Casinos / Gambling, Las Vegas
I was really surprised when chatting to fellow travellers before boarding my flight to Vegas, to find out how many people don't know about the casinos' rewards programs.
Nearly all the casinos (and certainly all the large ones) have some sort of rewards program. If you are going to Las Vegas with an intention of doing some gambling, make sure you take out the free membership to your hotel's casino
I stayed at the Flamingo which is part of the Harrah's group; their rewards program is called Total Rewards. On sign-up, you are presented with two membership cards which are a little like credit or bank cards in that they have a magnetic strip on the back.
When you play the slots, put your rewards card in the slot and it will log your play and your rewards will start building up. When you're at any of the table games (craps, roulette, blackjack, etc.), simply hand over your card to the croupier with your cash when you start to play and they will have it logged in and will 'rate your play'. Little by little your gambling will be monitored and your comps (complimentary) value will start notching up. It may not be tons but certainly at the Flamingo you can offset any charges to your room with your comps value when you check out.
Many of the large casinos belong to a conglomerate of some sort so your rewards card can be used in all the member casinos and keep notching up the value.
If you have any intention of returning to Las Vegas, be sure to keep your cards for future use and further comps!
*Update June 2008 : I can only re-emphasise this tip. I used my Total Rewards card to logon to the Harrahs website to book my room for a return trip (3rd trip to Vegas now) in October this year. I have just got 4 nights at the Imperial Palace (which is also part of the Harrahs group) and paid less than US$90 for the 4 nights (because I was comp'ed for 3 nights, paying only for my Friday night) - a real bargain! I was offered great rates for 50% of the Harrahs hotels for the dates of my stay! *
There's one change that is occuring in most casinos in Las Vegas I'm not so sure I like. It's the change from coin machines to ones where you get tickets with your money recorded that you either cash in or stick into another machine in the same casino. Some of the machines (5c and 25c) don't even take coins at all, you have to feed it bills.
Yes, its convenient (usually), and coins are dirty and I hear that sometimes if you hit a jackpot or the machine runs out of money it takes awhile for a casino person to come by and give you your money. (I haven't ever hit a big jackpot)
However, part of the fun for me is having all those coins come clanging out when I cash out, and carrying around a bucket of money when I'm winning. Not as convenient maybe, but more fun. Plus you don't gamble as fast ... it takes awhile to feed all those nickels back in!!! However, the coinless machines are spreading like wildfire, and by my next trip it will probably be hard to find the old fashioned video poker or slot machines.
I also don't like some of the machines that I found last time in some of the nicer casinos that were almost silent. Give me all the bells and whistles ....
Even if Cirque du Soleil shows and other such events are becoming more and more popular, gambling remains the top attraction in Las Vegas. As soon as you get to the airport you are greeted with slot machines, and the first thing you see as you walk into all the big hotels are the gigantic casinos. Since I'm not a huge fan of casinos, I was afraid I'd walk into some really pathetic scenes (people losing money or playing for hours on end), but I was pleasantly surprised by the atmosphere there was in most casinos. Except for one girl crying in the restrooms over money she had lost, most people seemed to be there to have a good time and gamble a reasonable amount of money. It was even sort of exciting to walk through the tables and hear people cheering the players on or watch the poker tournament for a while.
As for my personal experience, since I don't know enough about gambling to sit at one of the tables, I put $2 in a slot machine. Since they don't work with coins anymore, I thought it was kinda boring to see the number of credits go up and down without anything special happening so when I saw there was only one credit left, I decided to cash it in - the machine printed out a little coupon which I stuck into another machine, and finally I heard the "ding" of a coin falling and started jumping up and down! I kept the quarter as a souvenir of my Las Vegas gambling experience :o)
Hello fellow vegas visitors. I have visited many times and finally clued in on deals and coupons for use in Vegas. I just wanted to add this tip, please browse for available deals and coupons before visiting to save some money b/c it's going to be a very expensive trip, even if your frugal on your spendings. I searched around for sites and this one was the best I came across: http://www.vegascoupon.org
Cheers to all and have a great trip/vacation, hope you win BIG!, I didn't :(
When you find that table you want to play at, now comes time to buy chips. Wait to buy chips when the current hand is finished. To buy chips, lay your money out on the table in front of you, but don’t lay it in the circle where you place your bet (you are allowed to play cash as your bet, but if you win, you will be paid in chips, which you can cash at the casino cage).
Now some blackjack tables will not allow you to come to a table and start playing in mid shoe entry. The term “shoe” refers to container which holds the cards waiting to be played. There should be a sign on the table which says, “No mid-shoe entry.” You have to wait until most of the cards are used, before you come to a table.
When betting, most casinos will not allow you to bet .50 cent pieces. Here are standard chip currencies: $1, $5, $10, $25, $100, $500. Some casinos have a $2.50 chip. The way you place your bet is in one stack, with the highest currency chips on the bottom. For example, if you want to bet $46., you would put the $25 chip first, then the two $10 chips, and finally the $1 chip on top. Please note, once the deal starts, you cannot add or take away from your chips that you are playing that round.
Tips regarding tipping: If you are doing “really” good and winning several hundred dollars, you just may want to tip your dealer a dollar or two. There are two ways of tipping the dealer. You can either give him a tip after the current hand is over or you can place the amount in which you want to tip in front of your current chips which you are playing for the next hand. If you win, the dealer get double of what you tipped. If you loose, the dealer gets nothing! It is very rare that I tip, because I see no need to. The dealer has no control of what cards are played and there is no way the dealer can cheat, so why should I tip? They don’t tip you when you are loosing! Live it to your own conviction.
If you have never gambled before or have never gambled at blackjack there are rules and customs you should know before you play. What is really sad about most blackjack dealers is that they get upset if you don't know the rules. Sometimes those playing at the tables will give you funny looks. The best suggestion is watch many hands and learn what you should and should not do.
Picking out the blackjack table you want to play at:
The first thing you want to look for is the table limits. Every blackjack table has a sign telling the minimum and maximum you are allowed to play at one time. Most casinos have a minimum of $5 per hand, but if you go to Sahara, you can find it for $1.
Second, there are different types of blackjack tables. Some blackjack tables have jackpots, in which you can win by receiving certain cards in your hands (i.e. a king & queen of clubs on your first two cards). To play these jackpots, it will cost you an extra dollar each hand, which you place on the little red circle about where you place your chips. You will know you have done it correctly if the light comes on.
Another type of blackjack table is where your first two cards at dealt to you face down, which you are allowed to pick them up, but only with one hand. I personally think these tables are stupid, because you can't see what has been played. If you hit, the dealer will deal you a card face up, which you are “not” allowed to touch. When you want to stay, you slide your two cards underneath your chips. If you bust, then you throw your cards in front of your chips face up. If you are unsure of what to do, you can show your cards to the dealer for advice, but not every dealer will give you advice.
Thirdly, most blackjack tables show all player's (not the dealer) cards face up. Remember, your only goal is to beat the dealer. At these types of tables, you are “not” permitted to touch the cards in any way; even if you want to split! The casinos are very strict about the touchy rule.
Gambling is of course supremely addictive , and Las Vegas not surprisingly has a higher percentage of problem gamblers than any other city in the world. The generally accepted advice for visitors who want to experience the thrill while minimizing the risk is never to gamble more than you're prepared to lose.
As for where to gamble , that really depends on how you see gambling. If you think it's all about fun and glamour, then the Strip is the place to be, though the high minimum stakes at the largest casinos can mean you'll lose your money uncomfortably fast.
First of all, you cannot touch any of the cards or any played chips at any time. If you want to “hit” for another card, the way you ask for a card is tapping on the felt with one of your hands in any way possible. Don't beat the felt! If you want to stay, you simply wave your hand on the table like you were cleaning a spot off the table, but make sure you do not touch the table! Some casinos require that you give some type of motion as to your decision, but I think it gets ridiculous when your hand is 17 – 20, because there is no way that anyone would hit. Now there was one time in my entire life that one person did hit on a straight 17 and busted, go figure!
Now if you want to split or double down, you simply match your bet and place it either in back of your current played chips or on the side of them. Different casinos like it a certain way. Just to note, when splitting aces, most casinos will only allow you to receive one card with each ace. When the dealer receives an ace face up, you have the option of buying “insurance.” The fee for insurance is typically half of what you are betting. If you buy insurance and the dealer gets a blackjack, you do not loose your bet.
If you win a hand, that which you played is matched backed to you. If you receive a blackjack, you receive what is called, “Time-and-a-half,” which you receive back 1 ½ times the chips you have played. If you hand ties the dealer’s hand, then you “push” with the dealer, which means that you breakeven on that current hand (no win, no loss). The dealer must always stand on 17! Note, the dealer can never count the ace as an 11, unless he or she hits blackjack on the first two cards. This term can also be referred to as “soft seventeen.” If you are unsure of anything, don’t be afraid to ask the dealer for help or advice, because a lot of them will provide it those who are confused with blackjack. Good luck!
April 9, 2005
An update on the new Wynn hotel opening later this month, courtesy of the Everything Las Vegas newsletter, with their permission:
On April 28th, Wynn Las Vegas is opening. The Strip's new pre-eminent luxury mega resort is costing a whopping $2.7 billion. The 45-story hotel is 514-foot tall, arc-shaped, and is a chocolate-colored reflective glass Tower. It will have 2,698 hotel rooms and suites, an 111,000-square-foot casino, 16 restaurants, a three-acre pool, luxury spa, many high-end stores, and the Strip's only 18-hole golf course. It will also house an art gallery.
Each hotel room cost $750,000 to build. Each room will have floor-to-ceiling windows, European linen and flat screen TV's.
There are approximately 8,000 permanent employees, 2,500 of those are present Bellagio and Mirage employees, who previously worked for Steve Wynn, attesting to the high esteem Steve Wynn has.
An eight-story, 100-foot mountain in the front of the property will enclose a three-acre lake.
There will be 16 restaurants on the property.
The water-based, $24 million production show much like "O", will be housed in
the 2,080-seat, $70-million AQUA THEATER.
Water will surround the audience - above, below, and even around their seats.
In another 1,200-seat, $40 million theater, the Tony-award winning, unorthodox, Broadway puppet play "Avenue Q" will be presented.
Four nightclubs will be in the project.
Construction of the whole project is on time and on budget.
Grand opening is April 28th, 2005, which is Elaine Wynn’s birthday and 5 years to the day that Steve Wynn bought the old Desert Inn.
As the total cost has soared to $2.7 billion, -- Gary Loveman, CEO of Harrah’s Entertainment, after a tour of Steve Wynn's Wynn Las Vegas with other casino executives, said "This is the kind of place that God would build if he had the money."
(To receive the free email newsletter Everything Las Vegas, just send a request to firstname.lastname@example.org)
I'll add a photo after my next trip to LV.
Just a few practial tips. Casino's are very picky about how you handle your chips, cards, dice and they will let you know if you are doing it wrong. watch before you jump in. Also Vegas is best during the week, Monday-Thursday. On the weekend it fills up with people from California. Also check and make sure no large conventions are in town, they fill up lots of rooms and rates go up and space goes down, and lines grow long.
Most locals according to my friend who lives there, rarely gamble at the big casinos on the strip.
Two possible reasons:
1. They are tired of tourists.
2 They stand a better chance of winning by playing at casinos away from strip.
Obviously as tourists, we want to go to the big hotels on the strip and we want to gamble there as well... just passing on some advice.
If you have any concerns or complaints about your hotel room,don't just tell the first employee you come across........
You MUST go to the front desk and ask for a manager otherwise nothing will be done.
Apparently this is the way it works in the USA
Don't simply jump into a casino game at Vegas without knowing how to play. First off, you'll probably lose your money doing that, and secondly it's considered inconsiderate to the other players. I'm certainly not saying you have to be an expert to gamble, but do a little 'research' before you play. Just watch a game for a while to see how others play. While it is OK to ask the dealer a question or two, don't expect an in-depth tutorial...especially when its busy! Also, many of the casinos have free 'classes' that will teach novice gamblers about the various games.
If you are gambling be sure and get a Players Card for every casino you are gambling in. They cost nothing but if you are a gambler the points soon mount up and can earn you free buffets and free accommodation. For example my 11 night stay at Christmas 2000 just cost me 1 nights accommodation. All the other nights plus the food was 'comped'. Mind you I gambled a fair amount!! (and lost despite 5 progressive jackpots). My last stay for 10 nights (April 2001) cost me not a penny in food and accommodation and I still lost, this time I managed just 2 progressives (one pictured above).
not sure gambling (or gaming as it is officially called) can fall under 'culture'.
Yet IF you intend to gamble here are a few additional tips
Slot machines do not have good odds.
-- Why is it that the same people who will seek out a bargain hotel will then spend $20 to $50 a night on slot machines?
There is NO SUCH THING as a 'hot machine' everything is controlled by a computer chip and it will determine mathematically when the slot with pay. Some slots are set to pay smaller amounts frequently and some are set to hold for bigger payoffs
read signs carefully. If a sign says the slots pay 99% -- (1) see if it says in small print 'up to...' (2) regardless, the sign may mean that just ONE of the slots in the row pays 99%!
the three table games with better payoffs are...
for each game learn the basic strategy and you can AT LEAST play for awhile without losing all of your money. Strategy cards are sold in most casino gift shops.
ask a dealer before using a strategy card at the tables.... some allow it and some don't. I try to remember the strategies and I usually practice on the computer before I go
Bacarat is slow, ritualistic, and fairly easy
Craps puts all players rooting for a number and is also pretty simple
Blackjack requires thought but thus you can feel like you are a bit more in control!
BY THE WAY -- roulette may look easy but is WORSE ODDS for the player