Vegas, 2021, Part 3 of 3: The Millennium Fandom @mortaine @Erik_Nowak @kesseljunkie #Vegas #travel

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Introduction

Every year without a new pandemic, I go to Las Vegas for blackjack. They say that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, but that’s not really a problem for me. I usually don’t even drink when I’m there. This year was a little different, but still not worth hiding anything. These posts are an assortment of photos and videos from the Vegas Strip. Most of the videos are from an aquarium I visited. The images are pretty big, so if you blow them up, you should still get good resolution.

I always stay and gamble at MGM properties. My credit card doesn’t get me gas credits or airline miles; it gets me gambling comps, so everything but tips are paid for because I paid my car insurance bill, got gas, or bought food at the grocery store. The comps really add up, so I use that card for everything I possibly can. I started the trip with $1,327 in available comps ($200 added just for reserving the room, so you can get those), and that was before I sat down at a blackjack table to gamble.

| Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 |

In all my years of going to Vegas, I’ve been off-strip only twice before this trip. Once was to visit my cousin’s aunt, and the other was to play D&D. For the latter, I connected with my now-friend Stephanie via Facebook. She picked me up at the hotel, drove me to a gaming store, ran one of the early DDAL adventures, then took me to In-N-Out so I could see what the fuss was about (meh), and then took me to In-N-Out headquarters so that I could say I had been there and Erik never had.

The Millennium Fandom

This year, Stephanie had a free day Wednesday, so she took me on my third trip off-strip. This was the first thing I saw when I entered the bar:

The Nationals World Series championship cap makes me feel like an outsider at this bar.

After this, the owner (Alex) took us into a section of the bar that was closed that night.

Suck it, Kessel Junkie!

Alex took another picture, but it was a bit poorly timed. However, Alex pointed out that it probably caught me at a moment I was using the Force. I think he’s right.

Star Trek >> Forgotten Realms >> Star Wars

Next, I had to pick up a passenger. She’s why I crashed the Tie Fighter into a bunch of chairs.

This post is becoming a slam against all my friends.

After this, I toured the rest of the bar. I didn’t get some of the references, so please fill in the blanks if you can.

The Fifth Element‘s Water Stone.

Lightsabers, a helmet from The Mandalorian, a helmet from 300, the Iron Throne from Game of Thrones (top left surrounded by red light) and some big-ass sword I didn’t recognize. The bottom left look like bullets, and above that is a shield.

Well, sure, you can just look at these things, but ….

Pretty sure this is a vorpal lightsaber.

What’s that above me?

I know you knew.

Beneath the Aluminum Falcon was this guy.

What’s that hanging above R2’s “head”?

Some Raiders of the Lost Ark stuff and stuff from video games I didn’t recognize.

The Air Stone, Pac-Man, and a mashup. I didn’t get the reference on the license plate.

Lots of masks, the Earth Stone, and a katana I don’t recognize. Is it from Highlander? Suicide Squad? Maybe it’s simply a katana.

He told you he’d be back.

Wall-E thinking the band would let him play that night.

Wall-E was wrong.

I almost went back here thinking it was where the men’s room was. No reason.

Enough of this. Let’s have some more Star Trek. And what the hell? Some Hellraiser too.

The TV is blanked out for copyright reasons, which seems silly considering what I’m posting.

Now we have the proton pack from Ghostbusters and some Nightmare Before Christmas stuff, as well as some other things I don’t recognize. It’s hard to see from this image, but in the top right corner is an archer with an eagle on its shoulder. I didn’t get the reference, but I’d love to have that in my home. It was pretty cool-looking. The reason it’s blurry is because the lighting in the room forced me to use a “night” setting on my camera phone requiring more than an instant of exposure, and the slightest movement blurred the picture.

Unless you had forgotten, you must have known that the Fire Stone had to show up. Also, we have references to Predator, Alien, Wonder Woman, and Nightmare Before Christmas (a movie, by the way, that I didn’t see until last year).

After the tour, I noticed a couple of other things around the bar itself. First, a Batman vs. Superman sign that was behind me as I entered the bar.

Remember what I said about the camera setting? In this case, the blur created a neat effect. This is a real image. These are real people, not a drawing or touched-up photo.

Okay, but what’s the crowd like? Well, the QAnon Shaman showed up!

Not really.

Finally, as I was leaving for the night, I went to the men’s room and saw this hanging on the door to the bathroom stall. Brilliant. I love this movie.

As you can see, this is my kind of bar. If you’re reading this post, I’m guessing it’s your kind of bar as well. It’s worth the Lyft/Uber trip. Oh, and a self-delivered pat on my back.

If you think about it, between the mask and the shirt, I personally added to the nerd motif. Alex should put that picture of me on their website.

If you’re ever in Vegas, look them up. Their online store is here, though most of what I was looking for is sold out.

I bought a hat.

Follow me on Twitter @gsllc
Follow Stephanie @mortaine
Follow Erik Nowak @Erik_Nowak
Follow Kessel Junkie @kesseljunkie


Vegas, 2021, Part 2 of 3: The Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay #Vegas #travel

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Introduction

Every year without a new pandemic, I go to Las Vegas for blackjack. They say that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, but that’s not really a problem for me. I usually don’t even drink when I’m there. This year was a little different, but still not worth hiding anything. These posts are an assortment of photos and videos from the Vegas Strip. Most of the videos are from an aquarium I visited. The images are pretty big, so if you blow them up, you should still get good resolution.

I always stay and gamble at MGM properties. My credit card doesn’t get me gas credits or airline miles; it gets me gambling comps, so everything but tips are paid for because I paid my car insurance bill, got gas, or bought food at the grocery store. The comps really add up, so I use that card for everything I possibly can. I started the trip with $1,327 in available comps ($200 added just for reserving the room, so you can get those), and that was before I sat down at a blackjack table to gamble.

| Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 |

Shark Reef

Normally, I don’t do much more than eat, sleep, and gamble, but I added this stop to my itinerary on Wednesday. Here are a bunch of pictures and videos presented in the order I took them (to the best of my recollection). There’s a small bit of commentary, but these are mostly just for your viewing pleasure.

Gator? Caiman? I didn’t read the placard.

This next one freaked me out. Mostly, he kept his eyes closed but occasionally opened them. I caught him with eyes opened. Seemed annoyed.

Komodo Dragon

This one was just weird looking. I thought it looked prehistoric, so it was worth a photo.

Next up is the touch pool. You’re permitted to reach into the water (maybe 1-1/2 feet deep) and, using only your index finger, lightly stroke the rays or horseshoe crabs. These were clearly juveniles based on size.

This guy was gooey.

At this point, I realized I should be taking videos rather than taking pictures.

Why haven’t these turtles been eaten?

What the hell is the evolutionary basis for developing a saw-like appendage?

What the hell is the evolutionary basis for developing a hammer-like snout?

Tomorrow, the entire post will be dedicated to a single locale: The Millennium Fandom.

I love Vegas.

Follow me on Twitter @gsllc


Vegas, 2021, Part 1 of 3: The Luxor and the Strip #Vegas #travel

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Introduction

Every year without a new pandemic, I go to Las Vegas for blackjack. They say that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, but that’s not really a problem for me. I usually don’t even drink when I’m there. This year was a little different, but still not worth hiding anything. These posts are an assortment of photos and videos from the Vegas Strip. Most of the videos are from an aquarium I visited. The images are pretty big, so if you blow them up, you should still get good resolution.

I always stay and gamble at MGM properties. My credit card doesn’t get me gas credits or airline miles; it gets me gambling comps, so everything but tips are paid for because I paid my car insurance bill, got gas, or bought food at the grocery store. The comps really add up, so I use that card for everything I possibly can. I started the trip with $1,327 in available comps ($200 added just for reserving the room, so you can get those), and that was before I sat down at a blackjack table to gamble.

| Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 |

Luxor

I stayed at the Luxor, which has a pretty cool design. Here are a few views from the elevator lobby.

The view from my room wasn’t so great, but very few rooms get an unobstructed view of the strip. In all of my trips to Vegas, I’ve gotten that kind of a view only once. This time, however, I got a partially view of the T-Mobile Arena (I almost bought a ticket to the Monday night game between the Ravens and Raiders), as well as my former preferred spot, the Excalibur.

Don’t knock the Excalibur. I always get what I want there. Whenever I’m down, I walk away from the table, head over to Excalibur, and win it all back. I was up $1,000 this year but headed there anyway because I know I could do better. I started with $900 and played for 4-1/2 hours, bouncing between $650 and $910, never gaining ground. Then I went on a run of about 15 straight winning hands, jumping from ~$700 to $1,900 (as explained, I gradually increase my bet as I win, and with ~15 straight wins, my chips explode). Once I finally lost a hand, I walked away. The Excalibur is always awesome to me.

Back to Luxor, one thing bothered me. I stayed at the Luxor once before, but my room was on the first floor. This year, I was on 17, and, well, I’m not sure why more people haven’t fell to their deaths at the Luxor.

If you click through to You Tube, I cite a story about strange deaths at Luxor, but that includes things like a UNLV player dying after a fist fight. Few of the deaths that occur are from falling over these ledges. Considering how short they are, and how drunk may guests are, that’s surprising to me.

Bellagio

Tuesday night, I took a walk down the Strip, stopping at Bellagio for the fountain show. I’ve done that four times before, so it wasn’t a new experience, but it wasn’t as good this time.

I had to wait another 15 minutes for the next song. All Night Long by Lionel Richie was next up. I thought the choreography was a bit weak, but I’m a child of the late 70s and 80s, so I can live with that. The copyright holder is allowing the video to stay up, but there will be ads.

Why What Happens in Vegas Need Not Stay in Vegas

On the walk back to Luxor, I passed a few shops and knew I had to tweet about them.

Even the ATM is green.

Sorry, hippies, but this just ain’t my sort of thing.

On Wednesday, I visited Mandalay Bay‘s Shark Reef aquarium and virtual reality show. To keep these posts short, I’ll post those photos and videos in a separate post tomorrow.

I love Vegas.

Follow me on Twitter @gsllc


Gods of Luck @drgnfly06 #MythologyMonday #MythologyMonandæg #Vegas

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This week, I’m taking my annual trip to Vegas. With the pandemic, I didn’t go last year, so both my comps and my anticipation are at an all-time high. Accordingly, I’m linking to a listing of several gods and goddesses of luck from ancient religions across the globe. Maybe one of them is really out there and will appreciate the shout out.

The Best and worst blackjack hands and how to play them | The TwinSpires  Edge

The link comes from Carla Huffman, whose Twitter handle often posts mythology-related matters. She holds a Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology, which makes a lot of sense. Mythology is clearly a window into how the people in a given culture thinks. Maybe she’ll have something to say about my request to the gods, and maybe she has more credibility with them.

Probably, “This is superstitious nonsense, dipshit.”

Follow me on Twitter @gsllc
Follow Carla Huffman @drgnfly06


Vegas is Back, Baby! #Vacation #Vegas #Caturday

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As of today, I’m officially vaccinated, as in two shots plus two weeks. I’m still wearing my mask to reduce contact points for those that aren’t vaccinated. Why? Well, why not? My masks are cool.

Everybody’s politics can suck it!
I take that back.
Freedom!!!

Anyhoo, because I’m good-to-go on that front, I’m resuming my annual trip to Las Vegas this year, which will be in mid-September instead of the typical Columbus Day week. I fly out on September 11th.

Michael Scott Disgusting GIF - MichaelScott Disgusting Gross - Discover &  Share GIFs

The timing is a shame because a coworker is flying out Columbus Day week to renew her wedding vows in a DC-comics inspired wedding. Her husband is currently choosing between Batman and Catwoman being married by the Joker, or the Joker and Harley Quinn being married by Batman. But that’s another tangent.

Blackjack

I take blackjack very seriously, and since developing a regular system, I always come back a winner. Part of my success is that, whereas your credit card may earn you free gas or airfare, my credit card that I use for everything earns me gambling comps with MGM hotels. (I should be paid for that link.) I’m going to enjoy fine dining every night and pay only for tax and tip. I win automatically just for paying my phone bill or filling my car’s gas tank. A more on-point part of my success is practice, so I’ve brought out the gambling set to start practicing. I’ll be using this to train the aforementioned coworker as well.

The system is progressive betting (not card counting), and the trick is a difficult combination of patience and discipline. If you look up progressive betting online, the definition changes depending on who you ask. Many conveniently use the term to refer exclusively to regressive betting, which is the exact opposite of what I do. They do so because they’re card counters trying to sell you their system, and they can easily prove that regressive betting is a big loser. I increase my bet while winning, and my maximum bet per hand is capped. Despite the criticism, its only genuine downside is that it cuts against human nature. That’s where the discipline come in. Without it, you’ll lose. Stick with the plan for the long haul, and you’ll likely win. My personal experience, both long-term and short-term, is too one-sided in my favor to worry about what those blackjack entrepreneurs say. Here’s my greatest war story.

mandalaybay.gif

Trial by Fire

My favorite gambling spot is Mandalay Bay. Three trips ago, I showed up with a $3,000 bankroll, but I was playing as if I had only $2,500 ($25 base bet). That gave me a $500 cushion. The first day, there were no $25 tables on the floor, so they opened one in the high-roller room for me. After 4 hours, I was up about $400, and they moved me out of the high-roller room. Normally, I play between 10-15 hours a day with only one break to eat, but the casino had forced me to stop, so I took the opportunity to get some lunch. It wrecked my rhythm. I then went back to the grind. After another 10 hours of gambling, I lost about $2,200, so I was $1,800 down (out of $3,000). I didn’t panic, but it forced me to readjust my routine.

The next day, I head over to Excalibur, which always likes to hand me money. I spent about 12 hours on the table betting as if my bankroll was $1,000 (which makes sense; I had $1,200 left), and for the last hour I was by myself. I was already up quite a bit at that point, but it was rapid fire. The dealer and I were on a freaking roll, but I was killing her, departing from the system and betting over $100 a hand at times. When all was said and done, I won $1,900, so I was $100 up over all (even factoring huge tips to the dealer).

How do you think I reacted to that?

I wasn’t satisfied. I don’t care that I was up $100. I don’t care that both casinos were part of the MGM network. I wanted my $1,800 back from Mandalay Bay, dammit! So, for my last day of gambling, that’s where I ended the day. (I beat up Luxor before heading there.) It was the longest day of gambling I ever had: over 16 hours. Obviously, people come and go over that period, but every table makeup was filled with people who knew what they were doing (like my now-Facebook friend, Kaia) or wanted to learn. The table was perfect for almost every minute of those 16+ hours. By 3 am, I was up only $650. If I didn’t have to fly out fairly early the next morning, I would have kept going. With all the comped food, I ended up about $1,100 (40% of my betting bankroll) for the trip.

Of course, no one believes any of this until I actually show them, but those that have seen it never doubt me again. And if you doubt me, I don’t care. My winnings have paid for a Surface Pro 3 and a laptop, and almost every year it pays for my hotel for my other regular vacation in February. Believe me or don’t believe me; I don’t give a shit. Unlike the card counters trying to sell you something, I don’t make money if you believe me.

BTW, card counting absolutely works and is the best system if you can pull it off. I used it successfully when I first started my trips, but a good betting strategy is more relaxing and far less prone to fatal mistakes. I’ll occasionally do it as a mental exercise but rarely base my bets on the card count.

What’s Next?

Are you kidding? I’m wiring my gambling money to Mandalay Bay ahead of time, and as soon as I’m checked into my hotel, I’m heading downstairs to win that remaining $1,150 back! Okay, not really. I’ve already done that in past trips, thought New York, New York is still up on me. I do need a new laptop, and sure, I can afford to buy one, but I’d rather have MGM pay for it. 🙂 However, I raise an issue for those heading to Vegas. Some casinos will accept wires ahead of time. Mandalay Bay is one of them even if you aren’t staying there. Whatever money you want to apply to gambling, wire it to them. Otherwise, you have to find a branch of your bank off-Strip that’s open, or you’ll have to carry a bunch of cash on your flights to and from there. That money is earmarked for gambling only, and after your trip, they wire whatever’s left back to the account from which you wired it. The only money you can withdraw from those funds as cash are winnings. For Mandalay Bay, you can transfer the money to any MGM casino if you want a change of scenery. They have a lot of properties in Vegas.

N.b., no system is fool proof. Always go into a casino being fully prepared to bottom out, which means you should never bet your rent money. You can spot people doing that all the time, and it’s sad. Pit bosses and dealers are always impressed with my calm demeanor and sense of humor, even in the face of big losses. If you can’t afford to lose everything, or you don’t appreciate that losses are part of the game (it’s just math), don’t play. Period.

Oh, and I almost forgot.

Caturday shall not be denied!!!

Follow me on Twitter at @gsllc