Las Vegas Trip

Although I had been to Las Vegas many times; this trip was of special significance and I knew familiar ‘gambling ways’ would be altered.

Some things do not change, however, like the pre-trip check-list:

1) Gather all active slot club cards together.

2) Contact casinos re: total comp points accumulated, what freebies were available, plus ask about special promotions for our trip dates.

3) Book free accommodation based on above.

4) Make local contacts to get suggested evening dining stops for our group and check availability for meeting.

5) Browse the internet for Vegas ‘happenings’, weather, coupons, shows, etc.

6) Change purse contents to fanny pack; the only way to carry that precious bankroll when casino hopping. Grab supply of business cards, make appointment with Vegas bookseller and ensure sample kit is replenished. The one common denominator with every casino trip is the business of book publishing, and creating interest in Casino Gambling Made Easier books and booklets. Oh, yes, there is the write-off perk too.

7) Play some computer slots and video poker at home to keep your skills sharp.

Lastly, there is always the anticipation -- not just the potential profit from the experience, but the countdown to another fun vacation in Vegas town. My sweet ‘slots hoppin’ mama was turning 80 on the Saturday. My brother and daughter’s birthdays were around the same date and from two countries, the 12 of us gathered for a family reunion with some serious gambling.

Those of you who are familiar with my casino gambling columns know that I not only prefer, but insist on playing at the ‘locals’ casinos off the strip. Alas, therein lies one of those ‘gambling changes’ I knew was coming. My mother and some non-gambling members of my family (tough to believe, but there are some) wanted to include a tour of the newest casino/hotels on the strip. Unlike the ‘old’ days when my mother and I would walk, bus and taxi to play every casino on the strip and downtown -- she is now restricted to moving short distances. We also insisted that Mom decide what she wanted to do as this was her special trip and to comply, my brother got a wheelchair for easy maneuvering.

Not only was this beneficial for our special guest, but the rest of us too; in that we were shown the front of the line whereever we went. I must admit that Jim and I were long overdue to preview the newer casinos and they did live up to the raves we had heard. First stop was the Bellagio for breakfast, a stroll through the magnificent gardens, that sweet smell in the air and a family photo opportunity at the archway. Be sure to look up as you enter the hotel lobby for an artistic array of large colorful flowers created by a local artist. Next stop was Paris as we wheeled and strolled our way across the overhead bridge. A lucky break and what would be the highlight of Mom’s trip was the Bellagio’s dancing waters timed to perform to Andrea Bocelli’s wonderful music. This spectacular event began as we reached the other side of the strip at a perfect viewing spot.

At Paris, look up, outside or in, to view the Eiffel Tower, wander the shops, pretend you are on the Champs d’Elysee and head over to the Arc de Triumphe for what we perceived to be a 1/2 scale replica of Napoleon’s legacy. Finally the Venetian with grand artwork, Rialto bridge and a gondola ride waiting for you while you walk the columned St. Marks Square. At this point, the grandeur of the three hotel/casinos left me at a loss to decide which was my favorite. We have traveled to Paris, Venice and Italy and while many scoff at the attempt of replication in Vegas; I give the casino owners full marks for creating this elegance and bringing ‘a little bit of Europe’ to us all. In keeping with the European flavor of the trip; Saturday birthday dinner was at Romano’s Italian restaurant with an operatic singer who graced my mother with Happy Birthday in English and Italian. My brother who stayed a couple of days longer, suggests dining at: “Le Village Buffet, absolutely the best buffet ever. I think it cost $28.95 per person, but worth it.

The other two great restaurants in the Venetian were Star Canyon and Delmonico Steakhouse. Also, Charlie Palmers Steakhouse in the new Four Seasons. Food, service and ambiance were all outstanding. One of the most romantic restaurants.” I would take his word, as he dines out a lot. End of travelogue, now to the gambling ‘hot spots’ of the trip. I need not tell you that there were no big slot winners on the strip, except at MGM Grand. I was impressed with the huge variety of slots; all the newest bonus video slots, basic slots and the Double Diamond Deluxe ‘nudge’ version -- the hopping reels pointing up and down -- a favorite of my mother’s. My brother decided to join the family slot team that had commandeered a row of seats. I should point out that his games are craps and blackjack, but with a snicker, and by my suggestion, he tossed in 3 dollars. What dumb luck -- he hits a $250 jackpot, and another $150 after three more spins. He passes the machine over to Mom, thanks me for the suggestion and grabs my arm to lead me over to ‘his’ game of craps. Another gambling change; it’s been a while since I put down a pass line bet, an odds bet, or placed the 6 & 8.

I told him to visit Larry Edell’s before the trip and trust me, Larry I did tell him NOT to make the horn bet. Would you believe in a short time, while he was the shooter; this bet hit 5 times? The dealer said he had never seen anything like it and these guys have seen it all. Dinnertime was approaching and we knew who was picking up the tab as my brother stowed away $2500. After dinner, we headed across the street to Palace Station; forming a cheering squad with gift in hand of $300 presented for ‘Mom’s Slot Tournament’ at dollar machines. We gathered around and selected a ‘choice slot’. Keep in mind that as a ‘depression child’ playing dollar slots goes against the grain for her. After 15 minutes and a lot of noise, we departed for our own games and I am sure she crept over to quarter slots, but she did pocket $250 in winnings for the evening.

Some of us headed downtown to our favorites: El Cortez, Main St. Station and Union Plaza for some profitable slots and full-pay video poker payouts. Jim and I made our usual Reserve Casino stop on the way home to end the trip with a 4 Deuces payout and Royal Flush at the better $1199 VP machine. I have the tee-shirt to prove it. I am planning a future article about the ‘locals’ casinos with details for slot players and full-pay video poker players. However, a return trip for more research is required, of course! As I feared, it was all over too soon, but the sweet, fun memories remain. Until next year, when hopefully we will meet again in a desert town called Las Vegas.