Work commitments mean this one is a little late, but is a 3 parter. This part will cover the main trip, the other two will cover my day at the Aria tournament and the final part will be a small write up of the SLS vs the Sahara.
Flights over on Xmas day were very agreeable as BA gave us a free upgrade to business, which is always a good start to any trip. Changing at Chicago was not quite as painful as we expected and AA delivered us to Vegas early evening. We went to pick up our car and I then understood why car hire prices had gone through the roof. The car park was practically empty. Vegas was going to be busy this year. But it was cold, and for Vegas I mean cold…..
A little gamble for me that night put me 100 down, but mrsmrben finished 300 up, so a mixed start.
Boxing day sent us off to the winner of last year’s Steak and Eggs Challenge the Black Bear Diner for breakfast. Definitely worth a visit if you have easy access to get off strip, and need a feed. From there we hit the Premium Outlets for some way cheap shopping, which always nearly pays for the trip ! Tiredness and general holiday relaxation meant the rest of the day was pretty quiet, and I hit the craps tables for a bit and was up and down all day. A quiet start to the gamble fest. Comped dinner at Rice and Co ended the day.
Day 3 meant some poker, and I joined the crapshoot 9am Excalibur tournament. As usual the blinds were being eroded at a rate, so about an hour in I saw 10 10 and I had position over a limper and a raiser. I shoved and got called by the raiser, and we were heads up. He had AA. But I got my 3rd 10, on the river. Great news. Which made his straight, and I left :(. Bad news. We headed off to Caesars for some more retail therapy, and then onto a new venue for us, the Gold Coast resort. More of a locals place, but still pretty big, and seems to be busy. Actually really busy for the area we wanted to be at, PingPangPong. This place had a queue longer than Arsenal’s season ticket returns. But some clever negotiation by MrsMrBen got us in very quickly, and I sat down to experience the most Asian restaurant experience outside of Asia, I have ever had. Dim Sum knocked nearly everywhere into a hat, and maybe has taken the also great Aria Lemongrass off the visitor list for us. But you have to get there early or have a plan to get in. We both joined the players club in the Gold Coast and both of us got a $100 profit from our freeplay. Nice. So we took this as a planand headed off to the SLS to get a card there as well. $110 profit for me. and then we went to the Westgate. Formerly the LVH, formerly the Las Vegas Hilton, formerly the International, home of the Elvis residency and they still have some memorabilia around. They also have the worlds largest Sportsbook, which is truly massive. But the hotel itself is a bit soulless and I imagine it only makes money by having the conference centre attached. No wins booked.
Once back at base I wanted to put a bet on for the next day’s NFL. I have never been in a US Sportsbook, and assumed it to be similar to a bookies in the UK. Oh no !. I wanted a treble. You know, pick three teams to win their games and you get the multiplied odds. I don’t want handicaps (it’s hard enough to pick three teams). I try for 10 minute to get this on, and eventually triumphed. What really annoyed me was I explained prior to putting the bet on that this was a new experience for me. Then the teller got pissed at me when I took my ticket and I said I didn’t want handicaps. All she had to do was ask (remember i had told her this was my first time) So she changed it to what I now know as the “MoneyLine” and basically handed me my ticket like it was rubbish. I also took the over in Redskins/Cowboys (I think) game. This one is easy. There is a set amount of points provided by the bookie, and you pick the final score total to either be over or under. Even I cannot get that wrong ! This experience meant I will not be back at that particular book any time soon. I will say they that I didn’t hear this but my wife is convinced the teller called me an asshole under her breath as i left the counter. If I had of heard that, that particular lady would not be working there anymore. That evening was a real lesson in losing at the Craps table, so lets move on.
Day 4 started with a MyVegas free brekkie at the MGM, which is always nice. Then we went to the Town Square mall for some more shopping (!). Once finished we headed back to watch the football that I had bet on the previous day. The treble lost (first loss in 4 weeks), but the over won, so I put the winnings on the over for the Raiders / Bronco’s which also came in. We are on the up finally. Small craps session puts me up for trip, and the pit boss comps us dinner at Camelot which is way underrated, and has a great wine selection. We then took our first wander up the strip and took our first look at the finished Central Park outside NYNY and Monte Carlo. Its better than that space used to be and has a Hersheys store, an outside entrance to Nine Fine Irishmen and a better ambiance. Top tip… If you are coming back down the strip and use the escalator inside NYNY to get to MGM or Excal, you can now access it by going through Hershey’s. Saves fighting through the sportsbook at NYNY as well. The evening ended well, with an extra few quid coming me way from the tables, and we march onto day 5.
Day 5 we got visitors from LA, and I entered the Aria 1pm poker Tournament, more to follow on that later in the week. Fast forward to the evening, and we managed to profit further to put us in the black comfortably.
By day 6 we needed to get off strip so we headed off to Red Rock Canyon, which is only 35 mins out and well worth a visit for $7 if you enjoy the great outdoors and photography. Which we do, so a great time was had by all. Nearby is the Red Rock Casino, which answered one question for me. What the hell was the big building at the edge of town that I could see whenever we have a mountain facing room. Now I know. The casino itself was very nice and had some big queues for the restaurants so will be revisited at a later date. That afternoon, we took a walk down the strip, as far as Caesars, to meet my God Daughter who was in town for 3 days. We walked across to the Cromwell, which is a great improvement on its predecessor Bills and had cocktails in Bound . Nice venue and will be revisited , if only for the “Keep me awake Bro”, a Peroni and Espresso cocktail served in a fancy tea pot ! Once we had dropped her off at the TI, we were looking for somewhere to eat, and picked somewhere a little left field. Inside Harrahs there is the Fulton Street Food Hall, with about 6 or 8 cook to order stations. We went for the noodle house (surprise) and was suitably impressed, another one for the list.
Day 7 was NYE, and I headed across to MGM to play some pokers. Met some interesting people, including a retired Fed Goverment police type guy, who still has his interceptor with sirens ! This was quite funny as he didn’t know the strip closed on NYE, and was concerned about how he would get back to Boulder Station. So me , the “local”, gave him directions, much to the amusement and surprise of the table. I also met Amanda, the English dealer from Bolton, and we had some (real) football chat. My poker session won me a couple of tickets for their 12.00 promo, and I saw one guy constantly refusing tickets even though the draw was in 5 minutes. As it happens neither of us won, so maybe he was right ! But the copper on our table and some guy who seemed to say he lived in Mexico and then Vegas interchangeably did, so good luck to them ($100 for sitting down, nice work). I was up about 50 when I lost a set on set (8 vs 9, aarrgghh) to end up at about 70 from my initial 200. As MrsMrben was coming across to meet me I proceded to donk off the remainder in a go hard or go home type style. Never mind. Whilst playing there was one thing that was very annoying, and that was the upcoming UFC fight had it’s open training dayon a stage near the poker room. This meant they brought all the fighters in through the door behind me, making it very cold indeed. But i didn’t feel like complaining to a UFC fighter, so I let it go this time !!!
We then took a wander up strip, and dropped into a few places for a gambol and beer. One of which was Harrahs again, where I had a moral dilema . We took the short cut through the high roller slot room, and I noticed a machine with 500 $5 credits sitting on it. Now that’s 2.5k, left on a machine. We hung around a while. First thought was to sit, Second was to leave. We left, which I think was tight, because no one leaves 2.5k on a machine. What would you do ?
We then got ready for the evenings festivities, and went down on to the Casino floor. As it was very cold, we didn’t leave the hotel until 11.40. we saw the fireworks from outside NYNY, and actually had a good view. The common view was that numbers were down, as although the travelling masses (like us) were there, the overnighters driving in weren’t (because weather) , and that meant there was more space than usual. We were back in for about 12.30 and the tables were at about 70% capacity. Normally they will be at 120 !. Good for me, not good for MGM resorts. Few more quid was made, and a 4am finish.
Our last day was mainly a hang out day as our evening was planned many months in advance, not by me. MrsMrBen had secured us tickets for Justin Timberlake at the MGM arena, hmmmmm.
I did saunter across to the MGM to meet P3 PetePPeters and enjoyed his company over a few beers for a couple of hours. We covered everything from degens to the NHS and private healthcare, and the recent CET move to buy back the property business they sold last year ! Then JT time was upon us, so I bidded P3 a good day, and after a quick shower, we went back to MGM and Hecho en Vegas for dinner. Once again, great food, add to the list ! Then JT (and his Tennessee Kids). Now, as is obvious, I’m not a massive pop fan, but I’m there. You know what ? , the guy has a bit of showman about him and can actually play his instruments. This day an age, that in itself is an achievement. So well done him, and I actually left feeling entertained.
We headed back home and I donked off 400 pre bed. That meant we left the next day ahead, just. including expenses, so a very good week. And we got the Business Class bump again from O’Hare home. Sweeeeeettt.
Enjoy the photos