Travel Blog (Vegas Adventure Part 14)


Vegas is a city where dreams go to die. 

In the old days, when the Mob ran the Vegas, there was a saying that if you went broke, the casino would ensure you would get home by buying you a bus ticket. 

When the corporations and suits took over Vegas, things changed. Nobody gives a shit about the homeless and those that lose everything, not even the city. 

This is sad. 

In a city that millions are wagered, and some high rollers bet as much as $100k on a hand, just outside, literally on the bridge between the opulent Palazzo and the Wynn, there was one homeless woman begging for money, and another who evidently had turned in for the night and decided to sleep on the there. 

Go down the escalator and enter the Wynn promenade and you can buy Rolex and Loius Vuitton and Chanel, and just outside people are destitute. 

Back when I used to live in Vegas, I saw all sorts of stuff. I lived behind the strip for 3 months as I was trying to close on my house. 

There is a huge homeless problem surrounding the strip with people suffering all kinds of addictions and bad turns in life. 

In fact, they estimate 2000 people actually live in the storm drain tunnels beneath Las Vegas. 

I know, because I have seen it. When people lost their homes in the housing collapse, some people even moved their entire furniture sets inside. They sleep at night and come out in the day and roam the strip. You’ll see them scavenging casinos looking for dropped money or tickets. They hand out those club tickets and ask for a donation. 

Some efforts are made by charities to get folks on their feet, but many don’t break the cycle. 

And sadly, many are vets. 

Here is one story I have, from my first week in Vegas in 2008. I was at chipotle next to Harrahs and a homeless man with torn up clothing, bloodshot eyes, was hogging the corner table just outside. He watched as a woman was done with her burrito bowl and she tossed it in the garbage. 

The homeless/drugged man then walked inside and reached in and grabbed the remainder of her bowl from the trash. He took it outside and mumbled to himself and ten started eating it with his fingers as tourists walked by. 

The next time you are in Vegas take a look, the homeless are not as invisible as you may think.

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 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 2)


So there I was at Aria, my first stop. I’ve been there many times on previous trips, and the first thing that shocked me was the new parking system MGM installed yesterday. In a bizarre move, all MGM properties except Circus Circus will charge for parking after the first hour. How much? $10 a day. This is pretty mind boggling for an industry known for loss leaders like free drinks when gambling and $1 shrimp cocktails. 


I’m pretty sure based on the parking (first time in 3 years I could park on main parking level instead of 3 parking levels up) that people are already avoiding MGM to go to Wynn, Harrahs, or Las Vegas Sands properties.

So I was going to play 2-5NL holdem and took a 1-3 table to wait, however the game was fun and easy. There was some Scottish dude next to me who explained his global travels and how he doesn’t pay any taxes; I guess in England if you are abroad more than half a year you don’t pay any taxes. 

I splashed some pots and got in crazy hands and was moved around to one of the crazier 1-3 NL games ever. At around 4am the game kind of turned into $100 blinds because a few players were shoving $60-200 into the pot preflop without seeing their hands for around 45 minutes until one crazy gambler got it all. Everyone waited and prayed to nab at hand during the crazy “tired gambling.”

Too bad it wasn’t me. 

All in all, the first session went ok. Up $775 for getting rust off before I head over to the WSOP later this week. 


This is the halls of Aria at 4:50am. I kind of roamed around looking at what had changed in a year. Aria kind of looks like an airport in a weird way. It is mind boggling MGM spent $10B on City Center as the design is one of the most un-fun atmospheres in Vegas. 


So as I was walking out to pay my damn $10 for parking, I stopped at the craps table, a place I have seen all sorts of stuff go down. At the table there was a guy in a whittle hoodie and brown hat playing $25 craps. After 10 minutes the guy next to me said “hey, the shooter is Neymar jr.” I had no idea who he was and had to google it, and sure enough it was him. On his Twitter page, his posse is pretty distinct and they were all there cheering him on. He was a pretty gracious friend; constantly refilling his friends racks when they went broke. Banker Neymar Jr has a nice ring to it. 

I would have asked for a pic with him, however, the guy was obviously trying to be stealth during a weekend with his friends in Vegas. Why be an asshole and interrupt if I honestly didn’t know who he was and the fact that he will be starring in Vin Diesels next action film. 

In any case, it’s early and I still technically don’t have a room booked until Sunday.