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June 7 CC Reno / June 8-10 Harrahs Reno / June 11 Caesars LV

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PostPosted: Jun Mon 18, 2018 7:31 pm    Post subject: June 7 CC Reno / June 8-10 Harrahs Reno / June 11 Caesars LV Reply with quote

I had been to Reno 10 previous times, all for me to bowl the USBC Open Championships.

For a few years in the mid-2010s, both the men's and women's tournaments were held concurrently in Reno. My wife decided to make her first tournament in 2013, but an elbow injury that eventually required surgery halted that. She made her actual first tournament in 2016, in which she injured her knee pretty badly but bowled through it. Two surgeries and countless Orthovisc injections later, she decided to take another crack at it this year.

And bless her little heart, she let me come along. Ain't she the greatest?

Thursday, June 7 (also known as Melissa's daughter's 21st birthday) - We took some grief for this. For a few years in a row about a decade ago, Melissa was out of town on business on the daughter's birthday. So when we told her of our departure date this year, she went a little mental at us. I did say that since she would be 21, she could come along and enjoy all that Nevada has to offer. She declined... something about her son only being a year old. Her loss is our gain, as we get another child-free vacation!

Our flight from Milwaukee at 6:15 AM into Las Vegas went smoothly, and since I had taken a brief nap on that flight, I now wanted a cup of coffee to kick in for when we landed in Reno. I made a stop at that little coffee place where the B-gates meet the C-gates. I ordered a large Americano with a squirt of caramel and sat down to lose some money at video poker (success!). When the coffee cooled down, it was clear that there was no caramel in it. I had drank about 1/4 of it when I decided to go back and get my caramel. The clerk had no problem fixing the drink, but for "sanitary reasons" he wouldn't take my cup so instead made me a new drink. Suddenly I had 40 ounces of Americano to power through.

Before we boarded the plane, most of those ounces were gone and I was ready to bounce off the walls. But mostly, it made me have to pee. Since I have no interest in using an airplane bathroom, I did make a mad dash once off the plane.

Relieved to be relieved, we got our bags and rental car and headed for lunch.

Being my wife's trip (and her having been to Reno numerous times as well), I let her pick most of the meals. When she said that we were going to eat at Laughing Planet on the Nevada-Reno campus, I was a bit dubious of eating at a Paleo-friendly, gluten-optional, vegan and Keto hipster bro guy campus chain restaurant. But it wasn't too bad. I had a Korean BBQ bowl, with my only wish that the veggies were cooked instead of raw, and I had a Marionberry Ginger smoothie (whatever the hell that is) that was delightful. Blew my mind as the only Marion Barry that I knew was the coke-head former DC mayor. My wife had a quesadilla that she reported as "nummy" and we were on our way.

Since I could only talk Harrahs into a 3-night comp, we stayed the first night at Circus Circus Reno for $48 (plus $17 resort fee). The Sky Tower had been so recently remodeled that it had that new carpet smell. For those of you unaware, this is decidedly NOT the Circus Circus in Las Vegas, because though it caters to families, CC Reno is a lot better. The casino is nice, the sports book is pretty big and is a comfortable in every way.

We checked in, walked to the National Bowling Stadium so my wife could check in, then we headed over to Harrahs Reno for the first gambling. Even though I wasn't staying at Harrahs that day, with the Silver State Multiplier promo I decided to play where I'd be earning more spiffs. The gambling gods were against us that day (as they would be all weekend) so after an hour we walked back to Circus Circus to get ready for dinner.

There were two "nice" dinners planned for the trip, the first one being on arrival day, where my wife would meet up with her team (with one member from Arizona) and be all friendly before bowling the next day. With temps in the mid-80s, I was in shorts and wanted to put on slacks and a dress shirt.... you know, proper dinner attire. I got the iron set-up in the room, pulled out my dress shirt... and.. where... are... my... pants?

Apparently I left them in Milwaukee. My dinner dress choices were shorts or black sweatpants. I understand "dress" is being relaxed these days, but I felt like one of "them" by schlepping into Harrahs Steakhouse in shorts.

I had never eaten there before, but that is an oversight that will not continue going forward. This was, in a word, freakingawesome!

They had two Prix Fixe offerings; an "early bird" dinner for diners arriving before 6:00 PM for $32, or their 50th Anniversary four-course meal for $50. I had that 50th Anniversary dinner and my wife didn't.

My crabcake that I almost forgot to photograph.

My wife's creamy French Onion soup... served in an onion.

Not shown is my salad because, well, it was a salad. As Homer and Bart Simpson once sang... "You don't win friends with salad".

This was cool... a small dollop of sorbet with a champagne pour over. Didn't expect the palate cleanser as it wasn't mentioned in the menu at all.

My petit filet with stuffed prawns. My brilliant wife whisked the offending fungus off my plate before the meat was infected. That's why I love her so.

My wife had the Chicken Scallopini.

This isn't the greatest photo, but my Alaska is being Baked tableside.

You'd think we'd be done at dessert. But no! They brought out...

They brought out a bowl of chocolates over a bowl of gurgling CO2. This photo didn't do it justice, but that was way cool.

Since these are catty old ladies, we each got separate checks. My 50th Anniversary menu, my wife's soup, entree, dessert, her soda and two Old Fashioneds for me cost $150 with tax and tip. It was absolutely delightful and a steal and I can't wait to do it again in two years.

After dinner and cycling a few more dollars into Caesar's employee's 401Ks while watching the Vegas Golden Knights lose Game 5 and the Stanley Cup, we headed back to Circus Circus. My wife went to bed and I decided to keep my gamble going, so I went across the street to the Silver Legacy for some Pai Gow Poker. Couldn't even sniff a win, and I knew my entire trip was in trouble when I was dealt three pair; AA on top and QQ66 on the bottom and lost to the dealer's AA with KK99 on the bottom. When you can't win with three pair including AA, it's a bad sign.

I tried chasing losses in some slots without success, so when I ran out of my daily money, I schlumped off to bed.

Evening came and morning followed, the first day.
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PostPosted: Jun Mon 18, 2018 7:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Friday, June 8 - We arise and shine!

As has been detailed in plenty of other trip reports, I am not an egg eater so it sometimes poses a challenge for breakfast. Two years ago in Reno, we considered eating here on the exact same day that this happened.

Its Nevada, so we gambled with fate and actually went to Peg's Glorified Ham and Eggs and managed to eat a meal without a car crashing through the window.

Once concern I have with pancakes involves the cost. They often outprice eggs for reasons that astound me. Flour, egg, oil and water is a pancake. Eggs by themself are pretty cheap, but are often part of a meal or omelette with a dozen add ons, like meat, peppers, potatoes, cheese, onions and, more meat. So when I saw the pancakes for $6.50, I thought there might be a catch. There was. A single sausage patty was a $6.00 adder. That $12.50 was more than almost everything else on the menu. The pancakes were good. The pancakes were not THAT good.

With my wife bowling at 5:00 PM this particular evening, we needed to fill seven hours without blowing the bankroll in the casino. Clearly, a ride to Virginia City was in order.

The plan had us arriving at the 1870 Train Depot for the 10:30 run of the Virginia and Truckee Railroad to Gold Hill and back for $12 each.

The trip was 35 minutes round trip, and the conductor told stories about the Gold and Silver Rush pretty much non-stop, pointing out historic sites and mines that were deserted so quickly that they are still in place almost 150 years later.

In the last photo, in the center of the picture is where gold was first found in Virginia City. Which begs the question... why was anyone digging there in the first place, and what made him/her think that thar was gold in them thar hills?

One issue we had was that our credit card had declined at the train station. We had used the credit card traveling to and through Las Vegas to Reno, and I know that there was plenty of available room. Clearly, some algorithmic fraud alert had tripped on my account, so I had to contact the card company to clear it. I decided to make this call while driving up the hill to the main drag of Virginia City. I had the account specialist on the line and were almost done when the call dropped. I tried to call back twice, and both times my call ended prematurely. Apparently the only place in Virginia City where Capital One would take my call was in the parking lot across from the train depot.

So, sigh, I drove back there just to complete a phone call so I could use my card again. And it worked perfectly. Apparently this technology hasn't been perfected yet.

"What", you may ask, "is the draw to Virginia City?"

"Good question."

Click the link for a look at the live webcam, which is VERY representative of the mile or so of C Street.

Not quite ready for lunch, we found a parking spot across from the fire station and got to the The Way it Was Museum ($4/ea). I had been to Virginia City a few other times in my trips to Reno and always wanted to walk through it. And when I finally got to do it, I was bored silly. There were quite a few mining and other artifacts from the mid-to-late 1800s, but there was no particular rhyme or reason. Its as if they bought some glass display cases and hooks for the walls, put whatever stuff wherever, and hand made some signs roughly describing what we were looking at. It was all pretty cheesy. I kinda raced to the end because of The Video.

The biggest repetitive advertising this museum had (both along C Street and at this museum) was a series of videos featuring Merlin Olsen and Charlie Jones.

My thought was that since they were my favorite NBC NFL announcing team in the 80s, this couldn't be too bad. Just because Merlin Olsen died in 2010 doesn't mean this wasn't quality work. Right?

The shows were running on a continuous loop, so while there was some other low budget video running before this started, I whipped out my trusty Samsung Galaxy 6S and Googled "The American Frontier". Found it was produced in 1985 as filler material between PBS shows. Truth is that the videos weren't too bad, despite being dated. Then again, the subject matter was already 125 years in the rearview mirror when they were produced, another 30+ years wasn't going to hurt.

Finally it was on to lunch at the Bonanza Saloon. I had again given my wife her choice of dining and she chose this because, well, because I think she didn't care enough to take the responsibility seriously.

We were seated out the back patio overlooking the 100 Mile View.

I thought I was hungry, but nothing really tripped my trigger. When the waitress came around the third time, I was pressed into service and ordered the Little Joe burger (we were at the Bonanza Saloon and all). According to the menu, it was to be a 1/3 pound burger with sauteed jalapenos, onions, bacon, pepperjack cheese and a Sriracha aioli. I ordered it medium rare, and when it came it was grey throughout and didn't have the sauce. It also had a couple of onion rings on it that weren't supposed to be there. Normally I would have sent it back, but for whatever reason, I kept it. It was very good. Would have been very gooder with a juicy burger and some sauce to hold it together. After lunch, we walked up and down C Street for awhile, then headed back over the mountain to Reno. My wife got ready to bowl, I took a glorious midday Nevada nap. I would be in great shape for the rest of the day.

Her knee was really bothering her and I felt bad for her, but she did gut out and bowled halfway decent. Under her average a bit, but Nationals lane conditions are tough for a scratch player, they are also tough for the recreational player. After bowling was another dinner that had been on my bucket list, Bertha Miranda's for some Mexican food. I had read and heard great things, but for some reason in all my previous visits, I could never convince my bowling guys to eat there.

Although the menu prices were a little steep for a local's place (or maybe I am just used to midwest pricing levels?) I decided to have the Saturday Special... a steak with green chile and a red chile enchilada.

The waitress said that they were out of the green chile, which is why I ended up with grilled scallions. Also, the steak was the quality you'd expect from a Mexican restaurant. That said, the meal was fantastic. The red chile sauce really popped, and the rice wasn't just the Goya stuff from the grocery store.

Even the chips and salsa (ask for the salsa verde) were top notch. $22 might have been more than that meal was worth, but I had a very happy tummy.

After dinner it was back to Harrahs Reno where my wife went right to bed and I tried my hand (again) at Pai Gow Poker. I hadn't noticed the day before, but they had a special Diamond and Seven Stars drink menu. Being Diamond, I needed to have something on the list. However, I don't normally drink hard liquor so I was over my head. I ordered the first thing I could pronounce... Macallan 12-year Scotch. Being a true man (and an idiot) I had it neat. The waiter, Kregg, raved about how great of a choice it was. And a few minutes later, I was delivered a small glass of room temperature lighter fluid.

Undeterred, I had a second one, too... this time on the rocks. That helped a bit. Those two drinks were only $100 each, though (sad face emoji).

Evening came and morning followed, the second day.
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PostPosted: Jun Tue 19, 2018 8:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice trip report, it was a good read. Thanks.
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PostPosted: Jun Wed 20, 2018 11:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you for posting! In all my years going to Reno, i have yet to go to Virginia City. I have to go there!
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PostPosted: Jun Wed 20, 2018 7:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Saturday, June 9 - Good morning, Reno!

Because my beautiful bride had to bowl at 12:30 PM, the morning was filled with admin duties. But first breakfast at...

Black Bear Diner. Since the closest location is over 1000 miles from our house, we'll just ignore that it is a chain. In five days in Nevada, I had pancakes four times, and these were the best regular pancakes - BY FAR. Like Peg's, a side of sausage was way overpriced compared to the pancakes, but my wife's breakfast came with a side of sausage, which I yoinked before she could touch it. Those spicy sausage patties are legit.

After breakfast was a quick trip to Costco to get some prescriptions (we got paid on Friday and our HSA was reloaded) then back to get her to the Bowling Stadium. Since I didn't have to get there early, I decided to try to win something (I forgot to mention that we had spent an hour Friday at the Cal Neva and we got hammered there, too).

I wasn't feeling table games this particular afternoon, so I instead dumped a third of my daily bankroll on various slot machines... and I've got to take this point to mention how frustrated I was becoming. I understand that gambling is a negative expectation, and I also understand the Gambler's Fallacy of "I'm due" and "Its my turn to win". But dammit, it was my turn, wasn't it?

No. No, it wasn't.

But while I was playing, I was noticing most every Harrahs employee wearing T-shirts (and in some case jerseys) of Reno's soccer team, Reno 1868 FC. Clearly there was a marketing tie in, but do they offer tickets to their customers? I went to see a casino host to inquire, and she said that she wasn't sure if tickets were still available and that she'd check with marketing and would call me back.

My view Saturday afternoon.

Though riveted by the bowling that was going on, I waited for a phone call, which came a couple of hours later. The host said that tickets were waiting for me. I let the wife know that I was going for a walk. I figured the seat location of the soccer game might be pretty good because, well, it is second-division football. What I didn't expect was...

Wow! I must have lost more money than I thought I had, securing tickets in the luxury suite and all! One minor problem, though, was that my wife had committed us to dining with all of their bowling group members and guests. With any luck, I'd be too full to eat too much of Harrahs ballpark food, but I'd work on the beer instead.

Once my wife finished her nine games, the tally wasn't particularly pretty. The knee - which had responded to the application of KT tape in the morning - had decided to stop responding and her scores showed it. But I give her credit for finishing it up, and I tried to promise less walking for the rest of the trip. I also knew I that with what was planned, there was no way I could keep that promise. We walked back to Harrahs for her to clean up, then we walked over to Eldorado for their seafood buffet

"Go" time was 4:45 PM, but some of the ladies hadn't made it over yet. That allowed me to lose another full 1/3 of my daily budget in about 30 minutes.

Everyone, meet the gang. Gang, everyone.

Me, my wife and one of her teammates.

After dinner and goodbye hugs (many were leaving the next morning) we walked over to the stadium. During the walk, we noticed it had become drastically cooler, so we made a quick detour back to Harrahs for warmer clothes.

The Suite Life. It was even a bobblehead night of a player who won the league scoring title last season.

Except for the poor sodding, you'd have never really noticed they were playing at a baseball stadium.

My wife's sore knee and the wind had her leaving at halftime, while I survived subzero wind chills (OK, but it couldn't have been over 50 degrees at the end of the game) and otherwise enjoyed an entertaining 1-1 draw... and to you haters, yes, you CAN enjoy two hours of football with only two goals. Take a look at the highlights... it was an exciting game.

With my lovely wife tucked in bed, I went all Clark Griswold on Harrahs, determined to do some damage. Unfortunately, we know how the Clark Griswold story ends, as I blew through the rest of Saturday and most of Sunday's bankroll on Pai Gow Poker, High Card Flush and a frustration bennie on slots. Nothing was working, and I was above my stop loss with two more days to go. I did have two more Macallan 12 year, which brought me the same exact luck as the previous evening. Mildly panicking...

Evening came and morning followed, the third day.
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PostPosted: Jun Wed 20, 2018 7:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sunday, June 10 - The day started a little bumpy, due to my lovely wife's lack of knowledge of geography (sorry, Darling, but....) We were planning on breakfast at Mel's Diner at the Boomtown as we headed to the western shore of Lake Tahoe. However, one of her bowling friends had wanted a T-shirt from the Hard Rock in Tahoe, and my wife dropped this nugget on me.

Because of this 50-mile detour, we passed on Mel's Diner and I quickly Googled other possible breakfasts. Under the gun and a bit frustrated, I saw that Squeeze In was on the far south side of Reno, so I set course for there. Luckily, the frustration of the day ended as soon as we were seated.

A gorgeous patio (albeit a touch chilly) with pettable pets right behind us and a solid set of pancakes to start the day. Differently than the other places we'd had pancakes, Squeeze In offered real maple syrup (for $3.50) and I treated myself to it. When it was delivered, there was a skin on the syrup. I was all set to grumble about it but decided not to make a big deal. Then we got the bill and I wasn't charged for it... made me feel good that I didn't make a big deal about the "wrong" item when the server simply forgot. No biggie.

I had taken the drive from Reno through Carson City to the southern end of Lake Tahoe numerous times and I had kind of been looking forward to the northern route, but as soon as I made that turn around the corner and spotted that crystal clear lake, I had forgotten all about it.

I've taken these same pictures before, but for some reason I couldn't stop.

We dutifully made our stop at the Hard Rock Casino, and for the first time on the trip, I walked out a winner in about an hour of play... $20 on craps and $60 on slots. As we were heading out, I decided to play an impulse twenty on a video poker machine, and my wife sat next to me. She plays one credit Deuces Wild because she has no interest in learning strategy, she just wants a little fun. Before my money had expired, I was dealt three Jacks. I held them, turned away, and asked my wife to "land me a Jack". She pressed the draw button and said "Like that?" as the credits rolled. I cashed out with a $60 profit on VP for $140 at the Hard Rock. Then we left for our next destination.

For years, we'd intended to go to the Heavenly Ski Resort on the Nevada/California border, but every single time we've been in the area it has been in between the winter and summer seasons. Having wanted to take their gondola, I had figured that with all of the mountains in the area, there must have been something similar.

And there was... at Squaw Valley, home of the 1960 Winter Olympics. Their Aerial Tram was open for the season, with unlimited rides from the village to High Camp (tickets were purchased in advance online for $39/ea).

The views from the tram and at High Camp were breathtaking.

Don't like my photos? Check out the 360 degree webcam.

But it had been quite a while since breakfast, and with little else to do at High Camp (besides wander aimlessly) outside of tourist season, all that was left to do was to eat lunch at the Granite Bistro Cafe. For some reason, though, with wind chills in the 50s (I mean it this time) they only offered outdoor seating.

The menu was limited, but I had a decent cheeseburger, served with some sublime Garlic Parmesan fries. After lunch, we did some aimless wandering.

I also found the edge of a mountain.

Well, not really. My wife just wanted to record in case I fell over. In reality, I had found a photo op.

After a couple of hours at High Camp, we headed back to the village and after an obligatory stop for some gelato and a Starbucks, we were on our way to our next adventure.

We took a sunset sailboat cruise on the 50' Tahoe Cruz from Tahoe Sailing Charters. The tickets were $70/each, which wasn't too bad, except that CET Diamond members get two free tickets on their yacht. Unfortunately, they didn't start the trips until the following week so I had to shell out actual money. Kinda glad I did though, as we had a marvelous time on this sunset cruise.

What a beautiful way to end a glorious day. I even got the north shore views on the ride back to Reno.

Spooner Summit (on US 50 heading to the western shore of Lake Tahoe) is 7100 ft. At Squaw Valley High Camp, the elevation was 8200'. As we were driving back to Reno, we got as high as 9100' elevation on [url=]Slide Mountain[/url]. Each time, I could say that I was never higher. I don't know if anything could top that (file that information for when you begin reading Monday's report).

We got back to Harrahs Reno around 9:00 PM, and with a (very) early morning flight we didn't want to have a formal dinner, so I ordered take out from the Joy Luck Noodle Bar at Harrahs. The day had started bumpy, the middle part was one wonderful climax, and the end was as bumpy as the beginning. The line at the noodle bar was only about three or four deep, but it took forever for me to get to the front. It seemed that each customer had some sort of conflict that the cashier couldn't resolve so he needed to flag down the otherwise-preoccupied manager. Finally I placed my order and was told it would be 25 minutes, so I asked for it to go so we could eat in the room. I couldn't understand the wait, as the three people in front of me took so long to handle... and no other orders were coming in.

So while I waited, I decided to slow play some slots. After about 10 minutes I saw them bagging up an order so I went in to check, and someone else was taking it away. The clerk, surprised to see me, said "Oh, we haven't even started yours yet". Disheartened, tired and frustrated, I pounded the slots a little harder. Ultimately, it cost me $120 to wait for my dinner... and the Pepper and Salt Shrimp wasn't even very good. It was tempura fried shrimp atop a stir fry, but there was no sauce to bring the meal together. I had taken soy sauce absentmindedly, but it was screaming for sweet and sour or something else. I really felt like I wasted 2500 RCs (and $120) on our dinner. My fault all the way around, which is probably why I was frustrated. Didn't stop me from falling soundly asleep by 10:00 PM, though.

Evening came and (very early) morning followed, the fourth day.

Last edited by mjames1229 on Jun Tue 26, 2018 2:22 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Jun Wed 20, 2018 8:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Monday, June 11 - The alarm went off at 2:55 AM. Do you know how many times in Nevada that I've gone to bed AFTER 2:55 AM? But with a flight to Las Vegas leaving at 5:20 and a rental car to return, that was about as late as we could swing it without worry about being too late.

And I think we got to the gate in plenty of time, because for the life of me I can't remember anything after we dropped off the luggage.

But to Las Vegas we got, and as scheduled at 6:30 AM. I had rented an Audi through Silvercar with a promo code (through the Founders Card) for $69. However before I texted them that we had arrived, I took one stab at Car Rental Savers to see what I could find, and was offered an SUV from Alamo for $40. Although cool to have an Audi, an SUV would be just fine for one day and about $30 less, too. I booked the Alamo SUV and received the largest Ford Explorer that I've ever seen.

Being up for four hours without anything to eat or drink, the very first order of business was breakfast, and true to form, I needed to check two boxes... local and pancakes. I set the navigator on the Explorer to BabyStacks Cafe right off of Flamingo and Buffalo.

And if you're adventuresome about pancakes...

But it got better. Their special flavor of the day was Peanut Butter Caramel Swirl. It was a very, very (VERY) tough decision, but I ultimately ended up with

The Red Velvet pancakes with cream cheese frosting and a side of Portuguese sausage.

My wife had ordered the Banana pancakes, but the waiter said that they noticed that they had no bananas. He said that they just sent someone to the grocery store, but that it might be 10-15 minutes. This being Las Vegas, there was no interest in waiting so my wife went with her second choice, the German Chocolate pancakes.

The funny part was that the waiter had pretty much gotten back to the kitchen and in walked someone with two large bags of bananas. We laughed, but my wife kept her order intact, and she said that she's glad she did.

It was still only about 8:30 AM and too early for too much, so we took care of a Matrix casualty from our 2017 trip; the Silverton to spend some time watching the aquarium.

Although to me, this was something Melissa wanted to do, and therefore I was just marking time. In reality it was really relaxing. They have benches around about 2/3 of the perimeter, and with nobody but us viewing, I could just sit down and chill for about a half hour.

After dropping a few bucks in some slot machines (Johnny Cash giveth, Kenny Rogers taketh away) we set out to Bally's to get our Diamond show vouchers and (hopefully) tickets for Wayne Newton. We get the vouchers from the Total Rewards booth, but the boothling says that their box office didn't open until Noon. She did offer that the box office at Paris opened at 10:00, so we headed that way.

At 9:45, I was first in line at Paris' box office, across from the hotel check-in desks. At 10:05, a random Paris employee said that box office opens at 11:00 AM, but that I could get any show tickets at the Eiffel Tower box office. By the time I got there and waited my turn behind about a dozen others in line, I asked for Wayne Newton and was told that there was only 1 GA ticket available. I was crestfallen. Not that I have this man-crush on him, but he is as close to being Las Vegas as there is remaining. With Elvis, Liberace, Frank, Sammy, Dean and Don Rickles all in various states of dead, there aren't many classic Vegas entertainers remaining. That may have been my last chance. I did regroup, though, and pretty much let my wife decide on which show. We got the tickets, then headed over to Caesars Palace to check in.

I had never stayed there before... actually, I don't think I really ever spent too much time there. Too much of a pain in the ass to get to, and a little out of my price range. But the Total Rewards calendar had me comped for one night (which is in my price range). We headed to the Diamond check in (past the empty kiosks and lonely clerks in the - snicker snicker - Gold lines). With nothing more than a request and a pretty smile, we were upgraded to the Augustus Tower, overlooking the Bellagio Fountains.

Back when we were planning the entire trip, before we even sketched out what we were doing in Reno (besides bowling), the plan was to drive to Mt. Charleston (the reason for the Audi in the first place) for the day. As we sat in this gorgeous room at Caesars, we began rethinking those plans. We'd just spent a wonderful, picturesque day around Lake Tahoe with the crystal blue waters and snow capped peaks, although I'm sure I'd enjoy Mt. Charleston, just one day after Tahoe might have been pale.

So what else to do?

My wife said that she'd prefer a nap, so I headed over to Harrahs for their Noon poker tournament. I arrived a little after noon and was placed as an alternate. Within about 10 minutes though, they took all the alternates and opened a new table.

Tournament poker is really my game (as opposed to cash games) and I was in pretty good shape until soon before break. On the button with blinds at 300/600, I was dealt AA. There was a limp or two, and a lady a few seats to my right raised to 1200. I re-raised to 2400 and only she called.

The flop was 39K rainbow. She bet 2200, which was about 1/3 of the pot. I thought that she might have had a pocket pair and that my AA would be good, so I raised to 5200... which she instantly called. This lady had been bemoaning her lack of cards, which is why I didn't read a really strong hand from her. That is, until she called my large bet. I quickly reassessed her possible holdings, and all I could come up with was KK. The turn was a blank and the action checked through (I am sure she was waiting for me to fire again) and after the river she jammed. I had no doubt that she had KK (although she possibly had AA as well). I didn't see any path to a win, so I mucked, losing half my stack in the process.

I suddenly was short-stacked and so I opened up my range a bit but hit no flops. Before long I was dealt AJ suited and jammed pre-flop (about 5300) There was one caller who showed AQ and that was the end of my tournament. I've hit a real dry spell at poker, trying to outlast my run-bad. But I was frustrated and took my frustration out on... High Card Flush in the casino.

Yeah, that didn't go well. The guy to my right (playing $100 a hand with $25 on each bonus) hit a five-card straight flush and raked in a fortune. A little while later, the guy to my right had back-to-back four-card straight flushes with $10 on each bonus. Me? I had a five-card flush that lost to the dealer's higher five card flush. I wasted a little money in slots and headed back to Caesars to cry to my wife.

She was still sleeping, so I moved the chair to in front of the window overlooking the fountains with the intent of moping about being in a hotel room in Vegas during the day because I was running out of money. That was the intent, at least. I fell asleep in that chair pretty quickly.

We both woke up in time to dress for dinner. Me in shorts, remember.

We arrive, and after a short wait we are seated at our table... which unfortunately is nowhere near the "set" of the two kitchens, which really is the only reason for dining here. We were tucked behind a far wall where we could only really see anything special if we craned our necks.

No matter, we were here for our Diamond Celebration dinner, and for a great way to bookend our trip with another great meal.

Gordo makes a mean Old Fashioned.

We each had the Signature Prix Fixe menu...

The Caesar Salad for my wife, though I admit to having a few of her parmesan discs

My scallops, though I was a little disappointed in how small they were... they looked like they were cut in half horizontally. Tasted phenomenal, once I scraped that nasty pea sludge off the bottom of each one.

The main course.

I had a side of Pancetta Mac and Cheese.

And surprisingly, each one of us got a full portion of...

Sticky Toffee Pudding.

We also had a celebrity sighting, as Hells Kitchen 10 winner Christina (and a head chef at HK) sat down at the table adjacent to us.

In February I had my TR account compromised, and in the end, all of my points were restored and the spending of my card frozen at all Las Vegas properties. Well, neither did I when I had asked the waiter to deduct the $100 Diamond dinner, then to use the rest out of my Reward Credits. When he came back with a confused look on his face, he explained that I had the RCs available but the computer wouldn't let him access them. "Oh, shit!" I said out loud. I asked him to let me run into Caesars to the TR desk to remove the block. He looked at me exactly like you'd expect... the meal is over and he wants to flip the table, and here's some schmelmo doing a 21st Century Dine and Dash. But he did allow me to leave and come back, and after explaining it to the TR clerk (who had never heard of such a thing and had to call a manager) my account was opened up for 60 minutes to allow this transaction.

Although it was a pain in my ass (the waiter's, too) because I should have remembered to do this earlier, I really appreciate the waiter's patience as well as the TR manager making sure my account is re-closed to keep the fraud protection on. I walked out of there quite happy.

Next on the agenda was a drive over to the Flamingo for the show. We took the car because we didn't know what we were doing after the show, and we wanted the transportation ready.

I had thought our seats for the Legends in Concert would be general admission, I was pleasantly surprised to be at a table reasonably close to the stage. I was also very surprised to see so many people in attendance. I'd always considered the Legends concert to be hackneyed, but there were so many people there, and everyone (including us) had a great time.

Sting was first, and in my opinion was the least impressive. The songs that he sung had no energy (De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da, King of Pain, Every Breath You Take, etc). There was a lot of just standing and singing. I used that time to adjust my camera settings Laughing

Next was young Michael Jackson doing (mostly) Jackson 5 stuff. And not only could that singer cut a rug, the video boards played a lot of snippets from the Jackson 5 cartoons... those were almost as much fun as the actual singing and dancing about 15 feet away from me.

According to the website, Aretha Franklin was supposed to be next, but instead...

Janis Joplin came out and screeched for 15 minutes... and I mean that in a good way. This lady looked like she was heading for middle age, and I was amazed that she could hit - and maintain - that signature Joplin scratchiness.

Finally, Las Vegas Elvis came out and did Las Vegas Elvis. He was very good, but he was no Travis Allen. As I detailed in my Vegas Bright review of All Shook Up from last year, that show at the V Theater at Planet Hollywood is far superior to this Elvis.

After the show, we had been considering heading to Main Street Station to play some VP at the Boar's Head Bar, but my wife instead talked me into going to Palace Station to see how the renovations are coming. She also had a minor bit of free play to play freely. The renovations look lovely, but is beginning to make it look like just another casino and stripping any personality from it. It's very nice, just, well, that its nice.

And also still a money pit for me. For all the praise that off-Strip casinos get for great VP, good slot returns, low limit craps, good blackjack rules, etc, I'd be better off handing my money to SpongeBob in front of the Bellagio. I can't win a damn thing at that place.

Allow me one more good whine about my gambling luck over the weekend. 5 days in Nevada, I lost my entire bankroll (including the benji that my wife gave me) and at no time did I win $100. I didn't hit a slot bonus, a bonus playing cards, a premium 4-of-a-kind... nothing. As a matter of fact, this last hurrah at Palace Station summed it up beautifully....

Two bucks a spin, 67 free spins, total win south of $36.00. With buffalo luck like that, I should challenge Royal Flusher to a duel.

Evening came and morning followed the fifth day.

Aw, hell, let's just keep going, shall we?

Tuesday, June 12 - All we really had time to do was to have breakfast, get gas, then head to the airport. I had been batting around two ideas for this last breakfast, either Blueberry Hill (which has been on my list for years) or Mr. Mamas which I read about on this Vegas Message Board thread.

Mr. Mamas won, in part because it was slightly closer to the airport, and also because I can still pine for Blueberry Hill this coming August... or February... or next April.

I love that we were greeted at the door at Mr. Mamas, sat immediately, and almost before we could look at the menu, the owner (Nick) came over and made us comfortable. We must have had the "tourist" signs in full view as he asked where we were from, and when we said that we were from Wisconsin, he told us about how is family is full of U Michigan alums, but he played football at Saginaw Valley, and 19 surgeries later, he owns a restaurant in Vegas.

On one hand, the menu is nothing special. On the other hand, everything we had was fantastic, and this is a place I would love to regularly patronize back home.


I just couldn't do pancakes anymore, but look at all the bacon on the BLT, and that's a great dose of peppers and onions on the hashbrowns. Might give Waffle House a run for their money (Side note; I think that's one of the last chains - besides Culvers - that needs to get to Las Vegas).

After an uneventful trip back to the airport and back home (the best kind of flight) I look back and kick myself for being worried about my gambling losses. On one hand like I stated above, I can't believe that I can go through almost $1700 without any individual $100 win. On the other hand, look at all the stuff we did in five days. If there was no gambling involved whatsoever, this might possibly have been the best vacation ever. And I can't wait for my next full Vegas vacation next April when it is my turn to bowl the National tournament.

As for you, Reno, I'll be back in 2020.
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PostPosted: Jun Sat 23, 2018 12:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What a great trip report ! Puts my play by play to shame. Well I've lost my mobile Wi Fi so my next trip report will have to wait until I get home.

Nice Pics.

Now I'm going back to the Virginia City Pics to explore the details.
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PostPosted: Jun Sat 23, 2018 9:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My wife is so much better than I.

She didn’t read my trip report as I was writing, instead waiting until it was complete. I asked her for her thoughts, and she said “I can’t believe you didn’t mention this or that." And I have no excuse.

Actually, I do. I wrote every day’s entries as I was watching replays of that day’s World Cup matches.

So here is an addendum of what I’ve missed. I had considered editing it into each day, but that wouldn’t be fair to make everyone re-read the whole thing and try to guess what was missed, so instead it will be contained here. There aren’t too many photos as most of those have already been posted.

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Thursday, June 7 – On the flight to Vegas, then finishing on the flight to Reno, I completed watching Season 2 of Men of a Certain Age. I’ve said this on other trip reports in which I began watching the series, this may be one of my all-time favorite shows, and a shame that it lasted only two seasons and 22 episodes. This is a simple, coming of age drama, except that age is 50 as experienced by three life-long friends. Some critics have said that it’s a bit of a downer showing the lives of three guys and their families slogging through life’s struggles, but I see it as “Hey, that’s me!” It affirms that even though one character is a gambling addict (Ray Romano) going through a divorce with growing kids, and another character (Andre Braugher) has weight issues working a job he hates, my life ain’t too bad, and watching others just trying to live their life helps me think that I can get through it, too.

And the episode where all three guys take a weekend out of town and treat themselves to a group colonoscopy was some brilliant TV.

Anyway, the point is that I finished the last episode just as the plane touched down in Reno, and I got off the plane a teeny-tiny bummed that my time with that series is over. My annual poker trip is at the end of August, and I need to find another series to watch on my plane trips.

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After lunch and checking into Circus Circus, I went down to the sportsbook to get some bets in on the Stanley Cup Game 5. I bet VGK to win and the OVER. The over won as the Knights lost the Cup and I basically got my money back. Who knew at the time that being even would be one of the high-water gambling marks of the trip?

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Friday, June 8 – The shower at Circus Circus was about seven feet above the tub and came out at rocket water pressure. There is a line between “invigorating massage” and being stabbed with water. This shower head and water pressure might have crossed it.

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We arrived at Peg’s Glorified Ham and Eggs quite early (around 7:30 AM) as we’d heard that it sometimes is busy. It wasn’t too bad when we got there and we were done eating before 8:30. Since we didn’t have to be to the train depot in Virginia City until 10:30, we decided to gamble for a bit.

We ended up at the Grand Sierra Reno. I hadn’t been there for years, and it has gone through a significant remodel and looks very nice inside. In my effort to decrease my bankroll variance, I headed directly to the Pai Gow Poker table. However, the only game they offered was the commission-free, Face Up Pai Gow. I was by myself so the game went quickly, however the game as played is quite dull.

After the cards are dealt, the dealer plays his hand face-up, then he handed the cards to me. There was no strategy, no thoughts about how to play two pair or other 50/50 decisions (“Do I play the straight with 89 on top, or do I play 99 in the big hand and A on top?”) When you see the dealer cards, you just work your hand to try to be higher. It was like playing a slow-action slot machine and removing all strategy from play takes away what I like about playing cards. I only played for a half hour before being too bored to continue, and deciding to get away from the dealer that was spending the entire half hour complaining didn’t help.

Let me set the scene. Right when I sat down, I noticed that the physical table itself was quite new. Each seat has a small suction fan that works to remove smoke from a smoldering cigarette. I mentioned how great of an idea that was and asked if there was a USB port in the table so that I could plug in my phone. The dealer said that there wasn’t, because they don’t want phone use at the table. I mentioned that one could charge a phone without “using” it at the table, and he spent the next half our deriding cell phone use (he only has a flip phone and he doesn’t even bring it to work) and that he refuses to pay for television (streaming or cable) and went into extremely boring detail on his complaint with Major League Baseball and their blackout rules. I like carrying on a conversation with dealers. To a point. This was way past that point.

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While in Virginia City, at the part of my trip report where I said “Finally it was on to lunch at the Bonanza Saloon. I had again given my wife her choice of dining and she chose this because, well, because I think she didn't care enough to take the responsibility seriously”, its clear that I forgot to complete that thought. What I meant was that she basically picked the first place we saw because she was hungry. However, I forgot Part B of that thought... the part that makes it funny. After lunch as we were window shopping up and down C Street, we passed a restaurant with a chalkboard sign that indicated the Burger of the Day was a Bison Burger. During our weight loss journey, we’ve consumed quite a bit of bison and now my wife actually prefers it to beef. As soon as we saw that sign, my wife gave a harrumph that she wishes she had known about it.

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During the walk on C Street, to make sure her knee wasn’t too sore for bowling, we stopped at the Mark Twain casino… basically a couple dozen slots in a bar. We didn’t play there long, but I was able to book a $20 win, thanks to Kenny Rogers.

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Upon return to Reno from Virginia City, my wife changed and headed right to the National Bowling Stadium and I mentioned that I took a nap. Her teammates had all wanted to arrive at 3:00, which was two hours before bowling was to begin. By 3, Melissa was already in the squad room, completely checked in for all of her side pots and stuff… and all by herself. After about a half hour, she decided to wander around and she found everybody outside of the squad room, looking for her.

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However, my wife had given me one job… be there to take a video of her march to the lanes. Turns out I woke up 10 minutes before her starting time and I had to make a groggy dash to get there. I walked into the Stadium just as the music started playing. I ran up the escalator and turned on the video just in time to see her. She may have thought that I had walked to the entrance to get a better view, but in reality, I had just then gotten to that spot.

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During the men’s tournament, all of the wives/girlfriends sit together and the stands and make conversation about whatever women folk talk about. There were three other husbands sitting with me while watching the ladies bowl their team event… and I don’t think 20 words were spoken in those two hours.

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The Milwaukee Brewers are having a great season, and I had wanted to get some action in on them while they were in Philadelphia. However, I forgot about the time difference and I was sound asleep when the game started at 4:00 PM. “The next game for sure”, said I, as I saw the Brewers win by about 10 runs.

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Saturday, June 9 – In stark contrast to the ultra-pressure shower heads at Circus Circus Reno, the shower head at Harrahs Reno came up to about my nipples, and only gravity managed to get the water onto my body. Harrahs Reno needs some renovation TLC.

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While eating breakfast at Black Bear Diner, I start going through the MLB starting pitchers to see who I wanted to bet on besides just the Brewers. Unfortunately, I learn that they’d already started. Never even occurred to me that they’d start at 1:00 PM in Philadelphia, which equated to 10:00 AM in Reno. “The next game for sure”, said I, as I saw the Brewers win a second time by about 10 runs.

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On the way to dinner after bowling, we had to go to the Silver Legacy to collect any of her side pot money (Silver Legacy pays USBC $$$ to require pick-up there… the benefit is so that bowlers lose their money there). “Ha!”, said we. My wife didn’t wager a nickel and I won about $30 on slots, making me think I had a shot at having a decent gambling day. That insta-loss waiting for dinner at Eldorado quashed that.

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Gotta love my wife, though. Thursday (our first day) we did drive from Circus Circus to Harrahs to take it easy on her knee. But after bowling on Saturday, I had asked how her knee was, and if it would be OK for walking. She said that it was, so we kept the car parked. Two weeks later as I write this adder, she’s grumbling how I “forced her to walk all night Saturday after bowling 9 games in 24 hours”. Yeah. Forced…

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Sunday, June 10 – I kind of underreported my frustration on having to drive to Stateline to get that damned Hard Rock T-shirt, which was about 50 miles out of our way from our plans. But the wife is navigationally challenged... Just ask her some time about how I kicked her out of the car in El Paso, or how she got lost in Kissimmee while trying to get from one place in Orlando to another place in Orlando. When she agreed to buy the T-shirt, apparently she had no map app on her phone to be able to figure out how far Hard Rock was from Squaw Valley.

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So having to get an even earlier start than planned, the first trip was to the sports book to get a bet in on the Brewers, who again were starting at 10:00 AM. Unfortunately, Harrah’s sportsbook didn’t open until 9:30 and we didn’t have that hour to wait. Luckily for me, the Brewers lost that game.

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As you may have seen from many of the photos, we encountered many people who brought their dogs with them. My wife enjoyed the many petting opportunities. Most pet owners (and pets) didn’t particularly mind. Only one wanted to eat her hand, however.

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The Matrix had said that after our sailing cruise, we were supposed to go to the Sky Terrace Oyster Bar at the Atlantis for a Lobster Pan Roast. However, with the wake-up time to get to the airport the next morning and working back to bed time, it was clear that it was going to be too late. The audible to the horrible Joy Luck Club is an even bigger regret two weeks later.

This is the Lobster Pan Roast from the Sky Terrace Oyster Bar in 2016. Gonna have to wait two more years to have it again.

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Monday, June 11 – While sitting on the plane and taxiing to the gate, I was looking up a rental car to rent instead of the Audi from Silvercar. The SUV from Alamo was the lowest priced car offered at $40 all-in. However when we got to the Rental Car Center, I asked at the check-in if we could downgrade to a smaller car. The agent politely said no. While walking through the garage, my wife found an entire line of Nissan Rogues (her favorite car). We asked Alamo’s garage attendant, and he insultingly snorted that nobody requests a downgrade. Well, we did.

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I had mentioned that one of the few casualties of The Matrix a year ago was a visit to the aquarium at the Silverton. I had been there once, and though it was neat, I was concerned that my wife had visions of the Shark Reef exhibit so I’ve spent a year trying to, um, “manage her expectations”.

I must have done a really, really great job of it, as she loved every moment of it.

If you’ve seen it, it is very possible you spent about five minutes there and though “Huh. Cool”. My wife clearly thought that it was six times better than that as we were there at least a half hour.

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When we toured our great room at Caesars Palace, the bathroom had a large tub and my when we killed the drive to Mt. Charleston, my wife decided that she was going to take a bath while reading a book then take a nap. She also decided that she wanted a bubble bath (while the romantic Me went and played poker, but I digress). Because of the heat and her knee, I dropped her off at the Walgreens near the Venetian (“The biggest one I’ve ever seen”) and then she walked back.

Because I went to Harrahs to play cards, I assumed that she'd procured
the bubbles, felt refreshed and ready for some romance. Sadly, when I got back to the room, she was tucked in bed in the same clothes she had been in and was wearing her CPAP (talk about romantic). I didn’t see any hint of bubbles, but I saw some dental floss sticks.

After I fell asleep and we both woke up, she told me that she the bubbles were too expensive so she bought a bottle of soda and the floss sticks (“We can use them at home, too!”) and braved the heat to get to the Fashion Show Mall to cut through to our room at Caesars.

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While at dinner at Hells Kitchen, I look out the window and see some guy taking a dip in the Caesars fountains. I took a picture to show my wife because she couldn’t see it from her angle. I then deleted the photo because, well, because even I didn’t care. But when I ran to the Total Rewards desk at Caesers to straighten out the snafu with my TR points, she snapped this.

Had I not deleted my photo, it would have made a nice Before-and-After set.

There you go… Because I gave the trip report the short shrift as I was doing it while watching World Cup games, I type a 2500-word adder of shit I missed… all… while… watching… Mexico… beat… South Korea… and Germany… beat… Sweden.

Look for the second adder sometime next week!

Last edited by mjames1229 on Jun Sun 24, 2018 7:20 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Jun Sun 24, 2018 4:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hahaha.... About four years ago, I sat down at a dollar VP machine at the Mark Twain casino bar by accident. Shoved in a $ 20 and walked out with $ 1000 before I figured out it was NOT a quarter machine.

Ever since, I really liked that joint.

I believe I just might head down for the 4th of July thanks to your trip report.

I have found comp offers from Grand Sierra pretty easy to get after some play... I'd be interested how many offers you get in a couple of months.
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PostPosted: Jun Sun 24, 2018 6:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the good words. At least there is one other person checking the boards now and again.

We only went to the Grand Sierra because we had an hour to kill. Totally my bad because it was really nice, and I wouldn't mind seeding for future offers.

We are Caesars people (I bought Diamond through the Founders Card) and have found well more value in Diamond than the cost of the Founders Card... its done me very well in Vegas and Chicago.

Harrahs Reno, however, is quite tired and needs some oomph. All of Eldorado / Silver Legacy / Circus Circus were superior to Harrahs in the casino, and CC's renovated room in the Sky Tower kicked ass.

Harrahs also had too many areas with nothing going on. The entire area near the former poker room was empty, and the slot area adjacent to the escalator (next to check in) was quite sparse. The empty former gift shop on the second floor near the buffet was quite noticable.

The cynic in me says that Caesars would sell Harrahs Reno for a song, and the optimist says that because there is so much to improve (and with the city of Reno on a definite uptick financially) that soon CET will begin a massive renovation.
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PostPosted: Jun Mon 25, 2018 7:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I totally agree, Harrahs is a total Flop, except for their Steak House which
I haven't been to for about a yr. They even Dumped the Keno Tourn. I loved.
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PostPosted: Nov Wed 28, 2018 9:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

JD wrote:
I have found comp offers from Grand Sierra pretty easy to get after some play... I'd be interested how many offers you get in a couple of months.

Five short months later, I have yet to even get a "Welcome" E-mail, much less a mailer with offers. Sigh....
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