Note: This is a continuation of a series. Read the previous day’s report here. Or start from the beginning here

Five days is way too much and not nearly enough. The combination of time spent with someone and a few days on my own, however, continues to be a great setup. 

Though I didn’t get to bed until around 5am, like the morning before, I was back up fairly early. By 10am I was sitting on the balcony and breathing in the “fresh” air. It was another kind of dreary-looking day considering it’s Vegas, but I was enamored all the same. 

I really loved this particular balcony because, and if you follow any Vegas groups on Facebook you know this is a whole “thing” right now, the glass did not have any dots! 

Apparently, some balconies have little dots that kind of block the view just a bit if you’re actually sitting on the balcony furniture. I’m assuming it has something to do with heat reflection or aesthetics or something. But I didn’t even know that some rooms didn’t have dots because I’ve never had the pleasure… until now. 

I leisurely packed up the room and listened to Vegas music. I injected myself with RedBull and tucked away some hotel toiletries. 

By 12:03 I was leaving the room. 

12:03PM Checkout 

I’ve made a bit of a tradition on the final day — always making a run out to Luxor. This time I wanted to have two more firsts to really push away the final day blues. I would visit Excalibur and Mandalay Bay, if I could find the time. I like that there are some properties I still haven’t seen in-person as it holds something back for the future. That number, by the end of the day, would be down to just two “major-ish” strip or strip-adjacent properties — Rio and The Virgin Las Vegas. 

When I got downstairs, the line for bell service was crazy long. Thankfully, though, it moved quite quickly. I was wearing some sort of Chiefs insignia (but I don’t remember what), because the bellman commented politely about it (certainly playing up his role for a tip, which he received). 

I was a bit nervous about not having a hotel room to return to in case I wanted, but I couldn’t justify a night’s fare at Cosmopolitan like I could with The Flamingo or Planet Hollywood. It turned out to be a non-issue, thankfully. I’ll still likely try to have an extra night booked, though, in future trips when I can.

I walked through Cosmo towards the front and kind of took the “long way” along Las Vegas Boulevard towards excalibur. I spoke to Kathryn on the phone, and she was, once again, not having a good time at all. She was really miserable and it had me feeling rather guilty. This had been a long time looking after our 2 year old essentially on her own. 

I decided, right then, any money that came back with me would go straight to her pockets to pad her own trip fund (we keep separate savings accounts for things like this).

1PM: Excalibur

By 1pm, I was in Excalibur but time was already going too fast. I’d need to be at the airport around 5:30 or so for my 7pm flight (though with recent Southwest issues, I already assumed I’d have to face delays as it’s the last direct flight back of the day). 

Excalibur was fine — certainly not overwhelmingly magical or anything like that. I got a beer in the gift shop and played some slots after kind of doing a lap around the Casino area. I didn’t give the property a ton of time because, well, time was limited and I wasn’t very enchanted. 

It didn’t help that the first machine didn’t give me much luck. Down $60 I tried another and it immediately ate my TITO but didn’t give me any credit. Thankfully, I caught an attendant almost immediately and she quickly understood the situation. She opened the machine and, after I correctly told her the exact amount on the ticket I deposited, she pulled out the ticket and let me re-run it. 

After a few glitchy spins I switched machines again. This time, I was there for just a minute or two when a young man sat down next to me and sat idle for a few moments. Then he began a familiar kind of propositioning for Vegas — ”Hey man — you looking to party tonight? I’ve got anything you need. Coke? Molly?”

I politely declined and played a bit longer (having zero fun amidst the awkwardness) and he moved on. 

So did I. 

Last year I walked from Luxor to Excalibur on the sidewalk along Las Vegas Boulevard. This time I decided to explore the connected walkway between the properties to get to the Pyramid. 

There’s not much in the walkway, but it’s nice because there are lots of windows and you can look at the strip without suffering through the heat. 

2PM: Luxor

I enjoyed Luxor greatly, as always. 

I even got inspired to play a live table game since it was mid-day in the middle of the week. There was $15 roulette and I was in. 

The dealer seemed relatively new and the table was empty, so this kind of calmed my anxiety. I tried to remember my planned strategy as much as possible and, playing minimum bets, quickly went up about $80. I had no interest in pressing my luck, so I cashed out, asked permission to take a quick photo of the chips, and then tipped the dealer on my way out. It was all a lovely, quick experience. 

This actually made two live roulette table game sessions in a row where I walked away with a (small) profit. The last was at El Cortez in a previous trip report where I crashed a bit of a bachelor party.

I then cashed out my chips at the cage (my first excuse to do this on this trip) and headed out to Mandalay bay through the connecting shops I always hear so much about. 

I saw Ri Ra Irish Pub and Whalburgers and then made my way into a gift shop to try and find something my son might enjoy. 

I was thrilled to find a little plastic slot machine with a working handle that spun around a basic three real game. He’d love it (and he does). My in-laws must never see it.

Now, this was like a $2 toy that I paid $12 for, but oh well. 

Mandalay Bay was enjoyable, but I found myself somewhat confused by the layout as I tried to see as much as possible in the hour I had left. 

I did have one pretty memorable moment as I played a Buffalo machine. A lady nearby was on the phone trying to give directions so her friend could find her. She kept saying, “I’m right by the buffalo machines!” as if there weren’t like a dozen different sections of buffalo machines scattered throughout the massive property. 

Rumor has it that they’re still looking for each other today. 

As I saw my time running low, I started trying to figure out where the rideshare was. Apparently there are several options (I’ve since watched some guide videos because… spoiler… Mandalay Bay is the site of my next stay due to circumstances I’ll share later). I got a bit panicked and decided to head for the nearby cab line and try my luck on my first Vegas cab in quite some time. 

It was actually amazing. It was quick as cabs were instantly available, the driver was friendly, and the car wasn’t in too bad of shape! 

4:30PM: Cosmo

Back at Cosmo, I recalculated my time and realized I could afford some more gambling. I played a bit more Top Dollar and then a Pinball Machine. 

How had I forgotten about Pinball when my dad was with me?!?! 

I had great luck on this game — winning a couple quick bonuses for probably another $100 win in total. 

I already received a text saying my flight was delayed, but I didn’t want to push it any further in case the time got moved back up (fat chance).  

So having pushed my time limit beyond my comfort, I scrambled to the bell desk, met the same nice bellman and headed for my Uber… with a nice-sized TITO still in my pocket (I wouldn’t realize this until the next day). 

How do I keep doing this?!?!?

6:30PM: Airport

At the airport, though, I really had a complete blast. Mostly because it started miserable so everything was a delight once I decided to make myself “comfortable.” 

There was almost nowhere to sit. I found a chair scrunched inbetween a bunch of folks and sipped on a Blue Moon. I noticed this trash bag that looked kind of like a dog. That’s when I knew I was wasting my time listening to (wonderful, though) podcasts and staring at my phone. 

I went to a draft beer bar (to-go only) and grabbed another. Then a pretzel hot dog place for a bite. 

Then, circling the place a few more times to try and find another empty chair… and seeing people lying on the floor and sitting in every nook and cranny… I sat my happy self down at a slot machine for some minimum bet action. 

The oversized, comfy seat was well worth a spin every 60 seconds or so (or whenever the attendant was around so I didn’t feel like I’d get kicked off). 

Another flight delay text. Another couple hours waiting it seemed. 

So I spent the next couple of hours milking $60 or so on slots, grabbing another drink, and making friends with the attendants. 

It honestly was a great time waiting out three hours or so of flight delays. 

I made it to my flight just fine and enjoyed a rare aisle seat (so I didn’t have to worry about the bathroom). 

I was able to catch a 2am Uber back from the airport… Thankfully there was one available (and I mean… just one). 

He talked my ear off and drove fairly erratically, but I was thankful to have a ride. 

Back home I relaxed a bit more and unpacked a few things. Then I decided to see how much cash I brought back. 

$600! Woah! That’s a win in my book. Any time I come back with some of my budget (because, remember that as a rule, I always expect to lose it all and only lose what I budget), it’s a win. 

Then I discovered a $40 Flamingo TITO I forgot to cash out. Ugh. Okay, that’s not so bad. I could send it to someone I know in Vegas and let them enjoy it. 

Then I discovered another $140 Cosmopolitan TITO. Ouch! Come on, man — you’ve got to do better! 

Both of these tickets would end up in good hands. But, overall, that means I was “up” $800 for the trip! And I didn’t feel deprived of gambling time and I even lost $60 at the airport. It was a great “winning” trip for this low roller. I was also fairly confident my players club strategy would earn me some improved offers from MGM (Caesars is a lost cause… do they even realize I exist?! Is my account broken?).

My wife was happy to have me home and when I gave her $600 the next day, she wasn’t nearly as excited as I hoped, but she sure didn’t hesitate to take the envelope :) 

A few weeks later, my MGM offers did improve a bit — moving from a couple comp night offers at places like Exaclibur only to an average of 4 night comps at Excalibur or two at Park MGM, Mandalay Bay or MGM Grand plus $25 free play and $50 resort credit. 

With more concentrated play, Cosmo’s future inclusion in MGM Rewards (am I the only one actually looking forward to this? Maybe I’m foolish), and continuing with my same budget, my average theo (I know they still have some low-rolling days on the books that bring me down a bit) should only continue to rise and I expect my comps to get a fair bit better, to an extent. 

Overall, this was an amazing, fulfilling, wonderful trip. I made amazing memories with my dad, got to enjoy some wonderful highs and very few lows, and can’t wait to go back (it won’t be long). 

Viva Las Vegas!