A view of the Las Vegas Strip

Looking at the Las Vegas strip from the Palms

A couple of weeks ago my buddy Ryan and I went to Vegas.  It’s my sixth trip there since my first one in 2001 (and my fourth trip there with Ryan).  Expectations were high after my most recent trip to Vegas two years ago (with Char and the Info-Tech crew), and the time before that with Ryan and John for UFC 52 being pretty much legendary (including the best run of Craps luck we’ve ever had).

The entire time we were in Vegas we were searching for the legendary night that would make it all come alive again…but it never came.  Looking back on it, and I think we were trying so hard to have a great time that we may have overlooked the ridiculous fun we were having.

Our tale of woe begins on Wednesday night when we decided to stay in a hotel in Toronto in order to avoid having to leave London at 4am.  We left at 10pm Wednesday night, got a little lost on our way to the hotel, but ended up passing right by it (even though Google maps told us we were another 10 minutes away).  That night I apparently talked in my sleep through the night, and when we woke at 5:30 to get ready for our 6am shuttle to the airport, Ryan was cranky and angry.

Our complimentary breakfast bags from the hotel kinda sucked…but we got to the airport about 2 and a half hours early.  Rumours have swirled about how tough it is to get through airport security since the aborted December 24th bomb scare, but we breezed through the first level of security, and through some paperwork snafu, I got grabbed at the “underpants sniffer” station, while Ryan and his carry-on which should have been checked, walked right through (it was only when we gave our boarding passes to the gate that we realized we had swapped passes and Ryan’s was marked as a “to be checked” while mine wasn’t…solid effort security).  From the time we arrived until we got to our gate was probably less than 45 minutes, and that included passing through customs.

The flight was probably one of the best I’ve had to Vegas, minimal chop, and pretty uneventful from an idiot passenger standpoint (Ryan and I have had a couple of doozies including one where the guys on our plane were so drunk I half expected us to be making an emergency landing to kick them off).

We arrived in Vegas, got a rental car (dumb idea), and went to Mandalay Bay (also a dumb idea…why did I book our room in the Monte Carlo when we spent 90% of our time at the Mandalay Bay?).  I booked a shave at The Art of Shaving for Friday, and we got tickets to Joe Rogan’s show for Friday night. We ate a late lunch at the Burger Bar, and headed to the Monte Carlo.  After checking in and grabbing a quick nap, I decided to get my iPhone working.

I had borrowed a co-worker’s AT&T Pay as you Go data card, but couldn’t get it working right, so the first day of living just with my iPhone kind of sucked, although our hotel did have some really spotty wifi which I used to put up some pictures.  After checking Facebook, I found out that Kaylin was sick with a bulging ear infection, so I tried to call Char via Skype, but it wouldn’t work.  I ended up calling from our room phone…a call that cost me $26.00!

We went to the new Outlet Mall between the old and new strips, and drove down to the old strip.

We decided to roll like Floridians and ate early every night, managing by happy coincidence to hit Happy Hour at that time too, so along with our Tapas (bacon rolled figs for the win), we had a pitcher of Mojito’s at Firefly.  After dinner we decided to get our gamble on, and while the craps tables weren’t particularly good to us (although I didn’t do too bad), the single deck blackjack tables WERE good to us.  Ryan hit an unbelievable 10 blackjacks, and we both managed to hit a good number of drinks.  I played a Deal or No Deal game and won $47 on a $5.00 bet, which really set the night up for me.

Craps sucked so bad for us that we were forced down to the El Cortez to redeem ourselves (why?  Because losers aren’t allowed to play in the real casinos, losers have to play at the El Cortez).  By the end of the night I had brought my bankroll back from the brink a bit, and was feeling better about my fortunes.  Unfortunately I had too many drinks to be driving, so we cabbed it back from the old strip.

We wandered the new strip for a bit, but this was the deadest I’ve ever seen Las Vegas.  It was so incredibly quiet that many of the bars and clubs had a mere handful of people in them, and I’m pretty sure they were all servers.

Friday morning started with $1.00 Bloody Mary’s, and some delicious eggs and Chirizo sausage at La Salsa.  I then took the bus to the old strip to grab the car.  I played some craps on my way to the car, and won about $10. After getting the car, I headed back to the Monte Carlo and grabbed Ryan to go to the Mandalay for my shave…but I missed my first appointment and had to re-book.  While waiting for Ryan I played some craps in the Luxor, and the guy rolling went on a tear, winning me about $100.00.  Unfortunately poor Ryan was searching for me, and I eventually found him wandering around.  Weigh-ins for UFC 109 were supposed to be at 1pm, but ended up being at 4pm, so we had some time to kill.

We went to the old outlet mall, and ended up at Chili’s for an early dinner (where I had a surprisingly good steak).  I bit the bullet and called Rogers to get the US data rate (1.00 a megabyte), and checked Twitter to see where Dana White would be that night (hoping to score free tickets to the UFC show).  Then we headed back to Mandalay, watched the Weigh-Ins, and I finally got my shave.

Now I wish I could write that it was the best experience of my life, I had really high hopes for it.  A straight razor shave, done by a genuine crusty Italian man…sounds like gold right?  Well it was okay, truth is I was hoping for old school “man smelling” shaving cream and shave oil, but everything smelled like it was out of a rose garden.  The essential oils smelled all flowery, the shaving cream had rose petals in it…by the end of it I just wanted to scrub my face with some Irish Spring just to get rid of the smells.  Not only that, but the shave ended up feeling like razor burn on my left cheek!

Oh well, at least I can say I had a straight razor shave.  Afterwards I went over to the oxygen bar and hooked myself up to a tank.  At this point we were surviving on about 6 hours of sleep over 2 days, and I was pretty exhausted, so this little pick-me-up was pretty fantastic.

While waiting for Ryan, I decided to play craps at the Mandalay Bay, and after going down to $15.00 from my initial $100, I managed to squeeze back up to even money.  I played a little blackjack, and ended even before getting in line at the House of Blues for Joe Rogan.

By the way, apparently “Doors Open at 7” doesn’t mean the show starts at 7…the opening act actually went on close to 8:30.  Rogan’s opening comedian, Joey Diaz was incredibly crude, but occasionally funny…however my favourite parts of his act where when he would bomb and how he reacted to it, namely by just saying “Okay, that’s cool…you don’t want to laugh?  I don’t care, I thought we were sharing something here, had something special, but that was too far?  Good to know.  This is good information.”

Joe Rogan was funny.  He started out on fire, and we were laughing at all of his bits.  “That voice was mine.”, “Knuckles up”, “Brock Lesnar don’t rape me”, all good stuff…his imaginary son, the guy who got killed by the horse, and his anti-Canada rant…ummm, just bewildering and confusing.  The main problem was that people kept buying him shots and drinks, and by the end of it he was just an incoherent mess.

We got out of dodge and headed over to The Hard Rock Casino where Dayna White and Chuck Liddell were making an appearance, along with a band called 51Fifty.  Hard Rock is frigging cool.  The entire casino just has the vibe of a club, there are go-go dancers everywhere, and well dressed men and women all over the place.  The club was cool, but packed, and way too loud for our old guy ears (and the security guard at the door was a total douche).  Apparently Dayna gave away 60 tickets in the club, but I have no idea where or when.  I thought I saw him a couple of times, but with 300 people in a space as big as my living room…who knows if it was him or just another bald dood.

After that, a trip to Denny’s was in order, and we both had some late night Vegas breakfast.  At Denny’s, I checked Dayna’s Twitter feed, and he had a picture of him giving out 60 tickets to the show.

Saturday morning we got up and decided that we were going to make Vegas ours again.  It was raining, so we knew it had to be a mostly indoor day, we went to the Bellagio for breakfast, and then headed back to the Old Strip.

We were looking for tickets to the UFC, but coudn’t find anything cheap.  The cheapest price we found was $300.00, So we started looking for a place to catch the show, and settled on the Hawaiian Tropic Zone, there was a $20.00 cover charge, and then you had to buy food to watch in the restaurant.

Ryan and I have ate at some spectacularly bad places in Vegas.  There was a buffet where the beef ribs tasted like wet dog, the 1/2lb hot dog at Slots of Fun, and one of our favourite buffets in Vegas is called Terribles.

This was the worst food I’ve had.  The wings were okay.  The Nachos may have been the lamest thing I’ve ever seen, a bunch of anemic tortilla chips, with some sort of ranch dressing, and some sparse cheese.

The worst part was that we paid $45.00 for three dishes.  Ryan paid $8.00 for a of Rum and Coke, and I paid $11.00 for a Margarita.  Nate Marquhart was supposed to show up for his after-party, but we never saw him (sound familliar?).

After that we wandered around a bit.  We headed down to Caesar’s Palace, and my crappy Craps luck continued.  We wandered through the Bellagio, over to Bill’s Gambling Saloon, and then to Paris.  Paris was pretty fun, and I played some BlackJack and earned a little bit of money.  I get bored with BlackJack though, so I left a little bit early, and went off to play some slots (where I won nothing…my Slots luck was pretty pathetic).

After going back to our Hotel, I told Ryan I wanted to show him Aria (a two month old resort in the new CityCenter complex), which I had popped through Friday morning while looking for the Tram.  It’s brand new, and spectacularly awesome.  We wandered by the craps table, and saw a short Asian man playing by himself.  He had a massive stack of chips, and he was playing about $5-10k on a bunch of numbers.  We watched him for a while, and it looked like he was doing okay, but he decided to cash out.

After the pit boss counted up his chips, he announced “That’s One Twenty Five, that means you owe us Six Ninety”…six ninety…like as in Six Hundred and Ninety Thousand.  Here…let me write that out for you.  $690,000.00.


Suddenly the hundred bucks I had lost in craps that day didn’t look so bad.  We headed back to our hotel for a decent night’s sleep (probably the first good night’s sleep I had all weekend).

Sunday morning we met my buddy Dan Rose over at the Palms for breakfast.  Now we’ve been to The Palms before to the infamous Ghost Bar, but it wasn’t all that.  Apparently we were doing the Palms wrong.  We went to the Las Vegas Simon, owned by celebrity chef Kerry Simon.  The breakfast is spectacular, there are stations and a menu where you can order from dozens of spectacular foods.  I had the best french toast of my life (Frosted Flakes coated French Toast), and a really good Eggs Benedict (pulled pork and egg).  It was hands down the best meal of the weekend, and the company was fantastic.  Dan’s cousin is a Vegas local, and we were incredibly jealous of the fun they had the night before.

We bet on the Superbowl (I put $20.00 down for Gord on the Saints), and then checked out their suite on the 36th floor of Palms place, which was super-cool.

Ryan and I decided to go do a little shopping before heading out to the airport, and on our way to the car he stopped by the Craps table.  I was pretty much out of gambling juice at this point, but he decided for one last run.

After losing on his come out roll and telling the craps dealers about the incredibly bad run of luck he was having, they encouraged him to bet on the don’t pass line.

We also learned that Don’t Pass Bar 12 means do not pass, barring the 12…or in other words you can win on a 2 or a 3 on the come out roll, a 12 is a push (nobody wins, nobody loses), and a 7 or 11 is a loss.  Anything else is the point.  On the come out roll the house has a huge advantage because a 7 or 11, which statistically have greater odds of coming in, the house wins, but once you make the point, you have a massive advantage.  We also learned that you don’t place odds on the don’t pass because your odds are the opposite of odds on the pass.

After the most spectacular run of bad luck I’ve ever seen, Ryan was up $350.00!  The man could not hit a number to save his life, and crapped out more times than I could count!

We went shopping, I picked up some great stuff for the kids (the cutest Toy Story PJ’s for Maks, and the best Tinkerbell action figure set for K), went BACK to the Palms to pick up Gord’s winnings, then went to the Forum shops for Char’s gift (Vosges Chocolate), had some dinner, and finally headed to the airport.

The security line was insanely short, and we breezed through with no problems, and then began the 10 hour trek back (with 4 hours in the air, 3 hours lost to the time zone, an hour getting back to the car, and 2 hours on the road to London).

At the end of it all I was tired, burned out, and ready for a week of naps…which is pretty much what I did most of the following week.

When the trip was over I was thinking that Vegas and I were done.  Thinking back on it a couple of weeks later and I’m not so sure.

We might just be on a break.