Dave and I found each other in the airport and sized each other up. It was past 11:00 on the west coast, Sunday night. We were the last two players remaining in a dangerous four-day game of basketball watching and beer drinking. Secretly, we were proud of each other.
"Well Dave," I said, "Here we are. We made some mistakes, no doubt, but I had a pretty good time."
"Oh yes," he replied. "Mistakes WERE made..." It looked like he was ready to say something else but then he thought better of it. Those three words said enough:
Mistake #1 The Imperial Palace
My friends did most of the organizing. They had heard rumors of a sweet sounding deal at the Imperial Palace, a second-rate casino across from Caesar's Palace. Two conference rooms would be converted into a basketball fan's paradise: Multiple high definition TVs, showing every game live. $1 hot dogs. $1 beers. Right across from the sports book, where we would bet on all of the 48 games.
The reality? There were multiple TVs showing every game, but they were decidedly low definition, and inconveniently located 20 feet apart, such that no one could watch more than 2 games at the same time. Every sports book, every sports bar-- hell, every sports fan with multiple TVs-- knows every TV needs to be visible at all times. But not the Imperial Palace. The beers? $4 domestic, $5 imported. The sports book? Down the hall. Wait in line half an hour to place your bets. Put $500 on the games and in return the cashier gives you coupons for 2 free drinks. DOMESTIC only drinks. Corona and Heineken not available. And by the way, the Imperial Palace is a $10 cab ride (or 3 stops on the monorail, for you bargain hunters!) from our perfectly acceptable hotel and casino.
Did I mention other casinos have cocktail waitresses who serve free drinks to gamblers?
Mistake #2 Not Speaking Up
I stayed at the Imperial Palace a couple of years ago. It sucked then, too. Its blackjack pit offers a gimmick called, I shit you not, The Dealertainers. The dealers would dress up like music stars-- Michael Jackson, Dolly Parton, Louis Armstrong, Alice Cooper-- and in return for this horrific service, they pay you 6 to 5 on blackjack instead of 3 to 2. When I was there, the IP offered a buffet that featured all-you-can-drink champagne. At the end of the buffet, there was a tap-- a tap!-- where each customer could pull himself a nice frothy glass of draft champagne.
Mercifully, this buffet has been replaced. Mercilessly, they added a seafood restaurant called, I shit you not, The Cockeyed Clam.
I should have spoken up.
Mistake #3 Going Back To The Imperial Palace On Friday
Groupthink at its best.
Mistake #4 Eating One Meal A Day
The desire to watch every single minute of basketball is understandable. Not waking up early enough to sneak in a meal beforehand is unacceptable.
Mistake #5 Time Zones
Drinking beer during every game is all part of the deal. But when the games start at 9:00 a.m., things get a little rough. Thursday is fun. Friday is tough, but peer pressure gets you through it. Saturday is horrible. By Sunday you've given up drinking forever.
Mistake #6 Passing out before your large mushroom pizza and 40 hot chicken wings arrive at your hotel room. I can't think of a title for this one, but god dammit was it ever a mistake. (Not A Mistake At All: Telling the operator you'll pay with cash.)
Mistake #7 Waiting Until You're Too Drunk To Learn How To Play Craps To Learn How To Play Craps.
It doesn't matter that I made $240 in half an hour. What matters is that I still don't know how to play craps.
Mistake #8 The Sunday Night Red Eye
I swore last July I would never fly a Sunday night Vegas red eye again. I was wrong.
Mistake #9 Waiting 26 Years Before Going To Vegas For March Madness
Mistakes were made.