So we made a LEFT turn in Flagstaff...
As most of you know, I was moving from Phoenix to Nashville last week. My best buddy and Vegas enabler, Eddie B, volunteered to make the drive out with me and then fly back, as he's currently taking a month-long sabbatical from work.
Well, I spent Tuesday getting the U-Haul trailer and my truck loaded with all of my possessions, and taking care of all of the last minute errands I needed to run before moving cross-country. I finally finished packing everything late that night and crashed on the couch back at the 'frat-house' where I lived for the last year with Derek, Neil, Dave, Brian, and Jake the dog. As I was cleaning out my desk that day, I found a few old $1 and $5 chips from Binions that never managed to get cashed in at the cage on previous trips. I figured I'd give 'em to Eddie, as I doubted I'd make it to March Madness this year.
So, Eddie showed up at 5:00 am Wednesday morning, we got the last of the luggage packed and hit the road, heading north to Flagstaff. It was still dark and there wasn't much traffic out as we passed the turn-off for Highway 74 to Wickenburg. I jokingly mentioned that it's our last chance to go to Vegas instead of Nashville, and Eddie thought I was serious about going to Vegas. Unfortunately, we kept on driving and started to climb that steep hill to Flagstaff. Of course, after we started talking about Vegas, I told him I had a surprise for him, and I reached into my jacket pocket and pulled out all of the chips I'd found in my desk the day before. He told me it wouldn't be the same in Vegas without me next time around, and we spent the next hour or so of the drive talking about all of our past trips, reliving old stories, and wishing we were there again.
We finally made it to Flagstaff, and it was bitterly cold and windy outside. I was standing outside pumping the gas in a t-shirt and shorts while Eddie went to find a bathroom (My gas mileage got cut in half towing that trailer up to 7200 feet in altitude, so it was already time for a fill-up). As I was finishing up, Eddie came outside with a big grin on his face and a proposition for me. Giving me the 'Danny Ocean to Linus Caldwell' speech, he says that he'll pay for the gas and the hotel room if we want to take a couple of extra days and make a quick side trip to Vegas. "You're either in or you're out-right now". Of course, it took me about 30 seconds to consider the ramifications, but he reminded me that he was on sabbatical for a month and could change his plane ticket, and I of course had no particular place to be at any set time, so we traded some other movie lines, this time from 'Rounders'-- "Don't tease me..." and "Screw it, lets go play some cards", and with that, we were back on Interstate 40, heading west instead of east!
We giggled our way down the freeway, heading away from the rising sun, and wondering why we never built a side-trip to Vegas into our original plan. But hey, we all learned in college, the unplanned road trips are usually the best ones.
We stopped in Kingman to stretch our legs, get some caffeine, and top off the tank. As luck would have it, I still had the phone number to the Las Vegas Club in my cell phone, so I gave them a call. We asked for an MVP room in the North Tower for 2 nights, and got it for $49 per night. That was right at the top end of Eddie's hotel budget, so we told the nice lady that'd we'd be there in just a couple of hours.
The drive seemed a lot shorter from Kingman, but a lot of it had to do with taking the freeway the whole way. It was still very early on a Wednesday morning so there was absolutely no traffic in front of us as we started winding our way to Hoover Dam. We got to the security checkpoint, and they had us actually stop this time, wondering what was in the trailer, so I told the cops about my planned move and last minute side trip, and they got a chuckle out of it and wished me luck. I didn't even have to open the trailer.
After about a minute-and-a-half delay, we were on our way again. As we got to the dam, we started to wonder were we should park the truck once we got into town, because it was a pain to park with the trailer attached and I didn't want to make the valet deal with it. We decided just to leave it in the parking garage at Mandalay Bay, because the upper levels never seem to fill up.
It was about 10:30 Vegas time when we came over the hill and saw The Strip off in the distance. We took the Tropicana exit and were navigating the garage at Mandalay Bay just a few minutes later. We managed to find a good spot where we wouldn't have to back up to leave, and it was close to the elevators, too. I figured it was much more secure there than at any garage downtown, so it was worth leaving it there for a couple of days.
We unloaded our luggage and headed down the elevators and stepped into the rear of the casino. Of course, our senses were attacked at once. The sights of all the flashing lights, the unique tropical smell of the casino, along with the faint smell of a distant cigar, and the sound of coins falling into metal trays contributed to the sudden "We are now in Vegas" feeling that had suddenly overcome us. We wanted to walk straight on through and get a cab to take us downtown, but the stickman they had working the craps table saw us coming and managed to pull us into the game, luggage and all, much like the tractor beam in Star Wars. We were powerless. We tossed our bags under the table, and both bought in for $100. It was a $5 table with 3x4x5x odds.
The first shooter was good to us, as he immediately hit a few sevens and elevens before ever setting a point so I was up 20 bucks pretty quickly. He actually made a few quick points, the first one being a hard eight, which I tossed a chip on, so I quickly doubled my buy-in. Eddie got the dice next and hit a few numbers too, so the beginning of our trip was looking very profitable. Of course, the dice came to me next. I tossed 3 quick craps, set the point at 5, then immediately sevened out. A groan came from the table and we figured it was time to leave. I colored up for $270, left $10 for dealers, and we made our way to the cage to get our cash. Other than my sorry-assed roll, we were off to a great start.
We went outside to the cab line, and didn't have to wait at all. As the cabbie was putting our luggage in the trunk and asked where we were going, we could see him grin when we told him that we were going downtown to the Las Vegas Club. Apparently, not too many folks make the jump from Mandalay Bay to the LVC, and since he was loading our bags, he thought we were in for a little bit of a disappointment. We told him we'd been there many times before and were fully prepared for the change of pace. We didn't tell him that we'd just got to town less than an hour before.
A few minutes later, we got out at the Las Vegas Club, just ahead of 2 couples leaving their SUV with the valet. We paid our fare in a hurry to get into the registration line ahead of them, as they just looked like they're the type to take a long time.
There was no line so we walked up to the desk, while the clerk finished off some task on her computer. While Eddie and I were standing there, the two guys behind us-obviously excited to be in Vegas, started repeating movie lines from 'Vegas Vacation'. Unfortunately, they were butchering them so badly that even the registration clerk gave us a knowing "What the f?" look. We all stood there chuckling to ourselves as we started to check in, while the goofs behind us just kept talking loudly, and sounding really bad, too. So I told her my name was "Jilly from Philly" as I handed her my drivers' license.
Finally, all of the check-in process was completed, and she wrote our room number on our key envelope. As she handed it to Ed, she broke out with "You're in Lanai #6, Mr. Pappagiorgio". That got a laugh from both of us, along with the group in line behind us. We then made our way to the elevators and realized we were in the exact same room we had back in July. It was on the 9th floor, overlooking the California. That was a pretty darn good trip, so we considered it a good omen.
We were pretty excited because it was not even noon yet, we were both up over a hundred bucks each, we had our "old" room back, and we were on a spur-of-the-moment trip to Vegas. And none of our other buddies even knew we were there. Man, it was turning into a great day.
We spent a few minutes unpacking and getting the room organized, and of course we knew our first stop would be across the street at the Golden Gate. We hadn't eaten anything that day except for a Nutri-Grain bar about 6 hours earlier, so a French-dip, shrimp cocktail and a beer sounded like a great idea for lunch. There was a small line but it moved quickly. We got our food and sat down, enjoying the fact that once again we were in Las Vegas, and when we got up that morning, we had no idea that we'd be there. The food was great, as usual, but there was nobody playing the piano, so we just had the sounds of the casino providing the ambiance. We didn't linger, but I managed to eat the whole meal this time.
There was no discussion as where we'd head first, because of course we knew we'd be going to Binions Horseshoe. After a quick detour to the cigar vendor out on Fremont Street to pick up a couple of Partagas, we headed into my Second Home. I just stood there for a few minutes, taking it all in, trying to notice every detail-the low ceiling, the roses on the carpet, and the same old ladies carrying drinks. And of course, who can forget the unique smell-it's as memorable as grandma's cooking or that Victoria's Secret perfume that strippers wear all the time. I just stood there entranced by it all for a minute, before Eddie jostled me and said we should go play some blackjack. I was all for that, so we made our way to the back of the casino.
We sat down at an open $5 table and I bought in for $200. I was at first base, and Eddie sat at third. The dealer was a friendly older gent, who seemed happy to finally be pitching the cards instead of standing there waiting for someone to walk up. I thought I was off to a crummy start when I was dealt a twelve against a dealer eight. Eddie of course was dealt a blackjack, but things got better when my next card was a nine. The dealer ended up busting anyways, so it didn't matter. It just felt good to win the first hand. We played for a bit by ourselves, but then an older couple from Arkansas sat down across from us and slowed the game down. They couldn't add very fast, and had no idea about basic strategy. When the dealer was showing a six, I was standing on 18, Eddie was on 19, and the old guy had 2 sevens. We tried to tell him to split, but he insisted on hitting, and of course drew a third seven. The dealer pulled a four instead of busting, and took me and Eddie out. We decided it was time to leave the table at that point.
I wanted to go play some craps, while Eddie went to hit the video poker machines. I was up about $40 from the blackjack table, plus I still had my earlier winnings from Mandalay Bay, so I figured it was time to roll the bones. I walked up to the most open table, and the pit boss and a couple of the dealers welcomed me by name, so I was feeling like quite the high roller. I gave them my players' card, got $200 worth of chips, and took my place on the hook.
As the dealer was pushing my chips toward me, he left a $5 World Series of Poker commemorative chip on the pass line in front of me and said "There's Johnny Chan on the line for ya, Mikey", so I busted out with "Man, I just LOVED that guy in 'Rush Hour'!" The guy next to me was just taking a drink at the time and dang near choked on it while trying to keep from spitting it out and laughing.
The guy at the opposite end of the table had the dice, and it was very entertaining to watch him play. He had some wacky ritual where he'd tilt his head and circle the dice on the felt before he threw. The funny thing was that both of his eyes pointed in different directions like Marty Feldman (You know-the proctologist on Cannonball Run). Anyhow, he was quite animated, but we could never tell which way he was looking. The guy next to me said "He can stand on Wednesday and see both Sundays!" We got a lot of laughs, but not too much money out of his roll.
I played for over an hour, but the table was kind of choppy. No big wins, no big losses. I rolled twice, but couldn't get a good rhythm going, so I didn't make any money on my own rolls. I needed Eddie to join me. I decided to wander for a bit, and sat down at a 25-cent Elvis machine, hoping this would be the trip that I take home the progressive jackpot. I put $40 in and played for awhile, drinking my Captain and Seven's, and singing along whenever I hit the 'Play Elvis' reel. I hit it a few times, but not enough to win big. The King needed the money I suppose, so my forty bucks was gone inside of thirty minutes. Eddie strolled up and found me about the time I was playing my last three credits. He'd hit a couple of 4-of-a-kinds on the VP, so he had made a little bit of extra cash. I think I was down about $70 at Binions at that point. Eddie suggested we go play a round of craps together, and I thought that was a fine idea.
We wandered a bit watching a few games, but there were only 5 tables open at the time, but we ended up going back to the same table I was on earlier, and we were on the opposite end. The table was doing really well, and we made a few bucks in a half hour. One of the guys who was there earlier when I was rolling started betting the Dark Side against me, with a big stack of chips just taunting me from the Don't Pass Line... So of course, on my first roll, I tossed the dice right at his stack of chips and knocked them over. I'd rolled an eleven, so he lost them all, anyways. Everyone cheered, except him. He immediately threw out a $30 Yo and stayed off the line, and I tossed a three. Needless to say he was pissed at me, but Eddie was cracking up. I ended up holding the dice for about 20 minutes, and made about $250 (It was a 5x odds table). Eddie got the dice next and rolled for another 15 minutes or so, and we each had a nice little stack of green chips to go with our red (blue at Binions...). We both colored up for over $300 profit and of course asked for and received a comp ticket for forty bucks. I pocketed that as we weren't really hungry yet, but decided to head back to the LV Club. We wandered down Fremont Street, but it was getting cold, so we decided against dilly-dally, and headed straight for our hotel.
All of the tables were getting full, and the craps table didn't look too good, so we just went back up to the room to shower up and change. We decided to go down to the Venetian and see if they had any lower limit tables being that it was a weeknight.
We took our time getting ready and it was close to 6:00 pm when we finally went downstairs to catch a cab. Traffic wasn't too bad, and we took The Strip up to Sahara, before the cabbie turned off to take us around to the Venetian entrance. The North Strip lights still looked pretty cool, even after all these years.
Walking into the Venetian is still impressive to me, even after dozens of visits. I just can't get over the floor and the ceiling in that place. We headed straight to the casino, as Eddie was also looking for a dealer he'd hooked up with a couple of years back. (That's a story for another time, but Eddie got lucky after a long day of blackjack some time ago, and whenever he goes back to the Venetian he's got to check. Sometimes she's there, sometimes not. This time she was not there). Anyhow, after wandering around the entire casino two or three times and checking out all of the "talent" in attendance, we found ourselves watching a $10 craps game. There were only a few guys at the table, but they were laying down some pretty good money (playing with green and black chips). We were content to just watch, but one of the guys kept saying "Hey, Big Man, get in here and toss these dice!", so Eddie and I stepped up and bought in for $300 each. Normally I only play on the $5 tables, because the money goes so fast, but I promised myself I'd only play double odds on this one.
The guy on my right was still throwing, so I made a few come bets and made a couple of dollars, and everyone picked up on the whole "big red" on the come-out roll strategy and it paid off a few times. I know some people say that the drink service at the Venetian is pretty slow, and that is very true if you're playing slots, but there at the craps pit, the drinks were coming at a steady pace.
The table was actually heating up and a couple of older ladies joined us and stood to the left of Eddie. For whatever reason, everything we said was hysterically funny to them, so we just kept the jokes coming. When Eddie got the dice, he turned his hat around "rally cap" style. I even said "Ok, here comes the rally cap" but they didn't hear me, and the lady right next to him asked him why he turned his hat around, and he straight-up said "I only turn my hat around for two things, throwin' dice and eatin' pussa". Of course it was then my turn to spit my drink out laughing, and everyone else at the table just cracked up too, dealers included, and it took us a minute to get the game going again.
The ladies (we never got their name) then took it upon themselves to proposition every group of girls for us that walked by, saying stuff like "You girls should hang out with these nice young fellows" and such. After about 15 minutes more of playing at the table, we all saw this group of 3 very attractive girls walking by. They stopped short of our table, and were kind of watching, but obviously undecided as to what to do. Well, our older lady friends managed to talk them into coming up to the table, telling them they should play with us. They responded saying that they really didn't know how to play craps, but I spoke up and told 'em that we'd give them free lessons.
They considered it for a minute, gave each other the "what the hell, why not?" look and stepped up to the table. Eddie being a good wingman, of course moved over just a bit so that they'd have to split up and stand girl-Eddie-girl-Mikey-girl at the table. The older ladies moved down a bit, and then we had 7 people at our end of the table. We gave them a few pointers while the dice were at the other end of the table, and luckily the shooters were cooperating, so everyone won a few bucks.
Of course while this was going on, the old ladies kept talking us up, saying we were the nicest guys they'd met since they'd been in Vegas and such, and it seemed to be working. We made the introductions after a few minutes, and it turns out that they were nice Southern Belles, which is always a plus. The girl on Eddie's left was named Tiffany, a cute brunette. The blonde stood between us, her name was Melissa, and the auburn-haired beauty to my right introduced herself as Samantha.
Well, we tossed the dice for awhile, and when it was our turn to throw, we each did fairly well, making some small wins, which were very exciting to the "Dice Virgins". When Tiffany had the dice, she set the point at 6, so I made my 6 and 8 hard way bets, and also put $15 on each telling the dealer "Five bucks hard six and eight for the girls". Wouldn't you know it, she rolled a hard eight, and they all went nuts! I told the stickman to press it up another five bucks and the very next roll, she hit it again! Ok-Eddie and I loved this because not only did we get a good payoff on the sucker bets, these chicks were jumping all over us, all kinds of excited!
Well, she finally sevened out, and we decided to color up. I was up over $400 for the session, Eddie was about the same, and each of the girls had made over $200 apiece. It was definitely a successful run at the Venetian. I had mentioned that I needed to pick up some more cigars, and the girls were up for trying one, so we went upstairs to the Grand Canal shops and picked up a few more Partagas for me and Eddie, and some CAO Vanillas for the ladies. We didn't know where to go and smoke 'em, but Eddie suggested Nefertiti's Lounge down at the Luxor. So, the next thing you know, we're heading for a cab, with a bag full of cigars, an extra $400 in my pocket, and three hot women on our arms. It just doesn't get much better than that.
We all piled into a cab a few minutes later and have him drive us up to the Luxor. We mentioned the nightclub RA, but it turns out that they weren't really into that scene either, so we just made our way over to the lounge and sat in a circle around one of the low tables listening to the cover band at the other end of the bar.
We had several rounds of drinks, smoked a couple of cigars, and just spent a couple of hours getting to know these gals, telling stories, and laughing ourselves silly. When we were good and liquored up, somebody suggested we go and find a blackjack table. It seemed that two of the girls had never done anything except slot machines, and it was also the first trip to Vegas for one of them. They wanted to learn how to play the table games, but were a little bit intimidated before they met us, and wanted us to teach them. Ok, we were gambling with a purpose! Gotta love that.
We settled our tab, and then made our way to an empty six deck shoe game. The Oriental lady who was dealing wouldn't say much, but we took over the table, me and first, Eddie at third, with the girls in between. We all bought in for a hundred bucks and played for over an hour and a half. It was a great time, and some of the lessons like always splitting aces and eights and doubling on eleven worked out perfectly when we needed it. I was progressive betting and managed to double my buy-in (I got really lucky on a couple of hands), while the girls came out close to even. I think Eddie said he made about $40.
By this time it was getting pretty late (after 2:00 am) and although I was REALLY tired (I'd been up since 4:30 that morning), I didn't particularly want to say goodnight. Eddie and Tiffany seemed to really hit it off, and I wondered if I'd be going back to the LV Club by myself that night. (I was in good form, but I didn't think I could pull off the threesome with the other two at that point...) Anyhow we all cabbed it back to the Venetian, where they were staying, and no, they didn't invite us up, but we each got three goodnight kisses. We told them our room number at the LV Club if they wanted to go to breakfast in the morning and they said they'd call us.
Eddie and I took the cab back downtown after that, convinced that although we'd had a great time, we were certain we wouldn't see them again. We dragged ourselves through the deserted casino, up to our room, and immediately fell asleep.
I woke up first the next morning, about 8:00 am. As I was counting up my money, I realized I was up almost $800 for the trip, and proud of the fact that I hadn't had to visit the ATM yet. I took a shower and shaved, drank a glass of Alka-Seltzer Morning Relief, and put on one of my favorite Hawaiian shirts. About that time Eddie started to stir and said he was really hungry. I reminded him that I still had that Binions comp ticket for $40 and we could go over and eat breakfast there. I straightened up the room a bit, and Eddie got in the shower. Just as I turned on the TV, there was a knock at the door. I thought it was housekeeping, so when I opened it, I was shocked to see Tiffany, Melissa, and Samantha standing outside in the hallway!
They said that they didn't want to pay the room fee for a local call, and wanted to check out downtown anyways so they thought they'd surprise us. So, I invited them in, and told them to be really quiet when they heard Eddie turn off the shower. A few minutes later the water went off, and they all got quiet, and we were trying to suppress our giggling when we heard him in there singing as he was drying off. He finally stepped out wrapped in a towel and had quite the surprise when they all said "Good Morning, Eddie!" just as he came around the corner, before he noticed anyone was in the room. He almost dropped his towel but luckily we were spared that show.
He decided to grab his clothes and get dressed in the can while we waited patiently for him. I told the girls that we were heading to Binions for breakfast, because we had a comp. For some reason it just impressed them that we could eat for free.
A few minutes later we were on our way down to the Horseshoe, and there was a line at the coffee shop, again. So when we walked up to the front of the line, showed the hostess the ticket, and got seated ahead of everyone else, well, they were impressed again. And of course we played the high roller bit to the hilt, telling a few stories from trips past with the proper embellishments.
We all had an assortment of coffee, juice, pancakes, eggs, hash browns, ham, toast, etc., answered their "Vegas" questions, and planned our day. Basically they wanted to check out some of the other downtown casinos, and Eddie and I were more than happy to play tour guide. We also wanted to make a trip out to the Gamblers General Store again, as I needed another hundred poker chips for my set.
I had told them over breakfast that Binions was the absolute best place for table games in all of Vegas, and they said they'd be willing to start the day there. So, after we finished eating, we went upstairs to a blackjack table, first making a quick stop to get players cards for them.
We bought into a two deck game, and picked up where we left off the night before. It was a good session, and was especially exciting when one of the girls had to split eights three times against the dealer's seven and she won all four hands. Eddie and Tiffany wandered off to play video poker, while Melissa, Sam, and I made a stand at the blackjack table for over an hour. I ended up losing about a hundred bucks-didn't get a single blackjack in over an hour, while both girls made a little bit of money. They kept telling me that I was their good luck charm, and I had to play with them all day. Gee...talk about a tough gig. After the blackjack session was over, we decided to play some slots, and of course I had to introduce them to my favorite, the quarter Elvis machine. We sat down at the bank of them closest to the street entrance, and the three of us each put in a $20 bill. One of them would push the credit button, the other would spin the reels, and I'd sit there trying to entertain. Of course, whenever the 'Play Elvis' reel would come up, we'd sing along with it. We won a few credits, but they went nuts when it actually landed on the 500 credits button. Yeah, we actually got it up to 600 credits before we decided to cash out, so we each would get $50. After we took our coins to the cage, we went to find Ed and Tiffany, and we saw them sitting by a VP machine getting a hand pay on the other side of the tables from where we were. It turns out that Tiffany, her first time ever to play Video Poker, got dealt a royal! She didn't even have to draw for it. So she got a quick $1000 and said she was done playing slots for awhile. There we were all ready to brag about our $50 wins at the Elvis machine, and she was the one getting the big payoff. Needless to say, we were a pretty happy group. We left Binions and walked across the street to the Golden Nugget. They really liked that place, as we suspected they would. Tiffany and Ed managed to disappear again, so Melissa, Sam, and I wandered around a bit goofing off, playing a few quick hands of blackjack, a few slots, and even stopped by the roulette table. I told them that whenever we're on a hot streak, we always put a hundred on black. The weren't convinced that it was such a great idea, but I talked 'em into putting something down, so they each put $25 down on black, while I tossed out the C-Note and said "Money plays!" The dealer gave it a whirl and I'm telling you I was the hero when that ball landed on Black 13. By this time they were convinced beyond all doubt that I was their lucky charm, and they were on my arms for the rest of the day.
We left the Nugget, did a little bit of browsing at the souvenir stands and shops, and walked over to Le Bayou to take a ride on the Grain Train. It was still a little bit early, not quite noon yet, but we felt like getting a little bit crazy. I can't remember what they had, something red and fruity, and I had some Pina Colada thing with Amaretto in it. Of course we got beads, took a few pictures, wandered by Glitter Gulch, and were almost tempted to go in, but I told them there were much better places, maybe later that night we could go to the Rhino or the Olympic Gardens.
One of our running jokes that day was "Brackjack at the Praza". Whenever somebody asked "Hey, what should we do next?" the answer inevitably was "Let's go pray some Brackjack at the Praza!" Eventually, we knew we'd have to go back over there. I was there once last March, and hated it. Icky smell, crummy drink service, unfriendly dealers. Anyhow, the three of us walked over there, and the smell hasn't changed. Yeah, the girls weren't quite as impressed with it as they were with the "McNugget", as they called it, but we did run a few quarters through the slots trying to win the Mini Cooper, although I had no idea how I'd fit into it if I ever won it.
We didn't stay long, and we got back across Main Street to the Golden Gate. We played a few hands of hit-n-run blackjack there, and I told them about the traditional shrimp cocktails, but we were still full from breakfast, so we just moved on. We wandered down to the Fremont and the Four Queens, but did more wandering than gambling, and spent a lot of time people watching.
After a couple of hours, we figured we should try to find Eddie and Tiffany, so we walked back to the Nugget. The oddsmakers had them at 3/2 that they were up in our room, and while we were joking about that, they walked around the corner right in front of us, holding hands. Of course we were all laughing, but couldn't tell them why.
Eddie wanted to change his shirt and pick up a jacket, so we decided to go back over to the LV Club. It was late afternoon at that point, and we started to discuss our plans for the evening. All five of us went back up to the room, and while Eddie changed his shirt and piddled around, we just turned on the TV, and before you knew it, Eddie and Tiff were cuddled up on his bed, and Melissa, Sam and I were over on mine. Nothing happened, I'm sorry to say, we just kind of dozed for about an hour, but of course it was one of the best naps I ever had. Somebody stirred and we realized that is was almost 5:00 pm.
The girls wanted to go back to their hotel and get ready for the evening, and I was ready for a shower myself, so we decided to meet for dinner back at the Grand Lux Café at 7:00 pm. So we said goodbye to the girls, and they went back downstairs to catch a cab up to the Venetian, and Eddie and I took our time getting ready. We could be ready in 15 minutes, but we had two hours to kill.
Finally, it was 6:30 and we caught our own cab back up to the Strip, and of course we were about twenty minutes early. We put a few bucks through a slot machine, and then headed over to the Grand Lux. The girls weren't there yet, but we told them we needed a table for five, just not right away. They showed up about ten minutes later, and when they did, our jaws just dropped. They were dressed up to the nines and were looking outrageously hot. Eddie and I looked at each other, gave the thumbs up sign, and said "Ok, they're with us!"-more to reassure ourselves than to let the hostess know we were ready for our table, and we were seated immediately.
I can't remember what everyone had for that meal, but I do remember my club sandwich that could feed a family of four. One of the girls had a Caesar salad that came in what could only be described as a very large mixing bowl, or as Eddie said, his "Saturday morning Captain Crunch bowl". The meal was very good, but of course we didn't come close to finishing it.
The girls were fascinated by my desire to buy a sailboat, so they made it their mission to win a large jackpot for me. We decided the best place to start would be at the MegaBucks machine. So after dinner, we each put $20 bucks in, and we seriously ran through the hundred in less than fifteen minutes. We didn't win anything, the machine just kept on eating our credits with no payoff, so we were pretty sour on the whole MegaBucks thing by the end of it.
By this time, the girls decided that they liked playing the table games better, but they didn't like the high limits at the Venetian, they said they wanted to go somewhere more affordable. So of course we were suggesting places like the Westward Ho, Casino Royale, etc. We decided that it was nice enough to walk, so we went up to the Casino Royale. The 100x craps table was completely full, and nothing else there looked good, so we just kept on walking past Harrah's and ended up at the Imperial Palace, like we usually do.
The place was pretty crowded, and since we said we'd just stay there for awhile, Eddie and Tiffany took off, while Melissa, Samantha, and I were left on our own, again. We decided to play some blackjack and found a $5 table with a few open seats. We'd kind of been on a small losing streak earlier that day, but at this table we were on fire! Sam cut the cards first and it was a beauty of a shoe. I got three blackjacks in a row (Hat Trick!) and the dealer kept busting. So when it finally came to an end, everyone insisted that Sam cut again. Well, she did well again, and the second time through, the dealer didn't pull a single 21 all the way through the shoe. I started betting with $10, and went progressive, so I had a couple of $100 bets on the table. At one point, I had a black chip out on the circle and had two eights against the dealer's four. Of course I split, and wouldn't you know it, I got another eight. So I had $400 out on the table on one bet (I pulled a 3 on one of the hands and doubled down on the eleven-got a nine to make it a 20, although it was face down and I didn't know it at the time). I was sweating as the rest of the cards went around the table, as I figured I was due for a beat down. I had an 18, a 15, and a hidden 20, and when the dealer turned over a seven to show an eleven, it was worse than the "Quart o' blood technique". I swear a quart of blood just left my body at that very moment. I felt very sick. But then she slowly turned over a five to make a 16, and then pulled the most beautiful face card I had ever seen!! Oh hell yeah baby-I won all four $100 bets. As soon as she turned that Queen over, it was like the scene at the end of "Rocky II" where all of the sudden the music comes on at the end of the fight and everyone starts jumping around excited and crazy. Yep, that's how it felt. Whew. What a rush!
We played at that table for awhile, and a couple of guys sat down to join us. It took them about five minutes before they started hitting on Melissa and Sam, but the girls gave me quite the ego boost by ignoring their advances and hanging on to me and such whenever one of the guys would say something. It was even better when the waitress would bring our drinks, because the girls would blatantly "flirt" with the cocktail waitress, which of course we all enjoyed. Finally after about a half hour of being rebuffed, the two guys left the table, and we got back on to our winning streak.
Eddie and Tiffany came up to the table sometime later and were rightly impressed with our big stacks of chips. Of course, Eddie had news that HE had just hit a Royal on one of them $1199 machines, so he didn't have to do the tax forms. So that was two royals in one day. Unbelievable. So he and Tiffany were standing there at the table doing their little victory dances while we listened to their story.
They thought we should all go play craps together, but one of our gambling rules, picked up from 'Bull Durham' is, "You gotta respect the streak", so they were content to watch for a few minutes. Then, when I had a pair of kings, Samantha had an 18, and Melissa was sitting on a 17 against the dealer's five, and the dealer pulled a five-card 21, we figured the streak was over, and we decided to color up. We had all bought in for a hundred bucks (well, I had dug into the wallet to get the last $100 bet for the double down out), and I got back over $900 worth of chips (most of it due to that one $400 hand). The girls each won over $300 too, so it was a very profitable evening at the Imperial Palace.
Apparently, the craps table had recently gone cold as one whole end of the table had opened up just before we got there, but we figured we were still in the Gambling Gods good graces, and we each bought a stack of chips. The table started out kind of choppy, but since we all had pretty good bankrolls with us, we didn't mind. It was all about laughing, telling stories, cracking jokes, drinking, smoking cigars, and of course enjoying the company of these three hotties Eddie and I had lucked into. I was feeling a pretty good buzz, as was everyone else when the dice finally came to our end of the table. Sam got the dice first, set the point at 9, rolled another nine, set another point, and then sevened out. The quick hit was ok with me, because I had 4x odds on it.
I got the dice rolled an eleven, which was cool because one of the guys at the other end of the table had a $25 Yo bet, so when he got paid, he told the dealer to put a $5 Yo for the shooter. Of course I didn't get it, but we were all hoping for the eleven. My point was six, and I was feeling just drunk enough to be stupid, so I tossed out a black chip and said "Hundred dollar hard 6!", and then threw another $5 out there and said "Oh yeah, and five for the dealers, too!" Well, I hit a few more numbers, and tossed the dice for a few minutes, which was great because I was getting repeats, but no sixes yet. Before long I had all of the numbers covered (with house money, hee hee) and nobody was betting the Dark Side. At one point, one of the dice left the table, and everybody freaked, yelling "Same dice! Same dice!" I got the same dice again, and was considering taking my odds down for the next roll, but I didn't. I tossed the dice high, got a good home-field bounce, and to everyone's delight, especially mine, the 3-3 came up. A roar went up from the table because everyone else was on the hard six, too, but I had a black chip out there. The dealers paid the line, and then started paying off the hardways. They saved mine for last. $900-Thank you very much!!! I couldn't believe it. I have never bet that stupid and won!
Well, all of the come bettors put out their Big Red bets, and I called my hardways off. My next point was a five, but I was having a really good roll and hitting the four and the ten over and over again. The dealers talked me into pressing my hard six, but I only put another $50 on it, added $45 to my hard eight to make it $50 and then told the dealer I wanted put make a Hard Six bet for everyone at the table, plus the dealers. There were 12 people playing, so I gave the dealers $65, and everyone was hoping for another hard six. You couldn't believe the excitement as I was tossing the dice. I made a few more points, scattered across the 4, 9, and 10, along with a few random craps to keep me humble. Finally, I set the dice with the threes on the inside and gave 'em a toss. Bam! Another 3-3!! Hard six, again!!! A small group of people had gathered to watch because the table was fairly noisy and exciting, but this put it over the top. Everybody was yelling and high-fiving and carrying on, and the boxman looked like he was sweating a bit. Another $1350 made its way to my rail, and I was feeling invincible!
I pressed my bet up to $200 on the six, a hundred on the eight, and put $25 on both for the dealers. The girls were going nuts, Eddie was grinning like an eighth-grader who'd just discovered his dad's porn stash, and I was throwing out one-liners like Dennis Miller on a double espresso. The table was absolutely rocking. I hit a hard ten, but only had a five-spot on there, and decided against pressing. My numbers kept coming up, but the dealers slowed the game down a bit, taking their time with the payoffs and such. I'd pretty much forgotten about the hardways, I figured that money was gone, and of course the easy six came up. I still had full odds on it, but my $200 hard way was gone. I replaced it with a $5 chip and kept throwing. Right after the easy six, I got the square pair! For whatever reason, I thought I'd only had $25 out there (alcohol affecting my brain, maybe?), which was cool, and I was trying to figure out what the payoff would be, when they gave me another $900. Oh hell yeah!! I didn't press it, but everyone at the table had at least $10 on it, so it was another good payday. With every throw, everyone was chanting "Mi-key, Mi-key, Mi-key..." I ended up rolling the dice for almost 40 minutes, and made over 4 GRAND!!! I got a really nice round of applause when I finally sevened out.
I don't remember much of Melissa and Tiffany's rolls; I believe they were short and choppy. Eddie held the dice for about 20 minutes when it was his turn, and we all made a couple hundred bucks off of him. I didn't go crazy on the hardways, but I remember a couple of $90 payoffs. We finally colored up, and I had close to 5 Large in front of me! I left a hundred for the dealers, plus a $25 pass line bet for them when we left. We went to the cage to cash out, and of course, the first thing I said after getting paid was "Drinks on Mikey!" Eddie had won close to two thousand dollars, and the girls, not being as crazy bettors as we were, each won somewhere between $400 and $700.
We went over to one of the tiki bars and sat down, but nobody wanted to play Video Poker, so we actually had to pay for our drinks. No problem. I could afford it. One of the girls was talking about the girls with the blonde wigs out in front of the Glitter Gulch, and of course the topic of conversation turned to strip clubs. Of course, Eddie and I were up for a couple of lapdances, and if the ladies wanted to indulge us to satisfy their curiosity, we couldn't let them down. So a few minutes later, we went back outside to catch a cab.
We had talked about going to Cheetah's or maybe the Olympic Garden, but Eddie and I didn't want to go there and have to watch the guys dance for the girls (We of course didn't tell them that there were male dancers there, we just said the place was a rip-off). We told the driver to take us to Déjà Vu, instead.
Even though I was the big winner for the night, Tiffany insisted on paying the cover charge because it was her idea to go to anyways, and she still was way up for the trip with her Royal payoff from Binions. Anyhow, we found a good table with a view, and it seemed like every girl in the place came over offering her services. They were really interested in the girls, and several asked them if they were going to start dancing there. Of course, Eddie and I loved this, and we actually got a few dances, courtesy of our new friends. We returned the favor, and we realized that the girls got MUCH better dances than we did. It really didn't matter; it was pretty much a win-win situation. We were pretty liquored up, and decided to go to bottled water, so when the waitress brought a round over, Eddie broke out with the most appropriate toast for the occasion. "Here's to fake boobs that look real, and to real boobs that look fake!" At that point, the game became "Real or Fake?" for every dancer that we saw. As I recall, the fakes won by a landslide.
We only stayed there for an hour or so, and it was getting pretty late. I didn't know how the rest of the evening was going to go, but they invited us back to their hotel with them. They said they had a fridge in their room and needed help drinking the rest of their stash.
We got back to the Venetian, and went up to their suite, and I must say, it was impressive. It was much nicer than our room back at the Las Vegas Club, if you can believe that... The curtains were open and the view was just incredible. We could see all of the hotels at the south end of the strip, and even had a decent view of the Bellagio. These girls were definitely flying first class, while Eddie and I were back in immigrant class with the goats and chickens.
Anyhow, they had a supply of Skye Blue, Smirnoff Ice, and a small bottle of the Captain. One of the girls called room service and had a few shrimp cocktails sent up. They were definitely more than 99 cents, and they sure looked a lot prettier. Anyhow we ate, drank, smoked a cigar or two and just had a great time in there reliving the trip and listening to some mellow music. After awhile, somebody turned the lights down so we could just look at the lights of The Strip, and Eddie and Tiffany crawled into bed. I said, "That's ok you guys, go right ahead-I'm sleeping with these two tonight!" (Hey, I had to take a shot...) We were already kind of flopped on the bed anyways with our shoes off, so we all just got under the covers.
I will spare the details of the rest of the evening, but I will say this-it was the Greatest. Night. Ever. I was just glad that Eddie was there as a witness, or else no one would ever believe me. So Eddie and I spent the evening there, not missing the room at the LV Club one bit. I would have to say I've never had a more perfect day in Vegas. I'm afraid it will never be topped.
I woke up the next morning smiling like Stiffler at the end of American Pie II. Eddie sat up, looked at me, and just started shaking his head. I think he halfway expected to wake up in a tub full of ice with a note telling him that his kidneys had been harvested. The girls were all still passed out so we quietly started sorting through clothes trying to get dressed. They finally started to stir, but we wanted to avoid the morning after weirdness, so we told them that we really had to get on the road to Nashville. We exchanged numbers and emails and such, said our goodbyes, and walked out to the elevator. As soon as the door closed, we both were like "Can you believe that???" It was the most unreal trip we've ever had, and seriously, I doubt we can ever top it.
We caught a cab, and told him to take us to the Mandalay Bay to get the truck, but we got about halfway there when I realized that my keys were back in the room at the LV Club. So, we went back the other direction, and paid the largest fare ever to get from the Venetian to downtown. We got back to our room, showered, packed up, and checked out. I was feeling a little sad because the greatest trip ever was coming to an end, and I didn't know exactly when I'd be back.
We caught another cab, and had him make a quick stop at the Gamblers General Store, and I just ran in real quick and picked up the extra poker chips I needed, along with a dozen decks of cards. After that we were on our way to the Mandalay Bay, and he was kind enough to drive us to the parking garage and drop us off at my truck. I tipped the driver a $25 chip that I'd found in the left pocket of my jacket just as we got out of the cab.
We were packed and on our way by 9:30 am, and stopped at the McDonalds in Boulder City for breakfast. As we were finishing our meal, I got a call on my cell phone; it was the girls, wishing us a safe trip. We got back on the road, talking about the events of the last two days, and wondering if anyone back home would ever believe us.
Later that evening, as we were driving through New Mexico, we saw billboards for a place called Sky City Casino. One of the billboards touted the fact that they had craps and blackjack, so we knew we'd be stopping there. But that's a story for another time...
*The Venetian is still one of my all-time favorites
*I forgot to get a bowl of Binions Chili while I was there. This makes me very sad.
*We actually saw a wedding party for a couple of "little people" getting married. At first, we thought it was kids dressed up like a ring bearer and a flower girl, but as they got closer, it was a bride and groom. That was a cool thing to see.
*Binions dealers didn't hustle for tips near as much this time
*It's easier to find lower-limit tables on the strip during the week
*After all of the tipping, food, drinks, cab fares, etc., I was up over $6000 in two days. Kinda nice since I don't have a new job yet.
*We didn't visit a single sports book while we were there, but downtown still needs one
*I actually saw people playing the chuck-a-luck game at the Horseshoe
*I didn't play any Video Poker, but Eddie said that the full-pay machines are few and far between these days.
*Grand Lux Café. Come hungry.
*Déjà Vu. I felt like I'd been there before