Thursday, December 6th
I took the direct Allegiant flight from Des Moines to Las Vegas. It was a smooth flight and on time. I did not book this flight well in advance as this was a rather spur of the moment trip. Thus, I didn’t get a great deal and Allegiant has become the worst possible airline for add on fees (charge to pick your seat, charge to check your bag, charge to check your carry-on, charge for priority boarding for which you are eligible only if you pay to check your carry-on). But as I said, the flight was direct, smooth, and I had an aisle seat in an exit row with no one in the middle seat. Allegiant version of first class!
Upon arrival it was straight to the taxi line which was blessedly short. The trip to the Encore was uneventful and check-in very quick. I was given a room on the 32nd floor after turning down an offer to upgrade to a “panoramic view” for an additional $20/night (same I view I had from the 32nd floor but higher). The room was beautiful. The floor to ceiling windows are outstanding but it’s too bad that in addition to a portion of the Stratosphere, a portion of the Wynn golf course, and the mountains, the primary view was unfinished and long dormant construction. Anyway, I put my iPod in the docking station, turned on my American Standards playlist (what’s Vegas without Sinatra, Buble, and Krall?) while unpacking and checking out the control panel for the lights, sheers, and drapes. I also took advantage of the resort fee by checking my email using the wireless. I did note that the AC is located in the living room portion of the suite and it did not cool the entire suite evenly. Not a big deal in December but a potential problem during warmer months. I dug out my Sinatra card protector to ensure I had it when I decided to play poker.
I decided to head downstairs for drinks and dinner so it was off to the bar at Sinatra. My favorite bartender, Vin, was there and we had a nice conversation while I enjoyed a Balvenie Doublewood single malt scotch on the rocks along with delicious spaghetti and clams. I then decided to walk over to the Venetian and check out the remodeling. The revamped poker room was nice but generally had the same feel of the old room. Just more open and, I assume, larger. I was actually disappointed in the two new bars (maybe one was a bar/restaurant) but perhaps I just need to get used to them. The Bourbon Room, inspired by the Rock of Ages musical (?) seemed a little lame but it might grow on me. I felt kind of bad for the guy dressed up in his ‘80s garb and wig working the room. He did have fun with me as I was standing next to two couples and he announced that we were obviously swingers. Overall, I’m just not sure about the remodel (other than the poker room) and what they were trying to accomplish. Played a little video poker and had a scotch at the Venetian and finished down $10 before heading back to the Wynn.
Stopped at the Wynn and played video poker along with a scotch (Macallan 12) and was down $5 before deciding to walk over to the Eastside Lounge bar at the Encore. I sat down with one empty seat next to me and started playing video poker where I was up $3 and made a new friend named Lisa. She sat next to me and started playing video poker and chatting with me. She introduced herself and asked where I was from. She then asked if I was with the “physicians group” that had meetings at the Encore. I said no, just in town for fun and waiting for my wife to join me the next night from her business trip in Phoenix, and asked where she was from. She said she lived in town. I asked how she liked it. She said she enjoyed Vegas because it was “easy to make no strings attached friends.” At that point I didn’t respond and eventually my new hooker friend decided to move on. Time for bed….alone!
Results for the Day: Down $12
Results for the Trip: Down $12
Friday, December 7th
Woke up about 8 a.m. and went downstairs and grabbed some coffee at the Encore Lobby Bar Cafe. Went back to my room and did the P90X KenpoX workout. I followed that with a shower and went to the Society Café for lunch. I then spent some time playing video poker and video blackjack finishing down $21.
At that point I decided to head over to the Wynn and play a little $1/$3 NLHE. I bought in for $400. I soon discovered I’d ended up at the loosest table I’ve ever experienced. I lost $130 on my second hand, folding on the river when it became clear to me that my top pair, ok kicker was beaten by an apparent straight. In hindsight, I should have gotten out on the turn and saved some money but I just wasn’t focused. In hindsight, I should have folded or played differently with the trouble hand of KJ suited in middle position. After that I folded a few hands and watched the texture of the table. It soon became clear that at least 2 players were very aggressively playing any two cards. So I sat back and played patiently but aggressively with good hands only. My AA, KK, and AKs held up to bring me from $130 down to $61 up in a 2 hour and 15 minute session. One of the loose aggressive guys got stacked at least twice before moving to another table. Another player at my table indicated he’d dropped at least $1,000 (some of it prior to my arrival). I appreciated him dropping some of that to me!
Since it was nearing time for my bride’s arrival from Phoenix, I walked over to the Wynn sports book to check on the Iowa vs. Iowa State basketball game. I watched the end of my Hawkeyes’ victory over our arch rival. Nice to see us win men’s and women’s basketball along with wrestling against ISU after losing by 3 to them in football. It almost made up for the football loss but not quite (I’m an Iowa grad and everyone else in my family graduated from ISU)!
My wife arrived around 9 p.m. in a sedan of course (she told me after working in Phoenix for a week she wasn’t riding a shuttle or waiting in line for a taxi). I decided to be smart and not ask how much it cost. We had a late dinner at Wazuzu where we were seated immediately. My wife had sushi and I had Wazuzu Pineapple Fried Rice with Thai Jasmine Rice, roast duck, Chinese sausage, shrimp, and pineapple. I also had egg noodle soup with Chinese barbequed pork and roast duck. Either of my orders would have been a complete meal by itself so suffice it to say I shared some with my wife and was more than full when we were done. Good meal.
From there we headed over to the Eastside Lounge and the dueling pianos where we each enjoyed a couple of Pinot Noirs. At that point we went upstairs where I tucked my wife in bed and headed back to the casino where I played video poker until roughly 4 a.m.
Results for the Day: Up $61 on poker, Down $21 on video poker
Results for the Trip: Up $61 on poker, Down $33 on video poker, Up $28 for the trip
Saturday, December 8th
Needless to say, we slept in. When we got up my wife headed downstairs to pick up coffee and a couple of yogurts with granola and berries at the Lobby Bar and Café. After that, she headed to the Encore Spa for a massage and I did the P90X Xstretch workout for about an hour. Prior to her return I went downstairs and played video poker and I finished down $18. When my wife got back, I asked her what she had brought to wear. Prior to our trip I had attempted to get her to go “Vegas shopping” for a little black dress (one appropriate for a 52 year old woman vs. the little black dresses worn by the girls in their 20s who are constantly pulling on their little black dress to keep it below their rear end….not that I’m complaining….). So we headed over to the Fashion Show Mall. My intent was one or two little black dresses that met with my approval. We came back with her having purchased 2 pairs of jeans, two pairs of Lululelemon yoga pants, 2 little black dresses, and a pair of shoes to wear with the dresses. I guess I’ll never learn.
We came back from the mall and got ready to head over to the Mirage where we were seeing the 10 p.m. Ron White show. My wife was beautiful in her new little black dress and new black high heel shoes. I grabbed a quick shoe shine at the Wynn and we took a cab over to the Mirage and ate dinner at Stack. I had scotch, the Penne Pasta and Adult Tater Tots with bacon and brie. My wife had pinot noir, Roasted Tomato Soup and a Garbage Salad. Decent meal. This restaurant has a neat design. I know some have complained about the type and volume of music but I didn’t mind. Fine place to eat but I wouldn’t put it in the outstanding category.
After dinner we had time to kill before the show so we played some video poker while watching the all the cowboys and cowgirls. This was National Rodeo Week and they were EVERYWHERE (well, not really at the Wynn, Encore, Palazzo, or Venetian but everywhere else). The Mirage was really catering to them by having the rodeo on every screen in the sports book, extra chairs set up, and a country music band. Las Vegas is the best people watching location in the world. I finished the video poker down $17 while having another scotch. We then headed to the show. The “warm-up” comedian was actually very, very funny after somewhat of a slow start. Ron White was, as expected, very funny and very crude. Not a family show. I think my wife enjoyed him even more than I did. I’d recommend this show as long as you understand what you are getting into (which we did). My only criticism is of the relatively high number of people that arrived and were seated late. It was kind of annoying. You can’t be on time for a 10 p.m. show? Really? Again, lots of cowboys and cowgirls in the audience and they were really enjoying themselves which makes sense since Ron White was a part of the famous Blue Collar Comedy Tour with Jeff Foxworthy, Bill Engvall, and Larry The Cable Guy at one point.
After the show we taxied back to the Encore where we took up residence at the Lobby Bar until about 4 a.m. I enjoyed a few scotches (I was drinking Macallan 12 while playing video poker and Balvenie Doublewood when at a bar) and my wife was drinking Pinot Noir. We made friends with Tom, the bartender, a Patron rep from their Northwest U.S. territory who was in town for meetings, and another guy who actually hit on my wife when I got up to go to the bathroom, lol. She told me that he said to her, “So, what’s the deal with that guy you’re sitting with?” She told him I was her husband of 31 years and he said, “Oh, I didn’t think you were married because you were having too much fun.” It was at this point my wife and I (obviously after a few drinks) had an interesting conversation. We have a friend who is our age and whom was widowed in January. She has recently been dating a 62 year old physician. Between the 39 year old that just hit on my wife and our friend dating a 62 year old, I asked my wife what her dating range would be if I happened to meet my demise. She thought about it and said, “30 – 65 years old.” She could see the look of shock on my face and asked me what my range would be if she were gone. I said, “I was thinking a little narrower….something like 40 – 59…” We both got a good laugh out of the conversation. I told her I appreciated that 30 is older than our oldest child and said I hoped if she dated a 65 year old (13 years her senior) that he better have money because she needed to remember that if it got serious she’d have to sleep with him. Ever since this conversation I periodically look at her and say, “30 to 65” and shake my head. Still makes us laugh.
I should also note that at about 2:30 or so, I looked at the line to the Encore nightclub, Surrender, and saw that it was very short. I suggested to my wife that since we were all dressed up (she in her new, sexy, plunging neckline, little black dress and her new black high heels and me in nice slacks, loafers, and sports coat) we might, even at our advanced ages of 52 and 53, be let into the club. We walked over, I set my scotch on a nearby slot machine, and we got in line. The guys running the rope looked at us and smiled and motioned us in. We were about to walk past another guy and enter when he said to me, “That will be $50 for you and $30 for her.” I guess we hadn’t scored free access! So we decided to just go back and grab my scotch and return to the Lobby Bar. From the bar it was back to the room for R & R and much needed sleep.
Results for the Day: Down $35 playing video poker
Results for the Trip: Up $61 on poker, Down $68 on video poker, Down $7 for the trip
Sunday, December 9th
Slept in after way too much fun with my wife the prior evening. Got up and we did the P90X Ab RipperX workout, showered, and headed to the buffet at the Wynn. (A free buffet for 2 was part of the promo offer I took advantage of that finally provided pricing on rooms at the Encore that I was willing to pay. Still not cheap by any means, but I’d been watching for a while and it was the best I had seen during a time my wife and I could go to Vegas.) I would classify the Wynn Buffet as adequate. In fairness, I am not fond of buffets. I can’t help myself and I always eat way too much. The food can be good if you get something just put out. This buffet may be as good as any other in Vegas but I won’t eat there again. Just not my thing. We did pick up a free “Wynn Music” CD while there. (I guess I can listen to it in my car when I want to imagine myself back in Vegas relaxing and enjoying myself at the Wynn/Encore. Might have to make it one of my iPod playlists.)
Following our late buffet lunch, my wife headed over to the Venetian and Palazzo to reacquaint herself with the properties. She works as a travel director and will be leading a program there early next year. (I’m sure she also reacquainted herself with the Palazzo and Venetian shops.) I headed to the Wynn Poker Room for another 2 hour session. My table was completely different than the previous loose aggressive table I had experienced on this trip. I finished this session up $55. I had hopes that it would be even better but I just couldn’t get anything going on a hand where I was in the Big Blind with 4/9 off suit. Three players limped and I checked the option. Flop was 9,4,9. I checked the flop and the turn as did everyone else. I was hoping that something would hit the board that would appeal to the others in the hand. I finally bet ½ the pot on the river and everyone folded. Oh well. I’m open to any input on other approaches to the hand that might have gotten more money in. What I wouldn’t have given to hit that flop in my prior session. Of course, I wouldn’t have been in the hand at the other table as someone would have raised pre-flop.
Following my poker session I met my wife, wearing the 2nd of the two little black dresses I bought her, at the bar at Sinatra. We sat down and I had a Balvenie Doublewood scotch while my wife had a Pinot Noir. Steven was our bartender. At 8 p.m. we were seated for our dinner reservations. Pedro was our waiter and I thought he did a really nice job. I had the lobster risotto and my wife had the sea bass. Both were excellent. We also shared a nice bottle of Pinot Noir. Upon making our reservation with Sinatra, they asked if it was a special occasion. My wife told them it was our anniversary celebration. Our anniversary had been two weeks earlier and I hadn’t thought of this trip as an anniversary trip but close enough and good thinking by the wife. As a result, they brought us a nice card and gave us an excellent tiramisu with “Happy Anniversary” spelled out in chocolate on the plate for dessert. We also received our second free CD of the trip when they gave us a CD of Sinatra songs selected by Steve Wynn. Nice finishing touches on a great evening.
With that, I tucked my wife in bed since she had a 6:45 a.m. flight and planned to catch a taxi at 4:45 a.m. I went back downstairs and played a little video poker finishing up $10 while having my last scotch of the trip. Then off to bed since I had an 8:15 a.m. flight to catch.
Results for the Day: Up $55 playing poker, Up $10 playing video poker
Results for the Trip: Up $116 on poker. Down $58 on video poker (actually had +EV on video poker given the number of Macallan 12s I had while playing!). Up $58 total for the trip.
Monday, December 10th
Trip home was uneventful with one exception. My wife woke me up to have me help her take her luggage downstairs to the taxi stand and see her off. I looked at the clock and asked why she was leaving for the airport at 3:45 a.m. for a 6:45 a.m. flight. It turns out she hadn’t reset the time on her alarm clock when she came into Vegas from Phoenix. She actually fixed her alarm and lay back down for 45 minutes even though she was dressed and ready to go.
Looking forward to returning to Vegas in mid-January for a combination work/play trip.