Sunday, December 31, 2006

Birthday Bash trip report

Well, my 24 day moveable feast of a party to celebrate my 60th year alive was a huge success. From Dec 4 until Dec 28 I met and partied with assorted friends and relatives. The youngest was my great-great-nephew George (3 years old). The oldest was the 89 year old mother of an old high school/college friend who kept up the Vegas pace just fine.

25 friends and relatives joined me over the month and I met 8 people from bulletin boards. I could have met more, but my schedule was hectic so I only tried two meets and one must have been moved or canceled. As well as having many people to entertain, I was very tired all month. I could not get my sleeping to arrange itself around other people. I was awake at 4 or 5 every morning and it was hard to grab a nap many days. I suppose some of it was being too excited. Then again I found the pattern exhausting. A few people would come in town all pumped up and ready to go and I would try to keep up. When they left after a few days, another group would come in pumped up. I did not want to miss anything. But it did take a toll on this old body and brain.

I walked the strip with some, gambled with others. I joined a group of nieces and nephews who live in Vegas and watched them put up their Christmas tree. I celebrated my birthday and Christmas Day with my wife, five sons, and four of their girlfriends/wives.

At a meet at the Orleans I met about a half dozen people from the LVA board, including my good LVA board friend Bigfus at an Orleans meet. What a lively, happy, good humored, witty, delightful woman! We met up again for VP lunch and a matchplay adventure at Terrible’s.

I tried to meet with the Las Vegas Talk crowd one day at the Orleans Mardi Gras but no one was about at the scheduled time. Perhaps the site got switched when I was in Vegas. I missed a couple people, Sorry. It was a hectic time and I was overtired almost the entire time.

Thanks to all who shared information, advice, coupons, suggestions, stories. I planned this continuous party on a Blog site which I set up just for that purpose. It is more for newbies than you Vegas regulars, but if anyone would enjoy skimming it for information, here is the address:

You can also contact me there.

Here are highlights of the trip:

HOTELS: I shared a week of rooms with poker buddy Slink during the overpriced cowboy week. Patching together comps and coupons, one week at the El Cortez- $30 each. Pavilion rooms. Fine, as far as I am concerned. From Dec 10-28 I was at the Orleans in room 1930 with a fine view of the strip. With 8 free nights (4 were on my son’s mailings) and many reduced rates my entire average nightly hotel expense for the 24 days in Vegas was $17 a night for my room. No family or guests who met up with me paid more than $40 a night per room, most paid $25 and that included weekends.
I doubled up once and took one free night at the Fiesta Rancho and enjoyed playing VP there and eating at Texas Station. By doubling that night with a night at El Cortez I could take the bus out and back with only one night’s luggage. It was an easy ride. I’ll do that again. On the way back the bus stops right at the foot of the Freemont Experience so I won’t be wary of going there by bus next trip.

I visited rooms in Bellagio and Tuscany. Bellagio was nice, but not nice enough. I don’t like the big places. I get lost too easily. I liked the large Tuscany suites with microwave and refrigerator, but the location is still pretty isolated without a car and the casino itself seemed a dull place to be stuck late at night. No good music. Very poor poker room action.

Well, my 24 day moveable feast of a party to celebrate my 60th year alive was a huge success. From Dec 4 until Dec 28 I met and partied with assorted friends and relatives. The youngest was my great-great-nephew George (3 years old). The oldest was the 89 year old mother of an old high school/college friend who kept up the Vegas pace just fine.

25 friends and relatives joined me over the month and I met 8 people from bulletin boards. As well as having many people to entertain, I was very tired all month. I could not get my sleeping to arrange itself around other people. I was awake at 4 or 5 every morning and it was hard to grab a nap many days. I suppose some of it was being too excited. Then again I found the pattern exhausting. A few people would come in town all pumped up and ready to go and I would try to keep up. When they left after a few days, another group would come in pumped up. I did not want to miss anything. But it did take a toll on this old body and brain.

Somehow my play has turned a good corner. I won session after session, usually playing limit $3-$6 or $2-$4, but at the Stratosphere I took $300 off a no limit table over a few hours of play, and I took another $100 at Caesars no limit. The no limit just makes me a bit nervous because I am usually tired and drinking. One mistake and there goes the whole bankroll.

I was almost two weeks playing before I lost money in a single session. It felt very good. I also saw that I got a lot of respect at the tables. I know in past trips I have been the fish at the El Cortez. This time I was skilled enough to feel people worried about me and what I might be doing.

At the Gold Coast $22 daily tournament I came in third one day for $144. That was great fun. I was short chipped in the beginning. Then I had a table change and I caught great cards four hands in a row. I made money too because most people there had not played with me very long and thought I was loose by the third hand, so they stayed with me. At the final table with five players left and not much chance for first place, I let them fight it out so I would be in some of the money. Lots of poker there for $22. The first hour is limit and then they go no limit. I think people can join as long as it is limit, or at least they can replace players who lose during the limit session.

In one tournament there that I did not win, I actually came back to have enough to play with after an all-in loss left me with just two chips. People were laughing and teasing me about “a chip and a chair” but luck gave me back a good stack. I’d have won a hand with Q-2 off suit too if a woman had not called three all-in bets with a pair of sixes and caught a set on the flop. I caught 2 pair and would have beat the others had she not called.

In the game in which I placed third, I fooled one fellow who I noticed liked to take advantage whenever he detected weakness. I caught an ace high flush on the river, and made a face when the river card showed, so he took me for nothing much and went all-in with his trips. It is fun to go into a little act once in a while. I can’t do that at home because they all know me too well and as they fold they tell me how full of s**** I am.

My favorite game is that $1-$3 (1-6 on river) spread limit game at the El Cortez. No jackpot rakes. They cap a single rake at $2.50 and tipping a quarter or fifty cents on small pots is not considered insulting. There is a single, one dollar blind. So you can drink and listen to the banter and wait as long as you want for cards. Compared to the Orleans, where a half kill rule creates three blinds in a good portion of the hands, this game is a tight player’s dream.

The only other game with such a low blind was the old Excalibur 1-3 game that is now gone. And that one did not have the nice big bet on the river, ripe for check raise.

The savings in rake and tip over hours of play really adds up. And what a colorful experience that place is! Jackie Gaughn comes down to play in the afternoon. He is dressed to the nines and calling his famous, “One for the money!” Every once in a while he will wink humorously. It is old Vegas sitting right next to us.
One evening I had a loose, drunken kid to my right and “loose Mike” to his right. They were betting into one another and into me and I was catching cards that just would not stop. Low pairs of 5’s 6’s 7’s 8’s and 9’s all developed into winning sets or full houses. I took $250 off that table, and the kid got so mad and so verbally abusive to me for winning, that they called security and had him thrown out. I had quietly taken all his verbal abuse (along with most of his money) so that after he left, I had both a huge stack of chips and the sympathy of the entire table. That is one hard combination.

I got a little drunk one night on red wine there myself and talked a long while to “Jelly” a sweet Jamaican girl who watched but rarely played. When I get drunk, I tighten up and play just the best cards or flops. I kept winning even while drunk. Nine contestants in a Thai beauty contest were at the bar and the winner came over to say hello to her ex-husband playing across from me. This destroyed his ability to play well for the rest of the night.
That night there was a fist fight. I helped calm one fellow and the floor person helped calm the other until security came. They through one fellow out and I thought it was the wrong guy. But the other player’s thought more about poker than justice. The guy left was a classic fish. “We like having guys like him,” one local explained to me. I heard the next day that this fish had dropped $500. Too bad I needed sleep.

That poker table captures some of the most interesting characters and a mix of some of the worst and some of the best players I have ever seen. My most memorable hand was at a table of very good players in the morning. The flop gave me trip nines as well as three to a straight for my opponents. The First to act, bet. I was fourth. I figured I needed to fold or raise. I did not believe the first actor would bet out if he had flopped the straight, so I raised to push out other straight draws. An old local fellow after me, who had seen me play super tight for two hours, threw in his flopped set of tens. There was no straight, and I won the pot. The old fellow was flabbergasted. He still could not figure that raise. I was happy. I knew for the remainder of the afternoon he would be calling all my raises.

Fine news for me was to find that the weekend before I arrived the El Cortez poker room went “no smoking.” That made the experience much more fun and less risky. Smokers need to go about ten feet away from the table into the casino. That is enough; it makes the atmosphere so much more pleasant.

We also played at the Nugget. I like to play a few hours in the late evening and then get a nice comp after midnight for the next day. That is a great buffet. You can take the comp and go to bed, then go over the next day for lunch and not need to eat again that day. And it works as a line pass. That Nugget buffet can have a 40 minute wait. They used to be tight with those comps and strict about the time. There was a good looking brush who just would not give you an inch. If you forgot to sign in, oh comp for you. But now it is friendly. Once they even changed the date on a comp I had not used. I don’t think they attract as many players there as they did when the room was out in the middle of the casino.

They were efficient, easy for table moves, responsive to requests, and very friendly. Once old “loose Mike” from the El Cortez came in to play $3-$6 at the Nugget. He sat down directly to the right of me and I knew what I was in for. He did not remember me from the night I took the $250 at the El Cortez, but I remembered him, and if I could have caught cards, I’d have cleaned his clock. Others there did discourage him after about an hour. They were good players and they did not loosen up as I have seen in some cases when a wild bettor joins the table. They gave him plenty of little pots and then killed him when they had cards.

There too I later saw a fellow who had played well for over two hours go completely on tilt and start betting anything and everything. I took one pot from him, but the rest of the table just cleaned him out. Discipline is everything. That night I had been playing on a $2-$4 table, but everyone was mindlessly in every pot and so I moved to where some real poker was being played.

I flopped a straight flush A-5 of spades at the Orleans and got a poker room shirt. Somebody stayed with me to the river too even though I had the A-5 in my hand. I don’t know what they had.

Someone also stayed with me to the river when I had pocket aces and caught four aces at Excalibur and spun the wheel for a mere $20. That night four or five of my grown kids were all wearing this birthday shirt they had made for me with my picture on the front of it, so at each table the dealer’s were looking at my face. They all wished me Happy Birthday and then it was great to hear tables cheer for my spin.

I finally played at the Venetian, but all the good comps I had heard so much about were gone. Just the standard $1 an hour and no free bad beat award. I did not care much for the place. Everyone said that it is the best run, but I found the floor persons a bit confused and slow to notice free seats. I liked Caesars best. Their 3-6 limit with no high hand rakes or kill pot was my favorite, but I heard that they are switching to the high hand rake too. I am going to keep looking for $3 - $6 games with no kills and no bad beat rakes. I did well too at MGM $3 - $6 game. I like when I catch a fairly conservative game where most of the players play their cards in predictable manners with few raises or reraises before the flop. I can put them on hands with some success and if I catch cards, rack up some money.

I think those are my favorites after the El Cortez.

I lost most of my sessions at the Orleans no matter what I played. I thought it was just bad cards. One session I lost in a short time with pockets jacks, queens, kings, and aces and a couple of those looked good for a while, so they cost me money. In retrospect, I think there is something working there that does not give me success. Maybe the players are just a bit better. Or maybe that damned half kill stuff just loosens the game too much for me. I know I don’t like it when I manage to take two in a row and then have to be this stupid big big blind. It might be fine for loose players, but I am not likely to be in three pots in a row. I’d rather keep my $3 profit for a hand that I want to bet.

But sometimes there I found bad players. One was a young kid with a tatoo and sunglasses who agonized over his 2-4 bet like it was a no limit. He was a very loose and bad player. He would pay you on the river even when he had nothing. Once after a long, tight session, I raised on the button in order to buy a free card. It worked, but my hand did not develop. He clearly had something to bet on the turn, but he waited for me and when I check he was so annoyed. He was one of the easiest players to read I ever played with.

My buddy best liked the $4-$8 game at Texas Station. He said there was no kill and no crazy players outdrawing good cards with nothing, just pretty regular and predictable players.

Of course, I know that no poker room has predictable players. They change from time to time. But both my buddy and I are getting to the point in our game where we want to avoid a table with too many people just in for the hell of it, the “it’s only money” crowd who never take any note of how you play and they seem more prevalent in high tourist areas and in the lower stakes games.

Finally, I was often in games of 5 or 6 and asked for rake reduction. Rarely was I told no. At Caesar’s I played an hour with no rake whatsoever. I like a five person game because I am used to that at home. I can play more hands and be more aggressive and those conditioned to the 10 person games will still be folding. I especially like a 5 person game if all five have been playing with me for a few hours and view me as tight.

OTHER GAMBLING: I don’t play slots except to use money that I have not played in my State Lottery all year. I put that in Megabucks, so I can have the fantasy of being filthy rich all year, but have it based on a better bet. Often I give myself 7 spins a night and then take the profits, win or lose. Total spins this time were less than 70 for the trip. along with small hits, I hit at the Orleans for $900 one time with 7-double-double.

Video poker was sadder. No royals. Orleans kept taking my 10/7 DB down to 9/6. I’d play a machine one day, and arrive the next morning to see it closed and on the chopping block. Sad, sad times for VP players at the Orleans. What are they thinking? VP players would have to be brain dead to play 9/6 DB. I chased the nickel progressive 9/7DB royals there for days and lost money. I hit nicely at 9/6 JOB at Terrible’s.


FOOD: I eat at the low end. Coupons for Orleans and Gold Coast were a great help. I really like that Gold Coast breakfast. Very cheap. We would go over early and sign up for the $22 tournament and then have breakfast before we played. Cravings at the Mirage was fine, but not as different as I had hoped. Paris breakfast was wonderful as always.
For Christmas dinner we took our $25 certificate (which cost just $4) to McMullan’s just behind the Orleans. We had the place to ourselves. The celebration there included my five sons and four of their wives/girlfriends, my wife and me. So it was great to be able to be as loud as we wanted. Murphy’s stout and Fat Tire made a big hit as did the homemade potato chips and the tasty dips that come with them. We also had nacho’s made with those chips. I have been on a low carb diet and have had virtually no potato for the last six months so it was great to binge on crispy chips. I love that Guinness mustard. We got away at about $25 a piece, everything included.
Another night with one nephew, a poker buddy, and his wife we went to Marrakech out Tropicana for the dinner and live belly dancing and had a blast. They serve six courses for $35 a piece. Alcohol was expensive, but few of us drank there, so the bill was cheap for dinner and live entertainment in a very unusual setting. The dancers were full of humor and many got up and danced with them. It was very funny.
I had the Ellis Island steak 3 times and I’d go again tomorrow if I could. those garlic green beans are great. One crowded night we only found room to sit at the Chicago Pub in the 4 Queens and I had that New Orleans special sandwich called Mustafa(New Orleans style) and a micro brew sampler. Good food. Better Mustafa than I had in N’Orleans.
Elizabeth and I also ate at the Ba-re-ba Spanish tapas place and had some tasty tidbits. This was while we were shopping at the Fashion Show Mall.

DRINKS: I carried a whole list of new drinks to try and did not try any except Amaretto. I did like that sweet drink. Drink coupons worked wonders, especially that 4 free cocktails coupon at Ellis Island. We used the coupon at the bar and carried the drinks into the restaurant. I had plenty coupons for everyone at the Orleans, and at the Gold Coast where I listened twice to a few sets of the Royal Dixie Jazz band. I sure like that old time jazz music. This trip I even managed to dance with my wife a bit.

SHOWS: LOVE was the big one for the whole family. It was great! We had good seats in the 200 section and a good view of all the action. I saw only one other. I saw the Follies again when we won some tickets on the free pull. Good show as always. Odd. I usually see more than that when I go solo, but most of the people I was with did not plan shows into the mix. I saw some good lounge acts, including Susy Dobbs at the Gold Coast just at the end of the Rodeo days. I love to see those cowboys and to listen to their talk or horses and bull riding, all so different than anything in my world. I enjoyed the Royal Dixie Jazz Band at the Gold Coast and the Smith brothers at the Orleans. Some woman from Virginia picked me up one night in the Orleans lounge and danced with me for a set. No, she was not a hooker.
But at my age and weight I am not used to being picked up by a cute 40 something woman even it she is a bit tipsy. So that was a treat.


Slink and I sauntered through however many thousands of people in Santa outfits for the great Santa Run which was trying for a Guinness Book of Records. It was surreal. Here is a Blogger who ran:


Jean did not plan to be part of my birthday bash, but I went to hear her speak at the Las Vegas library along with Viktor Nacht who co-authored her new book. So I’ll count her. It was really a great time. There were only a dozen people in the audience so she had plenty of personal time for everyone. I had my picture taken with her (Jean wearing Reindeer antlers on her head) and got a signed copy of her new book. She was just as she seems in print: practical, down to earth, equipped with facts.

She has been such an inspiration to me, that I was really thrilled to meet her. It was one of the highlights of my trip.
Certainly she has taught many low level gamblers to find ways to have fun without losing too much money. I admire her for that. Frugality is the key to her success. That is my way of life.
I honestly thought that the book would be interesting, but not too useful for me, as I have limited my VP play to just playing for room mailings, and pretty much know what I need to know. But I was wrong. In the book was a simple formula for evaluating a progressive. I used that the next day because that was all there was at the Orleans. And other parts were very helpful also.
Her software does something I have been wanting for a long while. It takes errors and generalizes them and then feeds them back randomly. This is a fine teaching strategy. The old Dancer program I use feeds my errors back in a group and they are exactly like the hands I missed, so sometimes my memory comes into play rather than my correct application of a principle.
Good Teachers know that good practice must make the student rethink a similar problem in the right way, not just remember an answer. Jean is a master teacher.
Also her software prints strategy sheets. However, they will not print an advanced sheet with penalty cards like Tomski’s VP Strategy Maker does. Jean leaned more into ignoring the finer distinctions. Still having the ability to print good strategy sheets is a great advantage because you can take them right in the casino with you, lose them, and print more next trip. Also, you can actually print them big enough to read without squinting. And I find that I confuse myself often on big issues and need to check the sheet. Or when coaching someone, it is nice to show them the answer on a printed page so they are not just relying on your memory.

Quotes from Jean:

“Brad says I’m ‘crazy frugal’ and that’s true.”

When we started, “we just wanted to break even and get all the free comps.”

“For a casual gambler, losing less is very good.”

“Multistrike poker can turn a preacher into a swearing sailor.”

“I think multiline poker is one of the best things to happen to Video Poker, but it is also one of the most dangerous.”

She talked about tough sessions which she reported as sessions in which:

“I’m not getting any dealt good hands.”
“We don’t get discouraged enough to quit, but we do get pissed off.”

Encouraging five sons (25-35), many of whom do not make much money, to meet me in Vegas was risky. I worried that they would gamble above their level. None did. Part of that is because I push coupons and promotions. We spent a lot of time playing free promotion money off on a VP machine one quarter at a time with me coaching from my strategy sheets, so as to realize some profit every time. It worked. Matchplays at Ellis Island worked also as did Win Cards at the Westin. Such promotions set good stopping points. Poker buddy Slink and I made some wild coupon runs also, especially one at New Frontier where we played 4 matchplays each in the same visit. However, for me the matchplays did not win with slink or much later either. On my way out of town at the Hardrock, both my wife and I played 4 matchplays and only won once. Two losers were $25 bets.

The best advantage on a promotion was when son Frank signed up for a Sahara Card. He got $10 free play and then took one free spin on a promotional slot and won $25 more free play and $25 in food comps. We were planning on catching the Sahara Buffet, so as to be on the cheap that night. Frank’s comps were doubled at the buffet cash register, so he bought 4 free buffets, and the rest of us went for 2 for 1 coupons. Now the Sahara buffet is usually one I avoid, and this happened to be Xmas eve. But this night they had a special spread. Everything was very good, including my favorite smoked salmon with onion, tomato, capers, and creamed horse radish. The value of Frank’s sign up was $35 in VP play and $54 in food comps. Not bad for free.

WINS AND LOSSES: I was down $300 in the first week, and then I was up again and never went below 0 again. At my peak I was ahead $1700. Then I hovered around $1300 profit for a week and the last day took a big chunk, ending up PLUS $984.
Much of my loss was VP at the El Cortez (which by the way has a new bunch of 10/7 machines) and at the Orleans. So all the money dropped will generate future free room offers. I played VP only where I stayed. One buddy who had never played video poker before asked me to coach him on a JOB machine at the Gold Coast. We argued about whether to play 3 to the Royal or keep four hearts. I won the argument and he caught the Royal. First day and less than an hour of play. A nice $1000.

TRANSPORTATION: I did not rent a car or drive at all. I am perfectly content on buses or free shuttles and much happier. In December they are comfortable and uncrowded. Others who came did rent cars, so I was driven around many places. A car makes some sense if you are staying for only a few days. But it scares me. I was in at least a half dozen situations where accidents might have easily occurred.
I did not buy the month long bus pass, but I did often buy day passes. They worked great. The Tropicana bus fro the Orleans was easy and fast, and when I started my 24 hours on that bus, the $2.50 day pass with 50 cents more per ride on the strip worked better for me than when I started on the $5 Deuce and had to pay $5 for a pass. Once when toe blisters slowed me down, I missed my last Deuce connection bus in a 24 hour period, but the next driver let me slide by. I also saw a couple old fellows just put in a dollar and say “senior citizen”. No one asked for an ID. They told me they had been doing that their entire week on the Deuce with no difficulty.

By the way if you have been saving old Orleans room keys to use on the free Coast shuttles, forget them. The white keys are gone and now there is a colorful 10th Anniversary key. No one ever asked for a key anytime we rode the shuttle including when people without seats were asked to wait for the next one. But technically you are supposed to have a key.

RED ROCK: Went out to Red rock twice with folks who had never seen it and enjoyed the view, the wild burros and road runners.


Planning, planning, planning.
coupons organized in labeled envelopes in a separate bag.
Cell phones, the key to all coordination.
Traveler’s checks.
A clip for the drapes for afternoon naps.
A small roll of duct tape for a million uses.
Blister protection, especially some first aid tape for taping up fragile toes.
Order a bottle of water with each alcoholic drink and drink it before the next drink. Keep a few bottle tops with pocket change for the places(Orleans) that won’t give you the bottle with a top on it.
Dried fruit and nuts for the room.
Cash out slot tickets immediately after play.


Well, next trip won’t be a Birthday Bash. I may go solo, or I may try to entice small groups of people to come for some portion of my trip. I’d like to go one time with all poker players. I’d like to find a group of swing dancers to go, stay at the Gold Coast during the week, and then dance every afternoon while drinking free on coupons.
I am definitely hooked on downtown and especially on the El Cortez which will send me a mailing for 2 free rooms over 3 weekend nights and the ability to extend for about $25 a night. Coupons and other free night offers downtown are easy to use. Every casino is just a short roll away.

If i do decide for some time closer to the strip, I am looking more and more at the Gold Coast as a substitute for Orleans now that the good VP is gone. At least they have 9/6 JOB still at the Gold Coast. Also the rooms are cheaper, the buffet better, the swing dancing a favorite of mine, and they have that fine $22 daily poker tournament which I can’t play by shuttle from the Orleans because the tournament is on before the first morning shuttle. I can also get back to the Gold Coast more easily after midnight if I want to play poker at Caesars or Flamingo, and I can easily grab the CAT bus to Terrible’s or to Ellis Island.
I would like to get my packing down to bare bones, so I can take my suit cases on the city bus easily. I already have found that Penny’s stain free supershirts wash easily, dry quickly and look great. If I can be more mobile, I can take more advantage of free or 2/1 coupon rooms.
In general, I want to plan so that I take full advantage of free offers and reduce my transportation expenses while not renting a car.

I will organize all my reservations by confirmation number and do all my confirming one number at a time and reconfirm often. I lost $80 at the Orleans with a reservation mixup, too many changed reservations to plug in free rooms or better prices made the entire thing confusing and left two errors in the booking.
The El cortez had me coming in the day before, but since I had confirmed that reservation a few days before arriving, and they had that on record, they accommodated me and took it as their error.

I also need to think about whether I want to share my room again. It cuts expenses, but my sleep habits are irregular, and I may need to pay the extra price for the comfort of being by myself and sleeping at any time of the day I want without disturbing or being disturbed.

Okay, that is about it, I guess. I tried to keep it down to the facts. I did not take as many notes as I do on a solo trip. Too busy. Too tired. Now the question is what do I do on a frozen lake in January. Well, I’ll start with a poker game on Sunday. Perhaps that will help some.

Good luck everyone.


As far as I know, you can only use a coupon once for 2-1 in any given stretch of days. Perhaps they will let you go back to back with LVA and ACG. If you can put the reservations in different names, then you can better string them along together. I did that in December. Or id your stay is long enough you might be able to use one the first days and then again on the last days.

Once you get established, you may find you get the best mailings from the El Cortez. They usually offer 2 rooms for 3 nights and include weekend bookings. Also they let you extend at $25 night and throw in $50 of free food. Be sure to reconfirm your reservation soon after making it, and check the dates. They had me for the wrong dates. They accomodated me when I arrived because I had reconfirmed 3 days before leaving and they OR I) had not caught the date difference.
I have stayed in the Tower rooms. They are basically identical to Orleans rooms. Pavillion are as mentioned above motel like, but I liked them fine. I don't know the vintage rooms. They seem just too much in the action for me. I liked the night view on the balcony on the way to Pavillion rooms. Toliets flush poorly so flush more than once and hold down the handle for a bit.
The poker room has gone no smoking, so you can play live poker more comfortably, and they have an original game like no other in Vegas. I included some report on that in my TR.
If you play VP, there are some good games there including some new 10/7 DB around a pole in front of the rest rooms in the Classic slots section.
$3 craps with 10 X odds is pretty good too. And they have some of the only single deck 3:2 BJ left in Vegas.

The food is not that great. I'd stay away from that Empress Buffet. Roberta's is liked by many, but too expensive for me except when they give me a free comp. I usually eat other places unless I get a poker comp for Careless Kitty's where the hamburger melt and the prime rib taste just fine.

Run 1000 points thru the machine daily and you will get mailings. The cool thing about downtown is that you can patch together coupons and free rooms and get from one to another with no car. Also, the bus from the DCT will get you anywhere. One cool ride is the 108 to Hardrock and Terrible's. It avoids the traffic and holdups on LV Blvd. and gets you close enough to walk to Ellis Island for cheap steak and matchplays and then head to the strip. 24 hour passes for regular routes are $2.50. Then you add 50 cents for each Deuce ride. Deuce 24 hour passes are $5 and will give you unlimited rides on any bus.

I also found the bus to Fiesta Rancho/Texas Station very convenient. I'd even come back at night because you can hop off right next to Freemont street and avoid that walk from the DTC after dark.

Friday, December 01, 2006

That's it

Except for the coming Trip Report The official end of the Birthday Blog is now.
Thanks for reading.
Thanks for planning to come.
Thanks for coming.
Thanks for imagining you might someday come.

Have a good holiday, everyone. Enjoy everything.
And may the New Year bring you jackpots of joy!!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

last birthday bash newsletter

Okay, Birthday Bash buddies. This is the stretch. I head out on December 4th and I'm afraid my trip planning time is even more shortened because I take my computer out of service on Thursday. I'll have access to Elizabeth's computer, but not all my lists of Vegas favorites for information. However, my Blog is a pretty good resouce and I can access that.

So, if ya got questions, ask 'em.

If you have not seen the Blog recently, the next two posts give some last minute advice. September is a good month to skim for ideas.

I planned a couple itineraries for 2 Bash visitors. I can do that for you too. I am pretty flexible on my time. So far I have scheduled these days:

Xmas Day breakfast at Arizona Charlie's on the way to Red Rock to scramble on the rocks.

Xmas Day dinner at the McMullan's Irish Pub right behind the Orleans. Just a short walk there and back.

Saturday, Dec 23rd - Mirage for Cravings and LOVE.

Saturday, Dec 16th - Birthday Dinner at Marakeesh Morrocan belly dancing restaurant.

Dec 12th or 13th - Birthday Breakfast Party at Paris Buffet.

The rest of my time is unplanned but flexible around your plans. I won't be with you all the time, or do all things with you, but I'll be around.

I worked up a detailed itinerary for the Birthday Bash guests with just 48 hours in Vegas. It may not fit your interests, but you can get an idea of what can be planned if you give me some sense of preference. Some of you want to just hang loose, and that is cool too.
My advice is for nongamblers is to plan around show locations and then around food locations and times.
Gamblers should coordinate those two interests with good pay tables/good poker games.
Even if you just divide your time up between sections of the strip, and let me know what those are, I can suggest some cool destinations.


48 hour itinerary:

Dear ___________,

I am very happy that you have tickets to Ka on a Monday. Of all the Bash guests you have had the most difficulty getting what you wanted and I know you wanted shows. How did you get complimentary tickets?

I don't have an agenda except to hang with people, but I'll skip some of the site seeing. I don't need to go to Red Rock Canyon, for example, as I'll go later in the monty, or up in the Stratosphere tower. 15 times is enough. It took me that long to get kissed there. Elizabeth was my 15th tower guest. One week I did Margot's brother one night and Elizabeth's brother the next. It is a wonderful view, but not an everynight experience across two marriages.

I also can't be a very good tour guide from Vegas. From here I can because I have access to my own Blog as a resource. What I can't remember, I can look up.

Here is my suggested itinerary. It is a tight schedule so you won't probably be able to do all of it. :
One bus option is to buy a $5 good for the Deuce - 24 hour pass stamped when you buy it and good on the clock for 24 hours on any bus in Vegas. It depends on how often you will use it. Over two rides in 24 hours and you save money. Another pass is cheaper. You don't want that one. It is for local buses only. You buy directly from the driver
Before Monday print out your boarding pass on your computer within 24 hours of the flight. The sooner the better. This gives you A B or C boarding and you can pick a prime seat.
Have a good breakfast at home, but don't eat on the plane unless you eat right away. There is a McDonald's just after security too.
And don't talk on the plane either. Sleep on the plane, or just meditate yourself into a relaxed state. Be patient. Your body will not want to rest. Trick it. Pray quietly to yourself. Mentally go on old trips. Pretend you are on a calm lake or that you have just finished making love, and it is now time to rest. Drink liquids, but save the peanuts for your room. Almost 5 hours. Get some rest; you have along day ahead of you and you don't want to fall asleep in the show.
Settle in quickly in the hotel on Monday and get out of there. I never unpack the first night. Shower and dress for the show.
Pick a place to eat and eat a nice hearty meal soon after you arrive. At each meal drink extra water. Take it like medicine.
I suggest either the Orleans buffet(lunch is under $10) or the Ellis Island cheapest steak in Vegas($5)? Lots of other choices, but no good ones near your show.

Now you can do one of three things. Take the shuttle to Barbary Coast and make you way to the MGM, or take a bus to the MGM or take a $7 cab to the MGM. That is the corner of casinos to see today. I'd eat at the Orleans, then do the cab to the Luxor, tour King Tut's museum, and then walk up for the show.
a cheaper alternative:
Take the shuttle back to Barbary Coast. If it is 3 PM check and see if Big Elvis is in the lounge and listen for a while. Incredible show. (Get a free drink coupon from your Orleans funbook for the Barbary Coast.)

Then take the free shuttle inside the Bellagio to the Monte Carlo which is close to MGM. Just go inside Bellagio and keep asking where the shuttle to Monte Carlo You probably don't have time to tour Bellagio today. Save that for Wednesday.

Or you can walk.

If you don't go in casinos you can walk from Barbary Coast at a near running pace and make MGM in 20 minutes or walk normally in 40 minutes.

The Deuce bus is also an option, but if you buy that later, the 24 hour pass will get you through most of tomorrow.

See the show. Before or after the show, depending on time, see that NYNY corner of casinos. Skip Tropicana unless you win free tickets at the free pull on the way in. Skip the free deck of cards.
Before or after the show, walk down to Excalibur and wander in a bit. Go in the Luxor. If you have time before the show, see the museum there of King Tut lookalikes. Stand on the bridges over the roads and look around at the lights. Good photos here. Wander around NYNY if you want. It is not my favorite.

There is a half priced ticket place located across from Monte Carlo. You might want to check and see what is playing.

At the NYNY hotel arrival circle on Flamingo catch your bus(runs about every 20 minutes) or $7 cab (my pick) facing toward the Orleans and go back to the Orleans. After midnight there is no free shuttle back to the Orleans, Walk a few steps down Tropicana to the circle where people drive in to NYNY to register for the hotel, and either wait for a Tropicana bus back to the Orleans or grab a cab in that circle for about $7.

Or if you don't want ever to sleep that first night:

After the show take the Deuce bus to the Stratosphere and go see Huck Daniels review in the lounge( 10 PM until 2 AM). Most everything else is dark on Monday, but he usually plays only that night. This is a Black experience. If you can last, by midnight performers from all over Vegas come up on stage for a song or two. There will most likely not be music at the Orleans that night. It will be pretty dead there.

Take the Deuce back to NYNY/MGM corner for the bus or cab described earlier.

Back at the Orleans (lounge music is dark-check out Brendan's Irish Pub) you are now ready for a little exercise. How about some bowling? Usually after midnight games are one dollar each. Or how about a "graveyard special"(midnight til 6) at the Cafe. Breakfast type meals for about $2 or steak and eggs for $4. What the hell! It is breakfast after all. It may be 2AM but on Albany time it is 5PM. Or what about a little gambling? If you catch up with me, I'll have video poker strategy sheets and know the good machines. And if you play with my player's card I'll get free rooms again.


Take the Orleans shuttle to the Barbary Coast Casino.
We may have a good joint breakfast this morning at the Paris. I won't know for sure until my college friend's set their schedule. I'd aim for 9-10 AM.

If we don't, eat a light or hearty breakfast buffet at the Orleans buffet or cafe. Food is better and much cheaper there.
Shuttle to Barbary Coast.

Standing at the front of the casino, walk right going North. Today you are going to cover the North strip. Skip the closest casinos. Those are for Wednesday.

Stop and see the car museum (I have coupons) at Imperial Palace. Check to see if they take your picture for free at the outside. Then go in with your coupon, sign up for a player's card, get your picture, and see the cars. It is incredible!

Then see some of the attractions at the Mirage.
Go at least as far as the Venetian and walk in there and look around at the canals, the art, the shops. See Treasure Island.
If you like a good long hike, then keep walking. If not, Grab a Deuce bus going North and ask him for a $5- 24 hour bus pass. It is $2 a trip or $5 unlimited ride for a clocked 24 hours. Get off at Circus Circus and go in and walk around and wait for one of the short Circus acts. Go next door at Slots of Fun and play cheap craps just to say you have done that or cheap blackjack. If you are hungry get a foot long hot dog.

Continue North. Walk the short few blocks or back on the bus.

Get off when he announces the Sahara. Quickly walk into the Nascar cafe and check out things to do there. I don't really know what they have, but there is something. I'm not really impressed by this spot, but I know you like Nascar and there is a shop and some decorations and some kind of driving game. If you are really hungry, the worst buffet in Vegas is at the Sahara. It is cheap with coupons. Or the diner has an excellent prime rib special and pretty good food. Stratosphere 50's diner is also good and coming up.

Walk across the street to the largest souvenir shop in all the world and buy some tacky junk for all the people back home. If you don't mind carrying, get all your shopping done. Little things: real decks of cards with any casino name, thousands of forms of dice, thousands of tacky things here with Vegas on them. Really a museum of tacky and a mustsee. (Actually, however, the very best cards and dice are right in the Orleans gift shop. Cards are just 50 cents a pack and dice are 25 cents a piece. Real stuff used in the casino. Some of the other decks of cards have marks on them. Orleans just snips the corners.)

ALTERNATIVE: Skip everything and go directly to the Stratosphere to arrive at 2 or 4 for the Viva las Vegas Show. This is one of the best deals in Vegas. The tickets 9with my coupon) are free but you buy a drink for about $9 each. The show is a review: dancing girls, singers, a comic, a dog act. It is the best value show for a first time Vegas goer and in the afternoon so you won't fall asleep.

Try to hit the Stratospehre tower just at sunset. See Vegas in the daytime and be patient and watch it change into darkness. This is one of my favorite experiences.
Are you interested in roller coasters or rides that hang you over the tower above all of Vegas?

Get back on the bus and continue away from the casinos you have visited and go downtown (as long as it is after dark. Downtown is boring in the daytime, like an abandoned amusement park, no people, no lights.) It must be dark by now. Walk the Freemont experience and see at least one light show and hear any music in the streets. Shop a little there. Just savor the ambiance. Nothing much inside any casinos unless you want to gamble or watch gambling or look for lounge music (Golden Nugget) or a cheap show at the Fitzgerald (see if I have a coupon). Do go in the Four Queens and Golden Gate. Do the free pull in the doorway of the 4 Queens and go in and get a key chain. Also if you have a lot of time to kill, go to the promotions booth at the Plaza and get a free picture on a key chain for signing up for their card.
Down the street from the Plaza toward the Main Street Station are some cool old railroad cars that Teddy Roosevelt and Buffalo Bill once rode. Main Street Station is worth seeing for wood, antiques, stained glass. Their buffet is one of the best in Vegas. Go in the men's bathroom closest to the buffet and pee against an actual section of the Berlin Wall. Wait for a break in traffic and sneak Mary inside.

Don't wander too much from that downtown canopy area except toward Main Street Station. Other directions are not safe. Stay with the tourists. You can head up to the El Cortez if you want to see a downscale, some would say seedy, smoky Vegas casino. Comparing this to walking the Bellagio gives you the entire gamut of gambling folk.

There is a small collection of old neon signs at Neonopolis that I like. Walk in for a moment.

There is a nice 24 hour drugstore on the corner there too for those things you forgot. Sometimes they have reasonable souvenirs too.

There is a great Indian jewelry store on this canopy Freemont experience with good prices and wonderful Western stuff. We shop there every time. Our friend does too. She collects Indian jewelry and respects what they sell. Not so tacky.

You can eat again downtown. Lots of great cheap places. Main Street Station buffet and Golden Nugget Buffet might be open if you are early enough. Golden Gate has a diner on the far right as you face casino. I like to sit on the stools. In the diner in the back they have a piano player and 99 cent shrimp cocktail and some antique slot machines. This is old Vegas; the place has been there forever.

California has a great cheap prime rib.
The prime rib special is in the Market Street Cafe 5 Pm until 11PM. Salad bar is included as is a cherry desert. Sometimes there is a line but you can go ahead of everyone if you will sit on the stools.

Also lots of Hawaiin food and a Hawaiian food shop in the California. Lots of Hawaiian people too. Main Street Station buffet also has a Hawaiian section. Great pulled pork.

Get back on the bus heading home. You don't catch it where you got off, but around the corner of Neonopolis. Ask someone if you feel lost.

Are you tired yet?
With your 24 hour pass you can ride free as far as Bellagio and see the fountains at night and wander that area. Caesars Galleria Bar may have Ghalib Ghalab playing in lounge into the early morning ours. Expensive drinks, great jazz. If you don't sit down you can listen for free. Remember the Galleria name, however, that place is huge and no one knows what is up there.
If you are tired and ready to head back to the Orleans, which is what I think is reality, there will be music there in the lounge or in the Irish Pub. Then get off the bus at NYNY corner and take another or $7 cab home.
Get up early. You can sleep later on the plane. In Vegas you rent a hotel room so you can make love and nap. No real sleeping.
Dress and check out. No lines.
Eat a light breakfast at the Orleans cafe if you must.
Put your bags in storage with the bellman.

Take the shuttle to Barbary Coast and wander around that corner: Bellagio conservatory is a must see, blown glass in the hotel lobby, chocolate fountain inside, Paris - do the tower (but I was not impressed,) I like the bathrooms. Then Alladin shops, Caesars shops.

Eat late breakfast or early lunch at Paris or Bellagio buffet. Maybe this will be the day we do a joint breakfast at Paris.

Take the shuttle back to the Orleans and grab a cab to the airport.

Sleep on the plane.

Alternative plans might be made around another show for Tuesday night. There is comedy. I have a coupon for Vinnie Favorito. There is also the Jubilee Show. There are some cheap shows usually at the Fitzgerald's downtown. The problem with shows on a tight time budget is they eat up all the time by determining the geography. If you are hungry for performance I would just settle for wandering in and out of a free lounge act, where you can come and go for the price of a drink.

How important is seeing guitars at the Hard Rock? It is not close to anything. A long walk. Still fun to see only it cuts out something else.

I'll hang with you for some of this as long as you want company and as long as I can stay awake. My problem is I am awake almost every morning with the sun. If the others go to Red Rock on one of the days you are there (highly likely), I'll hang with you for most of that time. I can find you anywhere with a cell phone.

I hope that helps. Check the maps in the permanent Blog links. There is a good interactive with some ways too of seeing attractions.

Questions??? Five days left.

See some of you all in Vegas. Drink water!
See the rest of you in Vegas some other year.

Happy Holidays

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Helpful last minute hints

Any questons? Ask now. I leave on Dec. 4th, 9 days.
Once I'm gone you have to save your questions until you arrive and I have to answer based on my 60 year old memory. Good luck with that!!

* Put my cell phone number 518-858-2770 in your phone AND on a slip of paper in your wallet with other important phone numbers. Phones break. People forget chargers. Chargers break. If you have the numbers written down, you can borrow another cell phone.
*Bring room and car chargers. You may not be renting a car, but someone else might.
* e-mail me your cell phone number before Dec 4 or call me with it after Dec 4. Leaving hotel messages is very inefficient. I am never in the hotel room. I am also not too adept at using a cell phone, so be patient with me. Leave messages.
* If you want to insure that your credit card won't be cancelled in the middle of a $5 buffet charge, call the credit card company and tell them the dates you are going to Vegas. Unusual activity in Vegas sometimes puts a hold on your card that is time consuming to get right.
* Confirm all reservations, check that date, time, rate is right. Check you preference for smoking or non, for double or king bed. Check they know you are coming.
* Pack suitcases for Southwest that weigh under 50 pounds each. If you take heavy stuff, take two cases.
* I find slip on shoes and a plastic bag for all my pocket junk helpful when going through security.
* Bring cash for the shuttle or cab.
* Bring large bankrolls partly in Traveler's Checks. They are simple to cash at any casino.
* Leave large accumulated quantities of quarters/nickles home. Most machines now use only folding money. No coins can be inserted.
* Pack extra plastic bags, rubber bands, a little duct tape, some dollar store clamps. A few hangers. All helpful for insuring a good night's sleep, washing out a shirt, fixing a suitcase, lining shoes, etc.
* Pack a few post card stamps and addresses.
* The desert is dry and sunny even in cool weather. Chapstick is nice. Drink water when you arrive. Dehydration is nasty! Hats and sunglasses. Sunblock.

Other packing suggestions

see you!

Airport to Orleans

Shuttle or cab??

For a single traveler the shuttles makes the best sense. The cost to the Orleans is $6 or $6.50 per person. The disadvantage is that sometimes you have to wait until they fill and then wait again as they drop off other people, so it can take time away from your trip. You can usually get a better deal and a faster ride from Las Vegas Limo but you have to skip the first few aggressive ticket sellers (grayline, etc) and wheel you bags down a little bit to the right and just around the corner of the building to the Las Vegas Limo.

The disadvantage in arranging for the shuttle to take you BACK to the airport is that you have to leave earlier and sometimes they are not reliable in arriving on time. Once again they do not take a direct route, but go from casino to casino. Taking a cab back to the airport makes sense even if you are single.

If you are a couple taking a cab makes sense both ways. The cab fare will be more than $13 and less than $21 depending on traffic, but it will go directly to your hotel and save you perhaps as much as an hour.

If you want the inexpensive ride, you must tell the cabby more than your destination. You must ask him, "Please don't take the tunnel, go directly down Tropicana." Otherwise, he will give you a more round about route on expressways which look faster but usually are not, and it will cost a few bucks more. Some of the cabbies are mad that you know this. The easiest thing is to tell them you want to see Tropicana on your way because you might be meeting friends somewhere on that road and need to check it out. Here is a thread with more details on how to take the cheapest cab and a discussion of the "tunnel" issue

However, I have read trip reports where people stood in 40 minute lines to get a cab. On these occasions walk down to las Vegas Limo.
Or rent a car?

If you want to rent a car, it is cheaper and safer to arrange the rental before you go. Stick with the well known rental companies. I use the cheapest one, Dollar. Decide before you go if you want their supplemental insurance. MY insurance agent assures me I am well covered and I also rent with a charge card that insures me so I never get it. Decide also if you want to return the car full or empty. I always choose to return it full. Although the gas is cheaper when you buy from the rental company, you have to donate back all that you have not used. It is easy on the way to the airport to stop at a gas station on Tropican and Paradise (Where you turn for the airport) get filled up and get a receipt in case there are any questions as to where and when you filled up. Finally, I have found it a great time saver to join the VIP club at the car rental place. It is free. It just means they take all you information on line and actually you can rent the car by just getting the paperwork from the car lot. I always have to change something or add a driver, but even then, because I am an Express member at Dollar I stand in the VIP line where usually there are no people while the folks who waited for the last minute stand in the regular line and wait about 10 minutes per person for the paperwork to be created. The last time we esimated the regular line was about 40 minutes long. I was first in my line and taken first also, before anyone in the regular line.

But if you join the VIP club (like Dollar Express) , they do have your credit card when you make a reservation using your club number. I lock in the price with just my name and a few days before I go, I call and put that reservation on my Express number as if I just forgot to do it the first time. I also give them my Rapid Rewards Southwest number so that I earn credits toward a free SW flight. Then if I screw up on a reservation, they don't have my information.

Carry the printout of the rental reservation with you. That saved me $10 once because their computer did not have my printed rate.

There are options and rentals once you get you your hotel. You can arrange them too ahead of time. Call me or email me if you will be doing that and I'll explain how.

Friday, November 24, 2006


I don't think that walking newcomers to Vegas need much in the way of maps beyond the one in the permanent links section,

but here are some others:




NOTE: As of November 8th Dewey's average hotel room cost for the entire stay is $13 a night. Not bad, eh?

To see what conventions are happening while you are in Vegas, go to
and fill in your dates.

November 30 - December 9
*Hundreds of cowboys and cowgirls (National Rodeo Finals.) Bargain casinos like Gold Coast/Orleans get filled and expensive. I'll stay downtown. A strip option is the Stratosphere/Sahara area. Terrible's may also be an option. Let me know if you are having trouble finding rooms for this period.

December 4-10
*Slink and DEWEY will share one or two El Cortez rooms downtown. ( Dewey is alone on the 4th, sharing on 5-6, sharing at Fiesta Rancho on 7. Each is in a separate free room 8-9 and Slink stays thru the 10th)

December 10-28
Dewey will be at the Orleans.

December 10-14
*Jan and Mom

December 11-13
*Chuck and Mary
*Dave "Morpheus"

December 13-15

December 14-17
*Nephew Chris
*Greg and Anne

December 15-19
*Elizabeth arrives on the 15th
*Mary and Neil?

December 17-19
*Brother Jim

Late December -
*Harvey?? (but not Alice, Alex, or Jonathan)

December 23- 27 - If you want to see the entire Hill/Reid crew, come for Xmas.
*Cory - dates uncertain
*Dana ( maybe Amanda??)23-27
*Frank( maybe Julie??) 23-27
*Keith and Bernie 22-26- First three at MGM, then over to Orleans.
*Peter and Jen and Jess ( 25 and 26)

December 28 -
Everybody who is still hanging around goes home.

Thursday, November 23, 2006


LOVE review

Since many in the family have decided to go to see LOVE, I thought I would give it its own post.

We are going on Saturday, December 23rd. 7:30 show.

Frank's ticket is purchased. Dana is getting a ticket for Cory and for himself. Peter and Jen are not coming until Xmas day, so they are not in the LOVE plans.

WHY BOOK NOW: ( click on this link to see)

Since we have to go early to pick up the tickets, we have decided to hit the fancy Mirage Buffet called Cravings (4th best value in Vegas at $22.50 for supper) together before the show.
Check here for details:
for information on Cravings click below:

Also, we might like seeing this new lounge if it opens on time:

Here are some quotes from recent reports on Cravings posted on boards:

Ate their last week. Agree on the seafood comments, disagree on the dessert quality. Any place that doesn't have sugar-packed key lime pie and cheesecake can't claim to have a great dessert case. I actually enjoyed having the buffet personnel doling out the salad, contrary to complaints of others previously. I liked their setup of 13 stations, including Latin, and the card they hand you at entry which describes where stations are and what precisely is served at them. Not as good in my opinion as Paris/Wynn/Bellagio, but a worthy challenger.

We ate there at lunch in September and enjoyed it. They had a good variety of food but we really liked the salads they mix for you and the paninni and gyro station.

Compared to Rio buffet-

I've done both and prefer Cravings. However, I'd be quite content with either.
I think the biggest difference is that Cravings is less a buffet than is Rio, if that makes any sense. What I mean is that dining at Cravings is more like eating at a restaurant and the Rio is more akin to a buffet.

I had both buffets two months ago (see my tr for full details). Rio's buffet was good. Cravings was OUTSTANDING. Go with Cravings - especially the prime rib. (I do give a slight not do rio on the dessert - cravings was just average in that regard, but everything else was top notch.)

We have done Cravings a few times and the quality has remained very high. We had not done the Rio buffet for awhile and tried it last trip on the POV coupon. Honestly it has gone down a bit but was still a great value with the coupon.

I prefer Cravings for their shrimp and king crab legs, which are already split. They also have a great prime rib.

Rio has you peel'em shrimp (small) and unsplit snow crab. A major disappointment for me. However, my husband enjoyed an enormous selection of foods he loves to eat and rated it his second favorite. Considering the price is comparable to Cravings, Paris, etc., I think the shellfish could be improved.

Both have awesome desserts.

For the rest of this post on Love, click here LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE




Tuesday, November 21, 2006

December weather

a good weather link:

Some one posted this question on a board recently and it seemed to get the best answers with even suggestions of ways to dress.

QUESTION: 28 days until our next visit. The first time in December. We have been to vegas in Jan, Feb, March, April, July, Aug, and Nov. What can we expect for the second weekend in Dec (8-12)?


First it depends on where you are coming in from. We are from Ohio, so when we go to 50 degrees in the days it is very pleasant, but if you are coming from a sunny warm Florida it will feel chilly. I love the weather in Vegas in Dec. The days are a little cool, but sunny. You do need a light jacket for the evenings as they are a bit cool and windy and the long walk from casino to casino can feel brisk. The wind coming across the water in front of some of the casinos is really chilly. Vegas is like any other part of the country and can experience a high or low for the area at any time. Last Dec. we hit a really cold spell there, but it was a lot warmer than at home. We heard that the next week it was unually hot.


we are from Ohio also, so I'm sure we have a good chance of having better weather in vegas. We have been very lucky and have always had great weather on all our other trips (this makes #22). Even in November it has always been in the 80's. I'll keep my fingers crossed that we will have some unseasonably warm days for Dec.


Contrary to popular conception, Vegas DOES have winter. It will be quite cold, very windy, and will rain and might snow during this time. The saving grace is that it's only about a month long.

However, it usually starts in mid-December!!! So your weather could be anything from excellent to lousy-miserable. Another reason why visitation is at its lowest that time of year.


Last year it was 60F daytime, around 40F nightime. One night it got down to 32F. No rain, light winds. I was very comfortable in a long sleeve shirt during the day but did need a jacket at night. From an east coast perspective it was a nice improvement in the weather we left behind. The pool at TI was open and a few people were in it.


From the Las Vegas Advisor weather link:

quote -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

December Temperature:
Mean 46°
Avg. Max. 58°
Avg. Min. 33°

Evening temperatures dip into the 30s and even into the 20s. The sun makes an occasional showing.

Pools are closed.

Desert or not, it's wintertime and it's cold. Dress warmly.


Dec weather in LV is very changeable. Dec. can be one of the wettest months of the year. 2 years ago there were record rainfalls in Dec thru New Years. Early morning temps can dip below freezing. Couldy overcast days will not get above 50s. Sunny days can get to almost 70. As stated above, it's winter in the high desert. Elev are in the mid 2K ft in the valley to over 10k ft in the Spring Mts just to the west. Snow above 5K ft is commonplace and is reliable enough to support a snowboard ski area on Mt Charleston. Snow in the valley is rare, and usu. it is only an inch or so and doesn't last more than a few hrs.
Slacks and a long sleeve shirt will suffice during the day and a jacket is a welcomed addition at night.

2nd week is Rodeo week. Cowboys and Cowgirls galore who seem to use more 'anti-freeze' than clothing to protect against the cooler temps. YeeHa!


You'll have a great time laughing at what the people wear at night because of the "cold". I'm from SD and when I go in December I'll bring a light jacket. You'll see people bundled in hats, scarfs, gloves, etc. like its -30. Obviously NOT from the midwest!

I bring a sweatshirt for the day. It's usually in the 50s but a couple times it's been really windy and it cuts through you.


Although it has been about at least 7 or 8 years since I have been in LV in December, I experienced one year when it was around 70 Degrees for the High (I don't remember when that was but I do remember staying at the Landmark) and another year when the highs were in the 30's and the lows were in the 20s and the wind was blowing.

For me (since I live in Southern California), these were basically new low temperatures for me and I was quite cold. I actually remember one of those days I was driving to Stratosphere to meet a friend and I heard on the radio (this was about 7:30 AM or so) that the temperature (with the Wind Chill) made it feel like it was 13 Degrees! I was just frozen. I remember wearing at least four things including Thermal Underwear and Mittens and I was just completely freezing!


It really is funny how where you originate from makes it feel warm or cold. I'm another one of those native people from Ohio and Vegas is just darn nice in December. When I have visited it is in the 60's and 70's during the day, 30's and 40's at night. Absolutely beautiful days with lots of sun. If that weather were to hit here I would be out on my motorcycles crusing around. Shorts and a nice polartech are all I need.


Vegas in December?

A constant 68-70 degrees
Winds at 0 MPH
Relative humidity is a constant 50%
No sunset or sunrise
Air quality: fair to poor

Funny thing is that it's like that in June, too.


You got it Joyce. Everything is relative. Coming from the Chicago area I know it will be warmer. Although it is chilly. But if you are coming in from a warmer area you may want pack a parka. I do remember one December morning I saw ice on a puddle.



Monday, November 20, 2006

Coupon Time

2 days before I eat a big bird
14 questioning days left before I board another.


today is the day to send for this free coupon offer:

Vegas Values- A nice little coupon book with $5 and $10 off many shows and attractions and $2 off the half priced places, a little Vegas map. I got mine in the mail today. Along with it came a copy of 24/7 a little poketbook showing the places and times of shows and some more coupons. A single copy of that is supposed to cost $4.50 but they threw it in when I requested the Vegas Values book. No postage required, just an e-mail to

with your snail mail address.

Tell them it is your first trip to Vegas. When they wrote to me, they threw in the 24/7 book too. Perhaps it was because I told them that I was planning for 20 people. So tell them you are planning for a group.

************************************** sells coupons for restaurants all over the country. They have quite a few for Vegas including my favorite Irish Pub McMullan's, located a block behind the Orleans. You pay about $5 for a $25 coupon.

Sometimes the regular prices are reduced for a limited time. If you join, they will send you notices of sales. Or this site will also keep track of the dates when you can get 20% to 50% off the price. That really makes a nice coupon. But you ahve to be conservative and make certain you are going to to to the restaurant you have chosen. You lose if you don't use.

Of course, you have to know you definitely want to go there.

Half Priced Tickets

You have to sign up by e-mail for for this money saving group, but they have lots of last minute show tickets half price including the Scintas almost every week. You must check just before you go and book the tickets through them.



Thursday, November 16, 2006

Like to shoot a machine gun??

There are places you can go in Vegas to pay to shoot a gun, including a machine gun. It is not cheap as this thread will explain:

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Shopping anyone??

A number of the large strip casinos have entire shopping malls inside of them. Much of the merchandise is very pricey, but sometimes you can find good bargains. I don't shop much, so I am not an expert, but the walk through Alladin or Caesars Palace areas also offer some small bits of entertainment. At Caesars some of the statues talk to you and move parts of their bodies. At Alladin you might encounter one of more of these:

Join Joe Krathwohl, the Birdman of Las Vegas, Lilia, the 17-year old contortionist, and many more as they accompany you on your shopping escapade and dazzle you with their unique talents. These and other variety acts such as Duality, the sensual body-balancing acrobatic act, and the magical artistry and comedy of Jason Bird occur on the main stage near the “V” Theater Friday – Monday from 1:15 p.m. until 7:15 p.m. each hour for your visual astonishment.

For a free map and a directory of stores along with a book of coupons mailed to you from the Alladin go to
or conact the Alladin:
General Inquiries:

Phone: (888) 800-8284
Ask for the Passport to Savings Coupon book and a store directory.

Or print this coupon and use it to get such shopping coupon books:

I have one book for the first one who asks and a few directories with a map of Alladin. I don't really know anyone who has shopping at the top of their list of activities, but let me know if you can't get what you would like or have any questions.

For a coupon for a free coupon book at Caesars, go to this link and print the entire page:



NEWSLETTER 6 Stratosphere

If you are new to Vegas, you should take an afternoon and see this attraction. The Stratosphere (click on link) is the tall tower casino you see in all those Vegas pictures and the view is worth a trip. In the 360 degree circle there are also maps to show you the areas you are seeing.The best time to view it is to time it just at sunset so you see Vegas in the daytime and then watch the lights come on until all the unlit areas are dark. You have to time your trip a bit, and you have to be a little patient, but when it is uncrowded there are benches.

I am not hearing anyone ask about thrill rides, but if the wind is right, you can experience a good fright because the rides take advantage of the fact that we are so far up. It is thrill enough for me to just watch a couple.

By also timing your visit, you can see the Viva Las Vegas afternoon show for $10 with a drink. I have some coupons, but to print your own go to
Technically, $10 is what you pay for the drink, but who pays for drinks in Vegas? Well, except you nongamblers.
This is a nice little Vegas review with comic, dancers, singers, a dog act. Think vaudeville and there you have it. I'd go with you, but I've seen it 8 times now and I have all the jokes memorized.

There is also in that area of Vegas a roller coaster in the Stratosphere and some "car" themed adventures at the NASCAR cafe. I have not experienced the car themed stuff, but some have done the new Drive and enjoyed it.

Details are in the Car post on my Blog:

Finally, in that same neighborhood is the largest and tackiest Souvenir shop in Vegas which is worth seeing even if you buy nothing and just pretend it is a pop culture museum. Here you can buy anything you can imagine with pictures of Vegas, dice, cards stuck on somewhere as well as original dice or $1.50 decks of used casino cards marked with their logo. And there are a host of Spencer gifts type items as well as enough knick knacks to keep enabling China to make enough profit to buy out yet another trillion dollars of your debt.

While this small section of the strip is sort of an island between the Circus Circus section and the two or three miles of pawns-erotic dancers- wedding chapels that finally breaks into Downtown, it is easily accessible on the Deuce buses that run every 20 minutes. $2 a trip or $5 for 24 hours of unlimited bus rides.

FOOD: This is not the prime area to eat a meal so if you can, plan to get somewhere else before supper time, that is probably the best plan; however. I always get stuck long enough to be a little hungry. The Sahara buffet can be pretty cheap with easily available coupons, but it is also considered one of the worst in Vegas. That being said, I eat there on occasion with the right coupons often filling up on fruit. Some of the cheaper diners don't seem to offer much fruit. The Sahara diner there, however, is nice and at certain times in the evening offers a wonderful prime rib special. The Stratosphere buffet is passable. I like the Statosphere's 50's themed diners and in one sometimes the waiters sing. If you really want to splurge, you can eat on top of the tower. The food is reviewed as fine, but pricey. For additional information here are the dining links:

Walking up to the Riviera/Circus Circus/ Slots of fun section of the strip for food is not a good idea unless you have a coupon for a free foot long hot dog at Slots of Fun and even then you are dragging the bottom of the Vegas food barrel. Circus Circus is a joke in most reviews with its buffet coming in as dirty and tasteless at best and at the worst, diarrhetically dangerous. When the Stardust was there, you could eat a decent small meal,but the old Stardust is all dust now. (You will however, soon be able to see the classic old Stardust neon sign at Neonopolis in Downtown Vegas.)


I do not agree with you about the Circus Circus buffet. I ate there 2 times during their last June-July for the comvention trip to LV. While not, I agree, top notch, like Rio or Belliago(I've eaten at Belliago 6 or 7 times, Rio 2 or 3 times) , I found it to be a decent buffet to eat at. I thought the Gold Coast buffet was far worse then the Circus Circus buffet. But, I guess thats my opinion. In any case I did not get sick after eating at any of them.
In case you do not know -- The roller coaster on top of the Stratosphere has been closed and dismantled to be replaced by a night club and a smaller type of ride. The Sahara still has their roller coaster type of ride though. I guess the car ride you are talking about is the ride behind the Sahara and the Las Vegas monorail station in what used to be a parking lot. Your travelers probably would like this ride. The attraction is set up like a proving ground/obstacle course. For a fee($10 or $20 I think, you might check this) a person drives a real, out of the factory (not hopped up) car, through the course, with an experienced trained factory course driver. It will test a person's driving skill and abilities. There is something for anyone to learn here and I really think it would be fun.

Lucky Pete wrote me with information on a sale at NYNY. If anyone is interested, let me know.

Travelworm is still at $19 during the week for the Gold Coast. They have other specials as well. Check them out if you are still looking for rooms.

In general, I am unaware of anyone who has booked air and not decided on hotels. If you want help finding a deal, let me know once you have your air dates and I'll check around for deals on those dates. And in general, I am pretty much "question driven" at this time. I won't know what to tell you about, if you don't ask. Then, as always, I will tell you too much.


Don't miss the links to the right of the Blog that are permanent. In particular, as you play look for the link called Vegas Maps as it has a really cool map of the strip and downtown with the shapes of the casinos drawn in accurately and with options to check on major shows and other things along the route. It is one of the coolest maps I have seen on Vegas.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Atomic Museum

Now if you get bored losing yourself in decadent amusement and want to visit a museum, here is one I have never visited but might be interesting.
Nevada testing was a long way off in the 50's, but according to one poster, it affected our area:

Was recently in town and had a chance to pop over to see the Atomic Testing Museum on a lunch hour. Very well done and laid-out. Sorry I didn't have more time, but I will be back - for sure!

As a side note, I'm a health physicist, and grew up outside Troy, NY. As you may know, the Troy - Albany area had (I believe) the highest documented fallout / wash-out event of the fission products from a shot in late April 1953 at NTS. The event was well documented by one Dr. Clark, a radiochemist at RPI, who noted the increase in background in his lab. I was fascinated to see one of Dr. Clark's hand-held ionization chambers on display.

This is an important aspect of American history, I'm very glad to see it so well documented and displayed.

• $10.00 Adults
• $7.00 Seniors(65+), Military(with ID), and Youth(7-17)
(must present ID at time of purchase)
• FREE - children 6 and Under
• FREE - NTSHF Members (must present membership card)
• Group Rates Available - Call 794-5123

Monday-Saturday from 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
and on Sundays from 1:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
The museum will be closed to the public on
Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Years Day.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Cravings Buffet

One place to try this December is this one. It also fits in well with tickets to LOVE.

From what I can tell, the buffet has these strengths:

Action stations where the food is prepared for you. Keeps hot food hot.
Interesting seafood and great shrimp and crab legs.
Exotic dishes.
Nice for coordination with LOVE
considered a value upscale buffet by Las Vegas Advisor

One post on each of two separate boards reported illness afterwards.
The desserts are really lacking.
The buffet gets an average rating. No raving reviews.
Standard food (prime rib, etc) not as good as other places.