News From the Front

A couple I know recently approached me on the eve of their first trip to Las Vegas, looking for advice. They’d heard I was born and raised there and figured I might know some inside angles.

And indeed I do. I spent a drunken half hour alternatively tantalizing and terrorizing them about their choice of vacation spots. A little wisdom did manage to did slip through, however, which I present here in case you are considering a foray into Sin City.

You want to arrive with the idea you’re going to win a great deal of money. It doesn’t matter how little money you arrive with, or how many painful lessons you have absorbed in the past, this time it will be different.

Never set a limit as to how much you’re willing to lose. That is plainly a defeatist attitude and will jinx you from the start. You should, however, set a limit as to how much you are willing to win. For most this means every chip in the house, and perhaps the deed to the casino.

If you gamble, you get free drinks. It’s a helluva a deal, and if you possess even an average amount of luck the drinks will only end up costing you about 40 bucks apiece.

The climate is very hot and dry, so remember to stay hydrated by drinking a lot of fluids. Triple Wild Turkeys do not count, unless you ask for a lot of ice.

Sadly, the level of customer care has steadily declined since the casinos were taken over by soulless corporations. It is customary to meet every instance of McDonald’s-style service by muttering, “At least the Mob knew how to treat their goddamn customers.”

The fact that you can drink 24 hours a day can have an unsettling effect on some visitors. Realize you will have to be your own bouncer and should cut yourself off after the bartender’s face has changed three times.

Some people seem to think that tipping the dealer is akin to French-kissing a mugger, but this is not true. It is akin to merely kissing the mugger’s hand.

It’s a psychological fact that money won on games of chance doesn’t seem like “real” money, which can encourage you to squander your winnings. So whenever you get  a little ahead, turn those chips into cash and force yourself to invest in tangible commodities, such as lap dances and $20 room-service shrimp cocktails.

If you have a streak of luck, don’t smugly inform your friends that you’re seriously considering quitting your job and moving to Vegas to give the gambling profession a go. It will make them want to strangle you in your sleep or, worse, want to borrow some money.

When you return from your trip it is traditional to play down your losses and exaggerate you winnings. For example, if you broke even or actually came out ahead, if only by $20, you should inform your friends you “raped the bastards” and all the pit bosses thought you were some kind of “internationally-renowned card shark.” If you lost all the money you arrived with, you should say you “basically broke even.” If you lost the money you came with and every cent you could squeeze from your credit and debit cards, you should say you “lost a little, but more than made up for it in free drinks.”