BSiegs returns with part two of a trip report filled with booze, fun, gambling, friends, and good times.
Day Three – Sunday, October 22
I don’t sugarcoat my Vegas trips. I love Vegas because win or lose, I always have an incredible time. My trip reports are honest because winning or losing doesn’t really matter all that much in the grand scheme of things.
Vegas is about doing Vegas right. And for the first time in a while? I didn’t.
I drank too much, too quickly. I didn’t eat. And on Sunday morning, I paid the price.
I was hungover. Really, really hungover.
Probably #2 Vegas hangover ever. Sometime, I’ll share the story of #1, but that’s for another day.
Amazingly, I always avoid any hangover worse than the tolerable “a bite and a drink will cure this.” On this day, that was not the case.
I still forced myself from bed. Kubs and I wandered over to the Downtown Watch Zone, an outdoor space with massive TVs and a bevy of tables. There, we’d be watching our beloved Green Bay Packers, minus Aaron Rodgers, host the New Orleans Saints. Jim (or Pat?) was already there to meet us and Matty would be joining shortly-ish.
But on my first bite of a BBQ brisket sandwich, which I hoped would be my cure, Kubs saw it in my eyes.
“You alright?” he asked across the table.
Luckily, the wave of “OH DEAR GOD I’M GOING TO VOMIT ON THIS TABLE” passed. Barely. The sandwich and a few Sierra Nevada Pale Ales helped…some.
The Packers did not. After an impressive opening drive, they got dominated the rest of the way. Kubs was soon off to the airport. An also severely hungover Matty emerged into the Vegas sunlight. This trip had just drastically changed. And Matt and I weren’t ready for it quite yet.
But don’t worry friend, we’d rally. We always rally.
Following the game, the afternoon plan was brunch at Chica, a newer restaurant at Venetian.
I recommend reading my full review (Link to Chica review). Here, I’ll say that it was a worthwhile but mostly unremarkable stop. Good food, good service, and good drinks. But only a few bites beat good, namely the octopus appetizer. If you are looking for a special brunch, I’d move along.
At this point, that pesky old man gene hit again. That’s like the B Side of this trip report, “Old Man Game is Strong Trip Report”. It happens to us all, I know…but I’m still holding out hope that this was a one time mid-Vegas-career hiccup.
We needed naps. So we made the wildly confusing walk to the Venetian’s ride share stand. Clearly, they intentionally make this as confusing as possible. I’m sure the taxi companies have heavily lined their pockets to do so. But we found the spot, beat The Man, and soon were back in our room at The D.
I was able to doze for a while, probably about an hour, but the excitement for my last Vegas night soon had me wide awake. I hit the shower for a quick refresh and headed down to the floor. Matt groggily responded that he’d join me soon.
By now, it was after 5 PM and I was still yet to gamble. A rare Vegas feat. And despite the waning gambling budget, I couldn’t wait any longer.
Following a nap and shower, I decided to treat this like a normal Vegas morning. Albeit in the middle of the early evening. Soak up some music and vibe at Longbar, order a cocktail, and watch some football. My mood was already on a strong upswing.
And then I found my lucky number. 4.
Yes, just a few hands in, I hit another four of a kind with 4’s. Another $200 VP winner and I again gave a big fist pump. I badly needed that financial boost for the evening. And that upswing on my mood continued its ascent.
I texted Matt with my good fortune and told him to meet me at a blackjack table. But his nap had apparently set back in. So I blame him, and him alone, for what happened.
All $200. Back to the house.
This obviously can’t be my fault. All Matty. How dare he leave me alone?
But in all seriousness, I wasn’t that upset. It was a somewhat slow trickle and I got to play for a good hour plus. I was back exactly where I planned to be heading into the evening. My mood was still strong. I was ready for Golden Gate.
Matt was up but needed a few minutes, so I made the obvious choice. Grab a massive slushie at Golden Gate. This is now back to back trips that I’ve had one of these (hurricane flavor, if you must know), so apparently, I enjoy them. You learn something new about yourself every trip I guess.
By the time the slushie was in hand and I had put a few head pounding sips down, Marty was by my side.
It. Was. Time.
As we stepped into the Golden Gate for our final night, things were predictably lively. Also predictable was how our hangovers were becoming a thing of the past. The Golden Gate has a way of helping you kick that can down the road for another day.
We attempted our usual lap of the pit, but only made it about 60% of the way. Natalia had an empty table and beckoned us over with a smile. We pretended to be uninterested. “Hmm, are we sure there isn’t a better table down the way?” we asked, looking down the pit, as we approached the table. She wasn’t having it.
The three of us chatted about our awful hangovers. Natalia apparently had a fun Saturday night as well, but unfortunately for her, she was stuck working through it. Marty and I on the other hand, were ready to get the party started.
My hurricane slushie was halfway gone and I was feeling progressively better. Dale choked down a Corona or two, and soon, his mood upswing was underway as well. Factor in fun banter, positive chip growth, and the Golden Gate killing the music, this was a perfect way to get our last night underway.
Here, we did exactly what you would expect on a two-man Golden Gate evening. Parked ourselves firmly at the blackjack table.
We even dusted off the old joke of pretending not to know Matt and ask him “his story”. I believe he provided a response that he was Dave from Idaho and was the third largest potato producer from the state.
Natalia and I cackled gleefully at the specification – and apparent pride – in the career. An in depth discussion of potato types ensued. Standard Vegas conversation.
As the night progressed, Matty and I unsurprisingly felt better and better. The cards were average, which was sufficient. Our dealers were a steady progression of Natalia, Brenda, and Vanessa in some order. Luckily, Vanessa wasn’t forced to break out the “Ay ay ay’s” quite as often.
At one point late in the evening, Matt and I made the unconventional call of taking seats #1 and #5 at a table. I don’t recall how or why this happened, which may speak to the beverage intake. But soon, a local took the dead center of the table and we began chatting, as we are wont to do.
And then it hit me. We had played with this guy before. I turned to him, eyes slightly squinting in recognition, and asked, “Is your name Olay?”
Olay and his two friends standing behind him burst into laughter. “You’re famous!” one friend squealed with delight.
He’s apparently a super-regular at GG, but given that our presence is concentrated in such short bursts, the coincidence (and my memory of it) was uncanny. Naturally, we had a good time playing and tried to share some fist bumps. But things weren’t breaking Olay’s way on this night, so they were few and far between. He was soon down to the felt and had to be on his way.
With the night winding down, the Golden Gate excitement was about to peak. And for once, it had nothing to do with the jams, the cards, or any other usual suspects.
Suddenly, a shouting match broke out behind us and fists started flying. Two groups going at it, which included young men, old men, and women. It was a feast for the eyes and terrifying all at once.
Now, when I say behind us, I mean IMMEDIATELY behind us. For those familiar, we were on the Prohibition Bar side of the pit, right where the bar ends on the porte cochere side. They were literally throwing fists and ‘bows four feet from us. And they were showing no signs of stopping.
Security took about two to three beats longer than I would have preferred, but they eventually got everyone separated. They also tended to the guy knocked out cold on the ground.
It was a scene, man.
About 5 minutes later, following their obvious ejection from the premises, we saw them going at it again in the parking lot. Clearly, something about a mother was said.
After that, the vibe at the Golden Gate mellowed. It was getting late on a Sunday night and we were hanging on by a thread. Bed was calling.
So…we decided to color up and make our last stand on a D craps table. I mean c’mon. It was our last night in Vegas, we weren’t quitting that easily. By the time we bellied up to The D craps table, we were confident. Plenty of confidence juice had been consumed over the evening, so logically, a red hot table was the only real option.
In hindsight, this was a terrible choice. We were both tired and drunk. It was after 3 AM. The table had at most, three other players.
Rarely does this end well.
But that vibe. That only in Vegas vibe. Math couldn’t overcome it.
We were feeling good. We were feeling confident. The music was top notch. And we began tossing the dice with little care for what numbers appeared. A magical combination.
I’m pretty sure this isn’t just a drunken recollection (although it may be), but Matt and I carried this table. We both rolled for 15+ minutes and shared a continual flurry of high fives and yells. These weren’t bland long rolls either. We were pounding points, 6’s, and 8’s, which are where we concentrate our betting. Chip stacks growing quickly, we soon had our famed chip kielbasas in front of us. We were giddy.
The table filled in, as is usually the case when a table is winning and cheering. I’m certain we were cheering because the volume was moderately irritating our surly boxman. He was no Doug. But who is?
Luckily, Matt and I were smart. We knew that we had taken this train to the last stop. We excitedly cashed out up $400-500 each and headed to the cage.
And on most trips, that is where the story ends. A bittersweet ride up the elevator. But our flights weren’t until early evening on Monday. We weren’t done just yet.
Day Four – Monday, October 23
Finally, some Vegas sleep took hold of me. We crashed somewhere between 4 AM and 5 AM, and I was able to stay in bed until after 10 AM. No, not a full night’s sleep, but it’s as close as I’m getting in Vegas.
The kicking the hangover can down the road plan worked perfectly. Both of us felt mostly human. Mostly. The hangovers had worn off, but they were replaced with a general malaise better known as “My Body Can’t Take a Three Day Bender Like It Used To”. We were both physically exhausted, mentally tired, and a tad cranky.
But we had a plan. We’d take an Uber to MGM to drop off our bags, grab some food, do a smidge of gambling, and maybe hit Topgolf if time permitted. The perfect plan, as it would have us close to the airport in case a craps heater took hold.
We walked into a wholesale shitshow at MGM. On a random Monday late morning, there was a line at least 50 deep to drop off bags. This is not an exaggeration. The lobby was pure insanity. An audible was necessary.
Food was the most pressing matter at hand, so we headed to TAP Sports Bar and decided just to eat with our bags at our sides. The bar was 75% empty, so this wasn’t a problem. We both indulged in a beer (Ballast Point Grunion for me – it was excellent) and the Three Alarm Burger.
The burgers were quite good, but don’t let the ghost aioli fool you. We’d eaten the ghost pepper hot wings here before and they packed some serious heat. With the burger, we kept waiting for it, but it never came. Tasty, but I’d like to see them amp up the spice at least a notch or two.
With the boring practical matters, such as providing our bodies with nourishment, behind us, we could move on to the truly pressing item. Finding out if that craps luck was following us from the night…or should I say early morning before. Not wanting to wait in an absurd line, we headed over to The Excalibur to check our bags and play at the luckiest craps tables in the west.
The odor of The X is distinct. We all know this.
But on this day, it was taken to a new level. The odd smelling perfume was as strong as ever, making sure that you could not only smell it, but even get a nice thin layer on your tongue. And today? Lucky us. They were “fixing” the moving walkway (I’ll believe it when I see it) and it added a richness to the aroma. Charcoal, burnt rubber, earthiness, and a subtle note of dog farts filled the air. Our nostrils were delightfully transported to another world.
Oh Excalibur, never change. Never change.
It changed. The X craps tables have been astoundingly lucky for us over the years. Losing sessions have been few and far between.
That was not the case today. The vibe was loud saws working on the casino floor and a ghost of a cocktail waitress, which didn’t quite match our last few days. We both dumped $200 in 30 minutes or less.
Gambling was over. Clearly, the luck had not followed us. We weren’t about to force something that just wasn’t there.
That was OK with us. We had a backup plan. Topgolf at “MGM”. You may wonder why I use the quotes and it is a reasonable question.
Don’t let them fool you. Topgolf is not part of MGM. I don’t care what the signs say. I don’t care about the kiosk in the lobby. We followed the signs. We walked. And walked. And walked. Almost there? Nope, another three hallways, pool area, and parking lot to go. Seriously.
It is walkable. We had time to spare and are relatively young, so we weren’t really complaining. I mean, we walked back too, so it clearly wasn’t that bad. But if you do decide to take the walk, just be prepared. Someone who can’t walk much or just doesn’t feel like a trek should hop in an Uber or taxi instead.
For those not familiar, Topgolf is a glorified driving range. It has cushy pods with leather couches and a server. A touch screen in each pod and trackers in the golf balls allow you to play a slew of games against your friends. Matt said it perfectly. It is the optimal setting for a bachelor party. In fact, if I were to have mine in Vegas today, a Saturday afternoon stop at Topgolf would unquestionably be on the agenda.
But it is a popular spot. Matt and I waited upwards of 40 minutes on a Monday afternoon for an opening. Luckily, there is a bar, bar games, and plenty to look at. You’ll figure it out.
We played for an hour and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. I tried to soak it in. Late October in Vegas, sipping a few brews with one of my favorite people, swinging the golf club, and enjoying the 90 degree heat. I know Chicago winter is coming and need as much mental strength as I can get.
Oh, a side note on the heat and Topgolf. The pods are perfectly designed to be in the shade during the midday and although open to the outside, are air conditioned too. You should be comfortable anytime of year – an essential for a Vegas location.
Matt is a significantly better golfer than me, but I was excited to beat him on our second game of three. Sure, I lost the series. But I gave zero fucks. I won a game. Eat it buddy.
Soon though, our time ended. We paid up. It was $50ish an hour for the pod plus drinks. I think we ended up paying about $45 each.
With that, we collected our bags at The X and grabbed a decidedly mediocre meal at McCarran’s PGA Tour Grille. Along with two final Kilt Lifters. Obviously.
The Lost in the Ether Trip was officially…lost to the ether. I’m sorry. I had to.
[Photo Cred. BSiegs]