Trip Report - March 2010

I began my trip risking more money than usual. Why? The NCAA tournament. I immediately lost some money betting on a 3-game parlay and Xavier. Oh well. The good news is that I made it up at the tables. For some reason, craps and blackjack were kind to me that night.

My buddy Steve and I played at Bill's, which is fine for craps (there's one $5 table) but, because it is a Harrah's property, is lousy for blackjack. We did play a few hands at a single-deck table and put up with the crummy 6-5 blackjack rule. Normally, we'd stay away from 6-5 blackjack because the odds are much worse than 3-2 blackjack, but considering we were already settled in to Bills' and didn't want to drive to the Strat or to the South end of the Strip (Trop or Excal), we decided to stay there and play just a little bit of blackjack with bad odds.

I again lost money on basketball, but more than made up for it at blackjack and craps. Notice a pattern? This time, we played a lot of blackjack at Excalibur. It was quite fun, and we were happy to find a lot of good, $5 tables with 3-2 odds. We had to stay away from the Party Pit (go-go dancers right in front of the tables) because the tables there were 6-5, but we still had a good view from our table, so it was worth it!

We then made it over to the Trop, which has one great $5 craps table (although I lost $50 in no time) and several $5 blackjack tables. The good news was that I made up my losses at the blackjack table. There are not many places left on the Strip where you can find a good, $5 blackjack table on a Saturday night, so I considered myself lucky!

By this time, the NCAA games were down to the sweet 16, so there were only two games on that day. So, I couldn't lose on a parlay! In fact, I stayed away from betting on basketball because I didn't have a strong feeling about any of the games. I did, however, spend some time at the Strat with Steve, and we had some good blackjack and craps sessions yet again. For more information on my love of the Strat, please see my blog.

By this time, I was starting to come down with a sore throat and cold, so I had to take it easy. I stayed true to one of the most important gambling rules: never gamble when you are sick, tired, hungry or upset. Good advice.

Two games remained in the NCAA tourney before the final four: Baylor vs. Duke and Michigan St. vs. Tennessee. I was still feeling under the weather, so I missed betting on the Michigan St./Tennessee game. Steve, however, cashed in on that one. I put a few dollars on the Baylor/Duke game, thinking that I would bet on the first half only (Baylor and the 2.5 points). When I won that bet, I decided to take them again for the second half because they were winning and the line was Duke by 5.5. I really thought I had it, but then Duke stormed back and got some lucky bounces, some favorable (and questionable) calls at the end, and when Baylor missed two 3-pointers in the final seconds, I tore up my last NCAA basketball ticket.

We then made it back over to the Strat. I started losing some money and was in danger of coming out behind for the trip. However, I hung tough and rallied at blackjack. Then we had a good craps run. And finally we went back to the blackjack table where I broke even. I wanted to stay and play longer because it was my last night in Vegas, but I just wasn't up to it.

Steve, however, was not sick and wanted to play some more craps, so I took him back to the Trop and I went to bed. The next day, he told me his tale. He waited a few minutes and watched as the shooter made a few points. The table was hot. He was afraid he missed the peak. However, he hung around, and when he finally squeezed in to an open spot, he stayed there for over 1 1/2 hours! He made a lot of money. And where was I? Sleeping off a cold. Que sara, sara. Next time, I'm going to take a lot more cold medicine and pace myself so that I can hit the tables hard the last night of my trip. No regrets, though, it was a fantastic trip, I made some money, I saw friends and family, and I had a blast.

As usual, Harrah's properties were sucky for gaming. The only place even worth mentioning is Bill's, which (sometimes) has one $5 craps table. It's a great atmosphere when the table is full and everyone's screaming for the shooter. However, Bill's is small and doesn't have many tables, and the blackjack is lousy.

I visited Aria for the first time. I think during slower times they have some $10 blackjack tables, but I only saw $15 on the Saturday afternoon I visited. And I only saw $10 craps, which is too rich for my blood. This is a very, very swanky place. It's beautiful, albeit dark, but I enjoyed walking through the casino and taking in the design and atmosphere. Very nice!

The best places to play on the Strip, in my opinion, are still the Strat, Excal, and the Trop. Why? Inexpensive gaming (i.e. $5 tables), good spacing in the casino, friendly dealers, and colorful characters. If you like low-minimum gaming, these are great hangouts on the Strip.

We didn't visit downtown this time, but if we had I'm sure we would have wound up at the Nugget. I'll sacrifice and play $10 blackjack there if I have to, especially in the party pit, because the rules are good and the atmosphere is fun. But I still stay within my daily money limits, so if I lose fast, I'm outta there.

If you have places you love to play or hate to play, stories, tall tales, etc., please e-mail me and I'll post them here.


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