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my 42nd trip to Vegas

2002-10-24 - 1:05 p.m.

Paris casino gargoyle

Detail of Gargoyle of Paris grinding the unlucky Gambler underfoot
Copyright 2002 by Elaine Radford

I don't really know if it was my 42nd trip to Vegas. Since I used to play pro blackjack, obviously I went there a lot -- too many times to keep track of. The Rio must have forgotten that I'm on the shit list rather than their "preferred casino player" list because they invited me to play in a blackjack tournament. No high speed internet along the way, so I'm getting caught up now.

Oct. 18

Flew out nonstop on Southwest. Full flight. I told a skinny girl that I had an open seat next to me. Alas, I didn't realize she already had a seat and was just looking for a spot for her 400 pound, 20 years older sister. At least I had the aisle seat, and she had a good sense of humor. She told me about visiting the alligator hatchery, which was obviously the highlight of her vacation in New Orleans.

Limo picked me up at the airport. I didn't expect D. for another day. He had planned to drive in from Wendover on Saturday morning. As he doesn't approve of sunbathing, I took my opportunity to relax by the pool. Later, I went to the reception with the free drinks and buffet. I sat with some silly people, and we were laughing our heads off about nothing. Then D. called and said he'd been chased out of Wendover and was coming that night. Good thing I had an extra bed!

Oct. 19

Eliminated from tournament almost right away by bad cards. Found out friend's host at Paris was 1) on vacation and 2) had screwed up his room reservation. So he's still at Rio. But he got another host to give us a free dinner with a bottle of a nice wine at Bally's steakhouse. Went shopping at Aladdin.
artificial cow painted to look like Elvis

Cow Parade at Aladdin shopping center
Copyright 2002 by Elaine Radford

Got a knock-out green leather and suede dress from North Beach Leather. Wore the dress and had a classic shrimp cocktail and medium rare filet mignon.

Oct. 20

Didn't win the drawing into the semi-finals at Rio so checked out and headed for Paris. Got all excited for a moment since we had to put our gold key in the elevator to make it go up to our floor.
detail of stained glass skylight at Paris casino

Detail of stained glass skylight at Paris/Bally's mall
Copyright 2002 by Elaine Radford

But the room was nothing to write home about. Maybe French high rollers have low expectations. More shopping. Met acquaintance at friend's dice tournament reception. He pumped us for dice tournament strategy but I wasn't confident of his chances. Dinner at Al Dente's. Excellent portobello mushroom appetizer. Spectacular cioppino too.

Oct. 21

D. lost dice tournament round. I ably assisted him in losing $6K at the dice tables. He isn't allowed to play blackjack at Paris or Bally's any more -- who is who owns a brain? -- but he has been doing the comp/tournament hustling thing pretty successfully. He was up about $15K on this project but it looks like he's gone about as far as he can go on positive standard deviation. Dinner at La Chine. Great "Mandarin Martini" which had that tangerine-flavored Absolut vodka in it. Peking duck soup. Fantastic spicy garlic soft shelled crab. After dinner drinks at Napoleon's, which has a large champagne menu. Carrying on with the tangerine theme, I had a couple of "Tangerine Dream" champagne cocktails. They weren't as fantastical as the Mandarin Martinis but were nothing to sniff at.

Oct. 22

D. gets drawn into semi-finals of dice tournament, wins his table, and advances to the quarter-finals table, where he's eliminated by the wild bettors hitting on a final roll of "midnight." He loses $3K more at the tables. Just not his day. Went over to check on his room at Imperial Palace, and they'd lost his reservation too. But they quickly found a suite for him, which turned out to to be the same suite that is on my "Rockin High Roller" web site. They also sent up a gift basket with a decent merlot. Back to Al Dente's for dinner. More portobello mushroom appetizer. Great sea bass.

Oct. 23

Free stay at Paris expires not long after we fuel up with some salmon and blueberries at the breakfast buffet. D. moves his stuff to his suite at Imperial Palace. We visit penguins and flamingos at the Flamingo. One of the penguins has green palm leaves all over her because she's busy working on building a nest.
penguins at Flamingo Casino in Vegas

African Penguins at Flamingo casino wildlife habitat
Copyright 2002 by Elaine Radford

See Mac King magic show again. I have to catch my plane before the "real" restaurants open at Imperial Palace but I get a decent spaghetti with marinara sauce at their Pizza Palace. Another full flight back to New Orleans. This time I'm alert and make a point of sitting next to a tiny Asian couple.

Total cost of trip -- $10 for limo driver, $39 for park and fly, $3 tip for bartender at Rio reception for a grand total of $52.

photo of Tabasco themed slot machine

Detail of Avery Island Tobasco themed slot machine at Flamingo's casino
Copyright 2002 by Elaine Radford

Oct. 25

Today was spent recovering and getting caught up with bills, email, diary, etc. Roger and I ate dinner on the deck at Friends, where a hummingbird moth flew over to try to get my beer.

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