Just back from 3 days in Vegas and I must say that basically all my thoughts on how wierd that place can be came true, and then some... This must be mans ultimate tribute to Mammon!
Gold coated hotels with 5000+ rooms, venetian canals indoor and more, much much more. If you can think of an extremly tasteless way to show that this is expensive and luxourious, multiply that with 50 and you are closing in on Vegas. How about a 60 feet high golden lion outside a hotel for example?
The city is centered on one thing, and one thing only. To separate the visitors from their money. And man, does the visitors comply...
I have never ever seen people who so willingly part with their cash without getting anything back in return. You don't even have to gamble to spread money around at an alarming rate.
Eat breakfast, step out of the hotel, buy a bottle of water, grab a cab and ride a mile and you are down $30 and that's the cheap part. Step into a cheesy bar, grab 2 beers and a cheesburger for lunch and that's another $25. Walk a bit more, pick up a souvernier t-shirt and a cap, $30 more. Some more water and a cab for another mile or two to the casino of your choice, another $20.
Now we're over $100 and you havn't even stepped into the casino...
The casinos are a chapter all by themselves.
Not only are they large, very very large, after a while you notice that there are no windows and no clocks. All to make the player forget that it's closing in to 3.00 in the morning and that you perhaps should sleep... Or that it's 10.00 in the morning and the free drink the waitress is offering might not be the perfect choice just before breakfast...
Then to play, take a seat at a lowlimit blackjack table where the minimum bet is $10, you are basically forced to toss in $100 to get enough chips for a couple of hands, then poof, it's gone. Same with the other tablegames, it's hard to find a table with lower bets than $10. What amazes me is the amount of ppl that play the $100 minimum tables... Now to me that is some serious money per bet... Not to mention the highlimit rooms where minimum $500 per bet is not uncommon.
Ok, let's step over to the poker then, all hotels I visited had a separated non smoking poker room which is nice, the rooms are not that large though maybe 10-15 tables and most of them are full. The limits on the tables differ during the night depending on what ppl are requesting.
According to those in our company that played a lot in different places both the buyins and the quality of the games differ quite a lot. In most hotels the lowest games you can find are $1 $2 or $2 $4 limit/nolimit games and a minimum buyin of $40, which seems quite ok until you take a look at the tables in play. By then it's clear that a buyin with anything less than $100 sets you severely shortstacked from start, and as any pokerplayer will tell you, that's not fun in ring games. Also, in these lowlimit games the house rake almost always ends up at 10% of the pot which is quite steep to put it mildly.
Tournaments then (which was what I planned on grabbing one or two of), what's the game there? In our hotel (the Flamingo) I couldn't find anything but one 60-70 seat morning tournament in the weekdays that fills up instantly. There was no sit and go's and basically nothing during the weekend. I guess the rake is too low for the house to bother with tourneys when they can have a lot of ppl playing ring games instead.
Finally, the slots, a wierd phenomena indeed, I just don't get the fun with it, not at all, no skill no nothing, just click 'n lose... The normal ones range from $0.01 to $5 per credit, most are $0.25. Then you have highlimit slots where you are talking about $20-50 per credit...
But the wierdest thing with slots must be the tournaments. Yup, specially prepared machines for speed, then you get points for your play and after a set time the points are counted and a winner is declared. Someone please explain this to me, I simply cannot see any sense in this at all. A competition based on random chance instead of some type of skill... Doh, not for me!
If you don't want to gamble, then what is there to do? Quite a lot actually. There are shows all over, from music & cabaret to stand up comedy to magic shows. The prices range from $50-100 up to $500 for the best seats in the high end shows so that will easily make up for a night in the casino.
Dining out is also an option, A nice steak and a decent bottle of wine (nothing spectacular though) in a decent restaurant will land somewhere around $100 to $150. An unusual experience is the rainforest garden at the MGM Grand, imagine eating inside a plastic rainforest with hippos & zebras staring down at you, robotic monkeys that hoot & thump the chest all through dinner, that is when the strobe lights doesn't simulate lightning and rain streams down behind your back... Food? Fair. Experience? Tacky to the extreme!
To sit down for some drinks varies a lot, in the Luxors pianobar in the casino a normal drink lands at around $10.50, not cheap but manageble. An interesting note was that I couldn't get a regular coffee there, but to my astonishment when I made a joke and asked for an irish coffe instead, it was perfectly ok, go figure... Note that I've never had irish coffe with green mint flavoured cream before, and I certainly will not again...
In a fancier place like the Bouchon in the venetian tower a shot of Remy Martin with ice and soda will set you back over $30, and that hurts if you like a couple of drinks before and after your meal...
Now I shouldn't complain too much, after all Vegas is an unique experience that I probably never will forget. During the three days I was there I got to see hotels that have no equals anywhere in the world, I got a rafting trip from Hoover dam over to Arizona. It was a great trip and really fun to see a place like Vegas!