Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Las Vegas on $1 a Day. Part 2.

Yesterday I set the stage a bit for what Vegas has become and the cost to enjoy it. Today I want to share what happens when the price tag is removed.

Arrive at the Vegas airport way too early, since I can't afford the good flights. Despite my early arrival, my two friends pick me up in a stretch limo, and begin to tease me with what is to come. Ten minutes to the front door of Mandalay Bay, and I turn away the bellman who offers to take my bag for me. Really not used to being pampered. Plus I didn't want to part with the $5 tip.

My weighty pals escort me to the room where I'll be staying after bypassing all the people waiting in the checkout/checkin line. Whales don't wait. Up the private elevator that only stops at floors 60-62. The penthouse floors. Nice room on 60, fantastic western view of the mountains, far above the apex of the Luxor Hotel, reminding me how high 60 floors is.

Up to 61 to Whales-R-Us. This is the suite that the guys are sharing with the bachelor. And since I had never been to a room like this, and knew that no one would probably believe me, I took video. 4600 square feet, which makes it larger than the two floors of my house ADDED to the single floor of my last house.

Finally, up to 62 to see the hospitality suite, fully stocked with free food, drink, and huge living spaces/media areas to accommodate any need I might have to get drunk and watch football all day. I didn't of course, but I damn well could have. Not to mention, access to this room means I don't have to shell out $35 for the breakfast buffet each day. Again, not that I would have, the Luxor has a McDonalds, a fact I monopolized on a couple of times...Ok, a lot.

Spent the first day doing some unprofitable gambling, and riding back and forth in the limos to the airport to pick up additional members of our party. Dinner at the House of Blues with two great friends, listened to some live music, gambled some more, fell down exhausted late that night. Great first day.

That brings us to Friday, which ended up being the best and worst of the trip. Showed my rookie colors but good.

Due to a time change and the excitement (not to mention trying to sleep with a shrimp PoBoy and several Crown and Cokes lodged in my gullet) awoke way too early. Went to breakfast, Starbucks, and on to sign up for the only poker tournament I would be able to play on this trip. Ended up finishing around 12th out of 50, so a good effort, but no payday.

And then it started. Went to join our large group who were now launching into their day at the 3 Card Poker table. I sat, bought in, ordered my first double Ketel One and Sprite (no fruit please, ma'am), and began to play. And the run started. Now, I find 3 Card Poker absolutely mindless. VERY little strategy, you just keep doing the same thing, and hoping for good cards. And for once I got them. A LOT of them. I hit pairs, flushes, straights, 3 of a kind a couple of times (pays 30 to 1), AND hit a straight flush at 40 to 1. The whole table was running hot, and we had every chair locked up.

And all the while, I was drinking. A lot. Anyone who knows me knows I am not the loudest guy at any table, but on this day, well, I was. We all were. But mostly me. I was winning in Las Vegas for once, playing with the big boys, and I easily had the best time gambling I ever have.

The dealer at one point said, "Sir, you are going to have to keep it down".

"Am I the loud guy at the table?"

"Yes, Sir."

"I'm that guy?"

"Yes, Sir."

"Hey everyone!! I'm THAT guy!!" And I was so proud...I had never been that guy before.

At least, that's what I'm told I said.

Because at some point, I stopped being able to remember what was going on. I remember going to the High Limit slots, living vicariously through those who could afford to play there, and then I was in my room where I'll spare you details of my exploits. But the idea was that we would all be meeting for a fantastic dinner at StripSteak that night, and when my roommate walked in the room later on I assumed it was time to get ready for dinner. Only dinner had come and gone.

It was 1am.

I missed dinner. Not only that, I missed the whole night. The real irony was that years before my wife and I had made the same rookie mistake...clearly I never learned the lesson.

But the upside, I checked my pockets...and found some very large chips.

So I got up and went downstairs in an utter lack of sense and personal show of defiance, to go play some more, and pushed on through for the next 24 hours. And what a day, Saturday. Great breakfast, went for a hotel walk with my good friend, met the guys for wings and beer at noon.

And then, the next surprise. A high roller cabana complete with drinks and masseuse at the private pool for the day. Slightly overcast to cut the heat, fantastic staff to cater to every whim, and plenty of...well...nice Godfearing folks to look at.

Dinner was another treat, off in a limo to Koi at the Planet Hollywood resort for sushi and saki, treated by a new friend. And finally, it was back to the Foundation Room at the Mandalay, where exclusivity is the game, and an inner area called the Buddha room had been reserved for us again.

All the while, I held onto my winnings as tightly as my impulses would allow. I gave some back, sure, but in the end, for once in all my visits to Sin City, I came home a winner. And though she didn't actually say it, I think my wife was actually proud of me. For everything but drinking all of Las Vegas' vodka on Friday afternoon. Whatever.

In the end, you can probably guess what the retail cost of a weekend like this would be, and it sure as hell isn't a dollar a day. And I am eternally grateful for an experience that I would never (be able to) purchase for myself. And I know the next time I go I'll be trying to sleep in a cramped room at a cheap hotel trying not to think about the $100 I lost.

But today, I'm a winner.

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Texasholly said...

Awesome. When I found out how early poker tournaments started in Vegas and the fact that there is a new one starting every hour or so I tried to convince my dear husband to move there, but he muttered something about motherhood and responsibilities...blah.blah.blah. I would celebrate 12th any day. What a fun trip!

Jillene said...

WOW--looks like you had a great time. What a view and what a room!!

Janie at Sounding Forth said...

Holymolybatman what a suite! 4600 sf? Ahhhhhhh.

The Mom Jen said...

What an adventure! I was starting to think you were filming the Hangover II...great storytelling!

Kristina P. said...

Well, I would be jealous, but The Freemont Hotel was awesome without wifi, so I'm not.

Evolving Mommy Catherine said...

Yikes! I am way to cheap to actually gamble, because I usually loose, so it is good to hear that there are people who actually come home up.

Soxy Deb said...

Thanks for the video. It's the closest I will EVER get to being 'in' one of those rooms. Gorgeous view!!
I'm wishing there was a video of you tore up from the floor up though. That would have been HI-larious!!

angie said...

Clearly, I need to meet your friends. Cuz I could use a vacation like that. Minus the drinking and gambling. But the penthouse suite would be nice.......the limo ride and massage.....is Vegas like your second home, or what? :)

Texan Mama @ Who Put Me In Charge said...

Holy crap. How did you not get lost in that suite?

And, I love that you are THAT guy. I wish I had the chance to be THAT girl again. I miss those days. I always was THAT girl back in college. It shocks people now who hear I've married a pastor. They're sure I did it to straighten myself out. ha ha

Lee said...

One of these days I'm going to get a nice suite at one of those hotels.

I have to ask, aren't the elevators at the luxor weird?

Kristen Zirkle said...

I might be going in a few weeks. I will be staying at the Super 8.

posthumous pointer
To laugh often and love much; to win the respect of intelligent persons and the affection of children; to earn the approbation of honest citizens and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to give of one's self; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to have played and laughed with enthusiasm and sung with exultation; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived - this is to have succeeded. - Emerson