Welcome back for the latest installment in my series of infamous Las Vegas trip reports. This report requires a little history lesson. I am friends with a group of track coaches that have attended the United States Track & Field Olympic Trials every four years since 1992. The Trials were held in Sacramento in 2000, and we snuck over to Reno during the two day break. We had such a good time that we decided to go to Las Vegas in 2002 to break up the four year wait. Well, that 2002 trip has resulted in annual trips to Las Vegas every summer since, including 2004, when we went a mere two weeks before returning to Sacramento for the Trials. The cast is made up of high school track coaching legends and educators Rudy, Emery, Rudy’s son Matthew, Rudy’s son-in-law Chris, and yours truly. The notorious Whitey, who has joined us on other trips, got the clamps put on him from Mrs. Whitey, and is missing from this year’s roster. This trip report is a lot tamer than when I go on my solo trips, since alcohol doesn’t play as big of a role when I go with others.
BigCheese Fabulous Las Vegas Trip Report XVII
The tradition lives on! The track coaches invade Las Vegas. Rudy (Rude-dog), Matthew (The Puppy), Chris (Puppy-In-Law) and Emery (Captain J) joined your humble reporter, me, for a fourth consecutive annual trip to Sin City.
Since it was only his second trip with the Boys, and having done a lousy job of babysitting the Puppy last year, Chris was placed on double-super-secret probation for the first part of the trip. At the request of his mother, we thought of putting Matthew on probation too. But he does such a good job of getting drunked up and providing entertainment that we decided against it, and only told her that we would. The rest of us required no such probation, as nobody really thought that a bunch of old farts needed it. However, a separated shoulder almost prevented Rudy from attending this year’s excursion. Rudy assured us that he was capable of performing all of his required functions without assistance, which is good since this is a pretty unsympathetic bunch.
Our group convened at the Capital City Airport in Lansing. Congratulations to Rudy abounded, as he took over his new position as Superintendent of Hemlock High School on Friday. I questioned Rudy on the difficulty of a job that would require him to take a vacation after only one day of work. Fortunately the promotion has not gone to his head, as we only had to call him â€œSuper-Rudyâ€, and not â€œHis Highnessâ€ on the trip.
I knew that I was destined for a successful trip as I was a winner before we even flew out. I was informed by the TSA people that my name was randomly selected by the computer, so I asked them what I won. The grand prize was a full body search. I have won better awards, but I didn’t complain. After pulling me aside to do the search, I was a little worried about my belongings traveling by their lonesome through the screener. I called out to the Boys to grab my crap, which they did.
The screening process obviously not what it should be, the dumb-asses finally got around to getting my stuff, which was neatly stacked on the side by Rudy and Emery. After the security saw this, one of them asked for whoever touched my stuff. Rudy reluctantly came forward, but Emery bolted. Reminiscent of the old Hertz commercials, Emery looked like O J Simpson running up the stairs before disappearing around a corner. It’s the fastest he’s moved in years. I momentarily thought about squealing on him, but I decided to shut up and let Rudy take the rap by himself. Rudy was also rewarded with a search, although he did not leave the screener a tip.
I required only one Bloody Mary on the quiet flight, amazingly void of any whiny brats. Rudy needed no pain medication for his shoulder, and we even discussed selling some of his pills at the Western for some extra cash. The highlight of the flight came when Matthew won a garbage bag full of $1 bills when flight attendant Geonn selected his bill in the money game. Visions of entering Glitter Gulch with a bag full of singles immediately filled Matthew’s head.
Upon arrival, Chris momentarily contemplated hijacking a Bellagio limo, but figured the jig would be up as soon as he told them to take us downtown. So we grabbed the Dollar shuttle instead, and picked up our mini-van in record time. Thank you, Fastlane. No coaches trip to Las Vegas can begin without a visit to Hooters. A quick ride down to Sunset Station got us there with an hour to spare before they opened, so we broke up to play our respective games. I took out the pinky ring with the $ symbol on it that my niece Stephanie got for me out of a bubble gum machine, and put it on. The good luck ring produced immediate results, as it took exactly six minutes for me to hit four deuces for 1000 quarters on a Deuces Wild machine. Giddy from the immediate win, I decided to share the wealth by paying for the rental car with my winnings. Matthew also experienced immediate success, winning $150 at the Blackjack tables. Lunch was on the Puppy. Our waitress was so cute that I was actually looking at her face when I talked to her, not a normal occurrence at Hooters.
After a quick stop at Sam’s Town, we were soon downtown and ready to check in. For the first time, our entire cast would be in the same hotel. The Vegas Club was home for this trip, although I would be bolting to the Riviera for the last two nights. After checking in, everyone in our group except Matthew decided to visit the friendly confines of the El Cortez for some low limit games and booze. Rudy and Chris were first timers to the El Co. After several hours of Blackjack, they are now die-hard fans of the place. I quickly left the table after blowing through $100 way too fast. The video poker machines at the bar would be my perch for the rest of the night. I tried to stump the piano player with a few requests, but he knew them all. I finally got pissed off and made one up, declaring victory when he didn’t know it. A drunk getting tossed for throwing his empty cans toward a garbage can across the bar also provided some entertainment. Eventually, everyone worked their way back to the Vegas Club at their own leisure, promising to meet up the next morning. The only word from Matthew came when he called Chris for the correct number to their room. We weren’t too concerned, since Matthew has been known to spend 12 hours at the same table. It was suspected that he spent some of the $1 bills that he won on the plane, but he’s not talking.
With young pups Matthew and Chris being casualties from the previous night, the old guys were left to begin the new day on our own. Rudy, Emery, and I decided to start out at the bottom and work our way up from there. And it doesn’t get any lower than the Western. So a quick walk down to that den of dumb-asses ensued. We were reminded of another must-do, as we spied the Atomic bar just past the Western. We almost made it to the Western before a bum asked for 50 cents for a draft. Emery was tempted to give him a dollar so he could take the next day off, but decided against it. Rudy the one-armed bandit showed no ill effects of his injury, as he was able to play blackjack and drink Buds at the same time. A normal cast of characters filled the Western. A deadbeat washing up in the bathroom sink made Emery a little nervous, though I preferred it to the alternative, especially if he was going to be sitting near me. Some four-foot tall guy that we nicknamed Tattoo came up while I was playing a Beverly Hillbillies penny machine, and without asking, began to give me a lecture on how poorly the machine pays out. I just ignored Tattoo’s sound advice and finished out the bonus round I was on. A hooker in full red, white, and blue attire reminded us that it was the Fourth of July. A wild royal flush on a Joker’s Wild machine brought me two new friends from across the aisle. Even the bar was filled to capacity with about 50 characters.
After several hours, it was time to head back to the Vegas Club to meet up with Chris and Matthew. A ride down to Boulder Station followed, where lunch at the Guadalajara Grill was compliments of Rudy. A rollercoaster video blackjack session took Rudy from $360 up to $0 in short order. A drunk being shown the door for picking a fight with a bartender added to the excitement. After losing sessions by everyone, we thought it best for us to make a move.
A trip to the Riviera followed, where I would be holed up for the next two nights. I was surprised to find the casino filled with white canes and leader-dogs, compliments of the American Counsel Of The Blind convention going on. I thought that this might work to my favor, as chances might improve with a cute chick who couldn’t see me. The flip side would be that my personality would be magnified, severely hindering any possible opportunity I might have. Our crew split up between visits to the Stardust, Slots-A-Fun, Westward Ho, and the home of that evil bastard clown, Circus Circus. At Slots-A-Fun, Emery laughed at some idiot who missed out on a big progressive jackpot because he had not played max coins. Rudy began a hugely profitable night by cleaning out the Stardust and Ho vaults with one of his legendary blackjack runs. He would later continue the run with wins downtown at Fitzgeralds, the Fremont, and the Four Queens. I decided to hunker down at the Riv’s bar for a little video poker, scoping out two hot waitresses in the process. A video poker lesson to a kid who kept asking my advice also kept me amused. Since he seemed to be sweating the $5 that he put in the machine, the kid happily accepted another $5 I offered to watch my machine while I hit the bathroom and also called my parents. Today’s public service announcement: Don’t go to Vegas without money!
Drinking Bacardi and Cokes until I couldn’t talk any more, I missed the 8 pm reunion time. The Boys returned downtown, while I found the Riv poker room. Showing no sound judgment, I settled in to a drunken round of low limit Texas Hold â€˜Em. It didn’t help that the atmosphere was similar to a Friday night frat party at the Delta house. A bunch of drunk World Poker Tour wannabe punks invaded the table, pissing off everyone in the process. First, the pit boss, who told one of them that he couldn’t use his cell phone at the tables. Next, the waitress who he stiffed because he wasn’t getting double shots in his drinks. Finally, one of the idiots almost got his ass kicked by an old-timer who called the kid’s bluff on the $2-4 table. The dork started swearing and yelling at the old guy, claiming he didn’t know how to play because he called the fantastic raise by the kid. The boss running the poker room finally sent the boys and their impending hangovers on their way.
Another entertaining fellow at the table was a deaf guy from Wyoming. He was likable enough, but he was a terrible poker player. He would buy $20 worth of chips, play every hand, lose his stake, and leave. Ten minutes later, he would be back with another $20, fresh from the ATM, and repeat the process. This occurred about ten times. I think one guy felt sorry for him and tossed in a winning hand so the poor guy could win. Eventually, the booze and lack of food forced me to call it a night at the table. A quick trip upstairs and I was soon sleeping it off in my cozy bed.
Since the Boys had our vehicle downtown, and with all of the low-lifes sleeping it off, I decided to take an early morning walk on the wild side. A mere 50 minutes was all it took to make the interesting trek past the assortment of pawn shops, run-down motels, thrift stores, and check cashing joints that rise between the Riviera and the Plaza. The walk up Main street was not quite as tourist-friendly as going up Las Vegas Boulevard, but I did count four bail bond places along the way (ACME, Blackjack, Big O, and my favorite, Goodfellas). Good to know if I ever bring my brother Tony out again. I figured that it is just good business to bring the product to the consumer like that.
The first person I saw when I arrived at the Vegas Club was Emery. A quick trip down to Main Street Station, where I treated Emery to the excellent breakfast buffet. We stayed and played until I left for the Plaza. The noon Texas Hold â€˜Em tournament was calling me. I quickly registered, but being only 10:00, I had some time to kill. I could think of no better way of killing that time than to spend it with one of my favorite bartenders, Willie. Willie immediately began supplying me with Long Island Iced Teas faster than I could drink them. Feeling no pain and having no purpose other than waiting for the tournament, I was hoping to break even as I played some Jacks Or Better at the bar. Then, the unexpected happened. I was delighted to draw the J, Q, and 10 of diamonds after originally saving the A, K. Royal flush! $1,000!! Tuesday was shaping up very nicely indeed. With substantial tips around, I sucked down a whole lot of Long Island Iced Teas, which guaranteed a short run in the poker tournament. But I didn’t care!
Matthew showed up to play in the tournament also. He finished 18th out of 30 players, and I went out in 10th place. Since the others knew that Matt and I were in the tournament, everyone was also playing at the Plaza. I found Rudy at a blackjack table, where he was making an unsuccessful attempt to extend his monster winning streak from the previous night. He must have been betting a lot, because the pit boss came by and asked Rudy if he wanted me thrown out for bothering him. Rudy, in good spirits, told the pit boss I could stay. We regrouped, one at a time, at Willie’s bar. Emery and I had a nice discussion with a couple of sisters from Minnesota, who had violated the Omaha Lounge’s clearly posted No Dancing rule the previous night. Chris and Matthew soon arrived, and a trip to the Strip soon followed.
Imperial Palace was our first stop, where we spent several hours of drinking, gambling, and ogling the hot waitresses. I knew Rudy’s time was running out for the night, as he was half-way through a Mudslide in a glass that was almost as tall as he was. Several more hours were spent visiting the Flamingo, where Rudy lost so much money that he was introduced to a host and offered a room. They definitely want him back. I worked my way back to the Riviera via the monorail, while the rest of the crew headed back downtown. I wanted to get some play on my card, since I had only played a little bit that morning. I also had a $25 food credit that I could use. So a late evening trip to Kady’s coffee shop seemed like a good idea. However, there was one thing that I forgot about. The ACB convention. The coffee shop was an absolute zoo. Here were some of the highlights:
1) A dogfight by two of the leader dogs.
2) A lady ran over another lady’s foot with her wheelchair.
3) Another dog led a lady into my table when he went under my table to retrieve a scrap of food. I was able to direct her to the exit without further incident.
Despite the interruptions, I did enjoy my meal. I also enjoyed the $120 I won on a penny Mr. Cashman machine. By midnight, I’d had enough excitement and called it a night.
Our final day started with me putting in some more play at the Riviera video poker machines. After checking out, I hopped a cab downtown. The cab driver gave me an animated account of how the Mob is alive and well in Las Vegas, and entertained me with several stories gleaned from his 21 years as a Vegas cabbie. After meeting the Boys for breakfast at the Vegas Club’s Upper Deck restaurant, we checked out of the rooms and loaded up the mini-van. Rudy had some good news, as the baseball games we bet on the previous day netted each of us a $54 profit. Rudy also continued his losing ways downtown, putting the trip he is taking with his wife in two weeks in serious jeopardy.
Matthew’s night back downtown consisted of blackjack at the Vegas Club with a couple of sisters from Ohio. What few details we could gather included him giving the girls the beads that he won at Imperial Palace. The girls were stuffing extra $5 chips in their bras, and would occasionally flash Matthew as a reward for the beads. Though we were not there for the debacle, we can only imagine the shape that Matthew was in, as he tried to enter the closed Glitter Gulch at 5:30 am. Unlike last year, his new technique of getting plastered on the last night instead of the first, left him with enough money to make it through the trip.
Emery had discovered the new Star Wars machines, and quickly became a fan of them. After a winning session, he started blabbing something about the Force being with him. I expected him to start wearing a Darth Vader helmet at any time. He also took a shine to the Men In Black machines, but was put off by the Dam Lumberjack Beavers machines. Even though he has been a Beaverton Beaver teacher/coach for 28 years, the machines stiffed him.
The rest of the day spent visiting the Palms, the Orleans, Green Valley Ranch, and the south Strip area, before finally heading to McCarran Airport. An uneventful flight home sealed a successful trip. Chris survived his probationary status, and will be free to get as stupid as the rest of us next year. This year’s big wins were:
Rudy-An $1,500 profit from several casinos’ blackjack tables on Monday night.
Chris-$50 stolen from the Stardust blackjack hippy pit.
Emery-A $75 win on a Mr. Cashman machine at the Vegas Club Wednesday morning.
Matthew- A pair of $150 wins, one at the Sunset Station blackjack tables, and one at the Tropicana’s video poker bar.
Me-Just that $1,000 thing at the Plaza.
In the end, we were all winners. Not monetarily, but by the fact that we didn’t kill each other after four days. So we’ll do it again next year. Same time. Same cast
Posted by BigCheese on LVTalk