Welcome To Las Vegas Sign Goes Historic

In my mind the “Welcome To Las Vegas” sign has been historic for years.  That’s because I have my own memories from the sign.  This week the world famous sign received official historic designation.

LAS VEGAS (AP) — The iconic “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign is now officially a piece of national history.

Clark County officials on Thursday announced that the sign has gained listing on the National Register of Historic Places, to fit with the county’s centennial celebration this year.

County Commission Chairman Rory Reid says the 50-year-old sign at the south end of the Las Vegas Strip is an important symbol, as well as the backdrop for untold thousands of tourist photographs.

The National Park Service designation became official on May 1.

The sign cost $4,000 in 1959 and was designed by Betty Whitehead Willis of Western Neon.

It was erected after a group of Strip hotel owners asked Clark County for a sign welcoming visitors to Las Vegas.

And now…..time for a photo…

Tropicana Las Vegas is Going Canadian

It seems as though east and west coast Tropicana’s are dueling for attention.  The Tropicana in Las Vegas is in the news today.  Onex Corp., based in Toronto, is proceeding with plans to take over the Tropicana in Las Vegas.  

Gaming newcomer Onex Corp., a private equity firm with $10 billion under management, says it’s proceeding with plans to take over the Tropicana hotel-casino in Las Vegas as the property emerges from bankruptcy protection.

The Toronto company this week said it’s been accumulating Tropicana debt and expects to take control of the property this year, subject to regulatory approvals and finalization of the bankruptcy case.

It will be interesting to see if a newcomer to the casino game can turn things around at the Tropicana.  They do have casino experience on the team.  The question to ask is if the hill is too much to climb.  My last trip to the Tropicana was a few years ago and I played Tic-Tac-Toe against a chicken and lost.

To be frank, the real estate alone may make the deal worthwile.  I’m looking forward to seeing how things turn out.

Bellagio and Mirage Not Likely to be Sold

There has been rumor for a while that that either, or both, Bellagio and Mirage would be put on the market to help MGM Mirage amidst their finanacial concerns.  Yesterday, that was put to bed and both casinos will likely not be sold.

MGM Mirage today unleashed a series of financial initiatives aimed at bolstering its balance sheet — and signaled its Bellagio and Mirage hotel-casinos won’t be sold anytime soon…Take on new debt in the form of $1.5 billion in senior secured notes — bonds secured by the Bellagio and Mirage assets, meaning they couldn’t be sold unless other security is designated to back up the bonds.

While this saves both of those casinos, it moves some of the other Las Vegas properties up the ladder to be sold.  Mandalay Bay (a favoritecasino of mine) seems to be on top of the chopping block now.  Initially I thought that MGM Mirage would look to divest assets outside of Las Vegas if they needed to raise funds and they still might end up doing that.  I’m not sure the price to buy on the Vegas strip is right. 

If you were buying a business would you rather be a big fish in a small sea or one of the many in the most popular desitnation?  I would prefer to be the big fish and move from there.

Vegas Report – Bye Bye Vegas!

…Of course Monday was the worst day of the trip.  I had to go home and back to real life.  After a pretty unexciting Sunday I slept in until 8am.  It felt pretty nice.  I showered and packed and headed down to the casino to see the host on duty.  He was kind enough to remove my charges from the trip.  There weren’t many, but it was nice.  

For my final meal in Vegas I headed to Augustus Cafe.  I had a very good bacon and cheese omlette and decaf.  I don’t drink caffeine before I fly – especially coach.  

After breakfast I played a couple more slot machines.  I won $75 on the $1 Wheel of Fortune slots and broke even on some kind of diamond slot.  I only played for a while before heading back to the room so my friend could pack and we could head to the airport.

I had another nice cab driver on my final trip.  He was writing a book about travelers tales and other cab drivers.  Check In was quick and easy and, for a change, the security line wasn’t too bad at all.  Right as I get to the gate I get an email that the flight was delayed.  I decided to grab a grilled chicken sandwhich at Chili’s.  It was pretty good.  I get another email about my flight being delayed.  I’m now at the airport for at least another two hours.  


I was able to upgrade on the flight out to Vegas, but not on the flight home.  The flight out made me realize how much I love first class.  I had a middle seat and of course I couldn’t sleep on the packed flight home.  It wasn’t really uncomforatble, but I wasn’t comfortable.  

After boarding the flight a rolling out from the gate I was delayed for another 20 minutes.  The flight finally landed just after 11am eastern time.  Keeping with the theme of being delayed there was something wrong with the baggage carousel and I didn’t get out of the airport until midnight.

The last day in Vegas is always sad for me, but the delays at every step on the way home only made the last day long and miserable.  At least every other part of this trip was great!

Vegas Report – Sunday – The Morning After

Of course I wasn’t able to sleep in again and was awake by 7am.  Since I crashed “early” after the fight I actually got a decent night of sleep.  This wasn’t the morning after I was expecting, but it was now Sunday.  I was up and out to Payards, again, for coffee and a croissant.  For some reason I was extremely messy with my croissant on Sunday.  After cleaning my mess it was time to gamble.

I eased into the day playing my new favorite 1/2/5/10 cent Top Dollar slot machine.  My $20 lasted a little while before it expired.  I also played 8/6 Bonus Poker progressive.  I put $100 in and came out with $8o.  

I finally headed to the sports book.  I needed to make some sports bets.  It never takes me 3 days to get to the sports book.  I looked on Saturday, but the lines were long for the Kentucky Derby.  I bet $55 on the Hawks -5.5.  That was too low of a bet.  I knew this would be a winner, but decided to make a baseball parlay as well.  The bet was a winner and I made $50.  I also made a $50 parlay on the Reds and Cardinals.  The Cardinals game was rained out so I only won $37 there.  Not a bad bet but I could have, and should have, made more.

 I sat at the bar by the sports book and watched the Hawks game while putting back a handful of Kettel and Soda’s.  It was a nice way to ease into the day and I had a great time watching the Hawks continue to expand their lead.  I played more 8/6 Bonus Poker and, again, only lost $20.  Not too shabby.

After cashing my tickets I decided that it was finally time to explore the Forum Shops.  On the way to the shops I lost $20 in a 25 cent Top Dollar slot and won $7 in some kind of 777 slot.  I was so confused as to what was happening that I needed to just cash out.  On to the shops.  I saw the typical high end stores.  There was some kind of of Greek God coming out of the water.  I was digging the cool fish more than the Disney type show.


The ceilings were painted to look like the sky.  Casinos might want to try this since there’s never any sunlight.  Then again, seeing a sky may encourage people to want to go outside. 


We walked to one end of the shops where I was surprised to find a Cheesecake Factory.  I’ve never been, so I was curious.  I was more buzzed than hungry so I ordered the sliders.  I’ve had better.  I didn’t like that the only rest room was on the second floor either.  I’m lazy and impatient and want to go when I want to go.  Cheesecake Factory gets my first failing grade of the trip.  It might not be a fail if not for the great restaurants everywhere else in Las Vegas.

I walked back towards the casino and by the time I got through the people I wasn’t in the mood to explore the other half of the shops.  It’s too bad that I missed the spiral escalator.  Next time.  For now it was back to the casino.

I went back to the $5 Jacks or Better video poker machines and lost $3oo again.  I never have luck like this when I play Jacks or Better.  This is now 2 failed attempts with nothing positive to show for it.  I won that $300 back on the $5 Top Dollar slot machines.  I was up more but got greedy and lost a little.

I decided to head back to the room when I decided to plop down at the $1 Wheel of Fortune slots.  After a few spins I walked away up $100 and then went back for a nap..

Vegas Report – Saturday Morning

There isn’t much sleeping in Vegas and Friday night into Saturday morning was no exception.  I was up and out, again, by 7am.  I hate being an early riser.  Again, I headed down to Payards for a cup of coffee and croissant and email check.  Since it was Saturday there was a lot less sitting around.

Instead of starting my day off with penny slots I went to $1 8/5 Jacks or Better video poker.  I played for a while, but as I finished my cup of coffee I’d lost the last of my $100.  Then it was straight to the big boy $5 slot machines.  I was feeling confident after winning all day Friday.  I played a variety of games including Top Dollar one of my favorites.  After a few minutes I was down $700.  That’s the nature of the high limit slots.  I walked away tail between my legs and went to play some low limit slots.  After another $50 I decided that I needed a break and headed back to the room to recoup.

I relaxed a bit and waited for my friend to clean up before heading down to the Augustus Cafe for lunch.  I had a sour dough grilled cheese and chocolate chip shake.  Both were really good, but I think I had about 3 sips too much of my shake.  

Afterwards I decided to check out the Diamond Lounge to grab a drink.  I read that the Diamond Lounges in Vegas are different than the lounges in Atlantic City.  The real difference here was the lack of hot foods.  The staff was very nice and the service was great.  One addition in this lounge was a wall of computers.  I took a few minutes to catch up on my fantasy baseball teams (still first place!).  After watching the Kentucky Derby it was time to head over to the Mirage for my tickets to view the Manny Pacquiao & Ricky Hatton fight…

Vegas Report – Fight Night!

I headed over to Mirage just before 5pm to pick up tickets for the closed circuit viewing of the Manny Pacquiao & Ricky Hatton fight.  As I’ve stated numerous times before these are two of my favorite boxers.

There was a few hours before the fight so I played a little 3 card poker.  I had a great table with a few nice drinks.  3 of a kind, again, put me up $200 by the time I walked away.  I haven’t been to the Mirage in a few years and the basic layout hasn’t changed much, but the casino has been updated.  I decided to find out where the fight viewing was and found that it was as far away as humanly possible.  I walked through the mall and most of the ballrooms.  There was some kind of military ball as well as some kind of Miss Vietnam pageant.  I took a pit stop by the Terry Fator theater to get a drink and take a look at the pretty women with their ball gowns.

After finding the fight location I headed back to the casino to gamble for a little while longer.  I had a few more drinks and played 3 play video poker for a while.  I left $24 up, but is it really a win if I still have the ticket?

The ballroom was PACKED for the viewing.  I’d say that the room was filled with about 65% of the people favoring Ricky Hatton.  The fight was a landslide and Manny destroyed Ricky.  The Brits, who we so loud before the fight, whimpered out quietly.  I’m happy to have been in Vegas to see this.

Highlights: Pacquiao/HattonMore amazing videos are a click away

After the fight I headed to Samba the Brazilian steakhouse at the Mirage.


At Samba the Green side of the stump means go – bring me the meats!  I’ve been here before and got sick from over-eating so I selected my food accordingly.  Again, everything was good.  I did a good job selecting my meats and didn’t over-eat this time.

On the way out of the Mirage I noticed how crowded the casino was, but few people were gambling.  There were $5 tables  wide open with few takers.  I was surprised by this, but wasn’t slowed from heading to the Hard Rock Casino.  The cab line was huge and the strip was packed, but that only slowed down progress.

I haven’t been to the HRC in just over a year so a quick walk through was in order.   The casino and bar were both packed.  The casino itself, seemed to be pushed together to make room for slots and a go-go stage.  I hate the changes and hope this changes when the casino finishes expansion.  There were so many douchebags with Ed Hardy gear that I wanted to puke.  I sat down to play 3 card poker at a wide open  $5 table.  I was so indifferent that I barely paid attention to my $100 as it went away.  I was just happy to get out of there without the douchebaggery rubbing off on me.

This was a pretty early night as I headed back to Caesars at about 1:30…

Vegas Report – Prime Time!

…Friday night I got dressed and headed over to Bellagio for dinner at Prime.  It was at this time I realized that 8pm is a perfect time for dinner in Las Vegas.  I order a glass of wine at the bar while waiting for the table.  We’re taken outside to the patio for dinner.  The weather was perfect.  The patio was at the edge of the lake in front of Bellagio and the view was great.


I’m not much of a tourist so I didn’t realize that the water show happens every 15 minutes on the nose.  It was pretty cool to be sitting outside about to have steak watching the show.  Dinner probably lasted 2 hours because I think I saw the whole cycle of shows.


Having a winning afternoon and a little too much to drink I decided to splurge on dinner and I ordered a Kobe beef strip.  It was only 6 ounces and cost $150.  The smallish portion was actually perfect to soak up the alcohol and provided a nice base for the evening.  It was also the best piece of steak I’ve ever had.  Mac and cheese and onion rings were the sides and a nice compliment to the steak.  Another GREAT dinner.

After dinner I headed out to the casino for a little gambling.  One of the best things of gambling at Bellagio is that the drinks served are fantastic.  Tonight was no different.  After sitting down at a 3 card poker table I had a few more kettel one and soda’s.  About an hour and a half later I was up another $400 and decided it was time to hang out with some younger people at the Palms.

The Palms was rocking as usual.  Plenty of hot girls.  This is probably where it hit me that half the girls in Vegas have not learned how to walk in heels.  It’s pretty funny to watch girls on the edge of falling over while they try to look hot.

Anyway, I sat down for yet another session of 3 card poker.  I don’t think I’ve ever played this much 3 card poker in one day.  The drinks at the Palms were not awesome and the service was not as fast as the other casinos so I ordered double since the rest of the table was doing so.  I was dealt 3 of a kind after about 20 minutes and that set the tone for the time at Palms.  After couple more hours I walked away up another $300.

It was time to see how the other half lives at the Gold Coast.  The Gold Coast has done some remodeling since I was there last.  I’m not sure if TGIFridays would be considered an upgrade, but it was prefect for a 2am (or 3am) snack.  It was about to close, but that didn’t stop the last order from going in.  It was perfect.

I’m not sure if it was waking up at 7am or the many many drinks I had, but I was pooped.  After losing $100 in Pai Gow I headed back to Caesars Palace.  I had a great cab driver, who offered lots of laughs.  I don’t remember if I gambled at all when I go back to Caesars.  I do know that PURE was emptying and the corral they have for people was being broken down.

Off to bed.  The next day was Manny vs. Ricky…

Vegas Report – Early Friday

…so after only about 3 hours of sleep I was wide awake so I decided to shower and head down to the casino.  The closest cup of coffee was Payard’s, so I grabbed a large cup and a croissant.  Both were excellent.  While drinking my 1st cup I was checking twitter when I read the news that Danny Gans had passed away.  Many were saddened by this and it’s always sad to see someone pass away so young.  A cynic will wonder how they will replace all of the billboards around the airport and Las Vegas strip.

I played a slew of penny and nickle slots throughout the morning.  I lost everything I put into the machines.  I did so bad, I didn’t even take note of how bad.  This was a rough start to the day.  After a couple hours I went back to Payard’s for a crepe and orange juice.  I’ve never had a crepe before, but this one was pretty damn good.

I was invited for a tour of Zappos Friday afternoon, but the time coincided with the Manny Pacquiao & Ricky Hatton weigh in and the fight was the excuse for the trip.  I love Zappos, so this was a hard decision for me.  However, I was traveling with someone who’s never heard of Zappos (gasp!) so that eased the pain.

After a little relaxating back in the room I headed over to MGM for the weigh in.  It was packed!  There were tons of Brits in for Ricky Hatton.  I made my way towards the arena when I found all of the boxing fans.  I could not believe how crowded it was.  In fact I was told that they were only letting VIP’s after standing in the crowd for about 20 minutes.


After not moving for another 10 minutes I decided to head back to the casino to gamble.  Standing around isn’t very fun to me.  On the way toward the arena I noticed a giant slot.  Of course it was another stupid penny slot.  I lost another $20 and really didn’t have any fun playing so I headed over to play 8/5 Jacks or Better video poker where after about an hour or so I left up $5.

Since this was my friends first time at the MGM I decided to show him the Lion Habitat. The Lions are located on the opposite side of MGM – about a 15 minute walk when not crowded.  On the way there we were sidetracked by 3 card poker.  Table minimums were $10 and would be $25 by the time we left.  After too many drinks, a great dealer and nice pit boss I walked away up $400.  Not too shabby.

Unfortunately, closed circuit viewing of the fight at MGM had sold out while I was at the table so I was told to head over to NYNY to get tickets there.  There was a pit stop to look at the lions on the way to NYNY.  No more tickets available by the time I get NYNY but I was able to secure viewing at the Mirage.  Not ideal, but it wasn’t a big deal.

It was back to the room to change before dinner at Prime…

Vegas Report – Thursday – Let’s Roll!

…after checking out the room it was time to explore Caesars Palace.  After walking around the casino a little bit I decided that I needed a snack before dinner.  I hit up Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill.  It was just opening for dinner so I decided on the baby romaine salad.  This was a fancy name for a Caesar salad with chorizo.  It was damn good and the perfect snack.

I found a strange looking 7 card/3 hand video poker game by Shadow Bar and decided to get my gambling started.  Since I really didn’t know anything about this I played $20 that went away rather quickly.  I then swore this game off because it wasn’t really fun.

I went back up to the room to change for dinner and watch the end of game 6 of Chicago Bulls vs. Boston Celtics.  Of course this game ended up going to overtime.  Since I haven’t been to Palazzo, I got there with plenty of time to walk around.  I signed up for Club Grazi online and went to pick up my card.  I forgot that I received a $50 gaming credit when I signed up.  That would have been awesome if the machines would accept the card.  I decided to have a drink at the bar while I lost another $20 on video poker.  I couldn’t see the TV’s, but the bartender was getting updates and the Bulls and Celtics ended up going to a game 7.

It was time for what I was assuming would be the highlight of the night – Carne Vino.  I sat at the bar waiting for some friends and had a wonderful glass of Valpolicella.


As the glass was emptying my friends arrived and it was off to mangia!  After watching this video about 20 times I could not be more excited for what was in store.  No appetizer, no funny business, just bring me the steak.  Being the polite people we are we decided to wait while the final steak was delivered.


In the meantime, my porterhouse was taken off the bone and drizzled with a little extra virgin olive oil.  I’ve eaten a lot of steak, but this piece of meat was one of the most beautiful I’ve seen.  It was hard to wait and 5-10 minutes felt like 30 minutes.


The steak was accompanied with mashed potato zeppole.  I nice creamy and crunchy compliment to the steak.  The delay in the final steak delivery proved to have one upside surprise – Free Dessert!  We were presented with a trio of sorbet for the table: Rhubarb, Banana and Date (I think).  Banana was the clear winner for me, but the table was split.  Overall, this was a great dinner and maybe the best steak I’ve had in Las Vegas!

After dinner we parted ways and it was time to go downtown.  We watched KISS on the Fremont Street Experience.  I’m not a KISS fan, but this was pretty awesome.


After the show was over we walked around Fremont Street just so my friend could enjoy the spectacle.


After walking around for a little while I went on the hunt for Golden Monkey.  This is my favorite penny slot and not located in many casinos.  However, the Golden Nugget has a bank of these machines so I headed in.  After roaming around for a few minute I found it and proceeded to lose another $20.  It seems as if any time I put a $20 in that nothing is coming out, so I decided to stop after the loss.

I moved to a mini Pai Gow table to really get the night moving.  Pai Gow is kind of a fun game, but with all of the pushes it’s great for drinking.  After about 8 drinks and 90 minutes I left the Golden Nugget up $100 dollars.  I was happy with that and after small rolling for the first day I was happy to be up a little heading back to Caesars.

Once back to Caesars I promptly lost $300 sitting at a 3 card poker table.  It was the most expensive Coors Light in my history of gambling.  I may have won 2 hands.  It was an aweful session.  It was just after 3am and I was hitting a wall.  I decided to play $5 9/6 Jacks or Better on my way back to the room.  I lost $300 quicker than I did in 3 card poker.  That was a sign that it was time to call it a night.

All in all my first day in Vegas lasted over 25 hours.  I had a great meal and was buzzed enough to pass out quickly…I only had about 3 hours of sleep and it was off to Friday…