Saturday, March 17, 2012

Gambling? Yes it does go on in Vegas.

They're Giving Me $200.00?
My Blogs on this Las Vegas trip really would not be complete without writing something about gambling. It is after all what Las Vegas is really all about. Make no mistake about it, you can come to Las Vegas and have a great time without throwing away a quarter on gambling, but the town was built on gambling, and gambling continues to support its growth. The dream of hitting it lucky is alive and well.

We have spent exactly five $1 bills in the “Machines”, and for two of those it took us a while to loose all of it. We could have walked away with almost $1.75, but we insisted on playing on until it was all gone. We have met others with the same attitude, but we have also overheard quite a few discussions about how much was lost. Funny how I never heard any about how much was won?

You are certainly encouraged to spend your money on gambling. It is hard to miss the huge sign outside the Tropicana Resort telling you that “The First $200.00 is on us.” If you sign up for the 'Trop Plus Player's Club” the casino will give you back the first $200.00 you lose. Here's how it works. You give them $200.00 and they give you a Trop Plus Card worth $200.00 that you can use to play any game in the casino. When you lose your first $200.00 they will refill you card with another $200.00. There was always a lineup to sing up for this deal. I wonder how many people lose that first $200, realize 'Oh, perhaps playing the slots is not the way to get rich', and then take their refilled card and cash out? As you walk through the many casinos, you do hear people cheering when they win, but I've only seen one person yell “YEAAAAA!!!!”, and then push that “Cash Out” button, the normal reaction is to leave the winning in the machine and just keep playing.

Playing the Tables
I watched a guy playing on the Roulette wheel. He had a stack of probably 20 chips on “red”, and red hit so he doubled his chips. He didn't even take those chips back to the stack he had in front of him, he just distributed them around the table. That seems to be the predominant strategy in play; you always use your winnings to try to win more. He didn't, in fact in short order he was back to pulling chips from the stack in front of him.

We came up in the elevator one evening and overheard two women talking. One said “Oh, I really don't know how much I've lost. I know I had $900.00. I'm assuming that “I had” means she doesn't have it any more, so if her math skills are so weak that 900 – 900 = 0 is not the answer, then $900.00 was only a fraction of what she actually lost.

We are not on a very strict schedule normally, so we sleep until we wake up, normally around 8:00 or 8:30, but the day of the Sprint Cup race we wanted to be there early, so we were up at 6:00, and were on the bus by 7:00 to get to the track. As we came through the casino (You always have to go through the casino to get anywhere), there were already people up putting money into the machines. Now I say they got up early to play, but it is Las Vegas . . . . . they may have been there since the night previous.

Sports Betting Area
I've seen the video gambling machines in taverns and other places, I've been to the casinos on cruise ships, and I've visited casinos in other places, but I have not seen the sports betting before. Every casino has an area where they have huge TV screens playing any important sporting event 24 hours a day, and banks of betting stations where you can place bets.There are always people in these parts of the casino, but when a major sporting event hits, they are crowded. We discovered that this area was a good shortcut to get out of the hotel and onto the strip, but when a major College basketball tournament started, the area was suddenly so crowded you had to pick your way through; they were even sitting on the steps leading to the exit. There were guys sitting everywhere with tablets full of stats, handwritten notes and newspaper clippings. There was a lot of serious gambling going on.

This week, Las Vegas is crazier than usual. It is Spring Break for a large group of American universities, and although I thought that Florida was the big Spring Break destination, it is obvious that Las Vegas is also a popular spot. The streets and the casinos are flooded with young people here for a good time. I notice that most casinos have special Spring Break promotions running just to entertain the college students. The Tropicana for example features a March Mania Mega Stack Poker Tournament. I wonder who this is aimed at? I hope it is only the students here on their “Family Money”, but I suspect that some hard earned, student minimum wage university savings or even some student loan money gets gambled away over the week.

As for us, we are not really doing our share of the expected gambling.

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