Notes on a trip to Vegas

In no particular order:

  • Like Washington D.C., Las Vegas is best visited at around 3 AM. Everything is still open, the most interesting characters are out, it's warmish outside and the crowds are not there. You can cruise the whole Strip in the middle of the night and get all your sightseeing in. Especially with all the neon around.
  • I made two double-or-nothing bets for $20 each, one with better than 50% odds and one with slightly worse, and lost both. On a low bankroll stick to low bet sizes; the rush of winning comes more from winning than from winning large amounts. Walking out of a casino with more money than you walked in (and your share of free drinks) feels great.
  • Bill Gates used to pay for all of the high-roller accoutrements and then play $5 a hand blackjack. This site has a bunch of helpful tips about how to play blackjack, where to find low minimum tables, how to calculate the house edge based on the specific rules of the game, etc. I was surprised by the number of people who gambled but did not know basic strategy. Not knowing basic strategy is like walking by quarters on the ground without picking them up. Then again, gambling is all about throwing away money.
  • I would recommend starting with at least 10 times the minimum bet. If you aren't willing to risk that much money you probably shouldn't be playing. I did not follow my own advice but it was my first time going to Vegas in about ten years.
  • If you build an awesome new hotel, it helps my hotel because Vegas is a more attractive tourist destination. But it also hurts because people are going to want to go to the new hotel more than yours. Obviously it varies by hotel but my guess is that the first effect dominates. Note also that most of the casinos are owned by the same groups.
  • Be prepared to spend money. The goal of every hotel Las Vegas is to intertwine spending money with having a good time. Vegas will cater to your every whim if you are prepared to spend enough money. Needless to say your mindset towards your wallet is completely different when you're in Vegas; it's disorienting and glamorous, you're out with your friends and you want to impress them, etc. Even though I ended up spending less money than I had budgeted for the weekend, it was still surprising to see how fast it goes. It will go even faster if you're buying drinks in the clubs, which I didn't.
  • I could look at two people flirting and tell with around 95% confidence whether magic's going to happen or whether the guy should be trying his luck elsewhere. But when most guys are hitting on women, they tend to think the woman hasn't made up their mind yet, or that they can make a woman decide to go home with them, especially by spending money on drinks or access (bottle service) or gambling. This makes me tend to think that all of the positional purchases you can make in Vegas are the casinos rent-seeking from betas. Alphas will take what they want, and you can always have a good time without spending too much money.
  • I talked and danced with a few girls while I was there but I was fairly suspicious of hired guns, especially after a guy in the elevator told us he got robbed by a girl after bringing her back to his hotel room. If it looked too good to be true, it probably was.
  • You can play beer pong at Excalibur. You can bring your own cups and beer, too, and then go play the $3 minimums, some of the lowest on the Strip.

Las Vegas is the largest tourist trap in the world, a place with no inherent physical attraction. The whole place is designed to make you equate spending money with having a good time, and for the most part they are successful. On the whole I found the trip unfulfilling; there's always pressure to spend more and there's the constant feeling that Vegas people are only interested in you while you're spending money. Your best bet in Vegas is to find a niceĀ restaurant.

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