Thurday - Got a great deal on a flight out of Flint, MI directly to LV. AirTran decided to offer a new route (instead of flying through Atlanta) and we were to be on the first flight they made. Got two round-trip tickets for $180 each (a little over $400 for both with taxes). Since this was the inaugural flight, they must have been still working the bugs out as I overheard one of the ticket agents ask another one if it would always be this crazy!) I didn't think it was that crowded, but it wasn't dead either. We were about 8 spots back in line. Went pretty smoothly until the couple ahead of us had a problem with their tickets (from Expedia) and they took forever. Then it was finally our turn (the problem couple still hadn't finished though and were on the phone to some Expedia rep, I think). Then it was our turn to have problems. Apparently the BF's name is on some sort of watch list, so the agent had to go to the back for some reason to get approval for him to fly. I told him to take care of it, but he's kinda lazy about stuff like that... It took the agent about 15-10 min in order for him to get the okay. Got through security with no problem (weird, some airports make you take off your shoes and some don't). At least with Flint, they actually take your luggage at the counter. When I traveled out of New Orleans they just told you to add it to a big pile in the middle of the airport (great security there)!

We get to the gate and receive a bit of a surprise. There was a small party going on up there! I guess the first direct flight from Flint to Vegas was something significant to celebrate. There was a mini buffet with little desserts, shrimp cocktail, cheese and crackers and drinks. The director of the airport said a few words as well as a couple of others. There were TV and radio stations on hand taking pictures and interviewing passengers also. The airport even handed out free playing cards and free parking to attendees. Huge build up... Then all the stations left about 15 minutes before departure. Well departure time comes and goes with no loading...about 15 minutes after the departure time, the captain gets on the intercom and states that there is a problem with the plane (some computer sensor not working) and not only that, but they don't have the part at the airport and that it (the part) has to be flown up from Atlanta. It takes them 4.5 hours to get the part to the airport, install it and get us on our way. I actually had time to go back home and get a couple of things that I had forgotten and make it back with plenty of time to spare! Other passengers were wondering where the camera crew was at that point! We played cards during our wait time. Others tried to drink themselves to oblivion before the flight. I recall seeing a small group of people arranging a pyramid of 20-25 beer bottles in the lounge.

We had asked for window seats on the plane and we did get window seats...however it was the only row on the plane without a window! Oh well. The other thing is that AirTran touts that they have XM satellite radio on their flights (they even have the little brochure and everything in the pockets...but our flight had NO movie OR radio. They did offer free drinks though they were out of almost everything before the flight was ½ over. Well, I don't drink much (and had to drive the rental car anyway) so that didn't make up for anything.

The flight attendant almost made up for the horrible flight. She tried to make lemonade out of lemons. Instead of being completely crabby and out of sorts when we arrived, I was pretty excited (then again, Vegas will do that for ya). So...we get to McClaren about 4 ½ hours late on Thursday night (about 9pm), take the monorail over to the main station.

BF heads over to MGM's check in desk at the airport. It took the reservation clerk a substantial amount of time to straighten everything out because I had made a reservation at the $59 rate for Sunday and the BF had an existing reservation at a $109 for Sunday. Finally it was done though she had to ask her manager a couple of things about changing / linking reservations. That being done, we headed to the carousel and waited a good 20 minutes for our baggage. One good thing was that I didn't have to go to the Car Rental desk because I joined Dollar FastLane Express Club. After getting the bags and finding the Dollar Shuttle we were off to the lot. Had to wait another 10 minutes there for the guy to give the okay to pick out the car, but that wasn't too bad. Had the upgrade coupon (which they never asked for) and picked out a Nissan Sentra. Nothing wrong with it and we were on our way. Traffic on Tropicana wasn't too bad and we pulled into valet parking with no problems, headed up to the room and relaxed for a few minutes before heading down to the casino. Finally the real Vegas trip was underway!

The room wasn't anything special (bad or good). It was only on the 12th floor despite being a "strip view", so we basically got a view of a low roof on the MGM property and a severe green glow coming into the window at night. At least when I closed the curtain fully, I could shut it out. Funny thing about it though, the first night I got there, I was looking for a way to shut off the light above the TV (before I found the switch in the cabinet and during my search, jumped up a bit to see if the switch was above the TV. Well, I didn't find it there, but did find a pair of boxers that the previous guests had left in the room! Yuck! But of course, I don't think that is a traditional place a cleaning lady would look to clean. I told the BF and he said that he got rid of them later on.

BF didn't feel like dealing with the restaurant thing that night, so we hoofed it to McDonalds. Then we toured the slots (lost on Monty Python, though we did see a couple of the bonus rounds). That was to be the theme of the trip. Neither of us won much of anything on slots at MGM no matter what we played. After touring MGM a bit, we ran across the poker room and I was in heaven! I decided to grab a seat at the 4/8 game and the BF went off in search of a good slot machine then back up to bed. I sat down and had a GREAT run of cards and played with some obviously drunk people who stayed with crap even after they knew they were beat. Couldn't get any better than that. I stumbled out of there after about 3 hours, tired as a dog, but also up about $150.

Friday. We finally got up around 10:00 AM and headed out for some more gambling. I desperately wanted to try out at least one poker tournament during our time in Vegas and decided on the 11 AM Harrah's tourney. BF had the "brilliant" idea (though I was totally against it) of walking there and insisted that we do that, rather than ride the monorail. By the end of the trip, he conceded that I was right. Oh well, we got there around 10:45 and there were only 5 spots left. We took two of them and wandered Harrahs until the poker game started, with neither of us winning much on slots.

Sat down at poker and got familiarized with the rules. Turned out to be eight full tables in the tournament (80 players, with others allowed to come in during the first couple of hours if people busted out). One re-buy allowed. Not too bad, though I didn't get many good cards at first. Didn't lose too much though. BF was one of the first ones out, unfortunately. He couldn't catch any good cards either. I finally caught a couple of good hands and was in decent (though never first) position to last a while. Tables started combining, though I didn't have to move.

Our table finally got broken up and I headed to what turned out to be the final table. Poker aficionados will know that this is a "good thing". Again, I kept getting enough to "survive" but not even close to being in the lead. That honor belonged to some crazy, older, unkempt guy who played a raise / all-in game, sometimes with awful cards. Well, it paid off for him several times, and several times he was on the bubble. But with about 12 players left, he was the massive chip leader. At this 12 player mark (2 tables of six) everyone was clearly nervous and joking with the dealer to play "slow". Finally with the blinds going up again, two players at the other table busted out and they came over to our table. I wound up just switching seats with the player to my left and we were set to go! The tournament paid out to 8th place, so everyone (except Mr. Crazy) was going pretty conservative. Fortunately for me, I was not short-stacked and pretty much played the waiting game. The two short stacks finally went out and a middle stacker lost to Mr. Crazy the next hand, who was basically playing sheriff at the table. I could hear the audible sigh of relief as the short stackers went out, meaning that everyone left at least got some money for their troubles.

At that point I would have been completely happy to bust out. I hadn't planned on really placing all that high. Heck, I didn't think I was going to place at all, but happy that I did at that point. Then hand-by-hand I really started to get my hopes up as people made their moves and got beaten. I happened to pick up some good hands too and busted a couple of people out myself! Then all of a sudden, there it was. Me, Mr. Crazy and one other guy, who was about even with me in chips. 3rd place, babeee! That is what I was thinking at that point. Then I doubled up against Mr. Crazy...and the other guy busted out against him. I couldn't believe it. Me. First time in a real Vegas tournament and I'm guaranteed 2nd! The difference between 2nd and 3rd was about $400 and first place paid out about $1200. I was up and down at that point. Cards weren't running consistently bad or good. Then in the big blind I get dealt snowmen (8,8) and figuring that was as good a place as any to make a stand, I go all in before the flop, figuring that it's a coin-toss and I've been running good with them all day. Mr. Crazy calls and I know that if I win this one, I'll have the lead (and some more breathing room). He turns up A,10 (good, at least not a higher pair). Unfortunately the flop comes 4,5, 10. The turn is a 6, however, giving me a gut shot straight draw (and another 8 will win it for me). Nope, the river is an unhelpful card and I'm busted out. It's over, but I'm happy anyway to have placed so highly! I look up behind me and the BF is there. I had been trying to reach him for the better part of an hour, but unable to do so. It's all smiles as we head back to MGM (via the monorail!).

Didn't do too much the rest of the day other than gamble and hang out at MGM mostly playing slots. We went by the MGM Buffet and saw that it was 15 minutes before the place opened for dinner service, but only saw about 10 people hanging around, so we weren't worried. BF and I went to get our comp tickets to KA that night. I had heard on the LVTalk board that the best seats were a little farther back and in the center, but we got "stuck smack dab in the middle of Row F. Oh well, I thought, at least we'll be close. Got back to the Buffet and discovered in the 15-20 minutes we took away, that the line grew to about 50 people! And we got up to the front of the line and discovered that it was $27 a person for dinner. Seemed a bit high to me, but we were charging everything to the room, so it didn't affect us too much. The couple behind us though, blanched a little bit. I could see why. They had two kids with them. Yikes. Anyway they seated us pretty quickly and we dived in. Everything was pretty good. I thought the desserts could have been a little better (and the ice cream machines weren't working), but there were plenty of good main entrees to choose from. I didn't like the grilled tuna but loved the grilled beef (crunchy on the outside, juicy on the inside, just how I like it).

After that we wandered the mall and made reservations at Craftsteak for the next night (Saturday). BF had said he wanted to check out PURE (and I wanted to go to KRAVE), so we planned PURE for after KA (Friday) and KRAVE for Sat. night. Best laid plans...sigh. We wound up not doing either because the BF wasn't feeling too well either night. Anyway, we got up to the room to change for KA and I let the BF go first to get cleaned up. He headed down first to play some Let It Ride while I finished up. We met up in front of the theater and headed in.

WOW. That is the only word to describe the theater. I didn't know what to expect, but was completely surprised and impressed by what I saw as we walked in. Everything is in dark reds, black, orange-yellows. Got seated in very comfortable chairs (with stereos in the headrests!) and I sent the BF to get us some waters before the show. Of course as he is gone, the pre-show starts with the acrobats flying around the room, landing on the seats and aisles and intimidating people. BF finally gets back as the show is about to start.

I got the second surprise of the evening. DOUBLE WOW. I could see EVERYthing up-close and in detail. I firmly say that we got the best seats in the house. It was FREAKIN' INCREDIBLE! The only reason I think the Lion King gets the nod as a better show is a more coherent "plot" with speaking characters. Otherwise, KA is tops in everything else. The movable stage! The acrobatics! The music! It is absolutely a steal at $150. Would pay almost double for it. I recommend that no one pass up this opportunity if they get a chance to see it. My favorite part was the Jungle Scene. I was almost in tears at the beauty and magnificence of it. Hell, I even loved the "Shadow Puppets" scene. I thought it was a nice interlude between all the jumping and action.

By the way, for all of those in love with the music as much as me: The soundtrack (how in the hell are they going to fit it all on one disc?) is coming out in September. You can call the KA gift shop and they will mail you a copy. Don't know the price yet. But it doesn't matter. I MUST have it!

The only complaint about KA - The prices for concessions were outrageous, even by Vegas standards. They should just charge more for ticket prices rather than charge people $7.00 (!!) for a bottled water and $7.00 for a small bag of popcorn. Another thing, why have square water bottles and round cup holders?

We wouldn't be getting anything to eat after that thrilling performance. Didn't really matter as we weren't all that hungry as the MGM buffet was still working it's way down. BF didn't feel well, so he went off to bed while I went to play some more poker, so like I said earlier, we didn't get to PURE (or KRAVE the next night).

I went to the poker room and it was soooo crowded! I finally got tired of waiting after about an hour and asked for a pager from the manager. She gave me one but then said it had a very limited range (so I was still stuck)! I hung out around the area, people watching, watching the dancing bartenders by the poker room, playing a little (and losing) on slots, etc.

One area of note. I've never seen obvious "hookers" in Vegas. That night as I sat down to play the Leopard Spots by the poker room while I was waiting to get on a table, I got my hooker cherry broken! What I mean is that there was a nice-looking woman already seated at the machine next to me and as I plopped in a twenty she was talking to another couple of guys. They had a weird expression on their faces as they asked if she would still be there later and walked off. Then she started talking to me (I'm not an unattractive guy or anything, but it was strange). She was asking me where I was from and where I was staying and asking if I worked at the casino (I was wearing all black with a cool red tie and maybe I looked like an employee?). She started fiddling with my tie and asked if I was with anyone and seemed disappointed when I said that I was... Well I wasn't going to go the whole "shove off, I'm gay!" thing, as I wanted to be polite, but I got the heck outta there ASAP and luckily my pager went off right around that time too.

I got a seat in another 4/8 game and won about $120 that night. Woohoo! Two winning sessions in a row!

Saturday - The next day, I wanted to explore Vegas and actually use the rental car that I paid for so we headed out around 9 AM to Green Valley Ranch. Found it without a problem and we walked around the place for a good while, playing slots. I lost a bit here, but definitely got more play for my money than at MGM and eventually cashed up about even (maybe $20 ahead). BF discovered the Millioniser Penny Slots here and took to it like a duck to water. He's got a habit of playing max coins, so he was betting $3.00 a pull. Sigh. Better to just play dollar slots in my eyes, but whatever. Then he got to the bonus round. Then he got two GRAND symbols. We were both on the edge of panic. For those unfamiliar with the Millioniser slots. The Bonus game gives you the opportunity to play for $1 million if you pick three GRAND symbols from 12 choices. There are also lesser amounts you can win. Of course he didn't pick the 3rd GRAND symbol and wound up with the MINI prize ($11, I think). About the fourth or fifth time that happened, we figured the game must be fixed and stopped getting very excited. The machine doesn't show you the picks you didn't choose, so I think that 99% of the time, the 3rd grand symbol isn't even there. After gambling we decided to have breakfast at the GVR buffet. It was pretty good. Liked the idea of melted butter for some reason.

We left there and headed over to a go-kart place that I had heard about that has high-speed carts around a big track. I thought it would be pretty exciting. Turned out to be totally wrong. It was fun...for the first 10 minutes. I quickly got bored and we wound up leaving after the first session (we got our money back for the other two that we had purchased). I'm sure it's fun for people into that kind of thing, but it wasn't for me. After that, we headed to The Orleans just because it was off the beaten track. Not a BAD casino, and after hanging together for a while, getting some good play on slots (but not really winning much). Then I found the poker room and waited around for a seat. Loved the Brazil Slingo game near the room. Won only a little bit, but it was a fun machine. Sat down at the 2/4 game at the Orleans and the change from MGM (or hell, even Harrah's) was noticeable. Ugly tables, but still had a winning session. Up about $120 after only a couple of hours. Looked like a hell of a lot more locals here, but still good action. BF won a bit on slots (said he hit for 100,000 pennies on a Lil Lucy machine (sort of like the Mr. Cashman machines). Good for him, though I'm sure he put a bunch of the winnings back in.

Went over to Hard Rock Casino after The Orleans. That was a fun little casino. Didn't lose too much there and had a fun time. Wound up even on a couple of match play coupons I had. Man, the place is Dark (with a capital D) though. They need to give out flashlights with their player's cards!

After that it was back to MGM. We decided to cancel the Steakhouse reservations, as we were still full from the GVR breakfast buffet! Later on though, we did get hungry and were SOL for food. Finally decided to eat at the Grand Wok and had some of the best sweet and sour chicken ever. Definitely fresh made, not the pre-packaged stuff you see everywhere else. The only problem was that we should have just split one order and not had two. There was way too much of it for us. Earlier, we had tried to get into Pearl, but BF wasn't too keen on the menu and I think the maitre d' took one look at us in our shorts and decided we weren't going to get in (but at least she said it had to do with the late hour / last service rather than being snobby about it).

Had another winning session at poker, which was cool, though I only played for a short while as I was pretty tired. As I said earlier, we didn't wind up going out (BF wasn't feeling well) to KRAVE. Sigh. Definitely will do it next trip. Also found out that the prostitutes "spot" must be at those Leopard Spots slots near the Poker room. There were more of them there that night. Not as good looking as the ones before, but more obviously hookers. And I decided not to play those particular slots again.

Sunday last day. This was the day from hell. BF wanted to walk the strip (again?). So we went down to Aladdin, played some slots and I eventually played some poker there. Only up about $40 there however. Then played some slots all along the strip, losing all the way. At least I did. BF had some winning sessions. Lucky him. Of course he gave it all back plus some. I did some couponing down the strip, but didn't get anything for it.

Traveled on down to Wynn to see what all the fuss was about next... Outside of Wynn, still lots of construction going on near there, so it's pretty noisy and unkempt, but the property itself isn't too bad looking. The trees, scrub brush and cheap-looking wildflowers as you approach Wynn from the south aren't much to look at. But obviously it must have cost a fortune to put all those trees in there. I didn't mind the "look" of it. It was an interesting effect. I wasn't all that impressed, but I wasn't turned off. I liked the moving sign, but I wasn't going to spend all day looking at it, either. Everyone is right, the entrance way is much too small. That's a pretty bad design flaw. I don't know how they're going to fix it though. Nice entrance. I liked the Flowerballs and the fact that they weren't just in one place in the casino. Hated that you couldn't go into the registration area unless you were a guest of the casino. Guess that they have to do that though because it's so small. Wasn't all that impressed with the waterfall, but then again, I didn't stay to see the show. I heard it wasn't that great anyway, so no loss there.

Went by the poker room just to see what was up. Very nice looking, though the wait was too long for a hold-em game and there was only an "interested" list for a Stud game. Went touring the casino grounds. Got some good play for the money the dollar slots were very playable (not so much the nickels or quarters though). The staff was very friendly and the BF got a card and didn't have a problem racking up the requisite 500 points for a "name" card and free buffet. Also he got $20 in free play too. I liked the random Bingo game thing they play when you have a players card in a slot machine, but after the 10th time not winning, despite being one number away, it kinda sucked. BF really liked Wynn for the nice attitude of the casino employees, the "free" buffet (yeah right), the loose dollar slots (well, at least he got a lot of play out of them), and when he went to get his permanent card, the offer of a casino host (he begged off of that, but they gave him the business card of a host anyway). Went to the buffet and for once, we WANTED there to be a line (as we had line passes!) but there wasn't.

The buffet was just okay to my eyes. We went around 4pm or so and they still hadn't cleared out the signage from breakfast / brunch. About ½ the signage was for breakfast items that had nothing to do with what was being served. Also, I'd say about 1/3 of the items were seafood and I happen to loathe seafood. I partook mostly of pizza and some of the meat selections. They didn't even have as good a bread selection as GVR or MGM. I was rather disappointed, actually. The seats were comfortable, though I rather booths than feeling like I'm out in the open at a table setting. The desserts were pretty good, I guess, though I'm not a huge fan of almost everything I like having nuts in them. (the chocolate mousse, brownies, etc). I liked that the dessert station was "open" and you could watch the chefs actually making them. As we headed out of Wynn, I saw the Astroturf everyone mentions. Does it look great? No. But it isn't THAT bad, and probably understandable that it might not be realistic (ha!) to be able to keep real grass looking good out there.

Wound up at the New Frontier and watched the BF win another 100,000 pennies on a George Lopez slot. Argh! And I can't win a thing, of course. And it's worse because then the BF was putting all his winnings back in at various local strip places. Finally grab a taxi back to MGM to stop the madness and try to get on a poker table. I'm too upset though about losing all day and lose here too. So I gave back more than $400 our last day there. BF headed to the Players Club and got all our meals and misc. stuff comped, so that's cool.

Monday morning. We get up after only 3 hours sleep and head down to check out. Of course we get behind the Slowest Check-Out in the Universe. Oh well, we have to wait because of the complication with the room reservation ($59 rate screw up). Anyway, we get to the airport and return the rental car, no problem. Of course the trip isn't over yet as the flight we're supposed to get on doesn't leave on-time! About 10 minutes to boarding, the flight crew announces that they are missing a crew member! After an hour they found him, but of course that put us 1.5 hours behind getting back. As we were waiting I wandered the casino and watched some people get in some last minute slot playing. I was slightly tempted but not really. I did notice that all the slots now have TITO and there were plenty of slot attendants hanging around.

Still thinking about generating a letter to AirTran for the crap that happened. Seeing if maybe I can score a couple of free tickets out of them for the inconvenience. I definitely need to go back when Avenue Q opens up at Wynn and I also would love to see KA again. The best show in Vegas hands-down.

Overall, I'd say it was a pretty good trip. Had lots of fun at poker and the only time I lost was when I was off my game, but oh well.

Highs:
Almost winning my first Vegas Poker Tourney
Ka, Ka, and more Ka (it's a STEAL at $150)

Sweet & Sour Chicken at Grand Wok (though there wasn't anything else on the menu I wanted to try)
Seeing the BF win at slots
The Brazil Slingo at Orleans
The Poker everywhere (MGM, Orleans, Aladdin, Harrah's)
Buffets (MGM, GVR, Wynn - in that order)
Slots at Orleans, GVR, Hard Rock (in that order)
Hookers at the MGM
Watching the BF win at slots
Nice staff and loose dollar slots at Wynn

Lows:
Slots everywhere else, but especially that hellhole, Slots-o-Fun (fun, my ass)
Not getting to do everything I wanted because the BF wasn't feeling well (Pure, Krave, Star Trek. Etc)
MGM not having the KA cd available (Sept, babeee!!)
Hookers at the MGM
Old shorts in the room
Watching the BF lose everything he won at slots
Cheating Millioniser slots that make you think you have a chance to win the $1 million every time you get the bonus game
Having to get 500 points before you get a "name" on your card at Wynn
. Choices of food at Wynn Buffet
AirTran flight being 4 ½ hours late getting to Vegas and 1 ½ hours late getting out of Vegas
Not getting a window for a window seat on the flight
XM Radio being busted on the flight
Boring Go-Kart race











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