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June 22nd, 2022 at 7:12:59 PM permalink
Sorrry this trip report is very late. I wrote it well after the trip and the completely forgot about it.

The trip this year was March 13-17.

Sunday – Just getting in

Our day started early since this was Daylight Savings time change so getting up for 6AM to head to the airport felt more like 5AM. The driving was smooth on the 401, but the GTAA messed up with their capacity planning for March Break. We checked into our flight, but had to be marshalled to a separate waiting area for the security lineup. They called each flight over the PA as it came time for them, but even with that our flight left 45 minutes late.

The flight itself was smooth and they managed to make up about 15 minutes in the air such that we landed just after noon Las Vegas time. A couple notes about our flight. We flew Air Canada Rouge. First Air Canada really wants you to pay to select your seat, but so far my wife and I have manage to avoid that. Typically you check in 24 hours before and can get a selection of seats where two people can sit together – usually middle and window seats. No longer. We were used as filler. My wife got a window seat both times, but I was stuck in the middle seat. One row ahead on the way down and 5 rows ahead on the way back. Ugh! Looks like I’m going to have to cough up for basic seat selection from here on out if we want to sit together. I believe seat selection runs $30 per person per flight minimum. Second note is that Air Canada Rouge only gives you a drink now and nothing to eat. No snack of pretzels or other such things. You either buy something at the airport to take on after you pass through security or order one of their on-board meals.

We were quickly through McCarran/Harry Reid, and from there we headed to the shuttles for the car rental. Poor car rental places really got kicked in the teeth by COVID. First the car rental shuttle took a solid 15 minutes to come by. I bet they don’t have the volume to have shuttles come more frequently. Second I’m a Dollar Express member, but Dollar has basically shut down their side of the operation. They’re maintaining the main desk, but the outside operation is all closed. I returned to the main desk where they had my rental documentation all ready, but then directed me to go to the Hertz side and pick any car I wanted from aisle #3 (compact/economy) of Hertz. I was to also return my car to Hertz.

We headed to the Encore from the car rental and with all the rigamarole we were there by 2:30PM so our room was ready. We’ve stayed on the Encore side before and the room was what we expect from Wynn/Encore, but what do they say in real estate? Location, location, location. Encore is about 5 minutes further away from just about anywhere you want to be.

With not getting a snack on the plane, we decided to walk up the strip and grab supper early even though it was only 3:30PM. We went through TI, walked through the Ceasar’s Forum Shops, and ended up at Noodle Hut No. 9. We’ve haven’t been in a while – likely 6 years or more – and I remembered it as an inexpensive place to eat. We ate a few times with the kids there in 2009 on our Grand Canyon trip and it cost us between $100-150 for a family of 5. Well it’s 2022 now and I’d say prices more than doubled in that time. The food is still very good. My wife got a vegetarian chow mein and she loved hers. I got Singapore Noodles with chicken instead of shrimp and it was also very tasty. We also shared some steamed pork buns. I had a beer and my wife order Prosecco. However it ran $130 for the two of us. Yikes time have changed!

We continued onto the Bellagio after supper. We were specifically looking for some $0.25 8/5 Bonus Poker video games listed on I don’t think we found the right machines, but we ended up playing on a couple Ultimate X 3-play BP machines for $0.25. Here my wife really had a run. She just kept getting multiplier after multiplier. The machine was going nuts. Nearby an older lady watched with some measure of jealousy and finally plunked herself at one of the open machines and starts playing. The old lady plays about 2 minutes and says to my wife, “You’re not playing with a card! Put my card into the machine if you’re not going to!” We politely declined, but she got a little crochety and asked a couple more times during our play. We declined each time. We left after about 30 minutes and we were up right off the hop about $120.

We then hit Cosmopolitan as lists a $0.50 9/6 JoB Spin Poker machine in the high limit room. We did find that machine, but it was occupied so we left.

Monday -- Mostly shopping

I woke up about 5AM Vegas time and got cleaned up looking for a good gamble. Encore blackjack tables were all at $25 or more for minimums. Craps too. Wynn tables were similar. I left in search of better minimums.

I headed over to TI and it turns out the blackjack pit was open. Craps was not. I checked with the supervisor and craps doesn’t open at TI until noon. TI had their $10 6 to 5 single deck game open, $15 3 to 2 double deck, and two 3 to 2 6-deck games available also at $15. I parked myself at one of the 6-deck tables and proceeded to lose the $120 my wife had made the previous night. I held my own on straight up hands, but lost several doubles and splits to put me in a hole.

I headed back to Encore to gather up my wife for breakfast at Denny’s beside Casino Royale. It is nicer since they re-built it several years ago. The additional seating means that there isn’t the wait that there used to be. After breakfast, we decided to window shop through the Venetian/Palazzo shops while everything was still closed. My wife spied a lighting shop called ‘LoLo’ that had a fixture that would be perfect for our front hall. We resolved to go back and look when the shop was open.

While we were wandering through the Palazzo I spied a $15 craps table. I was surprised and amazed so I bought in for $200 and my wife and I took turns rolling on the don’ts and had another great run. We had a 7-out on 4 of the 5 points made. After about 20 minutes of this another player shows up looking fairly young so the supervisor asks for ID. The player kindly hands it over and the supervisor immediately wishes him a Happy Birthday. We also wish him a Happy Birthday and in a show of solidarity we join him on the pass line. The birthday boy starts on the pass line and also rolls out $5 on each of the All/Tall/Small bet. The Birthday Boy then goes on a monster roll. He completes the Tall side of the bet for $250 while completing 3 points. He was working on his 4th point and manages to completely everything for the Small and All except for a ‘3’. At this point, everyone at the table – us players, the dealers, stickman, and two supervisors – are all cheering for a ‘3’. Unfortunately the birthday boy got a 7-out before hitting the ‘3’. The birthday boy colours up and we wish him a happy birthday saying that he’s got a great birthday story to tell all his buddies about waiting for a ‘3’.

My wife and I returned to the don’t pass line alternating who was rolling for another 4 points winning 3 of them with a 7-out. It’s after 10AM at this point and we decided we’d better head over to the Fashion Show Mall as I wanted a few shirts from Macy’s. We left up $230 from that session which more than covered my losses at blackjack earlier in the morning.

It turns out that the mall recently switched to 11AM opening so only the department stores were open at 10AM. All the smaller shops were closed. Macy’s for Men was part of the 10AM opening so my wife and I went through my options for short sleeved shirts. On our trip last summer, I bought a few Calvin Klein ones and they’re already showing wear so we were on the hunt for a different brand. I’ve had good luck with Nautica in the past, but their colour selection this season was not to our liking. I ended up with 4 of the Ralph Lauren polo shirts and hopefully they’ll wear well.

My wife also browsed Sephora and picked up a couple hair care items that she could only get in the US. She also stopped by Lucky Jeans which was right next door and ended up with a couple pairs of jeans. She hasn’t wore jeans in years. She’d been wearing scrubs when teaching during COVID and wanted a change. The saleswoman was very helpful and patient with her and had lots of great suggestions as she navigated through her jeans purchase.

At this point, my wife wanted to browse a crafts store. Both Canada and the USA have Michael’s, but JOANN Frabic and Craft Stores are only in the US. My wife was very impressed with both the selection and prices at JOANN’s. We really don’t have an equivalent in Canada. Luckily my wife took mercy on me and sent me out to the car to unpack my golf clubs from the travel case for my round on Tuesday morning about half-way through her browsing.

In the same strip mall as JOANN’s was an Applebee’s. We’ve never eaten at one and we skipped lunch so we decided to give it a try. It was actually quite nice. We shared the starter combo plate that has boneless wings, spinach/artichoke dip, and mozzarella sticks. Then my wife had the Southwest chicken bowl and I had the three cheese chicken penne. We enjoyed all of it except we couldn’t finish our entrees. The US portion sizes were just too much for us.

We decided to head downtown after supper. We haven’t been downtown since we first came to Las Vegas in 2004. My wife had a terrible food poisoning incident on our first trip to Las Vegas back in 2004 so she has negative associations with downtown. However we knew the minimums and gambling are better downtown so we decided to give it a try. Our eye was on $0.25 9/6 JoB which you really can’t find on the strip anymore. We parked at Four Queens and quickly found what we were looking for. We each put in $40 and my wife had some luck early cashing out 3 times for $50 or more. Even I managed a couple cash outs at $45. When I cashed out my two tickets I told my wife I was going to try their craps table. It was $10 minimum which was the lowest I got to play on my trip. I decided to try my luck on the pass line just to see where things would go. It actually turned out OK. We got one or two points per roller before the 7-out. In an unusual turn at the craps table, I and the player on my right struct up a conversation that started because he was originally from Rochester, NY but now lives in Atlanta, GA. I was telling him we’d had a fairly hard winter this year in Southern Ontario with a good amount of snow and a bunch of cold days. My wife came by after her video poker run and she had to prompt us to roll the dice since we were chatting so much. I cashed out from the craps table up $120. Together with the video poker we were up $175 on our downtown trip.

From there we headed out to Freemont street to check out the light show. It looks like they’ve upgraded the resolution on the panels which was nice. In watching the light show, I wonder what the video game Elden Ring would look line on the panels above Freemont. I suspect there’s a business opportunity in having top gaming folks play video games on the panels for people to watch.

We also watched a bunch of people having fun on the Slotzilla zip line and I asked my wife if she wanted to try which she absolutely refused. We walked around to watch the street performers and spray paint artists do their thing which was quite interesting.

All-in-all it was nice to venture downtown again. My wife described it as a street party where everyone is invited. We’ll certainly return downtown for the good gambling and fun atmosphere.

Tuesday – The Perfect Day in Las Vegas

Tuesday morning I had my golf game at Desert Pines at 7AM. I got cleaned up and headed over there and thank goodness I remembered by golf jacket because it was a brisque 9C/48F. Certainly playable and it warmed up enough that by 10AM I took the jacket off. I was paired up with Reggie from St. Louis who was a maintenance supervisor for InBev. We were scheduled to go off 3rd, but because we were a twosome they let us go out 2nd. We breezed around the course and probably could have finished up quicker, but we chatted a fair bit and the greens at us alive. We talked beer, our golf games, the pandemic, and even a bit of politics which can be a touchy subject these days. Desert Pines isn’t a long course but it is tight and we found our share of trouble. Despite that I managed to hit 4 greens in regulation, but due to my poor green reading and some really tough pin placements I converted none of them. I ended up par on just one hole too. Our round was 3.5 hours and Reggie and I chatted in the parking lot for another 10 minutes or so, but despite all that I was back at the Encore just after 11AM.

My wife had done a little shopping while I was golfing and she got back to the room about 11:30AM so perfect timing. We decided we’d pop over to Tacos El Gordo for lunch in an attempt to beat the rush. It worked. There was no lineup outside, but each station was probably 6 deep inside, but despite that we had our tacos within 5 minutes. We got 4 spicy pork, 2 steak, and 2 chorizo. Delicious however there is MSG in the tacos so my wife’s ankles did swell a little. Not horribly, but just enough to make her a little uncomfortable.

After lunch we hit the pool. By this time It was 25C/77F and the pool was lovely. Encore’s pool is a lot smaller than the Wynn, but still very nice. One disappointment was that Encore did not have a hot tub where I could soak my back after golfing. We relaxed in and around the pool for about an hour, but then got cleaned up and headed out to Red Rock Resort and Casino.

Red Rock Casino also has $0.25 9/6 JoB, but we did have to hunt around for it. There’s a bank of machines marked with “Over 99% return” on them and the machines themselves were older so the first machine my wife tried didn’t have any sound which she didn’t like. She likes to hear the beep when she’s dealt a winning hand. We both did pretty well this time. We’d put in $100 and cash out when up $20 or more. We printed off 9 tickets or so. I then left my wife to play and get in another craps game. While she was playing by herself and winning an older fellow was hovering around the bank of machines. It was pretty obvious that he wanted her machine. He finally sat down in a huff on the end machine beside her and started losing meanwhile eyeing her machine the whole time. He would skew his seat closer to her machine in an attempt to crowd her out and get her to leave. My wife is stubborn though and she was on the machine so she just kept playing until he left after about 15 minutes. Then she hit a dilemma. We’d gotten drinks from the cocktail waitress before I left and she needed to go to the bathroom. She figured as soon as she left the older fellow would swoop in and get on the machine. She played another 10 minutes before giving in to biology. Sure enough when she returned the fellow was on the machine.

My craps game was good in that I camped out on the don’t pass line and won pretty consistently. Probably 2 or 3 7-outs for every point made and because there weren’t that many people at the table I got to roll a few times and never made a point against myself.

We left Red Rock Casino just after 5PM for a 5:30PM dinner reservation at Marche Bacchus. They kindly seated us outside by the fireplace as my wife though she might get chilly. The opposite happened of course. They had to close the fireplace doors to three quarters to block some of the heat about half way through our meal.

We shared the charcuterie board as an appetizer then my wife had the Sea Bass with pecans and I had the Lamb chops. Both were very good. My wife really enjoyed the crushed corn cream sauce with her fish. I loved my lamb chops, but they were a bit on the small side so thank goodness there were 4 of them. We went light on the alcohol and skipped browsing for a bottle of wine. Instead we ordered by the glass. My wife chose a nice white off the list and I got a lovely merlot from California and I’m sorry I can’t remember the names of either of them. Of the two, the merlot was excellent.

After dinner we drove back to the Encore and just rested in the room and it was only 8:30PM. We’re getting old!

Wednesday – Stupid Gambling

Wednesday morning I resolved to do my stupid gambling. Pressing my luck on various games to see where lady luck would take me. At this point, we’re up about $400 total from all the previous gambling.

First stop was trying to double up from $10 to $1000 at blackjack. I popped over to TI just after 6AM and the table was at a $10 minimum. I plopped down $100. The procedure was to bet any winnings looking for a streak of 7 wins in a row. Lady Luck was not on my side however. I lost the first two hands. Won the next one. Lost the one after that. Then I hit a split opportunity on the next hand and lost that. From there, I quickly burned down the rest of the $100 in the next 8 hands.

I moved on from that beating gathering up my wife to try our next stupid gamble. This time it was $5 9/6 JoB in the Encore high limit room. We each tried $200 looking to get lucky. That only gave us 8 hands each to hit something so pretty darn slim odds. Neither of us got more than a high pair during our run. Between these two stupid gambling activities we swung from being up $400 to being down $100. That’s gambling!

Our next stupid gambling was trying $50 each on a $0.25 Wheel of Fortune slot machine. This also came up empty. My wife only got up to the bonus wheel once and I managed to hit it twice, but nothing more than 50 coins.

After the disaster of stupid gambling, we both agreed that next time we would limit the risk to $200 total when trying to press our luck.

Wednesday also included trying to get COVID antigen tests completed for our return trip. We’d bought some kits from an outfit called Switch Health that could be completed over the internet. They give you test kits combined with QR codes and you go into their online portal to register the test and then you upload the test into their system to be verified. Their online experience was terrible. The claim was that their online portal supported iPad and Safari. It did not work for us. It got to the point where they asked us to scan a QR code on the iPad itself. I called their support line and their answer was can’t you use an iPhone? I said no we didn’t bring an iPhone, but we can try my Android phone. This only got us slightly further where it no longer wanted us to scan a QR code on screen, but the system claimed we’d already registered the test so was therefore invalid. We’d spent almost 2 hours on our vacation fighting with the Switch Health system and we gave up. Wynn/Encore had 12 hour PCR testing on-site so we just went down and registered for that to get our results.

The Switch Health kit cost $120 CND and was totally useless to us. The PCR tests cost $120 US each. Ugh!

I complained to Switch Health, but they are not going to do anything for us. I also complained to Air Canada as they were the ones that were pushing Switch Health as a partner provider for the tests. All I can say is do not use Switch Health for your travel testing.

Late Wednesday afternoon we headed to Luxor as we had 7PM tickets for the America’s Got Talent show. There is a $0.25 9/5 JoB machine listed on vpfree2 that we wanted to give a try for a bit in the afternoon while we waited to grab supper and then the show. My wife played. It was the 3-play Spin Poker variant so my wife tried the full 9-lines, but found that too confusing so she dropped to 3-play. We contrasted it to the experience we’d had earlier in the day with a single line $5 machine. We were up, we were down, and in the end broke even after a couple hours. A real contrast in the difference in capitalization.

We ate supper at 5PM at Diablo’s Cantina as a contrast against Tacos El Gordo. My wife had an excellent Cucumber Margarita while I stuck with a beer. We shared the chips and guacamole to start. We enjoyed this a lot, but we’d skipped lunch so we were pretty hungry. For the main meal, we both ended up with a chicken enchilada. A solid effort for sure, but not up to the tastes of Tacos El Gordo.

The America’s Got Talent show is basically an amalgam of the acts of previous winners and runners-up over the years. Comedian Preacher Lawson hosted with dancing numbers by Light Balance, a trapeze act by Duo Transend, singing with Kodi Lee, The Silhouettes, a mentalist act, a knife throwing act, and a couple magic acts. One where a woman does colourful instant costume changes and a bigger Copperfield-style illusion act at the end by Dustin Travella. If you’ve seen AGT and are a fan this show is for you. My wife had seen a few of the acts on TV and overall we enjoyed the Las Vegas show, but it was a solid rather than spectacular outing. One thing did leave me a little uncomfortable. Kodi Lee can play the piano and sing really well, but given his physical and mental challenges it felt a little exploitative rather than simply entertainment.

We headed back to the Encore after the show and spent the rest of the evening packing up for the long journey back home.

Thursday – Personal Stupidity

I got in a few more gambles early Thursday morning. A session of blackjack at TI at a nice $10 minimum. It was break-even on straight up hands, but a lone blackjack plus several splits and doubles that I won or at worst pushed on had me up about $80.

I gave the $1 9/5 JoB Spin Poker another shot this time playing 3-line, but managed to lose $60 of the $80 I’d just won at blackjack earlier.

I had to venture over to the Venetian/Palazzo to find a $10 minimum craps game, but again my luck was terrible and I lost $120 on that session.

I headed back to the room defeated and we squared everything away to head out. One odd thing happened on checkout at Encore. When we arrived I didn’t give them the reservation number, but instead just let them look me up by name. As a result, they didn’t apply my offer to the room. The final bill came to $1498 and I handed over cash to pay for it not realizing what had happened. The desk clerk printed off the bill and counted my cash. Meanwhile I went over the bill and finally came to the realization that they didn’t give me the proper room rate nor did they give me a comp’d night. I pointed it out to the desk clerk who quickly looked up and applied my offer. The new bill came to $609. Quite a difference. I’m glad I caught it. A little unusual for folks at the Wynn/Encore to miss that. Next time I’ll make sure I give them the confirmation instead of just having them look me up.

Returning the car and flying home went well except for my last bit of stupidity. We parked at the airport parking garage and I forgot to note the number of the pillar we were parked by. The other problem was that we’d actually parked on the 6th floor, but the elevators for parking only go up to the 5th floor. I spent 30 minutes looking on floors 3, 4, and 5 for our car. My wife was sure there were extra floors to park on and so she looked around and found stairs to get up to the other floors and found our car on 6. Arrrrgh! Like I said, I’m getting old. Next time I take a picture of the car and the pillar we’re parked by as a reminder.


Well we finally got our March Break trip to Las Vegas in after COVID. I’ll be happy to return to Las Vegas next March Break to get away from winter, enjoy some great food and entertainment, and hopefully have better luck at the tables.


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