With a free flight on JetBlue I needed to use before it expires and a comp offer from The Wynn for 3 free nights, there was no way I wasn’t going to Vegas this past weekend. A bunch of my co-workers went too, but they were staying over at Planet Hollywood, which I kept calling “Fuh” because their stoopid logo is just a lowercase “ph”. They arrived a day before me and I was staying a day later than them which worked out perfectly for me; a little social time, and a little time to just do my own thang.
When I landed on Sunday, I checked in and then grabbed a cab to meet my friends over at MGM and NYNY. Wanting a drink but not wanting to pay for one at the bar, I sat down to play some blackjack. Silly me. That bloody mary ended up costing me $500 as I blew through my chips at incredible speed because the dealer refused to bust. Not a good start.
After some walking around with my friends, we decided to split up and meet back at TI that evening to catch the Cirque du Soleil show Mystere. Feeling restless after sitting so long on the flight, I decided to walk all the way back. By the time I got back to the north end of the strip, there was not enough time to put in a meaningful session of blackjack at The Wynn before the show, so I decided to just head directly to TI and see how things have changed over there. Nothing too dramatic, although there was now a Vietnamese pho restaurant sharing the seating space of the coffee shop. I decided to stop and try it. Ordered the Vietnamese egg rolls and a bowl of the beef pho. Pretty run-of-the mill fare. The egg rolls were about as good as you can get from the freezer section at Trader Joe’s, which is still pretty decent, but falls a bit short of what you want from restaurant cuisine. The broth for the pho was terrific; light but flavorful. The beef however was a flavorless disappointment. The slices were stuck together and would shred apart when you tried to separate them. The noodles were ever so slightly overcooked and mushy as well. But you know what? I still enjoyed it all, probably because it was a chilly 40 degrees outside and a bowl of noodle soup was exactly what I needed to warm up.
Mystere was an excellent show. Amazing feats of strength, agility and timing so perfect that if I didn’t see it for myself I wouldn’t have thought they were humanly possible. I had seen Cirque du Soleil shows on PBS before, but this was my first time seeing one in person and it made all the difference hearing the subtle things like the flexing of the equipment with every movement and impact. Very impressive stuff. Can you believe it, all these years of going to Vegas and this was the first time I saw a show!
Back to The Wynn for some more blackjack. And some more losing. Dropped $700 but at least this time it took about 4 hours. I headed up to my room to soak in the awesome tub and watch tv (they have a little flat screen tv in the bathroom wall next to the sink). The Wynn is the only casino where I can lose money but still love being there. Ahhhh…
The next morning I made my way over to Fuh. I must say, they’ve done a good job remodeling the place. Planet Hollywood is the property that used to be the Aladdin, but you’d never know it from the bright, colorful, spacious new interior. They have a daily 10am $50+10 NL tournament so I figured if my friends weren’t awake when I got there, I would enter. Wan and his gf were the only ones up and about when I arrived, so he and I decided to enter the tourney. There were 5 tables, not full, so I’m guessing there were 45 players or so. My table was evenly mixed between super tight and not-so-bright. As luck would have it, one of the super tights became the big stack on my left, so that shut down much of my shenanigans and I could only steal when I happened to catch some playable cards or be lucky enough to see a flop from the big blind against the not-so-brights. Then I had to tighten up even further when I got exposed playing garbage in one hand where I took down a pot hitting a pair of deuces with my 2-3 offsuit. So it was pretty uneventful from there on out, although I made a real boneheaded mistake heading into the first break. I had to piss really badly, so I got up from the table after folding my cards with 19 seconds remaining before the break. I hit the men’s room and then walked around the casino a bit not returning to the table until the start of the next level. It wasn’t until play had started back up that I realized- I had forgotten that there was a $10 add-on in this tourney! Doh! So suddenly I found myself from biggish stacked to average stacked. I just played my cards from there on out, got lucky on an all-in to stay alive, and ended up finishing in 5th place, winning only $151.
We headed over to meet everyone else over at the Venetian for lunch, but when I saw the Krispy Kreme there, I decided Stevie Bag-o-Donuts could not be denied. I killed off 3 donuts and a coffee and was ready to do some more gambling. Jittery and on a sugar high, I managed to drop another $700 before dinner. Doh. But I was definitely feeling no pain because I love the bloody mary’s at Wynn, especially because I ask for extra olives and they have these big plump ones which are soooo good.
In keeping with my junk food day, “dinner” was joining Kin for Monday Night Football and chicken wings over at Scores. Kind of a dull game since it was N.O.vs. Atlanta and I had already cinched high of the week in my fantasy football league. Even duller, they don’t have any dancers working the main room while the football game is on. I tried a couple wings, which were actually outstanding, had a few beers and watched the Saints whoop the Falcons.
From there I went to meet back up with my friends over at Mandalay. Had some carpaccio and a glass of red wine with them at Wolfgang Puck’s Trattoria del Lupo. Kind of drunk from all the bloody’s at Wynn and beers at Scores, I couldn’t tell you how good the carpaccio really was, but I know I loved it while I was having it. From there we hit hit up some cheesy bar for margheritas before heading over to Rum Jungle. That club was very Vegas; a huge room, chicks dancing in cages and hanging from bars above the room awkwardly doing moves that made it look like the poor man’s Cirque du Soleil. Interesting scene, but totally not for me. We ended up bailing after about an hour and I headed back to the Wynn to pass out.
Woke up early the next day and since I had hardly eaten anything the day before, I decided to grab breakfast at Tableau. Had a terrific dish of braised short ribs over Tableau potatoes topped with poached eggs. Very hearty for a breakfast, and absolutely delicious. The Tableau potatoes are a round hash brown patty, kind of like what a McDonald’s hash brown aspires to be. Crisp on the outside and deliciously potatoey on the inside. With a side of bacon and a glass of freshly squeezed grapefruit juice, I was feeling recharged and ready for some more blackjack.
Things started going my way as I recouped over a grand before noon. I decided to take a break and go enter the noon $300+$30 NL tourney. That turned out to be a debacle. On my fourth hand, I was dealt pocket aces with 2 limpers ahead of me. I raise to $200 and get re-raised excitedly by a kid to my left who acts like he can’t believe his good fortune. Everyone folds back to me and I make the obligatory contemplative facial expressions before pushing all-in. The kid stands up, pushes his chips in and gleefully turns over… JJ?! Ok. Flop comes rags. Turn is a blank. River…you guessed it, a Jack. Wonderful. I didn’t even have to say anything as the rest of the table took turns mocking the kid and encouraging him to keep up the great play. Oh well.
In a way, it worked out for me because the quick bust-out allowed me to go back to the blackjack tables. Another several hours and I had won back everything I had lost on the trip, minus the spending cash and the $330 I just blew on that tournament entry. Later that evening, I met up with Kin for dinner at Corsa where he was messing with the manager telling him that I was a food writer for New York magazine. I don’t think he believed him, but we still got great treatment and a comped bottle of wine. We had some awesome goat cheese and eggplant bruschetta, a super thin crust mushroom/truffle flat bread, and two killer pastas, one with a shrimp fra diavolo sauce and the other a rustic short rib rigatoni. We killed off the whole bottle of wine too. And that kind of did me in. I was going to go gamble some more but didn’t want to do it while drunk, so I went upstairs to take a nap. But everything in The Wynn is so elegant and comfortable, I could not get myself out of that luxurious bed to go play anymore, so I decided to just sleep through till morning. A relaxing finish to another enjoyable stay at The Wynn.