This was my 3rd annual January trip to escape the cold of Minnesota. The characters are Puck, myself, T my father, and R, my uncle. Names have been shortened, and/or distorted to protect the innocent. This trip is highlighted because of two free nights at the Rio which T had gotten in the mail. Puck had been trying to find a way to take advantage of the free nights, and eventually found some good fares on Frontier, and he and T were booked. Puck likes to book the last row of the plane, and window/aisle, in hopes that other people will see the seatmap, and not want the middle seat. When we informed family of the trip, R said he needed a vacation also, so he was going to call in some free nights at the El Cortez, and try to find a decent airfare. R booked direct flights on Sun Country, which will be important later.
Finally Sunday 1-25 arrived. Around 12 R picked T and Puck up and took them to the airport. It was supposed to be snowy all day Sunday, so they were very pleasantly surprised that there were no flakes flying yet at noon. T and Puck made plans to meet R at McCarron, and wished him a pleasant flight. Check-in was a breeze at the Frontier counter, and T and Puck stopped at the Northstar Crossing area of the terminal to do some people watching. After a thirty minute study, they concluded that just as many people have actual carry on bags, as do roll on ones. I think the count was somewhere near 210-195 in favor of the non roll carry ons. People now have carry ons that are bigger than Puck's checked suitcase.
Off to gate F5 to wait for the Frontier plane. It looked fairly crowded at the gate, so that was not a good sign. A local news reporter, and cameraman from channel 5 were also on the flight. I don't know why, but maybe someone who reads this could comment on the story they did from Denver. Boarding was announced on schedule, and Puck and T got to their seats. 30 mins later, people were still boarding. Puck wonders how in the world people can't follow the simple row boarding directions as they are announced. Then some guy boards with what can best be described as a luggage rack full of bags, and complains because there is no more room for it up above. Well, if he had been on time for the flight he would have had ample space. The channel 5 cameraman moved the camera, and somehow the guy's rack o' luggage fit.
Mr. Rack o' luggage was sitting next to Puck in the middle seat, and to top it all off, wouldn't stop pestering Puck about how nice the Flight attendants looked, and how one would make him a good wife. Puck was trying to listen to the Timberwolves game on the television. Puck could see the game, but the Spanish commentary made it so much more interesting. Finally an hour after scheduled take off time boarding was completed. On our way to take off we saw the Sun Country plane that R was on. It was in line to take off, although it was scheduled more than an hour after ours.
Enroute the pilot said we would be late, and gave the ETA. Puck and T were supposed to connect in Denver with a short 30 min connection time. We arrived and it took forever to deplane. As we got off, we hustled across the terminal to our other gate, which was luckily right across. They had closed the terminal to jetway door already, but the lady we passed said if you run, they might not have closed the plane door yet. Luckily they hadn't, but as our heroes entered the plane they did. This plane wasn't even half full, but someone had taken T's window seat on the right side to get the view. T took that aisle, and Puck found an empty aisle a few rows up.
So then we pushed back. Puck had checked the forecast for DEN and it was supposed to be 40. It wasn't 40, it was a blizzard. Half this plane was covered with snow. When Puck's first plane landed, it was the first tracks in the snow, so now this plane had to wait to be de-iced. The plane took over an hour waiting and another half hour de-icing. Not much on television this flight, the hockey game kept losing the signal due to the blizzard. We flew in near the strip, and then hooked around to land perpendicular to it. After a short taxi we got off at D-5. Usually on Frontier, they had an A gate, so it was a shock to be let off at the D gates. A short tram ride later, and a few minute wait for the luggage, and they were set to take the Dollar shuttle at 7:10PM. They were supposed to be in an hour and a half earlier, but oh well, at least they got out of Denver. R was waiting for them, he had been since 5.
Being a Fastlane member, Puck just showed the driver his card, and they were dropped off in the compact row. For some reason Puck is the driver in LV. He likes to drive, and has gotten used to LV, but since he is under 25 he has to pay a fee per day that the others wouldn't have to pay if they drove. Anyway back to the action. Puck had an upgrade certificate, so he chose an intermediate car a green Chrysler Sebring. Not a bad car, it would serve them well. So they drove to the check-out gate, it was all ready, and away they went.
Cruising down the Freeway, eventually the Rio was in site. It was time to check this place out. Leaving R in the car, T and Puck check in. They say they don't have the requested low non smoking room available. So instead they put them in a high smoking room. 38th Floor, supposedly a 'Diamond level' floor. Room 38008. Wow what more can I say than wow! There was no trace of smoke in the room, and as they explored they found a huge television, a wraparound L shaped couch. A cramped bathroom, but a nice closet area with a sink and a fridge, mirror, sink, an in closet electronic safe, and counter space. This room was amazing! Upon opening the curtains they found a view of the Luxor, Mandalay Bay, Monte Carlo, MGM Grand, and Excalibur. It was truly awe inspiring.
Back down they went to the car to get R to the ElCo. He spent a few mins checking in, and then we went to the Fremont. Puck, could've sworn Sunday nights were Steak nights at the Fremont buffet, but they were shocked to find seafood instead. Well that wouldn't do for T and R. They don't eat that kind of seafood. So it was the Fremont Café instead. That pleased everyone, as Puck could still have the seafood. Unfortunate part was that the seafood, namely the crab legs, and lobster claws were cold. Puck likes them hot. Oh well. Other two had Burgers. It was a fairly cheap dinner, and then they were off to play for a while.
Puck then went off to play Blackjack. Two Deck Pitch game at a $5 minimum was good enough for him, and there was a seat available. Puck did okay here and the others at the table all knew each other. They were from Michigan, apparently one girl at the end had just ran in a marathon in LV earlier that day. They were very talkative. So a few hands in the dealer asks Puck from out of nowhere if he is from Ohio, or Minnesota. Up till that point Puck had not said a word, there was nothing on him that said Minnesota. To this day Puck wonders how the dealer knew. Well after an hour or so, Puck left the Fremont down $10. Dropped R off at the ElCo, and headed back to the Rio.
Puck intended to do some gaming here since they were so kind in offering a free room. Well the BJ tables were mostly paying even money on BJ. And at a $15-25 minimum. All these tables were still loaded, man people if you're only making even money on BJ there is no way for them to beat the house. It is a horrible sight to see this. So many people playing at such bad tables. Puck could see it if the dealers were hot and wearing bikinis like it was reported earlier, but this was the regular tables. So no BJ for Puck at the Rio.
Onward to the slots. Puck put a $20 into a Phone tag slot, and after a while of ups and downs, he cashed out at $30, and it was enough for him to hit the room. Puck intended to get up later and play, but it was not meant to be. Puck was going through the magazines, watching the television, and he was dozing off, so he went to his bed.
Day 1 totals,
Day 2 Monday 1-26
After being awakened by the sun around 6 Puck realized how small the cars look from the 38th floor while looking straight down. It was time to get up anyway. So Puck got going, and then T and him went to the 8Am Mass at the Guardian Angels Cathedral right off the strip. They made it there in plenty of time, and after a quick Mass, it was time to head to breakfast. Puck had printed some $5 off coupons from the Rio's website, and it was amazing. They had a ton of variety at several stations. The 'made to order' omlette guy had a short line, and he was quick and very good at it. There was even a bar section where a bartender was doing bottle stunts as he waited for customers.
After a nice 4 of a kind win on a quarter VP machine, Puck cashed up $50. He was playing Double Double Bonus, and held an Ace and a Queen, suddenly up came three more Queens, he took it as a sign to play more VP. It was time to pick up R and head out to the North end.
Puck went first to subscribe to the Las Vegas Advisor, and get the coupon book, then battled the I-15 traffic which was bad due to an accident to get downtown to the ElCo.
First stop, as always was the Cannery in North Las Vegas. Being a Monday, Puck had read about a free sweatshirt deal for getting 250 points in a day. So they each tried to get sweatshirts. Puck won his BJ match play for $10 here, but played a hand too many and only walked away +5 from the table. Puck won a little at Craps also, but before it was all over, he had lost it all and $50 more on VP. On the bright side, he did get the Sweatshirt. R did also.
Next up was the Texas Station. In May Puck had visited the Fiesta, but never made it next door. This was a losing bout, and Puck really doesn't like Texas Station. They had 6-5 BJ there. Why they can get away with this at a local's casino is beyond Puck's reasoning. Although Puck had a match play, he couldn't find a decent table to play it at. Another $40 drowned in their slots, Scarfish ones this time, and it was time to head on.
It was time to hit the Orleans. Puck had heard some good things about the buffet here, but alas Monday was seafood night. The others were hungry so they had a short time here, but Puck placed some bets on Craps, and won $20. So then it was onward.
Puck had the coupon for the buffet at the Palms, and supposedly it was good, so he thought, 'lets give it a try.' Lots of weird food later, I think T and R found something to eat, although Puck can and will eat just about anything, the others are rather picky. Total was under 20 with the half off coupon Puck had. Played a $10 MP here and lost. R won a little here, but Puck lost $40 quick.
So now it was time to go to the Rio, and show R the room. He was impressed, but couldn't look down from the window. So down in the casino, and they caught the end of the parade in the sky, and played a few slots before taking R back to the El Cortez.
After making it back to the Rio, Puck went on a run. He put a $20 into a Phone Tag machine, and hit for $60 after a few ups and downs. Put a $20 in a UNO machine, and hit for $60 after some play. A while later, Puck went to play some Uncle Sam machines at the penny level, and did so at 5 per line, so he was still playing 75 cents a spin. He won another $50 here, and went on to lose 10 at the machine next to him. So he played the machine around the corner Frog Prince. Where T had lost earlier. Again playing the 5 per line, the total kept climbing. He has not had 5 books in over a year of playing at Minnesota casinos, and LV too, and tonight on this machine he had 5 books 3 times. For those who don't know, 5 books trigger the bonus round. Cashed out at $80 here, and before he knew it, he was even for the day, and it was 2:50 in the morning.
Food -about 20
Up around 6:30 to get to Church. Made it there in plenty of time, and after 8:30 T and Puck were back on their way back to the Rio. Time for Breakfast, and the coupons were handy again. After a filling breakfast, it was time to test the luck at the Rio one last time. After some ups and downs, Puck was ready to head back to the room. T came up around 10:45, and it was time to check out. After seeing the view one last time, it was time to say goodbye to our room. Checkout via the television, and balance was $0. Just the way they like it.
T and Puck then put the stuff in the car, and head for the Fitz. No line at check-in, but the room wasn't ready around noon. Desk lady was really friendly and gave them funbooks and told them to come back later in an hour. Alas, an hour later, it still wasn't ready. They left the bags in the car, and went to meet R. After losing a quick $80 in the Fitz, Puck is ready to roll.
They drive out to the Green Valley Ranch. After hearing good things about this place, and the fact that R said it was nice, T and Puck wanted to see it. Puck dropped $80 here, and was ready to go fairly quickly. VP just wouldn't hit at all, neither would any slots. Around 3, Puck begins to wonder how a Fatburger with Egg would taste, after reading HDKinAnchorage's recommendation on LVTalk, so he says what the heck, and orders one up with everything, except chili, but including the ranch dipping sauce. It was awesome, and a huge meal, but somehow it helped the depressing loser feeling that Puck was having go away. After waiting for a while for the others to be ready, they head out to the car, and roll to the Strip.
Puck mentions they should hit the Klondike, but the others aren't amused as he turns into the Klondike parking lot. They firmly protest, and the group goes to Harrah's instead. At Harrah's Puck is not drawn to any tables, and he wanders over to Casino Royale. After the beating he has been taking today, he doesn't want to blow all the rest on one roll of the dice, so he doesn't saunter over to the main Craps table. Instead he goes to the mini table with the one dealer, and 10X odds and $2 minimum. He could still afford this, and it was fun for a half hour. After the shooter makes Puck some money, and he ends up $40 ahead, he walks after the shooter 7nd out. Puck then is feeling good, and hits the $1 table, and backs up the pass bet with 20x odds. Well that $21 went fast. Puck was next to shoot, so he placed the $1, and a $20 odds bet. No luck on himself either.
Puck heads back to Harrah's and meets the others, and it is time to go back downtown, its around 7PM. T is hungry, so Puck says he will go to the Shamrock Café, and sit while T ate. Puck has enjoyed the Rueben Sandwich on other trips, so he says he might as well try like half, and bring the rest to the room for later. T had the steak, and while he said it was good, the Rueben wasn't what Puck had remembered, it was significantly worse. Oh Well. Puck lost a quick $40 on the Fitz BJ tables, and it was time to hit the room. It was finally ready, and 507 was the room number. A short elevator ride, and the room was in sight. It was nice as usual. After Puck saw the pillow, he was out cold for the night.
Craps - even
Puck awoke around 7 and frantically got ready to head to Church. With light traffic on Las Vegas Blvd, they somehow made it 5 minutes before Mass began. After Mass T and Puck drove to Terribles. Puck got the free funbook, t-shirt, and used his matchplay coupons to no avail. All losses, T also lost the matchplays he was given. He was not happy at Puck for causing him to waste $10 on tables. Feeling hungry and seeing a deal, they ate at the buffet using the 2-1 coupons given in the funbook. It wasn't the greatest, but oh well, they weren't at the Rio anymore. Also it wasn't anyway near the Rio's prices. After filling up, Puck and T went back to the Fitz after losing $40 total.
Next it was time to spend a little time in the room before it was time to meet R. Puck can't lose in the room, so he likes staying there. Before meeting R Puck still manages to lose $40 at the Fitz.
Finally it was time to meet R.
First stop was to get R to Terribles so he could also get the free T shirt. Short stop here, no gambling.
They then went to the Flamingo, because R likes his luck there. Puck went in search of a decent BJ game while the others went their separate ways. Puck sat at a table with either a 6 or 8 deck shoe, and waited for the shuffle. The other 3 at the table were speaking German, and without a word, Puck sat listining to their bad BJ strategy in German. It was HORRIBLE! Trying to abide by the theory of some people that others are as likely to help as to hurt you, he stayed at the table anyway. When the shuffle came, Puck threw down a Franklin, and was in business. He had some good hands, and was up and down, before Puck finally went on a mini run, and was up $40 when it was time to meet the others.
Next stop was the Aladdin. Puck had been through the 'deserted Passage' before, but never inside the casino. The others had never set foot in the place. Puck showed them the Rain thing, which was just as stupid as the first time Puck saw it, and then they all went into the casino. It seems like a nice place, but the slots were not good to Puck at all here. Puck won $10 at one machine, but before it was time to meet up, Puck had lost it and $40 more. Puck didn't want to wait in the huge line for slot cards, so he won't be getting any promos from them. Puck doubts he will ever be back in this casino ever anyway. It just didn't appeal to him.
So they then drive on up to the Strat, and Puck used his POV to get the funbook. It has some good matchplays, and also the POV has a matchplay. Puck won one lost two. Puck won a bit on Craps, and combined with BJ wins I was up $100 after it was all said and done. Puck even won on 'Crapless Craps'- Puck knows it's a bad game, but he was feeling lucky, so he played it. It was time to meet up with the others, and Puck suggested they go to Roxy's for dinner.
Roxy's was great, as it was the first time Puck had visited this place last January. T and R had never been there, so they didn't know what to expect. They had Aretha as their waitress, and while the performances were good, it wasn't complete until Aretha did 'Think'. The food was as great as Puck remembered, huge portions, and friendly staff. After Aretha did her song, it was time for them to leave and R and T were very impressed with the place.
After losing $20 back to the tables, it was time for Puck to heed the other's call to head out. Everyone was happy, and Puck decided he was going to hit the LVC. After losing $40 fast there, it was time for a walk back to the Fitz. Puck stopped off at the Fremont, got a new card, and lost $60 there, $40 on craps, $20 on slots. Puck went back to the room and woke up around 3 the next morning ready to do some gaming.
Around 3 Puck was in the mood to etch out some wins. He first walked to the Golden Gate. After a short session on the table of up and down, he cashed out even.
Next up was the Plaza, played some cheap Craps here, decent odds, low mins if you can get by the smell. Seriously there was a smell when Puck entered off of Fremont Street. After a few shooter's Puck was up $60 and ready to move on.
The LVC was next on the list. Playing some VP here resulted in another $40 down the drain, but Puck managed to get even on the Rocky slots.
Then it was the highlight of the trip. I went to the Cal. Little did I know this would be the highlight of the trip, but it was. I sat down at a double deck pitch BJ game. One guy had a cigar, no longer lit, and the other gentleman was fairly energetic. We had a dealer who I think said she was German. Anyway the gentleman on the end was forking over $1000 when I took my place at 1st base. He was a fairly dead ringer for the guy who plays Richie Valens in the movie about the Rock and Roll star by that name. So Richie has a posse of one guy and a girl, they just hang around the table. Richie says as Puck sits down, 'Are you ready for some fun' Because its all about fun, look at me I've already lost 2 grand here, and I'm having fun.?
Richie was very active and would high five Puck and the middle guy whenever the dealer busted. Puck saw him pull out at least like 5 grand while he was sitting at the table. Puck felt bad, but at the same time, he was enjoying sitting at the table with how energetic he would get when he would win. Losing wasn't so bad with that going on. Puck went on to lose $60 at the table. Puck believes Richie may have gotten escorted out soon afterward. Richie kept asking middle guy and Puck what their hands were. The casino frowns upon this, and the Pit Boss told him cordially so. This upset Richie a bit, but he continued to play. He also started swearing somewhat when he would lose. Now Puck felt really bad. He does wish though he could have played with Richie some more. All the other tables he played at all trip were no where near as fun as Richie made it.
As Puck dropped off from the table he saw security guards in the vicinity, presumably to escort Richie out. He checked his watch, and saw it was almost 7. Time to get ready to start the day.
After the trek down to Church, battling some light traffic, T and Puck made it with time to spare. They came back to the Fitz and had breakfast at the Fremont buffet. The eggs Puck got were under done, and the buffet is nowhere near the Rio, but again nowhere near the price.
After some time in the room it was time to pick up R to drive him to the airport. Then T and Puck went to the Fiesta Henderson. Puck played BJ and won the matchplay and POV BJ coupon. That 3-1 BJ coupon was really awesome as Puck had a $10 bet on that hand, and it paid $30. Normally Puck is playing $5 a hand, and he's used to $7.50 BJs. HE colored up $60 when it was time to meet T for lunch around 2. They ate at the Baja Beach Café, and Puck had the Lettuce Wraps. They were as awesome as Puck remembered. Puck wanted to play a little more, and lost $20 quick on craps. Another $20 was lost to VP. Still up $20, Puck was ready to go, after T was ready, they decided to go back downtown.
Around 8 they were hungry, and T suggested another trip to Roxy's. So off to the Stratosphere they went. Another night of good food, and good music later, and it was time to hit some slots. Puck hit several $50-$60 wins, and left over $100 positive. When T was ready it was time to head to the Fitz.
They stopped for Gas and it was $1.64 a gallon, around $20 filled the tank.
Puck did some gambling downtown, lost $40 at craps at the Fremont. Lost another $40 at the GG craps table. Lost another $40 at the LVC at VP machines.
Puck stayed up till around 2:30 doing the above gambling, and 3:30 was the time to wake up. Puck got everything ready to checkout and did so at 4:30. Puck and T then got into the car for the trip to Dollar, got there around 4:45, and hopped the shuttle to the airport. Got to the airport around 5, and the counter of course doesn't open until at least 5:10. Check in was a breeze, and Puck and T found out they would have to hike to the D gates.
Security at the D gates is something neither Puck nor T have gone through before. Puck knowing the numerous stories of delays at these gates was instantly nervous. The line was winding quite a bit, and after 45 minutes they were through it and off to the gate. Puck and T made the gate about 30 mins prior to boarding.
On the flight to DEN it wasn't crowded, and there was nobody in the row behind T and Puck, so rather than take the aisle, Puck opted for his own row. The last people to board, actually had the row, but they didn't mind, they took the aisle seat, the aisle across seat, and another aisle right infront of them. The window seat across was also open. Anyway they made for an interesting flight, as they were originally from the Midwest, but now live in LV. Between that and the inflight television, it was a great flight.
In DEN Puck and T opted for Chick-Fil-A as they don't have any in Minnesota, except for the one in the Student Union of the University of Minnesota. After Chick-Fil-A, they still had a while before boarding, and finally it was time to catch the plane home. Middle seat was empty, and Puck and T watched the live television, and arrived home in one piece.
After the luggage got there R picked T and Puck up and they were back to the cold snowy Minnesota weather.
Overall thoughts, the room at the Rio was awesome. Puck can't seem to win much downtown, or a lot of other places for that matter. T can't win downtown. It may be time to shop around and not stay downtown. R will be searching for a new hotel too, as the ElCo is done giving him the free nights. Roxy's was awsome as has been Puck's experience with it. Baja Beach Café lettuce wraps rule. Oh and the Rio breakfast buffet is the king of breakfast buffets. Way too many casinos have 6:5 BJ, and Puck finds it insulting. But what is the most insulting is the even money tables at the Rio.
Like the terminator, Puck will be back.