Vegas June 2015 – pt 1

I have decided to split this TR up as there was some actual poker playing taking place, so i’ll come to that in pt 2. This is more the regular trip report with some photos and tips thrown in.

Day 1: We arrive via a direct VIrgin flight kindly covered by my Virgin Miles, which is always good. We also scored some Premium upgrades, so quite relaxed on landing. The easiest immigration run ever, gets us in the terminal in record time, and then 30 mins to wait for our bags.

We then headed off to pick up our car. I had ordered a focus, but for $96 got an upgrade to a Grand Cherokee. Seemed churlish not to take it , especially as the Focus became a Yaris on further discussion !

Quick checkin at the Excal, and we retire to the room ,and then head out for a gamble. Pretty average, but the Dos Equis are flowing, and life is good. We retire for an early night, and hopefully try and avoid the jet lag.

Day2: Awake at 5am ! what’s a man to do prior to going out shopping. Craps at 6am can be a lonely experience, so sacked it off in favour of some sorting of the Sat Nav for our various destinations for the week. Breakfast was taken at Mr Mamas (last seen here) . We had a bit of an experience which was a little unfortunate, but resulted in a free meal. I wont go into details, as they don’t deserve it. Hit the outlets for what was for us quite a quick shop, and we are back at the hotel for lunch  MrsMrBen had some friends coming into town, so I managed to get across to the MGM to play some pokers with @lightning36 and @robvegaspoker . +$17 later I headed back for some more gambols back at the Excal.

Day 3,  We start the day at IHop and a lazy morning. From there, I played in the TI 2pm poker tournament with lightning and although I lasted longer and made the final table, i ended up with zip payout. Shame. On the way back I went to our room, but no one was about. We were on the 27th floor, so i called the lift. The lift doors opened and I was greeted by a bemused couple and a slightly rotund, drunk ,tattooed Aussie girl, sitting on the floor, shouting out me, “You must be a VIP, the lift didn’t stop at our f***king floor” Well, thank you maam. Anyway the couple get out, and its me and Jabba. She is still shouting at me, and then gets up to leave when we do reach her floor. Her last words are “Are you Australian ?”. Now i am used to, although confused to being asked this by Americans, but you are an Aussie love. Really ? That night was pretty quiet, with a few quid changing hands between some table games.

Day 4 Today was take a drive day via Jamms for Breakfast, home of the pot o bread apparently, of which I had the banana and nutella version, which was very nice thanks. And we then headed out to the Red Rock Casino. Which if it was closer to the strip would be a firm favourite. The pool alone is worth it. We have a free night available there and will take it up on our next visit. Post a quick stop at Trader Joes (for peanut butter !) we head back via dropping off some fine English corn snacks and real Kit Kats to the lovely @LVA_Tweet  That afternoon I found a slot machine that liked me. Approximately 40 minutes on max credits did my comps with MGM no harm and netted me about $170. The evening was a grown up affair. We went to a show (for free). Namely LOVE at the Mirage, a Beatles homage delivered by Cirque Du Soleil. Fantastic is all I can say. If you like your Beatles post 68 and colourful, this is for you. Not a bad seat in the house either. Post the show, MrsMrben was v.tired so hit the hay. I stayed up and played Drunken Black Jack with p3 which was funny, for me at least !!

Day 5 was Saturday and saw breakfast at Claim Jumper at Town Square. Good but not worthy of a Steak and Eggs challenge. No macbooks in the Apple store, so no good for me. I played in the 11am poker tournament at the MGM, and made it just past the break. boooo.Had a very good gamboool in the afternoon (about bloody time). The evening was back at base post dinner at Rice and Co, and late on while I was winning hard on the craps table, a less wobbly P3 appeared and another night of BlackJacks commenced, while MrsMrBen was out on a ladies night out, with another profit for yours truly. We are back on track.

Day 6 Breakfast at the buffet at the Aria. Always nice. But as it was comped I had to produce ID. No driving licence. What!!!. Anyone who has been to the states knows you need this all the time, if not more. Its always ID this, and ID that. Panic sets it as i munch through my brekkie. Where did I last use it. Town Square. So we head off back to mall and draw a blank. Bugger. We then try Rice and Co. They are closed but tell us that all lost stuff is handed onto Casino Security. We go down to the floor, and eventually I strike gold and am reunited with my new best friend from the DVLA. That afternoon we head off to Primm for a nose around. Don’t bother is the best review you will ever get for this place. Dead, dead, dead. But we did go on the rollercoaster at Buffalo Bills. On the way home we went to the SLS and sampled the fayre at the Northside Cafe . Great grub and a great price. PRO TIP. Every Sunday, one of the restaurants in the SLS is half price for players card holders (free). We were lucky, but will phone ahead next time !.

Day 7 Lost most of winnings in the morning, so rested up for the afternoon. Early even we took in some fine Filipino fast food at Chow King in Seafood City. From there we went our for a strip cocktail wander. First stop Double Barrel in the Monte Carlo, then onto the Aria. Things started to get a little messy, as the old fashioneds kept coming and fun was had. We then met up with a group of bods from BMW Canada, who plied us with more beer. Also met one of the senior guys from this set up who is a scouser. Odd !.

Day 8 was a comped breakfast at the Bellagio buffet, which was quality as usual, but customer service was a little lacking. Not in numbers, we had a guy in our area, but he thought chatting up the two girls on their own was way more preferable than doing his job. For the whole time we were there. Back to the MGM and the poker tables with P3 for what will become the famous Aces folded session (more next time). We had more friends come in that evening so we had another adult night with more cocktails in the Aria and dinner at Julien Serranos. After dinner, I hit the Vegas wall. Hard. More than Hard. I went straight home and bed, pre 10pm. Hard.

Our last day was quite relaxed, with some more poker (solo) in the Excalibur and a decent profit, and then back into the comfy premium seats for the 10 hr flight home. Only one slight issue , was the call over the plane intercom of “Is there a doctor on board?” Luckily there was , and even luckier it wasn’t for the pilot. One of the Flight Attendants had taken a turn and was out cold in the galley. As we didn’t land in the States and ploughed on to Gatwick I’ll assume alls well, that ends well.

Enjoy the photos…

Vegas NYE 2015 Trip

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…..

Continue reading “Vegas NYE 2015 Trip”

Las Vegas Sep 2013

This was our first trip to Vegas this year and was long awaited as our first trip away since Easter. As usual we were flying Virgin, and they have reconfigured their planes a little. Due to their ultra expensive pricing for Upper Class, I imagine there has been a downturn in uptake, so they have taken Upper Class out of the top deck and replaced it with Prem Econ and Econ. However the Econ has more space than downstairs which is much appreciated by me !

So we settled down for our 10 hour flight, and it was noticeable we were being flanked by some Weekend Millionaires. This was borne out as the flight went on, as they got pissed, started arguing and if not for some very direct words from a stewardess might of got the flight prematurely landed. That aside, flight was great and we landed on time, and due to our position on the plane, were whisked through security in record time. Bags collected it was off to our usual haunt, The Excalibur, where once again we are graciously looked after by our host. We had a nice hamper of choccies etc in the room as we arrived ,which were just as graciously devoured!

Part of our deal was $100 in freeplay. Between the two of use we spun this around to nearly $200 cash, so good start to the week. Unlike previous trips, night one was a quiet one, and early bed. This is an unusual tactic for us but seem to handle the jet lag, so will be tried again.

Saturday was upon us in the morning. Quick trip to the pool for Mrs mrben09, quick trip to the poker table for me. 77 doesn’t beat jj, so that was me early doors. We retired to Tacos and Tequilas in the Luxor for lunch, and had some great Mexican grub which kept me going for the rest of the day. That afternoon , my wife’s cousin was coming in from Seattle,  so we decided for evening we should go upstrip, as Floyd Mayweather was doing his thing across the road, and it was going to be crazy down our end of the strip. So for the evening we met in Javier’s for cocktails and then went to the Mandarin Oriental Sky bar just outside for some more cocktails. This bar is on the 23rd floor and has floor to ceiling windows covering the whole strip as a view. Post drinks we hit the ever favourite Lemongrass in the Aria for dinner. Fantastic as always and remarkably cheap considering the surroundings. We left just as telecasts for the fight were finishing and the casino floor was packed to the gills. I had already paid for my Poker Tournament the next day so we retreated to the Bellagio and the YellowTail restaurant for a few drinks and a catch up. Suitably refreshed we headed across the road and a bit of a gamble up in Harrahs. We have never spent a lot of time here, but will be doing in the future. It may not match Aria and Bellagio for swank but the staff more than made up for it. Quick waitress service and friendly dealers made for a top night (and winning a few quid always helps). We also took a quick trip through the Quad (previously the Imperial Palace). This is still a work in progress but definitely an improvement on the old dark IP.

Sunday was my day. I have been a member of for some time but due to living some distance away, I’ve never been in any of their sponsored tournaments. Today changed that and I entered into AVP XIX at the Aria Poker room. Post registration and picking up my freebie t-shirt and other goodies I met some people that i have conversed with online for some time. There are photos of me at their facebook page from here, but i wont be linking them. As usual with the Aria the tournie was well run, and I got to the first break without to many dramas. I shared my table with 2 AVP employees, and was quite amused to watch the CTO completely suck out on the Marketing Manager to much abuse and incredulity. The first price for just over 8k, so i needed to get some hands and post break the antes were biting and I needed to make a move. The move turned out to be a disaster. I was dealt 10 10 in mid position. I called a raise, and two of us saw the flop. the flop was 9 jq so i shoved with the chance of a open ended straight. My opponent tabled a jq and won the hand. So out in about 2 hours but a decent time non the less. Before i met the girls (who were in the middle of a  4hr (!)  buffet in the Cosmopolitan, I hit the Blackjack table for a quick $200 win. Although everyone at the table was nice, i noticed they thought i was a little odd. Why was confirmed once I left the table and realised i still had my AVP name badge on while playing. Oops.

We ended up the evening at Harrahs again and won a few quid.

Monday was a 9.00 start at the Excal crap shoot poker tournie with Michael from Australia who i had met the day before at the Aria. He bombed early just before leaving to start his 2 day trip home and I held on, to finished 3rd and triple+  my buy in . Good start to the day. We then did our usual pilgramage ti the North Outlet stores and hit the shops. Some good golf gear was picked up a new suit amongst other things. In a non holiday move we had a Genius appointment with Apple in the Fashion show mall early evening . Using the usual “it’s only up the street” approach we set off on our walk. 1 hr 20 minutes later in 99 deg heat we were at our destination and knackered! But we got a replacement Iphone 5, so all good. Dinner was in ZoozaCrackers in the Wynn. I didn’t have the burger but it look amazing, but the nachos did well enough for me.

Tuesday we cashed in the first of our myvegas (facebook promotion) and had a free brekkie at the MGM buffet. Not as big a selection as I thought the worlds biggest hotel would have, but all good nonetheless. Being in the MGM meant I had to play the 11.00 am tournament at the MGM poker room. The current location for the room is shocking and no wonder takings are down. However the staff are professional as ever. Unlike my poker, I was out quite early, having got no hands or worth, and losing a straight on straight (10 vs J) pushed me passed caring and I shoved until i could leave ! We had a late lunch in our secret hideaway off the strip, Kapit Bahay. This simple Filipino restaurant never fails and once again the beef steak and pancit were tasty as ever. So much so we went Friday as well.

Wednesday was a long day. Lunch was in Buca di Beppo in the Excalibur. The large portions kept us going until the evening, where we used another voucher for a large saving in Plant Dailies in Plant Hollywood. This is just by the escalators up to some other restaurants and the nightclubs. This meant we were delayed by about a million people trying to get photos of Justin Timberlake and Ben Affleck who were there promoting their new film Runner Runner. From there we went to see Vegas the Show . This is a variety show charting the history of Vegas as a resort destination from the mobsters up to current day featuring hits from Sinatra, Tom jones, Elvis and Elton John. Well worth the price.

Post show we headed home and hit the tables. We lost a few quid but that was on the cards as we had hardly spend anything in the previous 4 days. Thats when we met Betty, Rita and Biscuit (false names, as you may of guessed). 2 50’s style ladies and one completely normal lad, all hailing from Essex. They were great fun, and we stayed at the roulette table until 6 in the morning. Everyone won and the crack was great. Biscuit could not lose and ended the evening with a $25 drop on the 00. This comes in to great cheers and $875 to Biscuit. During this early morning gambling session we also met Alan from the Hangover (maybe). I say maybe as he hardly said 2 words for the hour or two he was with us but the photos show he could of been.

Thursday was a late start as you could imagine, so we cashed in another myvegas token for the Aria Buffet. Way better than the MGM and definitely one to be done again. This led us the relaxing part of the holiday and we stayed pretty local for the rest of the week. I played the Luxor tournie Friday morning to no avail, but got a few decent runs on the craps tables to get the money flowing back my way for the trip home. We ended our trip on Friday evening in Michael Minas pub 1842 in the MGM for a really nice meal with some local beers. I lodged the Dirty Dog (not nice, had it last trip) in favour of the Anchor Steam from Cali. not bad for a American beer, and a vast improvement on the DD.

Our flight was delayed on Saturday but at least Virgin let me know via text, so fair play. We had a very late checkout from the Excal, so it was like another days holiday, and the craps table was good to me again.

All photos taken by me on this trip were with the Nokia 925, and for a mobile they came out well. The others are from a 4S.

Vegas October 2012

10 months after our last Vegas adventure we return courtesy of Virgin Atlantic to what is becoming a regular annual (ish !) trip. Such as here, here and here

The usual routine for these trips is that Mrs Ben hits the pool, and MrBen hits the poker table. This was sort of the order of events, but I had to change stuff around as the poker events in our hotel seemed quite slow.

Weather was nice as always

Day one we got there quite late on, so i just made a quid hundred on the blackjack. Not a bad start. There was also the usual slot machine crawl, where you start with a 20, and try to build to 100 by hit and running bonuses. Mrs Ben nearly made this (after 3 hours), she was up to 80, but we had had a few drinks and it was time to retire.

Day 2, i set about my usual 9.00am poker comp. By this time i had hit the gym and had breakfast. Gotta love jetlag. Breakfast was in the ABX Burger ad Pancake house. The breakfast pancakes for £6 are amazing. Bombed the tourney early on, but made up for ir with another $150 on the Blackjack table. Lunch was at Lemongrass in the Aria, which is a chinese-thai modern type restaurant. Dim-sum. Oh My God. Get there early, we were towards the end of  the lunch session (which is Dim-sum time), and just grabbed what we could. We also had the mee-goreng, which was spiced to perfection. More details on their website here.

Lemongrass. Great Food in the Aria.

That evening I took  a bit of a kicking and was $250 down on the tables ans slots, but easy come and easy go, eh ?

Day 3 started with Breakfast at the Mandalay Bay buffet. As usual the fare was good in a nice setting. My 9.00am bombed again, when my KK was called allin pre flop by some clown with A9, who then hit a 9 on the turn and the river. Cheers, Nice hand. Always tomorrow i suppose. Having the hump i dropped 20 into an Alice in Wonderland machine and picked up a $120 Jackpot. Feel better now.

Thanks Alice !

I then retired to the pool with MrsBen. The pool at the Excalibur has been redesigned this year and is way better than before. In fact with 4 pools and at least 2 hot tubs/Jacuzzis, this place is severely underrated.

In the afternoon we tool a amble down the strip and headed towards Caesars Palace. We cut through all the usual suspects, Aria and Bellagio (quick +$35 slot win. Hehe).  Our destination at Caesars was the Cheesecake Factory. Now in the city full of restaurants why bother with a chain. Because its not in the UK, and its just great food. The portions are huge, so main course only thanks. We shared some enchiladas and the “Bellagio” pasta. Strange name bearing in mind the location ! Fantastic allround, and I managed not to buy anything next door in the super sized Nike Store.

The Little House in the Bellagio !
Cheesecake Factory
Entrance to Nike World – Caesars Palace


Day 5 started like 3 with my 99 hitting AA early on. Lucky this 9.00 am is only $30 !. As we had friends up from California  we rented out a Cabana by the pool for the day. Well worth the next to nothing we paid ! This made for a nice relaxing day.

Cabana Time !

The evening was spend on the road again, and we hit the Palazzo for dinner. We had heard good things about the Grand Lux. Well, heres my thing, don’t go there. The burger i had was very greasy (greasy is different from juicy !).  Mrs Bens ribs were dry, and the meat wouldn’t come off from the bone, and therefore was sent back. Chips were OK!. One other thing regarding the Ventian and Palazzo. They used to be quite refined, and a bit classy (for Vegas !). They now seem to have this rock vibe going on which suits Planet Hollywood, but I’m not sure about here. The Zebra Lounge gets a special mention. The band think they are playing Wembley and have a speaker stack to match. Far too loud.

On day 6 i changed venue for the morning poker comp. I went next door to the Luxor for their 10.30. This was a good move, and one I may make more permanent in future trips. Better organised, friendlier,and way more confortable. After getting away with a split pot, which i was well behind on. I managed to scrape 3rd for $134 (40 buyin). 3rd or maybe second was probably my best chance, as there was a lady who arrived at the final table with over half the total chips, and seemed to hit every hand. But i did my bit and took out 3 people on the final table. The rest of the day was by the pool, and chilling out.

The evening was a bit of an adventure for me as we went to Shibuya, a Japanese restaurant in the MGM. I’m not a Sushi fan, but i do like wagyu beef. I did try some Sushi as well, and I may be coming round (more on this below !). Not cheap but a fantastic meal and great vibe and service. More info here

Day 7  was spend mainly at the North Outlet Centre. This places never lets us down, and this day was no different, with bargains from Ralph Lauren, Burberry and Hugo Boss amongst others. My Jordan IV’s got some love from the market sellers. Our trip there was undertaken by Taxi, with a guy who seemed to no more about football than any American i have ever met. He was Mexican to be fair, but you get the drift. We discussed Booby Moore vs Pele, Leeds and Chelsea in the 70’s, and low centre of gravity being the reason for Maradona and Messi being better footballers than me.

That evening we found craps. The game not the tummy bug !. It took me about an hour to work out what was going on, but once we got going, we were flying and both made a tidy profit. Its also a great game for socialising, and just great fun. A few beers were had and great crack all round.

Out last full day started slowly after the night before but we tried the Public House in the Luxor for lunch. Great food, great price, shame it was showing  “Being Liverpool” on the main screen. Might visit one evening when its full on our next trip. Can be found here

We also had dinner in the Buca di Beppo Italian in the Excalibur. The food here is just WOW. I really love it. The portions are a little scary, but likea mamma used to maka. ! Find it here

Yum Pasta

The evening was more of the same, Craps and Blackjack.

We flew back the next day just in time , as the Storms were coming and flights were starting be cancelled all over the place.

So overall, another great trip. The Excalibur looked after us well again, many thanks to Yvonne our host as usual.

+ Lemongrass, Buca di Beppo, Cheesecake Factory

– Grand Lux, Venetian in general.

On our trip you could tell that Vegas is still deep in recession. I currently give the Tropicana about a year after a successful relaunch, that seems to be falling apart. Oh and the Mirage seems to be the number one hotel if you are looking for Hookers, or maybe it just seems that way ! Never used to be like that.

Roll on Xmas for the next visit.