Oct 24
by Don

To know 44 is to know that he loves the simple things when on vacation; a great steak, the “pick 6”, and of course a good fruity drink.  It seems that his love of Jimmy Buffet knows no bounds and thusly it’s always 5’oclock somewhere.

He and Goldie turned Lori and myself onto a little known gem that serves up the best fruity drinks that I have ever had, and the ironic part of it all I have personally walked by the place dozens times over the years and never gave it a passing glance except to look up and catch a score or something on the TV’s overheard.

The Fusion bar, a bar in the round, is in the Palazzo is near the cashier’s cage and surrounded by a few innocuous slot machines of little consequence.  I have walked by it on route to the bathrooms nearby countless times, but on this trip 44 insisted that we have a drink.

Wendy was the bartender and she was instructed to prepare 2 drinks with strawberry (for Lori and myself), a mango something for Goldie, and whatever she felt for 44 (turned out to be a watermelon concoction that was magical).  The resulting drinks were, well simply amazing.  This bar has infused vodka’s and what not so they are more prepared than most to make these wonderful drinks, and Wendy did not disappoint.

I have to say that if you are in the mood for a good fruity cocktail (and who isn’t really) find your way to the Palazzo and look for the Fusion bar by the cashier’s cage.  You won’t be disappointed.

Mar 7
by Don

Pittsburgh Gil was all about this place so of course we had to make a visit.  He is all about beer and has his own site with a great review of the place here.  I won’t try to recreate his review as I feel that he does a great job of telling of all the general tom foolery, but I can tell you that even those who do not drink beer, there is some great food to be had.

If you are in town and want a somewhat different Vegas experience, I would definitely recommend going to the Hofbräuhaus if for nothing else the opportunity to stand up in your seat and swing your oversized mug of beer while singing some crazy German drinking songs and having an overall great time.

Jan 15
by Rolka Nation

First things first.  I’m sure you were all on the edge of your desk chairs wondering if I would take up the Venetian on its free suite offer.  Well alas, I have decided to pass.  Too many factors were going against on this particular one including funds and too short of notice to find a travel mate.  I was still pondering going solo, but no dice this time.  You win this round, sensible head!

Ok; on to the good stuff.  You may recall a few months back that I wrote a piece on maximizing your Vegas fun for as little bread as possible.  If you’re new to the site or want a refresher, click here.  The pointers outlined in that post were of the general variety and can come in handy for any Vegas trip.  But let’s get more specific shall we?  Countless hours of hardcore Pittsburgh Gil-style research has resulted in these gems for your perusing pleasure:

- Deuces Wild!  Now through 3/1, enjoy $22 nights, $2 Blackjack, $2 beer, $2 tequila, and $2 hot dogs and nachos at The Plaza and Vegas Club downtown.  You must have a 2 night minimum stay and most Sun-Thurs nights are available.  I have not been to The Plaza but apparently the Rat Pack show there is great fun.  I have been to the Vegas Club casino and enjoyed the layout and decor.  This is an outstanding deal.

- $1 Blackjack on The Strip!  Hard to believe these days; but true.  The Sahara is currently dealin’ out $1 BJ along with dollar beers, shots, and hot dogs near the NASCAR Cafe area of the casino. I’ve also read reports (although unconfirmed) that they open additional $1 tables on the main floor during the week.  While there, see if you can finish the Cafe’s 6 pound burrito and score it for free along with unlimited lifetime rollercoaster rides.  Don’t stay here though.

Rubbin' is racin' sound bite

- Free Grub!  As you all know, Ellis Island is my favorite off-the-beaten-path spot in Vegas.  Part of the reason why is because they always have great promotions.  Currently, play an hour at the tables and get a free entree in the great restaurant.  Play 2 hours, get 2 entrees!  Tables are limited here but usually include 1-2 $5 single deck BJ games.  Excellent promo.

- Free Booze Center Strip!  Planet Hollywood is offering a cool promo that runs through May.  Book a room for as low as $69 (many, but not all Sun-Thurs nights) and pick out your very own free bottle of wine, champagne, or liquor delivered right to your room.  That definitely meets my approval, especially considering the quality of resort at that price.

- Gambling AND Chicken Wings!  Not just a cheesy chain eatery, but also a cheesy Vegas hotel.  The Hooters casino resort is currently offering a sweet package that runs all the way to August.  Rates as low as $20 a night during the week and just $49 on the weekend can score you an upgraded room, $100 of slot promo play (which is pretty lame actually), 2 tickets to their comedy show (which is also probably lame, but can’t say for sure), and 2-for-1 breakfast.  I normally would not recommend a deal at a kitschy off-strip joint (and here is yet another reason why you shouldn’t actually stay at Hooters), but I actually kind of like the casino here for novelty’s sake and its easy walking distance to MGM, NYNY, Excalibur, etc.

- Half Price Hugo’s!  I never knew this service existed until recently.  You’ve probably all heard of or seen the Tix4Tonight booths spread over town where you can pick up vastly discounted same night show tickets.  Well, they have the same concept for restaurants now also.  Visit any of the Tix4Tonight locations, make a reservation for that night through them, pay $2 for a buffet or $3 for a nicer place, and get a voucher for half off your entree!  At the high-end joints, that can equate to $20-30 saved.  At least 30 restaurants and buffets are offered including some at Harrah’s, Mandalay, Caesar’s, and Bally’s.  And the crown jewel that is Hugo’s Cellar is also available here.  Go there and get an amazing meal, like I outlined here , for a mere $18 with this offer.  Note:  I have read that the half-price vouchers are for the entree ONLY so if it’s a steakhouse or similar, you’re on your own for the sides.

Jan 9
by Rolka Nation

My last post dealt with me receiving a free suite offer at The Venetian as a result of very minimal play.  Love Vegas and I certainly love the Venetian.  But there are others…

For you easterners out there, Biloxi is a great place to get your casino fix that has great offers to take advantage of as well.

Biloxi tends to get very overlooked by Vegas purists.  Granted, the Gulf Coast is definitely not Vegas nor will it ever be.  There are minimal shows, an older overall crowd, and no sports books.  But, there’s also less crowds, cheaper fine dining options, and the beach!  Plus, it’s a hell of a lot closer and you still get free booze when playing.  Those factors, along with the fact that the table game rule are typically much better than in Vegas, make Biloxi a great gaming getaway choice.

Another common misconception of the Biloxi area is that the casino resorts are not up to par with those in Vegas.  While not as huge, this is simply not true.  A few are nothing to write home about, but Biloxi does have 5 or 6 great options.  I can’t speak for each and every one as I have not visited all of them, but I can safely say that the Beau Rivage, Hard Rock, and IP all stack up very nicely to the Vegas mid-tier resorts such as Harrah’s, Flamingo, Tropicana, and Monte Carlo. 

Remember these guys?  You should if you want some free stuff, and you do want some free stuff!For you loyal Player’s Club people out there (such as myself), Biloxi’s got you covered as well.  The Beau is considered the overall nicest property on the Gulf Coast and it’s an MGM spot.  Therefore, that same Player’s Club card that you use to rack up comps at Vegas properties like Mirage, New York New York, MGM Grand, and TI also works the exact same at the Beau.  (Don wrote about player’s cards here)  Those who prefer Harrah’s Total Rewards program, you’re good to go as well at The Grand in Biloxi.  And the IP, while not linked to any major casino chain, has a very generous called My IP Rewards.  On my last trip, I racked up about $30 on my IP card with fairly light slot play.  The best aspect of the IP card is that it continuously builds up a comp balance that you can check in real-time at automated kiosks throughout the casino.  Then, when you want to cash in on a free meal or round of drinks, it works just like a debit card anywhere at the resort.  Very cool!

Biloxi also has great recreation options almost year round.  This is probably one area where Biloxi actually does clearly outshine Vegas.  Plenty of golf courses are abound along with a big stretch of public beach complete with vendors and raft/umbrella rental stands.  I don’t know about you guys, but I love the option of spending a couple of lazy hours sprawled out on the sand after a heavy dose of drunken gambling the night before.  Like to fish?  Biloxi offers plenty of great and affordable charter fishing trips as well, most are dock right next to the Hard Rock at the Small Craft Marina.  That means you likely are no more than a 10 minute cab/car ride to the marina and, BOOM, you’re fishing for out on a boat for hours for probably no more than $45 a person.  The convenience of Biloxi is one of its greatest pluses.  No matter what, you’re 10-15 minutes from anything and cabs are easy to score at the casinos.  The airport is also very small, laid-back, and quick to get in and out of.  Back to the fishing, a group of 5 of us went out with Capt. Jim, who can be found at be-slick.com, and had a good ol’ time!

Pittsburgh Gil surveys the scene @ the Shed, look at that live music venue!Another thing worth noting about Biloxi is the outstanding local bayou cuisine.  I have yet to try them all, but quite possibly the best BBQ I’ve ever had (definitely the MOST) was found at a place 2 exits away from the IP called The Shed.  And that name is certainly no misnomer.  It is literally a rundown wooden shed, but the food is impeccable and the outdoor seating area is top-notch.  If ever in Biloxi, this is an absolute must if you’re even a slight BBQ fan.  Go.

One last thing that I feel worth mentioning about Biloxi is that it really needs the tourism.  Vegas does as well, no doubting that, but Biloxi needs it a little more in my opinion.  Vegas had a bad ’09, sure.  But the city itself will rebound and is firmly entrenched as America’s #1 gambling destination and adult play haven.  That will never change.

Biloxi though did not just have a bad ’09, it’s had a bad 4+ years.  As you know, Katrina leveled the area in August of 2005.  All of these aforementioned casinos were closed for at least 3 months, some over a year, and a couple didn’t survive at all.  The Grand was destroyed and had to move to a temporary home across the street and the Hard Rock’s opening gala was delayed for nearly 2 years because of the massive cleanup.  While Vegas is in no danger of ever going away as a gaming mecca, Biloxi could be.  They really need visitors like us. 

As a result of the shared ordeal that all of the locals experienced, I’ve also found that the dealers and service staffs in general are incredibly warm and friendly.  I’ve had many extremely pleasant table sessions with awesome dealers.  Several shared their stories and tales of Katrina with me and can give great advice on local eateries and activities to check out.  Unlike Vegas where SOME dealers are cool, pretty much all of them in Biloxi are and appear, to me at least, to be happy, genuine, and unjaded.  Good, good people there.

So if you’re in need of a gaming getaway but don’t quite have the time, tolerance, or scratch to get out to Vegas, definitely consider Biloxi if you’re in the eastern half of the country.  It’s also about an hour from New Orleans and all that it has to offer (including a great Harrah’s property to boot). 
Stay tuned for an upcoming post where I’ll outline how to get to Biloxi for cheap!

Jan 5
by Rolka Nation

 

You son of a bitch! I’m talking to you! Yeah you, Las Vegas! You and your alluring siren call. Why must you do this to me? I’m not Odysseus asail on the Greek seas. I’m merely a simple man. A man who loves Vegas. Just when I think I”m out, Vegas pulls me back in…

Ok, I’ll stop.

As we all know, we’re in a nationwide state of economic instability. That means people have less disposable income. Less disposable income means less spending on non-essentials. Less spending on non-essentials means less traveling and fewer vacations for people across America. As a result, tourism in Vegas is down to its lowest point in years.

Sure, this is bad for the city itself and its inhabitants, but not for us! With less people coming to Vegas, hotels are more and more in need of ways to attract gaming patrons into their glitzy doors. That, coupled with the recent opening of CityCenter and its 5,000 total rooms, makes this the best time in years to cash in on casino comps, especially when it comes to scoring free rooms.

I recently received a flyer in the ol’ mailbox from The Venetian and its Club Grazie program. Grazie is just like Harrah’s and MGM’s player’s clubs but exclusively for The Venetian and its sister property, The Palazzo. The flyer outlined a great offer: 2-4 free nights in a suite at either property!

If you’ve never been to either of these sites, they are a must when in Vegas. The Venetian has somehow taken a dip in notoriety over the last few years, but it is simply a gorgeous resort chock full of great gaming, dining, and amenities. Personally, I prefer it to its upper-echelon competition, Wynn and Bellagio. It has all the same luxury, but is a little less pretentious and offers more options for the middle class visitors and non-whales.

I checked out the offer online by logging in at clubgrazie and was pleasantly pleased to see many available nights to take advantage of this offer between January and March. Never having a free suite offer before, I decided to just book one well knowing that I could cancel it if I could not actually make it out. I expected just Sunday – Thursday nights of availability here, but I even had some weekends! I booked Saturday Jan 23rd to Mon the 25th. A free Saturday at a suite at The Venetian?! This was by far the best room offer I’ve ever had.

I mean look at this room!  Man I love this place.I have had the pleasure of staying at The Venetian once on my very first trip to Vegas in 2005. The rooms are simply stunning. All are suites that are at least 700 square feet, have 2 flatscreens, a fold out sofa in the sunken living room, and remarkable marble bathrooms with separate tub/shower and water closet. Simply put, these are the lap of luxury and typically worth every penny. The fact that I could stay in one of these for free is quite the shock. And here’s why…

The craziest part about this offer is that I even received it in the first place. On my very first visit to The Venetian in ’05, I knew nothing of gambling or casinos yet. Therefore, I did not sign up for Club Grazie at the time. It wasn’t until my last trip out this past September that I did. Once signed up, I played blackjack for maybe 45 minutes at a $10 table and played a penny Sopranos slot for maybe 20 minutes. That’s it.

One visit, slightly over an hour of low-limit play (including on a penny slot!), and a free suite as a result. Hell, I even won during that session. I ended up about $25 on the slot and broke even at the table. This is undoubtedly a product of many empty rooms, but hey, fine by me! Fact is, I didn’t give The Venetian a dime of my money and they are still giving me a free suite. That, my friends, is stellar.

Unfortunately, I should NOT take advantage of this offer. I’m closing on my first house in early February and have my money tied up in that and all the things involved. I also likely can’t find a travel mate for this one on such short notice.

My mind and wallet say “hell no”…..but my heart says “Yes! Do it.”

I’m really having a tough time passing this offer up. I should. I likely will. But we’ll see…

What do our loyal readers think?

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