Ah, Vegas. The triple digit heat. The constant motion, lights, and night life that set it far apart from any other city. Ah, here comes a fine young man walking your way and he is…asking for spare change???
What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, but sometimes what can happen can also be avoided. You do not necessarily have to gamble everything you own to have a good time in Sin City. Sure, it doesn’t hurt to leave Vegas with your head held high and knowing you came out on top, but most people who go never get to feel this way. Me? I am a small timer, and will stick to my minor league gambling, thank you very much. In two consecutive years, I am close enough to break even and still have money to pay the electric bill and mortgage. And this is the way I like it.
So how does one go about entering Vegas and dealing with the temptation of “betting it all” on a simple game of Texas Hold ‘Em? Well, the rule of thumb is if you feel you are not good enough to compete, don’t even bother trying. Vegas is a hot hole for professionals, particularly on the strip. Let’s face it: There is a reason why the Professional Poker Tour takes place there. If you are reading this, you probably fall under the category of “Poker Pigeon” or, at best, “better than my tightly-knit set of friends at my evening poker table at home.” The pros will eat you alive at the tables because, well, they have years of experience under their belts. Watching these poker championships on television can allow some pretty fascinating dreams of grandeur to enter one’s imagination. Therefore, the first rule upon stepping off the plane at McCarran International Airport in Vegas is to stay grounded in reality. Chances are, you will not win huge. If everybody did, the casinos would be in financial trouble and all of those free cocktails they “give out” would quickly end.
Before even getting on the plane to Vegas take some preventive steps. Bring only the amount of money that you are prepared to lose. Do not stuff your wallet with $2000 if you are, say, a middle school teacher. Living paycheck to paycheck warrants considerable restraint. Guys in particular feel they have something to prove by “conquering Vegas” and will state, with added machismo, that they are going to gamble big to win big. Sure, brother. Whatever. Chances are, these minimum wager loud-mouths will next be seen at the nearest Cash Advance. Think smart and leave the cocky attitude at home.
While it is true that the more you gamble the better “comps” you will receive at your casino of choice, you do not necessarily have to gamble to receive these comps either. My casino of choice over the past two years has been the Orleans, a decent and rather large hotel and casino that provides a complimentary book of coupons and other freebies upon check-in. If you are faithful to your chosen casino, do not be too surprised to get more complimentary “come-ons” in the mail a couple of months after you return home. They like your business regardless of how much you gamble. Patronage goes quite a long way.
Another preventive measure to losing your shirt almost seems to be a paradox. Go to Las Vegas and limit how much time you spend gambling in the first place. I am perfectly content with whiling away an hour or so at the many penny slot machines that encompass the Orleans. Free cocktails abound (as long as you remember to tip the waitress, of course). But know this: There is far more to do in all of the casinos off and on-strip than to gamble away your home mortgage. Do some homework on-line before you go. Arrive at Fremont Street at night to take in a free concert or car show. Go poolside at some casinos and relax to a smooth jazz concert, also at no charge. The Orleans as well as on-strip locations often provide free indoor concerts as long as you buy a drink. Let others worry about being a thousand dollars in the hole and just enjoy an enticing city that never fails to entertain all of your senses.