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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A Winning Las Vegas Weekend!

This past weekend Ashley and I got away for a couple of days to Las Vegas. Ashley is still there for a Lawson conference, but we took the weekend to relax a little away from home. The first question I always get when someone hears that I was Las Vegas, is – did you win anything gambling? The answer this time is yes, but more on that later.

We left late on Friday evening – our plane took off from LAX at 10:45pm. We would have preferred to leave a little earlier, but United’s previous flight left before 5:00pm. That was too early for us to head on out. I always forget how short the flight to Las Vegas is. 44 minutes on the way out, 39 minutes on the way back. Barely enough time to get to the cruising altitude.

The taxi line took about 20 minutes for us to get through. I thought that was a little long for midnight, although I have seen it longer in more traditional rush hours. We jumped in a taxi – actually a Durango and the driver was a chatty fellow. He had a heavy foot and remarked during the drive – I only have a quarter tank left – I do not know if I can make it through my shift. Ashley and I looked at each other and smiled. Then the driver revealed that he did not normally drive the Durango, but rather a mini-van. I mentioned something along the lines of – that V8 will get you every time.

And just a few minutes later we arrived at our hotel for the weekend, the Las Vegas Hilton. While not our favorite hotel (we have enjoyed Bellagio, Wynn, and Ashley is enjoying Palazzo now) in Las Vegas, the LV Hilton did comp our room for the weekend. Everyone knows how I cannot resist free – so the Las Vegas Hilton it was.

The free room was ok – nothing to write home or complain about. It was the lesser side of what could be a two room suite – and although there were a couple of leather couches and a wide screen plasma television, the bed was a fold-down hideaway – a little bit of a bummer. Still, it is hard to complain about free when you’re in Las Vegas these days; I guess I just need to gamble more. :-)

We were hoping that the great weather during the week – touching in the 80’s would hold throughout the weekend, and we got just of touch of it on Saturday morning. After enjoying our free overkill buffet breakfast, it was just warm enough for us to spend some time by the pool before the breeze before.

Then we headed out to visit several shopping locations, and finally ended up at the Palazzo – the Venetian’s bigger brother on the strip. Our main reason to stop there was to try out the latest Grand Lux CafĂ© for lunch – by the Cheesecake Factory, of which Ashley works at their corporate offices.

After arriving back to the Las Vegas Hilton I considered the possibility betting on the various NCAA basketball game conference championships like the PAC-10 and ACC tournaments. Then I found the game I was going to play, the slot machines – the Monopoly slot machines.

While my preference is to sit in a poker room or step up to a 3 Card Poker table game on the floor, I usually do not play these games when I am in Las Vegas with Ashley. Mainly because she does play or enjoy these table games – or watching for that matter – who can blame her? So, in terms of something we both play – it is usually down to the Slot Machines.

Traditionally, I have been very partial to the Wheel of Fortune Slot Machines in Las Vegas. I have done pretty well on them in the past, and I like some level of interactivity outside of putting in money, hitting a button and seeing what comes up. The extra spin on the wheel as a multiplier made the slot machine game more fun.

But the Monopoly game I picked even had more interactivity. The funniest part is that it is considered a “penny slot machine” – but by the time you play all 25 lines, and bet the maximum per line to get in the progressive bonus – it is $2 a play, actually more expensive than a quarter’s slot machine game. (Ashley still played 25 lines at $.01 per bet, so $.25 per play for her)

Here is a screen shot of a similar type game:

Monopoly Slot Machine Game in the Las Vegas Hilton
I happened to pick a “good” slot machine. Good in that, over the next day or so in a couple of different playing sessions – I won multiple $200-300 jackpots in the extra interactive games that were available. At the end of the weekend, I was up just over $400 playing “penny slots”. As they say, gambling is a lot more fun when you are winning.

We also had other fun the rest of the weekend – taking the chance to finally see Danny Gans at the Mirage – they guy is pretty amazing. We also ended up seeing the Mystere show at Treasure Island as well, which is a classical Cirque du Soleil. Since it has been in Las Vegas about 15 years, we figured it was time we saw that.

On Monday morning, when I flew home Ashley headed over to the Palazzo for here stay there. It was a relatively relaxing weekend with a lot of fun. And, after Ashley’s experience at Palazzo, that is where we will consider staying next time, even if the Las Vegas Hilton is free.