I stayed at the Stardust for the first time. I enjoy gambling there, it has a very old-school charm. The pit boss, who reminds me of Lunchlady Doris of Simpsons fame (or, if you prefer, a Night Court bailiff), is a Vegas landmark, to me at least. Hearing her Vincent Price impression always makes me squeal (sadly, I saw her, but never spoke to her this trip). As rumors are swirling about the future fate of the Stardust, I figured I should stay there at least once. There's probably no reason to stay there again. The rooms reminded me of the rooms at the Fremont, downtown, only larger, and with nicer bathrooms. Rather underwhelming, though I thought the artwork was nice, by hotel room standards. The small TV's remote control didn't work, but the front desk quickly sent up a replacement. The bathroom was reasonably large, and had a blowdryer, if memory serves. Overall, it's a decent room, in a decent location, and better than other Strip hotels in its price range (i.e. Imperial Palace).
One criticism I had for the hotel the first night--the shampoo they provided smelled like ass. I was taking a shower, put some shampoo in my hair, and nearly puked. Really foul. I had visions of a hotel employee putting sewage in a shampoo bottle to avenge some slight I may have given them. The next night, the shampoo was fine, but I could still detect a hint of odors which, if present in different quantities, might smell like ass. So I concluded that the shampoo the first night was from a defective batch, and let it slide.
Gambling didn't go too well for most of the trip. I just didn't have an adequate bankroll. The money I'd been waiting on from various online casinos arrived while I was in Vegas, but cashing a check in this town is hard. The casino cashed a small check for me, but I had to resort to ATMs with outrageous fees, and daily limits, so that I didn't have the deep pockets I would have liked. And so I played scared, feeling like I had to take risks to get a decent bankroll or bust out trying. And mostly, I went bust. Fortunately, I had some good luck my last night at the Stardust, and at the Riviera on my way out of town. So overall, I left a small loser.
I gambled a lot at the Stardust, but also put in a fair amount of action at the Wynn. A brief stab at the table games proved disastrous, but I had somewhat better luck at the machines, at least insofar as I lost slower and got to play for awhile. And I got a buffet comp, which was exciting. The buffet room is very nice, if perhaps a bit over-the-top. The buffet itself, however, was disappointing. I started out with a nice soup and salad, and some seafood. But as I slowly progressed through the buffet line, nothing really grabbed me. The ceviche station was a nice idea, but despite the variety, was ultimately nothing special. The sushi was of poor quality, though that can be expected of buffet sushi. The made-to-order risotto was a nice touch, and the shellfish was excellent. But the baked fish was dry and bland, and I had a hard time finding other foods that excited me. I think it may just be a matter of whether any of their specialties happen to be one of your favorites (I don't think I'd ever seen Cornish game hens in a buffet before), and for me, they weren't. Of course, good desserts can save a buffet, and the desserts certainly weren't bad. A chocolate mousse with chocolate brownie was quite good, and the ice creams were top-quality, but the bananas foster had an odd aftertaste. My main complaint, however, was with the service. Every time I got up to get a new plate, the servers decided I had left and bussed my table. When I returned and the waitress brought me a new water and silverware, she acted like she was doing me a big favor. Then I'd get up, and they'd do it again. And I never got another water after that. Even when I went for dessert, and was gone less than 90 seconds, they cleared my table. Luckily, they weren't able to seat another guest before I got back. Overall, I'd have to say the buffet, while by no means bad, is not the best in town. If I had paid $32 for it, I'd have been pissed off. I still prefer the Paris buffet (though I haven't eaten it since Harrah's assumed ownership, so I can't guarantee it's current quality).
The reason why I ventured over to the Wynn from the Stardust was because I bought a ticket to see Avenue Q. The ticket was obscenely expensive, though not too terribly out of whack by Vegas standards. But I rarely see shows in Vegas, and figured after all the comps I've received over the years, I could splurge to see a show that came so highly recommended. And I did enjoy myself, though ultimately I don't think I could recommend it, given the price. I was also disappointed by the lousy seat I received, six rows back, on the aisle. I could see the primary action well enough, but the recessed portions of the set, when doors open and walls are cast aside, were not very visible. Even worse, the backs of the puppeteers blocked my view of the hot puppet sex during the Act I climax. Fortunately, some elderly couples in my row didn't return from intermission, and I took their seat.
As to the substance of the show, my general opinion is that the show is for people who want to say they like "edgy" productions, but really don't. I mean, "The Internet is for Porn?" Wow, what a cutting-edge observation! But it certainly had its moments, and the basic story, of young people trying to find their way in the world, was touching enough, if not exactly novel. Of course, it's a shame the ticket price created a disconnect between the target audience of this story and the demographics of the audience, in Armani suits and furs. But then I suppose those are the sort of contradictions that drive Vegas. I was amused to discover that there was a character of Gary Coleman in the play (the building's super), and I did enjoy several songs, including "Everyone's a Little Bit Racist." Overall, it's an entertaining show, and if you can see a touring production when Wynn's exclusive arrangement is done, at a reasonable price, check it out. I just didn't think it necessarily lived up to the hype, or the ticket price.
I'm sure there were other delightful happenings in Vegas this trip, but I've waited too long to write this, and I'm just going to wrap it up. I stopped off at the Riviera on the way out of town, and had some great luck, so that I only left town a modest loser. Overall, it was a disappointing trip, as the odd turn of events in my online gambling overshadowed the trip.
Which means, I suppose, this is a good time to provide an online gambling update. First off, both casinos paid me. I'd have to give Casino On Net the edge on payouts, because while their posted cash-out times are ridiculously slow, they came pretty close to meeting those goals, while King Solomons was quite slow on the cashouts, compared to their posted policy. But I like King Solomons' software better, and they take care of their players a bit better, I think.
So I now feel much better about the integrity of these casinos, and their willingness to pay after a win. Unfortunately, my luck has turned. It got ugly. The sort of losses that would have me in tears, if it was real money, but since it's just credits in a computer, there is enough of a disconnect from reality that the money can just slip away. Fortunately, I got enough money off the table and tucked away that I didn't completely wipe myself out. But I still find myself thinking of what might have been, had I just walked away. I mean, really, how much did I think I was going to win? But ultimately I just have to accept that much of what I won is gone, and just look at the long-term picture, and concede that, overall, I've done alright. And just not let myself go broke trying to get back to where I once was.