Wherein the Boys Expand Their Gambling Budgets Using the American Casino Guide Coupons

Part 2
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What $1.49 buys..
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Today I saw something I never thought I'd see in Las Vegas: morning. Jerry and I were up around 8:00 AM and on our way to pick up Burt at the airport. After finding him curbside, we traveled to Wild Wild West's Gambler's Grill to feast on their $1.49 breakfast (two eggs, bacon, hash browns and one slice of toast -- midnight to eleven a.m. daily). I splurged and bought a cup of coffee. Jerry and Burt, not realizing that water was complimentary, kept running out to the bathroom to fill their hands under the faucet. The breakfast special is worth every last penny, maybe even five or six cents more.

Today was a workday for us and more of our crew arrive to join the effort to update the web site. After finishing our cheapo breakfast, we went slightly west to the Orleans. In the past, the Orleans handed out free beads to give the place a Mardis Gras feel. The fading economy must be hitting them hard, because now I was forced to expose a breast in order to receive mine. At least that's what Jerry and Burt told me. Otherwise, little has changed. It continues to barrel on as the most monstrous of locals casinos with movie theaters, bowling, an enormous arena, showrooms, a new Fuddruckers and a poker room about the size of my hometown.

Free beads. Just lose your dignity.
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From the Orleans, we traveled north to Flamingo, west of I-15 to check out the triumvirate of Rio, Palms and Gold Coast. The Palms has a $10 matchplay coupon in the ACG. All three of us played those on a blackjack table, and won, for a net $60 profit. The Palms hasn't changed much recently. I guess it doesn't need to in order to fleece the SoCal hipsters with overpriced nightclubs and snooty pool areas. Although, the Palms gets credit for being one of the first places in town with ultralounges and DJs, now every mid-tier and up joint on the Strip offers them too.

After the Palms, Burt, Jerry and I split up. Something about me demanding more attention and the occasional backrub. Burt went to the Gold Coastto use ACG coupons for a $5 matchplay and two free drinks. He won $10 and drank $4 of hooch on the house. I went to the Rio, one of my least favorite casinos. Back in the 90s, this place was cool and unique. Now, however, it's a giant clip joint scheming to make a buck off you every way it can. The table games have some of the worst rules in town, and the restaurants feel uniformly overpriced. The biggest change I noticed from previous visits was the removal of the rinky-dink Lucky Strike bowling alley.

I'm not sure where Jerry went while Burt and I worked over the Gold Coast and Rio. He might have gone and taken a nap in the car. Or maybe he went to see if he could sneak into the pool area at Palms. All I know is that when we met up again, he was wet and smelled like chlorine.

Fine eats at Rosemary's.
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It was now almost lunchtime and we got a call from our friends Steve and Mike. They were on their way in from Southern California and would meet us at Rosemary's. Rosemary's is a fancy eatery on far west Sahara. It's the kind of place where they put lemon wedges in the water, give you fresh bread (as opposed to the free bread we steal from the local senior center) and have a guy with a little crumb scraper who wipes all the debris off your table. Normally, gourmet and us go together like apes and debutantes, but we printed a coupon for a three-course fixed price lunch for $23 from the Rosemary's web site. For that, you got an entrČe, and two appetizers and/or desserts. I had an appetizer of Texas barbecue shrimp with blue cheese cole slaw, a fancy Monte Cristo and icebox lemon pie with raspberry sorbet. Others had mahi mahi, duck confit, goat cheese cheesecake and crĖme brulee. It was all wonderful, and the service was outstanding. We all agreed, the best dish was the shrimp and cole slaw, an extraordinary mix of sweet, firm, tart and crunchy.

While we ate, Burt plugged his fancy, but underpowered cell phone, into an outlet in the wall behind us. If we hadn't gotten more than our money's worth for the meal, he was getting it in free energy. I wish I had brought my washing machine. By meal's end, I was more stuffed than the day I found out the bakery thrift store throws the expired Hostess Donettes into a bin in the alley. My gorging was a direct violation of my own Vegas rule: Never eat a huge lunch because you never know who'll be chasing you in the afternoon.

After lunch, we briefly stopped downtown to meet up with Robert and Jeff. They had just flown in from Phoenix. After a friendly greeting, I handed Jeff and Robert their list of casinos to visit and research. Jerry, Burt and I got back on the road, going way out west to the far reaches of the Vegas Valley.

Matt has a friendly greeting for Robert.
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Next on our checklist was the Rampart Casino at the J.W. Marriott Hotel. A long time ago this was the Regency, a high-falutin' hotel-casino with fancy everything and a sports book that looked like a charming English polo club. We bought smoking pipes just so we fit in. The hotel, now owned by the Marriott folks, is still ritzy and the grounds have beautiful gardens and waterways. The casino, though, is operated by the same folks who own the Cannery casinos. It's a locals joint that serves the gambling needs of Summerlin retirees. It's not motivated to dazzle anyone. The property's best feature is a host of good restaurants with reasonable prices, like Spiedini's, Ceres and the pretty Shizen Japanese. The casino's other good feature is the $20 matchplay coupon in

Burt is giddy at the elegance of the Red Rock.
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the ACG, which netted Burt $40, but cost me $20. Boo! I thought for sure the roulette wheel had a triple-zero. The ACG also had a coupon for new slot club members to get free T-shirts, wall calendars, decks of cards and a handful of beads. Unlike at the Orleans, I did not have to show my breasts. In fact, the club hosts were adamant that I not. I did anyway, just to be safe.

After getting our fill of Rampart's old people, we visited the nondescript Suncoast to see what other octogenarians looked like. If you took a Vegas local, blindfolded him, drove him around until he was dizzy, punched him in the face, then dropped him in this casino, he would have a sore mouth and a hard time telling it from the Orleans or Gold Coast. Although, it smells better than the Gold Coast. Like many of the local casinos, the Suncoast is cutting its restaurant hours to bare bones while the economy slows to the pace of its customers blocking a whole damn aisle with their walkers, Hoverounds and Rascal scooters. Hey, lady, move it!

Burt had never seen the Red Rock Station hotel, and he is easily impressed by shiny, clean things. We made a side trip so he could see the place. The casino glistens with its mid-century Palm Springs aesthetic and flagstone columns. The whole place is made with higher-quality materials than the other Station properties. It has a very impressive poker room and a fantastic sports book. At its heart, though, it's still a Station property. Like a WalMart with chandeliers and carpet.

The El Cortez piano lounge.
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All that looking at casinos had made us hungry again, so we returned to downtown to rendezvous with the rest of our crew at the El Cortez's Flame Steakhouse. At the Flame, you won't find anything whipped with seafoam or chopped with soy grown only in the foothills of Mount Fuji. It's a basic steakhouse that does the filet, lobster, rack of lamb and prime rib well. The menu is reasonable and the room is old school. Piano tinkling wafts in from the lounge outside (as opposed to bum tinkling, which wafts in from outside the Western). The waiters and waitresses have been here longer than I've been alive. Our group of seven used ACG 50% off coupons for our meals. I ordered a large Australian lobster tail, a drink and a side of potato for a total of $18.45 (savings of $18.45). Others ordered prime rib, filet and shrimp scampi with similar savings. Try getting that kind of deal elsewhere.


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