Gambling

Caesars PalaceAdmittedly, some people come to Las Vegas to gamble. And Las Vegas has games – blackjack and all its variations, baccarat and all its variations, craps, the big wheel, slots, video poker, poker and so much more! Try a game of Casino War if you can find it. This city has it all!

Some gamblers are casually trying their luck with a couple hundred dollars, and some are whales, bringing more money to gamble in a weekend than some people make in 10 years.

You are probably in the first category. Don’t worry, Vegas will still happily let you play. But don’t expect any perks or special attention. Unless you hit a serious winning spree, it is unlikely you will be approached and offered free show tickets, much less a complimentary honeymoon suite with your own personal staff. But dream big, after all, it’s Vegas!

Comps
Comps (Vegas-ese for gambling perks) are now mostly tracked by computer. You sign up at the casino host desk, and they issue your very own plastic card with your name on it. When you play at the slots, insert your card into the machine. When you play at the tables, present your card to the dealer right away before you even buy in. The more you gamble, the more points you earn. Points can be redeemed for merchandise, show tickets, rooms, etc. But if you’re not at least a somewhat serious gambler, don’t bother joining (unless there are perks for joining, and preferably something more than a free spin on a machine where most people win a pair of dice or 2-for-1 hot dogs.

Poker
For some strange reason, Poker is all the rage. Old “Keno” rooms are being replaced all over Vegas with Poker Rooms. Downtown poker rooms, such as that of Binion’s Horseshoe, probably can’t be beat for the true poker enthusiast. But for “On-Strip” poker rooms, Excalibur’s isn’t too bad (a little noisy). The best, hands down, is the new one at Imperial Palace (upstairs and quieter, very friendly staff, regular drinks, $3 per hour hotel credit on the comp card, and lots of free snacks).

For ardent non-smokers, most poker rooms in Vegas are non-smoking (but that doesn’t necessarily stop people from smoking across the 4 foot barrier that separates your room from the next).

Slot Machines
Slot machines can be alot of fun, but keep the following points in mind.

If you prefer slot play where you move from machine to machine, don’t bother with the points card. Many of the programs only begin to count points after 10 or more spins in a row on the same machine. For those of us who prefer to go from machine to machine to try our luck, we are sorely disappointed with our point totals.

A worse calamity with slot machines is that many casinos have moved from coin-operated slots to paper-based systems. When you cash out, you are presented with a piece of paper. The bar code can be read in by another machine of that type, or exchanged at the cashier. This paper system is annoying for a few reasons: you cannot move from one casino to the next without cashing out at the first one, and again, if you prefer to go from machine to machine to gamble, you will go through alot of paper before you are finished. For serious slot players who want to avoid the paper, visit the downtown casinos.

If you really enjoy slots, ask about Slot Tournaments held in many resorts throughout Las Vegas.