Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sahara Brings Back $1 Blackjack

The Sahara is bringing back $1 blackjack (coming via What Brian Thinks about Las Vegas). Finally, somebody on the strip gets it. A lot of people don't really like to play such low stakes. But as somebody who just enjoys the game and if you can double your $20 to $40, there is nothing better.

But there is even better news. The Sahara is also offering $1 beers. What do you think of that? This is truly great news. I don't mind the high rates as much as the high cost for having a beer. There is no way Las Vegas casinos should be charging more than $2, maybe $3 for a domestic draft. Have some respect for those who have already blown tons of money in your casino.

Bottle service and high-end clubs certainly have its place in Las Vegas. But so does cheap drinks. Man, this makes you long for the $0.75 Coors Light they used to have at the Westward Ho.

Love this move by the Sahara, though.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Monte Carlo Closes Brew Pub

The Monte Carlo has closed its Brew Pub. This would have bad sad news ... if the Brew Pub hadn't long stopped being a relevant stop on the strip.

The Brew Pub was a favorite of mine for a while when they made its own beer. Then it just became another flavorless pub (pun intended) on the strip that really didn't add much of anything to the surroundings. The Brew Pub no longer was a destination spot on the strip. Instead it was just some big, cavernous room with no atmosphere that tried to double as a cheesy nightclub.

So honestly, good riddance.

The Monte Carlo seems like it is high speeding its way to demolition. The hotel tried to set itself on fire to avoid end its misery, but that didn't work. They stopped the fire too early.

The lazy river blows, and the pool only seemingly gets about six minutes of light a day.

Diablo's is waaaaaaaaaaaay overpriced. The Mexican food isn't that good. I'm sure I've mentioned this before, but I expect the Monte Carlo to see a wrecking ball before other noted hotels such as the Tropicana and Imperial Palace.

Finally putting the final nail in the Brew Pub's coffin just cements that notion.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Big Plans Coming for the Trop

Stop me if you have heard this one before ... the Tropicana is planning a huge makeover. Yeah, fool me once shame on you. Fool me, what, for like 834 times, well shame on me.

Forgive me again, but I want to believe it this time. Former MGM Grand executive Alex Yemenidjian has been granted a gaming license to run the Tropicana. From the Las Vegas Sun:

Yemenidjian promised new slot machines, restaurants, a race and sports book, poker room and a nightclub for the property and “no corporate liposuction” by laying off employees.

For starters, awesome news on the layoffs. Or lack of layoffs. The staff at the Tropicana is wonderful.

The best news is the potential sports book. The Tropicana has needed one for a long time. The current "sports book" is akin to watching game in a mobile home. If only it was that nice.

A new poker room would be welcome, too. They mysteriously closed the old one. Which kind of sucks because they had a pretty fun tournament there most nights. Much nicer than say, the poker room at Hooters.

But as stated in the lede, we've heard all of this before about the Tropicana. I hope we won't be fooled again.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

New Rooms at the El Cortez

Here are the new Cabana Suites at the El Cortez.

With some snazzy new rooms, the El Cortez joins the growing list of downtown casinos that are remodeling their hotels. The Golden Nugget, Fremont, California and Four Queens have made upgrades in recent years. Somebody at What Brian Thinks About Las Vegas, says that the Golden Gate has upgraded it's rooms, but I haven't seen it.

I know people won't give downtown a chance, but that just means better deals for the rest of us who do enjoy it.

The new Cabana Suites at El Cortez does not have a pool yet, but should have one shortly.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Guess Which Hotel This Is

It's downtown.

It was formerly dingy.

It was formerly dirty.

It was a dive.

It is the Gold Spike.

That's right, the Gold Spike is all dolled up now, and ready for business.

The Gold Spike used to be that last spot of desperation. Somewhere between a free clinic and a bus stop. Only maybe not as nice.

You remember those times when you and your buddies were drinking up a storm, eating sea monkey cocktails from the Golden Gate when somebody would get upset with how nice the Four Queens was and would blurt out, "Let's go to the Gold Spike!"

Because really, you haven't lived until you risked your life to walk into a place that was fogged over like a July afternoon in San Francisco. Prison waiting rooms were often more cheery. You'd often find people at the Spike playing $20 and you would wonder if that poor sap's family would be able to eat that week if he lost. And he'd be sitting next to a group of fraternity brothers who didn't stop to read the fine print on that hotel that was selling rooms for $29 a night.

A place that smelled so bad, that the 19-year old with a fake ID puking in the corner actually improved the aroma.

In other words, it was just wonderful.

The new place does look great. Even though it now looks like every other joint on the strip. But the new upgrades to the El Cortez are wonderful, so I'll keep an open mind about this place. The only question that isn't answered in this linked story is if the $1 T-N-T (Tecate and tequila) is still valid. If it is, there might be a new favorite downtown.

Tropicana Getting Image Makeover

The Tropicana Entertainment has hired an image consulting firm to spruce up its reputation. The same company that helped lead Starbucks to lofty heights. But is this a good thing?

The simple answer is yes. Anything that will help keep the Old Dame alive and kicking. Now some of you would -- probably a lot of you -- hate Starbucks, but they are popular. And profitable. The key here is that the Tropicana is looking to be a value property. Something the regular folks can afford. And that's great. But the Trop needs to embrace its history too. (Not taking down that Rat Pack picture near the men's restroom would help.)

Some people actually enjoy staying in places were the Vegas legends have graced the halls. Not some strip mall with a casino.

To borrow a little bit from the comments on that story linked above, here are some suggestions for the Tropicana.

1. Get a cool sports book. Most people would agree that this could be the worst sports book in history. There is a lot of used space in the hotel. Maybe the area by the poker room. Maybe the bar in the back tower. Find some space and make a cool sports book. Follow the blueprint that they used for Benny's Bullpen downtown and make a nice little place.

2. Increase the appeal of the pool area. One of the comments on that story talked about having cabanas dug into the ground. That would be awesome.

C. Have a least one place where you can get deals on drinks. The Fremont has $2 Coronas and Heineken. O'Shea's sells $1 Miller products. Do something like this. Loosen up the wheels and get people having a good time.

4. And probably the most important. Do not tear down the garden rooms. Remodel, but don't tear them down. Maybe fix the plumbing, too.

5. There is a hidden pool in the back. Make it European style and put in a bar.

But these are just small things. The Tropicana has always treated me right, so they don't need too many improvements.

Friday, January 16, 2009

The End Is Near

"Les Folies Bergere," the topless revue at the Tropicana hotel-casino and a Las Vegas institution, is ending its nearly half-century Las Vegas run.

The Tropicana, whose parent company is trying to emerge from bankruptcy, said today the Parisian show will end on March 28. MORE

Saw the show once, taking advantage of some free tickets, and it was pretty enjoyable. Always nice to have one of these old school shows. May have taken it for granted since I haven't been back since. But there might be a chance to make one more trip to the show.

As sad as it is that the show is leaving, it's even sadder that the Les Folies Bergere billboard will be gone, too.

Monday, January 5, 2009

My Trippies Ballot

The wonderful Las Vegas site, Vegas Tripping, recently had it's annual Trippies Awards. And yours truly cast his ballot and I would like to share some reaction to the winners and losers.

Best Overall: The readers selected the Bellagio, the editors took the Wynn. Mr. Booze can't afford to go to either place. Of places a cheapskate like me can afford, it's hard to beat Main Street Station. Or maybe Golden Nugget in the summer if you need a pool.

Worst Overall: The readers are going to pick on Circus Circus so much, you have to wonder why they even included them as an option. The editors love the Circus Circus and implored people to give it a shot last year. Doesn't look like many did. The editors picked the Tropicana as the worst. The reason? They haven't updated the rooms. That seems curious because who cares about the rooms? Certainly not the people (like me) who stay at the Trop. There's a reason why the dingy Garden Rooms are always sold out during the summer. Keep the upgrades to the pool, add some better food options -- they have a point there -- and we're cool.

Best Swank Joint: Wynn (R), Wynn (R). Seriously, do you have the coin for that? If money was not an option, I'd rather stay at the Hard Rock. Even as an old guy. And the Fremont. Does that count?

Worst Swank Joint: Caesar's Palace (R), Venetian (E). Wonderful choices. I wouldn't stay at Caesar's for free. The rooms are nice, but who gives? You need a map to navigate the casino. Table limits are high and they have those crappy Harrah's rules. Honestly, what's the attraction of this place? And the Venetian ... even if you needed a new mega resort, you couldn't build a new version of The Sands? Hate that place.

Best Grind Joint: Orleans (R), The Golden Gate (E). Wonderful. The "Old n Gay" has tried to spruce up its image with go-go dancers in the pit during the weekends. Just stop it. While it's nice that you give the gals from Glitter Gulch the opportunity to make some money with their clothes on, just stop it. Not needed. I'm also holding out hope for the new Gold Spike. Please bring back the tables.

Best Rooms: Wynn (R), Encore (E). Needless category. Decent towels are a bonus, but come on, if you get drunk enough, the room doesn't matter.

Best Casino: Wynn, Belagio (R), Encore (E). Must be nice to be able to play there at those levels. I always loved the pool-side action at the Hard Rock. Not sure why, but I always wound up with money playing out there. Nothing beats rolling up early on a Friday, hitting the pool to play some blackjack and hopefully win some money. Plus, the area is so small, the drinks come out fast and furious. Miss the purple felt at the Fremont, but still one of my favorite casinos. I'm warming up to Binion's again.

Best Poker Room: Bellagio (R), Bellagio (E). Never played there. Me, I'm partial to the Imperial Palace room. For whatever reason, I love that place. Probably because Harrah's tables have the worst rules, but the poker comps are still generous.

Worst Poker Room: O'Shea's (R), Excalibur (E). Never played and Excalibur is pretty brutal. And is that right, it's automated now? Lame.

Sports Book: Caesars Palace & LV Hilton (R). Anything beats the Tropicana. Surprised they didn't get ripped here, because they get ripped everywhere else. Heard the Riviera has a nice book now. Circus, Circus was listed as the worst. No chance of getting stuck there.

Best Dealers: Bellagio (R), Wynn (E). They had better be nice if they are going to have such high limits. The worst are Circus Circus (R) and Vegas Club (E). The Vegas Club used to have this great dealer named Inch. He was awesome. But the new owners of the Vegas Club are awful and the place is a dive. No need to ever step foot in there.

Drink Service: Surprise, the Wynn brings great drinks. You know the drill by now. Circus Circus (R) does not. Nor Caesar's Palace (E). Good call on the later. They won't let you get bombed there anymore. Jerks. You have to pay for bottle service. Pass.

Best Waitresses Outfits: Rio (R) and Playboy Club (E). The editors cheated. Damn, if the Rio ever gets sold (and it's a surprise Ruffin didn't buy that one), that place could be cool again. I'd stay there in an instant if they ever got good owners with decent limits and stuff again. Free the Rio! Of course, worst are Circus Circus (R), and Mermaids (E). Good call.

They didn't have a list for best pool. That seems kind of odd, but that's for a blog post in the future.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Free Rooms in Primm!

Well, the rooms are free to locals. No, not you daily Californians. We still have to pay about $30. Primm has been an underrated value, but it's always been my experience that it's tough to convince a Californian to actually stay there. Even if it's only for a day. Most of the time, the thought is, "If we have come this far, why not go all of the way?" And there is some truth to that.

Still, they should try to give Southern Californians some free nights and see if they can't build up some loyalty.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Encore Opens; Set For Demolition

LAS VEGAS -- Steve Wynn's latest creation, Encore at Wynn Las Vegas, opened with much fanfare on Monday. But as soon as the last champagne bottle hit the trash bin, the eccentric casino owner made a startling revelation.

He’s tearing down the Encore at the end of the year to make an even bigger hotel and casino – One More Time! at Wynn Las Vegas.

“Encore had a great run as the premiere destination in Las Vegas,” Wynn said. “But my vision is always looking forward to the next newest and biggest project. I enjoyed Encore while it lasted, but this is Las Vegas. If you don’t continue to reinvent yourself, you will fall behind.”

Wynn said that Encore is set to be demolished on New Year’s Eve, in an extravaganza that will rival any other event Las Vegas has ever seen.

“This is Las Vegas,” Wynn said. “You either have to go big, or you have to go home.”

Friday, December 19, 2008

Snow in Las Vegas

Figures that this would happen the week after I visited Las Vegas. Man, that would be fun. I wonder what some of the pool areas looked like. Here is some video for posterity.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Treasure Island Gets New Owner

Phil Ruffin has purchased Treasure Island, and preliminary reports indicate that the new owner will look to make the property a mid-tier resort. That's music to my ears. The strip could use some mid-tier choices for a change.

Ruffin was formerly the owner of the New Frontier. And while it's true that Ruffin was intent on bringing jazz to the strip. Maybe it would be more successful to rebrand the Treasure Island as the new, New Frontier. Dare to dream.

Update: Here's a great interview from the Los Angeles Times.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

This seemed like a good idea

Ah, to be in a Harrah's Entertainment board meeting when some industrious employee said, "You know, our pool doesn't seem slutty enough. Maybe we should partner with a strip club."

And the worst part, somebody not only signed off on the idea, but they made it happen. Having a horrible idea is one thing, going through with it is quite another.

The Rio has partnered with Sapphire Men's Club because Little Darlings was just a bit too high class. The idea is for guys to flock in, thinking that they will be surrounded by a bunch of busty, blonde and topless Maidens, catering to your every whim. Lap dances on demand, and private shows in the cabanas, it was believed to be a man's paradise.

But the reviews are in, here and here.

The pool is about what you would expect. A bunch of dudes, no chicks and pretty lame. Seriously, did they think that women were going to flock to a pool hosted by strippers? Women can be self-conscious and many of them probably don't want to be hanging out next to surgically enhanced women who entertain for a living. Plus, the flip side is that many of these women thrive in the low glow of those strip clubs and not the bright light of the sun.

And do we even need to discuss the outrageous price for men? Seriously. If you want to go to the strip club, then go. But sometimes people just want to hang out at the pool and leer for free. Drink prices at the pools often are outrageous enough without adding a $30 cover charge. That's not going to happen.

The better idea would be to sell the pool as a place to escape the kids. But why do we have to pay for that in Las Vegas? If anything, the kiddie pools should be secluded and charging families to use. I would definitely stay at that hotel.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Monte Carlo Pool Area Choked Out

I have made mention of the Monte Carlo pool area being choked out by the rising City Center next door. Vegas Today and Tomorrow has some photographic proof.

The pool area at the Monte Carlo looks like it will be in the shade around 1 p.m. on most summer days. That might actually be of some relief to those who don’t want to be in the sun all day. But you would probably just rather rent a cabana instead.

This couldn’t happen to a worse pool area. The whole thing is a gigantic letdown. Mainly because of the lazy river. The same lazy river when they won’t let you float around on an inner tube, sipping on a Miller Chill. Thousands of kids urinate in the pool, but please, don’t spill any alcohol.

I recently predicted that the Monte Carlo will be the first of the “new” resorts to see the wrecking ball. Probably before the Tropicana, Imperial Palace or some of the other places that people throw out there. They will have to at least get a new pool area once City Center gets up and running, as that situation can’t last.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Way to stick with that gambling ban, Chuck

Charles Barkley is back in the World Series of Poker, just weeks after saying that he will never gamble again. Or at least for two years.

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Charles Barkley is headed back to the tables in Las Vegas to play in a poker tournament about a month after pledging not to gamble. He says it's all for charity. The former NBA star is scheduled to play in a celebrity poker tournament at the 2008 World Series of Poker on July 2.

The "Ante Up for Africa" event is designed to raise money and awareness for the crisis in the Darfur region of Sudan. More than 300,000 people have died and 2.5 million have been displaced since ethnic warfare began in 2003, according to the U.S. presidential envoy to Sudan. More ...

This is for charity, so maybe Chuck should be given a break. But why put yourself in this position? Nobody forced Chuck to go with his gambling ban, and doing stuff like this certainly isn't helping. Fortunately for him, Chuck could care less what people think.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Progress at the Spike

The renovations at the Gold Spike continue to move forward.

A "hard hat tour" is one of the easiest gimmicks available to keep a casino construction project in the spotlight.

It starts with a fancy invitation sent by a public relations firm to members of the media.More ...

There are high-hopes for the Gold Spike. If the renovations are any where near what Jackie Gaughn did for the El Cortez, the Spike is going to be a great stop. I caught on late to the attraction of the Gold Spike, but there was no better place to be than the blackjack table when the sun was coming up. Hopefully, though, they don't take too much of the seediness of the place.

But there might not be enough money for that to happen.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Morton Coming Back?

Norm Clarke of the Las Vegas Review Journal had an interesting note in his column today.

I hear former Hard Rock Hotel owner Peter Morton has still got Las Vegas in his blood. Two years after selling the property for $770 million to the Morgans Hotel Group, the cash-rich Morton is ready to jump back in the action, for the right price. ...

Does he have the number for Columbia Sussex? Maybe the owners of Hooters? Morton already has made one hotel/casino based on a cheesy restaurant a success, who says that he couldn't do it for Hooters?

New Idea of Pouring One Out

From NBC 5 in Las Vegas.

LAS VEGAS, June 18 (UPI) -- Nevada officials said a chunk of Interstate 15 was closed Wednesday morning in Las Vegas after numerous beer kegs exploded in the back of a truck.

Bob McKenzie of the Nevada Department of Transportation said the truck driver began hearing noises coming from the back of the vehicle, which was carrying 278 kegs of beer, while traveling south on the interstate, KVVU-TV, Las Vegas, reported Wednesday.

McKenzie said the driver reported seeing smoke and exited the truck shortly before the kegs began to explode.

Police said the carbon dioxide in the kegs caused them to explode.

The southbound on ramps at Flamingo Road and Spring Mountain Road were closed Wednesday morning for cleanup.

Javon Walker was probably pissed that he didn't get a chance to spray that beer on a crowd of on-lookers.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

What happens in Vegas ...

Doesn't always stay in Las Vegas, right?

Raiders receiver Javon Walker was beaten up after partying in Las Vegas over the weekend. He obviously didn't learn his lesson after former teammate Darrent Williams died in his arms last season. Williams was believed to be the victim of a drive-by after teammates Brandon Marshall and others had ... wait for it ... sprayed the crowd with champagne.

Photos: With Leather.

Monday, June 16, 2008

With employees like this ...

We promise that this will not turn into a Tropicana blog, but this was worth noting, from

June 16 (Bloomberg) -- Outside the Tropicana Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, doorman Steve Wagner asks guests if they enjoyed their stay. Half complain, he says, citing everything from dirty rooms to insects.

"Boy, this place needs to go," said Wagner, 48, who has spent half his life at the once mob-linked property, which opened in 1957 and was hailed by the Saturday Evening Post as the "Tiffany of the Strip." "Nothing that exists in this hotel should probably stay." More ...

Hopefully Wagner already has been fired for his comments, but don't hold your breath. This is a slap in the face to many of the employees that are currently working at the Trop. If life is so bad working there, then apply for a gig at City Center and it's personality-free hotels.

There are some great workers such as Russ the dealer, along with bartenders Jason and Gerry who do a great job. To push them out in the street to build a monstrosity would be a crime worse than beating up a Raiders receiver in the street.

There are many choices when looking for accomodations on the strip. Don't take away our choice because you don't like the Tropicana. Pay $300 and stay at Mandalay Bay, just leave us alone.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Hooters Deal Falls Through

Good news for those of us that still believe in this place. Hooters made some mistakes at the start, but they are starting to find their way right now. Hopefully the place will be open long enough for me to get in my stay in late July.

The owner of Las Vegas's lascivious Hooters Casino Hotel is anything but well-endowed now that its buyout deal fell through and the company may be left with mountains of debt.

Investment company 155 East Tropicana, said Monday that it was terminating its agreement to sell Hooters Casino Hotel to Hedwigs Las Vegas Top Tier for $98.0 million after the buyer failed to make a required $500,000 payment by June 6. (More ...)

Tropicana Trip Report

The soulless bastards of Columbia Sussex have actually stopped ruining the Tropicana and it’s starting to return to its status as a low-roller haven. As God intended. The hookers are no longer hanging out at the Celebration Lounge and you can park your car in the lot without fear of a break in. Let the good times roll.

In fact, I was so impressed with the Tropicana during a recent stay, we decided to rebook for a return trip. Almost unheard of considering that I don’t like to venture far past “home base” during an Las Vegas trip. If you want to hang out Center Strip, book the Imperial Palace. If you want hang downtown, book the Fremont. This is very simple. So the Tropicana was a near no-brainer, mainly because of the service.

The trip started with some time at the Celebration Lounge with Jason – one of the best bartenders in Las Vegas. Although Gerry in the bar near the poker room would get some votes for best bartender. Speaking of poker, I went to try to enter the 7 p.m. poker room waiting for a local friend to show up. The wife and pal partied at the Celebration Lounge while I made about $50 playing some $1-$2 no limit.

Of course, there was some a-hole who was pissed that I called his “all-in” with Ace-two suited. Hey, it was only $15, I love suited connectors so why not, right? I hit the flush on the river. Deal with it. I knew he had pocket kings. I was hoping he was trying to buy off an ace-king, but come on, there were too many outs.

I collected my winnings, my wife and friends for a trip over to Hooters. An amusing anecdote. A tourist walked past the group and asked if he was allowed to have beers in public in Las Vegas. Listen pally, that might be the only reason why I come to Las Vegas. Outdoor drinking! The tourist reacted like we just gave him a $100 chip. That obviously made his trip more enjoyable.

Hooters is starting to come around on me. They have a $10 double-deck table that pays 3-2 on blackjack. Perfect. Our buddy started a winning streak that was unprecedented while sitting at this blackjack table. Hooters gets a bad wrap, but I’ve yet to have a bad time at the casino. I’ve never stayed there, but I will in July and I’m looking forward to it. Everybody (except for me) won some money, drank a bunch of beers and the night started to get a little fuzzy.

So it was time to get some food.

The one drawback about Hooters is the fall-from-grace of Dan Marino’s steakhouse. What was supposed to be a high-end steakhouse now serves $0.25 wings after midnight. Those wings must have been made from turkeys because they made me sleepy. Add some comfortable seats and there was no better place to take a nap then my spot in the restaurant. But I guess many people (including my wife) don’t really approve. Party poopers.

Time to head back to the garden room at the Tropicana for some rest for the evening. For those of you wondering, the Tropicana garden rooms are still great. Ours was overlooking the pool in the 5000 wing (near the Rat Pack picture I tap for good luck each day). Now, for those of you who love the luxury of the Bellagio, Venetian or even Motel 6 aren’t going to like these rooms. And that’s fine. There should be room enough in Las Vegas for both of us.

There was a guy sitting in the Celebration Lounge on Friday who said that they should knock down the Trop. Why? So they can build a new casino that looks like every other freaking casino? There is no need for it. Budget minded consumers deserve to have a place on the strip, too.

Day two started at the pool. The new management that was brought in has done a real good job of getting the pool back into shape. This place really fell off last year, but it’s back to its original glory. They had a DJ, live band and a BBQ out there, which was really nice. They finally smarted up on the swim-up blackjack, too. Instead of middle-aged dudes in Hawaiian shirt, the dealers are busty women in bikini tops.

Was that so hard to think of?

We made some wagers on a couple of long shots in the Belmont. Of course, none of them hit, though our trifecta of 6-7-8 looked pretty strong. So after getting a sunburn, losing $6 in horse racing, it was time to walk the strip. Now, I take Las Vegas for granted because I go so much. But our guest goes once a year and wanted to see a lot of stuff.

MGM was our first stop, looking for the Sigma Derby. Too bad it was packed, without an open spot. The 1-2 combination I called hit, too. (MGM owes me six quarters.) Hit the bar and it was off to New York New York. Funny, how much progress they’ve had in just two weeks building the casino. Lost a quick $30 to a unusually unfriendly dealer and it was time to hit the Monte Carlo.

What’s amazing is how much the City Center is choking the Monte Carlo pool area (that we barged into). That thing is going to be dwarfed when that project is finished. Not that it matters, because the lazy river sucks. Mainly because you can’t take your drink into the lazy river. What’s the point then? And really, numerous kids can urinate in the pool, but I can’t have a beer while sitting in an inner tube? Lame. If fact, my prediction is that the Monte Carlo will be the first of the “new” resorts to be imploded. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Monte Carlo gets knocked down after City Center is completed. (You heard it here first.)

We tried to get into Diablos for a beer, but it was packed. Looked fun and will probably have a drink there in the future. Just not in the cards this time. There was, however, a Miller Lite stand down the sidewalk. Where was the tourist from the first night, he would have loved it.

Took a first look at Planet Hollywood. Not too bad. I’d never stay there because it just looks expensive, but a great improvement over what the Aladdin was trying to do. And let that be a lesson to the current or future owner of the Tropicana. There is no guarantee when you knock down a building and restart. The Trop could be re-skinned like the Westin was, but you don’t need to tear down the old gal. Hell, there’s enough room to add a tower.

The sports book was kind of nice. Actually, the book was real nice. A little small, in that it would be hard to navigate for March Madness, but still pretty cool. And I look forward to eating at the Earl of Sandwich some day.

After much debate over going to Battista’s or the Japanese steakhouse at the Trop, the steakhouse won out. Only because Battista’s leads to food coma, which means your night is done once you walk out of there. The key for Battista’s is to hit it on your first night when you are semi-sober so you can really hit that free wine. Mizuno’s was really good. In that, why haven’t we eaten there before? Good stop.

The evening took us to the Excalibur and then to the Luxor (for the first time in a long time). What the hell happened here? You can’t even tell that you are in pyramid anymore. That had the requisite girls dressed as sluts running around, and some high-end lounges, but nothing that stands out. There was a review somewhere that said that the Luxor was going for that “airport” look with a lounge called “Flight” and a club called “LAX.” They might be on to something. That will probably be my last trip to the Luxor.

Went to play some more blackjack at the Trop. Made a little profit before going to Mizuno’s and went back to play with the same dealer. I don’t want to get this dealer in trouble, but they count the cards and offer a little bit of advice when you are playing. This is the kind of stuff that you need. Dealers that care. So once again, we made a little bit of money off our friend and it was time for bed.

Another great trip under the belt.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Bullet Train Gets Boost

From the Associated Press:

WASHINGTON (AP) — Plans for a levitating train from Las Vegas to Disneyland can move forward under a transportation bill signed by President Bush on Friday that frees up $45 million for the futuristic project.

Derided by critics as pie in the sky, the train would use magnetic levitation technology to carry passengers from Disneyland to Las Vegas in well under two hours, traveling at speeds of up to 300 mph. It would be the first MagLev system in the U.S.

The money is the largest cash infusion in the project's nearly 20-year history. It will pay for environmental studies for the first leg of the project.

The money had been delayed by a drafting error in Congress' 2005 highway bill, which was corrected along with some other changes by the legislation signed Friday by Bush. The delay had allowed a competing and cheaper diesel-electric plan to emerge as an alternative, but with the money now freed up supporters hope to move forward with the MagLev plan.

The train is meant to ease traffic on increasingly clogged Interstate 15, the main route for the millions of Southern Californians who make the 250-plus-mile drive to Las Vegas each year. There is no train on the route — Amtrak's Desert Wind between Los Angeles and Las Vegas was canceled in 1997 because of low ridership.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., praised passage of the law, saying the MagLev project "will safely and efficiently move people between Southern California and Las Vegas."

A couple of reasons why this is now the right time for this project.
1. Gas prices.

2. Gas prices.

3. Gas prices.

The last train service to Las Vegas was ended in 1997, back when gas was relatively cheap. There would be demand for this rail service if it was started today. The only concerns are if they are going to keep this affordable and can they avoid a lot of unneccessary stops. For instance, they need to start it in Las Vegas, maybe have a stop in Barstow and Stateline before finally reaching the monorail station at the MGM.

With all of the new hotel inventory they are adding to Las Vegas, there seems to be no alternative but to have a train such as this. The airport in Vegas almost is at full capacity. Driving there is a nightmare. They need to have this project done. Hopefully by this weekend if possible. Seriously, could you imagine just going to Las Vegas for the day because of the train? That would be unbelievable.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Happy Birthday, Dino

There is no coincidence that Blogging Las Vegas is kicking off on Dean Martin’s birthday. He would have been 91 this year. So enjoy one of my favorite scenes of Dino from the original Ocean’s 11.

And here is a nice tribute to the man.

Welcome to Blogging Las Vegas

"Hey, I'm going to Las Vegas in July, where should I stay?"

That is a question I hear at least once a week. And if they don't ask me, I'm certainly not shy about giving my opinion. I love Las Vegas. I love the thrill of having that first beer when you reach the city limits. (And sometimes even before you get into the city.) I love the rush of killing it in black jack, or taking some poor saps money in the poker room.

Although, somebody got the best of me in my recent trip to the Tropicana poker room.

But I love Las Vegas. Nothing beats hanging out on the bridge on Las Vegas Boulevard and taking in all the action of the strip. Or maybe kicking it in front of O'Shea's. Or even walking down a deserted Fremont Street at 3 a.m.

I love it all. And in this blog, I will answer your questions about hotels, the best gaming and share my trip reports with you. Hopefully you'll come back often to read all there is about one of the most amazing cities in the world.

Let's Get This Party Started