Feb 25
by Don

Day One:

There were celebrations all over the place!

One of my favorite trips to Vegas every year is the one that we take with 44 and Goldie.  They are just great and honestly one of the few people who actually do Vegas in the same way that we do.  What I mean by that is they love great food, a little bit of gambling, and just general fun.  They are also people who can do their own thing as well, so it’s not like we have to be chained to the hip 24/7 either.  They are just easy to travel with and especially so in Vegas as we have all been coming here for more than 15 years.

This time around we are loosely celebrating Lori’s birthday as we get into town right after Valentine’s day (which also coincides with Chinese New Year) and are staying at the Palazzo.  They are staying next door at the Wynn so it makes it nice and easy to meet up.  

A little surf and turf, yum!

Because we fly in the morning, we get a full day on the books and not feel like we have to rage too hard that first night.  They did as well so we were able to meet up for drinks and dinner, which was wonderful as we were able to grab a table at Lakeside Seafood in the Wynn.  It’s a great get in that trying to get into SW next door is always a pain, and Lakeside is every bit as amazing.  

Day one ends with a little gambling and turning in around midnight as we have a ton of stuff for day 2.

Jun 15
by Don

So here is a little gem of a story that occurred during “the dark period” (so named for the period of time where I neglected this space) that was a lot of fun and ended in the most improbable of wins.

A group of us came out in September of 2015 for Goldie’s birthday extravaganza.  We hadn’t had a large group of couples come out at once for seemingly forever, so this was as good of an excuse to do so than any.  It was to be a long weekend of cabana time, dinners, and general revelry.  It was all of those things to be sure, but somewhere in the middle of all of that 44 and I snuck away and placed one singular The ticket sports bet.

Because we were in a larger group (4 couples) with various appetites for gambling, 44 and I decided to run down to the sports book at the Wynn and place a 6-team parlay bet.  Now if you are a frequent visitor to The Vegas Chronicles (and I know that you are not), you will undoubtedly know my feelings on betting parlay’s.  They are wildly unpredictable and have a juicy payout because they rarely hit.  2-3 teamers, sure.  But a 6-team? You are crazy.  For some reason, as we are standing up at the counter talking about the games we liked and why we liked them we somehow talked ourselves into 6 “winners”

Well we could have bet them all different ways, but to be “safe” (a ridiculous concept in betting I know) we should make the bet as a round robin.  This would mean that the ticket wouldn’t be a total loss if one of our teams didn’t win, but it would mean less of a payout than a more traditional parlay. (Here is a breakdown of how that works).

Well the next thing to do was to throw down some money. Somehow some way we settled on just under $4k.  Even in typing this, it sounds ridiculous.  But we did it.

The Total Pay OutNow the weekend progressed as you might imagine. Some had too much to drink (yours truly on Friday night) and others too much sun and drink (Goldie on Saturday) so it wasn’t until Sunday where everything and everyone was on the level. That meant that Saturday night was low key for a few of us, and the others went out on the town

At some point throughout Saturday, 44 and I had a half an eye on the games in the parlay. Once Florida won we all just relaxed and enjoyed the day. Goldie wanted to chill so the 4 of us went back to their suite and watched the last game of the night Mississippi State. The game was back and forth with some last second heroics we won. We won EVERY GAME! It was unreal. We were jumping up and down like children and just didn’t know what to do with ourselves. Eventually we gathered ourselves and went down to collect.

The Straight Cash



Jun 1
by Don

The same group of guys (more or less) who have been going out to Vegas with me every March, once again made the pilgrimage out to the desert to bet on copious amounts of college basketball.

We had to abandon one of our traditions as Lagasse’s has just gotten out of control with what they want to charge people to watch the games at their place.  Historically we have been willing to pay $200 per person for a food/drink min. throughout the day.  Doesn’t seem like a big deal to make happen, but that is really harder to do than you would think.  Well this year they wanted $300 per person, and well there are just too many other places in Vegas to watch and bet basketball.

We typically lockdown a place for the Thursday and Friday of the weekend and then play by ear for Saturday and Sunday as the group typically thins out as the weekend progresses.  No sense in obligating ourselves to a big viewing party spend every single day, and after hunkering down for two straight days, it’s nice to switch things up.

This year we hit Tap at MGM and BeerPark in front of Paris.  We have done Tap for a couple of years as they are still fairly reasonably priced ($125 per person), have decent food, and are next to MGM’s huge ass sportsbook.  It’s the perfect day 1 spot as it’s good enough for everyone to enjoy, but for those who come late or otherwise miss that first day of action, they aren’t missing out on something amazing.  It’s a solid choice.

Look at those smiling faces!

The Beerpark was something totally different as it was outdoors, which is a fairly foreign concept for anything Vegas.  Normally they want you cocooned deep in the belly of the casino without so much as a sense of the time of day.  However, the BeerPark was a welcome change from that as the weather was great and we had coverage from the ravages of the brutal sun. It’s themed as a backyard BBQ party as there are games, faux grass, solo style cups, and a lot of TV’s.  I believe we paid something like $125/$150 per person (can’t seem to remember off hand) but it was very much inline with expectations for the group.  The food choices were ok, but you have to temper you expectations in regards to food at a place like this when its core sponsor is Budweiser.  Sad but true. All in all a good place to watch the games as they had a small sportsbook right there, and you could still trek inside Paris’ normal book as well.

So depending on the size of your group, you might want to try out either of these options as I would rank them higher than what Planet Hollywood, Harrahs, or Cosmopolitan were doing.


Oct 11
by Rolka Nation

I recently recounted the gang’s Ellis Island visit on our most recent trip, so let’s move on to another evening shall we?  One of the many reasons to celebrate on this trip was that it happened to be during Kanuck’s 30th birthday!  Naturally, being the golden-hearted people that we are, we wanted to do something a little special to commemorate this momentous day that brought us our favorite fun-loving, foul-mouthed, airplane-dippin’ Canadian friend. 

A few weeks before the trip, the idea popped into my head to get a limo for a night out unbeknownst to Kanuck.  I shopped around and settled on Presidential Limo.  Their prices are reasonable and they come highly recommended in cyber-land.  I easily found their website at http://www.presidentiallimolv.com/ and booked us a stretch limo for a couple of hours.  The rate came down to $55 an hour, but we split this 3 ways..  With a fairly generious driver tip, it only came out to about $45 per person.  Not too bad, especially if you’re going to be hitting several venues.  If you have a group of 6 or 7, this is the way to go!  On top of all that, each ride comes with a bottle of champagne, plenty of bottled water, and roses for all the ladies in the party.  You’re also welcomed to bring along beer or other libations as you see fit. 

Kanuck knew not of the limo, simply that we were going out and to be down in front of the Hilton at 6pm.  Lady Kanuck did a good job selling him on this and that we’d simply roll up in a cab to pick them up.  Not this time!  Frankly, the surprise plan was executed flawlessly by all involved.  Good thing Matthew Broderick wasn’t with us, he would’ve blown it for sure.  Idiot. 

Popping some bubbly!Our driver, Kyle (I think), picked Don, Lori, Steff, and myself up promptly at Harrah’s and we headed over to the Hilton to get the Kanucks.  We pulled up as they were sitting on a bench out front and rolled right within 5 feet of them thanks to the lack of a sidewalk.  I opened the door and the evening of fun began.  You should’ve seen the look on that green-blazered birthday boy’s face. 

We popped the champagne and kicked things off right.  I should also note that the limo comfortably seated us 6, but you could easily fit 8 in there as well.  It also had nice long-stemmed champagne glasses, a tub of ice, and a good-sized TV complete with DVD player.  

At this point, Kanuckwaspresented with a choice for pre-dinner beverages.  All that was told to him was that he had to pick between “the sky”, “the dive”, and “the international”.  I had 3 places in mind, none of which I had ever been to, but all of which I’ve heard great things about.  “The sky” represented Voodoo Lounge on the roof of The Rio, “the dive” was the Double Down Saloon off-strip near Hard Rock, and “the international” was the Russian-themed vodka bar Red Square in Mandalay Bay.  Kanuck pondered for just a second and went with “the dive”!  This pleased me immensely.  I have seen the Double Down Saloon on two separate TV shows so I was jonesin’ to check it out.  I rolled down the partition and told Carl the driver (or was it Dale?), “to the Double Down Saloon good sir” and off we went. 

It's Bacon, It's Booze, It's Heaven!This place was fantastic and the complete contradiction of glitzy Vegas stereotype.  The Double Down was literally a dark, dingy, smokey punk rock bar.  Graffiti littered all 4 walls, the juke box was full of nothing but the likes of Black Flag, The Queers, and The Sex Pistols, and there we were dressed to the nines and rolling up in a limo.  The juxtaposition of the whole situation amused me greatly. 

We spent a good hour here boozin’ it up.  The place was practically empty (it was roughly 6:30pm) so we had free range.  I had a very well-crafted vodka & tonic followed by a beer.  Kanuck was in for a treat though.  From the aforementioned TV shows that I had seen about the joint, I knew that their specialty was a bacon martini.  So of course we made Kanuck have one.  The bartended poured it and he took an apprehensive sip.  What followed was a pleasantly suprised expression followed by another sip.  I tried it and it indeed was not bad and truly did have a distinct bacon flavor to it.  We asked the bartender how they make it and he pulled out a large vodka bottle with 3 giant strips of raw bacon soaking in it.  Sounds revolting, but don’t knock it ’til ya try it! 

The other house specialty is a little drink by the name of Ass Juice!  A homemade shot concoction consisting of God knows what, I downed one before leaving and it was on-point as well.  I then grabbed Kanuck and I two road-beers, called Rick the driver to let him know we were heading out, and off we went to our next stop. 

Now to the dinner portion of the evening.  Of course, with Kanuck being a true man’s man, a good steakhouse was certainly in order for this celebratory night.  As I’m sure you know, any highly-rated steakhouse on The Strip will certainly be pricey.  But I had heard tales of a great, vintage-style Vegas steakhouse downtown that wouldn’t cost one an arm and a leg and this was the one we settled on.  I’m talking, of course, of Hugo’s Cellar at The Four Queens.  Jason the driver pulled up and we parted ways for the evening.  Ted was a great driver and Presidential was a wonderful limo service.  Highly recommended. 

Satisfied Grins All Around... None of us had ever been to Hugo’s Cellar but, again, the online reviews were impeccable.  And let me tell you…the online reviews are 100% accurate.  This place rocked.  Down below ground level, Hugo’s does indeed have that old Vegas charm and was apparently a Rat Pack hangout in its day.  Dark mahogany tables, plush red booths, waiters in full tuxes, this place was straight out of 1958 and that much better for it.  

The food was outstanding.  Firstly, this is unlike most Strip steakhouses in that you get a full meal with your cut of meat…not that a la carte crap where you pay $45 for a steak PLUS extra for sides, salads, and desserts.  I picked out a nice ribeye with a bleucheese crust with a shrimp scampi add-on for about $36 and the others made their choices as well.  First up was the salad.  However my friends, this was no normal salad.  Our waiter brought a cart up to our table and he each made us our own individual salad customized to our liking.  The ingredients were choice and this was frankly one of the best salads I’ve ever had.  The main reason…the bleu cheese.  My. God.  I never knew bleu cheese could be so good.  It nearly reduced me to tears and a fetal-like position.  That might have been the alcohol though.  

Next up came my huge ribeye complete with more of this bleucheese goodness on top.  It was top-shelf as well.  The shrimp were also huge and absolutely fantastic.  The mashed potatoes and asparagus capped a picture-perfect meal at a very reasonable price.  After the main course, out came a big platter of chocolate dipped strawberries and apricots with fresh homemade whipped cream for dipping purposes.  Again…brilliant. 

Highly engorged and satiated, we headed back to Harrah’s for a little gaming action and called it a night.  

Parting Thoughts:Big Kanuck and Lady Kanuck at the Double Down, how cute...

– A limo is definitely a great idea for a group of people to split the cost between.  It’s affordable, safe, and luxurious.  Why not?

– Kanuck is a true wardrobe maverick

– The Double Down Saloon is badass

– Hugo’s Cellar might very well be a must on every future trip

– Everyone had a great time for Kanuck’s big 30th birthday evening

– Despite him telling me at least twice, I have no idea what the driver’s name was

Jul 22
by Lori D.

Well for those of you that have been to Vegas with us or have read some of our other posts, you undoubtedly know that “The Wheel of Fortune” is my favorite slot machine.   This was my first and everlasting mechanical crush.  I think this is mainly the case because it was the first machine that I ever played and on the about the 3 spin I had hit a crazy jackpot and won over $450.  It would also mark one of the last times that we ever went to the Luxor and certainly one of the last times we ever won anything from there.  But that’s another story.

While on our last trip to Vegas a few weeks ago I did something that I never thought I would do, I turned my back on “The Wheel of Fortune” just for a minute. Don and I had about 15 minutes to spare before playing in one of our poker tournaments and I decided I wanted to play the slots for a bit.  If you have been to Harrah’s before you know that the $1 “Wheel of Fortune” can be found on the back wall by the poker room. As Don and I headed towards the wheel I decide I wanted to try a new slot.  I told Don I wanted to try a new slot and ask him to find me one with good odds. Of course he looked at me puzzled; I think he was more shocked than anything, but after a few moments he did find me a machine. It was $1 Red, White, and Blue machine with a 10x multiplier, so I sat down with $100.  After the first $50 I starting wondering if this was a good idea, it was kind of boring because there was no wheel bonus spin to look forward to spinning. I continued to play through the last $50. I get down to my last few spins and I hit a ridiculous 10x payout. It was craziness, I had already written that hundo off as a lost cause, but instead I ended up winning $400.  I do have to admit that “Wheel of Fortune” is still my favorite; I mean nothing beats the bonus “Spin”.  However trying a new machine every once in a while is fun and can pay off.  The payout from the slot was just the beginning of me pimping Harrah’s that day.  Read about that poker tournament and you will see what I am talking about.


This is what you want to see on the old Red, White, and Blue!



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