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On Tuesday, the first thing on my mind was getting some more ammunition after the beating I took at Craps. I had a good sum on me, but just to make sure, we took a cab to a local Wells Fargo branch close to the Strip so I could make a quick withdrawal. Then it was back to Excalibur for some lunch.

Upon check-in the previous day we had received a coupon good for a 2-for-1 lunch at The Roundtable Buffet, Excalibur's buffet. We still had an hour to kill before they began serving, so we hit the Craps tables again. No more $2-$6 Hold'em for us.

This Craps session was notably better - a profit of $130 in an hour. It was also during this session that I saw the light that is DON'T PASS. Yes, I turned to the Dark Side. I guess it was more psychological than anything; I just preferred to be the favorite once a point was established, and I was sick of seeing my odds bets swept away when the shooter sevened-out the previous night. Intellectually, I know it's all an illusion, and the house edge on Don't Pass is almost identical to the house edge on Pass. Still, I seemed to enjoy the Don't Pass line more.

I haven't been to many buffets in Vegas, so I really can't rate Excalibur's buffet against the others. I was pretty satisfied, though. Lunch offered chicken-fried steak, lamb stew, carved ham and roast beef, and fried chicken, along with a salad bar and a number of side dishes. The dessert bar was pretty well stocked too, serving soft-serve ice cream, cookies (both regular and sugar-free), and a good selection of cakes, both regular and sugar-free. Certainly, with the 2-for-1 coupon, we couldn't beat the value.

After lunch, we decided to take a walk down the Strip. We had already decided to play Poker at Bellagio, so we figured we'd just walk there and check out the casinos on the way. Here's a brief synopsis of the places we visited:

The Tropicana: Definitely showing its age. Nothing special here.

New York, New York: I find the exterior of NYNY to be an amazingly detailed work of art, so I was looking forward to exploring the inside of it. I guess the interior is really no big deal. It keeps with the NYNY theme, but...I don't know. I just found it kind of boring.

One of these trips, however, I plan on riding that roller coaster.

MGM Grand: I stayed here on three previous trips to Vegas, and will probably stay here again at some point. This place is simply immense. I was surprised to learn they had taken out their Poker room, however. They used to have a low-limit Poker room, and they spread a funky version of $4-$8 Hold'em using $1 and $2 blinds. No longer; the Lion Habitat is in its stead. I was also surprised to learn that Tommy Tune was no longer starring in EFX; Rick Springfield had been hired to take his place. Not that I was going to see EFX again in the first place...

They also have a new sushi bar, which I'll have to check out at some point.

Monte Carlo: The Monte Carlo is nicely decorated on the inside, and it was certainly the most pleasant smelling of the ones we had visited to that point. :-) There just wasn't anything special about it. They do have a low-limit Poker room, with 8 tables, and they spread $1-$5 Stud and $1-$4-$8-$8 Hold'em (also spread-limit). I don't know what the fascination with spread-limit Hold'em is in Vegas, but it seems to be everywhere.

I don't recall any other casinos, so from the Monte Carlo I guess we went to Bellagio next.

I must say this about Bellagio. Bellagio practically shames me. Everytime I walk in there, I feel like I should be wearing a $3,000 set of clothes just to be allowed to walk around. I mean, they should have a dress code or something. It just has this sense of opulence that overwhelms me. Don't get me wrong, Bellagio is one of my favorite places on the Strip for this very reason. Bellagio represents everything I covet. I wish I could afford to eat there, let alone stay there.

Bellagio also happens to be THE place to play Poker. The highest-limit games are all spread at Bellagio. One interesting fact is that Bellagio and The Mirage don't offer the same games. Seeing as how they are both owned by MGM Mirage, this certainly makes sense. For example, The Mirage spreads $3-$6, $6-$12, $10-$20, and $20-$40 Hold'em on a regular basis. Bellagio, on the other hand, regularly spreads $4-$8, $8-$16, $15-$30, and $30-$60 Hold'em. I really thought that was cool, since their different offerings complement each other rather than compete for the same pool of players.

It also seems like The Mirage and Bellagio combined have the best-looking waitresses in Vegas. It was difficult to concentrate on my game.

Oh, the game! Right. Sorry about that. I took a seat in the $8-$16 Hold'em game at Bellagio. Now, it's still the same game, but I like to keep the exact size of the pot in my head at all times, and I'm not used to counting in multiples of eight. But other than the funky numbers, the game itself was still pretty good. There were a couple of obvious regulars, who played relatively solidly. There were also a couple of tourists who played pretty badly. The game was pretty typical, nothing special, and I had yet to be impressed with the skill of any of my opponents in Vegas. I played for 2 hours, and took a $183 profit off the table.

Keep in mind that my normal sessions are usually much, much longer than these sessions here. Part of the reason was that I was in Vegas to have fun, and not necessarily to play Poker. I mean, I play Poker from 25 to 30 hours every week in Phoenix anyway. My Poker sessions were really more to test the waters than anything else.

I'll also take time out to note that we had already been warned away from the Poker tables in Vegas by two cab drivers. In fact, one of the staff at the Las Vegas Club the next night would also warn us, telling us to watch out for the "rocks" who were there to trap unwary tourists. Being one of those "rocks" myself, I found this absolutely hilarious. (A "rock" is a term for a player who plays only premium hands, so named because for so much of the game they are just sitting there like a rock, doing nothing. The term may also have a relationship with the saying, "You can't get blood from a stone.")

My roommate had taken a beating at the $4-$8 Hold'em game in which he was playing, but had then rebounded. We had made plans to play at Binion's Horseshoe later that evening, so it was time to consider our plans. We decided that we would walk to The Mirage, eat at the California Pizza Kitchen there, and then take a cab downtown.

On the way to The Mirage, we stopped at Caesar's Palace and played a little Craps at the $5 tables. Again, I was betting Don't Pass almost exclusively. I even shot against myself. ;-) The old guy to my left at the table was eyeing me with a great deal of suspicion, although he loosened up considerably later. He mentioned that my good humor was uncharacteristic of a Don't Pass shooter. He would then make wisecracks about the "redheaded, left-handed, Don't Pass shooter" to his right, all in good fun. I took a small loss from that table to the tune of $45. My roommate, however, went on a nice little rush, walking away with about $300. And on to The Mirage.

My first introduction to the California Pizza Kitchen was at The Mirage. My first game of Texas Hold'em, ever, was at The Mirage in December of 1998. So I've always had a sentimentality toward The Mirage, and besides, they've got some really cute waitresses. But we weren't there to play this time, just to eat, and I got the same thing I always get there - the Original BBQ Chicken Pizza. One of these days I'll have to try something different. My only complaint about the CPK at The Mirage is that it is completely open to the casino; there isn't even an attempt to shield out the ringing of the slots.

From The Mirage we took a cab to Binion's Horseshoe, in downtown Vegas. Binion's is the place to play Poker downtown; in fact, I think it's the only place to play downtown. I was looking forward to it, since I had never before been downtown, and since Binion's is the location for the annual World Series of Poker.

All I can say is that I was not impressed. On the inside, Binion's is dark, and just has this seedy feel to it. The cardroom is much smaller than I had anticipated - 15 tables, if I remember correctly - and there was a list for everything. I had six names ahead of me for the only $10-$20 game going. (The floorman mentioned that we could get seats in the new $1-$4-$8-$8 game they were dropping, and we politely declined.) I guess that after playing The Mirage and Bellagio, I was just spoiled. We decided to walk around downtown instead.

We happened to be outside to catch the Fremont Street Experience, the light show downtown. That was pretty cool, and I'd recommend checking it out if you happen to be in downtown Vegas at the time.

One thing that ticked me off was that EVERY 21 table in the downtown casinos had the dealer hitting on soft 17. I used to play a fair amount of 21, and the house gets a pretty big edge when the dealer must hit soft 17. What's incredulous is that the casinos downtown can get away with it, when most places on the Strip have the dealer stand on soft 17! I mean, I can understand if it's a double-deck game or something like that, but come on! A six-deck shoe????

We happened to walk into the Las Vegas Club just to check out their "Most Liberal 21 in Vegas" rules (which still made the dealer hit soft 17), and we noticed that their Craps tables had a $2 minimum bet, with 5x odds. So, we decided to play some Craps.

The staff at the Las Vegas Club were noticeably friendlier than any of the Craps crews with whom we had played on the Strip. They were laid back, friendly, and had good senses of humor, in stark contrast the crew we had previously encountered at Caesar's. Given the amount I had earmarked for Craps, a $2 minimum bet was certainly my thing. Once again, I reveled in the Dark Side and played the Don't Pass line. My roommate and I were ordering double Jack-and-Sours left and right, and we were getting pretty loaded. I left with a small profit of $37, all from the Don't Pass line. My roommate, who was betting much more heavily, left with a more significant profit of about seven hundred. So, feeling pretty good from the drinks, we decided to hit Crazy Horse Too one night early.

I have yet to find a Gentlemen's Club that even comes close to Crazy Horse Too. This is NOT your typical strip club. It is a cut way above anything I've ever encountered, and I've been to a number of them. My roommate also happens to be the head DJ for a topless club in downtown Phoenix, and he agrees. If you are in Vegas, and you plan on visiting a club, you simply must visit Crazy Horse Too. On a Tuesday night, after the convention had left town, they had 170 girls. 170!!!

Let it simply suffice to say that I blew a LOT of money there. 'Nuff said.

At six in the morning, I took a cab back to Excalibur. Day 3 to follow...

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