That's an homage Velvet, not a theft
Left Toronto feeling pretty good. I really look forward to my annual Las Vegas trip. I am flying from Buffalo on a free ticket voucher I obtained last year for giving up my seat on an oversold flight.
Seeing as my flight wasn't until the following day, I decided to stop at Fallsview on the way and try to play a satellite to their Fallsview Classic in January. There wasn't enough interest to start up a table, so instead I played some 2-5NL. After about 3 hours I was up $600 - not a bad start to the trip. I cashed out, crossed the border, and arrived at my Buffalo airport hotel for the night.
When dinnertime arrived, I knew I only had one option. I left the hotel en route to Duffs for their magical chicken wings. I was disappointed to find that Duffs was closed on Christmas Eve, so after trying to find a suitable alternative (as if), I returned to the hotel and sat down in their pub-style restaurant. The wings were decent, enough to satisfy my craving for a flavour I hadn't tasted in nearly 8 years.
After dinner I returned to the room and sought guidance from a new friend in Toronto as to what film I should watch in bed. I knew I comedy was my only option, so I went with Get Him To The Greek. Lots of laughs, enjoyable, but near the end of the movie the overall theme of loneliness affected me. That's right, Get Him To The Greek forced me into reflection and pause. Good Grief.
My Christmas day starts with a 6:30 wake-up call, and before you know it I am en route to Las Vegas. My flights are uneventful, and by noon PST I am in a cab to Caesars.
My room wasn't ready yet when I arrived (typical of Las Vegas) so I stowed my bags and headed outside for a walk to Bellagio. I soaked in the glorious sunshine on the strip, marveled at the crowds (last year this time Vegas had a big vacancy sign) and after a while headed back to the room to await some delivery herbal remedies.
For dinner I met up with family at PF Changs. We don't have them in Canada, so I was excited to try this chain. After enjoying their lettuce wraps I eagerly anticipated the other dishes, only to be left disappointed by the meal overall. The company was great - good to see some relatives I had not seen since the summer.
After dinner I broke off from the group with my cousin and brother. We checked out the new Cosmopolitan Hotel and Casino, a new casino at City Center which had opened just that week. It was rather impressive with its gigantic chandelier that snaked down from the high ceilings. This place was hipster central, which was unappealing, but child-free, which I always appreciate. We tested the theory that the casino had looser slots in its opening week, and after collecting another $20-40 in profits each, we headed to Caesars to play the 9pm $85 NLH poker tournament.
I love the Caesars poker room, and spend time there every visit. This tournament in particular had just over 50 players, with the top 6 receiving prize money. I sailed through the tournament as the chip leader, and once we were down to 4 players at 3:30am (yes, that's 24 hours since I awoke in Buffalo) we decided to split the remaining prize money for about $700 each. Good start - but I hardly made it back to my room before I passed out.
Late start to the day. Slept in, had a quick light lunch and decided that today would be spa day. I had never stayed at Caesars and decided that some of last night's riches would be used to pamper me today.
The spa at Caesars was a elevator ride away, nestled on the second floor of the newest tower - the Augustus. I was instructed to arrive wearing loose clothing as I had a massage scheduled. I was greeted and given flip flops and a robe to change into. This place was amazing. Steam rooms, saunas, pools, lounges, who knows what else. It is a 55,000 square-foot palace of relaxation. I was floored by all the options available to me as I awaited my massage. I settled in on the main baths area, where several pools of differing temperatures await to soak aching limbs. There was also a plasma TV on the wall, so we could take in the NFL game while bathing.
I was fetched after about an hour for my massage. I went with the Biofreeze Pain treatment to sooth my aching back (I call it life pain). After an hour I was limber and anesthetized. I headed back to my room, sampled some herbal analgesic, and then got ready for what was to be an epic evening - dinner at Nobu at the Hard Rock with friends from Ottawa.
I'm proud to admit that I am pretty "connected" in Vegas. I called my Internet friend Andrew, a cab driver who chronicles the absurd at http://lvcabbiechronicles.blogspot.com/ . He picked me up at the Augustus Tower side door, and after exchanging pleasantries after meeting "in real life" for the first time, we headed to the MGM to pick up my friends before heading to the Hard Rock, where Nobu is located.
Nobu. Wow. This is my favourite restaurant in the world. It's amazing what a genius can do with food. We followed the waiter's advice and ordered a mix of hot and cold dishes, along with a few bamboo pitchers of junmai sake. The yellowfin tuna secured the place as the standout dish of the night, leading to mini-orgasms and lots of sex sounds as the 3 of us feasted. The king crab tempura was also divine, as is anything drenched in Nobu's house ponzu sauce. We couldn't pass up dessert, which rivaled the main courses in terms of flavour complexity. Another epic meal at Nobu, which I obviously highly recommend.
I headed back to Caesars, played a little roulette, and decided to call it an early night.
My last full day in Las Vegas starts with another tradition - lobster omelet at Cafe Bellagio. My favourite breakfast, served with amazing coffee, toast, hash browns, a baked stuffed tomato and fresh squeezed orange juice.
I feel great after breakfast and decide to play another poker tournament - this time the noon Caesars tournament with an $80 buy-in. This tournament closes with 70+ players. Once again I am the chipleader or close to it wire to wire. At 6:30pm the remaining 6 players decided on another chop, and another $700 was shipped my way. Feeling on top of the world I went back to my room, relaxed in the jacuzzi, then showered and got dressed for a nice solo dinner. I called my buddy Johnny in Denver - he lived in Las Vegas for years - and asked him where I could get the best lobster dinner in Vegas. "The Palm" burst out of his mouth before I finished asking the question. Thankfully The Palm is located at Caesars in their Forum Shops, so I walked over and got my table instantly. Lobster bisque and a 3lb lobster with the fix-ins was the order of the night. It was amazing.
With dinner in the books before 9pm I knew I had at least one more Vegas adventure in me, so I called up Andrew and asked him to head over to take me downtown.
I had never been to Freemont Street downtown. I've been in Las Vegas 9 times in the last 8 years, and never ventured that far north. Andrew dropped me at the door to Binion's - the birthplace of the World Series of Poker eons ago. I walked into the poker room, sat down at an empty seat, dropped $200 on the table and got my chips. I felt the history in this small room. Maybe 8-10 tables? Pictures of WSOP Champions past adorned the walls, and after taking a few minutes to drink in the history I focused on my table, my very weak opponents, and proceeded to take another $400 in profits away in a matter of 40 minutes. The dipshit to my right said something along the lines of "you know you gotta stay to give us a chance to get our chips back", which prompted a belly laugh from me. I stood up, said no thanks, and took all my chips off the table. I could have made more had I stayed, but I wanted to take in the light show on Freemont. I don't know why, 5 minutes into it I was on the phone to Andrew to come grab me from downtown. Nice place to visit, but I prefer the action and pace of the newer casinos.
Andrew came and brought me home to Caesars. I knew I wouldn't see him again this trip, so we had a nice chat and parted ways. I packed up and went to bed.
Time to leave and head home. I got to the airport only to find that my flight to Chicago was oversold (United, enough said). I was presented with an option of giving up my seat again. This time the reward was $600 in United vouchers, a flight to Chicago 2 hours later than my original plans, and a standby flight to Buffalo later that evening. I didn't want to spend the night in Chicago, which was a definite possibility, but when I arrived at the gate I saw that I was first on the standby list, which meant I would most certainly arrive home that night. They called my name, gave me my boarding pass, and I was off to Buffalo.
I landed in Buffalo around 11:30pm. Tired and anxious to be home in Toronto, I caught the bus to the airport parking. It took a while to find my car, reason being the battery was completely dead and my alarm fob wasn't working. Now I had to wait another 15 minutes for a boost, and because my car alarm went off, the stereo was disabled until a code (at home) was entered. Yes, that means I made the tired 2 hour drive home in silence.
All in all a great trip. I now had 24 hours to sleep, clean and do laundry before leaving for New York City.