***Edited 11/13/14****
It was the Plaza that started the revitalization of downtown in my opinion.  They were the first to do a full blown remodel in a hotel that needed it.  Soon Derek Stevens bought Fitzgeralds and followed suit, and the downtown grand FINALLY was completed this year as well.  It was 3 years ago that I last stayed at the Plaza after this remodel and at that time they had 1 bank of 9/6 job next to the bar, that I gave a fair amount of play.  They added Hash House a Go-Go which drew me back into the Plaza at least for a visit each stop downtown because of this but I soon watched the good video poker disappear.  

Last year The Plaza/LV Club rolled out the new Royal Rewards players club that offered tier matching, royal flush bonuses etc... but no points on 9/6 jacks.  I toyed with the idea of doing the tier match just to have a fairly easy spot to park downtown but I held off as it wasn't enough to bring me back.  Then my wife received a GREAT offer from minimal slot play over a year ago.  3 free nights including a Friday or Saturday through the end of the year!  We ALMOST took this offer, I opted to stay on the strip instead and tried out the new Ballys room.  Then I started to see some postings on VPFREE2.com and they reported the royal flush bonuses went away.  It started to look like the Plaza was making a turn for the worst.  But.....The Plaza has gained my interest again, here's why:

This was all found on vpfree2.com on 9/27/14.

(2) Double Bonus Poker 10/7 Thats over 100% payback! ****As of 11/12, according to VPFREE2 these machines no longer offer points.

Here's even better news:

(34) Yes thats 34 machines that have 9/6 Jacks or Better, 9/6 Bonus Poker Deluxe, 8/5 Bonus Poker, 9/7 Double Bonus, and even 9/6 Double Double Bonus all in 25c, 50c and $1 denominations.

And the best news, besides those 34 machines those games are also all available at the Omaha Bar! (DDB only in 50c and $1)    

Don't know if I will be able to make it happen but if I make it out for a final trip this year, the Plaza went to the top of my list for downtown.  I've given downtown grand 2 days of decent play this year and have generated nothing at all, if Plaza can dish out offers on top of these great video poker changes, I may have new downtown home!
Just came back from another great Vegas trip, letting my phone sync up to computer so all my pictures will be ready.  1 of my goals this trip was to get to diamond status in the total rewards program.  I started the year as Platinum as my total rewards credit card had given me this status.  Having my wife and I both play on my card we accumulated about 3000 tier credits after our March trip.  We came back in June and stayed all 4 nights at the Flamingo and managed to get the tier credits to 6400, Platinum achieved for next year.  With this amount all generated through video poker we were getting select chunks of nights free in the Flamingo GO rooms and the new Ballys rooms.  Since we stayed in the Flamingo GO room in June, we tried out the Jubilee room at Ballys for September.  Ill do a full report on this in a later post.  We stayed 3 nights here and I would need another 8600 points to get to Diamond.  I could actually do this by playing less if I took full advantage of the bonus tier credits they offer.

My plan was to set aside an extra 500 bucks above my daily gambling budget and dedicate to the 8/5 bonus poker $1 machines at the Rio in an effort to get to 2500 tier credits in 1 day.  Doing this would give me the 5000 bonus and make it a walk in the park to get the remaining credits I needed to hit 15,000.  Day 1 we arrived and I hit the RIO first thing.  We had lost power the night before our flight, had to get up at 3am and had a layover in Chicago so we were not fully rested when we began.  Needless to say after getting about 350 points we decided to get some food and check in to Ballys.  We ended up playing the night at Ballys and with both of us on the triple play quarter 7/5 bonus poker machines we got it up to 1000 points so we would at least get the 1000 point bonus for the first night.

I did leave out 1 important detail, after breaking even at the Rio and losing close to $400 at Ballys, my machine struck with the first Royal Flush of the trip!  I ended the day up almost $800!  This was a great start to our trip.  Waking up the next day still thinking about that diamond status, I talk the wife into hitting the RIO 1 more time.  This time I would take 700 bucks and have us both playing the $1 machine until we hit 2500 points.  We had already played quite a bit at Ballys in the morning and had 750 points as a head start.  I of course lost about $400 doing this, but I had that Royal as a booster so I decided to go for it.

I didn't look at the time but it was around 4 hours of play, maybe a little less, and we had both been up for a while but soon both of us had burned through 700 bucks and we still had 150 points to go.  I grudgingly dipped into tomorrow's gambling stash and handed 100 to my wife and put 100 in mine and we played on.  Busting out the calculator each time we felt we were close.  The wife managed to work her $100 from 20 bucks all the way back up to the starting $100, I had her stop there.  I played on with mine and luckily managed to do the same, keeping tomorrows bankroll in tact.  We trucked it up to the TR desk to verify we had earned 2500 points today.  I think we ended up at almost 2600 but it was better to be safe (My june trip I ended a day at 995 points and only got the 125 credit bonus, that was a bummer).  She said within 24 hours the bonus would post!  So I left with mixed feelings, losing $1100 that day chasing diamond status, was it worth it?

The rest of my CET gambling was uneventful, we finished the trip at 17,000 tier credits.  My only diamond experience so far had been cutting the line after the pool at Nosh for some BLT's.  This was very awkward as it was not a separate line but the sign stated to go to the register.  I got over it pretty quick though as I realized I could have been in that line for close to an hour.  I'm interested to see how my offers will change ( I know as with all offers it has more to do with how much you gambled and less to do with your level) I didn't check out a diamond lounge yet or take advantage of the free show tickets.  I don't know when Ill make it to vegas again, it will depend on my companion pass for Southwest airlines and how soon I can secure it.  

My last 2 nights I stayed at Bellagio after redeeming my any 2 free nights through the Hyatt credit card I signed up for.  I will also write up a full report on this experience in the hotel section.  So my final 2 days were spent playing on the mlife card.  I definitely did not give them a level of play where I would expect any free rooms.  I was able to redeem a few nice myvegas comps while booked at Bellagio including the free play, a breakfast buffet and a dinner buffet at Aria.  

Going into the last day I was about 900 bucks down for the trip, which would be the worst finish for me this year (which is still not bad, I have been very fortunate this year with royals, especially since before this year I had exactly 0 royals).  After the Aria buffet we played in the casino.  I hit the 8/6 bonus poker deluxe super times pay machine, sticking to 1 line at $1.50 a spin.  I was holding my own for a while and then it went south and I was down to about 36 bucks.  Lightening struck again and my second royal for the trip appeared!  I couldn't believe it, If I could determine how I would want my luck to play out it would be to duplicate this trip.  Start out with a jackpot on the first day and end your last night with another!  Came home a slight winner and stayed positive for the year so far, simply amazing!  So now I can absolutely say it was worth it chasing Diamond because I did not lose anything going for it.  But, it could have very easily been the opposite.  

I have quite a bit to write about and a ton of pictures from my trip so hopefully I can continue to keep this site updated.  If for nothing more than as a way to look back on my past trips.
As I approach 24 hours before arriving in Vegas, I continue to peruse all my usual vegas message boards and websites getting any extra tidbits of information that will make my next vacation great.  Stumbled upon a post from Vegasmessageboard.com from a poster asking about the best MGM property on the strip for comped craft beer.  Having stayed at MGM Grand, Mirage and Aria I had not encountered anything great, especially when it comes to IPAs (Although Mirage buffet offers all you can drink Sierra Nevada IPAs at the buffet included in the price).  I have had luck in the high limit room at Cosmo getting a comped Lagunitas IPA but had been turned down on the slot floor for one.  A couple bars at QUAD including the new TAG lounge have quite a few comped beer options but those usually limit you to play what schedules are available at the bar (usually not very good).  But poster Gator5520 provided a link to Mandalay Bay that surprised me: http://mandalaybay.com/beer/

I normally do not venture that far south on the strip, in fact its probably been close to 2 years since I have visited Mandalay Bay.  Staying at Ballys and Bellagio this trip I'm going to at least say I will make an effort to visit Mandalay Bay this trip.  I think its great that they shout out on their site the fact that they offer craft beer to players on the casino floor.  I don't know of another place on or off the strip that has done this.