Hmmm, where to start? Well, Vegas is far and away my favorite trip destination, and until now has been a guys-only affair. My usual group of buddies enjoy planning a trip surrounding a different event each year; NCAA tourney one year, random NFL weekend another, random conferences or work trips that can give us an excuse to go, and various bachelor parties along the way. Moving along...my wife (TW, for "the wife" moving forward) is a huge Bon Jovi fan (and I can admit they put on a good show), so when their new Circle Tour was announced she thought it would be fun to travel to see them rather than wait until they came to the midwest. Who am I to argue? So a few months ago the plans were cemented to come to Vegas March 4-7. Warning, this trip report may be on the long side and will have minimal poker content. And the minimal content it does have is not interesting. Although in my world uninteresting poker talk is better than no poker talk.
So Thursday night we arrive on Air Tran from Milwaukee. Even though I waited too long to book and spent $320 per ticket, Air Tran has always been pretty solid. Seats are on the tighter side, but getting to Vegas in one piece and on time has to be worth something, right? I himmed and hawed for a month or so on where to stay. I don't go cheap, but my bankroll doesn't exactly allow for Bellagio or the Wynn. I intially booked a $99 offer for three weekend nights at the Trump, but decided it was too far off the beaten path for TW's first trip. I usually get decent Harrahs offers so I decided to switch over to Paris, which from the reviews I've seen would be nice enough to give her a comfortable stay and not really be too high end. Ultimately I'm glad I made the switch, I am extremely happy with the comfort and atmosphere at Paris. I upgraded to a Red Room (they probably scammed my by telling me they were out of King rooms even though I booked a couple months prior) for $45 additional, but I think it was worth it. The large flat screen TV in the room was nice, even though I think we watched a total of 30 minutes of TV! And the bed and bathroom was very nice, which were the two highest priorities of TW. Enough about that I guess.
Bummed around that part of the strip for a bit after we checked in, but since we're still on Central time and normally deal with five and one year olds at home we pretty much were ready to turn in early. Actually that's partially a lie, I pride myself on only needing a couple hours sleep in any given 24-hour stretch while I'm in Vegas, but I didn't feel it was appropriate to head out while she hit the pillow our first night. So getting some nice beauty sleep was on the agenda for the first night.
Since TW is on a strict gluten and nut-free diet, we knew dining was going to be a bit challenging. She found what appeared to be a nice-looking restaurant for breakfast called the Cracked Egg on Rainbow Blvd. So we decided to cab it Friday morning. This actually was a great breakfast, but the round trip $50 cab fare turned out to be a mistake, as the Ile de St. Louis diner at Paris ultimately was able to accomodate her dietary needs and was a fantastic breakfast for us Saturday and Sunday - minus the $50 cab rides! Live and learn, I guess...
After having the cabbie drop us at Mandalay, we bummed the south end of the strip and ended up at Bellagio. By the time we checked out the flowers and a few of the shops there it was time for a little snack at my favorite place to eat in all of Vegas - Snacks near the poker room. Unfortunately TW couldn't eat anything there, but my cup of clam chowder hit the spot. I ended up bumming the Bellagio poker room twice on this trip, the other being late Saturday night, and was surprised there was no action in Bobby's Room. Everyone was in town for the NBC Heads Up, I thought for sure Bellagio would be hopping. Oh well, no big deal.
After Bellagio TW decided she wanted a nap and didn't mind if I bummed a bit and maybe got a couple hours poker in. So I checked out Caesars to see what was going on with the Heads-Up. It was a little disappointing as there wasn't much to see other than how the production was set up. I did see Moneymaker playing at a 1-3 table while waiting to play his match. I watched for about 10 minutes and I think he raised every hand, so he must have just been having some fun. After this I headed to Bally's for a couple reasons. I've read on this site that it can be a highly profitable room for 1-2 players, and it was the closest to Paris. Unfortunately I played for two hours and ended up about $150 down. I won a couple decent pots right off the bat with aggressive play with marginal hands, but couldn't get anything going after that. I agree the room can be profitable, but it does require catching some cards at the right time to play back at some of the weak players who really were to the river on many hands with very marginal holdings. Not much I could do differently.
Other than the Bon Jovi concert, TW's highlight for the weekend was the Saturday-night reservation at Mesa Grill (Ceasars) I made a while back. She's a big Bobby Flay fan, and an even bigger Food Network fan. The place did not disappoint, even though it was a little on the pricey side, the meal was excellent. I'm thinking everyone's buddy Minton had recommended the spice-rubbed tenderloin, which is what I had with mashed potatoes. Man that was great and worth every penny. I figured the meal would have been more expensive, but ended up about $125 with tip. Showed TW the set of the NBC HU, then bummed the Forum Shops for a while and headed back. Not much else going on Saturday night, except for some people-watching, which is often pretty interesting.
Slept in Saturday, bummed around for a while (including hitting the Mirage and meeting LasVegasMichael, again it was nice to see you and shake your hand!) before booking TW a massage at the Paris Spa. Another block of time to head over to Bally's for some cards. This time I got another couple hours in and won ONE HAND. And that ONE HAND was the blinds when I raised with AA in the cutoff. Sweet! I'm really not a tight player! Even with a stack of $2-300 I was never in a position to challenge the others as I just never had anything or good position to play back at anyone. Most pots went to a showdown and I never even ultimately folded what would have amounted to a winner anyway. I'll run good some year. Another session down about $175. I did have a couple decent Blackjack sessions to almost even the poker losses out, but I would have rather had some good poker sessions.
Ate at PF Chang's before the concert Saturday night and was very happy with the meal. They're also a restaurant that happily caters to gluten and other allergen-free requirements. Then headed to MGM for Bon Jovi, who as usual put on a great show. Was not impressed with the opening act (Dashboard Confessional I think was their name?) They played decent music, but was way too long of a set while waiting for the main event. Still a good time hanging out though, even though a small bottle of water was $3.50.
The only other noteworthy thing is out of the previous 10 trips to Vegas I've never caught any rain. Well, walking back to Paris after the concert is was uncomfortably cold and rainy. And we had to walk slow as TW wore flip-flops that night and was slipping all over the place.
If you've gotten this far in the story, I appreciate you reading. This was not the greatest report for the AVP community, but any trip to Vegas is great in my book. Hope to be back soon, and get to throw some more poker chips around!