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Trip Report: Vegas!
      #120679 - 10/29/02 07:42 AM (

Cabs, Planes, Airports and Rental Cars

I could see that the middle seat was taken when i got to row 5. There's first class, a partition, the first row of coach class and the next row is row 5. I had deliberately booked a window seat and up until three days before departure, the middle seat remained unsold. In the gate waiting room they announced the flight was over sold. $400 for a voluntary bump from the Wednesday October 16th, 8am non-stop America West flight from Boston to Vegas, in exchange for taking a 9:30am flight, with a connection in Phoenix. I pretty much ignored the announcement and it didn't register in my mind that oversold meant no empty seats. But, the second best thing happend. Two nice ladies that were occupying the aisle and middle seats were smiling pleasantly while letting me in to the window seat. It looked like a good flight.

$31 for a seven mile cab ride to the airport for the $240 flight. Airport Duncan Donut for two medium bottles of water and coffee for $3.80, inflight Harrison Ford submarine movie $5, and three beers over a five hour in air time flight for $4 apiece. No food service, brought a bologna sandwich.

Check-in and security at logan airport (BOS) in Boston was so fast i can't remember doing it and the flight was only fifteen minutes late departing, despite the overbooking.

On the December trip to Vegas the flight was turbulence with smooth spells every once in awhile. If they had food service they wouldn't have been able to serve it. This flight was perfect,

It seems like a three and a half hour flight to Vegas. The great panorama of the Rockies, Canyonlands, The Colorado River and white ribbons of wake from the boats across the dark blue glass expanse of lake mead. It makes the last hour and a half a serious pleasure.

McCarran was crowded, luggage took the usual expected time to show up and the Dollar Rent-A-Car shuttles ran one after the other, no waiting time.

I had a full size car, an Intrepid, for $159 a week including tax, using the famous "DESTC" code. The car was clean and ran well, no problems at pick up or drop off.

The flight and airport experience from Vegas back to Boston on Wednesday October 23rd was as easy as the trip out. I checked the two carry ons at curbside after getting off the Dollar shuttle. The people at security seemed glad to see someone coming, so they'd have something to do. If it wasn't for the need to empty your pockets at security, i wouldn't have had to even slow down.

Two beers at $4.60 apiece at the gate area bar, two medium bottles of water and a blueberry muffin at the store next to the bar for $8 (that's right, eight)

I Left the bar and walked to the gate. The plane was already boarding and i walked right on. Row 15 this time, window seat, score! middle seat was open.

The flight back was excellent and left five minutes early. The movie bad!, i get the head set for the radio anyway. Three beers, the blueberry muffin, bottled water and another $31 seven mile cab ride ended another great trip to Vegas

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Re: Trip Report: Vegas! [Re: ]
      #120692 - 10/29/02 09:08 AM (


Staying at Terrible's Hotel and Casino was exactly as i thought it would be. I had visited Terrible's on two occaisons on a previous trip and had done quite a lot research.

I had originally booked the Orleans for the entire week this trip, but changed plans and booked Terrible's for the first four nights, Wednesday through Sunday, when i got an e-mail offer from The offer was for three nights, which included the weekend dates, for $99. The extra fourth night was $59.

In retrospect, i think i would have kept the week at the Orleans, but having a good idea what Terrible's would be like, i coudn't pass up the price of the offer. After i booked Terrible's, i booked Mandalay Bay for the remaining three nights and kept the Orleans reservation with the intent of cancelling the Orleans at a later date, before leaving for the trip. The next day i came to my senses. Mandalay Bay had a promo rate of $89 a night, but the Orleans had a promo rate of $39 a night. I cancelled Mandalay Bay, kept the Orleans and saved the money.

The good points and bad points of Terrible's:
Easy check-in and parking, only three floors and from my second story room, it was a short walk down one flight of stairs to the casino.

The cage deposit box was free and no deposit (over the phone they told me it was a $45 deposit) Refrigrators are $20 for the duration of the stay (not $20 a day). The rooms are big with a sitting area in front of the windows that slide open and have screens. Clock/radio, good maid service and response when calling the front desk from the room. My room faced the courtyard pool area.

The sports book bar with VP (Video Poker) extends across the sports book and screens and is a good place to watch a game, if you can get a seat. The 24hr McDonald's comes in handy for coffee and 2 for .99 apple pies.

There's a door on the room of the toilet and shower?/tub combo but the sink and bathroom counter is open to the room through a half wall. The tv is huge but not that great of a picture. Yes! there's a coffee maker in the room, but i never used it, McDonald's was easy enough. The room was big, but had a motel room look about it.

The shower is one speed and the shower head is one of the chin level jobs (anyone ever ask the reason for that?)

The casino was crowded day and night. I couldn't get a seat at the sports book bar watching my winning bet on the Bills/Miami game. I made the bet at the Bellagio sports book. There were a lot of people standing watching the games Sunday. An Odd thing is, i made a Colts straight up bet at Terrible's for the Monday Night Football game and watched that diaster at the Bellagio sports bar.

No more Pai Gow at Terrible's.

The Orleans, what can i say about the Orleans except the more i stay there and the more i learn about Vegas, the more i'm convinced that it's the only place to stay in Vegas, for me anyway. The Orleans is "discovered" more and more. They've just built another 600 room tower and this hotel is one of the most respected hotels among long time Vegas travelers, and for good reason. The Orleans pool is bigger and nicer than it looks in pictures. On the other hand, Terrible's pool area is smaller and not as nice as it looks in pictures. However, Terrible's pool is a pleasant enough place, provided it isn't too crowded.

I had the T-Bone $8.99 special at the Orleans coffee shop. If i had this at a moderately priced restaurant for $20 i'd think it was good, for $8.99, it's great. Terrible's coffee shop is also very good. I had breakfast at Terrible's buffet but didn't eat at the Orleans buffet, which is one of the best in Vegas.

Sunday check-in at the Orleans went well. Pulled up and parked in the line of cars for guests checking in. You could leave your keys in the car and take your luggage in to the front desk and check in, or have the bell service take your stuff. I had the bell service take my stuff because i wasn't going up to the room right away. There were two people in front of me at the check-in counter.

I got everything i requested for room location. High floor, strip view, close to the elevators.
The room was on the 17th floor. There's the elevators, a maids/utility room and then the room i had. Noise was not a problem and can't beat that set back view of the strip. The Orleans is about a mile or so west of the strip, on west Tropicana Ave. The strip hotels are huge and from this unobstructed vantage point, a mile looks much closer, with a sweeping view from Mandalay Bay to The Stratosphere. The Orleans rooms are BIG, 450 s.f. They're nice rooms, big screen t.v. with in room check-out and the usual PPV movies and cable, writing desk, clock/radio, sitting area, real showers, big dresser, refrigerators are $10 a day, cage deposit box is free with a $50 deposit.

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Re: Trip Report: Vegas! [Re: ]
      #120698 - 10/29/02 09:37 AM (

Wednesday, October 16th.
Casinos and Side Trips

I left the Dollar lot on Rent-A-Car road at McCarran airport in a dark blue Intrepid and turned onto Swenson St. heading towards East Tropicana Ave. and Von's Supermarket. Von's is a little light on variety, like an ordinary hair brush i forgot to pack and something else that i can't remember, but i picked up a few other things and drove to Terrible's Hotel and Casino to check in.

It was about 12 noon and parking in Terrible's lot near an entrance to the casino was as easy as usual. I grabbed the two carry ons from the trunk of the car and went inside to the front desk and checked in after only waiting for one person ahead me to finish.

After tossing my stuff on the bed in the room i went back down to the casino and noticed the Pai Gow table wasn't where it was the last time i was here. It's all blackjack tables as far as i could see and that ended my table gambling at Terrible's before it began.

After getting a deposit box at the cage and putting all credit cards in it, i played $20 at a VP machine and then another $20. Down $40 for the day.

New York/New York is one of my favoite casinos and i headed over there immediately after i left Terrible's. The casino was moderately busy. Across from the original tables, they've added more Pai Gow tables with progressives; in an area called the Dragon Pit.

The Dragon Pit tables weren't open at that time of day on a Wednesday and i played $15 a hand Pai Gow for a few hours at one of the original tables. The dealer and other players were friendly and talkative as is customary of Pai Gow play, unlike a lot of the, serious, self important, men and women players you can run into playing blackjack. Lost $15, down $55 for the day.

It was great to be in Vegas again. I waited for the car at the New York, New York valet station. It was nightfall by then, Soaring turrets of The Excalibur across the street were lighted, MGM, The Tropicana, that familiar feeling from the last trip was returning, the thought in the back of my mind ever since, "if you think Vegas is great in the daytime- look at this!" Vegas!! baby.

I drove by The Hard Rock Hotel on Paradise on the way back to Terrible's and looked for the Arrow Laundry. I cheked out and called this place before leaving for the trip. I travel light with a small nylon duffle bag and a brief case size travel bag and planned on dropping off half a weeks laundry on Sunday, which was also hotel moving day, from Terrible's to The Orleans. I didn't see Arrow Laundry while driving by. The laundry was described to me as being across the street from the Hard Rock and i was looking along the east side of Paradise. On Sunday i found Arrow Laundry. It's located, set back in a mini mall, across from the Hard Rock, but, across Harmon, not Paradise. I was looking around the right intersection but the wrong street.

Terrible's was jumpin-as -usual when i got back and i went to the sports bar, had a beer, played some VP. The bar tender wanted the two bucks for the beer right away, which means no free beer for playing VP. The sports bar seats are very comfortable and there's a decent view of the screens in the adjacent sports book. It's a Good bar for spending hours watching a game.
Lost $10 at VP, lost $65 for the day. I can't remember where i ate, must've been McDonalds at Terrible's, but in any case, it wasn't a reviewable dining event.

With seven nights to spend, there's no rush. I went back to the room, relaxed, watched TV and got eight and half hours sleep.

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Re: Trip Report: Vegas! [Re: ]
      #120706 - 10/29/02 09:55 AM (

Thursday. October 17th.

Casinos and Side Trips

Thursday morning i ate at Terrible's buffet. $5.35, the buffet wasn't crowded about 7:30am and i was seated right away. Made to order eggs. bacon, home fries, water melon and coffee was very good as well as the service.

Vegas is a place where the definition of "walking distance" has an entirely different meaning than most places. I think everybody, or most everybody, notices that inexplicable energy one has in Vegas. No matter how tired you actually are, it's not a fatiguing sort of tired, it dosen't hold you back from going out and kicking a$$, or maybe more accuately stated, getting your a$$ kicked, at the casinos for fourteen hours straight, day into the night. It's a place where the Bellagoi is considered by many people to be within walking distance of Mandalay Bay.

Terrible's is in a great location; the corner of Paradise and Flamingo. Paradise is an excellent road for avoiding strip traffic. Terrible's is also in "the Middle" of Restaurant Row. Morton's is right across the street. With a car, my definition of walking distance is the usual one. "Restaurant Row" creates an image of a group of restaurants being very close to one another, but after paying attention to the exact locations of the restaurants, this is not true, in most cases.

However, from Terrible's it's a short drive of a little over a mile, right down Flamingo and a right turn off the street into the Barbary Coast parking garage. I played $10 a hand Pai Gow in the Barbary Coast and lost $40, down $40 for the day. There was one other guy playing, he was new to the game. There's almost always a newbie at every Pai Gow game and the dealer was helping him and i was answering some of his questions about the game. I enjoy this aspect of Pai Gow, not only because of the social atmosphere, but with the situations that can occur and the dealer's and sometimes the Pit Boss' explanations, i can learn some helpful nuances of the game.
I visted twenty casinos throughout the last trip, but not the Paris or the Aladdin.

The Paris is impressive, but as far as city theme, i lke New york/New York much better. That day at the Paris is when i decided i don't want to stay in the center strip and the Orleans is the place for me. I walked by the Paris coffee shop. It was about 11am. There was a line out the door. I don't know about you folks, but for $80 more a night and a couple of beers too many the night before, i DON'T want to wait in line to get some coffee and bacon $ eggs in order to wake up in the morning. I wonder what the price of the coffee is at the Paris.

There were no Pai Go tables open at that hour. When i asked a Pit Boss in the area, at what time a table is likely to open, he said he'll open one now, he'll call for a dealer and to come back in about fifteen minutes.

I went over to Gustov's Bar, played VP, lost $20, down $60 for the day.

The Paris casino was busy, but it was comfortable moving around. People stood behind watching the Pai Gow play, some sat down, some moved on and there were at least three players at the table at any given time. This was one of my longest sessions of the trip, maybe as long as four hours.
$15 a hand, lost $120, down $180 for the day.

I walked through the mall passageaway over to Bally's, gave Bally's a walk through and walked back through the mall to the Paris casino, out the front entrance and over to the Aladdin.

The Aladdin is ornate and impressive, for the obvious expense that shows through in the detail, but i understand the opinion of a lot of people who feel that it's nice, but there's something about it. They're not in any particular hurry to go back. It's hard to put your finger on exactly what it is.

I walked, what's reputed to be, a mile long circle that's formed by the Passage Way Mall, starting and ending in the Aladdin casino. Along the way, i stopped at Merchant's Harbor Restauant. Someone in line at the counter wanted to charge a meal to their room and the employee of the restaurant, which is a small cafe sort of a place, said the restaurant was completely independent of the hotel and the bill couldn't be charged off to the room. Well, when this restaurant's contract is up, this place should be up. $10 bucks for a salad in a plastic container, like at a 7/11, you know, the salad even tastes like plastic and a real small soup. I got it because it was the "special" and went there in the first place because the "Rain Storm" was right outside and the restaurant was open to the mall and a view of "The Rain Storm". The restaurant has a few tables and chairs "outside" in the mall, like a sidewalk cafe.

I'll go out of my way to praise all things Vegas, but, "The Rain Storm"... lemmeputitthisway, i kept waiting for it to start, and then it was over. To be fair about it, i don't think it was designed to be an event, like the Volcano, Pirate Battle ect. more like, just something as distraction to "liven" up the area.

I went upstairs at the Aladdin and walkd through the high stakes area, then back dow to the main casino.
$10 a hand Pai Gow, lost $40. down
$220 for the day.

Bellagio was the next stop, i liked it the last trip and returned here a couple of times this trip. I played a rare session of Caribbean Stud Poker. $10 a hand, lost $65, down $285 for the day. I took a walk over to the Bellagio Sports, checked the line and bet the Bills to beat Miami.
One of the things i was looking forward to this trip and didn't spend enough time doing last trip, was hanging out at lounges, watching the bands, shooting the breeze with the bartenders.

The Bellagio is a great place all around and i took the opportunity to spend some time at the Fontana Bar. It was too early for the lounge itself to be open, but the bar is open to and sweeps around the lounge area with floor to ceiling windows affording a great view of the daytime Fountain Shows.

If Downtown isn't within walking distance, it's still worth the walk to see The Fremont Street Experience.

I had been Downtown before, but in the daytime. Another revelation this trip, was that i like Downtown, at night, alot.

The Freemont Street Experience came as advertised, they played The Bee Gees, it was great.

I ended another great day, or rather, night, in Vegas, playing Pai Gow at The Las Vegas Club in the middle of Downtown Las Vegas. I could not lose a hand, it was either a win or a push. It was late, i played longer than i planned to as it was.

I walked away up $65 and there was no reason to think that the streak wouldn't continue past that point.
$5 a hand Pai Gow, won $65, down $220 for the day

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Re: Trip Report: Vegas! [Re: ]
      #120960 - 11/01/02 02:27 AM (

Friday, October 18th.

Casinos and Side Trips

It may be a city ordinance in Vegas, that if you mention the heat you have to say, "but, it's a dry heat". That would be a seasonal situation in any case, because the weather is really spectacular for nine months of the year; the exception being the last half of June through the first half of September. Temperatures can consistently reach 110 during July and August and it dosen't "cool off" 20 degrees until about 3am to 5 am. It's usual to be walking around in 93 degree heat at midnight.

With the exception of a rare overcast day on Wednesday, every day of the trip was 78 to 81 dgrees with intense sunshine and night temperatures in the mid to upper 50's.

Friday morning was typical of the Las Vegas Valley and like only a handful of days on the East Coast. It was sunny, dry and warm. The kind of day when your car, that you haven't washed in three weeks, is sparkling in the morning sun and a warm breeze reminds you that it's great to be outside.

Thursday morning, on the way to Terrible's coffee shop i walked through Terrible's pool area The coffee shop is very good, rotisserie chicken turning through glass oven doors, quite, upstairs along with the buffet, away fron the "ching -ching- clank" of the casino. Three eggs, sausage, hash browns, toast and a pot of coffee on the table and good service for $6.50

It was a good day to get out into the desert.

Traveling West on Charleston Blvd, the bigger the mountains get, the closer you're getting to Red Rock Canyon. The montains are always in clear view, a backdrop for the Buger King, McDonalds urban everywhere scene. This begins the twenty minute drive away from the, not so great, Stratosphere Hotel area of the North Strip.

The city grit turns to suburban housing. Desert stucco, brown red roofs, adobe architecture, it all looks nice. With a common building design and material, it's difficult to tell the affluent from the dumps. The landscaping is a giveaway. The farther out, the nicer the grounds, the more it costs.

All at once, you're not gazing at the ring of mountains, you're in it. I don't know what part of the Sowthwest Tuco dragged Clint through, in "The Good The Bad and The Ugly" and i don't think Clint appreciated the spectacular beauty of this place like i did in an Intrepid with the ballads of 104.3 FM, but if they went by here, i bet Red Rock Canyon was his favorite place, dragged through.

I drove through Red Rock Canyon three times that morning. From the Charleston Blvd. approach, it's downhill. Going back in opposite direction, i had one of those sinking feelings you get when you seem to be losing engine power on a desert mountain pass, with no one around but you and whatever spec in the scenery may or may not be a living object. At the same time, i realized, my ears were popping like a Led Zepplin refrain. The rise in elevation was rapid, but the road didn't appear steep by any means, very deceiving.

The third pass, down hill, leads to Blue Diamond Road and right back to the Strip, South of Mandalay Bay. It's a loop. I started out going West on Charleston Blvd. and returned going East on Blue Diamond Road. For a great map, get AAA's "Las Vegas Vicinity Guide Map" It's a fold out map, but easy to handle; all the casinos including off strip casinos are on the map, highly recommended.

It takes about twenty minutes driving time down Blue Diamond Road to get to the strip.

I stopped at the Klondike Casino near the Blue Diamond Road/Strip intersection area for some always present bottled water, went back to the room and watched an hour of CNN. I left the room, stopped by the casino, played $20 worth of VP. and headed over to the Palms. Lost $20, down $20 for the day.

With the addition of the Palms Hotel and Casino, the area just east of the Strip, on East Flamingo is becoming very popular. The owner of the new Palms Casino has continued the tradition, started at his former Fiesta Casino, of full pay Video Poker. This attracts locals and serious VP players. The Palms seems to be succeeding in attracting gamblers and the night club/ celebrity crowd at the same time. The Rio and the Gold Coast are right across the street.

I spent the late afternoon and Friday night at The Palms and the Rio. I parked in the Palms garage.

The Palms has, probably, after the Barbary Coast, the easiest parking garage to use in Vegas. I had an enjoyable time at The Palms, not all of which was spent playing Pai Gow. $10 a hand, lost $15, down $35 for the day.

The Rio is an exciting place, it's supposed to be. There's always a party atmosphere, with not only the usual gamblers and club/shows/restaurant crowds, but a steady stream of people there to see "The Masquerade Village Show In The Sky" This show is free, it kinda has to be. There's a track that runs along the high ceiling throughout the "Village" area of the casino. Big floats are fitted to the track and the floats with singers/dancers on them, move overhead around the casino, throwing beads ect. to the crowds below. There's also a two story stage in the middle of it all, with more singers/dancers. Watching it is like everybody being upclose and in the middle of a review show. The crowd becomes part of the act. You can watch this from anywhere, the bars, upstairs which is open to the casino and level to the passing floats, standing, playing at the tables, whatever, it's going on all around.

Had a great day and spent a great night at the Rio. I think i'll add at this point, i couldn't believe the run of bad luck at the tables, it didn't change Pai Gow, $10 a hand, lost $100, lost $135 for the day

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Re: Trip Report: Vegas! [Re: ]
      #120962 - 11/01/02 02:40 AM (

Saturday, October 19th.

Casinos and Side Trips

It was early in the evenining, but at the bar of the atmosphere bound Lagoon lounge of the Mirage Hotel, it was permanently late at night.

In my peripheral vision i noticed a woman in a black dress walking over to the bar from one of the lounge tables, petite, mature, classy. She put her drink on the bar right next to mine and sat down. It was a deliberate, hip first, exposed and curved lower back, slide onto the bar seat. She crossed her legs, giving her beautiful smooth thigh an extra lift. She looked down at her drink with a confident, but somewhat sheepish smile. I recognized her. It was Jane Seymour. Man! did she still have it. She turned quickly with a serious countenance and looked at me, so close i could feel the quick breath from her nostrils. Then she paused and said "i've been watching you, i'm sick of Hollywood, i want to be with you now"

Then i woke up from the dream and it was Saturday morning in Vegas.

At 8am they were mowing the lawn around Terrible's pool area and low piped in music was playing from the speakers attached high in the palm trees above the pool.

I went down to Terrible's small market located just off the casino and next to the slot club desk area. Prices for liquor, beer, water, juice and especially cigaretts beat supermarket prices.
I bought a carton of Pall Mall filters for $34 (Basic cigaretts are $22 a carton; i'm pretty sure this beats even the price on the indian reservations. I went over to the other side of the casino to the sports book and bet the Monday Night Football game. Colts to beat the Steelers, no points.

Lake Las Vegas is south East of the strip and it's about a forty minute drive down I-215. Like just about everything in and around Vegas, Lake Las Vegas is very easy to get to. I-215 automatically turns into Lake Mead Drive and the entrance to the Lake Las Vegas properties is right off Lake Mead Drive.

There's a master plan for Lake Las Vegas. There are plans for five top of the line hotels. A Grand Hyatt has existed for a few years and a Ritz Carlton is now under construction. Celine Dion, who just signed a 40 million five year contract with Casars Palace, to perform in her own built for Celine Dion showroom, is building a house on one of the 1 to 2 million dollar lots that surround the Lake. There are two exclusive golf courses, one of which is designed by the great Jack Nicklaus.

The area is easy to tour. There's a main road that takes you throughout the properties, over hills with interesting vistas, by the Hyatt and golf course and returning you to the entrance once again. The housing area with the other golf course is private and closed to traffic. I visited the Hyatt and it's a property with immaculate grounds, hotel and pool area. The Lake itself is actually a watershed of Lake Mead but it was not nearly as big as i had imagined.

Green Valley Ranch Hotel and Casino is right off I-215 and i stopped in on the way back from Lake Las Vegas. This hotel is top of the line of the Station Casinos. It is a beautiful hotel with a European hotel/casino ambiance. The pool area is exceptional. I ate at one of outlets of the restaurant chain, Fatburgers, in the food court and played $5 a hand Pai Gow. Broke even.

The next stop was the Hardrock Hotel and Casino. The more i go to the Hardrock, the better i like it. I visited this hotel twice more during this trip, and may go into some detail later. $10 a hand Pai Gow, won $60, up $60 for the day.

I spent the rest of the night at the Orleans, can't stay away from this place. I had some chow mein and fried rice from their extensive chinese food menu in the coffee shop. The quality of the the food itself was good, but the chow mein didn't remotely resemble the chow mein of the Boston area.

At the Orleans i played Pai Gow and hung out at the lounge. The Greg Peterson Band was good, playing rock, disco, all kinds of music. Had a great time. Beer was $2 a bottle, 23oz. draft- $4 and $2 for refills. $5 a hand Pai Gow, lost $20, won $40 for the day

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Re: Trip Report: Vegas! [Re: ]
      #121722 - 11/05/02 03:38 AM (

Sunday, October 20th

Casinos and Side Trips

The Venus Lounge sounds interesting, it's at the Venetian, it's one of hundreds in Vegas.

One of the the things i definitely wanted to do on the last trip, was go to and spend time in, lounges. Voo Doo lounge, ghost Bar, coyote Ugly,
Sky Lounge, see The Checkmates at Arizona Charlie's, Fontana Lounge, on and on. The only regret is, after time spent at the tables, there isn't enough time in a week to spend a lot of time in a lot of places.

One of the places i managed to spend a couple of hours, was the Rumjungle Bar at Mandalay bay. There was no live entertainment in the early evening, the entertainment was the bar itself. Conversation and sports bet talk with the bar tenders, other people's conversations around you, (were they bragging about their world travels ?) a society fix, that's what makes a great bar. The Rumjungle is isolated from the casino, which is unusual and located right near the West Entrance (back) valet parking. Long bar, with every kind of rum ever made, lighted to the ceiling on shelves behind the bar. Illuminated "fire" cascading from the walls, tables in shadows, not the place to stop into after a day at the casino and on the way back to the room, but a night destination, sexy class. The Rumjungle is a Brazilian style steak house, but at 9:30pm it transforms, opens up, into one of Vegas' top nightclubs. If you eat there, or are at the bar before that time, there's no cover charge for the nightclub, otherwise it's $20 and a waiting line. There's a dance floor with roped off table areas surrounding it, for celebrities/VIP's or available for more hundreds of dollars than i want to know about. The restaurant gets decent to very good reviews.

One of the "quick tour" episodes was at the Venetian. The WB Stage 16 Restaurant, keeping with the Vegas theme tradition, has a movie set theme. It was around 5pm and i think the restaurant just opened. A waiter walked by near the entrance when i went in and other than that there was absolutely nobody there; i took the opportunity to walk through it. The restaurant layout winds by a lot of small, unique, expensive. comfortable looking and hard to describe dining areas, with a changing lighting scheme. The back of the restaurant is open to about three floors high, the lighting simulates a night scene in the back streets of Manhattan tenements. A fire escape stairway, open to the restaurant scene below, zig zags up a brick wall to another floor of dining areas, interesting, Vegas different.

Well, what happens at the tables, all this time spent. It's not difficult to win, especially in Vegas, compared to other gambling venues, it's just difficult sometimes to come back from a trip winning. How many times has eveybody been ahead during a trip, maybe substantially and could have scaled back your playing level and won. How many people get up from a table with a small profit or loss, grind it out, quit while you're ahead. I agree, it's not fun. And, in the midst of the magic, the seduction, of Vegas, the shining light in the american desert, where the night never ends until you want it to, it's nearly impossible.

It's not that it's fun to lose. Maybe it's more accurately stated that it's no fun to stop winning.

Today was moving day from Terrible's Hotel and Casino

(Sunday, October 20th, to be continued)

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Re: Trip Report: Vegas! [Re: ]
      #121725 - 11/05/02 07:02 AM (

Sunday, October 20th (continued)

Casinos and Side Trips

"One Pee Emm, max!!" "click!"

I could check in, or at least give my stuff to the bell service to put in their storage at the Orleans, at any time on Sunday. Check out at Terrible's is 11am, but it's always worth trying for a late check out.

My game plan was to drop off a half a weeks laundry at Arrow Laundry, a place i felt i had a vested interest in by this time, go back to Terrible's, eat, check out, stuff in trunk and down the street to the hardrock, leave the Hardrock and pick up laundry when ready, go to the Orleans and check in. The extra two hours gave me enough time to do this.

After the laundry drop off, checking out, getting my credit cards from the cage deposit box and putting my stuff in the trunk of the rental car, i went back into terrible's, got a cheeseburger at McDonalds and stood at the sports bar and watched the last quarter of the Buffalo/Miami Game.

It was time to end my time at Terrible's and i played VP on the way out. Lost $20, down $20 for the day.

The Hardrock Hotel is a pleasure doing business with. It's the most easy to navigate of major casino i've ever been in. It's condensed, it has all the good stuff but none of the walking and the turned around, lost in a casino, (because that's the way we designed it) features of other casinos. There's a very wide, shiny, hardwood floor, a circle encompassing the entire casino. The floor is raised and the main casino activity within the circle can be easily observed. If you were walking around on the expansive walkway, in a counter clockwise direction, the sunken casino floor would be on your left and on your right would be the border of the floor, beginning an outer circle where the entrances to the spots book, restaurants, bars, high stakes area, showroom, night club, mall/( and on to the parking garage) hallway to the rooms/elevators, ect. are located. All neatly accessible off the circle as you walk around. Think space station with a lot of babes running around. In the middle of the sunken casino rises the famous Center Bar of The Hardrock Hotel and Casino. I didn't get a chance to see the pool area, equally famous for the same reasons.

I was glad to see the same dealer from the day before at the Pai Gow table. She was very personable and talked about her eighteen years in the casino business and how much she liked living in Vegas. Bob Dylan was playing in the show room that night. In the back of my mind i remembered that Bob Dylan was playing at the Hardrock the week i was there. When i asked her about it, she said, yes, he's here tonight. It stuck in my mind because she said it with interest, but not with the emphasis that you would expect, considering the fact it was a big name headliner. I understood the reason for this. The Hardrock is unique in a lot of ways, one of which is big name rock that is constantly playing there. Melissa Etheridge, The Who, The Eagles ect. What would be a big deal at other hotels, Bob Dylan is another of the great legendary bands and performers that play the Hardrock regularly. Had a great time at the Hardrock as always. Lost $65, down $85 for the day.

I dropped the laundry off at about 11:30am and it was scheduled to be done at 3:pm, After leaving the Hardrock about 5pm i picked up the laundry, it came to about $8. I didn't ask, but i think it's a $1 a pound to wash it only. It would probably cost $8 for one shirt to be washed and ironed from the valet service of most hotels.

I checked in and spent the rest of the night at the Orleans Hotel and Casino.

The Orleans has an 18 screen state of the art sound and seating (big rockers, steep, with no possible obstruction from people sitting in front of you) theater complex, BIG screens. The theaters are upstairs, the Orleans is a big place. I spent a considerable amount of time on the internet checking every one of the movies that would be playing while i was there. I narrowed it down to
a Robert De Niro movie that sounded great. But, movies never entered my mind. No posters around, there's never anything in a casino to remind you to do anything but stay in the casino.

I got some scrambled eggs for $3.50 in the excellent coffee shop, won $10 playing VP at the lounge bar, lost $65 at Pai Gow and went up to the room that's bigger and better than it looks in this pic, watched some T.V. and got eight and a half hours sleep.
Lost $135 for the day.

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Re: Trip Report: Vegas! [Re: ]
      #122265 - 11/07/02 04:53 AM (

Monday, October 21st

Casinos and Side Trips

Besides sex, if you've never seen an adult legitimately happy, a brief peer through the window of magic moments, a kid again, there really is a God happy, then be sitting a few seats down the bar when one of them hits a royal at VP, or go to the Bellagio Fountains show, at night, where there's hundreds of them, including me.

We're talking hundreds here folks, every fifteen minutes, never ending, at the Bellagio, the great Steve Wynn's masterpiece, fountains show.

Everyone looking up in awe, each with their own thoughts, not a cough, not a clearing of the throat, not even a, "honey do you still have the comp. slip" or "JOEY!, if you don't leave your SISTER alone, i'm going to SMACK YOU!.. rightacrossthelake.

See the end of the movie remake of Ocean's Eleven, where the characters in the movie are watching the Fountains show at the Bellagio, notice their expressions, that's what it's like.

Monday, October 21st (To Be Continued)

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Re: Trip Report: Vegas! [Re: ]
      #122270 - 11/07/02 07:05 AM (

The Orleans is part of Coast Casinos. Coast casinos is an example of a successful "local's" casinos enterprise. It incorporates the best features of local casino culture, with the size, material quality and glitz of a Strip hotel. It adds , or rather leaves in, sincere customer consideration, quality restaurants at half the price of Strip hotels and big, well appointed rooms. It leaves out, the, "keep you walking through the casino as much as possible" and money draining presumptions in the price structure.

At the Orleans, you don't have to walk from the front desk all the way through the casino to get to the elevators and to the room. To get to the pool, just get off the elevators and walk down a hallway, which is within the confines of security, isolated from the casino. There is a room key check to get to the elevators at all times. The gift shop, for bottled water, orange juice ect. is around the corner from the elevators. Seattle's Best, for coffee ect. in the morning is located near the front desk area.

Moday morning i resumed a familiar routine i have at the Orleans. A ham sandwich from "Terrible Mike's". This is not coldcuts, but some good slices of real ham on any kind of bread you want, coffee and water. I put the ham sandwich, pickle and coffee on a seat of a VP machine (yes, it comes on a plate lol!) sit on the VP machine seat next to it, play VP and eat the ham sandwich. The wide glass entrances of the Orleans lets in outside light, very unusual for a casino. I find this the most relaxing part of the day and a good way to start it off. Lost $20, down $20 for the day.

Flamingo is one way, west bound, approaching the Strip and the Barbary Coast, for about a quater of a mile. At which point, it becomes two way. To get to the Barbary Coast parking garage at the corner of the Strip and Flamingo, you have to approach the entrance, which is actully off Flamingo, (and not approachable from the Strip) by way of this always congested quarter mile route, but it's worth it.

I think it was on this day that i noticed the ad on the back of the Barbary Coast building for "Big Elvis". Big Elvis is a free afternoon act in the Barbary Coast lounge, at 1pm and 3pm, but not on Mondays. Apparently he weighs about 350, has a voice where you would think it's coming from a CD on a good stereo and puts on a great act.

If it was a day the show wasn't dark, i would have seen this show. It reminded me that i hadn't been to any shows and had no intention of going to any. Earth, Wind, and Fire is playing at the Paris in December, in think it's $65,... maybe, next trip.

I had free tickets for two afternoon shows. Mac King, a magician at Harrah's and Ron Lucas a ventriloquist at the Rio. The free tickets were part of the Terrible's package deal. These tickets were not a big deal, everyone can get free tickets to these shows by going to a desk in Harrah's Carnival Court and they're available by asking. However, you still have to pay for a two drink minimum of $6.50. Both these shows get great reviews, lot of comedy and showmanship. If you paid full freight at the box office, it would cost about $19 or so, each. Also, i had a half price coupon for the Steven Wright show at the Orleans showroom, as part of the Orleans package, but again, like the movies, it never entered my mind. Full price for this show, i think, was about $45.

I parked at the Barbary Coast parking garage, walked up and over the Strip on the walkway with the great view of "The Four Corners" to the Bellagio, where i'd spend an interesting afternoon and early night.

Monday, October 21st (To Be Continued)

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Re: Trip Report: Vegas! [Re: ]
      #122511 - 11/08/02 07:48 AM (

Monday, October 21st

Casinos and Side Trips

The Pai Gow pit at the Bellagio is right across from the popular, "meet you at the Baccarat Bar", Baccarat Bar.

The walkway over the Strip is obviously elevated. It affords a great view up and down the Strip. At night, don't miss it. It's not often mentioned, probably because it's transportation related, but it's worth experiencing for the "in the middle of it all" kick, if for no other reason.

The walkway leads to the second level, the casino entrance of the Bellagio. I went down the escalators upon entering the casino to the street level and a plaza and watched a daytime fountain show. Then back up the escalators to the casino, made my way towards the Pai Gow pit and stopped along the way for some VP. Lost $20, (i played a few quick hands of Pai Gow before leaving the Orleans) Make that down $60 for the day.

There's no need i think, to describe the Bellagio, it's a magnificent property and everyone knows it. The Bellagio can grow on you, when you're there, you can feel it's the only place to be in Vegas. This phenomenon is common in Vegas. I get this same feeling at the Mirage, New York/New York, Mandalay Bay, Arizona Charlies. the Rio and Dowtown at night. Everyone has their own favorite places.

I settled in for some Pai Gow, Bellagio Style.

There were two well dressed couples at the table when i began play. They were dressed in black and white, enjoying themselves, knew the game and were betting somewhat over the $10 limit. Their speaking accent was a clipped spanish and i'm guessing they were from spain. Later, an aging cheerleader type, of about twenty three i'd say, sat down. She knew how to play fairly well, bet the minimum and played mostly with her face in her hands. The dealer, in a friendly way, suggested to her that she may have had "a rough night last night". She smiled and said that she definitely did and on top that, she was leaving Vegas later that day. Enough to depress anyone... An oriental girl and i'm talkng a real knockout, sat down awhile later. She bought in for hundreds, played at least $125 a hand. After she left, there were a few comments i overheard around the table; she had won. If you think anybody misses anything at the tables folks, think again.

I always try to sit at the first seat or the sixth seat. I smoke, always have a bottle of water and usually a beer Meaning, that if the casino dosen't have draft beer, that's a bottle AND a glass. So, that's an ashtray, a bottle of water, a bottle of beer and a glass of beer. It gets in the way, so i try to stay out of the way. If someone wrote a trip report and described me at a table, it would be probably, "the guy with all the stuff" ... maybe that would be the only nicest thing they could think of :-) $10 a hand, about three hours, lost $75, down $135 for the day.

No, it dosen't have the excitement and character,
of the "floor of the New York Stock Exchange during a rally" chaos, that the great Stardust Spots Book has,
but the Bellagio Sports Book, as you would expect, oozes comfort and interest. Like Jerry Seinfeld said, when describing the success of Star Trek, -what could be better than sitting in a comfortable swivel chair, barreling through space, watching Monday Night Football on a BIG screen. I don't think he said Monday Night Football, but you get the drift.

I got to the Bellago Sports Book/Bar at exactly 6pm Vegas time. I wasn't confident, i was gloating, i was cocky, i had a warm feeling of assertive arrogance; that Payton and Edgerrin James would make the Steelers feel they got off easy with their championship rematch loss to the Patriots earlier this year.

What a disaster. If anybody is even casually familiar with football fandom, they don't need me to tell them what Steeler fans are like. Well, they were all there at the Bellagio Sports Book, it was painful. Payton manning threw a touchdown pass, or maybe it was just a big gain, i don't remember, the sea of Steeler fan tables was silent, i yelled out, "ya!, get im!, PAYTON!".
It echoed in the Sports Book, throughout the Sports Bar, like a night watchman stepping on a rusty nail in the Louvre.

On the way out of the Bellagio, i stopped and saw it again, this time at night, the Bellagio Fountains.

I went back over the walkway and down to the street plaza. Bally's is there, the Paris at night, Eiffel Tower lighted, hundreds of feet high into the desert sky.

Walking the Strip from the Barbary Coast North is a real trip. It adds another dimension to the already endless variety of Vegas. It's a people watching crossroads. It's the one place in Vegas you wouldn't be altogether suprised to run into someone you know. It's high energy with purpose, a canival atmosphere with gambling, wide entrances to the casinos, right off the sidewalk, on your other side, "deer caught in the headlights" looks from people slowly passing in the hectic traffic of Las Vegas Boulevard.

Harrah's, The Flamingo, the Imperial Palace, Casino Royale, the Venetian, the thunder of the Volcano at the Mirage, the booming resonating basso of the the Pirate Battle at Treasure island. Like being a kid and the band, the drums, the horns, uniforms with vibrant colors, all starts up, JUST when it gets to you and keeps on going, VEGAS!! BABY!!

I hadn't been to the MGM, Monte Carlo, Excalibur, Luxor, Mandalay Bay or the Tropicana this trip. There's certain places i keep going back to, New York/New York is one of them.

I had a fried chicken attack. I went to the Kentucky Fried Chicken type chicken place that i knew was somewhere in the "streets of New York".
It was closed, but there was no apparent reason for it in prime time at night. The cook must've called in sick or something, that's all that i could come up with. I got a meatball sub at one of the pizza places, it was excellent.

Coyote Ugly, located upstairs at New York/New York had a $10 cover charge. A cover charge on a Monday night, plus the reviews of the club and knowing it would have performing bartenders and a faux party atmosphere, didn't appeal to me, across the board. I didn't go in.
However, for free, i probably would have given it a look at least.

I went back down to the casino on the escalator, walked by and looked in at, the bar with the dueling pianos, around ESPN-Zone bar and started in on some Pai Gow in the Dragon Pit.

There was a guy at the table who seemed to be a highroller considering the attention the pit boss was giving him. Although, he wasn't betting heavily at the time. He was interested in where to get the best prime rib in town and the pit boss, who seemed to know him, was helping out in this regard with suggestions; in a manner that i instinctively knew was reserved for VIPs/highrollers. $10 a hand, won $45, down $90 for the day.

I felt pretty good after a small win with the streak still going when i got up. I had that feeling you get that the bad streak was fading and on the next trip you'll be golden.

I'm Irish, i like beer, a lot. This was a great time to have a few at a lounge bar, watch a dynamic band and talk to whatever else comes along, oink!

"The Big Apple Bar" is a lounge, open to and elevated from, the casino floor. It has a big elevated stage, the bar right below it and tables ringing the outer perimeter. The band was very good, but i didn't catch the name. It's free like almost all lounge entertainment in Vegas. Just walk right in, it's great.

I'm not big on souvenirs. Matchbooks are the only thing i take back. In the desk draw in the room at the Orleans, what i thought was a huge matchbook and was going to throw in the carry on, turned out to be a sewing kit. So, if you have an energency hole n your sock while at the Orleans, there ya go. Matt and Stinky at may be glad to hear this.

I wrapped up another great night in Vegas by breaking even at $5 a hand Pai Gow back at the Orleans, getting a sub at Subway, bringing it up to the room and fooling around with a WebTV like keyboard internet access setup on the TV in the room. I think it was $6 for two hours.
Lost $90 for the day.

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Re: Trip Report: Vegas! [Re: ]
      #123260 - 11/12/02 04:58 AM (

Tuesday, October 22nd

Casinos and Side Trips

One of the great features of Vegas is that you don't need a car. You can stay on the Center Strip, walk, get out into the middle of it all, right outside your hotel's front door.

Or for that matter, you can stay on the South Strip. There's a tram from the MGM Grand Hotel, located at the corner of Tropicana and the Strip. It will take you to Bally's and the Center Strip in minutes. But, wherever you stay, there's a trolly, buses, cabs, shuttles and trams; you can get anywhere, from anywhere, on Las Vegas Boulevard.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle once said, "Sherlock Holmes greatest asset is his intimate knowledge of London".

Well, Sherlock Holmes didn't become intimate with his beloved London by just riding up and down Baker Street in a horse drawn carriage public Hansom Cab of Nineteenth Century England. He studied, experienced the Opera, the orchestra, on one side of town, cut through the shrouded fog of the docks, cloaked, incognito in the opium dens on the other side of town, the exclusive gentleman's clubs and Jack The Ripper mean streets of Victorian London.

If you're interested in knowing Vegas, maybe not quite in the biblical sense, but intimately, you must rent a car, you must drive in Vegas, you must be interested in experiencing every side of her, you must love her.

Tuesday, October 22nd (To Be Continued)

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Re: Trip Report: Vegas! [Re: ]
      #123306 - 11/12/02 10:54 AM (

The Stratosphere Hotel and Casino is ok. The, "not changed as often as other casinos table coverings" in the ok sized casino is ok. The rooms are clean and comfortable, they are Holiday Inn like, but that's ok. The easy to park in, parking garage has an outside walkway to the casino, but how often dose it rain in Vegas.. so it's ok. The Strat. isn't really near anything else of interest, but people usually go there on the way to, or coming back from Downtown, so that's ok too.

I was getting up a little later each day. Vegas is three hours earlier than the East Coast and getting up at 10:00am was much better than 5:00am like the first day of the trip. When you're asleep at 11:00pm it pretty much takes going to reviewable restaurants, out of the agenda. I like the, good food at a cheap price, no line and waiting for the check convenience, of coffee shops and food courts anyway.

After getting up and spending a couple of hours going over notes, watching CNBC business news, and as usual, drinking water copiously, flushing out the good time at New York/New York the night before, i went down to the casino at the Orleans.

I lost $20 at VP. The ham sandwich, coffee and VP part of the day always seems to be worth the $20. Before i left the Orleans for the day, i played a few quick hands of $10 a hand Pai Gow and won $10. Down $10 for the day.

From the Orleans, it's about a mile down West Tropicana traveling East to get to Industrial Road. I took a left next to Interstate I-15 onto Industrial Road and Industrial Road north to the Stratosphere. Industrial Road runs parallel to the West Side of the Strip and is, like Paradise Road on the East Side of the Strip, an excellent alternate route for avoiding strip traffic.

About 4pm, after playing Pai Gow at the Strat.
i headed for the Mirage. $10 a hand, won $30, up $20 for the day. (toldya the bad run was fading :-)

From when i first saw The Mirage Hotel and Casino in Time Magazine when it first opened, i liked it. The Mirage has a pleasing design that makes sense, it's a good looking building.

The Poker Room at The Mirage has become legendary. Matt Damon's dream, as a pro poker player from New York City, in the underrated but great movie "The Rounders" was to go to Vegas. To Play at The Mirage and to play in The World Series Of Poker at The Horseshoe. At the end of the movie, Matt Damon's character is riding through the canyons of Manhatten alone in the back seat of a cab, on the way to the airport. The cab driver says to him, in the still dark early morning, as most of us from the East Coast experience, in the same way, when going to the airport, "where ya goin"
Damon says, "I'm goin'a Vegas"
Love! that part.

I stopped at the valet station at The Mirage, got out of the car, took the claim ticket from the attendant (tip when picking the car up, $2) and walked right through the entrance to the casino without slowing down.

Unfortunately, most of the poker games at casinos are played very conservatively. The good players don't bet on the prospects of a hand, especially the locals that have plenty of time and the pros. It's the ultimate in grinding it out. If you have any hopes of winning, you have to be very patient, know the game cold, not make any mistakes..and get lucky.

With a full table, half are likely to fold after the first three cards are dealt in seven card stud. Raising is scarce and the pots are small. It' not unusual, with five or six cards dealt, for all players left in a hand, to be checking around the table.

A newbie chasing, trying to force larger pots, will be eaten alive. If you're losing heavily, from going all the way in consecutive hands, it's impossibe, with the small pots, to make up losses.

My game of choice is poker, but i'm not often at a point when in Vegas, to invest that kind of time. There's too much to do and places to go. I'm happy playing poker related games like Pai Gow Poker, Caribbean Stud Poker and Video Poker.

The Mirage Sports Book is near the Sports Bar and the Sports Bar is near the Poker Room. The Sports Bar is a good and obvious choice, to spend time while waiting for an opening in the Poker Room.

The hostess at the entrance to the Poker Room will greet you with the gracious and professional manner of an airline stewardess when air travel was glamorous. She'll introduce you to the "brush". The brush, with an ease and affable camaraderie of a familiar restaurant owner and friend, will ask for your first name and last name initial and put it on his list. There were three names ahead of me.

The World Series was on at the sports bar. A little more talk was going on than usual because of it. I played VP and told the bar tender my "big story" about placing a bet with 20 to 1 odds last December at the Palms. The bet was on the Red Sox to win the world Series and i told him i WAS hoping to collect on it in person this trip. The bar tender told me that this year's World Series had the lowest TV ratings ever. I said it's probably because New York isn't in it. He said the Mets/Yankee's World Series had the second lowest TV ratings ever, "figure that one out" We had a laugh about that, always feels good when it's on the Yankees :-) Lost $20, even for the day.

It seemed to be taking awhile for an opening in the Poker Room. I checked once and there were still two ahead of me and i moved on to the Pai Gow pit.

I guess The Mirage still has the Steve Wynn influence left, it's great place and coincidentally i've had good luck at the tables and VP. I won $60 at Pai Gow that session, and again, it was still coming in when i got up.
$10 a hand, won $60, up $60 for the day.

The Lagoon Lounge at The Mirage. Waterfalls, jungles, atriums, the expensive Kokomos restaurant and the Mobile Five Star, Renoir restaurant all around it. I spent an enjoyable two or three hours here, with comped beer, bottled water, playing VP and watching the band called Party Central. Lost $30, up $30 for the day.

I went through a full tank of gas already and when i stopped at the Shell Station a short distance West of the Orleans on Tropicana, it was down about another half a tank. The next day,
Wednesday, was the flight out, back to Boston. The needle on the fuel gauge of the rental car wouldn't move between the time of the last stop Tuesday night until drop off. I filled the tank with regular for $1.44 a gal, total $12.

The T-Bone steak special in the excellent coffee shop of the Orleans was..excellent. Salad, big steak, onion rings, fries, garlic bread, for $8.99

Pai Gow was a break even episode, i thought i'd end play winning, go over to the Orleans lounge and NOT play VP. Won $30 for the day.

The band playing in the lounge was the best i heard this trip for rock songs. The lead singer had a great rock voice, good for singing rock. I meant find out the name of the group, ask the bartnders, but must've forgot when the guy down the bar hit the royal at VP.

I think he was a local, the bar tenders knew him and did as much cheering about it as the winner.
There was, understandably, a lot of commotion, the casino likes this, other players like it, it demonstrates it can happen, everybody's happy.

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