Mike's Virtual Vacation

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Las Vegas Paris hotel at night
Las Vegas Paris Hotel

In the summer of 2001, my wife Julie and I got away for our 9th wedding anniversary to Las Vegas. We spent a weekend at the beautiful Las Vegas Paris Hotel. It was my first time in Vegas and we only spent 2 nights in town, but I really got a spirit for what the Las Vegas strip is all about. So many fun things to do and see and you really don't have to be a gambler.

Getting to Las Vegas wasn't as easy as planned. Our flight from Chicago got canceled, but we managed to get on the next flight to Phoenix which then went on to Vegas. So in all we got there an hour or so later than planned. Won't drag you down with the annoying details of our flight...

Once we finally got into town and arrived at our hotel, The Paris, we could care less about the plane problems. Our hotel was awesome and we even got upgraded to a suite. I'm sure the regular rooms were fine, but being in that suite just made the stay there all that more special. That night we went out and checked out the Bellagio fountains. Simply beautiful. The music is piped in all around you and the water of the fountains is synchronized to create a cool experience. Throw in the Eiffel Tower soaring overhead and fever of a Vegas crowd on the strip and it was very memorable.

During our stay, we ate at the Paris breakfast buffet, which was good. Not great, but for $10.95, you get a good selection of good food. There were crepes made in front of you, prime rib, ommelettes, pastries, and all of the regular breakfast foods. Speaking of pastries, the bakery in the shops in Paris has some incredible pastries. The lunch deli in the Paris shops is also pretty good and reasonably priced. For dinner one night we ate at Lawry's Prime Rib which is not in one of the big hotels, but 2-3 blocks east of Bally's. I've eaten at the Lawry's in Chicago and just love it. The atmosphere is not as nice as the Chicago location which is in an old mansion on the Gold Coast, but it is a very nice setting and the prime rib is delicious.

On Saturday afternoon, we saw the Lord of the Dance show at NY NY. It was a very fun show with lots of good Irish music and dancing. I wasn't sure if I would like it, but I walked away impressed. We got our tickets several weeks in advance for $50 apiece, which is actually low for many of the big shows on the strip. Our seats were very good, about 6th row slightly offcenter. I saw they had Blue Man Group at the Luxor. Several years ago I saw them in Chicago and the show was totally awesome.

Las Vegas Luxor with beam of light

In March of 2002, I returned to Las Vegas to watch and bet on the NCAA Tournament games. This time I stayed at Harrah's where I got my room comped for 3 nights! Watched most games at the Mirage. I have a full report on "The Las Vegas Trip Report" at LasVegasTalk.com. Check it out

In March of 2003, I returned to Las Vegas to watch and bet on the NCAA Tournament games again. The first time was so much fun, I had to go back again. And probably will again and again... This time I stayed at The Rio where I got my room comped for 3 nights! Watched most games at The Palms. I have a full report on "The Las Vegas Trip Report" at LasVegasTalk.com. Check it out

I toured many of the sportsbooks. Here are some of my notes:

Palms - Really enjoyed this sportsbook. TVs viewable no matter where you sit because they are high and wrap across entire front wall. Drink service was excellent and free. Not as crowded as strip casinos so that made easier to find a seat. Didn't have to get there at 6 am. Ipix Sportsbook virtual tour

Picture of Las Vegas Palms Sportsbook

Mirage - great place for the 'sportsbook experience'. Probably the biggest book I went to. Too bad they kept showing the horses too on the main wall. Free drinks with no problem all day and night long - no tickets. Get there before 6:00 am for a good seat though. You can order carryout from the CPK nearby.

Picture of Las Vegas Mirage Sportsbook

Caesars - It's a great place for the 'sportsbook experience' but I didn't like the wide open floor plan and lack of seating. And good luck trying to place your bet before the early morning games. The lines were a joke wrapping back to the buffet entrance. Free drinks only for bigshots. Had nice giant tvs though but still shows horses on one side.

Picture of Las Vegas Paris Sportsbook

Venetian - Great seats but if you don't get a seat, good luck. Area was small and wedged in behind a bar so if you don't get in you're out of luck. Waitress were quite nice ;-) and drinks were free in the sportsbook. Chairs were set up next to the book for overflow so at least they were thinking.

Picture of Las Vegas Venetian Sportsbook

Bellagio - very nice just like the Venetian with free drinks except they had nice tvs on your table that you could get ESPN (other hotels were horse racing only). There were even some plush recliners and couches.

Picture of Las Vegas Belagio Sportsbook

Harrahs - good for the casual bettor. One big screen tv and some small ones. More like a sportsbar atmosphere. You can stand in the casino and easily watch games but there's not much room and you will be standing by slot machines. Not overly crowded but still full and the few tables and chairs were taken. Had to pay for drinks.

Picture of Las Vegas Harrahs Sportsbook

Imperial Palace - just like the hotel, it's not fancy but it serves the purpose. Easily the most tvs in town. You could watch the game in the sportsbook, the bar, or in a conference room which was very comfortable and had 20+ 55" tvs. Had to pay for drinks and the lines to place bets were crowded and slow.

Picture of Las Vegas Imperial Palace Sportsbook

NYNY - catch here is that they want you in ESPNZone drinking and eating. Sportsbook is not very good for just hanging out. Drinks were not free from what I've been told.

Picture of Las Vegas New Your New York Sportsbook

Mandalay Bay - large area with many screens. Most often you need to bet to get a comp coupon just to get drinks. Sort of a hassle compared to others. Popular choice for many.

Picture of Las Vegas Mandalay Bay Sportsbook

Monte Carlo - microbrewery means good beer. Didn't watch NCAA games here but stopped in once and didn't like the tvs so high on the wall. Seems like you would get a stiff neck looking up there all day. Don't know about the drink service.

Picture of Las Vegas Monte Carlo Sportsbook

Paris - had a decent sized area but was walled in so you had to have a seat - no standing room. Rows were in stadium style, tiered levels. Drinks were not free from what I've been told.

Picture of Las Vegas Paris Sportsbook

Bally's - similar to Paris, but bigger and Bally's had an open area to the left where people could stand and watch games. Not near the main casino so if you play anything else, it's a long walk. Drinks were not free from what I've been told.

Picture of Las Vegas Bally's Sportsbook

MGM Grand - haven't been there yet but people said it's good. Gets crowded. Don't know about drink service.

Picture of Las Vegas MGM Grand Sportsbook

Rio - all basketball! Free drinks if you were sitting at a table but it free drinks in the casino too so... Crowded but if you can reserve one of the tables on the back wall, you'll be styling.

No Picture Yet!

2003 NCAA Tournament results and lines for all first round games.
2002 NCAA Tournament results and lines for all first round games.
2001 NCAA Tournament results and lines for all first round games.
Betting Guidelines
Current Futures Sports Odds
College BBall RPI rankings
Vegas Sportsbooks
More Vegas Sportsbooks
ATS rankings
How to bet the Tourney by Maxim
Caesars NCAA BB Futures Odds
The Sports Network.com
Bally's Online SportsBook

Click here to view more images of Las Vegas

Following are a lot of internet links about gambling and the Las Vegas hotels and casinos.

Lord of the Dance at Las Vegas New York New York Hotel

Lord of the Dance at NYNY

Various Articles and Columns

Picture of Neon girl from Las Vegas

Bellagio Fountains

Bellagio Conservatory

And all the casino homepage links...

And AOL casino homepage links...

Fremont Street Experience
Click to view Fremont Street Experience
Click here to view more images of Las Vegas

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