I’m going to Vegas in March with a group of friends. That’ll make it an even dozen trips since my first one in 1994. Vegas is the place where I take in some excess in moderation — a few days there and I’m good for a while. Some people despise it but I love it, especially the cheesiest parts of it (which are rapidly being mowed down and replaced by high-dollar stuff).
We’ll be staying this time at Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall — the old Barbary Coast in the center of the strip — because the place threw us a mail-in offer for half-price rooms. Our friends are staying next door at Bally’s.
I am 5-6 on the win/lose scale in Vegas trips (although one of my losses was for $10 and I’ve never lost more than $350 on a trip). Some highlights of past visits:
1994 — Bally’s. My first trip to Vegas. I was exhausted, in part because I had just flown to California and back, and then to Vegas, after covering the aftermath of the Northridge earthquake. Hotel was fine, my girlfriend was cute (grin), my friend’s family decided I “couldn’t hang” because I was so beat. LOST.
1995 — Circus Circus. It was a dump even then and I haven’t been back in the place. Had a smoking hot blackjack session at the now-demolished Stardust and was abused mercilessly for refusing to push more than a green chip on the table (a green chip was a whole lot of money to me back then…heck, it still is). Stayed out all night gambling downtown at the 4 Queens — dropped a C-note (not really much for a whole night of gambling) but remember it as perhaps the most fun I’ve ever had on a gambling jag. WON.
1995 — Las Vegas Hilton. Went to town for a convention. Didn’t gamble much (I really needed to attend the convention!) but still got my first big overall trip win. Came home and bought some stereo speakers with the winnings. WON.
1998 — MGM Grand. I remember this as the trip where the casino was too rich for my blood. Gambled almost everywhere but there. LOST.
2000 — Imperial Palace. I had a great winning night downtown on this trip. This casino was creepy — my kind of creepy. I still like the I.P. and it’s still creepy. Another person on this trip with me won more than $30,000 when he pulled a royal flush playing Let it Ride (or, as I like to call it, ‘Let it Go’). WON.
2002 — Fitzgerald’s — took a players’ club mail offer for the first time. Saw our first big production show — ‘Mystere’ at T.I. Played craps for the first time. LOST.
2003 — Aladdin. Saw ‘O’ at Bellagio. LOST.
2004 — Fitzgerald’s — Just an overnighter on the way back from a San Francisco vacation. LOST 10 BUCKS.
2005 — Flamingo — My only Vegas trip with my own family — had a tremendous amount of fun and this is probably my favorite trip. Also saw Elton John at Caesar’s. Won nearly a grand at the Barbary Coast within two hours of my plane touching down. Spent a good chunk of the rest of the trip giving parts of it back, but still WON.
2006 — Tropicana — A ‘boys’ trip’ with an old high school buddy and his friends. Tremendous wise-cracking fun. Had some smokin’ hot craps sessions. WON.
2007 — Planet Hollywood — Another boys’ trip with the same group. Memorable because I got stuck in Cleveland and arrived in Vegas already exhausted. LOST.