I have to say that last week was a blast. I took the entire week off work, and from Tuesday through Friday, the folks and I went to Las Vegas for a vacation. If you’re just interested in seeing pictures, you can go ahead and look at my gallery of pictures taken during the trip, located here. I apologize for the quality of some of the photos; I hadn’t planned on wanting to take pictures, so they’re all from my iPhone’s camera. :-)
I’ll put the trip description, etc. behind a cut so that those who aren’t interested can skip over. :-)
We arrived in Vegas on Tuesday afternoon, and not-so-quickly made our way to the Rio. (I say “not-so-quickly” because there was heavy traffic on I-15.) We got checked in quickly, and made our way to our rooms. I have to say that next time we go out, we won’t stay at the Rio again. The rooms were nice and big, but the bathrooms were almost ludicrously small. In addition, talk about uncomfortable if you’re staying with someone other than your significant other… the shower has a window that looks into the room. It’s a stretch to look into the shower from the bedroom, but it’s easily done. The casino’s also nothing to write home about, and while there is a shuttle to go from the Rio to the Strip, it’s a tad inconvenient. I think next time we go, we’ll stay at Bally’s again.
In any event, after we got settled in, I got our tickets to see Penn & Teller for that night. Mom and Dad gambled for a bit, while I rested in my room. When it came time for an early dinner, we went to the All American Bar & Grill, which was the only place in Vegas I knew of that served Shiner Bock. We had some decent burgers, and then got ready for the show. Once again, Penn & Teller was an awesome show. As I thought, they changed the show since the last time Dad and I had seen them, so while some of the stuff was the same, some of it was different. In retrospect, I should have gotten my picture taken with Penn Jillette after the show, but it didn’t occur to me at the time. Ah, well. After that, Mom and Dad went to gamble while I had a couple of beers at an Irish pub… and then turned in for the night. No, I didn’t gamble, because I really didn’t feel like it.
I got up a bit early the next morning, and went over to the poker room… to find it empty. Yikes. After wandering around bored for a bit, I decided to go ahead and try my hand on a bit of blackjack. I had been practicing playing 21 Pro Sponsored on my iPhone, so I figured I would do better than I had the last time I played blackjack. Sadly, I was wrong. I lost about $100 in less than half an hour. After a bit, the parents came down, so we treated ourselves to some breakfast at the Sao Paolo Cafe. Once we had breakfast, we decided to make our way over to Caesars Palace to get tickets for Bette Midler. We got to Caesars, and got tickets with little difficulty. Once that was done, Mom and Dad decided to hit the slots, and I decided to make my way to the poker room.
I should point out that before that day, I had only ever played limit Texas Hold Em games in Vegas. I really didn’t feel up to playing no limit games outside of tournaments, and I didn’t know if it suited my style of play. Well, when I got to the Caesars poker room, I saw that all they had going was 1-3 No Limit. I sighed, and bought in to play. As it turned out, I didn’t need to worry, as I did fine. After about an hour or so (including two hands where I seriously knocked down this other loudmouthed player), I decided that Mom and Dad would probably be ready to go, and went ahead and cashed out. I had started with $100, and walked away with $222. It turned out I was right; when I got to the entrance to the poker room, Mom was there debating whether to come in and get me. We all made our way out, and then went over to the Bellagio where we toured the Conservatory and all of its floral arrangements. That done, we went back to the Rio to change for the show. Once we got back to Caesars, we had our customary dinner at the Cheesecake Factory, and then made our way to the Colosseum for the Bette Midler show.
I have to admit that I wasn’t too familiar with Bette’s work before the show. The one piece I knew most from her was “Wind Beneath My Wings”, and amusingly enough it was the one piece we were looking forward to least because of how bloody overplayed it is (especially at funerals). As it stood, though, it was an EXCELLENT show. Bette was hysterically funny and raunchy, and sang a whole range of music. She even had the American Idol judges on in a pre-taped segment. Even “Wind Beneath My Wings” (which was the last song sung) wasn’t anywhere near as obnoxious as we had feared it would be. One of the things I found most amusing, though, was how close in attitude and temperament Bette was to my friend Becky. It was almost like seeing Becky on-stage… except Becky’s younger, taller, and slimmer. Once the show was over, we made our way back to the Rio for the night.
On Thursday morning, I got up early again… only to find that yet again, the poker room was bare. I decided to sleep in a little, and then met my parents at the buffet for breakfast. My only complaint about the Rio buffet is, well… please, people. Don’t be afraid to serve food steaming hot. Lukewarm doesn’t do it for us. Anyway, once we had had breakfast, we made our way up to the rooms to see about getting tickets for Le Rêve, only to find that it was on vacation that week. We thought about it, and then Mom suggested our backup plan: Barry Manilow. We found he did have a show that night, so we went ahead and booked the tickets online. Dad wanted to just sit and do slots, so Mom and I decided to make our way to the Las Vegas Hilton to pick up the tickets so we didn’t have to do it before the show. We made our way over (catching the Monorail from Bally’s), and got our tickets. There were a couple of things that surprised us. For one, even though Star Trek: The Experience had closed months ago, there were still signs up for it. The other was finding a slot machine based on The Joker’s Wild, which was a game show from the 1970’s-1980’s. I swear, they have slot machines for EVERYTHING these days…
On our way back, we decided to take the shuttle from Harrah’s so I could see the casino there, so we got off the monorail there. When I said they make slot machines for everything, I’m not kidding. They had a Press Your Luck slot machine! However, Harrah’s quickly proved itself to be a pain in the ass; we got lost several times trying to find the shuttle because of the poor signs, and in the end only found it thanks to asking one of the valet attendants. We got back to the Rio, and caught up with Dad (who was on the same slot machine we left him on)… and got changed for the evening. We went to Caesars first and had an early dinner at the Cheesecake Factory, and then made our way to the Hilton.
The Manilow show itself was excellent… all things considered. The problem was that Manilow was suffering from laryngitis. He was very apologetic for it, though, and despite everything was still in good form. Near the hour mark, though, he must have decided to cut the show short, which was a pretty good idea because it was obvious his voice was starting to go. He ended the show with a big number around the song “Copacabana” (which I found hysterical because Jesse, who is apparently a big Manilow fan, got bent out of shape when I quoted the song to her before the show). Once the show was over, I decided to go to Caesars and play some poker… only to get there and realize that if I got tired of playing and was ready for bed, I’d STILL have to walk to Paris to get the shuttle back to the Rio. So, I went back to Paris, caught the shuttle back to the Rio, and got on the waiting list for some 1-3 No Limit at the Rio poker room.
It was relatively amusing. I sat down at the same time as a guy and his girlfriend did, and after about twenty minutes the guy asked me if I played poker professionally. I chuckled and said no, that I was just there on vacation. Turned out the guy and his gf were too; apparently I just carried myself well enough where I seemed like I was a professional. His gf got knocked out soon after that, and he followed shortly afterwards. After an hour or so, I left the table ahead again, and headed back to my room to sleep.
The next morning, after a lack of sleep during the night, I headed back downstairs to find at least one of the players from the night before still at the table in the same seat. I sat down to play, and realized soon that sitting down at a table with only four or five people who have been playing for a while isn’t the smartest thing in the world to do. Or, as I put it, “You know how they say if you can’t tell who the sucker is, it’s probably you? I KNOW I’m the sucker.” I didn’t lose too much money, though, and when it came time to merge our table with another, I chose to cash out and go upstairs to pack. Once Mom and Dad were up, though, we went down to have breakfast in the buffet again (as it was a better value than Sao Paolo), and then finished packing and checked out. After checking our bags with bag check, Mom and Dad played slots some more while I browsed the World Series of Poker store. We had lunch at the All-American Bar & Grill again (where I was informed that the Shiner Bock I had had on Tuesday was their last ever one), and once we were done eating, we made our way to the airport.
All in all, it was a pretty fun trip. Like I said, next time we go out we’ll likely stay at Bally’s, as it’s more convenient. Granted, though, for once I wouldn’t mind staying at Caesars. Mom and Dad, with all of their slot playing, ended up being down, while my poker playing left me in the black, so to speak. (Even taking my disastrous blackjack experience into account.) It’ll be a while, but I’m looking forward for my next trip out there. For now, though, I’m just getting settled back into the work grind, and dealing with the job as it comes.