

She started walking over to me . . . damnit . . . OK, I had to remain calm. I'll just say "No" and she'll go away.

She must have had bionic legs, because I swear she covered the room in two seconds. Suddenly, there she was. I stood so as to avoid any lap confusion.


"I'm your Jessica Rabbit"

What the?

"I'm sorry - you're who?"

"Jessica Rabbit"

Now, I gotta admit, as far as humans go, she came pretty close. One problem - her face. Ever heard the term "Butter face" - you know, "I'd like to go out with her, but her face . . . " She had butter face. The rest of the package was outstanding. This wouldn't be easy, but I was determined to stay stripper free on this visit.

"Would you like a tour?"

Oh, what was this? No hard sell? She hadn't even touched me yet. I was confused.

"Sure - um - a tour of what?"

"Scores silly"

She took my hand and led me to an elevator. She gave a knowing look to the security guard and in we went. I think there were three floors total - I don't know - I was starting to lose touch with reality at this point. All I know is that we went up.

We got to the predetermined floor. The doors opened and revealed a much different landscape than what I just had left. Downstairs was a mass of mostly twenty and thirtysomething males, intermixed with a fair number of strippers. Here, wherever here was, it was like walking into some private couples’s party. Everybody was paired up. I noticed they kept walking into some very dark rooms.

"Um, what's in there?"

God, I sounded stupid. Where did I think I was? A noon tour of the Louvre?

She took my hand again and we entered one of the rooms.

My first reaction was pure shock. These rooms were obviously being used for private "dances.” And we happened to walk in one where one of the crew was getting a face full of crackasaurus. I almost started laughing . . . but he looked peaceful so I quickly bolted.

"Anything wrong?"

"Oh, no - I just didn't expect to see that"

I am an idiot. I tried to recover.

"Let's go in there."

We entered another room - this one was occupied by several “couples” - all engaged in various forms of extreme dirty dancing. Just as I was getting ready to tell Ms. Rabbit that I wanted to leave, I felt a hand on my back.

"Do you want to sit?"

Inside my head, I could hear myself yell "Nooooo!"

Unfortunately, someone had cut the connection between my brain and body.

As I said before, I was doomed.

So there I was. Sitting. She was next to me. I knew what was going to happen next and I had to stop it.

"Um, you know what, I, uh, I can't do this"

"Yes you can."

Arm rub.

"No seriously, I can't"

Double arm rub.

"Relax. Don't you like me?"

WTF? Did I like her? What kind of question was this? Why the facade? Why was this beginning to feel like senior prom?

"Look, it has nothing to do with liking you. You're great - too great. I just can't do this"

Double arm run, shoulder grab, eyelash bat.

"Honey, I know I'm great. Now just relax, I won't bit . . . unless you want me to"

Funny looking smile, double shoulder grab.

O.K. Enough. I tried to imagine this strange women taking her dress off and dancing. I tried to imagine myself liking it. It was a futile exercise - I wanted out. So I launched into a fairly lengthy diatribe, where I tried to explain that something inside my head would not let me enjoy her dancing. I tried to explain why I felt like this - why I don't want to pay money for some skin time. I think she checked out at "No.” She didn't care - it was, surprise, all a game. I was just another mark and as replaceable as yesterday's news.

And just like that, I was in the elevator, by myself, heading back to the cattle floor. I had survived. I looked forward to telling the crew about this. However, as I walked towards where our table had been, I was surprised to discover a gaggle of overbred frat boys had taken over. Cigars in hand, crumpled Tommy Bahama shirts, and crusty gel infused hair . . . . I wondered where they came from . . . probably Texas.

The complete absence of the crew concerned me for a second . . . I wondered if they all were upstairs getting their own private dances. Then I spied a couple of them sitting at the very front of the stage. They looked bored. Good, it was time we got out of the skin joint and on to a better, more healthy activity - gambling.

I caught a glimpse of my watch - - - 12:45 a.m. . . . good, it was still early. I had survived. No lap dance. No awkward self-conscious moment of having a strange nipple waved in my face. As I watched the rest of the crew wander out from various hollows of the club, I began to focus on my next task - gambling. It was time to put a hurt on the casinos.

As we shuffled outside to figure a way to get back to the strip, I noticed Whale Jo was conspicuously absent.

Man down.

But he was probably in a safe warm space . . . so we left him.

I think the remaining five of us all piled in a cab. For the entire ten-minute ride, the cabbie tried to convince us to call an "escort" to our room. He handed us some cards with semi-attractive women on them and I immediately called "bullshit.” I was extremely skeptical that any woman we would call would remotely look like the gals on these cards. The cabbie tried some hard sell tactics - he said all the women came with a guaranty - if you didn't like what showed up at the door, send it back. I have to say, it was probably a good thing that I was a little distracted by the prospect of hitting some tables - otherwise I may have given the driver a nice slap upside the head.

We were dropped off at Caesars. Ah, finally, home. I welcomed the cascading sound of slots and the sickly sweet smell of smoke as much as I would a long lost friend coming in from the wild. We walked around looking for any sort of empty table . . . anything . . . . and there, it appeared. A $25 BJ table - only one player - some guy that looked like a wine baron from South America. He had huge stacks of black chips piled in front of him. This was where it was going to happen.

A few of us sidled up to the table and sat down. I reached into my pocket and threw about $400 on the table.

And five minutes later I was reaching back in for $300 more. Gulp.

After two minutes I was down to $50. No. I would not leave this way. I would not go quietly into the night. I closed my eyes and pretended I was a superhero. I willed myself to have superhuman gambling powers. I willed myself to have the ability to see through the cards. But then I realized that would mean I could probably see through the dealer's clothes and that scared me. I laughed and opened my eyes. Let's do it.

Over the next ten or fifteen minutes I really really dug down hard. I scraped, I clawed and I played. Soon, all the chips I had lost, well, they came back. As I realized I had made it back to even, I sighed. Then, I straightened up and pushed in a $200 bet.

I lost a 19 to the dealer's 20.

I pushed in the rest.

Dealer hit a five card blackjack.

The Ark of the Covenant had been opened and my heart was burned from my chest. I was done.

I had a momentary feeling of excitement when I realized that I still had money in my other pocket. But, for once, common sense took over and steered the ship. I would not play any more blackjack.

No, I would go make my money back playing video poker.

But first, I needed air. Fast. But I was trapped within the bowels of a casino at 1:45 a.m. - not a chance. I was sure the casino was pumping mind altering drugs in the air when, while walking to go burn my last good dollar in a video poker machine, I walked past Pure.

No freakin' way.

I had to do a double take.

The floor was awash in human twentysomethingness. I mean, they were everywhere. Why? What the heck was going on in that club that was worth standing around looking like a complete moron? Does anyone but clubbers think clubbers are cool? Kinda like the jock table during high school . . . .but not really. . . I was one of them . . . .um . . . .maybe then, uh, like the drama table. Man they thought they were cool, and thought they had the inside track to maturity, and thought everyone wanted to be like them. OK, not at my school - the drama nerds all wore black and did really bad spring shows where some he/she person sang really really bad songs.

I'm getting away from my point. Sorry.

I wish I had been a little more coherent that night - I might have tried to join the crowd. Who knows, maybe I would have had fun in Pure. I mean, it couldn't be worse than the strip club, right? It wasn't like I was going to be mashed between sticky hot bodies smelling of putrid body spray, right? There weren't going to be legions of meat head twentysomething dot commers pretending to be poker stars . . .nah. No way I should expect to be slapped in the face if I saw some hot little number and stuffed a twenty in her bra and said, "Lose the shirt honey, I'm about to be baby to your . . . . "

What am I talking about? I was coherent enough NOT to go in there. Oh, OK, I hear what some of you dear readers are saying: "No way would they let someone like you in there." Please. With my sweet-talking ways? My dance moves? Ain't no dance floor big enough to handle this robot. Beep beep beep.

Beware if you do ever find yourself in this line - if you even look sideways at a slot machine, security will be on you. Touch one pretending to be funny? Your career is over faster than all the cast members of Seinfeld combined (well, excluding Jerry - he makes a pretty dime doing the stand up gig).

So I navigated through the masses. I was on a mission. I wanted to sidle up with the video poker machine I had met earlier in the day. I was starting to get extremely lonely and wanted something it could only give me.


When I first spied my machine, I was elated to discover that it was alone. I was certain I even heard the machine utter an excited "bling.”

"Hello baby"

I gently rubbed the screen and stuck a twenty in the appropriate opening. I settled into my seat and starting pressing buttons. Nothing hit.

"What the . . . " I muttered under my breath so the machine wouldn't hear. It must be playing hard to get. I stuck a $100 in.

I started hitting a few hands, but I started playing too fast and loose with the machine. Every time I would win, I would try and double up three times. The machine wouldn't have it. This kind of play was too rough.

“Hey do you have a light?” A sultry female voice materialized out of the air.

For a moment I thought the machine was speaking to me. But then I noticed a, ahem, lady of the evening standing over my shoulder.

“Beat it, I'm busy.” I was in no mood to make friends. She hurumphed off. I rubbed the machine a few times to make sure it hadn't gotten jealous.

"Good machine. Be my pretty pretty machine. Give daddy some candy." I cooed several other sweetnothings to the machine.

Bling bling. Four of a kind. OK, now we were talking. 125 credits. Let's double up.

"One time baby?" I gently tapped the screen. A "5" appeared. I relaxed. I again gently tapped the screen and a "9" appeared. 250 credits.

I rewarded the machine by touching my shoe to its base. It’s a technique you normally see in Indian casinos, but if the timing is right, should work with a Vegas machine.

"Let's go for more baby." I gave a little harder tap. A "4". Ooooh. My machine was starting to submit. I pushed the screen even harder. A "10". 500 credits.

"Three times baby. We're just going to do it three times . . ."

And then I made a fatal mistake. I got too rough. Instead of just keeping my touching to a forceful tap, I went over the edge and full on slapped the screen. I even gave out a little "Whooop!" when I did it.

The machine threw out a "3". I was clueless at this point as to what was about to happen. Instead of recognizing the machine may have been hurt and slowing down, I laughed and started boxing both sides of the machine (I suppose its ears, if it had any).

I again slapped the screen. As I did, I started getting out of my chair in anticipation of a big win.



Oh no. My heart sank. I was dead to this machine.

And I was out of money.

Unfortunately, there isn't much left to report. I lost all the cash I had to the video poker machine and decided to call it a night. I had a plane and a real life to get back to later that morning.

So morning came and I had a massive headache. Great - nothing like leaving Vegas hung-over.

I slithered out of bed and into a chair overlooking the Bellagio fountains and the south strip. The sun was up and I could tell the day was going to be hot. There were already tons of people out and about below. I started wondering when I would be back . . . . funny, I could remember a few of the first visits where I'd think about "if I would be back" . . . I'll confess it here - I am now a Vegas junkie.

So did I learn anything? Are there any important nuggets of wisdom I can share? Is there anything that I can write that will have an impact on your trip?

If only I were so vain.

All I can do is post my post-trip thoughts - if you like them or remember them, great. If you disagree or forget about my words next Tuesday, great. However, if you are still reading this trip report then you probably share at least a little of the obsession that I have with Vegas.

Here are a few of my favorite things (in no particular order):

The descent of the airplane into Vegas . . . .

Leaving the airport to an awaiting limo . . . .

Riding in a limo up and down the strip upon first arrival . . . .

Entering the room for the first time - especially if it's a new place . . . .

Counting all the cash I brought down and attempting to keep a journal of my wins and losses . . .

Stuffing 100s into my pocket for the first gaming session . . .

Entering the casino floor for the first time . . . .

Sitting at the race book and spreading money on races all across the country . . . .

Getting that first grease ball meal - usually chili cheese dogs . . . . .

Finally giving in and hitting the table games . . .

Obsessing about video poker machines and pretending they are "alive" . . . .

Leaving the casino to go to other casinos and hopefully collecting souvenir chips along the way . . . .

Observing the mass of people . . . .

First night dinner . . . . anything goes. . . .

Drinking wine . . . .

Trying to find new video slot machines . . . .

Craps . . . .

Listening to other people winning . . .

Hitting a jackpot and feeling like the coolest kid in the neighborhood . . .

Hanging with the crew . . . .

The blazing heat . . . .

Seeing the sun come up that first morning and knowing that I’m still in Vegas for one more day . . . .

Massive room service orders . . .

Striking up conversations with cabbies . . .

Talking with strangers . . . .

Coming back the first night and realizing that I did leave money in the safe . . . .

Getting a hitch in my step after a few good hits at the table . . .

Talking with dealers . . .

As far as specifics, here's a good/bad list:

Good Hotels/Casinos:

CP - although you can see cracks and dimples in the exterior of this majestic property, it still oozes class. The Augustus Tower rooms are fantastic and though I didn't do well - I really like the casino.

Bellagio - too many people wander through this place - but once there, you can see why. This is where some of the cool cats hang.

THEhotel - I love this place. The rooms are delicious - almost like a box of dark chocolate covered cherries.

Mirage - I think the rooms here stink, but the casino is a familiar old friend who I enjoy spending time with. [Author’s note – this was written in 2006 – the rooms have or are in the process of being renovated and in 2008, I stayed in a Penthouse Suite – much better]

TI - something about this place makes me feel naughty when I'm in it - and I like that.

Sahara - an old school joint that remains affordable without losing it's charm.

Wynn - another cool smooth place. The only thing I don't get is the fake grass. Maybe it's some sort of hidden metaphor - you know, maybe it stands for Steve Wynn's hair - that's not real hair, right?

Paris - a lovely casino and hotel. The only thing I don't like here is the buffet - but then again, I'm a buffet-hater. Someone up there decided that in this life I was going to be a human and not some cow put in a feed line. Part of the problem, I guess, is that I don't like sharing my food with 1,250 other people.

Bad Hotels/Casinos

O'Sheas - at one time I had fun here - but something has changed. It's gone too low rent and the vibe just doesn't click with me.

MGM - too massive and I've lost too much money here. There's also a lot of green here and that freaks me out.

Bally's - when did it become cool to make casinos look like a strip mall? This place seems soooo sterile to me - I half expect to see the dealers performing surgery on the craps tables.

Downtown - I know this is a favorite destination of many - however I don't like it. I especially do not like the Golden Nugget - I've wasted too much time in here.

Thanks for reading.

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