Woot! Count me in. A few months later, and I'm on a flight to the promised land, listening to the song of my people:
Vegas nerds, if you want to download the "We Are The Nerds" song you can do so for free from the SoundCloud page. Just click the button that says "...More" and there will be an option to download. @NotVimfp https://t.co/seHsehgpyb— Eric Shaw (@Eric_Shaw) October 6, 2018
|Terminal 1, with no loud video screens.|
It feels wrong, like I'm in terminal 3.
Arriving at McCarran, I share the first of many Lyfts this weekend, this time to Luxor and check in. I'd reserved a basic Pyramid room -- hey, four nights were "free" and the fifth was "$19", plus $200 in resort fees -- and I'm flying solo, so no big deal. However, I tipped the clerk $20 and asked about complementary upgrades. A few taps on her keyboard, and she responds "we had you in a first floor pyramid room, but I've got you in one of the remodeled rooms on the 9th floor, east tower." Cha-ching! We talk briefly about how they'd been remodeled in December, and I head up.
The room's actually kinda nice. At this price point ("free"), it's really nice. Better than the Park MGM down the street, which fellow nerd Charles described well: It'd be a perfectly fine Hampton Inn in Dubuque, Iowa.
|Not bad, Luxor remodelers.|
I ditch my bags and head out for my first night in Vegas. Strolling up the strip, my destination, of course, is Chandelier at Cosmo. On the way, I glance at the high limit rooms in Luxor, Excalibur, and NYNY, but decide that the room at Cosmo is best for my plan. I should've started this a long time ago, but going forward, I hope that my first bet every trip is $100 on one number on a single-zero roulette wheel. That's way above my normal wager amount, but not enough that it's going to crush my bankroll, and with a $3500 payout, would be a trip-changing win. I drop a black chip on 4, the ball drops on 18. Maybe next time.
At Chandelier, the bar is full. I can't get a video poker seat, so I head over to Bond instead. It's my first time playing there, but the drinks are equally crafty and the clientele is equally entertaining. I played video poker for around 90 minutes, downing my first whiskey sour of the trip and eventually using two drink tickets for "The Secretariat", a citrusy julep with a star anise floater. Pretty good.
Caesars has a promotion where you get extra tier credits for earning 25 credits a certain number of days in a row, so I hop over to Planet Hollywood to start earning those credits. I hit the target, up 54¢ on the deal, and call it a night. I hop back across the strip, through Aria, through the sad Park MGM, and realize I should stop by CVS for some water bottles for the room.
In the construction walkway outside of Park MGM, I walk through a flock of hookers, who ask "how you doin' baby"and "where you going?". I don't break pace. "No thanks," I reply. "CVS." Oddly, one of them tries to trip me. I just keep walking. Oh, Vegas.
I've got a $50 food/beverage/entertainment credit at Luxor. I figure I've got plenty of time to use it, so instead I grab a Lyft to the breakfast battle in the Miracle Mile shops. I chose La Salsa Cantina over Blondies this time, because I wanted tortillas instead of toast. Some egg, some breakfast potatoes, some orange juice, and I'm out.
I wander up to Flamingo where I buy in at the $2/$4 limit poker table. It's always a soft game, and today was no different. I get some good cards to start with, I'm up about $40, but then the deck turns. I cash out for exactly what I bought in for, and lose $30 on slots while earning today's 25 points.
|I want my two dollars.|
Next, I mosey to the Sigma Derby machine at The D. I've got a winning system this time, I just know it. I'll bet on the favorite and the long shot. Brilliant! Thirty minutes later, I'm down $10, so I try a different strategy: bet a quarter on everything that's longer odds than 10:1. I hit a 37:1, and a 14:1, but yeah, that's not a long term financial winner, either.
You know what might provide financial security? No, not really. But I decide to drop $80 on eight spins of Vital Vegas's "old faithful" machine at Four Queens. It pays me nothing. More money for the next guy, I guess.
I play some ancient video poker at Fremont (but Sam Boyd's Treasure Chest won't take my $20), and then head over to Golden Gate for the main Friday night get-together. Name tags, handshakes, hugs, cheers, singing, laughing, drinking, and wagering ensue. Some video poker, some group craps play, and some group slot pulls (thanks, Eddie!). Man, I missed this group of misfits. I catch a Lyft back to Luxor and hit the sack.
|Take my money, horses.|
|This space reserved for nerds.|
Oh yeah, that $50 food credit. Sounds like breakfast at the Luxor café. They may have de-themed the Luxor a little bit, but there's only so much you can do with a giant pyramid. Thankfully, the theming continues into the menu items. I order a pyramid of pancakes and a side of eggs. It was a decent meal. Not Eat quality, but it's pancakes and eggs. Shrug. I eat about half of it, because I need to leave room for my next stop.
I grab a Lyft to Donut Bar just off Fremont, meeting up with six other nerds for coffee and donuts as big as a stack of DVDs. I order the Homer.
There's about 10 of us nerds playing, probably irritating all of the other old people in there with our snickering when O-69 is called. And three games in, I hit the three way bingo for a $250 payout. Cha-ching!
Another nerd wins $60 a few games later. Seems like a successful event, and something we'll definitely need to do again next year.
Next up: the Happy Half Hour on the High Roller ferris wheel. I forgot my ticket in my room, so I zip out of the Plaza and grab a pair of Lyfts to Luxor and the Linq. I arrive right on time.
The Happy Half Hour, for those of you who don't know, is essentially an all-you-can-drink on the world's tallest ferris wheel. About a dozen of us piled into the orb, along with a smaller group of people celebrating their friend's 21st birthday. Cheers!
|Drink up, nerds. You've got 30 minutes.|
|There's a lot of dirt moved around on the|
site of Caesars Forum, and holes deep enough
to hide bodies in. Like that happens in Vegas.
We talk about the new Caesars convention space construction, the Madison Sphere Garden, and the Wynn golf course redevelopment. We chat about views from rooms we've stayed in, and views from rooms we wish we stayed in. We refill our drinks, and fill them again. We get a glass to go, and exit through the gift shop.
We chat a bit more in the promenade outside, and then slowly split off. I hop into The Linq to churn through today's 25 Total Rewards points (-$14.50). Eventually, I check my phone's Vegas Mate app to see if there was anything on my to-do list that I'd forgotten. Eureka! I catch an Uber to dinner at Eureka on East Fremont.
|The sandwich? Pretty good.|
The fries? Amazing.
Wait. This isn't my hyperlocal Seattle food blog (subtle plug). Forget that. It tasted good. Service was excellent. I forgot that I could have used my Golden Gate/The D "One" card points to pay for it. Oops.
I hoofed it from there over to the notMain non-Event at Vue Bar at The D. I went easy on the drinking, nursing a water for quite a while. Many of the Vegas nerds were there, although there were others in town who didn't show. Vegas happens, so we gladly spread rumors that they were living it up in Pahrump, trying to appear on the Live PD TV show.
Our owner @DerekJStevens hanging out with the @NotVimfp crew at #VueBar! Happy #Saturday, everyone 🥂 pic.twitter.com/3eXoQg4zSL— the D Casino Hotel (@theDlasvegas) October 14, 2018
|I'm glad it wasn't 1,610 physical nickels.|
That'd be inconvenient.
It's getting close to midnight, and I wander over to the Third Street stage and watch Zowie Bowie perform a trio of '80s cover songs. I see why he's been performing around this town for ages: he's good. Next door at Four Queens, I play a Silver Strike machine and take about $70 of money out of it. Then through the sad Binions back room and across the street to briefly play video poker at California. I'm tired and not that into it, so head back to Golden Gate to see if anyone's still out and about. They're not, but I leave my obligatory $20 in Top Dollar.
I catch a shared Lyft back to the Luxor, and before I head to bed, I check the Twitters to see if anyone's meeting up to watch football the next morning. There's no consensus, and I tend to be
Up and at 'em! With less than an hour to kick off, I hop in an Uber to Westgate, find a comfy chair in the sportsbook (yay, soloing!), and get my bets in. That'll be the Seahawks at -3, the Cardinals at +9½, the Bucs/Falcons under 57½, the Bills/Texans over 40, and a Ties Win parlay of all these at an extra +½.
It didn't go so well. The Seahawks bet was the only one that paid. Ah well. A couple of free drinks, a couple of $3 hot dogs, a few hours of Sunday morning football in the best spot to watch it all... it's well worth the cost of admission.
I played a couple more hours of video poker there, being dealt a Fanboy but ending up with a simple flush. Then it was on to Palms to check out the shark.
|Rather unlucky, dragon.|
At Palms, I wondered how easy the shark would be to find. It's not difficult. You walk in the front door, and it's right there.
I played some 100+% video poker there for a while, and then wanderd across the street to Gold Coast. I was kinda craving dim sum, and I've heard that the Chinese food at Ping Pang Pong is among the best in town. More video poker first, and I'm glad I took the time, because a tweet came through alerting me to more notVIMFP shenanigans:
The lower level of Chandeier Bar is turning into an impromptu @fivehundy fam club meeting right now. #notvimfp— Mike Prescott 🏳️🌈 (@SubwayMike) October 15, 2018
I high tailed it over to Cosmopolitan, but didn't find any nerds at Chandelier. However, as I'm looking for people, nerd Roland tweets that he hit his first ever royal flush at Bond. I grab a seat next to him and his wife (dang, can't remember her name!), hoping that their luck will rub off and I notch a win. Nope, down a bit instead. On Twitter, we chat about dinner options, and I make a decision to meet at Yong Kang Street at 8:30. Three other nerds join the three of us, and we enjoy a mix of tame Chinese dishes. Because I suggested it, and had eaten there twice before, it seemed like the rest of the group turned to me to figure out what to order off the dim sum cart. Fortunately, it was all tasty. No, it's no Din Tai Fung, but then what is?
We agree that dinner the next night should be at Peppermill. 7 PM? 8 PM? Fine, 7:30 it is. I think to myself... maybe after dinner, I can check out the much derided Slots-A-Fun. I mean, if we're going to Peppermill, which is on the right side of cheesy Vegas 70's kitsch, why not check out the wrong side? I don't mention this to my tablemates, because there's a bit of a stigma attached to the place, in part because it's really just terrible, and in part because my favorite podcaster referred to it as a place to make a few extra bucks giving favors in the bathroom. He was joking. Probably. Maybe.
If you haven't already done so, this is the point you're probably thinking to yourself, "why am I reading this?" Hey, it's your life. You do you.
After dinner, we go our separate ways. I hop across the street and catch the 10:30 fountain show (Billie Jean), then head over to Caesars with two goals: visit the dismal subterranean bathrooms I've heard people rant about, and churn through today's 25 TR points.
The lobby, as always, is gorgeous.
|Caesar really should have stayed here.|
|"Honey! We got meth money!"|
Further north, I cross the street and head into TI. I'm too tired to play video poker correctly, so instead decide to give The Goonies a few bucks. Exhausted, I walk back to Luxor, ignoring a few more hookers, and fall asleep immediately.
10:00 AM, I slowly wake up thinking about my plans for the day. Things I need to do: I still have $20 in Luxor freeplay to use, I need to visit Cosmopolitan because I still have a $55 ticket from the day before, I need to churn through 25 TR points, and I've got dinner plans at Peppermill. I'm doing the math and scheduling on this, and still bleary-eyed, at about 10:30 I grab my phone and see this:
Last call for the #NotVIMFP Invitational Golf Thingy. Meeting at @TopgolfLasVegas at 11am Vegas time.— Drunky Drunkenstein (@Drunky_D) October 15, 2018
I leap out of bed, fire off a reply tweet, and realize my plans are out the window. I'd earlier used the hashtag #AllVegasPlansAreInPencil; Tim said #AllVegasPlansAreTentative. Same thing. A quick shower, dressed, and I'm in a Lyft to TopGolf.
|The targets we're allegedly supposed to "aim" for.|
|Nice form, Charles!|
|I'm not sure who goes to TopGolf to hang out|
in the pools, but that's apparently a thing.
|Pretzels, cheeses, meats, sausage, |
apples, nuts, melted cheese product.
Four of us take turns whacking golf balls off the deck, allegedly aiming for targets but more or less just hitting the balls in the general direction of the targets. A few long shots brush up against the netting on the right hand side of the course. "They just want to go to Ellis Island," I suggest.
|All my pitied little ponies.|
I stop by the NYNY players club desk. Sorry, the freeplay can only be used at Luxor. That's kinda what I expected, so I'll need to remember to use it tonight. I check out the face-up pai gow tables: $15 limits at 1:30 on a Monday afternoon. Too rich for my blood. Maybe the Park MGM table's cheaper? Nope, it's also $15. I've got a 8¢ ticket from Park MGM that I didn't cash in on my last trip. I place it and another $20 in a slot machine, and I'm soon down $20.08.
I'd heard rumors of a new hidden bar at Cosmopolitan: Ghost Donkey. my sources told me where to find it, so I checked it out. I didn't get anything -- it's not the kind of joint you'd hang out solo -- but it's a neat, intimate space for decompressing and eating something from the food court right outside. In photos, here's how to find it, along with a couple of menu shots. I didn't photograph the extensive mezcal list inside.
So yeah, now I know where it is, but I'm not sure if I'll make an opportunity to go back.
Chandelier is much more my style, which is where I head next to drink some tasty citrusy drinks, play some video poker, and have my spare Bond ticket rejected when I try and use it for a drink upgrade. Ah well.
keno survey site says Encore has the best in town.
I lose $10 on keno, and a lot more on slots. With time to burn, I walk slowly northward towards Peppermill, checking out the 3-for-$10 t-shirt shops, the strip mall, and the people raving about Tacos El Gordo. It looks like a second location is opening just a few doors north of the existing location; staff inside appeared to be in a training class.
I get into Peppermill about 20 minutes early, but Greg and Michelle show up shortly thereafter. IndyJeff appears a few minutes later. We grab a table for six, expecting two more, but #AllVegasPlansAreTentative. They arrive late and head into the lounge instead. The chicken parmesan was mediocre. I should've ordered breakfast food: twice as good at half the price.
Meet us at Peppermill for dinner. Or at Slots of Fun before LOL #NotVIMFP— Gregg Prince (@princeo) October 16, 2018
Slots-A-Fun is larger than I remembered. It has some tiny bowling lane things. It is indeed sad. And... here's the moment you've been waiting for... I used the men's room. It was cleaner than a gas station, well lit, with stalls on the right and urinals on the left. All three sinks work. Paper towels were adequate. Theming is Park MGM: beige, dull, functional. The guy in the stall nearest the door didn't offer us any deals, instead choosing to keep to himself. I respect that.
We got out of there quickly, but then I turned to Greg and Michelle and asked, only somewhat rhetorically, "So that was a bad decision. Circus Circus is next door. How about more bad decisions?" How could he refuse?
|Caution: Slots-A-Fun men's room ahead.|
(That carpet, though!)
We look around a little, dodge some kids running through, and discover an escalator near the middle of the casino, headed up to an uncertain destination. "Is this like the one at The D, where you can only go one way, and then have to figure your way out?", asks Greg. Seems like a bad choice. Let's go up.
We're on the carnival level, what I refer to as the kids' casino. Greg is enamored with the camel races. I'm fascinated by the coin-pusher games with themes that appeal to kids: Willy Wonka, Elvis, Wheel of Fortune. It's just kinda the wrong amount of wrong up here.
We see the trapeze net in the center, and walk closer to take a look. Next show, 9:30, "Diabolo!". It's 9:05. Should we wait for the show? Seems like a bad choice. So what should we do until then?
|The carousel of bad choices|
Greg plays "Mystical Unicorns", and loses his buy in quickly when the unicorns realize he's a dude and won't pay out. I play a Sherwood Forest-themed game next to it while Michelle hides from us on the other side, playing who knows what. "Bonus, bonus, mother...um" I yell, realizing there's kids around. That's no way to gamble. A few minutes later, though, I hit a bonus, get 8 free spins, 7 of which pay nothing. Lame. I still manage to cash out for $1.40 more than I bought in for. Take that, Circus Circus.
|No, this isn't gambling, kids! The Oompa Loompas and|
Elvis would never let you do that!
Back on the carnival level, we grab our seats for the 9:30 show. The diabolo is kind of an Argentinian yo-yo, I think, a bobbin spun on a length of rope. This Wikipedia article implies it take a lot more skill than it looks. Still, the performance is short and un-engaging. I want an immersive experience, dagnabbit! Amusingly, the house band for the show consists of a drummer and a person operating a recording of Welcome to the Jungle.
|Diabolo! A random person on the internet|
said he does the same performance at
Opium, so that means this is impressive.
Out in front of Circus Circus, my last night in Vegas for the trip, I ponder: are there any more bad choices I could make? I could head back to Chandelier, and play video poker for a couple more hours. Or is there something else.
"We're headed back to El Cortez,"Greg says. "Darren says he's playing craps there." Count me in. I catch a ride with their Uber, and on the way in, Greg notices the neon sign above the ElCo's Fremont Street entrance: Floor Shows. "I don't remember any floor show," he says. "You just haven't been paying attention," I respond. We head inside, Michelle retires to her room, and I grab a spot next to the craps table stickman, Cody, with Darren on the other side.
The game goes poorly. The crew is making mistakes, and the boxman is ripping them a new one, especially the stickman. "Cody," says the boxman, "What's 17 minus 6. It's not 11, is it Cody? Cody, what was your best subject in school. It wasn't math. Was it history? Gym? Home ec? What was it Cody? Are you good at cooking? I could get you a job in the kitchen. Are you good at writing essays, Cody?" Wow. I cash out ahead $5. Greg, who'd been standing back watching, pointed out that there's also been a commotion deeper into the casino. "You were right, Travis. There is a floor show."
I say goodbye to Greg and Darren, knowing we'll remember this night for at least the next few days. Feeling full of Vegasy snarky bad choice karma, I decide I want to play some final video poker at Main Street Station. I get distracted by a slot machine at Golden Gate, then decide to play at Plaza instead; I don't feel like the walk on Main Street to MSS is a fun idea this time of night. As my VP buy in is dwindling down, I'm startled by the face and a timid voice over my left shoulder. "Sir, can you help me with any money..." No, sorry. She begs from a few more people around me and then leaves. Oh, Vegas.
I catch a Lyft back to Luxor just after midnight.
Travels home the next morning are uneventful. I realize too late that I never used the $20 freeplay that Luxor offered, but unlike my last stay at Aria, I did remember to use the $50 food and entertainment comp. Total Rewards says I had five consecutive days of 25-credit play, which earned me 90 bonus tier credits. This leaves 4000 more credits to earn before the end of the year to hit Platinum. What a waste of time.
My gambling log indicates that on a daily basis, this was one of my best trips ever, with a daily average loss of around $25. I certainly got more than $25 a day of fun out of it. Heck, I probably got more than $25 a day in free drinks, and isn't that what Vegas is all about? I love this town, the Vegas nerds, and the one special time of year we get together to celebrate making bad choices.
(Late edits: spelled Michelle right; Park MGM isn't next door to Luxor; punctuation fixes; added Sam Boyd's Treasure Chest fail; Plaza poker machines were moved, not downgraded)