This report is on a trip from 3/13 – 3/19. I am taking the wife and two daughters (age 12 & 9) and since I’ve seen so many questions on the topic, I decided to make this report more about what it is like to take your family to Vegas. I’ll focus on food/entertainment/costs. After my last solo trip in Dec, which was a financial disaster filled with WAY to much gambling, my goal for this trip is to win enough playing poker to pay for the trip – basically break even. I create the ‘envelope of responsibility’ from some recent wins in Black Hawk – 6 paper-clipped bundles of $500 each – and give it to the wife with strict instructions to give me only one pack per day. I give her another empty envelope marked HOME and each morning I will give her what I have left from the night before I’ve got $400 in spending money and give the wife and kids $100 each for whatever.

First, we decided a month or so ago to drive the 800 miles instead of fly (takes 12 hours vs 5 hours flying). The main reason we did this was flexibility as we could leave early on Sat and come home as late as Friday instead of the flight, which the only ‘affordable’ one was Sun-Thurs. The rental car was $311 with tax for 8 days. We pack up Fri night and the car is in motion at 5AM. We have lunch in gorgeous Provo, Utah at the Malt Shoppe – hamburger, fries & an awesome shake for $5. Total cost $20. We run into a nasty snow/hail storm in Southern Utah but the rest of the trip is uneventful. Arrive at Paris at 4PM. I am a Diamond member, so rooms are free. We get a Red Room. Tired and ready to relax, the room is not clean – trash in the cans, water glasses sitting on the table, etc. Really kind of weird as the rest of the room was fine. The wife decides since we are going to be here for 4 nights, we should get another room so we pack up and get another. However, as luck would have it, it is on the 25th floor, so we have to go all the way to the lobby and back up a different bank of elevators. Finally get settled in, unpacked and are ready to go. Dinner is at L&L BBQ on the corner of Maryland/Flamingo. They have very good food – the best deal is the rice bowls filled with vegetables & meat for $2.99 (with $1.50 bev purchase). We got chicken, pork & beef – all were good. Total bill $19. After dinner we go to Albertsons and load up on breakfast food – donuts, pop tarts, cereal bars & juice. While eating breakfast in the room certainly saves money, the main reason we do this is to save time/energy and it really helps not eating out that third meal every day so you don’t over do the eating thing. Total cost $29 and this lasts us all week. We get back to the room about 8PM and wife/kids get settled in for the night and I head to Bally’s to play some cards. I get seated right away and say hello to Bally’s Chris. In less than 90 minutes, my $200 buy in is at $614 (gotta love Bally’s) and I decide that is a great start to the trip and cash out. I play $5 LIR for a few minutes and am up $35. I am on a family vacation so I figure there is no reason to overdo it on Day 1 so I’m in bed by 10:30 and very pleased with my start.

Day 1
Poker +414 / +414
Table games/slots +35 / +35
Food -68 / -68
Entertainment 0 / 0
Put in envelope 900 / 900

We wake up around 7:30 – the time change was break even because we picked up an hour on our travel and lost it right back that night. Our mornings are very leisurely. I eat and am dressed by 8:30 and everyone else is just starting to let the makeup & hairspray fly so I head down to Bally’s for some Aces Cracked, however it only runs Mon-Fri from 9-12. I get a seat right away and cash out +$315 in an hour (Bally’s makes me smile). One of our LV traditions is the Harrah’s Champagne Brunch on Sundays so we walk down there about 11AM. I have a 2-1 coupon so total is $40 with tip and it is excellent as usual. After lunch we walk across to the Forum Shops. I see Pete Rose walking to the sports store – he is looking old. My youngest (and all of us) are upset to see that FAO Schwartz is gone. We hit the Apple store and a few others and head back to the room about 1:30. We had originally planned to hit the pool that afternoon, but the weather was crappy, so they decided on seeing Alice in Wonderland at the Orleans. I drive them over, gave them $30 and played some $4/8 limit. It has been years since I had been in this room, but it was hopping on a Sunday afternoon. Had about 15 tables going. I booked a $144 win. That evening, my oldest wanted to go to Serendipity for dinner/dessert. Me and the wife were still full from Harrah’s so we only ordered two entrees and then the Frozen Hot Chocolate and the Fried Oreo Sundaes for dessert. Their food is really overpriced, but the desserts are awesome. I really recommend you just do dessert there. Total cost $70. The wife likes to gamble with me one or two nights per trip – this involves many vodka tonics and the lowest limit LIR table we can find. She was ready tonight, so we got the kids situated and made it downstairs about 9PM. For those that are wondering, my oldest has a cell phone and we each bring ours and never leave the property we are staying at – we have done this many times and everybody is OK with this arrangement. We find a $10 table (which makes her uncomfortable) at Bally’s and proceed to lose about $200 of our $300 buy-in. I notice another table and it is only $5, so we go over there and both proceed to win back our buy-in plus $40. They raise the limit to $10, so we quit. I give the wife half our winnings ($20) and she goes back up to the room and I go over to the poker tables. For some reason, I just don’t feel like playing and walk over to Paris to gamble a bit. After about an hour of craps, BJ, Miss Stud and LIR, I am even. On the way back to the room, I spot the Green Machine slots that I had hit for $1K on my last trip. I put $100 in and am up to $164 when I hit for another $1K. I am cashed out and headed for the room within 8 seconds of hitting it.

Day 2 / Totals
Poker +459 / +873
Table games/slots +1150 / +1185
Food -110 / -178
Entertainment -30 / -30
Put in envelope 1,900 / 2,800

I wake up early very pleased that I am off to an awesome start. This is almost the same way I started my last trip only to get KILLED on day 3. However, with the envelope of responsibility, there is no way that can happen. SWEET! I give everybody a $40 bonus to add to their spending money. Today, we are planning to spend the day in Henderson. I slip out about 8:30 to get a seat for Aces Cracked and cash out +120 in about 45 minutes (no Aces). He head out to Henderson about 10AM and our first stop is a Scrapbook store for the wife. She buys a bag full of stuff and I notice that about 80% of the shopping center is vacant – Vegas is still hurting big time. Next stop is Chuck E Cheese ($20). We get lunch at Port of Subs – they have a 2 foot sub with 4 drinks & 4 chips for $16 that really hits the spot after our binge yesterday. After lunch, we walk the Galleria Mall, visit the teacher/education store and stop by Ethel M’s for some chocolate ($10). The weather has vastly improved and we spend the late afternoon poolside at Paris. We still have lots of snow on the ground at home, so this is a really nice treat for us. For dinner we had to a place called 4 Kegs that was featured on a family favorite TV Show on Food Network called Diners Drive Ins and Dives. The place is a dump on the NW side of town but it was far and away the best meal we had on the trip! We order a chef salad, a medium Sicilian pizza and a large version of their ‘world famous’ original stromboli and eat family style. We couldn’t quite eat everything and everybody was stuffed. It really hit the spot and I would HIGHY recommend driving the 15 minutes off strip to eat here (I await Minton’s certain seal of approval). And the best part was total cost with tip was $37!. We stop by Target on the way back to the room to get a few necessities. We get back to the room about 8PM and I get a call from Zippyboy from AVP that he is ready to gamble it up. I see no reason to ever leave Bally’s so I tell him to meet me there. We meet up around 9PM and have a few drinks before getting seated next to each other at a $1/2 game. He is playing tight/solid (good) poker and I’m playing loose/drunk/I’m up $2K so far (bad) poker. ZB hits a nice set with pocket KK and gets paid off. I run a huge bluff to win a $200 pot and show ZB – the rest of the table insists I show, so I do and now table is tilting and gunning for me. I know I need to have a hand next time, and within 3-4 hands I flop a set of 44s and easily get it all in with one of the tilters only to see him catch runner runner flush. Instead of being up $500, I am now $100 stuck. I add on to my stack and turn a straight only to lose to a higher straight on the river for another $400 lost pot. I’m on bourbon #5 or 6 and I need a break from the poker table so I do the only logical thing and go play a hand of BJ for $100. I win 6 of 7 and pocket a $650 win (there was a 21 and a double down in there), which makes me up $250 with my $400 poker loss. I get back to the table and the Zipster is up $550 in 3 hours. I win a few nice pots and ZB says something to me during a hand (which was totally irrelevant) and the table erupts in fury. I don’t remember the details, but we are both up nicely and decide to make a run for it over to PH. We get seated right away and at about 2AM, I am up $208 and he is up about $150 so we decide to call it a night – me up about $600 and him up $700 – nice win. I’m not exactly sure, but I think I about broke even on poker for the day and won $650 on BJ. I put a few hundred of my winnings in my wallet to reload for expenses.

Day 3 / Totals
Poker +0 / +873
Table games/slots +650 / +1835
Food -63 / -241
Entertainment -20 / -50
Put in envelope 900 / 3,700

It is day 4 of the trip – everybody is having a good time, the weather is awesome and my HOME envelope has more in it than I started with and I still have $1,500 to spend. I like my spot. I play a shortened AM session at Bally’s and end up +7 after being all-in and behind with my short stack. The family has not seen the City Center yet and their buffet is great so we head over there via Bellagio/tram and time it so as to arrive at 10:45 to get the $15 breakfast price and by 11, they have out the king crab legs and I’ve saved $40. Total cost $70. After lunch, we walk around the CC for only a few minutes as there really isn’t much to see and nobody is impressed. I walked by the poker room and it was DARK at 11:30AM – not good. We head across the street and do the PH Miracle Mile and then the wife/kids go down to Coke/M&M World while I head back to the room to rest for a bit. We do the pool again this afternoon and finally make it to In & Out for dinner. Good as always for $17. The wife wants to gamble at Flamingo (our favorite spot) so we head over there later on. I lose $100 on the craps table and then she hits a 3 card straight flush in LIR for a quick $200. We give most of that profit back (well I do – not hitting anything). We play some Miss Stud and lose a couple hundo. On the last hand, I toss out a $25 and end up with two pair for a quick $400 turnaround. We end a 2 hour gambling session up about $120. She heads off for bed and I find Zippy Boy back at Bally’s for a second night – he is already up some huge amount ($700?). I think he may have found a new home. I’ve been drinking a lot since the pool and decide it would be best to stay away from the poker tables so I make the rounds at Paris and lose every game I play. Off to bed with only $100 left for the envelope.

Day 4 / Totals
Poker +7 / +880
Table games/slots -400 / +1435
Food -87 / -328
Entertainment -20 / -50
Put in envelope 100 / 3,800

Today is moving day down to the Palazzo. We get checked out of the room about 10:30 and head downtown to see Pawn Stars. My kids get a picture with Chumlee – nice! We then head over to Pop’s for Cheesesteaks, fried green beans, cheese fries and tasty cakes. Total cost (with BOGO coupon) was $27. Great food and nice weather to eat outside. Not sure how nice it would be in August though. I drop the family off at the Fashion Show Mall while I check into the room. I immediately head down to the poker room and it is SLAMMED at 1PM on a Wed – WTF? I get on lists for $8/16 limit and $2/5NL and never get called by the time the wife/kids are ready to go to the room. I’ve always wanted to play in a slot tournament and it just so happens that there is one going on at Harrah’s while I’m in town so I signed up for that. There were two 10 minute sessions on Tues and the final session was today. I won’t go into great detail, but it was mindless fun and the people-watching was first rate. I finished in 119th out of 1,026 and got $170 in free slot play for my efforts. We hit the Palazzo pool and then have the $9.95 steak/shrimp dinner at Harrah’s café. Always a solid choice. Total bill was $50. After dinner, the wife took the kids back to the room while I played some LIR because we had free tickets to Rita Rudner at Harrah’s at 8:30. We had great seats (small venue so they are probably all good). It was a solid show – about 1.5 hours. I don’t know what the face value of the tickets were, but assuming they are under $50, I would recommend it if you like stand up comedy. Afterwards we used the free slot play and drank some more. Turned the $170 in free play into $265 then promptly lost $200 of our profits at the craps table. Too tired to play poker so I call it a night.

Day 5 / Totals
Poker +0 / +880
Table games/slots +65 / +1500
Food -77 / -405
Entertainment -20 / -50
Put in envelope 500 / 4,300

I had literally run into an old fraternity brother of mine Wed evening and as Florida alums, we agreed to meet up and watch the game. As luck would have it, it was the very first game of the tourney and tipped off at 9:20AM. We hustled to the Palazzo SB and got a few small bets in plus $100 on UF +5.5 and then met at Blondie’s in the back of PH. Had a nice visit and drank a ton – and was still drunk from the night before. The Gators blew it twice and ended up not covering and lost my other two games for a 0-3 record and a $154 hit to the bankroll and a $50 bar tab. We take the kids to the V food court for a $40 lunch tab. We take a quick dip in the pool and then they decide they would rather go to the Titanic exhibit at Luxor than Circus Circus…I guess they are growing up a bit. The wife scores us half price tixs at the Fashion Show mall and after taxes/fees we get 4 for $70 so it was about the same as 3 arm bands at Adventuredome. It was a fairly tame exhibit, but the kids seemed to enjoy it. They have a large piece of coal from the ship for sale for $500K. She noted that they have ½ price buffet tickets for Paris if anybody is interested – seemed like a good deal to me. Dinner is the Grand Lux, one of our favorites. What we always do is order 3 entrees and 1 or 2 desserts since everything is so big. We go with the Margerita pizza, lasagna and Short Rib SJ and the donuts for dessert. Total bill was $55. By this time, I am so exhausted I can’t see straight. We go up to the room and do some packing and then head back down only to burn through our $50 in free play, which we turn into $75. At some point during the day, I had donked off my remaining $350 gambling budget for the day on craps, BJ and LIR.

Day 6 / Totals
Poker +0 / +880
Table games/slots -425 / +1075
Food -95 / -500
Entertainment -120 / -170
Put in envelope 0 / 4,300

Friday morning we loaded up the car and headed for home. The drive home sucked as usual, but we made it. It was 7 degrees when we got gome….arrggghhhh.
So there you have it. A rather detailed blow-by-blow description of what a ‘typical’ family trip looks like for us in Vegas. We certainly don’t go at it 24/7 but my kids really have a great time just hanging out in the fancy hotels. We don’t do anything super-fancy food wise – some people will drop $500 on one meal and that is what we spent all week. I took $500 of our winnings to cover the rental car, put $3,500 back in my poker roll and so when it was all said and done, there was a sweet $300 profit that I put in savings. Very successful family vacation. I wish I had played more poker, especially limit but I was so pleased to have a guaranteed win, I more or less packed it in by Wed.

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  1. Sounds like fun! Thanks for the report.

  2. awesome report JJ! good mix of some poker, other gambling and family stuff.... I go with my family (wife and 8 year old now) to Vegas a couple times a year for usually 4 day stints (Fri thru Mon) and they always love son and wife are addicted to the room service breakfasts :scream: gives me more incentive to go out and have a good poker run to pay for their shopping and room service costs lol. I do get one big solo annual trip during WSOP time(this year is june 6th thru june 15th, get to play in AVP too) :smile: and she lets me bring a sizeable bankroll, so I love her for that LOL

  3. Great TR, jj. Very thorough. It was good meeting you and look forward to the next trip! Ballys rocks!

  4. Thats the kinda TR im talking about, Budget Budget Budget. Hey its my middle name. Very cool that you had a chance to visit a Diner's Drive In's and Dives feature restaurant. I have a question, I want to hit up In and out Burger this coming trip. Can you tell me how far it is from the strip? and from Orleans? Can I walk to it? or should I cab? (no rental car)

    and again great report, I still don't understand how ppl can make so much money playing a session of 1/2 NL, even on an amazing night I'm lucky to get up $150, which rarely happens, I play crazy tight and am constantly cold decked.

  5. I would say its a pretty long walk from In n Out from the Orleans...In n Out is right off the I-15\Tropicana exit and the Orleans is a couple miles up the road on Trop from there...

  6. @McGoo

    It's not really 'Budget', we all feel like we do alot and eat good - it is more about being smart about it.

    We comment every time about the number of cabs taking people to I&O. It is a doable walk from NYNY and the Orleans, but very long either way.

    And don't take this the wrong way, but I don't understand how people make less than $150 in a session of 1/'ve got to learn the players, play ATC and get your money in good. A great example was the 7-5 vs QQ on HSP last week. I've busted many a player with these types of hands if they let me see a cheap flop like Hansen did.

  7. @zippyboy

    I am having visions of you spending day after day there and getting a big cardboard box to put your cash in...keep me posted on how it goes there (and when you get your Diamond card).

  8. I ended up taking about $2500 off the tables last week, and it all started Monday night with you, man! Platinum status is within sights!

  9. @zippyboy

    Nice! If you put in the time/effort, I believe you could do that every week there...maybe not quite that much, but close. I had good success in the AM before/during aces cracked because you are up against a whole lineup of conference-goers so you may want to give that a try too.

  10. Nice report, and congratulations on a successful trip! Absolutely love how you managed family and a Vegas adventure!!! I play at GG in Blackhawk quite a bit....curious if we may know each other! I'm sure you know Jamal.....

    Heading out for the WSOP June 3 through June 10.....goodluck "up the hill"!

    Jon Armstrong, Milehighpoker

  11. @danisdad

    Glad you enjoyed the report. I've actually never played at GG - just the Gilpin, Lodge and Ameristar. And I don't think I know Jamal.

  12. Great trip report. My oldest is 13 and I have been trying to get my wife and kids to do a family vaca to go....but your report gives me hope.

    I get to go 3-4 times a year so I shouldn't complain...but it would be nice. :wink:

  13. @RightNow

    Try this line - and it is the truth:

    Honey, if we go to Disney, it will cost us at least $2,500. But if we go to Vegas, we can also have a great vacation and actually have a chance to win money. AND, if we win, we'll still have the $2,500 left to do something else fun or you can buy that thing you always wanted.

  14. Great Report, EVEN BETTER RESULTS!!!!! NICE

  15. Great trip report - perfect amount of detail !

    Love the "envelopes of responsibility"

  16. Great Report...I have ate at the 4 kegs, but it was before I really started reviewing places, I'll try and get over to that place and try it again as I too am a fan of Triple D!!!

    I have always thought people were idiots for bringing kids to vegas, but it seems like you have a good set-up, I didn't see a thing about the kids standing there while you played a slot machine or waiting in the lobby while you got a tattoo!!!

  17. 4 Kegs

    276 N Jones
    (just N of I95)
    (702) 870-0255

    It's actually just around the corner from Pop's.

  18. Any menu items that you suggest over others at 4Kegs jj?

  19. @carrera993

    The stromboli is a must, but I thought what we ordered was perfect (if you are in to sharing family style)

    Chef salad
    Medium cheese pizza (excellent also)
    Original stromboli - large

    This easily fed the 4 of us with some leftover. If you have 4 adults, an upgrade to a large pizza should to it. I saw other people's food and it all looked very good.

  20. Great report!! I am doing the family trip too in July for a week (11-18). Kids a bit younger 8,7 but still should be good times!! I need to hook up for some poker with other members. I like Bally's too. Always an easy mark.

  21. Great TR jj, but stay off the ... oh wait, wrong poster.

    +1 on Stromboli being the got to item at the 4Kegs.

  22. Always enjoy your reports!

    The EOR is a great idea....I might try it...maybe. It would probably end in divorce cause by day 2.5 I would be like " GIVE ME THE M_FING EOR BITCH!" :imp:

    I'm also a big fan of Triple D! I don't see how Guy doesn't weigh 400 pounds.

  23. Great report! We visited the 4 kegs too because of the show and were not dissappointed at all. The stromboli was good. I am looking forward to my kids being older and being able to visit the pool by themselves. My wife and I take turns seeing the city while the other watches the kiddos. I think I might use your envelope strategy too since it sure seems I don't keep track of the wins and losses well and always seem to come back "Even".

  24. One of the main attractions in Las Vegas children, especially if you plan to stay in the Gaza Strip, are the theme parks. Topping the list is the Adventuredome theme park at Circus Circus Hotel & Casino. It is a mad rush that will highlight the spirit of adventure among children and children at heart. Do not miss attractions such as the Canyon Blaster, runner ass, Sling Shot, Chaos, Inverter, Lazer Blast, and SpongeBob SquarePants 4-D Ride. There is also a free clown if you want to relax and get to laugh. Thrill rides in the stratosphere is another stop you should include in its family of Las Vegas. Their children only to scream for more when the experience Big Shot, X Scream and madness, the Carousel. Imagine being driven 27 feet on the edge of the tower.

    sandiego resort rentals

  25. @Rosalie11

    Thanks! I'll remember that the next time I'm visiting the Gaza Strip with my 6 year old. :unamused:

  26. Nice report JJ! I use the "envelopes" system too while in Vegas... definitely helps hey! Only way I managed to come away up over 1k last trip... would have just blown it all otherwise! I'll have to try Bally's next time :smile: Glad you enjoyed yourself! Now I'm JONESIN' for a trip!

  27. Great trip report! I also used the envelope system on my last trip, but unfortunately by the end of the second day, when the two strippers showed up to my room for an hour, all but one of my week's worth of envelopes were gone :disappointed:

  28. @Godzilla

    It didn't happen unless you post pics...