Thursday, February 05, 2004



As we mover ever closer to big party, the numbers increase and the prices go down. The late December party goers have 4 nights starting on Dec 24 reduced from $59 to $47. Again the discounter i4Vegas offers the low rates and Orleans matches.

The most astounding first time gambler promotion I have ever seen is still active. 100 dollars to be gambled at absolutely no risk of losing.


Show news was a bit more limiting, with some of the favorites dark for December hiatus, but Ka and Mystere are still open most days. Other choices will probably be available even at the last minute, perhaps using half priced tickets.

Video poker news is a bit dim. The Double Bonus 10/7 is drying up at the Orleans, but the latest news is that the quarter versions are still operating. All the bar versions have been downgraded, however, so there goes the fantasy of having a free Beamish at the Irish bar while playing.


I scored three different mailings of people wanting to give away unused 2006 Orleans free drink and 2 for 1 buffet coupons. In November, the new 2007 American Casino Guide comes out, so there will be a couple in there. Let me know if you would like to buy this book, and when I order, I’ll get you one. I will order in a week or so.

Although it says 2007, the coupons are good as soon as the book is published and through Dec of 2007. It is full of good articles on all the games and a nice bunch of coupons, but I don’t really recommend buying one for just a few days in Vegas, especially if you are strip focused. However, if you are going to Vegas again before the end of 2007, it is well worth the price. List price is about $17. I never pay that. I will get an offer soon for $11 plus $3.50 shipping, and have the book in early November. Just using the $10 in free play coupon at the Palms (again a first timer’s promotion) will get you most of the price of the book back.

You can see the coupons in the 2007 at this link:

I have increased the pace of planning information added to the Blog. To check to see what I’ve posted in the last month, go to the right and click on “September” under “Archives.” That will skip the Calendar post and give you all the little posts for that month. And of course, as I add more, all but the very newest posts will then fall into the October Archives.


Some reported difficulty using Bulletin Board links on the Blog. These require you to register if you are going to post, but should be free and easy for you to read. If you want information in link form and the link does not work, please let me know. I can probably find a way to get you in. If not I can go in and retrieve the information you want. And knowing that I am posting bad links helps me correct the Board. I test every link on my computer, but then I have been there before so it may be different on your computer.


The bus that goes along the strip and downtown can be a long ride during rush hour times, but it can be a cheap tour of the strip and the neon after dark. Unfortunately, on some buses they started adding a black mesh and advertisement which you can barely see thru. Still, if you manage to get an upper deck front seat, the view is clear. And as of today anyway not all buses have been fitted with that mess (according to locals posting from Vegas.)


While there will not be anything to match those Orleans prices, there will be some strip deals emerging as the time towards December draws near. I am unaware of anyone looking for a strip booking, so let me know if you have something in mind and I’ll research your dates and see what the lowest price is. At some point it will even be a good deal to book casinos that will not match discounter prices or allow money back for cancelations. It is hard to know when to lock that in. Also, I expect any day to get two free rooms for three days in the Dec 4-9 week when everything is so outrageous. Slink and I will use one, but I’ll have the second one open so those of you watching that week, keep your eyes glued to these newsletters.


Remember that I enjoy finding the answers to any Vegas questions?

Janice sent me a 1964 post card of her Mom in Vegas at Diamond Jim’s Nevada Club and asked if the casino was still there and did I know what it was.

Here is that postcard and how I found out the answer:

Jan’s mom has outlasted Diamond Jim and his casino and will be in Vegas again, but she has moved up from the Nevada Club to the Bellagio.

Lots of changes since 1964.


''Paciencia y barajar''
( Patience and shuffle the cards)
Miguel de Cervantes

Perfect for a poker player.

Wednesday, February 04, 2004


I have been hoping that Southwest would open booking by this time, but so far it is just through Dec 10th. I’ll let you know as soon as that happens as I expect the flights may fill up fast. It would be nice if at the same time they ran a Vegas sale.

However, some of the hotels are beginning to do some early promotions. Here is a deal from the Gold Coast for those of you going from December 10th - 14th or 17th - 21st.

Buy one night at $40 and get the second night free.

December 10-14 mention promo code BUY 1119
DECEMBER 17-21 mention promo code BUY 1210

call 1-888-402-6278

Oddly, the fine print says that you don’t get the free room rebated until checkout.

The Gold Coast is one of those casinos that matches prices of any discounters, so you can book this deal and still adjust later if the price goes down.

Not much other Vegas news. It looks like Slink and I will book El Cortez for the Dec 4-10 days, room together, and split the cost. I cannot recommend this spot to those of you who are newbies as it is a couple blocks off the beaten downtown track, a 20 minute bus ride to the glitz of the strip and quite a bit downscale, but the price is right. Also, I expect to get some free night offers at the el Cortez so I can book using coupons now and then change to free later. If you are coming in during that time, getting anxious to book somewhere, and money is a deciding factor, give me a call and we can talk about whether the El Cortez is acceptable for you too. The cowboys have raised the prices most places for that time (dec 4-9) so far. However, I did see rates that approach reason at the Stratosphere and at Sahara, so those might be more reasonable alternatives getting you a bit closer to the strip. It is a hard call to make, but a good time to be thinking about it.

More people are talking to me about coming and most will be in Vegas for the first time. It should be fun. Some of the conversation was around how the trip would go relative to time with me, so let me just outline again how I envision this Birthday Bash.

I don’t see myself as an on-the-scene tour guide. Most of my guiding should be helping you to plan BEFORE you go. I can give you advice and help you figure out how you might get to where you would like to go, but I won’t be going everywhere with you.

My vision is not that we hang out 24/7, but that we meet up at a certain time in a place of your choice and do some things together. You can determine how much or how little. The easiest thing to do together is to enjoy a meal, but I might be up for many other things too.

Those of you who are newbies will probably want to walk the strip a lot and see all the sights and I can recommend pretty cheap shows that I have enjoyed, but which I have seen perhaps too many times to want to go again.

The idea is to make this a very flexible holiday, hassle free, and with no obligations on either of our parts. Often our meetings will be intimate, but sometimes I might mix some of you together. You can let me know if you want to do that or not. It will be relatively easy for me to get around, as I will have a bus pass, so I can find you pretty much anywhere and if time needs to be flexible, I can meet you at the nearest poker room at your convenience. Having a cell phone is a great aid in coordinating too.

I expect now that the December promotional offers will begin to trickle in, so if you want to be frugal, block out your times and think about booking things that can be canceled or changed without penalties. IT IS STILL TOO EARLY TO BOOK AT DISCOUNTERS BECAUSE THERE YOU PAY A PENALTY WHEN YOU CHANGE PLANS, but not too early to use those discounter rates to get a sense of pricing.

If you can think of any questions not covered on the Blog, write me and let me know. I love looking for answers. Also let me know if you make some decisions. Tell me where and when you book, or let me know if you just won't make it after all or if you are going to decide at the last minute.

Looking forward to seeing you.


Tuesday, February 03, 2004


Well, it is pouring raining again. Where are we, Seattle OR London??? Anyway, I can’t finish the dock. I put in stairs into the water yesterday. My stiff sore muscles and the rain tell me that today is a rest day.

So let’s do a Vegas update.

Each day a couple more people sign on for the Vegas Birthday Bash in December. And deals are starting to come too. It is very exciting!

Here is where my planning is:


I locked in a good price for a compact car(Dodge Neon size) at Dollar. Dollar $98 plus all the obnoxious taxes, but minus 5% by using a Promo code FF05. For details on car rental see the post below.

It is always cost effective to rent by the week. If you are there for three or four days, see if the weekly rental is just as cheap. Sometimes you can get a few extra hours that way.

Remember that it is never too early to put in a car reservation. They do not take a charge card. If prices go down, you can always reserve again. If you decide just to use the buses and taxis and free shuttles, you can always cancel. In fact, I made three reservations today to keep my options open.


I had locked in the Orleans 15-27 and I added the Gold Coast 14-19. (rates listed on the Blog) Where I stay will depend on what Elizabeth does. She may not come now until the 20th. So I’ll be double booked on hotels too. Probably soon to triple booked if my past experience is any judge. I like to keep my options open. Still, it will be hard to beat the Gold Coast prices.

For now the after DEC 10th i4Vegas prices FOR BARBARY COAST, ORLEANS, GOLD COAST (BUT DON’T BOOK WITH THEM BOOK WITH THE HOTEL DIRECTLY) are still good, but they may be gone any day, so I suggest you book for insurance. They take the money for the first night, but as long as you remember to call and cancel up until 72 hours of arrival, you get it back if you change your mind.

BAD NEWS on hotels is that things seem to be booking tight during the cowboy time. My usual upscale and nice places (Orleans and Gold Coast) are generally booked, but even the nice tower rooms at Downtown’s frugally downscale (and a lot less nice) El Cortez have sold out. Very odd. Given those prices, for people coming before Dec 10th, especially just for the weekend, it may be just as cheap to go to a strip casino. Someone will be trying to offload rooms. We’ll have to look around and see. I keep thinking that Terrible’s will have a huge special since they have expanded and have these newly opened hotel rooms. That is a frugal choice, but you really need to have a car as it is maybe a fifteen minute walk from the strip. On the up side terrible’s is near the Hard Rock Casino and that huge collection of guitars and outfits worn by rockers of all eras. And on the way to the strip is Ellis Island where you can get a nice steak dinner for $5 and a $5 matchplay coupon for blackjack. (This is considered the best deal in all of Vegas) Once Terrible’s offered $9 rooms for all of December. If you hit those prices, you could afford to add a rental car at $20 a night and be good to go.

let Casino Boy tell you about the place:

Well, I will keep looking. Perhaps after the cowboys are all booked, the prices will lighten up a bit. It is December after all!! Get real Vegas!!


I did some research on going to the rodeo. It is pretty expensive. Actually, all the tickets are already sold, but then they are resold by numerous sites. They actually have one deal where you buy a seat that has been already sold and go there, hoping no one will take the seat. Weird. Anyway, if anyone is going early and wants that adventure, let me know. You will see the cowboys anyway as they will be all over town and lots of free country music too. There are some sites on the Blog.


Talking to an agent gave me an estimated release of December bookings sometime in July. So if you are waiting for one of those direct flights, keep checking. I am waiting to book early because they now limit the seating for those with free tickets so the 28th may be especially hard to get.



I realize that just as there are people who are firming up dates and plans, there are some who know they won’t go and don’t want to be reminded, and others who just don’t want this crazy e-mailed newsletter cluttering their boxes. Don’t be shy. If you would like to be removed, just send me a nice crisp $100 bill....or you can just ask too.....That works.

Monday, February 02, 2004


With summer just around the corner, it seems to me that we should begin planning for:


But then, that’s just me.

There are not many room deals in Vegas just yet. But there are some ways you might want to begin planning if you think you still might like going to the Moveable Feast Birthday Bash.

Some of you have already decided on an area where you’d like to stay, but others might like looking at various areas and making that decision.

It may also be a time to decide when you are going. I am there from about December 4th until December 27th. For some of that time I will want to wander over to the Colorado River to Laughlin, but I’ll want to decide that late in the planning and go when you are not in Vegas. Otherwise I will be at the Orleans or probably staying downtown simply because that will be where I get the best room deals. I expect that by the time all the five boys arrive, closer to Christmas, we will all be at the Orleans, a comfortable midsized casino just off the strip.

Wherever I stay, I can easily meet you anywhere, so you can stay anywhere. If you are new to Vegas, staying somewhere near the strip is probably the best choice.

What I’d like to do is start a calendar of the dates people plan on coming and post that on the Blog so those of you who would like to meet up with other people can see what they are thinking. I only use first names on the Blog, so if you don't know who someone is, e-mail me and I'll tell you.

The only real event in December is the National Rodeo Finals. The NRF is to rodeo what the World Series is to baseball. It runs in from late November and ends December 9th. During this time, cowboys from all over the country take over Vegas. There is country music everywhere and the lounges are filled with what looks like a Western costume party, but is the authentic thing. On big screens you can go and watch bull riding, packed in with the cowboys and hear all the whooping and the comments on techniques and details. Some places are starting to advertise some rodeo specials where you get rooms and rodeo tickets for a set price. If you are interested in seeing that, let me know.

Otherwise the town gets quiet. That may discourage some people, but most folks our age enjoy less traffic and fewer people and no lines at the best buffets. Some shows go dark, but others have more tickets available, so it is a tradeoff.

One thing not to plan is pool time. Vegas is not a winter escape into warmth. It is cool enough that the outdoor pools, even if heated, are a bit uncomfortable and while the pansies will still be blooming, you will need a light jacket in the evening. There are a few hotels with heated pools, so if that is crucial I can steer you in that direction, but generally it is not time to sunbathe with lots of bikinis.

I think it is a bit too early yet to lock in airfare. Southwest has not yet begun to book for December and when I did a search, I thought fares a bit high.

But I have included a good airfare search engine in the links section of the birthday blog. It is the ITA software engine used by Expedia and has more options, listing everything flying except the small carriers like Southwest and Jetblue.

Deciding which dates you would like to travel will prepare you for grabbing some of those fine Southwest direct flights as soon as they become available. The advantage of that direct route is not just that it is shorter and less of a hassle, but it has no layovers in wintersnow cities, so as long as you can get out of Albany and back in again, you don’t have to worry about getting stuck or delayed in places like Chicago.

I once went out on time in a January snowstorm, when almost everyone else was stranded (even Washington airport was closed. Southwest was crippled ; it is their hub) but not the flight directly to Vegas. I also like it because it gives me time to pack the day I leave and the time change still gives me a full evening in Las Vegas. It then leaves in the afternoon in Vegas and arrives near midnight here, making the time transition a bit easier for work the next day. I also like to pick my seat and pack my bags once and know my luggage is riding with me. I have never had lost luggage on this flight, only on those where I had to change aircraft at the layover.

It is never too early to lock in a rental car. Sometimes I lock in three or four until the last week and then cancel the ones I do not need to use. Most do not take a credit card, so making a reservation really means locking in a price for yourself. Whether or not to have a car in Vegas is a decision to make also. It is a huge place, so hopping from one spot to another is advantageous. It will not be difficult to drive there in December, and parking is a dream. You can Free Valet park at most casinos for a dollar tip.

On the other hand rental cars may not be what you want. Click here to see just why.

So buses are pretty good if a bit slow at times. A 24 hour (from time of purchase) day pass can be bought right from the driver. It lets you get on and off the double decker “Deuce” bus along the strip and is good on any Vegas bus too, so if you wanted to ride off the strip, you could. Buses along the strip come about every 20 minutes.

A number of you have let me know you are serious about coming. If you have a set time, or know you are definitely coming, let me know. And, serious or not, I’ll be glad to plan any part of even an imaginary trip or answer any questions you have. Each of these newsletters, as well as going by e-mail is also posted in the Blog along with some pretty good permanent links there to explore.

Hope to hear from you soon. Enjoy this summer weather.


Sunday, February 01, 2004


NUMBER ONE 2-25-2006


At the present time I have 30 e-mail addresses. If half of those addresses result in a visit, I’ll celebrate my birthday with 30 people in about 15 fine intimate gatherings through the month of December.

And I get the pleasure of writing about Vegas in anticipation of the trip.

It just don’t get no better than that!

Between now and December, in this newsletter, I’ll organize and send specials and deals, list resources, answer questions, report on researched information, make suggestions.

I won’t offer to personally guide you around the city. I’ve done that so many times that I just don’t want to go up in the Stratosphere tower again for a long while. 15 times was enough for me. Besides, on the 14th visit, I finally got Elizabeth up there at romantic sunset time and got kissed. So anything after that would just be anticlimactic (so to speak)

And I don’t mean to suggest I know everything about Vegas. I don’t know as much about renting in the fancy strip hotels like Bellagio; I always go on the cheap. But I’m on every casino’s mailing list, so I see the e-mail specials from the big boys too and on the blog there is a link just for strip hotel specials that updates daily.

In addition, I subscribe to a large number of regular Vegas newsletters and talk to a national bulletin board network of Vegas travelers as well as Vegas locals, so I hear the ins and outs of car rentals, shopping, music, spas, shows, good food, promotional deals, coupons, traveling around the desert, etc. What I don’t know, I can find out by posting questions and getting answers from others like me who make Vegas travel a hobby.

I also know how to organize the huge space and opportunities of Vegas, for gamblers and nongamblers alike, so they can easily get around to see what they want to see, and so they know what is available in each area, enabling them to use their short time efficiently. I have done that now for many people. Vegas is huge and can only be tasted, so it is useful if you know just how to get the best bite in the time you have.

Finally, I have opened a new Blog dedicated to the Birthday Bash. On it I will put most of the general information that is in these newsletters. I always keep personal details off blogs, so notes on who is coming and when and last names will not be posted there . Featured will be past newsletters, pictures that illustrate newsletter content, other resource web links, and summaries of sections like the FAQ’s at the bottom of this page.

Also, on the Birthday Blog there is room for you and other readers to comment after each posted piece and share information, opinions, anecdotes, concerns with all the other readers. Finally, there is an entire section of recommended links so if you want, you can read about how to best play every casino game, look at the best maps, follow my last 4 years of Vegas exploits, get an overview of every casino hotel, get the picture.


The majority of NEWSLETTER readers are Vegas virgins; they have never before visited Las Vegas. So those of you who are Vegas veterans will have to be patient with details that aren’t news to you. I will try to arrange the newsletter with headlines like a newspaper.


It is premature to book air or rooms yet, but perhaps not too early to block out dates on the calendar for your visit.

I plan to be in Vegas from approximately December 6th until December 27th. I will probably stay in the less pricey downtown area for Dec 6-12 when Vegas fills up with cowboys and cowgirls for the National Rodeo Finals (biggest rodeo event in the nation). Then I will try to book at the Orleans for most of the rest of the time, unless something unpredicted drives up their prices also or some free offer lures me away for a couple days. Most years the Orleans have offered very cheap rooms in December.



For example, if you can get out of work a little early on Thursday or Friday and get to the airport in time to catch the 2:30PM Southwest direct flight, you will arrive in Vegas at supper time.

The Southwest nonstop return gives you most of a day in Vegas and you are home in time to get a goodnight’s sleep for the next day of work.

And there are lots of other air options.

(I recommend the nonstop because it shortens the trip, allows uninterrupted sleeping, lessens a chance of getting stuck in a snowstorm in some stopover city, and virtually eliminates any chance of misplaced baggage.)

some sample Southwest schedules:
Albany to Vegas
768 2:30pm 5:00pm Nonstop
1023/2201 4:00pm 9:05pm BWI/1
128/1578 5:45pm 11:25pm MDW/1

Vegas to Albany
2877 3:50pm 11:30pm Nonstop
532/1138 12:00pm 9:35pm MDW/1
312/1497 1:10pm 10:20pm MDW/1

So, by taking just one weekday off of work, you can have 3 full days and one night in Vegas. Going to Vegas by air is about like driving to Buffalo, only you don’t have to bring your boots or worry about getting snowed in.

Three days is not enough time to see everything. It is just enough time to get a taste. But with good planning, it will be a memorable snack.


I have taken two of my nongambling good friends (Jill from Albany, and Frank from London, England) around Vegas for an entire week on a whirlwind schedule and they had a blast. In fact, I recommend it for nongamblers because they can still get great deals on hotels, cheap car rentals, cheap or the best gourmet food, free or inexpensive shows and entertainment and don’t have to worry about risking money. Gamblers pay for your vacation.
I can even tell you where as a Vegas virgin you can gamble $10 absolutely for free. Kid Peter and his girl Jen did a lot of that on their last visit. $10 goes a long way if you play a penny at a time so you can have a frugal slot experience and be guaranteed no losses. Jill took her 10 free dollars and recklessly gambled on penny slots for a couple hours at the famous Palms before she cashed out and took $6 home. Another Vegas winner!


My 60th is a Moveable Feast

Here is how I’m planning to celebrate turning 60 this year.

Vegas ********* Vegas ******* Vegas****
*** Vegas****** Vegas*****
***** Vegas*****

No surprise there I suppose.

Only not in my birthday month, when Vegas is expensive and my kids can’t all arrange to come anyway.

I’m going to do it in December, when Vegas is dirt cheap and we can go and stay through Christmas.

Want to come?

Here is the way my MOVEABLE FEAST BIRTHDAY PARTY works.

I have not booked my rooms yet, but I plan to be in Vegas from approximately December 6th until a day or two after Christmas. I will probably stay in the less pricy downtown area for Dec 6-12 when Vegas fills up with cowboys and cowgirls for the National Rodeo Finals. Then I will try to book at the Orleans for most of the rest of the time, unless something unpredicted drives up their prices also. Most years they have very cheap rooms in December.

I’m inviting everyone I know to come and meet me for a meal, an hour of gambling, a show, a beer, some dancing in a lounge, a game at the same poker table, a walk down the strip, or whatever you might like to do.

No set time for a party; the party is for most of the month, everyday, 24/7.

No presents; Just your presence.

No particular time obligation; just a little fun time together at your convenience.

But if it works right I’ll be able to have a number of nice, small, intimate gatherings and celebrate all through December. And after sharing an event with me and wishing me a Happy 60th, you can take the rest of your trip to do those things in Vegas or California, in Utah, Arizona or the Grand Canyon that you always wanted to do.

And here is my present to you:

I can help you preplan those trips a little, I will have experienced all of them and talked and planned with others who also have done them, so I will have some ideas, or at least some internet resources, that will help you find what you want.

I won’t offer to personally guide you around the city. I’ve done that so many times that I just don’t want to go up in the Stratosphere tower again for a while. 15 times was enough for me. Besides on the 14th I finally got Elizabeth up there at romantic sunset time and got kissed. So anything after that would just be anticlimatic (so to speak)

But between now and December I will establish an email list of anyone even mildly interested in a trip West in December. To the people who ask to be on that list, I’ll send all the specials and deals and resources for planning that I discover in my daily surfing of Vegas boards and I’ll answer questions and be a resource to help plan your trip for you.

I’ll also keep you aware of how the details of my own plans modify as the planning continues and of the dates other people are considering traveling in case you want to hook up with them also. Right now, for example, all my kids (except Cory who will most likely be in Africa) are hoping to manage to be in Vegas together with me, probably sometime between December 19th and Christmas Day. I’ve stressed to all of them too that there is no obligation to attend. This is a no obligation invitation. If no one attends, I’ll be stuck by myself playing poker. Not bad for Plan B.

And I don’t mean to suggest I know everything about Vegas. I don’t know as much about renting fancy strip hotels like Bellagio or rooms in the most luxurious of places; I always go on the cheap. Besides I really don’t think there are too many deals at the high end. But I do know some very nice places, like the Orleans, which sometimes rent at dirt cheap prices. I got kid Peter four nights there this January at $18 a night because I caught an internet sale and he acted in time. And I know how to organize the huge space of Vegas, for gamblers and nongamblers alike, so they can easily get around to see what they want to see and so they know what is available in each area enabling them to use their short time their efficiently. I have done that now for many people.

I also subscribe to a large number of regular Vegas newsletters and talk to a national network of Vegas travelers and locals on bulletin boards, so I hear the ins and outs of car rentals, shopping, music, shows, good food, promotional deals, coupons etc and I can find out almost anything by posting questions on these boards and getting answers from others like me who make Vegas travel a hobby.

Think about it and let me know.
For my last trip reports:
Poker Bluegill: Vegas Busts my Bankroll (1 of 3)
Poker Bluegill: Vegas Trip Report in Miniscule condensed gambling detail