Wednesday, June 16, 2004

IF YOU WATCHED "The Casino" on Monday night, you saw lots of the Golden Nugget, where Jacqueline and I have spent many, many days, including Thursday morning through Monday morning. Pretty crappy show, but that's another post. At least there were lots of great Las Vegas shots, including a couple of the sign at the Gold Spike, the Nugget's seedy (don't let the new Web page fool you) but lovable almost-neighbor and the site of the cocktail portion of the Big Empire Cocktail Soiree, which we were once again honored to attend.

Soiree highlights included a poker tournament in which a newcomer with $175 in chips came back to beat a two-time champion with $8,000 or $9,000 in chips, and a walk down Fremont Street with one of our Soiree friends who donned an Elvis costume and went from meek and mild to The King.

(For more postmortems on the Soiree, check here, here and here -- and the photo gallery, by David Berman, mentioned in the previous post.)

It was a great trip. I got to eat in two restaurants I've been wanting to try for years -- Lotus of Siam (which some call the best Thai restaurant in the country) and the Second Street Grill (which some call the best casino restaurant in downtown Las Vegas) -- and a new place, Bouchon, run by perhaps the most acclaimed chef in the country. All were very good.

Oh, and then there were the winnings. Last time Jacqueline was the big winner. We never can seem to win at the same time, and her big win was a lot bigger than mine, but I'm not complaining about a $1,000 four-deuces hand on a deuces-wild video-poker machine that suddenly turned my $20 investment into $1,300 or so. I played until I was down to that $1,000 before cashing out -- it may sound stupid to throw away that extra $300, but that mind-set would have had me quit when I hit the $250 four-deuces hand earlier. That score at the quarter level gave me money to play with at the dollar level, which is where I hit the big one.

I also had one of my best blackjack sessions ever, turning the $15 dregs from a failed $100 craps session plus a $5 chip found among my pocket lint into $125. All in all, I came out $919 ahead.

We've finally decided to keep faithful track of Vegas wins and losses, but that isn't as easy as it sounds. Previous efforts to do this have left us counting blackjack only and forgetting about all those video-poker losses, or maybe starting on the right foot but giving up after the losses started to become embarrassing -- only to wish we'd kept up the log when suddenly a winning streak left us thinking that maybe we had caught up.

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