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Vegas Hits Newbie. My Experience.

Discussion in 'Online Casinos' started by Simmo!, Sep 19, 2006.

    Sep 19, 2006
  1. Simmo!

    Simmo! Moderator

    Occupation:
    Web Dev.
    Location:
    England
    Well I'm back from my first trip to Sin City and as promised in the "Vegas tips" thread (here), here's my thoughts for anyone thinking of going:


    The Flight
    I travelled Virgin from the UK (thorougly recommended) by getting a cheap(er) flight using You must register/login in order to see the link. (also recommended). The advantage being they fly direct from London Gatwick and the journey was easy...good films ("The DaVinci Code" was what I watched and enjoyed - fairly true to the excellent book), friendly staff ("Sarah" on the way out filled me in on local customs!), good food (yes really!) and enough legroom - at last..yay! Left the UK at 10:30 - was in my Vegas hotel, the "Golden Nugget" at 14:30 same day :thumbsup:


    The Hotel
    I stayed at The Golden Nugget and I made the wrong choice here in retrospect. The room was very nice and spacious (walls were paper thin though...the couple next door had a huge argument at 2:30am one morning, then proceeded to make up at 07:30am..."ooh ooh yeah yeah yeah yeah baby ooh aaaaahhh"), the staff were friendly and the hotel was very clean and even reasonably opulent you might say, but the shower was a dribble, there was a distinct lack of breakfast coffee amenities due to renovations ongoing (had to queue 15 mins at the in-house Starbucks every morning for a coffee - or 20 mins for a seat at breakfast - er, I don't think so!) and the location, for a "Vegas Virgin" was wrong.

    The casino in the Golden Nugget, being my first sight of a Vegas Casino seemed very cool and I had my first session there...just dabbling on some slots ending up about $10 up. I signed up for their "Players Club" card and got $10 of free slots play too. Found the machines were a bit fussy accepting it and often had to insert it several times before it registered and gave me points. More on the cards later.

    Contrary to suggestion, i decided not to get a "Host" at the Nugget as I wanted to check out the "Strip" first. Turned out good as I was only to play at the nugget for about 30 mins more on this trip as it turned out. On the last day I thought I'd go back in and have a play before I cabbed up to the airport and after what I'd seen/played at other casinos during the trip, I couldn't settle and ended up going back up the Strip to finish off. The problem in the Nugget, for me, is the lack of good slots and limited video poker options.

    The main problem here was the location. The Golden Nugget is "Downtown" on Freemont St. which equates to a $15-$17 (approx) trip to the Strip where, if you are new here at least, you will probably spend most of your time. So that added $35 a day to my stay and also meant I had to remember everything I needed for the day and the evening or face a $35 round trip to pick stuff up. Oh yeah and note - Vegas Taxi drivers are sharp! If they can take the longer freeway rather than drive up the strip to extract more money from you they will! One guy i met got wise and asked the taxi driver to use the Strip and he kicked them out the cab!

    Downtown itself is "okay" and there is the Freemont Street Experience - a laser light show every evening which is supposed to be real cool. I never got to see it as I was up the Strip til 2am every morning and despite best intentions to get back on the Saturday and see it, it didn't happen. But I made $500 on Video Poker so hey, I can live with that this time round!

    There was also a Biker's convention on with (I was told) over 500 Harley's present in the car park. Judging from the noise outside from 7am every morning, I won't dispute this. Meant I got a max of 5 hours sleep each night but it's only 4 days and I have lots to see so I can live with that too :) One other thing that p*ssed me off slightly was that someone delivered a package (unexpected) to me at the hotel and they charged me $6 service charge to pick it up which left me with a bad tatse in the mouth!


    Players Club Cards (For Newbies)
    For the newbie, this is how it works. When you go into a casino, go to the Players Club Card registration desk and get a free card. Takes all of 3 minutes tops and you'll normally get some freebie cash (and you select a PIN number), the amount of which varies depending on where you go. Then, when you play the machines, you insert your card in the slot provided, then insert your dollar bills in the cash slot and the card just counts up your play, earning you comp points which can be converted back into free cash later. To play with the free cash, just hit "MENU" on the small screen by the Card slot, enter your PIN and follow the instructions. The main down-side here is that you need a card for every casino you play...a bummer that to be a honest if you are exploring but I guess it's logical - they are "loyalty" rewards after all.


    The Strip
    In the words of Janice, "OH...MY...GOD". You've never seen anything like it in your life. I don't mean from a panoramic perspective, more from the experience of trawling in and out of the hotels up and down the Strip. Some are quite simply awesome and so totally not what I expected. The "Strip" is a 4-mile road with about 2/3 lanes or traffic each side and is busy night and day. Saturday Night it's choc-a-bloc with both pedestrians and traffic and gets tricky to move sometimes.

    I was quite surprised by the amount of building work ongoing - new casinos going up, others being renovated, cranes everywhere you look...Vegas is a building site basically, but I guess it always will be. As The Meister said, it's the only city in the world where they keep tearing down hotels to rebuild them!

    On the evening I arrived, I met up with Pierrick from Virgin and he took me to Paris for a meal. We sat "al fresco" looking over at the dancing fountains of the Bellagio while we ate a fairly decent, but totally oversized, meal of chicken and "frites". Sitting on the pavement of the Strip (well, effectively) is a tad noisy and feels like a fast-food experience...probably better to do that in the real Paris and stay inside at the fake one! Paris is located jyst North of the middle of the strip, so after the meal we headed down to the Wynn where The Meister and Spearmaster were staying. Took about 3/4 hr to get there. This is the thing about Vegas - the hotels are just so huge it takes about 5 minutes to walk past the front of each one, and because the Strip is so busy, you are always walking round people or off at tangents over bridges, or round stands in th street etc, so it's never a leisurely stroll!

    On Thursday morning I got my cab to drop me off down near the Stratosphere which is the Southern-most "name" casino on the strip, with the intention of walking up towards the Wynn, via the Stardust. Took about an hour I guess though I stopped at the Stardust to register for CAC (conference) and grab a coffee which I'd given up hope of at the Golden Nugget.

    On Saturday, I met up with the aforementioned two reprobates and we set off on the "Casinomeister Moderators Strip Experience" - or "Bryan and Ted's Excellent Adventure" - this was a top day out with the guys basically taking me up and down the Strip and showing me all the places I needed to see. We started off at about noon and got back about 9pm, walking most of the way so our feet were aching but boy, what a ride and I got to see all the casinos. We got the "Monorail" between Excalibur and the Mandalay Bay which was also pretty cool.


    Casinos You Just Gotta See
    Okay...here's my rundown of the most awesome casino hotels in Vegas from my trawl around. before I pick out the best, here's the ones I went in during my 4-day jaunt:

    MGM Grand, The Golden Nugget (downtown), Binions (downtown), The Stardust, Paris, The Wynn, The Venetian, Caesars Palace, Excalibur, Mandalay Bay, The Luxor, Imperial Palace, Bellagio, Harrahs, Bally's and New York New York.​

    The only ones I missed that I'd maybe like to have checked out in retrospect were Treasure Island (get there very early for the Pirate show as it gets choca) and The Mirage. But that wasn't bad in 4 days, when you consider how big these places are! Okay...here's the picks:


    The Venetian - As "Venetian" (the poster!) told me, it's a fave and I can see why so a "told you so" is in order ;) This place is simply amazing and you could get lost in here. The casino floor is almost a sideshow compared to the grandeur of the Canal Shops parades. It is really like a mini-Venice with a town square, streets, canals and gondolers, street performers, shops and an amazing fake sky with clouds that gives the optical illusion of movement. This one took my award for top-spot.

    The Luxor - While considerably smaller in floor-space than the Venetian (though still very large), this one definately gives you a "wow" factor when you go inside the pyramid. The hotel rooms form the walls of the pyramid and overlook the internal structure down towards the "game" floor (arcade games etc) and the casino floor. When you go in, you look up to the apex and it seems quite a way off and obviously the Egyptian theme plays a large role in creating the atmosphere. Nice.

    Caesar's Palace - Another massive hotel where the casino is almost secondary. To be honest we got p*ssed off trying to find our way out and the rather obvious yet irritating way the exit leads you past all the expensive designer shops and makes you walk 5 times further than you should need to so we didn't leave feeling too impressed, but looking back, the structure, theme and ambience of the place is real cool.

    New York, New York - This is the most impressive from the outside IMO. With several tower blocks forming the hotel itself and a massive Roller Coaster which runs along the front, curls inside the building then re-emerging. Inside it has a real "New York" feel (or what I imagine NY to be like anyway!) with streets and restaurants, even steam coming up from the drain covers. Quite dark inside compared to the glitz elsewhere, but a unique atmosphere.

    Those are the casinos I would take a visitor too. I'd probably stay in either the Venetian or The Luxor if I wanted a cool theme, or The Wynn if I wanted sophistication. Also, the Wynn and the Venetian are very central to the Strip action too. I'd definately stay on or close to the Strip next time

    All the casinos are pretty much the same, varying in size obviously. The biggest casinos were probably at Paris and The Venetian (from memory) but the ones at the Stardust, Mandalay Bay and Caesars also struck me as bigger than most.


    The Games
    Well, two things I can say about Vegas casinos is this: 1) the video slot games suck compared to the online ones and 2) the video poker variations are waaay more fun than the online ones. And yes, that did reflect whether I won or lost :D

    We looked everywhere for Thunderstruck and the Elvis Multistrike slots, but to no avail. They were either well hidden or they haven't hit the B&M's - either way we know they both exist in B&M format so maybe we need to look harder. Someone needs to create a list of what casinos have what slots :( That was my biggest gripe about the Vegas casinos - payouts aside - you had no idea where to find what game. That said, they all seem to have the same slots and video pokers by and large.

    The Video bonus slots, I have to say, I thought were generally poor. I tried quite a lot of different types but found the entertainment element frustratingly boring most of the time. You have some "free spins" slots but they never seemed to pay out big like the online ones. I thought I was very lucky if you get 30x your bet back on a free spins bonus, whereas online you feel disappointed if T'struck, Spring Break or Isis pays you less than 30x. I'm guessing the payouts are set like UK pub slots. Me and Ted had zero luck on most of the slots we tried - I think the closest I found to something decent was "The Frog Prince" and one huuuge one with a random-jackpot "Vault" on it that you enter from time to time. But even then they are stingy as hell. Bryan hit $5,000 from a $20 spin on one at the Mandalay Bay mind you!

    And that's another thing, who said cashing out online was a PIA?! When Meister hit his $5k at the Mandalay Bay...boy...what a palava! They needed his ID twice, lots of to-ing and fro-ing between the cashiers office and the machine he hit, all sorts of questions, tax forms, photo ID, then it was the wrong photo ID and of course his passport was back at the hotel. In the end after we'd hung around about 1/2 hour, they had to ask him to come back the following day to get his money! Sheesh! And what's more, in the USA you have to declare wins over $2k and pay tax!! So note: always take a passport or photo ID round with you!!

    As for the Video Poker in the B&M's, I have to say I was far more impressed. We found three variants of video poker that were fantastic fun that you can't (to the best of my knowledge) find online.

    The first was "Spin Poker" in either 9-line or 20-line formats, both of which they had at the Wynn. This works like a 5-reel slot exccept after the spin, you get to hold the cards you want to keep and they cover the 3 spots on that reel for the next deal. We played Deuces Wild and Double Double Bonus Poker and you could hit some really decent payouts.

    Second up was "Multi-strike" poker (as found You must register/login in order to see the link. if you want to try it). This is another great fun game that was available at several casinos. It allows you to play one of several games (Deuces Wild, Super Aces etc) and each time you win, you move up a line with a multiplier 1x, 2x, 4x and 8x. This again can be highly lucrative as GreedyGirl found out hitting $4k on the 4x line about 10 minutes after I left the machine to play Spin Poker :rolleyes:

    The third one was called "Super Times Poker" a variation on a familar game, 10 play video poker (Deuces Wild, Double Double Bonus etc) but with a twist - you bet an extra coin for the chance to get a random multiplier from 2x to 10x. This kicks in I'd say on average every 20 hands or so. On one game I hit 4 Aces in Dbl Dbl Bonus for 800 coins with an 8x multiplier! 6,400 coins :) Also, I hit 3 lots of 4 deuces on one turn and 2 natural Royals on another. The paytables are slightly lower than you find online ( again :rolleyes: ) but they are still more entertaining than the online games IMO and that counts for a lot.

    Needless to say I ended up well down on my trip, but it could have been worse if I hadn't switched to VP on Saturday through Sunday. The slots killed me, but on VP i ended up only slightly down.


    In Conclusion
    When (not "if"!) I go back to Vegas, I will stay center-Strip and play Video Poker. Now I have seen the casinos, I will probably play mostly at the Wynn which has a good selection, nice ambience and I have to say great drinks service. The really big casinos seemed to have poor drink service in general but I found the Wynn has it right and the girls are friendly and very efficient (and very attractive ;))

    I'd say 4 days in Vegas is probably enough, maybe 5, but it gets quite exhausting. Wherever I go I will take earplugs with me next time! It's a noisy place!

    So the big question for me before I went was: Online Casinos or B&M Casinos?

    A. You know what, you can't beat the experience of playing in Vegas. You'll never recreate that online no matter how hard you try. But if you want the better odds of winning, then it's gotta be "online".

    So there you have it. Back to work now I guess :rolleyes:

    Simmo!
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2006
    18 people like this.
  2. Sep 19, 2006
  3. andyhinckley

    andyhinckley Meister Member CAG mm3

    Occupation:
    whatever
    Location:
    uk
    Nice write up Simmo!

    Pity you didn't find thunderstruck or any other MG slots :(
     
  4. Sep 19, 2006
  5. Simmo!

    Simmo! Moderator

    Occupation:
    Web Dev.
    Location:
    England

    Actually I did find "a" Thunderstruck at the Wynn, but it was a totally different game - a 3-reeler. :cool:
     
  6. Sep 19, 2006
  7. nafanny29

    nafanny29 Dormant account

    Occupation:
    financail adviser
    Location:
    London, England
    Glad you had a good time Simmo!! Your TR reminds me of my 1st time in Vegas 12 years ago.

    And its great that Virgin fly direct these days.

    Did you play any table games, roulette or craps? Or live poker?

    Did you visit any "cough" adult clubs?
     
  8. Sep 19, 2006
  9. soflat

    soflat Senior Member

    Occupation:
    Scientist
    Location:
    Florida
    Thanks for the recap. I stayed at the GN my first time there, but I rented a car.

    Your tastes are more refined than my own. I like the older properties. Wynn and the Venetian are too fancy for me.
     
  10. Sep 19, 2006
  11. Simmo!

    Simmo! Moderator

    Occupation:
    Web Dev.
    Location:
    England
    Yes there is a definate difference between the downtown/older properties and the newer style. In "casino "terms though I thought they are pretty much all similar bar some of the games and the standard of drinks service. Thats generally why I liked the Wynn - good choice of games and excellent drinks service but my time was limited - there may be better.

    I watched some (table games) but I avoided the adult clubs this time :D

    One thing I didn't get was if prostitution is illegal in LV, how do all the flyer-boys get away with dishing out very obvious "escort" cards?!? Unless I misunderstood and one of the girls in the picture had simply sat on something and the other girl wanted it back.
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2006
  12. Sep 19, 2006
  13. Westland Bowl

    Westland Bowl Tin Foil Hat Club Member CAG PABnonaccred

    Occupation:
    not applicable
    Location:
    America
    Thanks for the interesting report, Simmo! I've never played Vegas myself so I think I'll stay on the Strip if and when I go. I did visit a Sam's Town casino in Tunica MS....one of those "riverboat" type of casino that just looks like a mega-huge building on land in front but casino part of the building actually floats up and down on the water.

    Do you know if the tax has to be paid right then and there at the casino before you get your winnings?
     
  14. Sep 19, 2006
  15. Simmo!

    Simmo! Moderator

    Occupation:
    Web Dev.
    Location:
    England
    My understanding is no...it just counts as earnings when you come to file your IRS stuff :thumbsup:
     
  16. Sep 19, 2006
  17. Macgyver

    Macgyver Dormant account PABnononaccred

    Occupation:
    Student
    Location:
    North Carolina
    My understanding (though not through personal experience since I've never been to Vegas :D ) is that it is illegal in the city limits, but not in the county.

    Therefore, one of two things could be the case:

    1. The advertised place is outside of the city limits of Vegas (aka Bunny Ranch).

    2. Anything "extra" you and the "escort" work out is an agreement between you and her.

    Yeah, I got lots of little tidbits of info. ;)
     
  18. Sep 19, 2006
  19. Simmo!

    Simmo! Moderator

    Occupation:
    Web Dev.
    Location:
    England
    "Bunny Ranch" ? Lol. Certainly the "Chicken Ranch" is well known. Not sure if there is a hutch/ranch where the older Playboy bunny girls are put out to pasture though.

    But you'd have thought that most of the people taking the cards would be undercover cops who dial up, get an "escort" and make their own deal which ultimately involves the pro paying them.
     
  20. Sep 19, 2006
  21. venetian

    venetian Dormant account

    Occupation:
    Corp Director for a College
    Location:
    Oklahoma
    Simmo! I am glad you had a nice time. The first trip is exhausting but once you know what you like, the second trip will be much more fun. I am glad you liked the Venetian. The Grand Hall is eye popping. Really what you say is so true, all casinos have the same games (more or less) so find one that feels good and is in a good location and settle down and play play play!
     
  22. Sep 19, 2006
  23. Flizzin

    Flizzin Wants your jackpot

    Occupation:
    Workstation Services Technical Support
    Location:
    Canada
    Damn, and I was getting all psyched up to play the B&M vieo slots... :confused:

    Guess VP will have to be the new #1 over there...
    They have Frog Prince here in the local casino and that is a low rate game IMO...lol
     
  24. Sep 19, 2006
  25. GrandMaster

    GrandMaster Ueber Meister CAG

    Occupation:
    Mathematician by day, online gambler by night.
    Location:
    UK
    You could have got a bus for $2, or possibly even rented a car for less than $35.

    Interesting. I have been told that B&M casinos always pay immediately and never ask for ID.

    Nevada state law prohibits prostitution in counties with population under 400,000, which means Clark county (including LV), although Washoe county is getting close, too. The other counties are free to allow, prohibit or regulate prostitution as they wish. The girls you see on the cards in Vegas are not prostitutes, they are "escorts" or "exotic dancers".

    I think that if you can establish satisfactorily that you are a US citizen or US resident for tax purposes and provide your SSN, then no tax is withheld, otherwise the payout is subject to 30% withholding, and you have to settle up with the IRS later. The winning are taxable in either case.
     
  26. Sep 19, 2006
  27. aka23

    aka23 Dormant account

    Occupation:
    Technical
    Location:
    Planet Earth
    Escorts advertisements are legal, so long as they advertise escort services and not direct prostitution. Police are aware that "escorts" are usually a front for prostitution, but it is often ignored. The same thing occurs with "escorts" throughout the USA.

    Prosititution is legal in some NV counties, but not Clark county, in which Vegas is located. Legal brothels may not advertise under all county laws that I am familar with. Some have been pushing the boundaries of this in recent years. For example, the Bunny Ranch had/has a HBO reality series taking place at the brothel. It also often promotes itself on various shows and magazines by getting the group to interview them.
     
  28. Sep 19, 2006
  29. Simmo!

    Simmo! Moderator

    Occupation:
    Web Dev.
    Location:
    England
    Info on the games I mentioned earlier:

    IGT Spin Poker Game: You must register/login in order to see the link.
    IGT Super Times Pay VP: You must register/login in order to see the link.

    Here's some screenshots of the Video Poker games. Incidentally, for those who didn't know IGT (who make a load of the "real" B&M casino games) acquired Wagerworks in 2005 so it's quite possible that WW will end up with these games I guess :thumbsup: Shame about the Wagerworks "No USA players" policy though :(
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2006
  30. Sep 20, 2006
  31. vickie40

    vickie40 Vickie

    Occupation:
    Making the US a safer place!
    Location:
    USA
    I'm so glad you had an enjoyable time. I love Vegas..I usually stay at either the Mirage or New York New YorK..I love both properties plus I always get comped in advance for both which is also nice.

    Don't be surprised if you don't find yourself planning another trip to Vegas in the very near future. Once it gets in your blood it stays!!!
     
  32. Sep 20, 2006
  33. Simmo!

    Simmo! Moderator

    Occupation:
    Web Dev.
    Location:
    England
    Yeah the Mirage looks super-cool by night with the green glow. I'm sure I'll be back :D
     
  34. Sep 20, 2006
  35. tennis_balls

    tennis_balls Dormant account

    Occupation:
    fish n chips promoter
    Location:
    Albuquerque, NM
    Dennis Rodman used to stay at the Mirage under the psuedonym "Richard Long"

    i would imagine he wears out his welcome and moves onto the next resort that will have him frequently.
     
  36. Sep 20, 2006
  37. nafanny29

    nafanny29 Dormant account

    Occupation:
    financail adviser
    Location:
    London, England
    On the subjest of tax on a big win, a couple of years back of of our group hit a $7000 win on a slot. He had to provide ID (British Passport) but was paid out the full amount. The slot attendant said that players from the UK are not liable for any tax on any win :thumbsup:
     
  38. Sep 20, 2006
  39. Simmo!

    Simmo! Moderator

    Occupation:
    Web Dev.
    Location:
    England
    Yup thats true. I carried my passport around with me at all times just in case :D (I never needed it :()
     

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