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Michael’s Travel Diary

Monday, 08 Jan 2007

Location: Las Vegas, USA


I'm gonna do this in two parts cos it's so long...

Who would have thought that the flight from Chicago to Vegas would have been a four hour beast? Not me! Oh well. I got stuck on the window for the flight, which usually would piss me off, but it did give me a nice view of the snow on the mountains over Utah as I flew in. And I also managed to get a couple hours sleep in an attempt to reset my body clock to Vegas time - hours of operation 5pm to 8am! I managed to get into the Luxor eventually, after my bags finally showed up and I was the last to get off the shuttle bus. I wandered straight up to the room, and greeted Richie and Ash with the now common phrase What Up Bitches?

So straight from the room, we head out to the the strip - almost immediately - and head for the food court. I was starving, hadn't eaten since breakfast and it was now 6pm Chicago time, or 4pm Vegas time. Next, the yards of Margharita's next door! Seeing the price of about $20 (probably plus tax) we decided not to bother and headed up the strip. Nowhere in particular... but we came across a Budweiser Bus at the Harley Davidson Cafe that were selling 48oz of Bud Lite for $6 - that's a little over a litre. NICE. So wandering further up the strip, and eventually we came across the Barbary Coast Casino, snuggled between Bally's and Flamingo's.

That started and ended my hot streak at gambling for the trip. I mean, I hit the Blackjack tables immediately, at $5 a hand (as cheap as it gets out here) and turned a tidy profit pretty quickly. Pocketing a $5 chip (the choice souvineer for me in Vegas) I walked away up about $50 inside 15 minutes. Richie and Ash headed for the Crasp table and I followed. What a hot streak. The $100 initial outlay was quickly turned to just shy of $300 in the space of less than an hour at the craps table, and before I knew it (after hitting the YO on my own roll) all three of us started heomeraging profits. Still, walked away up $75, and make a quick $40 at the Blackjack again for a nett profit of $115 on the way out of Barbary Coast. It was a solid start.

From there, we continued cruising the strip, made it a bit past the dog-leg,and headed back. As far as the gambling went for the niight - it can't have been too bad. Wehn I woke up the following morning, the night had cost a total of about $40, and that included buying drinks at clubs, as well as club entry, $35 of souvineer chips (that's 7 different casinos that I played at - mainly blackjack, and a crap or two) and a host of other crap. So eventually, we ended up at the Coyote New York New York Casino - the $6 cover charge was too much.

We lobbed up round midnight, and the place was admittedly pretty full, but the drinks were pricey, the music questionable,and the Cyote chicks on the bar about the same. At some stage though, my Aussieness came into play and I met a couple of chicks from San Diego - Brooke and Jamie (who I negged that she spelt her name wrong) and birthday was July 13th (4 days before my sister - kinda creepy). Anyway, we get kicked out of the club at 330pm when they shut, and I headed the strip with the girls. Eventually I found myself knocking back waters with them at the bar inside the NY NY casino floor. Found myself crawling into bed some time after 630am (after a few hands at Excalibur on the way home) - body clock almost adjusted.

So, adjusting to Vegas time I slept till just after midday - ahhh Vegas - and when we finally got our asses out of bed we sorted out the Grand Canyon trip for the following day. From there we headed to the thing that Vegas does best - not ho's, gambling or shows.... buffet lunches! We fed our faces till we couldn't move, then ate a little bit more to make sure we got our money's worth. Again,nothing like some over processed, re-processed deep fried something smothered in cheese. Ahh, my arteries are still cheering!

You know what, after that did something else that is about as Vegas as getting drunk and then tattooed... we shot guns! I have NEVER shot a gun in my life, so we jumped in a cab and went to the Gun Shop, just 5 minutes off the strip. There they sell guns, and let you fire a whole bunch of the things too. The place was armed to the teeth. As the vallet in the taxi line said... "Don't get an automatic. It's blam blam blam fifty bucks!" So what did we do? Automatic! Hahaha. Nah, first we lobbed up and I fired a Glock 9mm at a picture of an arab holding a rocket launcher - 18 rounds, $23. The target pics were cool! Next I fired a police sniper rilfle at a peodafile looking bloke holding a chick hostage, 5 rounds, $12. Four bullets in the guys forehead and the last bullet in the hostages left nostril. As the supervisor said, "That's just nasty". The final was 25 rounds of an M16 into the guy that looked like he was straight out of 1980's Miami Vice. When asked why I chose that picture, I just said - "did you have a look at it? It's hillarious." The guy replied that it looked like a few Vegas locals he knew, and he'd be the sort of looking bloke I'd come up against with a gun in Vegas. I splattered his head, and the surrounding paper in under 30 seconds. There goes the money - ching ching.

After the gun play, we headed back to the room, dropped off out splattered targets, and I actually tried to nap for an hour or two. No such luck. With college football games, and the hype of Vegas itself, I just kinda lay on the bed for an hour staring at the TV. We got up finally and headed to the Hooters Casino, as much for the satisfaction of my Uncle and Aunt as anuything else. Essentially, the Hooters Casino is a Hooters Restaurant, with a huge gaming area attached - and by huge, I mean for a restaurant. For Vegas casino standards, it was tiny, like comparing Jupiters on the Gold Coast to Crown in Melbourne. It just don't happen. But after my run the previous night, where the first thing I did after handing over cash for chips was to pocket a souvineer chip, I decided that the target was 20 different casinos in 4 nights. Big ask given one of the nights was NYE and likely to avoid gambling. Also, I can only get the souvineer chip if I actually gamble. I didn't specify to myself how much, but never walked away after just one hand - maybe that was the problem? Hahaha. The other thing to remember too, casino's aren't dumb. There's an extra 300,000 people in Vegas for one night (NYE) and god knows how many more for the weekend. There aren't any extra tables. As such, the table minimums, which often sit at $5 for blackjack, tend to be $15 plus in the nicer casinos. It was a case of fighting for a seat on a $10 table, whereas when I was there at the end of summer in '03, I could walk onto a $3 at any time I wanted at some casinos. Let's just say the target made for an expensive hobby!

Hooters was the start of the downfall. I won't go into detail, but it is safe to say that the night of the 30th was the night I scored more souvineer chips than any other. It was also the night that I lost the most money. In fact, take away the stupid gambling at a $15 craps table in Monte Carlo at about 3am on New Years Day, and it was the only time I lost any money of any significance. But that didn't help me feel any better at the time. We wandered all over the strip. From Hooters we headed to MGM Grand, which was hosting the 66 UFC Championship fight that night, which brought in a host of weird and wonderful characters. We also hit Tropicana. Then we wandered over to New York New York to ride the rollercoaster. I had done it back in '03, but figured I'd give it another crack, this time at night. Craziest thing though was running into the two girls from the previous night (Jamie and Brooke) sitting outside a cafe there. That must have been the longest odds I'd seen in Vegas all week to run into the same people two nights in a row in that town. After the Roller Coaster we headed off the strip to the Palms restort to try and get our club scene happening (after a few more loosing hands of blackjack...). As was no surprise, sneakers were a no, and given I was the only one with dress pants, black shoes or a collard shirt, we figured we'd be in trouble. But the same was shaping up for NYE, as the dress codes didn't ease up with the nightclub entry prices sky-rocketing. Next up to the top end of the strip and hit the Statosphere for a bit. More losses. Then across to my old stomping ground - The Sahara. And again the casino got the best of me. By this stage I had played so many hands of blackjack (well, they call it that, but I never hit one) and so often I start with a 13, 14, or 15 against a dealer showing 9, 10 or Ace, make a mircale 19 or 20, and loose ot the dealer who'd hit 21 of 3 or 4 cards. It was killing me. But worse, everyone else at the table was winning... grrr. And I was just playing Basic Strategy to perfection. Sometimes the cards don't fall your way. AS they say - someone's gotta pay for the casino, and the money comes from the floor - that's why the house ALWAYS has an edge.

By now if I was playing poker I would have walked away ages ago - I was on the Blackjack equivalent of tilt, dunno what you'd call it, but I was pissed. In poker, huge disadvantage. In blackjack, means nothing other... as long as you don't let it affect your betting (increasing bets to try and cover losses). Thankfully I didn't do that, instead chose to continue loosing the smae amount each hand all night! I had a budget before the trip as to what I was willing to loose each night (I'll keep that to myself) and given I was up the previous night (all be it marginally) I wasn't too concerned with the losses of money - just the miracle streak I was on... and the thought that it had to change. At some point Ash peeled off and headed back to the Luxor, and Richie and I forged on to Paris and Bally's in search of cheap Craps - none ot be found so it was expensive blackjack. Finally, feeling tired, and rediculously angry at the cards I'd gotten (didn't win two hands in a row all night, and not a single blackjack) while Richie and Ash had probabaly made enough money to cover their nights, we walked home in the freezing desert winter cold. And before anyone asks - 2 beers were all I had all night, way back at Hooters (around 7pm) about 8 hours earlier. So it wasn't that I was too pissed to play...

Tomorrow would have to be a better day - the last day for 2006!

That will be up in the next day or two...