Travel Blog (Vegas Adventure Part 11)

I saw a show.

Cliche?

At the Wynn, with each room comes a ticket to “Showstoppers” which I guess is a Broadway greatest hits of sorts. I’m not exactly a fan of musicals, but was told that I might as well check it out for free. 

So I headed down to the casino from my room and walked up to the ticket center. 


I asked a couple people in line if they had seen it. It was around 10 minutes prior to show start and I was not sure if I wanted to commit that much time to this experience. 

Then I met who I call “The Excited Man in the Safari Hat.” He was noticeably excited and couldn’t contain it. He said if I loved Broadway that I would love the show, because it is just the hit numbers. I guess translating that to stage play speak that is like a dinner of all deserts. 

He said this not realizing I don’t even recognize what a hit number is, outside of movie adaptations.

The guy was decked out with a backpack as if he had been on a hike. A large blue water bottle hung from his pack. 

Based on his demeanor he looked like he came to Vegas just for this show.

Then the lady behind him chimed in. “It’s great, I’ve seen it 3 times. What’s wrong? Why is your nose scrunched up?” 

I said I had a free ticket and they agreed I should give it a chance.


My seat was in the 4th row but all the way to the edge. This made my getaway plan feasible. 


Do you want concessions? I guess this works the same way as a movie? The prices were about the same.


There is a balcony for those who want a higher view.


The theater is a pretty good size. It might be a little smaller than the Penn and Teller show I last saw.


The show began with the main singers opening it up. I didn’t know what to make of it. They were well dressed and sounded pretty good to me. 

I think this was the Cabaret set. This is where I noticed how hard the performers were working. Everyone on stage has a role to play. The smiles were all at max capacity, cuz I was so close to the stage I was almost trying to spot if they got tired enough to break a smile and take a deep breath. From my seat I could even see the little wig-lines on their foreheads.


This was a Vegas set of some sort and I have no idea what the songs were, but I did like the lighted signs. A few of them had to dance and sing on top of those benches and I closely watched if any of them got close to stepping off.


I did recognize the songs from Grease. There are 66 performers in the show and they are all giving it their best on a Monday night. 


This was some number I don’t know. People seemed to like it and the balloon popping. They did this spinning feather move that was pretty cool though one girl totally messed up a little. 


They had a pretty nice set from Chicago. I mean, I am not a theater guy, but watching the girls dressed in very little dance was pretty entertaining to me, despite the music being about how they all killed some dudes. 


The show ends in a line dance of some sort. I guess this is popular, or was at some point in theater history?


The crowd loved it. I was a little confused to what I had just watched. My observation is the quality of the performers are top notch and they all work their asses off each night. Some of the singers are especially good. Good on them. 

As for me, it was only 90 mins and I didn’t walk out. 

Travel Blog (Vegas Adventure Part 10)


Want to hear a poker story? 

I mean, I’m playing a crap ton of poker and have not talked about it much. I play all sorts of games but focus primarily at 2-5 NL poker and sometimes 5-10.  This year, however I’ve been playing 1-3 for fun as I wait for tournaments. 

Yesterday, I drove to the rio at 8am and the place was empty as hell, so I sat at 1-3 to wait for the 2am deep stack tournament. 

I bought in for 300 and after an hour and around 500 then was down to 300 then back up to 500, mostly because I call a ton of pots. At 1-3, why not?

I lost a big pot to one guy who called my all in (I had the top set) and he an an open ended straight draw, and hit the river Ace to win after the money was all in.

So maybe 30 minutes later, I was dealt pocket Kings in the middle position. I simply flat called the 3 bucks to which someone else raised it to $12 and I simply called that and 4 players saw the flop. I was third to act.

The flop was K-8-5 with two clubs on the board. 

I bet $25 (half pot) and everyone called. 

The turn card was a red 10, so I still had the top hand. 

With around $150 in the pot, the first guy checked, the second guy checked, I bet $80 (half pot) and the last position called, the first position called, then the second guy (straight draw guy) shoved all-in with $300 or so. 

I then shoved all in, for around the $450 I had left. I still had the top hand. 

Then the third position, said “whatever” and shoved all in with around $400. 

Then the guy first to act waited 30 seconds and moved all in with $500. 

I was ahead but had a bunch of bad cards that could screw me.

The river was a red 2. I had the nuts.

Seat one flipped a Ace-4 of clubs for a missed flush draw. The second seat flopped a set of 8s. The fourth seat mucked his cards.

So there I was. Raking in a $1500 pot on a 1-3 game.

And all of it happened because I didn’t push my kings hard before the flop. 

I played another hour and left for the pool. 

Travel Blog (Vegas Adventure Part 9)


Above was a pretty darn tasty Korean Fried Chicken Burrito at the Venetian. When you play poker you usually get a couple bucks in comps every hour you play. Most properties have some sort of comp per hour system.

Thus far I’ve had 4-5 meals at the Venetian and paid zero, except some cash tips given to the hard working folks who wheel out the food.

The dish above was tomato, basil, chicken, mozzarella dish of some sort. I usually order this the most of any dish on the menu.

The dish above is a chicken and shrimp jambalaya. It’s was good, however there was maybe too much green peppers for a jambalaya.
The crispy caramel chicken is also good, especially considering that it is wheeled out to the poker tables. And especially with beers coming every 10 minutes, it is hard not to love playing poker at the Venetian. 

With the $10 parking fee at MGM properties, where else would I play? They are essentially taking away poker comps at MGM in a way. I usually would split time between Aria and Venetian, but it looks like the new awesome poker room at Encore will have to take that spot. 

Travel Blog (Vegas Adventure Part 8)


So I was playing poker on Friday when Allegiant Airlines called me and said that my booking at the Palazzo was bumped.

Hmm.

I don’t know how this happens. They said rooms often get overbooked, so I just went with it. Allegiant Airlines apologized for the inconvenience and offered me to move me to the Cosmopolitan (more expensive hotel) or the Wynn Tower Suite (more expensive package) and they would cover the difference.

Pretty sweet. 


So I went to check in, and discovered when I got to the desk (Sunday morning is busiest check-in day due to all the check-outs and waits going on according to the employee) that I went to the wrong area, the resort check-in instead of the tower check in, which is by the south entrance.

What makes the tower better? No resort fees (score). Complimentary breakfast (score). Access to the VIP pool. I think every room comes with a free ticket to “showstoppers” the musical. There is twice a day service to the room. 


So that is the hallway up to my room. A noticeable difference than what I had been crashing at on my daily Priceline checks. 


My room is pretty nice. Everything is color coordinated. There are automatic curtains and lights. The ceilings are high and the air smells great. This has to be the most comfortable bed I’ve ever stayed in at a hotel. I slept through 3 alarms because I slept so good. 

The room is furnished with a little seating area and desk. Other hotels might have this but the quality is considerably higher here too. (On the strip, I’ve stayed at Monte Carlo, New York New York, Tropicana, Mandalay Bay, and the Palms) 

The bathroom is the nicest I’ve been in at a hotel in Vegas: Double marble sinks, large bathtub with a tv in the bathroom, with a complimentary tub of items that blows other places away.  

Of course there is the snack bar. If it’s late, and you are hungry, you can simply snack there instead of walking your ass to CVS to save a few bucks. On average it was around $7-9 for most of the items. 

That’s me laying down with the curtains opened. 

Out my window, I could see the pool down below. The VIP area is the higher level. The pool is heated to keep it around 80 degrees or so year around. 
Looking up from there is the Wynn Golf course. Looks pretty nice to me. There were not too many golfers when I looked. 

More to come on the stay here as the week goes. Wynn is an awesome hotel, and Allegiant was pretty awesome for making up the difference and putting me at the Wynn Tower Suites. 

Travel Blog (Vegas Adventure Part 7)

So there was a bizarre thing I did with my travel package. I did maybe 50 different variations of searches and combinations of dates to determine which was the best value. What I discovered was the weekends are expensive in Vegas, especially for the hotels I wanted to stay at. For the cost 9 days at the Palazzo plus airfare through Allegiant and a rental car, it was going to be $2900, not including hotel tax and resort fees plus rental car facility fees ($90).

When I searched again for Sunday through Friday for the last 5 days in a partial hotel search, the total cost was a little under $1100 with the same fees. Wow. The first 4 days were gonna cost me a ton. So like the adventurer and seasoned Vegas traveler I was, I took the cheaper option. My plan was simple; I would get to Vegas without a hotel room the first 4 days and Priceline the last minute deals. 

So I got to Vegas on Wednesday afternoon and played some poker and before I knew, it turned into a marathon session. My stuff was still packed in the rental car. So I simply used Priceline and scored a cheap place off the strip, Stay America for $45 (out the door with tax price) on that Thursday. 

Am I a cheapskate? Maybe.

But on the strip, you pay an average of $30 in resort fees plus $10 in hotel tax (plus $10 parking a fees at MGM properties) each day. Add that up and you are talking up to $450 in hidden fees. 

Yes, I did pay for a rental car, but I consider this a mandatory expense as taxis are a complete waste of money when seeing Vegas on the go. The math works out if you just use the rental once per day vs taking a taxi. (Other good option is to use “The Deuce” which pretty much runs 24/7 up and down the strip).

So I checked in and they welcomed me with the hospitality that you would expect for a $45 deal on Priceline.  The place comes with a kitchen and wifi (slower than 1994 dial up) but reminded me of those types of hotels that people pay by the week. I didn’t care much. I seriously took a shower and slept for 10 hours. 

Think about it. The only place cheaper than this with no resort fees are the hostels, which might only cost $15 but you are sharing the room with 7 people, sleeping in bunk beds.

So that was my room after waking up. Not very nice but not stank either. There was a certain aroma in the air that reminded me of the scent of what happens when people don’t exactly abide by the no smoking rule. 
Stay America did come with “breakfast.” There was coffee, some fruit, some muffins and some granola bars. After 10 hours of sleeping I needed something so I scarfed down on everything to get something in.


All in all, Stay America is a good cheap option to crash if you need to do something funky for a day or two to beat pricing anomalies. With friends, you save even more money. If this had resort fees of the strip (only a few blocks east) the place would have been equivalent of $5 at circus circus (plus all the crazy fees).

Movie Reviews: Ocean’s Eleven

Oceans Eleven directed by “SS” 

I used to like films by “SS” that is, before he resorted to Magic Mike. Before that, he was the innovative filmmaker with “Sex, Lies, and Videotape” and “Out of Sight.” Oceans Eleven is when he hit the big time with an ensemble cast that can’t really fail even if they hired somebody off the street to direct it (Even that douchebag behind the last Fantastic 4 could have made this … Well, maybe)

Simply put, this is a hesit-by-the-numbers film. 

But it works, because it is done with charisma. Charm. I don’t know. Everything is so positive. Danny Ocean just got out jail, but he is a swell guy because he can recruit the hippest crew to rob the biggest make-believe casino vault (ludicrous in that the properties are not even under the same company nor near eachother, as many of you who have walked the strip before would know). 

But who cares, we root for them because they are cool and hip and money is cool. If they were thugs or gangsters this would not be as entertaining. But because Danny Ocean is doing it for a girl, (robbing a casino is the fastest way to a girl’s heart, right?) we root for him. 

I liked this movie when it came out and I still do. 

Although I contend the plot of the movie is simple and is purely built on the charisma of its actors. I recently got rejected pretty bad from the blacklist for my script with a heist as part of the plot, and some poor excuse of a reviewer told me in my review (which you can read on my blog) is that Tony Benedict is an even more evil person than Danny and that’s why we like Danny. 

Bullshit. 

That reviewer is an amateur hack because the movie didn’t even make an attempt to make Tony (Andy Garcia) look bad. He just manages a casino. He got conned for one comment about Julia Roberts at the exact right time and he was bad? 

If there is a con story or heist story we always root for them if they are the main characters and especially if they are funny. Only if the main character is the person stopping it, (first character introduced), do we root for them. Trust me, the trope works from Die Hard to Paul Blart.

I know how to break down stories and the mechanics behind film. Whoever is introduced in the first 10 minutes is who the audience is supposed to root for, unless it is a horror film of some sort, because in that trope they have to show some scary stuff early on so that we know the MC will be in danger. 

With that said, the movie is entertaining and fun. I like everyone from Bernie Mac to Don Cheedle to Casey Affleck in the supporting roles. I like how Brad Pitt aka Rusty is eating in almost every scene before the heist. I like the switcheroo at the end. 

I know, this is another weird movie review but it’s coming from me, right? Maybe I should rename my reviews as commentary.

Movie Rating: 9.5/10 S.W.A.T trucks. 

Travel Blog (Vegas Adventure Part 6)


What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas is the old adage. This is true when you are visiting America’s playpen. If you live in Vegas, this is where dreams go to die. 

Today, as I was checking on some rental property stuff, I stopped by Walmart (America’s China shop) on the way back to the strip and saw an example of what locals go through.

Two people got run-the-fuck over in the Walmart parking lot. Groceries were everywhere on the street. The pedestrians were alive and well I believe, acting as if a train hit them in the ass instead of a beat up 1995 sedan going 5mph. 

It was quite a site to see. The pedestrians, with no blood or any sign of impact were both on the pavement on their backs, breathing with their arms over their heads (did they confuse a car impact with fainting?) and some good Samaritans attempting to triage the disaster.

I know, call me an asshole for saying this was staged.

But riddle me this, why was this in front of a Walmart? And how did a sedan hit not one, but two people walking in an area where people look around? (What accurate aim?) And why did neither of them grab their leg where there would have been impact? 

I walked by and took a picture because I have seen this many times before when I lived in Vegas. You see, there is a reason why pawnshops thrive here. I have seen some wierd stuff here and I’ll try to tell some stories as the week goes on.

People get desperate as hell here. They will do anything. Even this.

The driver of the car was desperately trying to take pictures of the scene and the acting going on, however in an ironic twist, the good Samaritans were threatening him to stop. It is hard to tell sometimes if the “do gooders” were in on it or not, or just new residents, but they were assholes to the driver, a man who was just probably trying to go to Walmart to score some 88 cent bread or a new OP t-shirt for $6.88.

Instead, he saw some acting. 

I bought a new phone charger that I lost at the Venetian plus some Pringles and walked out and the police had arrived (like 15 of them) along with a firetruck. None of them looked concerned. The driver was calmly trying to explain his predicament and the officers were pretty friendly to him, more so than the Good Samaritans. 

They see this all the time.