Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Faux Vegas

Last month, St. Pauli Girl’s parents were in town, a week before they were to go to Las Vegas. Throughout the weekend, St. Pauli Girl’s mom continually pointed out how they had gotten a room at the Golden Nugget for $39 a night. She kept dropping hints that we should go as well. About the same time, we discovered a leaking pipe in the wall of the house. I suggested to St. Pauli Girl’s mom that maybe she should invite our plumber to join them as he is about to come into a lot of money.

Unfortunately, we cannot afford a vacation this summer. (This is doubly depressing because even Eduardo, St. Pauli Girl’s son, can afford to go to Las Vegas in July.) So with the July 4 weekend approaching, we decided to make the best of it and pretend we were in Las Vegas for 3 days. We would essentially re-enact a typical trip playing our favorite games and eating at our favorite restaurants.

(Note: It helps to have a good imagination and a great cook in the household. But then again, you can always order take-out.)

Before the trip, we bought several lotto scratch off tickets as prizes for the winner of each gambling session. We would also keep a running total of earnings and whoever won the most after day 3 would receive the grand prize of $42 million! (assuming the PowerBall ticket we bought won.)

Friday, July 2

1:00 p.m. Our plane arrived in Faux Vegas. We quickly checked into the Golden Nugget then headed to the Triple 7 Brewpub in Main Street Station. We recreated the sampler brew platter with a few selections of our own homebrew then had a lunch of beer battered fish and chips (homemade Parmesan fries).

2:00 p.m. Our first gambling session was at Main Street Station which is a great place to gamble because you can get free microbrews in the casino. We set up our laptops adjacent to each other on a table and played online video poker and slots while enjoying “Songs of the 70’s” weekend on the radio.

(If you have never been to a casino but you have played online games and think you have it all figured out, Vegas operators are standing by ready to give you a cheap room. If these online games were in Vegas, all of the casinos would be bankrupt in a weekend.)

We set a time limit and assumed that we were always playing 25 cent machines. Playing strictly Video Poker I managed to grind out a $20 investment into $1501.25. St. Pauli Girl took advantage of the really loose slots to rack up $2113.25. We immediately checked out of the Golden Nugget and used our winnings to score a nice room with a balcony overlooking the fountains at the Bellagio. This is easily done in Faux Vegas.

St. Pauli Girl won the first ticket which revealed…..$0.

4:00 p.m. Next came the blackjack tournament at the Las Vegas Club one of our favorite places to gamble (and it’s not because the cocktail waitresses wear cheerleading uniforms.) The online blackjack was the most real game we played all weekend. Real in that we lost. Quite a bit. We both started with $1000 with a 90-minute time limit. The session came to an abrupt end when St. Pauli Girl lost the last of her $1000 and elected not to deposit more money. With my $700 winnings, I now had a commanding lead on her for the weekend plus a scratch off ticket which revealed….. $0.

9:00 p.m. Time for dinner. We didn’t know we’d be moving to the Bellagio so we had already made our dinner plans. The biggest drawback of downtown Las Vegas is the lack of nice restaurants. So we chose Hugo’s Cellar which has some nice atmosphere and its trademarks of giving every woman a rose and fixing salads tableside. The place makes you feel like it’s 1975, but then again, everything downtown makes you feel that way.

St. Pauli Girl fixed our tableside salads followed by a bacon-wrapped filet mignon served on top of crab with a Bearnaise Sauce.

We followed that up with a quick nightcap of a 30-minute slot tournament. After realizing how loose the online slots were, I abandoned my dislike of slots in general and eked out a small victory which earned me another scratch-off card which revealed….$0.

Saturday, July 3

9:00 a.m. It was a beautiful day in Faux Vegas at the lovely Bellagio. We sat on our balcony enjoying one of our favorite Vegas pastimes: chocolate croissants and coffee. Shortly, we realized something was missing: the Bellagio fountains of course! I went down and turned on our sprinkler system and put my favorite martial music on the stereo.

12:00 p.m. Day 2 gambling kicked off with a video poker session at the Golden Gate. One of the best things about the Golden Gate is they have $3 tables so when you stick with $5 bets, you look like a whale. Thanks to a wildcard royal flush, St. Pauli Girl escaped with a win and won a scratch-off card that paid…..$0.

1:30 p.m. While we were at the Golden Gate, we had to enjoy a world famous 99 cent shrimp cocktail. (FYI: Sam’s Club sells a near replica of the cocktail sauce, but of course St. Pauli Girl made her own).

2:00 p.m. The next gambling session involved a player’s choice of slots or video poker. Having learned my lesson, I stuck mostly to slots this time. I kept a close tab on St. Pauli Girl and realized I had a nice $400 lead. She was interrupted by a phone call. To make things fair (and knowing I would win), like a World Cup soccer referee I offered her ten minutes of injury time to make up for the interruption. So with one minute to go, she proceeds to hit the biggest jackpot of the weekend, thereby earning another scratch-off card worth….$0.

4:00 p.m. Back to the blackjack tables. Once again, online blackjack treated us like real Vegas where we both dropped a total of $295.

5:00 p.m. Off to the Wine Cellar at the Rio. This has always been one of our favorite discoveries, a cozy wine bar in the basement of the Rio where they serve wine flights: a small sample of three similar wines. St. Pauli Girl put together a wine flight with what we had available. I managed to guess all three of them: “Number 1 tastes like that bottle we opened last night, Number 2 would be the Franzia boxed chardonnay and number 3--I’m guessing--is the Almaden boxed merlot, with a May 2010 vintage.”

6:00 p.m. Over to the Gold Coast which is across the street from the Rio. Next to downtown, the Gold Coast is our favorite place to play in Vegas because we always win there. Except for the time we actually stayed there. So we’re probably about even. Another slots and video poker tournament where St. Pauli Girl managed to find even looser slots and sealed another scratch-off victory worth…..$0.

7:30 p.m. Time for dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, Rosemary’s which is way off the strip on Sahara Ave. and pretty much the only reason we rent a car when we go to Vegas. We started off with an appetizer of Pan-fried Sweetbreads in a Creole Mustard Sauce. The main course followed with a Prosciutto Wrapped Veal Chop with Hoppin’ John, white cheddar grits, and a Creole Mustard Butter. We opted for dessert tonight: Goat Cheese Cheesecake with a Scotch Caramel Sauce.

10:00 p.m.We wrapped the evening up with another slots tournament with no prize. After two days, we had racked up over $7400 between the two of us but my earnings lead had shrunk to about $900.

Sunday, July 4

9:00 a.m. It was Sunday so that meant champagne brunch! Chocolate croissants, scrambled eggs, sausage and champagne. A great way to start the day on our balcony at the Bellagio. Unfortunately , the Bellagio fountains were closed for repairs; seems someone didn’t want to go downstairs and turn them on.

12:00 p.m. We went back downtown for the serious gambling. We started off with another video poker and slots round. The action was fast and furious but St. Pauli Girl pulled ahead late and hung on for victory: a scratch-off card worth….$0.

By this time I had also cheated and looked at the Powerball numbers. Instead of $42 million, our weekend winner would walk away with a used Powerball ticket worth…. $0.

2:00 p.m. We immediately jumped into our next blackjack tournament. Once again, it would not go the distance as St. Pauli Girl quickly dropped $1000. I managed to only lose $335 but that was good enough for a scratch-off card worth….$0.

6:00 p.m. Our final weekend dinner would be at Firefly, a tapas restaurant. We enjoyed steamed mussels with chorizo, then foccacia and four-cheese fondue followed by albondigas in a spicy sherry tomato sauce.

8:00 p.m. The last gambling event would be a video poker and slots session. With a $1200 lead, I could pretty much rest on cruise control and still win as long as St. Pauli Girl didn’t hit a jackpot. But I hit the jackpot, sealing the session win as well as the weekend earnings victory. Between the two of us, we had won $9761. The session win earned me a scratch-off card worth…$0.

Finally, the weekend earnings victory won a scratch-off card worth….$4. Yes, that’s right, the weekend finally paid off!

We spent the rest of the night outside enjoying fireworks. The great thing about living in the country is that you don’t have to go anywhere for fireworks. Any neighbor with a full can of gas, a lighter and a .45 is a show waiting to happen.

After the weekend, St. Pauli Girl talked to her mom on the phone:

Mom: Did I tell you we got rooms at the Golden Nugget for $39 a night?

St. Pauli Girl: Did I tell you we won almost $10,000 and got comped rooms at the Bellagio?

Mom: Well, you know what they say. What happens in Faux Vegas…. never really happened.

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