We’re just leaving Vegas. And I have to say, I like it here. From the ubiquitous slot machines, prostitutes and glitzy shows to the overpriced alcohol, the whole place is designed very specifically to drain you – physically, emotionally and financially. But if you have the funds to back yourself up, you will love it.
We started our little jaunt by dipping our metaphorical toe into the casino – I entered a cheap ($25) poker tournament, and Sarah took a crack at the slot machines. Then we took a walk down the strip to find a show and explore.
We might have gone to see the Burlesque, but instead settled on “Gregory Popovich’s Pet Theatre”. Tickets were $80, but we were told the viewing distance was quite bad. So slightly reluctantly we took the allocated seating for $120.
This wasn’t the song-and-dance extravanga you might be expecting – the show was essentially a mixture of juggling, acrobatics and animal tricks. A lot of it was quite superficial slapstick humour, and some bits were downright pointless, like a woman repeatedly taking off outfits to reveal more dresses underneath. But some of it was also really good, like acrobatic feats of climbing a ladder with nothing to support it, or getting dogs, cats and rats to get on board a toy train before it drove off-stage. And seeing trained house cats jump through a hoop on command will stay with me forever.
That night we played poker at Caesar’s Palace, the most well-known casino in Las Vegas. It was $70 each to enter. I felt like I played abysmally, and while Sarah won quite a few hands, we both went crashing out quite early. We felt a little cheated and went to drown our sorrows in the club on-site. When we got to the bar I asked for four drinks. $50!!! My jaw nearly hit the floor. We refused to pay for all four and just took two cocktails. They were good, but for $15 each you would expect them to drive you back home. We moved on to another bar and danced until quite late. There was all sorts of drinking and raunchy dancing going on. It was great.
On our final full day we headed up the strip to look around the shops and to see the Luxor building – essentially a massive pyramid. It was baking hot and we were relieved to get into the “Miracle Mile”, a circular mall full of shops and restaurants. Some of it had painted ceilings, which tricked you into thinking you were looking at the sky; until you realised it was a facade 3 seconds later. Like my Dad said, “The Americans do bad taste very well.” Clothes were pricey and it was hard to find anything under $50. I eventually found a t-shirt for $34. And I bought it because buying clothes abroad is definitely more fun.
We moved on up the strip – jumping from shadow to shadow – and took refuge in New York New York. We could see “Excalibur” from here, a massive Disney-esque castle with painted towers. And whereas most of the buildings seemed to be a high quality kind of tacky, this one just looked cheap.
Most of the Luxor was visible now, but the afternoon heat was boring into us so we took a detour and headed back, looking into the MGM Grand as we went. Luckily we passed right by the lion enclosure, as they were giving a speech about it. For anyone worried they are kept in very good condition (better than a zoo) and rotated so they are usually at “the ranch”. There were two, both lying on top of a transparent pedestrian pathway. I’d never seen a lion from underneath before, and while it is like when a house cat sits on a glass table, it is much bigger. And with much longer teeth.
Deciding we needed just a little chill-out time, we headed to Flamingo to use the pool. In comparison to the air it was very cold, but refreshing. And there’s that awesome time when you feel yourself relax in holiday, like you really are away from the rest of your life’s problems and worries, and it came while we were sitting by the pool, drying off in the Sun, and reading.
We had dinner at Serendipity3, a classic looking burger joint, then I decided to take a shot at poker again. I knew I wouldn’t win but I wanted to at least feel like I’d played a good game. So I signed up for a $45 game at O’Sheas casino.
The game started and I won the odd hand, but it was difficult to stay ahead and soon I was about half of my chips down. I played one hand aggressively and got called, then I realised I had to decide to go all-in or not to back it up. I was about to shove when my opponent said, “I know what you’ve got.”
I gave him a quizzical look and he said, “You’ve got queens or jacks, maybe even tens”. I had a pair of jacks. Was this guy cheating, or just psychic?? He obviously wanted me to fold, because he then offered to show his hand if I did. Now, usually your opponent doesn’t help you in poker, so I thought it may just have been some mind-games. There was an ace on the flop but he didn’t necessarily have another in his hand. I wrestled with the decision for as long as I could – the dealer was calling time – and figured he was a little too confident. I folded, and he honoured his part of the deal. He did have an ace. Lucky escape.
Now seriously down on chips I just had to pick the right moment to shove them all in, and fortunately got lucky again, and again. Eventually I found myself on the final table, and then in the final five. A thrill ran through me as I realised 3rd place won $155.
After some more quite lucky hands, and some uncharacteristically aggressive play on my part, I made it to the last four. Then one other guy ran out of chips and I realised I’d won some cash! I had a good setup for my last round but the guy on my left hit a high pair and beat me on the river. I wasn’t angry, I was still ecstatic to have made it to 3rd out of about 30 players.
With my winnings in hand I strolled very smugly back to our casino, ready to tell Sarah in great detail about my victorious evening, and mentally preparing for our next early morning and our trip to the grand canyon.