Date of Trip: December 12, 2004 to December 17, 2004
Hotel Stayed At: Las Vegas Club / Stardust
Report by: Leonard <> From: Hagerstown, Maryland
I learned so much from other people’s reports that I thought I would write one of my own. A little background information:
1) Fifth trip to Vegas (1986, 1996, 1997, 2002). First solo trip.
2) This was not my first trip to Vegas but the first where I felt “in the know”.
3) Joined LVA for coupons and also had ACG.
4) 34 years old, recent law school grad, some call me cheap – I prefer frugal!
5) This trip was pure vacation for me but I had two challenges. First, I wanted to see how inexpensive a trip to Vegas could be WITHOUT having any upfront comps. Second, I wanted to establish myself at a few casinos to hopefully get marketing offers.
6) I will try to be brief but in keeping with the purposes of this trip will have daily financial recaps including an approximate comp value added of free/cheap items.
7) “Drink” = Kettle 1 and 7-up or Absolute and 7-up.
8) Tips to dealers when playing table games and poker are not included in separate tip calculations but are included as part of the game unless specifically noted when I won big.
Here it goes --
Arrival day -
Arrive from IAD (Dulles – Washington DC) no problems but could not sleep. Plane half full. (Cost = $225.00). Got a shuttle to Imperial Palace from BellTrans (Cost = $4.75 + $2 tip) and dropped my bags at the bell desk ($2 tip).
Ate at coffee shop on third floor, prime rib sandwitch late night special and coffee. It was suprisingly good (or after all the bad comments I have heard I just thought it was good!) (Cost = $8 + $2 tip).
Played poker at the IP poker room. The room is on the third floor and has really nice big tables so you do not feel crowded. Played 2/4 TH for three hours. Down $33 but got $9 back in comps. I also had 7 drinks in those three hours and tipped $7. Got a few of the complimentary cookies and a big cup of coffee (they have flavored coffee!) and took a walk around the IP to see if I wanted to stay there in the future.
Made $20 donation to the slots – I only play $1 double diamond varieties and really don’t like playing them. I much prefer poker and blackjack. However, as part of this trip was to get offers for later when my wife may be with me (and she does play slots) I decided to play some at the properties I was trying to get offers from. Also, I only play the double diamond slots where the jackpot it 800/1600 so there is no reason to bet max coin. All further mentions of slots you can assume the same game denomination.
Next I made my way downtown on the 301 CAT bus. (Cost = $2) It was interesting to see all the casino workers on the bus and other locals. I didn’t get the feeling they liked seeing a tourist on “their bus” but maybe that was just me.
RECAP OF ARRIVAL DAY
Gambling $-53 (-$33 poker , -$20 slots)
Food / incidentals $-8
Transportation/room $-232 ($225 flight, $2 bus, $5 shuttle)
Comps/coupons $+36) (7 drinks @ $3 per drink, $9 poker comp)
TOTAL TRIP “COST” = $270
Go to El Cortez to get the funbook w/coupon from LVAor ACG with the breakfast coupon in it. Had a basic breakfast (2 eggs, 2 pieces of bacon, hash browns, toast, coffee). They had sourdough toast that was very good. The décor was basic 1967 truck stop and the clientelle was “interesting”. Great people watching opperatunities at the EC. Total for breakfast was $.48 – yes 48 cents + $2 tip.
Check in to my room at LVC around 9am. I slip the girl a $10 bill but a little late as she already had me in a south tower room. I used the LVA 2 nights for $30 coupon and my total was $33. At checkout the clerk took off the room safe charge without me asking. Room was as others described – worn but clean. The bathroom is really small. Cleaned up a bit but could not sleep so went over to the Plaza to use a coupon I got from checking in for the daily slot tournament – lost. Get Pleasure Pack from LVA coupon and another one for getting a slot card. The LVA one is different and better. Free breakfast and better matchplays (MP).
Checked out the poker room. Big and open with a lot of jackpot bonuses. They were having $35 single table no limit T/H tournaments with the winner getting a $220 buy-in to the noon limit hold’um tournament +$30. I won my table ($10 tip to dealer) and should have sold my seat as the noon tournament started 5 minutes later and I was tired. But of course I didn’t – saw that the 1st place payout was going to be 6K+ and talked myself into it.
My first over $200 buy-in tournament was a disaster. It is not that I played badly for my skill level it was just that my skill level is well below that of the competition. Anyway, went in 4 times with AK offsuit and couldn’t pair up. Only “win” was when I was in the SB and had pocket 3’s that held up as nobody bet out. Got 4 drinks during the tournament for $4 in tips. Didn’t even make it to the first break. Used another of my check-in coupons for 2 free drinks ($2 tip) to drown my sorrows into.
Went back across the street to LVC and finally went to sleep at 2PM – I had been up 35+ hours and was dead tired so I was out as soon as I put my head down.
Got up at 6PM and walked over to Golden Gate for dinner. Got 2 specialty sandwhiches (pastrami and italian I think) and a Pepsi for $7 with coupon + $2 tip. Also got the free deck of cards with coupon.
Back to LVC for two more free drinks (check in coupon) $2 tip.
Went to checkout the Lady Luck via Ogden. What an experience. Only hit up for money twice but was offered any number of other vices for sale. Thinking that gambling and drinking were enough vices for me I kept on walking. Played in the slot tounament for $5 with coupon – got a tee shirt, cards and a mug total. Put a $20 into a slot take $40 out + 1 drink - $1 tip.
Go back to LVC via Fremont Street (safe) and drop off my free loot from LL.
Around 10PM I went to play blackjack at the Plaza. Had a good run and ended up $150 even though I lost on both MP’s.
Back to LVC to make a quick $50 slot donation and turned around and came back to the Plaza. Lost $43 playing 2/4 HE for 3 hours. 4 drinks w/$4 tips. Lost $20 to a slot on the way out of the Plaza then hit the hay at around 4:30 AM.
RECAP OF DAY 2
Gambling $+47 (-$48 poker , -$55 slots, + $150 BJ)
Food / incidentals $-8
Transportation/room $-33 ($33 room at LVC)
Comps/coupons $+85 (11 drinks, $10 food, $5 shirt, $33 from room)
TOTAL DAY “COST” = (+65)
RECAP OF TRIP SO FAR
Food / incidentals $-16
TOTAL TRIP “COST” SO FAR = $205
Up at 10AM and head over to the Plaza for the free chop/chop breakfast buffet w/coupon from LVA pleasure pack. $2 tip. Food was edible and you can’t really mess up breakfast. They did have waffles with strawberries and whipped cream that were good.
Today was my day to see some shows so I went to El Cortez via Lady Luck. At LL I played a $5 MP and won, then lost $10 in a slot. Got to EC and handed over the $3.95 porterhouse steak and movie deal coupon. They give you one voucher for the meal and another for the movie so you could do them on separate days if you want. Played a $5 MP and lost. Decided to put some play on my Jackie’s card as I have heard they give out free rooms all the time. Lost $70 on slots to get 500 points and a free coffee thermos. I know all about not chasing comps and was probably guilty of chasing here but hopefully the offers will make up for it. Got one drink while playing ($1 tip).
Went to see Oceans 12 at Neonopolis. Movie was OK – not as good as the first. There were about 10 of us in the theater.
Next I went to the Plaza for their afternoon shows. $19 total with tax for both shows and 4 drinks - $4 tips. Shows were Stars of the Strip – a musical variety act and – Larry G. Jones, an impressionist and singer. Both were a great was to do something different and sit for a while. I will probably take my wife if we go downtown. I know her parents would love it as they are 60ish.
Back down the street to EC for that prime rib dinner that came with the movie ticket. It was OK. $4 and $2 tip.
Back to LVC to play a little BJ. Up $53 after 2 hours with only 1 drink. The pit had to call to the bar to get us some service. Still tipped $1. Dropped $20 into a slot and cashed out $30.
Then went to Golden Gate for a late night shrimp cocktail. It was GOOD. I will have to get those more often.
Went to bed early tonight as I was moving in the morning.
RECAP OF DAY 3
Gambling $+13 (+$63 BJ, -$50 slots)
Food / incidentals $-23
Comps/coupons $+21 (1 drink, $11 food, movie)
TOTAL DAY “COST” = (+1)
RECAP OF TRIP SO FAR
Food / incidentals $-39
TOTAL TRIP “COST” SO FAR = $204
Up at 9AM and over to Plaza Diner. I had the basic 2 egg, bacon, hash browns and coffee. It was about Denny’s quality. Total was $8 +$2 tip but I had a $5 off comp from the poker tournament from the other day.
Made the rounds at the casinos I played at downtown to check for cashback or comps – nada! I guess you can be too low of a low roller! I can hope for offers though.
Play 2 MP’s at Lady Luck and win another $10 total ($1 tip to dealer). Get some cigs ($4) before heading to the strip. I only smoke in Vegas but even then I cannot spend $8 a pack like they want at the Bellagio.
Check out of LVC and catch the 301 CAT bus to the Stardust. I got a great deal by using the LVA free night coupon and an email offer for the second night @ $25. I originally had the second night at casino rate ($47) and they let me change it no problem. Slip the clerk a $10 bill and ask if I can get something nice. He puts me in a regular room but high up with a great view. When I say regular room I don’t mean it was basic. It was very nice with high quality finishes and linens. I really liked the robe and slippers, coffee pot in the room, and bath products – to take home for the wife! Room was 13133 – west tower, south facing, 2 beds, smoking. Only thing that seemed a little cheap was the 25” TV in a slot for a 32”+.
Cleaned up and went to New Frontier. Played MP and lost. Played slots - $10, 1 drink, $1 tip. Got some cards and a plate for signing up for a card and playing $100 through the slots.
Drop off loot at the room then head out for the night. First stop is Fashion Show mall for pizza at Sabarro (sp?) with a 241 coupon I got on the internet. $6 total. Good pizza and I couldn’t finish it all.
Stopped at IP for the slop promotion they sent me - $50 in free play. Lost that quick. Played 2 MP’s and won $10 total ($1 tip). Left there for Casino Royale.
If you have not played at the CR before they have a great sign-up promotion. First you get $50 in free slot play (lost). Then you get a coupon sheet that has good bonuses. It took me 30 minutes to hit a quarter Wheel of Fortune slot for 40 coins in the bonus round for an extra $10. Too bad I didn’t cash out the $42 I still had on the machine because I was waiting for a drink ($1 tip). By the time the waitress came back I had busted out. Next I moved to Bonus Video Poker. CR will give you an extra $25 if you hit 4of a kind at a quarter or higher machine. Took about 2 hours to hit that (4 fours). Cashed out +$60 total. Also got two 99 cent margaritas + $1 tip. My last coupon I wanted to play was a 2 for 1 blackjack. I told myself I would play till I hit that and leave the next hand I lost. Well it took me about 2 hours to hit a blackjack and it hit when I had $15 out. Ended up coloring up +140. CR was VERY good to me! One last note – if you want to get smashed quickly the drink service at the tables is superb at the CR. 10 drinks in 2 hours ($10 I tips).
Stumbled back over to IP for more blackjack – lost $43 in 10 minutes. 1 drink for $1 tip. Up to poker room and lost $49 in 2 hours. Got 6 more drinks ($6 in tips) At this point I am totally plastered but can’t get myself away from the tables. The IP has a midnight madness NLHE tournament on Wednesdays. I bought in but started drinking coffee. By the end of the first hour I was starting to sober up but had re-bought in a couple of times so I had $105 in the tournament. One poker celebrity was playing, Gavin Griffen, winner of the 3K pot-limit WSOP this year. He was there with his girlfriend who is a good poker player herself. I got real lucky and busted both Gavin and his girlfriend out of the tournament. (what was even worse was she busted out in 8th – only top 6 got paid) Talked with both of them for about 5 minutes. Really nice people and have other interests besides poker. That can’t be said for another “professional” that was playing. He was a real jerk and when he found out who Gavin was he was licking his boots. It was sad in a way. Anyway, I finished 5th, my first in the money tournament $181 payout with $10 tip to the dealer. The jerk ended up winning about $975.
Walked back to the Stardust and was in bed around 4AM.
RECAP OF DAY 4
Gambling $+228 (+$28 poker , +$40 slots, + $160 BJ)
Food / incidentals $-11
Transportation/room $-30 ($2 bus ride, $28 room at Stardust)
Comps/coupons $+119 (20 drinks, $2 card/plate , $57 from room)
TOTAL DAY “COST” = ($-262)
RECAP OF TRIP SO FAR
Food / incidentals $-50
TOTAL TRIP “COST” SO FAR = (-$58)
The plan for this day was to do a north strip coupon run. Up at 11AM and had coffee in the room. First stop was Slots-of-Fun. Hit them for +$20 on slots and a deck of cards. Then to Circus Circus for the win cards and a MP. Ended up loosing $9 somehow playing blackjack. Ran out of there and went up to the Strat. Hit them for +$25 on BJ using 2 MP’s. 4 drinks and $4 tips.
Next I went to Sahara for a $40 buy-in gets you $50 in chips coupon. I played for about 45 minutes on the fake chips before busting them out. Up another $145 in BJ. Tip the dealer an extra $5. I begin to think maybe I should switch from poker to blackjack as I am doing so well – this should have been an omen! Drop $20 in a slot on my way out the door to the Hilton. Also got 2 drinks w/$2 tips).
At the Hilton is where things start to go bad for me. Sign up for a card and do the Supernova – get a keychain. Play BJ – lost $100 in 30 minutes. Play slots, down $20 in 20 minutes. I hightail it out of there after 2 drinks ($2 tip) and head on over to the Ho for a famous HO DOG and 99 cent margarita! Damn that thing is big and nasty! I ate about 2/3 of it and surrendered. The margarita was good but had maybe 3 drops of tequilla. Stop off at room about 20 minutes later and am already feeling the “effects” of the HO DOG.
Back out and down to IP for 7PM poker tournament. Get spanked for $80 total. Made stupid decisions. 4 drinks ($4 tips).
I go back “home” to the dust with my tail between my legs. Sit down at the poker tables and loose another $100 playing in the local 3/6 shark tank. Even though I have lost $300+ in about 8 hours I decide since I want to be invited back to the Stardust I should start playing a few slots to put some points on the card. Again, I know about not chasing comps but my wife will play slots when she comes and I understand they like slot players (losers) better. I work my way to 200 points ($1000 coin in) and lose $66. Then Get $5 cash back and free coffee shop ($9) for my slot play, $2 tip. Coffee shop was good – again Denny’s quality. Only got two drinks in about three hours of slot play. Still tipped $3.
RECAP OF DAY 5
Gambling $-205 (-$180 poker , -$86 slots, + $61 BJ)
Food / incidentals $-5
Transportation/room $0 ($2 bus ride, $28 room at Stardust)
Comps/coupons $+52 (13 drinks, $9 coffee shop, 5CB, cards)
TOTAL DAY “COST” = $163
RECAP OF TRIP SO FAR
Food / incidentals $-55
TOTAL TRIP “COST” SO FAR = $115
After the spanking I got the day before I decided to take it easy my last day. My flight didn’t leave till 10PM so I decided to go on another coupon run. Checked out of my room at the Dust. Check out was great and a slot host gave me her card and said to call her when I was coming back into town. Hopefully that means she will get me a good rate or possibly comped in advance. Leave my bag at the bell desk storage for $1 tip.
First stop today was Aladin for the $10 free play with $20 buy in coupon. Up $20 and on my way to the Westin. $10 free slot play again, but net $0. Over to Terribles. I like this place. Full of locals but everyone is nice and the décor is soothing. I was also neat to see somebody play VP so fast. They obviously were “at work” so I didn’t want to bother them but I could not believe how fast they could do it. Played a $10 MP on roulette – just for a change- and won. Put another $5 on odd and that hit as well. Lost $5 on slots and left up a total of $15 + 1 drink $1 tip + hat and cards.
Next stop was Hard Rock. I know some people like this place and it was interesting to see some of the memoriabilia but these people are stuck up as all get out. Players and staff. If you are going to have coupons you should expect they will be used and not treat people like crap that do. And this piss-ant LA kid PLAYING $5 AT A $5 TABLE wants to give me crap for playing a $10 MP coupon. Whenever I sit at a table I always wait till the shuffle as I don’t want to mess up whatever “system” someone has and I did that this time. Lost the MP, got up and left. I wanted to pull out my bar card and tell him to stick his remarks where the sun does not shine but I thought better of it, smiled and walked out. I don’t think I will be going back to the hard rock.
Walked back toward the strip, stopping at Ellis Island. I was going to eat the special here but just got a bad vibe from the place. Left without going anything. On second thought I was probably still fuming about the Hard Rock but I decided then and there that the coupon run was over and I would just go have dinner off comp points at the IP and maybe play some poker for a few hours.
Made a quick stop at the Barbary Coast for a free drink with coupon ($1 tip) and got to the IP around 4PM. Had one last $5 MP to play so I bought in for $100 at BJ and ended up +$10 after about an hour. Went to get dinner at the café. Had the ½ pound IP burger. It was actually pretty good. I didn’t think the IP was as bad as everyone reports it is, although I don’t have the same frame of reference as those staying at CP, the Venetian, Bellagio etc. After dinner I played poker for 3 hours at the 2/4 table. Down $10 and 2 drinks ($2 tip).
Walked on back to the Dust, got my bag and a taxi to the airport ($1 to bellman, $15 total to the driver). Plane took off on time and made it back to 22 degree weather on time.
RECAP OF DAY 5
Gambling $+30 (-$10 poker , +$15 slots, + $10 BJ, + 15 roulette)
Food / incidentals $-0
Transportation/room $-12 ($12 cab to LAS)
Comps/coupons $+17 (4 drinks, hat + cards_
TOTAL DAY “COST” = ($-28)
RECAP OF TOTAL TRIP
Food / incidentals $-55
TOTAL TRIP “COST” = $89
I still think Vegas is a bargin vacation spot. If you want to look at the above numbers you will see I did a lot of gambling, shows, eating, drinking etc and att for $89 including airfare and hotel. I met the self imposed challenge, had a great time, and plan on returning. If I would have had a car I could have saved even more money and eaten better at off strip casinos. Didn’t even get to use the Palms $50 all purpose comp. It also amazed me that I had 70 drinks in 5 days! I still like poker the best but think I may study blackjack a little more. After thinking about what went wrong playing poker I think it was that I was playing a too low a limit. It was really hard to push someone out of a pot at 2/4. 6-7 callers every hand and straights and flushes won about ½ the time. Between that and the rake it is almost impossible to win at low limit without pure luck. Will try a higher limit next time.
Thanks to everybody at the Las Vegas Advisor, Las Vegas Talk, and Cheapo Vegas for all the tips to let me have a great trip.