Monday, December 14, 2009

WPBT Report - Day 1

It's the same every time. Days before I leave, the tune gets stuck in my head. Then it fades as I rush around to get ready. Then, as the wheels lift and the plane starts climbing, a distant singing begins in my brain. It's as if the man is standing there on the Strip belting out the tune and I can just pick it up over the Toronto skies. As we approach, it gets louder and louder.

Bright light city gonna set my soul
Gonna set my soul on fire

I watch TV, movies, read, and usually doze off for a bit. But eventually I turn my head and look out the window. Blackness for miles starts to brighten. Outlines of mountains and valleys are barely visible. Then, a road, and a speckling of lights.

Got a whole lot of money that's ready to burn,
So get those stakes up higher

The smile that's been sporadically appearing on my face for the past few days starts to grow again. It has no intentions of leaving this time.

There's a thousand pretty women waitin' out there
And they're all livin' devil may care

Finally, the lights fill the window. Desert gives way to a civilization that has no right being there. Some of those lights are higher in the sky than others. Some spell words like "Flamingo" or "MGM", and one shoots straight into space. The songs starts hitting its crescendo.

And I'm just the devil with love to spare

We touch down, with The Strip looking close enough to touch. And I hear nothing but The King's voice going through my head.

Viva Las Vegas, Viva Las Vegas

I'm back baby. As sick as I get of Vegas after a weekend, there's no other feeling quite like the joy and anticipation of landing at McCarran. It's time for my 3rd WPBT Winter Gathering.

We got in Wednesday night, a full 12 hours earlier than usual. The flights were cheaper than the extra night in the hotel, that's +EV. N picked E and I up, having arrived a few hours earlier. First stop? In-N-Out Burger. Verdict? Decent fast food burger, fresh ingredients, and the worst fries I've had in a long time. They were pretty obviously overcooked in stale oil. Shame about that.

Then it was check-in time, where I was going to put in my first bet of the trip - $20 on upgrade. The line was short, but long enough for me to pull out President Jackson, fold him up, and make a sandwich with him and my cards. I handed that meal over to the middle-aged woman behind the counter, and the bill fell out in front of her. Without missing a beat, she picked it up and put it the side with just enough body language to let me know I was a winner.

"One or two beds? Smoking or non?"

Hmmm... info that is in my reservation already. Unless she's redoing it.

"Okay. We have you in a lakeview room on the 36th floor, which is the highest floor I have to give, and they're all suites. Tune to channel 22 to listen to the music for the fountain show, and at that level you can reach out your window and touch the fountains. I'm just kidding about the last bit. You will need your room card to access the floor."


Standing next to me was N, with a reservation in his own name. I'd mentioned a couple times that I was dropping $20 to shoot for the upgrade. But he missed the part where I actually did it. I had mentioned he was checking in with me in the hopes I could spread some of the mojo his way. He neglected to provide any green paper to the woman, and was given a parking lot view on the 25th. Lesson learned.

The room was great. Fairly standard 2 queen layout, but a HIGH ceiling, on the top floor, dead-centre of the hotel (one room north of the middle column of the Bellagio). The Eiffel Tower across the road completed the scene. I'll have some pics to get up soon. For $90/night + $20 at check-in, this couldn't be beat.

Checked in, it was time to explore. E had never been to the Rio, and had an interest in the cocktail waitresses' outfits, so despite my warnings of it being a Wednesday, we went. And were disappointed by the lack of staff. So it was time to head to the IP, for I had heard rumours that they had craps there.

Dice were rolled, money was lost. There was a cute flirty girl from Alaska having a blast at the table. She couldn't remember where she got the fat lip from the night before, but we all assumed she won the fight. She left with some drunken skeezebag who wouldn't leave her alone. No, it wasn't me. It was 6am when we called it a night. When the staff says "you guys don't know when to quit" and accusing you of spreading lies and falsehoods when you announce that "this is my LAST roll!", you get the impression that it's time to get some sleep. Besides, we had to go ziplining in a few hours.

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