Updated: Nov 8
1) Be removed from our Christmas card list forever
(If you didn't read Part 1 or have a memory like a (plastic) camel, I'm now staying at Aria)
I woke up about 8 AM-ish Vegas time and checked to see if I had any texts from Geoff. I didn't, so I assumed the poor little guy was all tired out from his big adventure the day before. I decided I would leave him alone for awhile.
I spent about 30 minutes opening and closing the blinds and "playing" with the "touchscreen". Geoff finally calls me and I learn not only is he awake, he has been at the craps table, communicating with Elliot and Mark, and banging hookers (probably). MF-er has been living it up for hours while I literally am watching paint peel and staring at a bunch of snacks and alcohol I can't consume. Not a single text, phone call or knock at the door from Little G.
I throw on my Dragon Link shirt and head down to Posh Burger where Geoff has arranged to meet Mark from the 360 Vegas Podcast. It's a brilliant choice of location by Geoff, it is like 9:30 in the morning, the place isn't even close to being open, but we do sit there and get to chat with Mark for awhile. If you have ever listened to their podcast or been to one of their "Vegas Vacation" events, you know Mark, Keren, and Tony are fun AND funny...... they don't take things too seriously.... and they just great people in general. We really enjoyed talking with Mark, definitely one of the highlights of the trip.
I'm not really a "podcast guy", but 360 Vegas Podcast is weekly appointment listening. And I'm not just saying that because they featured Strip Walking on an episode! (But really, if you are smart enough to feature us, how can you not be a good podcast?)
After our chat, Geoff pawns off the craps table shirt on Mark, who gladly accepts... because it's awesome! Geoff was trying to get out of wearing it later during our craps session with Elliot. But I'm glad Mark got it, because he will appreciate it way more the Geoff will. My wife told me she wouldn't be seen with me if I was wearing it, which sounds like a "win/win" to me!
Mark told us later that he wore the shirt out the next day and got plenty of comments on it. That was my experience with the Dragon Link shirt as well, people were either telling me "nice shirt" or I would hear them talking about it after they walked by me. One guy said to his wife after they walked by, "You need to get that shirt!". I would estimate in a single day, I heard more than 10 comments about it, and it got the attention of a certain Pai Gow dealer named Sue, but more on that later.
After meeting with Mark, it's time to start redeeming some Konami slots myVegas free play. I get my $25 at Aria and cash out having kept $20 of it. I'm playing Dragon Link, of course, because it's on my f-ing shirt.
Next its over to Bellagio, load up $25 in free play on DL, cash out up $52. It's a new day, and its time to WIN! We are nothing, if not inefficient, so even though we had just gone all the way up to Sahara, the day before, we head up there again, planning to get video from Encore to the Strat, filling in the north area of our VegasWalking.com map. Also, I had tried to sign up for a players card at Sahara the day before, and they were willing to match my MGM Gold status, but would not accept my phone app as proof of my status, so this time I was armed with an actual card to show those camel loving freaks.
While riding the monorail up to Sahara, we checked in on the Southwest app for our flights the next day. I encountered an error I had never seen before. It said I had to call customer service to check in. I wasn't too concerned knowing I had purchased Early Bird which is supposed to check me in 36 hours in advance, at least for boarding position purposes. So I called and the lady informed me that I had been assigned boarding position B57. Now if you have ever flown Southwest, you know that is not a good position. I was certain this had to be a mistake but the customer service rep insisted that 100-some people had purchased early bird before me and that early bird had worked correctly and my assigned seat was B57. I knew that this had to be bullshit, particularly because of the issue I had on the app where I couldn't check in. Also, I have never got lower than B1-B10 when purchasing early bird. But I didn't have time to argue any more with the lady.... we were at Sahara and we had filming to do.
Geoff went north to the Strat and I went south to Encore, with a stop at Circus Circus. My route was much longer, but it was a fair trade because Geoff's was more likely to get him killed. Also, I knew if Geoff went south he would spend so much time gawking at Fontainebleau we would end up with a lot of video of the sky. It was quite a hike from Sahara to the northwest corner of Encore, so when I got there, I took a moment to "rest" and I called Southwest again.
As I was walking, I had received an email saying I had "successfully made changes to my flight reservation". This made me even more suspicious, because I had not made any changes. My conversation with the customer service rep this time was a little more heated. But she would not budge, she claimed that B57 was in fact my position I had been given by the early bird check in. I told her it was going to be real easy for me to figure out if this was accurate or not when I got in line, I could just ask the person in front of me if they had purchased early bird check in or not. Of course when they answer "no", there wouldn't be much I could do at that point.
I gave up trying to convince the lady to help me and started back up north. I made it somewhere past Circus Circus when I ran into Geoff jerking off to Fontainebleau. Something about that property sure gets him all worked up.
He followed me the rest of the way back to Sahara, and its a good thing he did, because my memory card was full before I made it back.
We finished up our filming and I went to the "Infinity Rewards" desk at Sahara to get my players card. They status matched me and gave me the little sheet of tier credits I needed to earn to get some rewards while their promotion was going on. I decided to throw a little money in Dragon Link and see what happens. I put in $100 and burned through that rather quickly, so I added another $100 and that lasted a little longer, but still ended my session at $0.
I noticed, though, that whatever status level I was at must have had a pretty good tier credit multiplier, because I had earned enough to get several of the "rewards" listed on the sheet they had given me. I went back to the kiosk to collect my Sahara T-Shirt, which was kind of cool, except it was a V-neck. I also got 3 entries into a "slot tournament" they were having.
I'm no slot tournament expert, so I don't know if this is the way all slot tournaments work, or just small-time ones at less popular casinos. But the process was:
1) They gave you a ticket
2) You went to a specific bank of machines and inserted the ticket
3) You hammered the button for 3 minutes
4) You took the ticket that it spit out and gave it back to them
5) You wait for the results. The tournament lasted from something like 3-6 PM
I'm pretty sure I was the first person who had actually entered, and no one else was around chomping at the bit to enter, so that seemed to bode well for my chances of maybe winning something. I asked at the desk if "I needed to be present to win something?". They said no, but I would discover that I wasn't asking the right question. I should have asked "Do I need to be present to find out if I win something?". More on this later...
Now it was back south on the monorail to hopefully finally meet up with Elliot to play craps. Elliot is very pro-MGM, and we are very pro-$10 tables, so those two things usually intersect somewhere at the south end of the strip.
We started at NYNY, Geoff and I were starving, we hit the Wing Zone at the new food court. It was our second time there (also ate there in June), its a solid choice, a little on the expensive side, but what isn't in Vegas? We expected the table mins at NYNY would be higher than we wanted, and we were right, so we moved on to the #DirtyCastle (Excalibur).
Excalibur also had $15 tables so we decided just to settle in and pucker our pink doughnuts... the table seemed to have plenty of room, so we sat down and waited for Elliot who was still walking over from MGM Grand. As we waited, we realized that only half the table was open, there was no dealer at the other half of the table. Elliot later told us that the night before, there wasn't a single craps table open at MGM Grand. Lots of interesting decisions being made at MGM... and this was all before the hacking debacle happened..
After Elliot arrived, we set off to try and find a table at Luxor. We were able to find a $15 one with a little room. We bellied up and got to work. We should have known how things would go when we were standing there waiting for someone's roll to end so we could buy in, and some dumbass walks up and buys in right in the middle of the roll. The table was COLD early. I bought in with $300 and immediately got down triple digits. There was one lady that finally got hot and hit several points, and I managed to get ahead just a little. But after she sevened out, she wisely cashed out and soon I was back down again, we all rolled one more time and then we colored up, I ended up losing $179. But the loss didn't seem as bad, because it was fun to finally get a chance to play craps with Elliot. Another trip highlight!
After the craps session, I went and used my Konami myVegas freeplay, again on Dragon Link. I lost the $25 in freeplay, and the $20 I had put in the machine to start using it. The four of us then walked over to Mandalay because I wanted to use my last freeplay there, but it turns out I had already used all my "premium rewards" for the month because I had used and cancelled a reservations for Bellagio before booking the Aria one.
Elliot played some Wheel of Fortune slots while I settled in at "The Gold", a slot that had been good to me a couple trips ago, but had done nothing for me since. $100 later, it still wasn't doing much for me. Even worse, I had been trying to film my play, since I had finally been able to get approval to film from MGM, but I must not have hit record on the first session... what a rookie mistake!
Elliot and Geoff decided they wanted to play some $15 heads up Pai Gow poker. That's not really my game, so I set off on my own to find something to do while they slowly, slowly "pushed" their money away.
In honor of Reggie, who was gonna show us the ropes on the live roulette tables, but had cancelled his trip because of illness, I sat down at an electronic roulette table. If you are familiar with Reggie's social media accounts, he often jokes about about the electronic roulette being rigged (or maybe he isn't joking). I'm sure me playing electronic roulette in honor of him wouldn't make him very happy, and the roulette session went about as well as you would expect. I only put $50 in, but I lost $49 of it.
I went back to check on Geoff and Elliot and they seemed to be having a good time with the Pai Gow dealer. Her name was Sue. Geoff, Elliot, and Zach talked about their experience with Sue in detail on the Vegas Vice podcast.
She immediately noticed my Dragon Link shirt and pointed at a bank of dragon link slots and told me I should go over there. The topic of our "craps shirt" came up and I showed her a picture of it on my phone. The look on her face was priceless! Geoff and Elliot both lost money during the session, but they probably didn't even realize it. She was a really good dealer. She even got Elliot to start playing two hands at once, even though he was losing!
After Pai Gow was done, Elliot had to get to Lago for dinner reservations. He asked Geoff and I if we knew how to get to the Mandalay Tram station, which was met with plenty of mocking, since mapping the strip is what we do.
Geoff and I headed back to my room at Aria to plan our next move. I got online to figure out how to setup my Infinity Rewards (Sahara) account online so I could check and see if I won any free play in the "slot tournament". I couldn't find any login/registration page on the website, so I checked for an app.... also nothing. I ended up calling them..... like it was freaking 2003.... and I was informed there was no way to manage my account off the premises. Apparently Infinity ends where the internet begins.
I explained my situation to the guy on the phone..... I wanted to know if I had won any free play, I was a LONG way down the strip from the Sahara, and I was going to be pretty pissed if I went all the way up north and didn't have any..... he said he wasn't supposed to give out that kind of info over the phone, but to his credit, after a couple questions to verify my identity, he told me I had gotten 9th place and $75 in free play.
Now there is a number, I'm not sure what it is, where I'm not bothering to make the trip to Sahara just to use the free play. But $75 is above that number. I give the Geoff the option of staying at Aria, but he says he is going with me to Sahara, no doubt trying to catch another glimpse of Fontainebleau to file in his mental "spankbank" album for later.
And off we go.... to Sahara.... for the 3rd f*cking time in one trip.... 75% of my lifetime visits to Sahara have come on this trip. As we are walking in, I get a few cool shots of the Strat from the skybridge connecting the monorail station to the Sahara. I also noticed heading in that there was some lighting to the east, a quick check of the radar showed a fairly large thunderstorm cell heading in our direction.
We headed into Sahara, as I was certain I was going to make some thunder of my own with this free play. I walked right by the Dragon Link and went to a slot I almost never play, Buffalo Gold.
It felt like the scene in Vegas Vacation where they are watching the Keno numbers come up and slowly realizing they are not going to win. Geoff and I watched spin after spin go by, no bonus, nothing exciting. And just like that, the $75 was gone. We briefly waited to see if someone next to us might die and a drop million dollar winning ticket to the floor, but no such luck.
I was SO over this Finite Rewards casino with the delicious fries... we headed straight back out to the monorail.... and we discovered it was absolutely pouring rain!
The monorail skywalk actually was a great vantage point to see the water racing down the street, and beginning to pool all over the place. I told Geoff to go live on twitter and I would go live on TikTok for a few minutes. It just keeps raining and raining and raining. I've been in Vegas before when it rained, but nothing like this.
After standing out on the skywalk for a good 15 minutes watching it pour down, we finally boarded the monorail. The monorail in the rain was a new experience. It definitely went much slower. And if it went down any inclines, it crept down them at a snail's pace. We went by the Linq and saw the usual water pouring out of every nook and cranny of that place.
After exiting the monorail at the Horseshoe station and seeing a stalled cab in the street, we made our way back to Aria, witnessing plenty of leaking and collapsed roofs.
There was basically a lake in front of Planet Hollywood, it was either wade through water that was at least over your shoes or cut through the seating area for PF Changs. Even the Aria sign was having trouble in all the rain.
After all the desert rain excitement, Moneyline pizza was the stop for our final Vegas meal of the trip. I found it to be good, but not as good as Geoff had made it out to be. Big, greasy, foldable slices of pizza are a dime a dozen on the Vegas strip... I'm looking at you Secret Pizza....
I believe Elliot texted us pretty late that evening.... he was ready to "party", but the old guys were already toast for the night, and the trip. Geoff headed back to Park MGM and I settled in to watch the Netflix documentary on the Urban Meyer-era Florida Gators football teams.
For the entire trip, the Gambling Diary app had me down $100. That's a win in my book. Having been up $1600 at one point, it does make me a little salty about where I ended up. But I played WAY more slots than I usually do. They are the reason I got up so much, and they are the reason I lost it. And that's gambling.
I emailed Southwest when I got back home expecting to get some BS about how the EarlyBird check in is not a guarantee of a spot, and B57 was my assigned spot. To my surprise they actually admitted that "your EarlyBird purchase was not applied successfully to your reservation" and refunded the cost of the EarlyBird. I had upgraded the morning of my flight into an A1-15 spot because I really wanted an exit row (which I got) and because I was sure I could raise enough hell to get my money back on the Early Bird.
When is our next trip? Unfortunately, it is likely going to be longer than usual for me to get back to Vegas. A December Hawaii trip has been mandated by my wife. But Geoff is going to be in back in December for the planned opening of Fontainebleau (shocking, I know). He couldn't afford to book a room at the property opening day, but he was able to find a room right next door at the All Net Resort and Arena!