Las Vegas: Part Deux

- wadE

Vegas baby, Vegas!

Last Friday I cut out of work early, hopped on a flight in a blizzard, and narrowly got out of town to Las Vegas to belatedly celebrate Bounce's 30th b-day.

This was only my second time heading to Vegas, and the first time with just the guys. All Chelle told me was to "not bring home any diseases." I tried to explain how hard it is to get a hooker to take a blood test, but she wouldn't listen to any of my arguments. Ah well, I'm sure I could find plenty of other ways to pass the time.

Upon arriving in Vegas I found my way to the shuttle area to catch a ride to the Tropicana Hotel and Casino. The shuttles are much cheaper than that cabs for a single person, and it's damn near impossible to take the bus from the airport to the strip. I think you have to transfer twice, or something equally ridiculous. At any rate, found my shuttle company and hopped on. I figured I'd be dropped off first since the Tropicana is one of the closest hotels to the airport.

I knew I was in trouble when as soon as we left the airport our driver started muttering about how bad traffic was. I wasn't sure if he was talking directly to me or not, since I was sitting closest to him; but he clearly wasn't happy.

Unfortunately for me, even though traffic on the strip was bad, our driver decides not to take side roads and we end up in the aforementioned bad traffic. Even worse for me, we head to the Luxor first even though it would have been easier to drop me off at the Tropicana first, and take a side road down and cut across Las Vegas Blvd. to the Luxor. I'm not even a freakin' local and I know that. At that point he tells me that to get to the Tropicana he's going to have to drive out and around the strip...needless to say, I wasn't pleased, so I jump off at the Luxor and decide to try to find my way on foot.

Thankfully I actually remembered and recognized the area I was in from my last trip. A "short" 20 minute walk later through the Luxor and the Excalibur, I was relaxing in the Tropicana.

A Room With A View

The focus of this trip was gambling, so I didn't get the chance to roam around and check out places I didn't see last time. Bounce and Alex wandered around before I arrived, and it was clear that the best place for low stakes gambing (i.e. $5 tables) was the Excalibur.

Close by, cheap tables, AND is a cool looking castle!

They have a poker room that is very open and informal. Much less intimidating (and cheaper) than the poker rooms at Bellagio or Caesar's.

The game of choice was Texas Hold 'Em with $1 minimum, and $3 raise. While this doesn't leave too much room for bluffing, it does allow you to play much longer for less money. The Excalibur also had $2-$6 Hold 'Em, a $100 minimum buy-in No Limit Hold 'Em table, and some 7-card stud.

The Excalibur also had some $5 table games: Blackjack, Craps, and the myriad of other table games like Spanish 21, Let It Ride, Three Card Poker, etc.

The Tropicana also had these options, but the casino at the Excalibur was right across the street, had the poker room, and was just a little nicer on the inside.

Much of what I discovered during my last visit was again true.

  • Free Drinks are hard to come by
  • There isn't much for cheap eats on the strip
  • Porn peddalers are still everywhere
  • Bring comfortable shoes, you'll be doing a lot of walking
  • Way too many people with their kids

As I mentioned, it's still hard as hell to get a free least it was for me. I played Hold 'Em for 4 hours, and got 5 drinks, and even got nasty attitude from a waitress when I tried to order from her and I wasn't at her table.

The Hold 'Em, while fun, was not the source of any money making on this trip. Oddly enough, the only place I came out ahead was the Blackjack table. I find the game a bit boring, but the camaraderie of the game is what makes it fun. Even with taking a few hits for the team (taking cards I didn't need for the next players advantage, or not taking a card when I needed one) I still came out plus $30 on the weekend. Although the rest of the guys had a tougher time on a couple of tables they played without me. Gotta keep an eye out for those closers, they come in all shapes and sizes.

I also gave the Sports Book a try, and placed an ill-advised wager on the Falcons. On the good side, it got me very interested in a game where I normally would have rooted for a comet to hit the stadium. On the downside, it cost me $30 for that excitement...which only lasted slightly beyond the first half.

All in all I had a good time and learned some valuable things NOT to do in Vegas:

Bet at the sports book: While it got me interested in the games, it was a waste of time and money; made even worse by obnoxious idiots. We had our own amateur version of PTI playing out in front of us before the games even started. Once the games started, it was even worse. After suffering through one game, we just had to leave. Beyond that, the waitresses suck... speaking of...

Track down the waitress for drinks: I made a large enough bet to garner a free drink coupon. When I tried to redeem it at the bar that is less than 20 feet from the sports book desk, I was told I needed to be sitting down in the seats not at the bar to get a drink. Needless to say, the waitress comes around about once every hour. Finally I went to track her down and order my drink. Since I wan't sitting in the area she was currently at, I couldn't order. While I can understand why the waitresses might not be fully staffed in the casino where you can drink for free if you're playing, the sports book charges through the nose ($2.25 just for a 6 oz. glass of diet coke!!!) for drinks. You'd think they'd milk the crowd a bit more. I was equally not impressed at the waitstaff at other sports books as well.

Get sushi at a buffet costing less than $15: You'll just have to trust me on this one...

Bluff in Texas Hold 'Em (or go fishing): When you're playing limit Hold 'Em, the art of the bluff is not useful. When a guy has a choice between pitching 3 bucks in the pot to see your cards, there's a damn good chance he will. You can occassionally bluff some tight players, but that takes time to figure out who they are, and luck to catch them with a shaky hand, but if they're tight, they probably aren't still in. As for fishing for a good hand. For a buck, go for it...more than that, get out. For every time you would have stayed in and caught a full boat on the river, there's 5 times you wouldn't have caught a damn thing.

Be afraid to move when luck isn't going your way: When the new dealer shows up in Blackjack and starts catching 5 card 21s, it's time to go. You're not going to hurt anyone's feelings by getting up and leaving. If luck isn't going you way, move, get out, run like hell.

One thing to do in Vegas is have fun. You know the odds are you're going to lose money, so at least do it in a smart way, and do it with your friends. What you're paying for at the stories and good times.

And on that note, one last quick story. Last time in Vegas it took me 3 days to spot my first hooker, this time it only took 3 hours. Alex and I were at the bar getting drinks and while waiting I hear this conversation going on behind me, where a guy in a really bad suit and his friend are chatting up a girl in a hideous outfit...something between a business suit and a cocktail dress.

I hear bits and pieces of the conversation. "Yeah, I'm down with what you're talking about. What about you Joe?" "Yeah, let's go up to our room." After some more discussion, about cost I believe, they stand up. "Mmmmm-mmm! You are a cute little thing, aren't you", the guy in the bad suit says as he eyes the woman up and down. At the time it was a wee bit creepy, but hilarious as well.

What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas... except for genital herpes!

- 1/25/2005

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