blount2000
blount2000
Joined: Oct 15, 2010
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January 5th, 2016 at 1:29:45 PM permalink
~~~~ VEGAS TRIP REPORT– DECEMBER 2015 ~~~~



One full year had passed since my last trip to Las Vegas and, after months of planning and anticipation, I was excited that it was time to head West once again!

I had gotten fairly spoiled by being able to enjoy TWO trips to Vegas per year during the first part of the 2010’s (i.e. 2011 – 2013), but circumstances have changed a bit whereby I’m only going once per year now. So needless to say, I was thrilled that December had finally rolled around and the trip dates had arrived!

My wife and I spent December 10th – 14th, 2015, in Las Vegas and we had a wonderful time. We stayed at the Mirage, had a rental car, and were able to again partake of the many fun activities/opportunities the city has to offer.

Below is a post for each day of the trip, along with some pictures of the various things we were able to participate in. As usual, there are some repeats of activities that have been enjoyed on prior visits (as well as some new events). I must apologize in advance for the poor quality of some of the pictures. I purchased a new cell phone recently and I like everything about it… except for the camera. :/

In keeping with the tradition of my prior trip reports, I’ll be blurring out our faces on any pics to keep the admissible evidence to a minimum. ;)

Thanks for reading!!
You serious, Clark?
blount2000
blount2000
Joined: Oct 15, 2010
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January 5th, 2016 at 1:30:27 PM permalink
DAY 1 OF 5 - THURSDAY, DECEMBER 10TH


* ARRIVAL * $20 TRICK * HIGH LIMIT SNACK BAR * BURGERS * PUPPETS * STRIKING SILVER * GAMBLING WITH PIZZA *


After impatiently counting down the days leading up to our trip, the departure day finally arrived. We fly to Vegas out of Nashville, and had booked a non-stop flight which departed around 11:30am. We got to the airport early as usual, and I was able to enjoy my traditional breakfast from Whitt’s BBQ there in the Nashville terminal.








We took off on time and were on our way! After a smooth flight (aided by a nice rum & coke at the beginning of the journey) we began our descent into Vegas. I was sitting in the window seat, and was able to take a pic of Wayne Newton’s house as we prepared to land.




It is always a great feeling to look out and get that first glimpse of Vegas after the plane touches down and is heading towards the gate!




We retrieved our luggage…




…caught the shuttle to the rental car facility…




…and were soon driving up the Strip headed for the Mirage!










We parked in the self-parking garage at the Mirage and proceeded to the check-in area. Months earlier I had booked a “Run of the House” room on the MLife website. When booking the room, the run of the house option was like $80 less expensive, but the room type would not be assigned until check-in. Although I was anticipating being assigned a low-floor no-view room, I had already planned to have a little trick up my sleeve when it came time to check in. The “$20-trick” to be more precise.

We waited in the check-in line for about five minutes, and when our turn came I handed the clerk my driver’s license & my credit card, along with a folded $20 bill sandwiched in between the two. I had never tried the $20 trick before and was a little nervous, but the clerk just set the $20 over to the side and said “Let’s see if there are any complimentary upgrades available.”. She tapped away on her computer for about a minute, and then said they had a Strip-View room on the 21st floor available if I was interested. I told her that would be great, and she issued us two room keys (and picked up the $20 and said thanks).

We made our way over to the elevators to go up to the room, and were pleased to see they had separate elevators for floors 17-23. So during our trip we never had to wait very long for an elevator up or down!

The room was very nice and had a great view of the Strip.








The room also had a little snack center on the counter which said it would charge you if you picked anything up. The prices for the snacks were quite high ($10 for M&M’s, $13 for cashews, etc.), so I definitely didn’t partake of any items. I actually wish they had a glass case or something over it, because I was a bit worried the whole time about accidentally knocking some stuff over and then getting charged. There was a chair immediately to the right of the snack center, and when throwing my jacket onto the chair the sleeve swung out and came close to hitting everything. I was like… OH SNAP!! Anyway, we were very careful after that and remained charge-free from a snack-bar standpoint.




It was around 4pm by the time we were all unpacked and settled into the room, so it was definitely time to go get something to eat. We had BLT Burger on our itinerary for the first meal since it is located right there in the Mirage. In fact, all of our initial activities were purposefully planned to be in the Mirage (or close by) so we wouldn’t have to take the car out again on that first day, which worked out nicely.

BLT Burger was not crowded at all and there was no wait for a table. My wife ordered the Tex-Mex burger with a side-salad, and I went with the Kobe Slider Trio with skinny fries. My wife’s burger came with a small portion of chili, and she said it was some of the best chili she has ever tasted.








I had not tried Kobe beef before so I asked the waiter about the preferred preparation style, and he said medium rare was the way to go. The meat was definitely more red than the ground beef I’m used to eating, but it was extremely delicious. All three sliders were different (BLT, Blue Cheese, BBQ Onion) and my favorite was the BBQ Onion. Total cost for the meal was $60.

We had reservations for Terry Fator later that evening, so we left BLT Burger and walked over to the box office to pick up our tickets for the show. We then headed back up to the room to relax for a short while before the show. Well rested and still feeling full from our meal, we left the room around 7:10pm and proceeded down to the Terry Fator Showroom for the 7:30pm performance. As with the meal, it was nice to have the show located right there in the Mirage so we didn’t have to leave the room super early and get the car or anything.

The Terry Fator show was very entertaining and my wife & I really enjoyed it. Since it was December, the production had a holiday theme and was called “A Very Terry Christmas!”. His ventriloquism acts with the puppets were great, and he also sang several songs on his own. He is actually a very good singer and we were glad we chose to see this performance. Total cost for two tickets was $156 using a link from LVA.






Following the show we decided it was time for a little gambling! Inspired a couple months earlier by this thread started by ajemeister, a prominent part of the itinerary for this particular trip was to locate some of the Silver Strike machines throughout Vegas and then hopefully snag a few commemorative tokens. And, since there were two of these machines reported to be in the Mirage, we once again did not have to leave the property for our first Silver Strike search of the trip!

The two machines were side by side and were located not too far from the guest elevators, so we were able to find them fairly easily. I sat down at one of them, put a $20 in, and then turned it over to luck. The machine was not super generous on the regular payouts, but before too long we saw the Silver Strike symbol stop on the payline for the third reel. Ah, sweet success!!

The carousel above the machine lit up and started spinning, and then about ten seconds later dispensed one of the tokens. We lucked up, and our very first token happened to be one of the less common “colored” coins which came in a blue-tinted acrylic case. We were quite pleased!






It was around 9:45pm by now, and I had a hankering for a snack. We walked out of the Mirage and headed across the street to get a slice of pizza from the food court located between Harrah’s and Casino Royale. It had been two full years since eating at this place had done me (and my cousin) wrong, so I was hopeful that they had gotten their act together during this time. My cousin told me after I returned from my trip that I was a brave soul for trying that pizza again, but of course he was much sicker than I was when we both “got our clocks cleaned” back in 2013!

I ordered a slice of pepperoni & mushroom pizza along with a large drink ($11). The pizza tasted good (and I did not get sick), but in my opinion it just wasn’t as tasty as it used to be. It was a tad dry as well, which was a little disappointing. Who knows, maybe it was just an off-night for them. I may or may not give them another shot on my next Vegas trip. I’m from both Tennessee and Texas, so as somebody famous once said: “There's an old saying in Tennessee — I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can't get fooled again.” :)






After finishing my pizza, we strolled around on the Strip for a short while and took a few nighttime pics before easing back towards the Mirage. It had been a fairly long and busy day, so we called it done and headed back up to the room for the night!






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DAY 2 TO FOLLOW…
Last edited by: blount2000 on Jan 5, 2016
You serious, Clark?
Ayecarumba
Ayecarumba
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January 5th, 2016 at 1:59:12 PM permalink
Thanks for posting your trip report Blount2000. I am looking forward to following your adventures.

If you were to take your token from the Silver Strike machine to the cage, would they exchange it for cash? If so, could you reverse it, and buy the tokens directly from the cage?

Apparently, there is a club for collectors: https://www.silverstrikers.com/
Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication - Leonardo da Vinci
Romes
Romes
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January 5th, 2016 at 2:13:17 PM permalink
Great report thus far Blount! I'm intrigued the "$20 trick" worked =P. Keep 'em comin!
Playing it correctly means you've already won.
MidwestAP
MidwestAP
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January 5th, 2016 at 2:37:36 PM permalink
Love your trip reports Blount, probably my favorite. Your reports focus on things that I normally don't focus on when I'm out there, I find that refreshing!
aceofspades
aceofspades
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January 5th, 2016 at 4:18:36 PM permalink
Excellent report - love the photos as well - following.
blount2000
blount2000
Joined: Oct 15, 2010
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January 5th, 2016 at 6:32:28 PM permalink
Quote: Ayecarumba

Thanks for posting your trip report Blount2000. I am looking forward to following your adventures.

If you were to take your token from the Silver Strike machine to the cage, would they exchange it for cash? If so, could you reverse it, and buy the tokens directly from the cage?

Apparently, there is a club for collectors: https://www.silverstrikers.com/


Thanks! On the coins, they are marked as being $10 tokens and a sign on the machine said you could exchange them at the cage for $10 cash. I'd be curious to see if a person can purchase the tokens directly from the cashier. That would certainly be a quick way for me to add to my new collection! :)



Quote: Romes

Great report thus far Blount! I'm intrigued the "$20 trick" worked =P. Keep 'em comin!


Thank you! The research I did before the trip seemed to indicate that there was a fair chance at success using the $20 trick at the Mirage, so I was definitely pleased when it worked! Saved me a net $60 versus booking a Strip View room directly from the beginning.



Quote: MidwestAP

Love your trip reports Blount, probably my favorite. Your reports focus on things that I normally don't focus on when I'm out there, I find that refreshing!


I appreciate those kind words, MidwestAP! We try to have a nice mix of activities, although we do tend to end up a little light on the gambling for some reason. We always have such a great time in Vegas with everything we do!



Quote: aceofspades

Excellent report - love the photos as well - following.


Thanks! I enjoy your trip reports as well and am always rooting for you to win big at the BJ tables!
You serious, Clark?
blount2000
blount2000
Joined: Oct 15, 2010
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January 5th, 2016 at 6:38:48 PM permalink
DAY 2 OF 5 - FRIDAY, DECEMBER 11TH


* KILLIN’ KENO * BISCUITS & GRAVY * LOSING BINGO * TIKI (Take 1) * IN-N-OUT * ENTER THE BUFFALO * BIG ‘E’ * MORE SILVER * ROCKING PIZZA * FREMONT ST. & ONE MILLION DOLLARS * CHEER *



I woke up Friday morning around 5am and quietly got dressed to head downstairs for my traditional early morning Starbucks and penny machines. I had noted the night before that the Starbucks in the Mirage didn’t open until 5:30am, so I had a little time to kill before making my way to procure a delicious caramel macchiato. I passed the time by playing some quick VP and hitting some Dragon Orb slots.








I played for about 10 minutes and then walked over to Starbucks where a line had already formed. There were about five folks ahead of me, so I didn’t have to wait too long to get my coffee drink ($7). At that price, I’m starting to realize that my early morning caramel macchiatos are beginning to get expensive! I pay less than $7 for a whole bag of my regular coffee at home (Community Coffee), but I treat the Starbucks as a splurge when I’m in Vegas.

After getting my coffee, I sat down and enjoyed it while slow-playing some of the stacked machines (lions, dragons, pandas, etc.) for a while without any picture worthy results. I eventually decided to switch things up and try a little Caveman Keno. And this is where I ended up hitting my biggest win on the whole trip!

I took a seat at the quarter keno machine and put in the TITO voucher I had cashed out from the penny slots. On my very first game I was having a little trouble getting the correct number of coins to bet, and somehow ended up betting three coins instead of the one coin I originally intended. A little perturbed at the inadvertent three-coin bet, I went ahead and started the game and was amazed and pleased to see it hit 6 of the 7 spots I had marked. That translated into a nice 735 quarter win!




I secretly congratulated myself on having the wisdom and supreme foresight to make that risky 3-coin bet (cough cough). I figured that after a big hit like that, things could probably only go downward from there so I immediately cashed out.




It was time to head to the room, so I swung back by Starbucks to pick up a regular blonde roast coffee for my wife ($5) and then took the elevator back upstairs to get ready for the day.

After getting ready, we headed out to retrieve the car and go get some breakfast. Our morning meal plans had been heavily influenced by the fact that I had an LVA 2-1 coupon for Crossroads Café at the House of Blues in Mandalay Bay. We were pleased with our experience here on our last trip, and were excited about the opportunity to enjoy their food once again.

We were seated around 9am, and I ordered their biscuits & gravy (with egg topper & hash browns), and my wife chose their Rock Steady breakfast skillet. Both dishes were fantastic, and I really shouldn’t have cleaned my entire plate… but clean it I did! Total cost of this meal was $34.








Breakfast now behind us, it was time to play some bingo so we headed back to the car and drove on over to the Gold Coast. We arrived around 10:15am, parked the car, and moseyed inside with plenty of time to spare for the 11am bingo session. As always, I had to get my B-Connected players card reprinted because I had forgotten it back in the room.

We bought in for our normal blue-paper-packs, but I shook things up a bit by getting an electronic unit with an enhanced load of cards in it. We picked up a couple of daubers from the vending machines, a couple of beverages (coffee for her, beer for me), and then took a seat to wait for the session to begin. I was super-excited about the extra cards in my electronic machine and how it would certainly elevate my chances at hitting a bingo and winning some cash!

Whenever my family asks if I won at the casino, I sort of answer them in code. If I did win money, I have no trouble at all giving a nice direct answer: “Did I win money? Heck yeah I won money! Why do you think I went there!? I’m actually offended by your question.”

Contrast that to my answer if I didn’t win: “Did I win money? Man, I had a great time at the casino. Had a blast. Yes indeed, a wonderful time had by all.”


That being said, back to the topic of our bingo game. We had a great time. An absolute blast. A wonderful time had by all. ;)








Thankfully the beating at the Gold Coast ended promptly at noon, and we were on our way to one of the more highly anticipated items on our itinerary for this trip – a visit to a new tiki bar called The Golden Tiki over on Spring Mountain Road. I’ve enjoyed hitting Frankie’s Tiki Room for several years now, so I was thrilled when I heard that a new tiki bar was opening back in August.

We arrived at the Golden Tiki around 12:15pm and parked right out front. The outside of the building has some nice tiki decorations and such, but the real tiki pizazz is on the inside. We went inside and chose a high-top table over on the right side of the bar. Service was quick, and the waitress presented each of us with drink menus to look over. I have a modest collection of tiki mugs which I always like to add to, so we asked the waitress which mugs they had available at the moment. She was real nice and actually went to get a small cart to roll out and show us examples of all the mugs they had on hand.

After considering the menu for a bit, I ended up ordering a drink called the Banana Batida, and my wife ordered a virgin pineapple & orange juice concoction. Both drinks were very good (mine more so since it had alcohol in it), and the two tiki mugs are nice additions to my collection.










I also enjoyed a free shot of their private reserve rum using a voucher I had printed off of their website. The rum was very smooth and quite tasty!




Compared to Frankie’s, the Golden Tiki is a bigger space for sure. It doesn’t quite have the chill, dive-bar feel that Frankie’s has, but it’s also only a few months old so that will probably come in time. Overall, we were very impressed with the Golden Tiki and will definitely add it to our repertoire of must-do activities whenever we are in Vegas. Total cost for the drinks and two tiki mugs came to $60.






We departed the Golden Tiki around 2pm and decided it was time for some lunch. We missed out on eating at In-N-Out on our last trip, and we weren’t about to make that same mistake again! So we headed over to the In-N-Out on Dean Martin Drive to get a bite to eat. I enjoyed a cheeseburger & fries, while my wife had some fries and a chocolate shake. In-N-Out has never disappointed us! Total cost for this meal was $10.








We left In-N-Out around 2:45pm and headed back to the Mirage to rest up and collect ourselves for a spell. We relaxed in the room for about an hour, and then around 4pm I started to get antsy and was ready to get back out for a bit. My wife said she preferred to continue resting and would hang out in the room for a while longer if I wanted to go do my own thing for a while. She didn’t have to tell me twice, and I was soon out the door and on the way downstairs.

I decided to walk across the street and spend a little time at Harrah’s & Casino Royale before embarking upon my true mission (which was to ease over to the Venetian and see if I could find some Silver Strike machines).

I walked around in Harrah’s and saw that Big Elvis was performing in the space where the dueling piano bar is located. The place was totally packed and there were no seats available at all. I stepped inside just to snap a quick pic, and was swiftly told to get out of the way. Those Big Elvis fans are serious!




Freshly shunned from the Big Elvis show, I decided to browse the machines at Harrah’s and find something to play. As I’m walking among the aisles of slots, the extra-loud screech of an eagle rings in my ears and my attention is immediately drawn to a machine I have of course seen before, but have never played – BUFFALO. I don’t know how this game has stayed off my playing radar for so long, but it’s definitely on there now. I found this game to be extremely fun and it ended up being one the primary games my wife & I played during the remainder of the trip!






After playing at Harrah’s for a while, I proceed to ease over to Casino Royale to see how my luck would run. They had some construction going on by the bar, and the table games appeared to be moved towards the back. I made a quick pass in an effort to see if they had reinstated my beloved Star Wars machines, but no such luck. I settled for playing a Vibrant 7’s machine for a short while before moving on.




Exiting Casino Royale, I headed over towards the Venetian to search for their Silver Strike machines. For some reason I always have trouble getting into the casino part of the Venetian and end up walking all over the place trying to find it, and this time was no exception.

Finally in the casino, I ambled around and eventually located the Silver Strike machine. I put my $20 in and very quickly hit for an additional 40 credits which gave me a little cushion to keep playing for a shot at a commemorative coin. It took a little while, but I ultimately ended up harvesting two Silver Strike tokens from this machine. Winning two coins in one sitting was a nice surprise!




It was around 6pm at this point, so I decided to stroll back to the Mirage and see if my wife was ready to hit the next item on our schedule which was a trip Downtown. She was indeed ready, so we got in the car and headed North!

We parked in the lot at Main Street Station, which is very convenient and had plenty of room. Our first order of business was to get some dinner at a place we really enjoyed on our prior trip – Pizza Rock. We enjoyed a delicious pepperoni/mushroom/onion pizza with a gluten-free crust. I prefer a nice crispy crust on my pizza, and this one did not disappoint! Total cost of $37 for the pizza and two drinks.








Following our meal at Pizza Rock, we made our way over to Fremont Street to catch the 8pm light show. The theme of the show was the band Heart, and we were able to hear some great familiar tunes from one of our favorite bands.








After the light show, we walked into the 4 Queens casino with the purpose of getting a coin from one of their Silver Strike slots. They had a bunch of the machines to choose from, and we selected one and put in our $20. Although we didn’t get a repeat of the two-coin win I experienced at the Venetian, we were at least rewarded with a win of one token! (You’ll notice that the security guard over on the left didn’t seem too concerned about me taking a picture in the casino). :)








Exiting the 4 Queens, we headed over to Binion’s so I could play the Star Wars machines we found here last year. Sadly, Binion’s had followed the lead of Casino Royale and had gotten rid of the Star Wars slots. I played for a while on a Walking Dead machine, which was fun (but not as fun as my SW Slots). I did hit $30 on it, so I can’t complain too much.






Finished with playing slots at Binion’s, we decided to get our picture taken with the $1 million cash Binion’s has on display. There was a short line, and we waited about 5 minutes for our turn. The nice lady taking the pictures said it would be about a 25-minute wait to get the printed pic if they used their camera. She said we were welcome to use our own camera if we didn’t want to wait. So we handed her my wife’s camera and she took the pic for us. Wish I could have stuck all that cash in my pocket!!




It was around 10pm, so we elected to say goodbye to Fremont Street and ease back towards the car. We stopped by Main Street Station so I could play a bit & take a shot at getting 50 points on my card, which would mean free parking! My wife told me: “You do realize you’re fixing to lose $20 in an attempt to get $5 of free parking?” Undeterred by her lack of faith in my slot prowess, I put my $20 in a Forbidden Dragons machine and began racking up the points! Unfortunately, luck was not on my side and by the time my $20 had evaporated I had only accumulated around 30 of the 50 points needed for free parking. :/ I knew better than to put in another $20 to try to get the remaining points.







We left Main Street Station, retrieved the car from the parking lot, and headed back to the Mirage. After parking and entering the Mirage, we noticed that the property had been overtaken by a HUGE number of cheerleader groups. It turned out that the finals for a big national cheer competition were being held at the Mirage on this particular weekend. It was a little odd seeing so many groups of young kids walking through the casino at all hours, but everyone was well-behaved and seemed to be having a great time.

Anyway, we called it a night around 11:30pm and hit the sack for a good night’s sleep!

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DAY 3 TO FOLLOW…
Last edited by: blount2000 on Jan 6, 2016
You serious, Clark?
aceofspades
aceofspades
Joined: Apr 4, 2012
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January 5th, 2016 at 7:06:48 PM permalink
Cool Tiki mugs
Ya know - I've never been to a Tiki Bar
Did you get the In-And-Out burgers "animal style"?
Next time I am in Vegas I might have to try those Silver Strike machines (keep posting the locations, especially on the Strip, if you can please)
blount2000
blount2000
Joined: Oct 15, 2010
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January 5th, 2016 at 7:59:48 PM permalink
Quote: aceofspades

Did you get the In-And-Out burgers "animal style"?


After googling "in-n-out animal style", I certainly wish I had ordered them that way. Next time for sure!
You serious, Clark?

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