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!



Jul 13
by Lori D.

Finally, I won a poker tourney.

That seems like such a small thing (and it is in the big scheme of things), but it’s something that I needed to do to know that this all has some meaning.  What I mean to say is I love poker.  I love the mental aspect of the game, the nuance, the possibilities.  I love the fact that guys always think that girls can’t play or that I am going to do this or that because of what they think that girls are capable of doing.  I could go on about this, but I think that I can best sum it up by saying yes; I finally won a poker tourney.

The tourney itself was a small one (about 80 people) with $60 buy-in with an additional add-on of $40 for a total of 4500 chips. The beginning started out like most tourneys for me, fairly slow, no real opportunities to do much and basically just trying to steal blinds when the opportunity arose. For the most part of the tourney I was fairly short handed. After the first hour I had the same amount of chips that I had started with, uggh. So not much excitement in the beginning. 

After the second hour Don and I ended up at the same table.  Now this would normally not be a good situation, however there are some advantages.   It would have been nice to of had a hand against each other, that way one of us doubles up, but no such luck. Both of us needed to make something happen at this point since we were both short stacked and struggling.  After some time Don decided to make a move all in with AQ, but ended up getting busted out when someone looked him up with Kings in the hole.  Not so good for him, but what can you do?  He looked across the table at me and headed of to the BJ tables.

In all honestly I was thinking I would be meeting him at those tables in short order.  Fortunately for me, things started to turn around the minute he left (coincidence? Haha).  I was able to go all-in a few times, survived and kept doubling up. It was great because I actually had a little breathing room for once. Plus this was a bounty tourney meaning for every person you knocked out you received $10 in casino chips. So now having some chips to play with I was able to take out a few small stacks. When the final table started I was doing ok; not great but ok. The payout started at 6th place, so I still had to survive a little longer for the money. Thankfully I was able to win some hands and before you knew it I was the chip leader!  It was a weird feeling in that I can’t ever remember a time before in a tourney when I had so many more chips then the next guy. Once the table got to about 8 players, people started talking about chopping. They wanted to just split the prize money amongst all of us. Seeing how I was the chip leader by a considerable amount I was not really liking this idea too much. Thankfully there were other players that didn’t like that either. Once we got to the money, conversation about chopping came up again. A few people really wanted to chop and not play it out. At one point someone even suggested that they just declare me the winner because I had so many more chips and the remaining prize pool be split among the remaining players. Craziness. Of course I am not going to say no to that, but that didn’t happen so we played it out. Only about 3 of them were willing to chop so basically no deal.  Since everyone needed to agree, we played on.  Finally we get down to heads up between me and this other guy (I was not a big fan as he thought he was the shit and caused so many problems during the tourney). He did ask if I wanted to chop, but at this point I wanted to play it out and just kick his butt. I don’t have very much experience at playing heads up, but I have seen Don do it and we have talked about it at great length. I am sure that it was obvious that neither of us knew what we were doing because it took a lot longer to finish then it should have. Chips were moving back and forth between us and I got lucky a few times where I had laid down my hand and he showed me some monsters.  While heads up he had AA and QQ along with some other killer hands.  As Phil Helmuth said, “I can dodge bullets baby!”

You can't tell, but I am actually pretty pumped.  This is immediately after the final hand.

We finally get to the last hand where he goes all in with Q6 off suit and I call with 87 off suit.  The flop comes out with a bunch of blanks and then a 7 hits on the turn.  That pairs me and the river gives him nothing.  Winner Winner!  I am definitely glad to have finally won one, but I have a few more to win to catch up to the Donald.  I think that I made him proud, actually I know I did. 

Jan 17
by Don

So the day finally came for Lori and I to get on the big bird and head to Vegas.  Seeing how it’s only a couple of days after the US Airways successful “ditching”, everyone on the flight was very subdued.  The flight was uneventful, which was good, and we got into Vegas about 11 pm. 


As we walk off the plane and go to the baggage claim area I noticed something strange.  Where the Prickly Pear once stood there is now a California Pizza Kitchen.  The PP was basically a crappy airport bar with some food options.  We have had to have many a meal there and well let’s just say that it was never a memorable experience.  I guess people finally got fed up with the crappy food and slow service.  Ahh the memories.


We get our bags and head to what will most certainly be a long snaking cab line.  Typically this is about an hour wait and then you can get to your hotel.  Friday late night is by far the busiest time of the week to fly in.  So imagine our surprise when we get outside and there is no line.  In fact there are only about 10 people waiting in total.  We look at each other in disbelief.  I wonder what this says about the city.  We will see.


We get to Harrah’s and check into one of their newly remodeled rooms in the Mardi Gras Tower.  Here are some pros and cons:




-The room has a good layout in that there is a new built in wall unit that saves a bunch of space.  This is huge in that the room is small but spacious enough for two.


-There are two flat screen TV’s and a great new bed.  It could be that I was dead ass tired, but I slept like a baby.


-The bathroom is all new, with granite counter tops and a shower with great water pressure.


-The AC sensor has been moved so you basically have comfort throughout the night, unless you sleep like a corpse and never move.




-There are no HD channels.  Why have flat screens with no HD channels?  Of course the analog channels look weird, but hey it’s cool.


-The toilet flushes forcefully, but doesn’t actually go flush fully.  Good to know.


-The view is of the pool and not the strip.  I really don’t care about that, but some might.


So that’s the skinny for now.  More later as we try and get our act together and get there.

Jan 9
by Don

The holidays are over, the Florida Gators just won the BCS National Championship, and wouldn’t you know it we are going to Vegas!


Lori and I went to Vegas last year during the MLK holiday and had a blast, so we are going to run it back as they say.  We will do several posts while out there, but for now we will just cover the basics.  Flights.


US Airways has cut their overnight service to Vegas from Atlanta at some point last year and that really put a cramp in our style.  We flew that leg all the time mainly because we can work a full day on a Friday and still get out to Vegas around 11 pm Vegas time.  So we have to fly Delta out this time, but will take US Airways back.  Should be fine, but basically it just means that we have to park on the other side of Hartsfield-Jackson on the way out.


A New Look for a New Year?  Should be sweet.With that settled we now need some lodging.  The preference would be the Venetian or the Palazzo.  Just love that property and they normally love us as well.  However when we called we were told in no certain terms that there was no room in the inn.  Mild sadness ensues.


No worries, Harrah’s to the rescue!  Now Goldie refuses to stay at Harrah’s, and frankly I can’t blame her.  It’s an older property with smaller rooms and a weird central heating and air situation where you need to have consistent movement or the sensor thinks that no one is in the room and turns off the air.  Uggh.  However this time it will be a little different.  Apparently there has been a renovation of sorts in the new rooms are supposedly very nice.  We will see, but the flat screen TV’s and new beds should be nice.


So now we are all set.  We should have a great time and when we get there we will cash in the winning ticket on a bet that 44 placed for us in November, Florida to win it all!


Oct 16
by Don

Well I need to apologize for calling out my bud for not providing a guest post as promised.  Well good  ol’ Thunder Nips came through.  Thanks and Enjoy:


So myself and Kanuck recently took a quick two-nighter out to the motherland.  Vegas calls my  name hardcore about every 4-5 months these days and the only way to quiet the nagging voice in my  head is to just bite the bullet and go.  I’ve been going 2-3 times a year since mid 2005, so plenty of trips over the past 3 years.


This was a landmark trip for me in that it was my first one where I had gotten completely comped at Harrah’s.  Fun factoid: comped rooms don’t even include tax and other service fees therefore making them completely free.  Most people don’t realize this.  See, I’m already saving you money.


As I try to do with every trip, I make a point to do/try new things that I haven’t done on previous trips.  This is sometimes hard for me as I’m a creature of habit and like to stick to the places I love to hang out in during time in Vegas.  With this just being a 2 night trip, I had to maximize my time!


Kanuck had a last minute work change with his schedule so he did not arrive in town until about 4 hours after me so I had plenty of alone-time to start doing my thing.  I don’t mind spending a day alone in Vegas by the way.  Try it sometime; it’s empowering to know you can do exactly what you want to do with zero people to worry about satisfying or anything like that. 


So, I landed, caught a cab to Harrah’s (traffic is getting worse and worse in Vegas btw), checked in, threw my crap down in the room, and headed out.  I first visited the sports book and laid down a few baseball parlays for me and a friend and then highballed it to Bellagio.  Now, I only went to Bellagio for one reason only….the drinks!


Let me preface this next section by pointing out the fact that I am indeed a straight male.  However, ON OCCASION, I enjoy a fruity alcohol-filled beverage.  Fine beers will always be #1 in this Polish heart of mine, but hey…I’m a man of variety.  Through time spent on the message boards at openvegas.com, I’ve learned that many find the drinks at Wynn and Bellagio to be the best in town.  So I went over there for a little slot action for the main reason being to enjoy these drinks for free as I played. 


I first tried the infamous Bellagio cocktail.  I’ve heard many good things.  It was…….ok.  I imagine it’s a big hit with the ladies but it was simply too weak for me.  It’s apparently sparkling white wine with passion fruit puree mixed in it.  Not bad, but not great…very sweet.  However, I then moved on to the strawberry daiquiri and was simply the best I’ve ever had.  Made with real strawberries and a decent amount of alcohol, this hit the spot.  I highly recommend it. 


I also had aimed to try the pineapple mojitos at Wynn but did not get a chance to.  They’re apparently exquisite as well.


I then moved on to Flamingo for a little more slot action and to check the table limits.  Most limits were $10 so I decided to play a random slot and, wouldn’t  ya know it, I hit $300 on a single spin!!  My credits kept going up and up, people were stopping and looking, it was great.  There’s rarely a more uniquely thrilling moment when you hit something on a slot that you don’t know exactly how much you got and it keeps counting up…and up…and up.  By the time it got to 1200 credits, I was flying high!  What a start to the trip!


From here, I went to Casino Royale and had a strong craps session and then went to finally meet up with Kanuck at Harrah’s.  We mostly stayed near Harrah’s, had another decent craps session at Royale where I showed Phil the craps ropes, then back to Harrah’s where we both hit a bad streak of luck on blackjack.  Basic strategy by no means equals winning kids, let that be a lesson.


Day #2 centered around us getting over our respective hangovers and then heading to my favorite Vegas dive…Ellis Island.  EI is a tiny casino off-strip (behind Bally’s/Paris) that has the best cheap food in town.  They also brew their own beer on site and it’s of course free if you’re playing but only $1 a pint if you’re not.  Can’t beat that with a rubber snake.


But, the food…ahhhh the food.  Perhaps the single best BBQ value in the entire world is in this little hole in the wall joint.  I’m talkin’ a half rack of ribs, a half BBQ chicken, two ears of corn, baked beans, slaw, and garlic bread.  The portions are huge and it’s truly mind-blowing the first time you see the plate.  On top of that, it’s actually really good!  AND….$9.  An amazing deal, it could also be easily split by two lighter eaters.  You can also find an easily obtainable buy 1-get 1 entrée at Ellis Island coupons in the American Casino Guide book which essentially brings the meal down to $4.50 each for 2 ppl dining.  They also have a $7 top sirloin steak dinner with 2 sides and a beer.  Another outstanding meal to check out.  Go to Ellis Island, you won’t be disappointed.  Don’t expect much on ambiance though.  Oh yeah, they also have $5 BJ.


After this, we went to check out the comedian Vinnie Favorito at Flamingo.  Very funny, I highly recommend it.  He basically is a hardcore Italian dude who cracks on the audience for an hour.  Sounds simple, but it was hilarious.  Again, you can also find a buy 1-get 1 ticket coupon for this to make it very inexpensive.


After this, I played some more and headed to bed.  Overall, a great yet quick trip.  Funny though, I had unusually bad luck at table games but unusually great luck on the slots.  It’s typically the complete opposite.  For the trip, I did not come home ahead and but came home with over half of my budget still intact.  And that, my friends, is considered a winning trip in my book!