10 Things I Love about Las Vegas

By Randy Ray in General
| December 22, 2015 12:00 am PST
Las Vegas Street View

I’ve written about Las Vegas before, in detail. You can read my beginner’s guide to visiting Las Vegas here, in fact.

Las Vegas has something to offer everyone. In this post, I want to look at some of the specific things I love about Las Vegas including the money-saving opportunities, unique forms of entertainment, breathtaking sites, and most importantly the wide variety of options for sports betting enthusiasts.

I will go into detail on certain casino games, giving you specific reasons why and how these games should be played.

Continue reading to see if what I love about Las Vegas is what you also love about Las Vegas.

1. Cheap Hotel Rates during the Week

I used to work in the travel industry. In fact, I worked for Hotels.com. I’ve been to most the major metropolitan destinations in the United States, and I’ve learned one thing. Hotel stays are expensive.

But they’re not expensive in Las Vegas – especially if you go in the middle of the week.

Just for comparison’s sake, I looked at some of the hotel rates for an upcoming stay in the middle of the week in multiple destinations.

Here’s what I found:

In New York City, a stay at the Wyndham was $382 per night. The Gregory, a roughly similar quality property, was also available. Their rate was $287 per night. Pod 51 seemed like a really good value in a four star hotel at $175 per night.

I checked Boston for the same dates. The Liberty Hotel is available for $401 per night. The Renaissance had a nightly rate of $499. The Boston Park Plaza looked like a good value at $279 per night.

All of these properties are 4 star hotels, at least according to Hotels.com.

But for the same dates in Las Vegas, I was able to find the following rates for 4 star hotels:

Treasure Island is available for $65 per night. South Point Hotel, Casino, and Spa is available for $69 per night. The Hard Rock Hotel and Casino is available for $74 per night.

Over a 4 night stay, the difference in cost is tremendous. At Pod 51 in NYC, a 4 night stay is $700. At the Boston Park Plaza, a 4 night stay is $1116.

But I can stay in Vegas for 4 nights at a comparable hotel and only spend about $300.

2. Slot Clubs

Slot clubs, also called players’ clubs, are available at any of the major casinos in Las Vegas. They’re a tool that the casinos use to reward their regular players with incentives for gambling. If you’re going to be gambling in Las Vegas anyway, why not take advantage of the clubs?

When you join the slot club, you’ll get a card to insert into the slot machine when you play. It contains a code which identifies who you are, and the amount of action you’re bringing to the casino is recorded in their database. They use your expected loss to calculate what to reward with you and when.

It’s important to understand that the casino is NOT tracking your actual losses for this purpose. They’re looking for your expected loss.

Here’s how they calculate that:

The casino uses a random number generator to set the payback percentage of a slot machine to a certain amount. For example, a game might be programmed to pay back—over the long run—92% of the money you put into it. The casino expects to keep 8% of every bet.

In the long run, the casino will see results which mirror their expectation. But you’re only playing in the short term, even if you’re playing a lot. So you could easily wind up winning for the entire duration of your trip.

Suppose you’re playing a game that costs $5 per spin, and you make 600 spins per hour. You’re putting $3000 into action each hour. The casino expects to keep 8% of that, or $240. You play for 4 hours over the course of your trip, so your expected loss for the trip is $960.

When they calculate how much to give you in comps and freebies, they base that amount on the $960 you’re expected to lose, even if you’re up for the trip. They assign a percentage to your losses, and that’s what you get back in comps.

Comps are just freebies that the casino gives you in order to incentivize you to keep gambling. Comps take the form of free food, rooms, entertainment, and even travel.

If a casino calculates 20% of your expected loss for your comp rate, then you’ll get approximately $192 in comps. This might take the form of a couple of free meals in the hotel restaurant. Or you might get a couple of free tickets to a show.

It’s a big win for the casino, because you’re going to gamble there more often if you enjoy the comps.

And it’s a win for you, because even if you’re losing, you’re getting more entertainment for your dollar than you would if you hadn’t joined the players’ club.

You’ll hear some conspiracy theorists state with certainty that you’ll be less likely to win with the card inserted into the machine. That’s absolute bunk. Playing with your slot club card inserted has no effect on the random number generator in a slot machine.

You should always join the players club.

You should never gamble on any of the machines without inserting the players club card first.

3. Free Drinks

Even if you don’t join the players club, you’re eligible for free drinks if you’re playing casino games. As long as you tip well, the cocktail waitresses will keep your glass full all night. I try to tip $5 for my first drink, then I scale back to a dollar or two per drink.

If you want the cocktail waitress to ignore you all night, that’s easy to accomplish, too. Just stiff the waitress when she brings you that free Heineken. Word travels quickly, so it won’t take long before you’re completely ignored.

Think about what you’d spend on a drink in a bar back home. You’d have to tip the waitress or bartender there, too, but you’d also have to pay for the drink. You might as well be a good person and help the cocktail waitress make a living.

If you’re a healthy red-blooded male, you’ll usually enjoy the uniforms the waitresses wear, too. Just don’t be boorish about it. No woman likes being inspected like a piece of meat at the butcher’s shop, even if she does work for tips.

4. Shows

You can find any kind of show you like in Las Vegas.

Love standup comedy?

Rich Little, Andrew Dice Clary, and Ron White are all performing in the next few weeks.

Like pop music?

Britney Spears, Celine Dion, and Olivia Newton-John are all performing in the next month or two.

Enjoy magic and illusions?

Las Vegas is the place to be. David Copperfield, Criss Angel, and Penn & Teller all perform there regularly.

I’m a sucker for celebrity impersonators. I’m dying to go see “Frank – The Man. The Music.”

I saw Legends in Concert at the Flamingo. You can’t imagine how many great celebrity impersonators perform during this show, including one of the best Elvis impersonators I’ve ever seen.

Several years ago, I saw Jay White in Las Vegas. He’s one of the best celebrity impersonators I’ve ever seen, and he still tours with his Neil Diamond tribute act. It doesn’t look like he still does Vegas, but maybe he’ll be back.

And I haven’t even mentioned any of the big productions and musicals, like Cirque du Soleil, the Blue Man Group, or O.

You’ll find, too, that getting discount tickets for these shows is a lot easier than you might expect.

5. The Fountains at Bellagio

I suppose you could include this as one of the shows available in Vegas, but this one’s free. All you have to do is hang around on the Strip for a little while near the casino, and you’ll see one of the most uniquely Vegas experiences of all time.

If you’re really determined to see it on a schedule, here are the show times:

Monday – Friday, they have a show every half hour starting at 3pm.

From 8pm to midnight, they have a show every 15 minutes.

On Saturdays, Sundays, and Holidays, they start their shows at noon instead of 3pm.

The Fountains have over 1200 different nozzles and over 4500 lights. They cost over $40 million to build. The biggest of them shoot water 460 feet into the air.

6. Sports Books

I was talking with a buddy of mine last night, and he wanted to drive to Oklahoma to place a futures bet on the Dallas Cowboys winning the Super Bowl. (He’s a big Cowboys fan.) I told him they don’t take sports bets at the casinos in Oklahoma, but he insisted that you could place such a bet at either Choctaw or Winstar.

He was so insistent that I thought maybe I was wrong.

But then I talked with another gambling blogger buddy of mine, and he told me that I was right. There is no legal sports betting in Oklahoma.

In fact, there are only 4 states with legal sports betting, and outside of Nevada, the sports bets that are available are rigidly controlled with very low limits.

But if you want to place such a bet in Vegas, you’ll have no problem finding a state of the art sports book willing to take your action.

And don’t get me wrong. The casinos in Oklahoma are nice.

But they’re not as nice as the Vegas casinos.

Here’s an example of what you can expect in a Las Vegas sports book:

At the Golden Nugget, they offer seating for 100 people and over 57 plasma televisions. They even have carrels where you can watch specific games in private—they have 45 of those.

But the nicest sports book in Las Vegas is at Caesars Palace. They have a dozen 50 inch plasma screens. They also have a wider selection of parlays than just about anyone. And if you’re a high roller, you’ll love the high betting limits they make available.

7. The Odds Bet in Craps

One of the best bets in the casinos is one that’s not labeled on the table. It’s taking the odds at the craps table. It’s intimidating to play craps if you’ve never played before, but it shouldn’t be.

Craps requires no skill.

And you only need to learn a couple of different bets to be able to get into the action with a remarkably low house edge.

You can only take odds if you’ve already placed a pass or don’t pass bet. These are the most basic bets in craps. They also have the lowest house edge of any bets at the table besides the odds bet.

To place a pass or don’t pass bet, you wait until the start of a round. Then you put your chips on the section of the table labeled pass or don’t pass.

A pass bet means you’re betting on the shooter to succeed. A don’t pass bet means you’re betting on the shooter to fail.

The first roll a shooter makes is the come-out roll. The shooter’s goal is to roll a 7 or an 11 on this roll. If she does, you win your pass bet. If the shooter rolls a 2, 3, or 12 on this roll, you lose your pass bet. If the shooter rolls any other number, she has set a point.

Once a point has been set, the shooter’s goal is to keep rolling until she either rolls the point again or a 7. If she rolls a 7, she fails. If she rolls the point, she succeeds and gets to keep rolling the dice.

If you bet don’t pass, you win if the shooter fails in either of those scenarios. The house edge for the pass bet is 1.41%. The house edge for the don’t pass bet is 1.36%, which is marginally better. But not everyone likes betting against the shooter. It’s more fun to root for the shooter to succeed.

But once a point is set, you get the opportunity to “take odds.” This bet pays out at its true odds, so it has a house edge of 0%. Depending on the casino, you place this bet as a multiple of your original bet. Some casinos only allow you to take 1X odds, others allow you to take as much as 100X odds.

The payout for this bet is based on how hard it is to roll the number in question. If the point is 4 or 10, the payout is 2 to 1, which is exactly the same as the odds of winning. If the point is 5 or 9, the payout is 3 to 2. And if the point is 6 or 8, the payout is 6 to 5.

What makes this bet such a great deal is that it’s a break even bet. When you combine this bet with the pass or don’t pass bet, you’re effectively lowering the house edge for all the money you have in action.

Taking odds is easy. You just place your additional bet behind your original pass or don’t pass bet.

It’s literally the best bet in the casino. The only skill you need to have is knowing how and where to place it.

8. Circus Circus

I have an old-school sensibility. It doesn’t get much cheaper or old school than Circus Circus.

I also love circus arts. I learned to juggle when I was in college. I’m still pretty good at it. I even did some occasional children’s parties as a clown.

I know a lot of people hate clowns, but I love them.

But there are lots of reasons to love Circus Circus. Not the least among these reasons is the low room rates. You can get rooms there for $26 a night during the right time periods. That’s one of the best deals on a first class hotel in a casino destination anywhere in the world.

Circus Circus also has its own theme park, The Adventuredome. It’s a five acre park with over 25 different rides and attractions. If you love roller coasters, Circus Circus has one of the best in Vegas. (The Stratosphere is home to the other one.)

I’m not a fancy guy, either. The Steak House at Circus Circus is just fine with me. It’s been one of the best steakhouses in Las Vegas for a couple of decades now. You can get a delicious ribeye still on the bone for $59, and it’s worth every penny.

9. Downtown

Speaking of old-school and not fancy, Downtown Vegas is my favorite place in the city. Some of the hotels and casinos have been there for decades. The Fremont Street Experience light show at night is breathtaking, and the prices on everything in Downtown are excellent.

The Golden Nugget is the best casino in Downtown and one of the best casinos in the city. The aquariums there have to be seen to be believed. The hotel also has a lot of history—it’s been there since 1946, making it one of the oldest casinos in Las Vegas.

If you’re looking for the legendary cheap meals in Las Vegas, you’ll find a lot of them in this part of town. If you just spend a little time looking around the neighborhood, you’ll see signs with all kinds of crazy deals on food, like cheap prime rib and breakfast for a couple of bucks.

10. The Low Humidity

I live in Texas, and it’s hot. It might not get as hot here as it does in Las Vegas, but it’s humid, too. One of my favorite things about visiting Las Vegas is the low humidity.

In fact, at night, Las Vegas feels much cooler than Texas does. And if you visit Vegas during the fall or winter, the cool weather is very pleasant indeed.

You can laugh at this preference all you like, but it’s always going to remain one of my favorite Las Vegas selling points.

Conclusion

Las Vegas offers more attractions than anyone can possibly imagine. I’ve listed the 10 things I like most about Las Vegas.

What do you like about the city of Vegas?

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