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Vegas in April

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Las Vegas, NV
Friday, April 1, 2005 - Tuesday, April 5, 2005
Vegas in April photos

Purpose: To play poker in Vegas and visit at the same time as my parents

More details:
This is the first time that I managed to go out to Vegas at the same time as my parents. It was fun hanging out with them and playing poker together!

This was also the first time that I visited during the NCAA basketball tournament. I placed one sportsbet on my second trip to Vegas years ago and won! I decided that it was a good time to place some more bets since we were there during the Final Four. I placed the wrong bets on the semifinals games and subsequently retired from the sportsbetting business. No more sportsbetting for me!

Brian and I traveled together, but we knew several others (aside from my parents) who were visiting Vegas at the same time. We were able to catch up with everyone at some point or another. Alan was actually attending Howard Lederer's poker camp for WORK (lucky!). Donovan and Gabe were in town as well.

We made some new friends with several dealers and employees at the Excalibur poker room. We happened to be playing in the same games as them at other casinos and ended up hanging out towards the end of the trip.

We played in a tournament at the Sahara on Monday at 7pm during the championship game. Our new friends Jason, Terry, and Greg were playing as well as Gabe, Donovan, Mom, and me. None of us made the money, unfortunately. I was proud of Mom as this was her first casino tournament!

The MGM poker room had opened just a few days before we arrived, so we had to check it out. We had heard good things about it. The competition seems to be a little tougher than some other rooms, but the room is really nice. They have nice plasma screens displaying the waiting list, plus electronic tables for tracking your play as well as a computerized system that keeps track of which seats are empty. We were happy that they had a relatively clear comp system as most of the poker rooms in Vegas aren't too clear about that.

We played at Aladdin for the first time as well. I enjoyed playing in that room, although it is smaller and the tables aren't nearly as nice! We spent a bit of time at Excalibur's poker room, and Brian spent some time at Mandalay Bay.

Bellagio Adventures
Brian and I were supposed to meet my parents at the Bellagio Buffet (it is a well known fact that I *must* visit the Bellagio conservatory. The buffet is optional, but I have been to it on all of my recent trips). We were staying at the Monte Carlo, which has a tram that goes to the Bellagio. From the view of our hotel, we could see that the tram was running, so we thought that would be quite convenient for getting from Point A to Point B.

So just minutes after seeing the tram running from our hotel room, we came down to the tram station to find that it was temporarily closed. The sign was at the bottom of the escalator. Brian and I both thought that they must be bluffing (too much poker?), and we went up the stairs to confirm that it was indeed not running.

So now we had to find alternate means of getting to the Bellagio. Of course, being logical people, Brian and I are searching for the most direct route from the Monte Carlo tram station to the Bellagio buffet (without the tram). At the bottom of the stairs is a set of exits marked clearly "Emergency Exit, Alarm Will Sound." Fortunately, some people were walking in the door at that moment, so we just walked out the open door - hey at least we didn't set off any alarms!

Now we're on the backside of the Monte Carlo, in between the MC and Bellagio. We feel like we're in a loading dock area and loud noises from generators and various machinery are making it hard to phone my parents to let them know about our detour.

A huge parking lot stands between us and Bellagio. And we quickly notice - a fence. We walk down to the left (away from the strip) thinking that we can easily go around the fence at a break. Unfortunately, the fence does not cooperate and instead goes the wrong way. But we do notice a break in the fence over a culvert....so we decide that it is a good idea to climb under the fence.

Now we're in a huge parking lot, and we realize that on the other side of the parking lot is another fence...but we'll figure that out when we get there. We walk a ways and then see a Bellagio shuttle! Oh we are in luck! We try to wave down the shuttle, but it doesn't stop. We notice that the shuttle is slowing down and stopping at a covered shuttle stop about 100 feet away, so we jog to the shuttle and get on it.

Brian then starts trying to tell me something, mouthing something I can't quite get. Finally, after the third attempt, I realize what he's trying to tell me. "We're on an employee shuttle." Oh. I look out the window, and sure enough the shuttle stop indicates that we are indeed on an employee shuttle.

So we take a tour of the parking lot and a few other similar lots, stopping at various places and picking up a few people here and there. We're not really sure where this shuttle is going to take us, but we figure it should at very least get us *close* to where we want to be, right?

Finally, we approach the backside of the Bellagio where we see two entrances. One reads "Employees Only Entrance" and the other reads "Applicants Entrance." We think that there must be a way to get through to the casino through these entrances, but we certainly aren't employees. There's no reason we can't be applicants, so we opt for that choice.

As soon as we enter the applicant entrance, the experience becomes even more surreal. We're asked if we would like to check-in and are immediately accosted by friendly people wanting to help us with the applicant process.

"Um, well actually, we were just trying to get to the casino." The employees looked at us perplexed at how we got there. "Did you take a cab? Did you ride the shuttle?" We sort of avoided giving direct answers and said something like, "um, we were dropped off at the wrong place, I guess. Is there a way to go through this way to the casino?"

Their response was coupled with an "oh no, this is bad" look, "No, you are going to have to go all the way around to the front." From their expression, we could tell that it was a very long walk around the Bellagio. It's possible that we are even further than when we started from the Monte Carlo...

They babble on about driving directions and such, and we just kinda smile and nod and ignore the rest of the conversation. So we walk outside and prepare to walk around the entire building. We get about five or ten feet past the employee entrance, look at each other and think simultaneously, "well...we could try it, what's the worst thing that could happen?"

So we walk up to the employee entrance with the plan of "look like we know what we're doing." Good plan, huh? We think that the worst thing that could happen is that they tell us to leave, we feel stupid, and we act confused and tell the truth - we're just trying to get to the casino.

We walk right into this wide hallway with signs that read "Payroll" and "Uniforms" and other such departments. The hallway was pretty long, and of course seemed much longer since any second we knew someone would realize we're not supposed to be here.

At one point, I felt like I was out in the public area and was a little confused and disoriented. We stumbled upon the employee restaurant, which looked nice and much like any regular restaurant. We kept walking and noticed "Room Service Elevators" - which we almost thought we should take and then come back down the guest elevators, but we decided to continue down the hall.

When we began our journey in the hall, a few others had on street clothes, presumably there to pick up a paycheck or some other such business. The further we got down the hallway, the more out of place we felt. The employees were more and more official looking the closer we got to the casino.

We finally see a set of escalators and hope that they are going to lead us to the right place. At this point, nobody is wearing street clothes (except for us), and we really feel like we might stick out and get caught. At the top of the escalators, we turn to the right and see a set of double doors. To the right of the doors is a huge wall sized mirror with the words "PLEASE CHECK YOUR APPEARANCE" on a sign above it. This must be it! One of the employees even holds the door behind him, and we enter into the casino. We know that there is a security guard at the door, but we just kept moving and didn't look back! We ended up right where we wanted to be at the entrance of the buffet! Whew!

Other Adventures
Rock 'n Roll! It's like an amusement park and other walkway shenanigans. Walking out of the hotel expecting darkness but instead being greeted by sunlight. Logic vs. impulse. No rock 'n rolling in the airport. High rolling craps. Lots of stingers. Daylight savings time. Nothing to do. Trickiness.