Thursday, April 30, 2009

Stop #2 - Hard Rock

The Hard Rock certainly lives up to its name. I walk into guitars on the wall and Aerosmith blaring. The casino floor is rather small and circular. All of the signs are in weird colors and strange fonts, so it's hard to read things. Instead of the typical "Cashier" sign - I get a Hot Pink sign that says something like "The Hard Rock Bank - What we're all here for." Sheesh. I head first to the front desk and ask for a coupon book. They ask if I'm staying in the hotel and I answer honestly "No." Much searching goes on and they say they have only one left and give it to me. Score! It has a $10 matchplay in it. I then take my ACG coupons over to the promo desk and get my free slot play.

The way the slot play works at Hard Rock is that they give you $10 "bonus dollars" that pay you back based on your bet. If make a $1 roll on a slot machine, you get whatever you would have gotten off of the roll + $1 in "bonus" money. Davy & I both stick a $1 bill into the machine and activate it. Remaining budget = $176.

Davy immediately hits a bonus round and takes it for $15. I knew there was a reason I keep him :) I manage to win $8. Total budget = $199.

I head to the craps table to play my matchplay. We try to bet one on pass and one on don't pass, but are immediately shut down by the Dealer. Oh well. I play mine and it loses. Davy plays his and it wins. Net = $10 win. Total budget = $209.

We then go back to the Player's Club area to get the WIN card vouchers. (In retrospect, we should have done that the LAST time we were there!) We take the vouchers and the $40 over to the cashier and get our $60 promo chips and 2 $1 dealer tip coupons.

I go to the craps table and my $30 promo chips becomes $15 real chips. Ouch.

Davy plays blackjack and his $30 promo chips becomes $10 real chips. Yeah, guess you shouldn't have hit that hard 13 against a dealer four, huh?

Remaining budget = $194.

Stop #1 - Mandalay Bay

I chose Mandalay Bay to begin the couponing because it was closest to the airport. I was able to park close to the escalators which let you out surprisingly close to the casino floor. This was ideal for the coupon run. A short walk to get the MGM card and I filled out the WIN card coupons at the same desk. They issue a voucher and you take your money over to the cashier. I handed her our vouchers and $40 and I was given $60 in promotional chips and 2 $1 dealer tip coupons. Remaining budget = $113. I had already decided to use mine on craps.

I put $5 on the pass line just as a new shooter was about to roll. Point after point after point, the shooter made his roll until my $5 bet was STILL on the pass line and I had $60 in chips in my rack. I finally decide to place another $5 promotional chip on odds and then the shooter craps out. (Maybe I'm bad luck lol.) My next $5 goes out there and the new shooter rolls a seven - Winner! Now I have $65. The next rolls were all losers and I was out of promotional chips.

About ten minutes into the amazing roll, Davy began whining about his back hurting. Thirty minutes later, he was on full tilt. As soon as my promotional chips were done, he snatched his and ran over to the nearest blackjack table. He lost every hand. We cash in for the $65. Remaining budget = $178.

A $54 Mistake

Of the $207 remaining budget, I had given Davy $80 gambling money and given myself $80 (with the remaining $47 to go towards the food budget.) With Davy arriving twelve hours before me and being "bored and hungry," he came to the airport to pick me up with only $26 and a sheepish look. Remaining budget = $153. Let the couponing begin.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Warning - Cheapskate loose in First Class

With a heavy heart, I ventured home from the airport to get some rest before my flight at the (butt)crack of dawn. Running my fingers through my closet, I try to select my most first-class outfit. Unable to find anything in my closet that I would expect to find in first class, I settle on my WSOP shirt and a pair of jeans. Folding them neatly on my dresser, I run around the house cooking meals and cleaning until about 10:00. I get into the bed at 10:30, fully prepared to sleep. Like a kid on Christmas Eve, I lay there with my eyes wide open – visions of Vegas bargains flying through my head. Finally, around 1:00 am, I drift to sleep. At 1:17 AM, my cell phone rings loudly in my ear. It’s my husband letting me know he arrived. I say something like “Great – now don’t ever call me again. I’m sleeping and hang up the phone.) I drift back to sleep. At 2:08 AM my ridiculously loud cell phone blares again. Blearily, I search for the phone. Answering, I say “Are you on fire, or just deaf?” He proceeds to ask inane questions about the rental car that he could have figured out from the text that I sent with the confirmation number. I again say “Don’t call me again – I’m sleeping” and hang up the phone. 3:01 AM – the hated phone goes off again. Angrily, I say “I am going to come through the phone and kill you.” He tells me that the ignoramuses at the hotel are telling him that the reservation is for the next day. I drag out of bed, get the confirmation number and print out that says the correct date and read it to the moron at the front desk. Magically, they then find their ass with both hands, and I am allowed blissful rest. At 4:00 AM, my alarm clock goes off – time to go for my flight.

After a quick shower, I rush off to the airport, park the car, and head to security. A short line awaits me, and I breeze down the concourse to my gate. The airline had graciously given me a voucher for $10 for breakfast, which I spent on some eggs, bacon and cranberry juice. I board the plane (first!) and slip into my plush leather seat. I then proceed to initiate the first class stare, whereby those in first class stare smugly up at those headed back to steerage. Handily, I am offered a warm wet towel and several cocktails while others are boarding. Not sure of first class etiquette, I refrain from speaking to the passenger next to me. After a few moments, he asks me “Do you fly often?” I tell him I fly maybe five or six times a year. I don’t want to let on that I don’t belong in first class. The gentleman is really pretty nice and we get into a conversation. He’s from my hometown and is a minister who opens up churches all over the world, while working for Suntrust, teaching martial arts and having a family (whew!) He has flown 160k this year alone. His current venture is in Orange County, CA – where he was headed. We chatted much of the flight, in between excessive snacking and beverage drinking. I was disappointed that I did not receive any tiny bottles of liquor to swipe, as the flight attendants pre-mixed my drinks. Before we land, he tells me that he is a member of the Crown Club and if I want, I can join him in the lounge while waiting for my next flight. He tells me there’s free food and beverages so, of course, I am in.

Going through the glass doors in ATL, I enter the plush Crown Club Lounge. Ahead of me is a little snack bar and a friendly bartender. Ordering a top shelf drink (um, because I CAN) and nibbling cantaloupe, I we continue to chat. My flight is boarding in about 25 minutes, so I soon head back out.

I rush to my gate, the last one to board. The flight attendant says “Just choose any available seat.” My heart sinks. Then “Oh, nevermind, you’re in first class.” Whew! I make my way to my seat to find a nice television in the back of the chair. Unlike the coach passengers, who are subject to fees of $6 per movie, $4 per television show, $5 for games, and $2 for music, all of these things are available to me totally for free, so of course I try to use them all. Consuming an inordinate amount of beverages, I settle in for my movie. I tried to speak to the guy next to me for a moment but he looked like a jaded business traveler and not up for conversation. Not long after the tearful end of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, the Grand Canyon was visible and I knew we were nearing Las Vegas. Excitedly bouncing a little in my seat, and not just because I had to pee from all the cocktails, I peered out the window in search of the city of lights. Flying over the cookie cutter lots in Summerlin, I can see the huge monoliths of Vegas in the corner of my window. I have arrived!

An inauspicious start

My Vegas trip started off with more of a whimper than a bang. Upon arriving at the airport, I was told that my 5:20 flight was delayed to 5:45. As my husband's flight was 5:55, this seemed fine to me. At 5:00, were informed that our plane was STILL IN ATLANTA and that it would not arrive until 7:20 because of mechanical issues. As my connection time in Atlanta was 9:30, I began to panic. I had to get in line behind about fifty other people with similar problems. I waited in line for about 25 minutes before I finally called the number for Delta to see if maybe a phone agent could get me on my husband's flight before I missed the only flight I could still catch out. They informed me that the only flight they could get me on was in the morning. At 5:40, I arrived at the front desk. I begged the gate agent to help me get on my husband's flight, which had not yet departed. She informed me that she had already called about that flight and that it was oversold. As I was standing there, the flight time for my flight changed from a 7:20 departure to an 8:15 departure (meaning I could not make my connection.) She offered me the next flight out in the morning at 6:00 am, arriving 11 hours late in Las Vegas. I asked to be put on standby for the 6:45 flight. Standby ticket issued - 33rd on the list. Sigh.......

I spent the next hour calling the hotel (which of course was in my name) and switching the reservation to Davy's name, calling Alamo and cancelling my reservation and making one for Davy and furiously texting confirmation numbers, addresses and phone numbers to Davy, because I was the one who had everything. I was thankful I had at least given Davy his half of the gambling money - so he would not be broke as I had the credit card as well.

As the 6:45 flight boarded without a single standby clearing, I trudged back up to the line. When I got back up to the front, I resignedly asked to be put back on the 6:00 am flight. I must have looked like someone had just kicked my puppy because the (new) gate agent asked me "Are you sure that's okay?" I then started crying and told her I was just dissapointed because my husband was already on his way to Vegas and I was stuck in Richmond. I apologized for crying. She then said to me "How about if we fly you to Atlanta in First Class. Would that help?" The frugal brat in me was able to raise an eyebrow in excitement. She then starts furiously typing away on the keyboard. She asks me who booked my crazy 2 stop return flight. I told her I booked with miles and think they punish you by making it unpleasant. She laughed and then turned to the other gate agent and asks "Atlanta to Las in J?" I know J is business class, so I get excited. The other agent looks at my tear streaked face and says "Just document it." New agent gives me a sly conspiratorial smile and a thumbs up sign. I smile. First class for my six hour flight sure sounds good to me since I was going to be stuck in the morning either way. Plus, as I stupidly chose Delta for my miles loyalty, despite the fact that I have accumulated over 200k miles, almost none of those have been flying, so my status is bubkis. A "non-status" upgrade is a rarity indeed, and I shall appreciate it fully. Shoulda picked American back in the day. Sigh...

Room Reviews

Well, I'll start the recollection with my room reviews.

I had booked Fri - Tue at Buffalo Bill's in Primm, NV ($23) and Sun - Tue at the Golden Gate in downtown LV ($2).

Buffalo Bill's is way out down I-15 towards the California border. It took me about 45 minutes to get there from the airport. The worst part was the second time I went, I turned at the first light instead of the second one and it dumped me onto I-15 N and it was EIGHTEEN MILES until the next exit where I could turn around. Talk about a wasted half hour! Now for the good parts. When I arrived at the hotel, they had a promotion for $20 in slot play for new club members if you brought them a receipt from their gas station. I promptly put $20 gas in the rental car and they gave me the slot play and a cute t-shirt. I won about $35 off the slot play, so I had the profit plus the gas, which was nice. They also have a $2 craps table. Since I love craps, this was good for me. The room itself was rather large. The beds were average and not uncomfortable. There was coffee and toiletries and a closet. The TV got no channels, but who watches television when there's gambling to be done? The shower stall was a little weird in that it was super short. At 5'7", I had to duck to get under the shower head. The bathroom was quite nice other than that, with a nice marble countertop. All in all, for an average of less than $6 per night, this was a stellar room. The roller coaster never ran while were there. Although I had coupons for a free ride, I was also happy that a loud roller coaster didn't wake me up.

The Golden Gate was a total jewel. The hotel has the old timey mailboxes for guests. The staff wears the white shirts with the black skinny bow ties. It's very nostalgic. Ask for a room on the fourth floor, as those rooms are larger. I was in a small room on the third floor. I mean, really small. HOWEVER, the bed was a super plush pillow top, there were cute art deco lamps, an i-home with some nice nature sounds by the bed, neutragena toiletries, gourmet coffee and a huge flat screen tv. The shower stall was original from the 1906 building (with some improvements circa 1930 and several refreshes.) I don't like the grout in tile floors, so I wore flip flops in the shower. The shower head was quite short. I am 5'7" and I had to bend down a little to wet my hair. The towels were threadbare and scratchy. In all, it was much nicer than your typical Super 8/Rodeway Inn. I'd say a solid 3 star experience.Oh yeah, and if you miss out on the AWESOME 99 cent shrimp cocktail (over 25 million sold at this location!) you're a complete fool. To get the 99 cent price, you need only sign up for a player's card. They then give you a free gift (calendar, dice, key chain) and $5 slot play to boot. With my ACG coupon for a free deck of cards (which they were out of) I was able to double my free loot.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

48 Hour Jitters

I am gearing up for the trip. I have all my confirmation numbers, various bargains & deals, etc. ready to go in a nice envelope. Tonight, I pack. I realized I didn’t have a bathing suit, so I got a 50% coupon for Old Navy and I’m going tonight to pick one up. I should have everything packed after that.

Even better than spending money on a bathing suit, my mom bought me one. I love my mom!

Also, I found a deal to book 2 nights at the Golden Gate downtown for Sunday/Monday for $2, so I jumped on that.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Deals

Here are the deals that enable my coupon addiction:

Free Gambling Money

$49 @ night at MGM includes unlimited buffet for 2!

Cheap car rentals

1/2 off Blue Man Group

Free Hotel

Vegas Packages from $153 pp

Orbitz coupon codes

Monday, April 13, 2009

Part 1- The Prelude

My mission – get to Vegas for 2 on a $300 budget. I’m not talking about a $300 gambling budget, I’m talking $300 for everything we have to do – air, hotel, rental car, buffets, gambling & shows. I will give the caveat that I used 25,000 Delta Skymiles for this trip. I earned the miles during a 9,999 bonus mile promo from Delta by renting three cars for 3 hours each for $34 per rental. So, technically, I spent $100 on those miles. I will include this in my budget.

$100 – Car rentals for Skymiles
$10 – Skymiles Redemption for 1 RT airfare RIC-LAS
$177 – RT Air from RIC-LAS booked on using a $50 coupon.
$24 – 4 nights (Fri – Tue) in Primm, NV at Buffalo Bills using an orbitz coupon code (4odwr75) for $75 off a 4 night stay.
$48 – Car rental for 3 days using a $10 per day promo on

Total for Air + Lodging + Car Rental for 2 = $359 ($179.50 pp).

So, that leaves me with only $241 to meet my goal of $300 per person. Are you ready for an adventure??!

Step 1 – Luggage. I don’t have any luggage. After the house fire, it was hardly the thing I needed to replace first, so I don’t even own a suitcase. This past Saturday, I set out on a mission to find some luggage at a yard sale. After stopping at about 9 or 10 yard sales, I hit the jackpot – a multi-family sale on Pole Green road. They had about 10 different suitcases, and I picked a nice rolling bag – airline carryon size & a rolling bag set from Mary Kay. After much discussion, I was able to get all three bags for the bargain basement price of $8. I now have $233 left in my Vegas budget. Plus, I saved myself any checked baggage fees I might have incurred from a larger suitcase.

Step 2 – Coupons. I found a very popular Casino Guides/Coupon books that is purported to be worth its weight in gold. It is the American Casino Guide ($12.85 on – free shipping for 2.) There is also the Las Vegas Advisor for $37 (limit 2 per household.) It didn't end up to be feasible for me to pick this up because of time constraints. Total OOP for the two books on Amazon - $26 (free shipping.) Reamining budget = $207

Step 3 – Coupon Run. Using the plan that I devised here - – I set out to hit 25+ casinos in 10 hours and earn $350+ by using matchplay and free slot play (assuming a 2% casino edge on even money bets and a 50% casino edge on slot play.) This is achieved by hedging my bets with my partners bets, thus guaranteeing the return of one matchplay. My Vegas trip is scheduled for 4/24. I will update the blog when I arrive.