My Vegas Vacation – Trip Report, Part 2 – The Good, The Bad and the “What the _____ ?

The Las Vegas Strip

The Las Vegas Strip from high up in Mandalay Bay.

Part 2 delves into praise and sarcasm, the good, the bad and the “what the?” in our five day trip to the gambling mecca that is Vegas. First let’s take a look at the gambling.


The gaming gods did not look down in support of our play.  As George Costanza would have said, “the sea was angry that day (week), my friends, like an old man trying to send back soup in a deli!”  It was a battle all week. But let’s start with the positive.


  1. Red-Rock Resort Casino, Summerlain – Our best gambling was off-strip – surprise, surprise. I love Red Rock Resort.  Full pay Bonus Poker and 9/6 Double Double Poker.  It’s a large casino, always with the newest slots and table games.  Most table games are favorable compared to the strip, including 3/2 blackjack.
  2. Main Street Station, Downtown – the best gambling this trip was at tried and true Main Street Station.  I consider it the nicest casino downtown.  Always great beer (go for the porter), scratch offs for every video poker quad ($1 -$2 mostly), friendly staff, and great gambling.  They even have some video poker with good paytables using coins, in case you like dirty hands and coins dropping into the coin through.  Five quads in two hours for me, 3 for my wife.  Three of my quads (DDB) were Aces (no kicker). We’ve been visiting MSS since the 90’s and it never gets old.
  3. The Palms – used to be a place that had full pay everything, even for the $.25 player. I was very surprised to see at the new Palms, now owned by the same company as Red Rock Resort, the video poker pay tables diminished.  With a look around the Racebook – Eureka! there they were.  Some full pay Deuces,  JOB, DDB, NSUDueces, etc.  To me, the Palms was back.  Stations casinos now has an presence on the Strip, almost.   Across from the Palms is the Gold Coast, a good VP property from Boyds casinos. Video Poker is alive and well on Flamingo Road.

These were the exceptions of an otherwise dismal gambling trip.


  1. Mandalay Bay, South Strip – Pai Gow Poker at Mandalay Bay kicked my butt – quickest Pai Gow session EVAH!  Slots didn’t pay, except for one of my faves – Little Shop of Horrors.  It’s hard to find these days, the bonus usually pays well, and max bet is only $1.50 to get all the perks of the machine.  The sounds from the plant are funny and entertaining.
  2. Planet Hollywood, mid Strip – If you’ve played Video Poker on the Strip, you know how abysmal it can be.  Both M-Bay and Planet Ho. The few playable at Mandalay at $.25 are in Spin Poker and multi-hand games.  Full pay Bonus Poker starts at the $2 level. Planet Hollywood is worse – NO FULL PAY ANYTHING. How about 6/5 JOB at the bar tops? Terrible.  Besides that, most Caesars Properties have their little light system that tells bartenders if you deserve a free drink!  To be honest, $10 through, or 8 hands of VP max bet seemed to do it. But kiss away those low play Keno breaks with a beer.
  3. Bally’s, mid Strip – Supposedly, this casino has gone through renovations.  My question is “How can a property go through renovations and still be one of the most non-descriptive, boring casinos on the strip?  Slots need to be upgraded, the VP has been downgraded since there last from bad to terrible, and overall – blah. Needless to say, I should have paid attention to the sucking sound I heard upon entering, because it soon found my bankroll.

NETG Vegas Bad-Beats – This refers to the kind of things you just shake your head, amused but muttering “I don’t GET IT.” 

  • Men’s underwear – Do I really need to say it.  I thought that fad was gone.  I guess some boys refuse to grow up and dress like big boys.
  • $.75 for water – At Della’s Kitchen, you don’t have the option of free tap water.  You water is $.75.  Be aware, they pour before you have a chance to know! Sure, I know, it’s a little thing, but just one of many.  Parking fees, resort fees, paying for drinks while gambling…… water the next thing we will be charged for?
  • Seabreeze at Mandalay – Looking for a good, quick breakfast at M-Bay? Stay away from Seabreeze.  Our breakfast was horrible.  The breakfast special was so small, we ordered a side of turkey sausage – for $7! The special was $9.99. The sausage tasted like Jimmy Dean microwaved (luke warm and was quickly brought out) bread was dry and obviously from a store bought loaf, and service was slow and not engaging. Again, stay away!
  • Resort fees – Yeah I know, beating a dead horse.  Don’t get me wrong, I like getting comped rooms from Caesars Entertainment. But even at Diamond status, I paid $150 in resort fees & taxes at Planet Hollywood.


  • Taking JetBlue non-stop from Boston to Las Vegas and ending up in the newest terminal D is awesome.
  • How good is Earl of Sandwich?  not good – Outstanding
  • Yardhouse is a chain and has great salads and outstanding beer.  Order two flights – 8 beers – and share! Find it at the Linq and Red Rock resort.
  • Planet Hollywood Kiosks for checking in worked very well. If you’re early , concierge holds bags, they email/text you when ready.
  • Banger Brewing downtown is a must for beer aficionados. The El Heffe (a Jalapeno hefeweizen), the Morning Joe (a blond coffee kolsch) and the One Off Series (brown ale with mint chocolate) are NETG Recommendations. 
  • El Cortez – great gambling in a place out of old Vegas. Low minimums and good gambling. What trip is complete without a visit?
  • Best little breakfast at the Miracle Mile (Planet Hollywood) – La Cantina. $4.99 for 2 eggs, bacon or sausage, hash browns and two tortilla.

KENO CHALLENGE or “How to pass the time on $20 when your bankroll dwindles.”

Caveman Keno

Bert and Bin made up a new game for passing the time, whenever needed. It’s called the KENO CHALLENGE. Those competing insert $20 (it could be any amount, but same amount for all). The one at a time, play taking turns. Continue until one playerThe one left with money wins. What do they win?  Does’t matter? Meanwhile, drinks keep coming, since this can last a long time. BIG SUGGESTION – don’t use your players card unless playing $1 bets and up, (depending on your personal Daily Theoretical.)


It was a great trip, not financially, but in all other aspects.  If you can’t come back from Vegas and still feel happy about going, then you’re not going as a vacation, Advantage Players not included. Can’t wait for next summer.



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