This was kind of an unscheduled trip. I’ve got 3 trips planned for July, so I had no intentions of going until then. Since work had been hell lately, Rachel was nice enough to give me a pass for the weekend. I prefer not going on holiday weekends, but since I was staying out in Henderson, I knew it wouldn’t be any different than any other non-holiday weekend.
In a nutshell, I stayed at Fiesta in Henderson, tripped around downtown for a while with some friends who were in town, ate, slept, and gambled. The primary objective of this trip was simply to get away and relax on my own terms… it’s called therapeutic escapism.
All in all, it was a good trip, and served its purpose to take care of my gambling jones.
jones (jOnz) n, vt. A habit of an activity, performed often to the point of excess. An addiction, esp. to drugs, sports, gambling, and other enjoyable acts. Borrowed from the cartoon “Fat-Albert” and the drug-ladened 60’s and 70’s.
PROFOUND REALIZATION - “The One Card Theory”.
While eating at MSS brew pub, I came to the profound realization that ONE SINGLE CARD can make or break a trip. A Royal(s) can do that, but other high-end payouts allow you to play longer for more opportunities to hit that Royal. A flip of the right or wrong card, one single card, can often make your trip positive or negative…. Ah, hell. We all know this.
FRIDAY (05/28/04) (day 1)
4:00am – Cram in some work, pack, and grab my bag-o-coupons & lap-top.
7:30am – Get the kids ready, feed them, and drop them off at day-care.
8:00am - Off to Vegas. No “movie of the day”. Too much work.
12:30pm – Arrive at Green Valley Ranch for some grub.
GVR has an excellent buffet. I am now 100% certain that it is the best out of all the Stations buffets. I used a 2/1 coupon (50% off for one) and used my Fiesta points (another -20% for macho), so it only cost me about 2k points or about 20 minutes of VP on a 5x day.
The main difference is that most of the food is not simply your typical dormitory/hometown buffet type food. They do have some basics, but mix it up well with unique dishes. They pan out the food more often (in smaller, fresher, quantities) and the food area is much cleaner.
Here’s an empirical summary of the sampled dishes:
(10/10 is perfecto, 7 = good, 5 = barely passing, 3 = not fit for human consumption)
1. Pork Egg Rolls (9)
2. Vegetable chow mein (8)
3. Sautéed eggplant (7.5)
4. BBQ pork (8)
5. Spicy chicken/hot wings (7)
6. Sautéed tofu (6)
7. Standard fried chicken (8.5)
8. Apple stuffing (8)
9. Tortellini with chicken (6, dry)
10. Sautéed spinach (7)
11. Fried ravioli with sage (6)
12. Beef brisket (8)
13. Linguini with white clam sauce (8)
14. Linguini with some kind of a vodka tomato sauce (6)
15. Linguini with pesto (8)
16. Bowl of menudo (7)
17. Chimichanga con guacamole y salsa verde (6)
18. Pasta penne con mushroom/artichoke/olive ragout (7)
19. Pasta penne con salsa Alfredo (8)
20. Meatballs (7)
21. Sautéed bok choy ((8)
22. Hand-scooped strawberry ice cream (9.5)
After that yummy meal, I was ready to play. Normally, it only takes maybe 5 minutes to get to the Fiesta from GVR, but with all of that damn construction on the 215, it took about 15 minutes. Checked in at the Fiesta Henderson, dropped off my bags, and hit the tables and machines. (start 236). Craps minimums went up from $1 to $3, but they kept the 10x odds. There is a $1 dollar game in the mornings, but it’s only 2x odds (booo!). With the exception of one sub-par roll, my cross-six set was working very well at SL1, but as usual, random rollers were killing me. Session didn’t go so well (-220). I was already dead tired and it was only 4pm, so I thought it would be a good idea to sleep for a while to get ready for the evening.
The nap helped a little, but not much. Over to my favorite slant-top deuces… what? Not there anymore? I hate changes, but they replaced them with MG/MD Optimum uprights, tons of them. No big deal. (-140).
Met up with my host for a while and she set me up with a bunch of goodies, as well as some light grub. Since it was approaching 9pm, I had to get moving.
1. Standard Fried Chicken (8)
2. Egg roll (6)
3. Chow mein (7)
4. Linguini w/ white clam sauce (7)
5. BBQ pork (8)
6. Hard shell taco (6)
7. Roast beef (6)
8. Pork ribs (6)
9. Double shrimp Mongolian w/ schezuan sauce (7)
10. Salmon in some kind of sauce (6)
11. Bread pudding topped with vanilla/chocolate swirl (7)
After a few more hours on the deuces (-40), I called it a night ~1:30am.
Up early for my 6:30am therapy session. This is my most favorite time in Vegas. No crowds, no worries, jammin’ to Tom Petty’s “I need to know”, and a whole day to look forward to. Hit deuces within the first 20 minutes of my session. Played for another 3 hours or so, and decided to lock up the winnings (+250). Good deal.
Time for some serious craps before the crowds come, but I was just too tired (-80). After an hour on the tables, I needed to get some rest, so I headed down to the pool to relax and catch some Z’s. Headed over to Baja Beach Café for some “Feel Good Soup” to tide me over until supper.
After that soup, I started getting tired again, so I went up to go to sleep again. Woke up and watched the Lakers game. Enough of that. Time, again, for some serious craps. It started out cold, but thanks to my 3V set at SR1, my rolls were good, and the entire table started to catch some good vibes. I was down ~$200, but after a few hours, I ended up on the good (+220).
Time for some buffet grub. My host offered a comp to the steak house, but I declined. When you’re by yourself just looking to input some calories, it’s kind of a waste. Plus, the tip on the comped steak dinner would probably cost more than the buffet if I paid for it myself. Call me cheap, but I’m just a buffet kind of guy.
1. Turkey Tetrazini (8.5)
2. Sausage (7)
3. BBQ pork (6)
4. Seafood salad (5)
5. BBQ chicken (6)
6. Spicy wings (7)
7. Roast beef (8)
8. Mahi Mahi (7, a bit dry)
9. Spicy white fish (7)
10. Marshmallow salad (3, I hate coconut)
Back to craps for a quick hit-n-run (+95). After a short session, I decided to slow things down and hit the deuces (-80).
This guy that was playing next to me was waiting for the 11pm bingo session. He said that I should try it. I’m thinking “…it’s cheap and it’s something to do”. So BINGO it was (but don’t tell anyone) (-7).
It only took one hour, so it really wasn’t too bad. This nice young couple from Minnesota showed me the ropes. I missed winning the final game by one freaking number!
Decided to end the day on the same deuces machine that I started on (+50). Out by 1am.
1. Hit the Plaza, eat the free 5 minute buffet and say hello to the buddies
2. Visit my friend at LVC, who just got transferred there and promoted to Shift Boss
3. Walk up and down Fremont Street to observe the conditions
4. Meet up with the Boston’s at MSS.
At THE PLAZA, the changes from the “Barrick Effect” are already showing up. The “Plaza Pleasure Pak” is now a “Merripack”, which includes a $25 MP, but excludes the free breakfast buffet. They replaced it with a $5 off coupon. The $2 cost of the buffet should keep out the riff-raffs. I used an expired “free” breakfast and they honored it. The $2 w/ 10x odds craps is now $5 with 3x4x5x odds. That sucks. (BJ +5)
The GOLDEN GATE craps table was closed and the casino was dead.
The GOLDEN NUGGET was hoppin’, with no new changes. It’s still a nice game at $5 w/ 6x8x10x.
The 4 QUEENS was $10 min in the morning on a dead table, but 10x is in tact.
FITZGERALDS still had $3 min w/ 10x odds. Nice game on a barge.
EL CORTEZ showed the biggest overall improvement out of all the downtown properties. They yanked out rows and rows of machines, and widened all the aisles. Single deck $3 BJ was packed. Craps min went up to $3, with 10x in tact. Smoke was NOT NEARLY as bad as it used to be. The toothless crowds were outnumbered by standard blue hairs. This might be the value play of all downtown. No Jackie in sight.
FREMONT was packed as usual. Why is their 2x craps table always packed?
BINION’S was totally, TOTALLY dead except for the suckers on that damn 6:5 game. Come on, get with the program. They pulled some machines, so the aisles were wider, but there are only 5 craps tables now.
The LAS VEGAS CLUB craps is now $5 min with 3x4x5x, but the max bets have gone up from 500 to 3000… yeah, whatever. The “Barrick Effect” is spreading, and I’m not sure I like what I’m seeing so far. Played their Loose Deuces for about an hour (-60).
Over to the CALIFORNIA. As with the Fremont, their 2x craps table is always packed, but the min here was a whopping $10!!! Played WOF (-20) and FPDW (-20) for a bit.
Over to MAIN STREET STATION. Immediately found Mr. “More Than a Feeling” Boston, losing his A$$ on the JOB slant-tops. Mrs. Boston was having trouble getting ready (watered down shampoo). We kicked it for a while and decided to eat at the brew pub. I was feeling kind of nauseous, so I didn’t eat.
Back to beautiful Henderson. Man, what a difference in ambiance and atmosphere. After a short nap, it was time for some gaming. Started off with my 3V at SR1 and ended the 2.5 hour session up a bit (+35). Over to the deuces. Last trip, VP held me up. This time, it was dragging me down. During this trip, I was dealt 4 to a royal at least a dozen times, but just couldn’t hit it. The “one short of a wild royal” was more frequent than normal. Just couldn’t get it going in the right direction (-160).
Dinner was late, so I got a comp for Baja Beach, and had some good sweet & sour pork and a Chocolate/Vanilla malt with extra malt and extra thick. Just like in that movie, "Pulp Fiction", the first thought that came to my mind was "@%#&$^&#^%@, that's a good shake!"
Up at 7. SSS, checked out, and hit the road by 7:30am.
Very little traffic. The best of Jim Rome’s sports-talk show was pretty entertaining.
Stopped and picked up some fruit at the grocery store and home by 12:00 noon.
MISC (Food, accommodations, tips, etc): -$16
GIFTS: 2 Digital clocks w/ temp display, 2 stuffed teddy bears for the kids, 2 fleece blankets, a seven piece screwdriver set, a set of crystal coasters, a 41 piece cordless screwdriver kit, a battery operated neck massager, and a pretty cool "nail keeper" manicure set.
NET LOSS: $108 (on paper)
My wallet shows -220... can't figure it out.
I didn't gamble much at all on this trip, but enough. After all, this trip wasn’t about gambling as much as it was about having a therapeutic escape. From that context, everything went well. These trips are becoming less and less about the money and more and more about having some fun and relaxing on my own terms. Vegas is always changing and evolving. Right around 9/11, there were bargains to be had everywhere, even on the strip. There are still a few good value-opportunities out there, but as long as people keep flocking to the rip-off games/casinos, the entire industry will eventually figure it out and kill more and more of the good stuff.