Joined: Mar 6, 2010
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March 22nd, 2013 at 3:55:28 PM permalink
I got back from my annual Las Vegas trip last week, and I'm generally happy with the trip.

Our flight out to Las Vegas was at 3:30PM (Eastern Daylight time) on Sunday March 10th so it was nice in that we didn't have to rush to the airport early in the morning, but as a result traffic getting to the airport was much busier as well as the line-ups for security and US Customs were longer than we usually experience flying out the Sunday of March break. We landed at 5:30PM Las Vegas time (8:30PM Eastern) and took the shuttle bus to pick up our car. We got to our hotel room at the Wynn and were settled in by 7PM Vegas time.

As our first gambling for the trip, my wife and I wandered over to TI to play their 9/6 Jacks or better video poker. We bought in for $100 each and I lost $50 and my wife lost $40. We then wandered back to the Wynn where I played a short stint of blackjack at $15. I got on the right side of variance when I got a pair of 3's against a 3. I ended up with 17 on the first hand. The second hand I got another 3 and split those and ended up with 18 on the second hand. On the third hand I got a 7 so I doubled and unfortunately got a 4, but the dealer had a 4 behind and then pulled a 6 for 13 followed by a 9 for a bust . I was very happy as typically doubles and splits are not kind to me. I left shortly thereafter up $150 from my buy-in and this would turn out to be my only winning session of blackjack for the trip. Given the long day of travelling, we both headed to bed at about 8:30PM Vegas time.

Monday I got up early for my traditional 6AM (Vegas time) craps session at Casino Royale. The table was at the $3 minimum with 20x odds. I started on the don't and it was back and forth. Point made, then seven out the next round. I briefly switched over to pass line because I promised a buddy I'd put $5 down for him on a hard 8 on the fourth roll after the come out while on the pass. He lost his $5 on an easy 8 (6-2) two rolls after and by this time I was down to about $70 of my $200 buy-in. I resolved to bet don't the rest of that session and managed to recover to only be down about $40.

I knocked off after an hour and a half and went to pick up my wife for breakfast. Traditionally we eat at the Denny's beside Casino Royale for our first breakfast in Las Vegas. However this time was a problem. When we got there there was a huge line-up for tables. They warned us that it would be 15-20 minutes before we could be seated. We said fine. After we were seated the waitress informed us that the back-up was caused by one of their kitchens being broken so they were operating at half capacity and that it'd be another 30 minutes before our food would come. Again we said that was fine. The meal turned out OK except that my wife's hash browns with cheese were stone cold. Everything else was hot.

After breakfast we were on the hunt for shows to see. We stopped by the Tickets 4 Tonite booth in Casino Royale and asked about the two shows we were interested in -- Cirque du Soliel 'O' and Celine Dion. They said they had neither shows available so we trundled off to the Coliseum box office. We ended up getting the last two cheap seats in the 2nd balcony because it turns out Prudential Real Estate bought out most of the show for their corporate function. It still cost us $100 per ticket for the 2nd balcony, but the only other tickets were floors about 5 rows from the front and they wanted $250 a piece for those. We got the tickets for Tuesday night.

After that we circled back to the hotel. At the hotel, I made a reservation at Marche Bacchuus for dinner that night through Open Table. Before coming out to Las Vegas I'd asked on the board about new gambling to try. I got suggestions to try Pai Gow tiles, Pai Gow poker, baccarat, and the free bet blackjack however sticking to something similar my wife and I decided to try Deuces Wild. I'd used to find out where full pay Deuces Wild games were and it turned out Red Rock Resort and Casino was one such option and since we were going to dinner in Summerlin things lined up nicely.

It took us a bit to find the full pay Deuces Wild machines at Red Rock. There were a couple banks of machines offering "more than 100% payback" closer to the entrance, but they were for games I didn't have a strategy for. Eventually we found the true full pay Deuces Wild machines across from the cashier's cage. We've played Jacks or better exclusively the last few years and so we found ourselves constantly checking the Wizard's basic strategy for Deuces Wild. The whole 3-of-a-kind as minimum hand threw us for a bit of a loop as we're so used to having two-pair as a paying hand. Sorting out the straight flushes with and without deuces took some time too. However I managed to break even and my wife actually won $60 playing the $0.25 level so she was very pleased. It was nice to visit a non-strip casino as the pace was much more relaxed and from my looking around the odds were decent overall. I should have checked out their blackjack and craps, but I forgot and we were having a good time with the Deuces Wild.

Our dinner reservation was for 7PM so we left Red Rock Casino at 6:30 as we wanted some time to browse the wine shop at Marche Bacchuus. I managed to find a bottle of champagne that I had to pay $70 for at home for $48 so we went with that. My wife was a bit worried about being cold, but we asked to be seated by the fireplace and the staff happily accommodated us. On top of that, they recently installed glass partitions around the patio area by the lake so that there wasn't any breeze to chill you.

For starters, we shared the Bacchuus Charcuterie and I had the crab cakes. There were a couple types of salami in the charcuterie that were wonderful and the pickles they serve with the dish are a delicious mixture of tart and saltiness without being overpowering. The crab cakes were also tasty and crispy served over a bed of shredded vegetables. For our main meal my wife had the roast chicken and I had the lamb duo special. The lamb was supposed to be a shoulder and then a rib chop, but because of a shortage I ended up with two rib chops. My wife loved her chicken. It was served with mushrooms and whipped potatoes that were a lovely rich and creamy consistency. My lamb was perfectly done and the waiter tried to get me to switch to red wine with the comment, "I love food and I see your lamb sitting on the plate and I think you have to have a big red to compliment that dish." I agreed with him, but resisted as we were going to have trouble finishing the bottle of champagne. It turned out great anyway as the acidity of the champagne nicely cut the richness of the lamb. For dessert, my wife had the creme brule and I the sorbet. Both were excellent, but the portions were a little large for us given all we'd consumed earlier.

After dinner we decided to stick close to the hotel so we played a $0.25 8/5 Super Times Pay Jacks or better 3-play game at the Wynn. I know I shouldn't have played it, and it quickly ate $100 from my wife. I worked my $100 down to about $50. My wife was complaining that the machines weren't giving hardly any winning hands or multipliers and then it happened. Our first royal flush. The draw came up 10, jack, queen of clubs and I quickly held my three to a royal and hit the deal button expecting to come up empty as per usual, but the second line drew the ace and king of clubs. 4000 units at $0.25 for $1000. I paused and thought maybe I should ask a casino host to take our picture as we didn't have a camera on us. However none were close by and eventually we just printed the ticket, put another $100 through the machine just to see where lady luck would take us, and then took the ticket to the cashier. They didn't bat an eyelash cashing the ticket and the only thing that happened was the cashier had to get an override from the supervisor to process the ticket. We were very pleased and called it a night.

Tuesday morning I again headed out for early morning craps at Casino Royale. This time I stuck strictly to the don't pass and the early results were mixed. I'd lose on points of 4 or 10, but win on points of 6 or 8 which meant I wasn't bleeding as badly as it could have been. Then I ran into a streak where no points were made for about 6 rounds in a row. I even got on the don't come a couple times and won those too. I left happy and up $150.

Most of the rest of the day Tuesday was consumed by my wife's latest passion -- sock knitting. We went to three different knitting shops across the Las Vegas area looking for yarn, knitting needles, and other knitting supplies. We also stopped by the Premium Outlet mall to pick up shirts for myself and my two sons and some Lululemon shorts for my daughter at the Fashion Show Mall.

We were in a hurry for supper because we had the show at 7PM so we grabbed tacos at Tacos El Gordo which was just north of the Wynn. The staff was very friendly and helped us pick our items. We stayed away from the pig brains and tripe. I ended up with two beef tacos and my wife had a beef tostada. We shared a pork quesedilla. The food was delicious and inexpensive. We'll certainly be going back to Tacos El Gordo on our next trip to Las Vegas.

We changed and headed to the Celine Dion show after supper. I'm not really a fan, but my wife has always wanted to see her. The whole fellow Canadian girl makes good angle. Anyway the best way to describe the show is self-indulgent and hyper-produced. The show starts with a video documentary of the final show of Celine Dion's first stint in Las Vegas, snippets of the world tour that followed, and the press conference in 2011 announcing her second stint in Las Vegas. Then the curtain opens with Celine Dion centre stage singing one of her hits. She had a full orchestra backing her, back-up singers, a moving stage, and a full light show. The show consisted of one-third her hits, one- third covers, and one-third weird stuff. The covers were things like some jazz/R&B hits, a Billy Joel lullaby, the hit from the British singer Adele, and a medley of the James Bond theme songs. The weird stuff was three duets, and stuff done by others. The first duet was based on the duet Celine Dion originally did with Barbra Striesand. There was some trickery where they had an old video of her singing her part on stage and then Celine Dion snuck into the audience, and sang the Striesand part. The second duet was again a video thing, but this time it was a video duet with Stevie Wonder. Both of these felt very self-indulgent. The final duet was Beauty and the Beast done with one of the male back-up singers. The other wierd stuff was around costume changes for Celine Dion. One was a violin solo as the violinist walked through the audience, another was an R&B tune with the horn section and the same male back-up singer belting it out centre stage while the curtain was closed, and the last one was purely instrumental. Three cellos did a medley of Michael Jackson tunes centred around Smooth Criminal. My wife plays the cello so she enjoyed that one. There was a one-song encore using the Titanic song, "My Heart Will Go On" that had a neat circling waterfall light show effect with Celine Dion on a slowly elevating platform. Overall we were both disappointed with the show. Celine Dion does have a great voice, but some of the songs aren't well suited to her voice -- particularly the Adele song. It felt like we were supposed to just be thankful she was on- stage singing and that the orchestra, light show, and video stage tricks were enough to entertain you. My wife was very unsatisfied after the show. My recommendation would be to avoid this show unless you are a complete and total Celine Dion fan. Then her just showing up should be enough for you.

Wednesday morning was my final craps session at Casino Royale. This session was the reverse of the previous session. I again stuck to the don'ts and I only won on points of 4 and 10. 5, 6, 8, and 9 always seemed to make the point. Needless to say I lost $160 within an hour and walked away. As it was still early I decided to play some $15 blackjack at the Wynn while I waited for my wife to get cleaned up. Lady variance was not kind. I held my own on straight-up hands winning slightly more than I lost, but I lost every split and double I made. Another $200 down.

Once my wife joined me we played Jacks or better VP at TI again, but this time we switched machines to the ones that offered the double up option to add a little variance. I only doubled up Jacks or better hands, but my wife doubled up any two of a kind as well as flushes. After an hour she'd managed to double her $100 buy-in and I managed a small $20 win.

I also tried my hand at a $10 blackjack table at TI. I ended up even after about 30 minutes, but the dealer was a curmudgeon. The player on third base was chatting and asking for advice occasionally, but the dealer said as little as possible and kept repeating that he wasn't allowed to give advice to players. When the gentleman left, the dealer complained bitterly to us that the guy never shut up. The player wasn't obnoxious by any stretch of the imagination, but merely chatty and having fun. After the dealerís tirade, I left the table and left no tip and typically I tip something win or lose.

In the afternoon, I again risked blackjack at the Wynn, but this time the minimums were $25 and a similar pattern repeated from the previous Wynn session. No blackjacks, evened out on straight up hands, but splits and doubles were a disaster. My last hand of that session was a pair aces against a dealer six. I got a 4 and then a 7 on my next two cards for a 15 and an 18. Dealer had a 7 back and drew a 2 then a 6. I ended up down close to $400 on that session.

After that beating we decided to lounge around the pool and have a swim. It was a warm and sunny 27 Celsius (81F) with hardly any breeze and it was nice just laze around.

For supper, we headed to Mint Indian Bistro. They do have a nice selection of imported beers from Belgium, Germany, and India, but both of our first choices were out of stock. We stuck with a dinner for two option that included vegetable pakora and soup for starters, and tandoori chicken, chicken tikka, aloo gobi, a lamb curry and chenna served with rice and naan. We have a number of good Indian restaurants around home and Mint Indian Bistro compares favourably to them. It was good solid Indian food and if we're in the mood for Indian next time we'll certainly give it another visit.

After supper we hung around the Wynn again. I put $100 through the same 3- play Super Times Pay Jacks or better machine where I won the royal flush. I came up empty.

I then went on to play $10 minimum craps at the Wynn. I stuck to the don'ts and no real pattern emerged so I ended up down about $140. There were a bunch of spanish speaking gentlemen playing and the dealers seemed on edge. They were calling out "All bets finished" before the stickman would hand out the dice which Iíve never experienced before. One spanish gentleman bough in for about $20,000 and started putting $1000 as place bets across the board. It was quite a sight to see all those yellow chips spread out on the table. The dealers and stickman were particularly vexed by a woman beside me who'd bought in for $400 and thought she could do whatever she liked. She'd constantly late bet hardways, take winnings and then reverse her decision and ask to press her place bets after the dice were out and the dealers kept warning her. The boxman told her a couple times that they wanted to give all players the same chance to play the game. Then the stickman muttered under his breath that they were trying to avoid an international incident. It was interesting and entertaining to watch for sure.

At this point, my wife decided to pack up as we were flying out in the morning and left me to beat my head against the wall with one more losing session at blackjack and another at craps at the Wynn. The blackjack was a complete washout where I won about 5 out of 20 hands, but luckily it was only at $15. The only interesting thing that happened during that final blackjack session was that the dealer told me that the Ravens Super Bowl winning QB Joe Flacco played two tables down from me two weeks prior. The dealer said he was quiet and tall. The final craps session was again a back and forth affair where I stuck to the don'ts, but lost about $200.

We flew out Thursday morning at 9AM and both my wife and I left Las Vegas unsatisfied. Typically our trips are we get to Las Vegas Sunday before noon and then leave Thursday mid-day. Sometimes we've gotten cheap red-eye flights so that we get to Las Vegas at 10:30PM local time Sunday, but we fly out at 10PM Las Vegas time Thursday. In both cases, we have pretty much four full days in Las Vegas. This time it was three and I think that's what left us both unsatisfied. Well that and it was cold and -5 C when we landed in Toronto and my wife's complained all this week about missing the nice weather we had in Las Vegas. I hope to go again next year for March break, but maybe I can talk my wife into returning late this summer if Iím lucky given we've still got an itch for Las Vegas.

Joined: Jan 7, 2013
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March 22nd, 2013 at 6:17:55 PM permalink
Nice write-up.

You are a much better husband than me with the sock knitting and Celine Dion in the same trip :)))
Joined: Aug 25, 2012
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March 22nd, 2013 at 10:44:51 PM permalink
Good report. I sent my g/f to Shania solo last trip because it's a pain for me to be able to play poker otherwise. She liked it though, but then again she was a huge fan of
Joined: Dec 5, 2011
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March 23rd, 2013 at 9:02:51 AM permalink
Congratulations on your first royal! Nothing like that euphoria of relief and then awe.
100% risk of ruin

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