The Gambler's Guide Part 2: Vegas Casinos
My friend Jerry and I decided to hit the road and spend a weekend playing cars, hitting some slot machines, and throwing dice in Vegas. The plan was to visit several casinos, book a few tours in the city, and try to sleep as little as possible for about 3 days.
Did it go as planned?
Well, I guess you’ll have to read the rest of our road trip diary to find out!
Arriving at the Strip
The first thing you notice upon arrival to Las Vegas is the vibrant atmosphere and thousands of tourists from all over the world who came here to gamble, party, and drink gallons of alcohol. Those who want luxurious accommodation and who are willing to spend lots of cash usually end up staying at the Strip where giant casinos like Bellagio, Venetian, Mandalay Bay and many others are located.
Others on a tighter budget prefer the downtown area and stay at the infamous Fremont Street; the less expensive option. On our latest journey, we made some notes on casinos/hotels in Las Vegas that are worth visiting. I kept my eyes open when visiting restaurants and trying buffets while Jerry took notes on some rather interesting poker rooms.
Home to the famous poker room where many poker celebrities can be seen, Bellagio is one of the most visited joints on the Strip and surely one of the most expensive casinos in Las Vegas. Stakes are high here at Bellagio, so I decided to play blackjack and drink complimentary cocktails for an hour.
Personally, I find the buffet to be the best thing about this casino. Yellowtail Restaurant serves delicious sushi and has an incredible selection of drinks. Make sure not to miss the fountain show and the shopping area with all the branded stores like we did, though.
What I like aboutMonte Carlo is that they have a big casino, so it’s quite easy to find a free table here. Their buffet is nothing special and the shopping area is a bit run down, but on the other hand, we heard that the accommodation is fairly cheap.
We were offered a room for around $75 per night, which for Las Vegas standards is very affordable. If you like table games, this is surely the right casino for you. Yes, they have a small poker room, but there are a lot of beginner players that we found easy to read in a 3 hour Texas Hold’em No Limit cash game session.
Yes, we did well. The two German guys didn’t.
I always thought that there were only high-stake games available at Caesar’s Palace, but I have to admit I was wrong. They have plenty of games with low stakes and the actual casino is quite big. Also, they host amazing shows with plenty of celebs and have a large pool where you can relax and, most importantly, order drinks.
If you are on a budget, I recommend staying here. The accommodation is not overpriced, there is plenty of action at the tables, and the entertainment program is amazing. The employees are also extremely friendly and you will feel welcome in every way.
I was here six years ago and honestly there is nothing spectacular about this place. I even stayed the night, and all I remember is that rooms were in desperate need of renovation. I mean, you can’t have paint peeling off the walls and still call yourself a proper casino.
To make things worse, the property is located at the end of the Strip, so it’s a bit far from the hot spots. The only good thing about the Luxor is they have a large casino floor and waiters are friendly. You can also find some low-stakes games here, which is always great.
We decided to stay the first night at the Venetian. I heard great things about this casino and many of my friends stayed here during their recent trips to the Strip. I must admit that they were right when they said how cool this place is.
The apartments are big, bathrooms are stocked with complimentary toiletries, beds are super comfortable and large, and room service is always on time. There is also a huge shopping mall, and some of the most famous restaurants in the city are located inside the Venetian.
Make sure to check out the amazing Tao nightclub. We didn’t have the time to visit it, but we heard only good things about the entertainment there. The only downside during our stay here was that the accommodation is a little on the expensive side.
Regardless of the steep bill, every dollar spent at the Venetian was worth it. As for the casino room, it is large and full of mediocre poker players who are easy to bluff. Did I mention the buffet? It is the only cheap thing in the Venetian but the food is amazing.
The last place we visited was the Cosmopolitan. This is a newer casino that focuses more on shopping and nightclubs rather than on gambling, but still, it was fun for us.
The casino floor is not that big and it is quite easy to find a free seat at the tables. Stakes are usually high, and there are a lot of rich tourists looking for card games. As for the interior, I just loved the Marquee nightclub and the chandelier bar.
The food is also delicious, we tried some amazing seafood specialties at the Estiatorio Milos, had some freshly made pasta at D.O.C.G restaurant. They were the perfect appetizer for our cocktails at the Vesper Bar later.
Tours and Activities in Las Vegas
If you get tired of gambling and drinking I recommend several sightseeing tours and activities in the city. There is plenty to choose from and some of the tours are not that expensive. Pack lots of water and head out to the Death Valley, or check out one of the tallest towers in the country, the Stratosphere Tower.
On our last day, we decided to book a helicopter tour and it was amazing. You can see the desert and the city of Las Vegas from above, but be aware that an experience like this might cost you quite a bit.
Of course, casinos have their own attractions that are definitely worth a visit. My personal favorites are the Mirage’s Volcano that erupts from 8pm to midnight and the fountain show in front of the Bellagio.
Gamble with style!
Here are some tips on how to spend your time in the casinos and look like a true gambler. The first thing you need to remember is to tip the waitresses.
Yes, drinks are complimentary as long as you are spending money at the tables or down by the slots, but if you want the waiters to be attentive make sure to tip them a dollar or two every time they serve you a drink. This way you won’t have to chase them across the casino floor, they will come to you.
One more thing that is important is choosing the right table on the casino floor. For instance, if the dealer already knows some players on the poker table, that usually means they are not your average tourists and probably know a thing or two about the game.
Low-stakes poker games attract all kinds of guests, so my advice to you is to try your luck here, especially if you are a beginner. Yes, everyone can sit down at a poker table with professional celebrity poker players, but believe me when I say that these games
are tough and you need years of experience to beat them.
I learned this the hard way when I first came to Las Vegas and lost $1000 in less than an hour.
Gamble with the locals!
After a couple of days gambling on the Strip, I usually get tired of all the trendy casinos and tourists, so I end up spending my last day in downtown Las Vegas where casinos like Fort Queens and Binion’sare located.
Of course, they are not classy and shiny like places on the Strip, but they have low-stake games with locals which are always fun. I just love Fremont Street and all the cool bars there.
On this occasion, we decided to visit the famous Commonwealth where they have live music performances and an extensive cocktail list, the Griffin bar with its jukebox and live DJ acts, and of course, Hennessey's Tavern where they serve Irish beer and delicious burgers.
There are two options when it comes to accommodation in Las Vegas. You can stay on the Strip or in Downtown. On the Strip, the average cost of rooms is over $150 per night, but there are always places like Circus Circus where you can spend $50 for a room.
Of course, if you want to stay at Bellagio or at Four Seasons, make sure you budget about $200 per night on accommodation alone. Many of my friends stay in downtown Las Vegas and they always tease me for staying on the Strip.
I mean, you can get a room for like $15 per night on Fremont Street. Hotwire and Pricelinehave some super cool deals and it is really easy to book a great room or even an apartment at a budget-friendly price. The Palace Station is a pricier option, but they do have several pools with bars and rooftop nightclubs with hot girls to justify their rates.
After a couple of days on non-stop gambling and drinking shots, it was time to say goodbye to Las Vegas. It was fun, but we need some detoxing before getting back to the office.