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Advice from the Veterans, Las Vegas Traveler Style…

South End Las Vegas Strip

If you have never been to Las Vegas or haven’t been in decades you undoubtedly have some questions or at least have searched the web for some tips. I can see how a Vegas trip might stress some people out. After all, Las Vegas has tons to offer and has a reputation of being wildly expensive.

Now this isn’t an end-all guide but when I came across this forum topic I immediately thought it would be a worthwhile post. Here’s some good practical advice from well seasoned Las Vegas travelers pulled from the Trip Advisor Las Vegas Forums. I’ve added my two cents worth noted in blue text.

“Drink a bottle of water for every 2 alcoholic drinks- Nothing kills a Vegas adrenaline rush faster than a nasty hangover.” – Remember, water is your friend!

“Distances are farther than they look” – Hotels are huge and sprawling, depending on your abilities you might want to break up the strip in chunks and visit each chunk at a time.

“Set a gambling budget and stick to it!” – Play it smart and set a budget, especially if you have limited funds. Takes breaks if you’re on a losing streak, people watch, hit the pool, window shop, or partake in free entertainment. Remember there’s a ton to do in LV. Return to the game later with better luck.

“Realize the odds are against you winning, expect to lose, and consider it entertainment. But while gambling enjoy the sites, drinks, and freedom. Abiding to this will ensure a better time.” – See above

“Always sign up for players cards – you never know what you’ll get in terms of offers.” – First timers often receive freeplay or other gifts for signing up. Always give them your email address (sometimes worth an extra bonus), I enjoy reading all the email offers they send me and find them valuable when planning my next trip to wonderful LV.

“NEVER chase comps” – just 500 points for a free buffet or every 250 points gets you T-shirt, oh wait just another 100 points get me $5 bucks in “pointplay” (like freeplay) . Not always, but many comp programs, 1 point = $1.00 cycled through a slot machine. If you happen to reach that point amount fine, but don’t chase it because it might just cost you much more than it’s true value.

“Don’t plan any really big event (show, dinner, etc.) for your first night.” – traveling is much more involved these days, especially if you’re flying. Arrive two hours before departure, time to fly, transportation to your hotel, check-in process, and now finally getting to your room. All this can be exhausting. The last thing you need is to be somewhere at a set time. Remember delays happen when traveling. So on your first day/night chill out and just enjoy where you’re at and play it by ear.

“Go to Fontana Bar at Bellagio and ask to sit outside. Have at least one drink (they are expensive) and enjoy the fountains close up. It’s breathtaking.” – This one’s on my to-do list I’ve heard it is fantastic. Also I believe specials can be had after lunch but before dinner.

“Believe it or not I’d say bring comfortable shoes. You’ll be amazed on how much walking you’ll do” – Casino Hotels are large, sidewalk are not straight, escalators to overpasses fail frequently. Walking the strip in high heels or dress shoes at 3:00pm is stupid. Do yourself a favor and WEAR COMFORTABLE SHOES!

“Wear comfortable clothes” – Similar to above. If you are going out for a nice dinner, show, or club, fine, dress to impress. Just walking the strip? Who cares! Wear nice, clean comfortable clothes. Remember summers are HOT and winter can be cold, dress appropriate!

“The girls on the front of the slapper’s cards are NOT the ones that actually come to your room” – Hmmm… I have no experience with this one… so I’ll take this persons word for it.

“If it’s your first time to LV, don’t try and do everything because you’ll be back!” – Oh how true, realize there is a ton to see and do. Do a little research before you arrive so you get an idea of what’s available, pick a couple then play the rest by ear. It won’t be long before you’ll want your next LV fix then rinse and repeat.

“Don’t arrive with a plan or agenda to see or do something every minute of every day. Book a show or two, maybe a special meal or two. But leave some time for things to just “happen” depending on what you feel like doing at the moment” – Wish I would have read this before I typed the comment above… yep well said

“Don’t be afraid to try a table game or ask a dealer how to play if they aren’t too busy. They are usually happy to help.” – There are many online and retail casino game simulators to learn and practice on. Also many casino’s offer FREE lessons. Dealer quality varies but many are more than willing to help. Don’t forget to throw your dealer a chip every once in awhile if they’re doing a good job.

“Don’t feel you need to pull all-nighters just because you’re in Vegas. Vegas is 24 hours, your body is not” – The only place time exists in Vegas is on your watch. Be wise and get some sleep because if you don’t it won’t take long before you’ll be walking the strip looking and feeling like a zombie. Now if I could only get my wife to understand this.

“Leave the babies/kids, non-gamblers, naysayers, people without money, and duds at home. If you don’t your fun is in jeopardy.” – Vegas has little to nothing to offer these types, follow this one closely

I hope this post provided some useful advice or at least a bit of entertainment. Anyway, like always feel free to share your own advice in the comments below.

Review: Palazzo Resort Hotel and Casino

luggage

When I plan a trip the dates we go are usually dictated by when I receive the cheapest airfare. Once airfare is secured I go looking for a hotel, car, etc.. Well for our January 7-12, 2010 trip I booked airfare in May of 2009! (Round trip ticket, including taxes and fees, $100 each).

When I started to look for a hotel I quickly realized we were going during the largest convention in Las Vegas, CES (Consumer Electronic Show). Because of the convention hotel rates usually go through the roof. So when I received a great deal from Excalibur I jumped on it. A couple months before our trip I received a post card from Palazzo/Venetian for $49/night, Sunday – Thursday and slightly more for the weekend. I called and inquired about the deal, they said the room was available for $49 that Sun and Mon. But then the person said that I had an offer available for 2 to 4 nights complimentary and he wanted to know if I was interested. Interested? Hell yes! I said. I then asked about that Friday and Saturday he told me that they were booked because of the convention, of course I thought. The only charge was the mandatory resort fee of about $15 per night. This covered internet, gym access and a few other things. Also I had the choice between either The Palazzo or Venetian properties. I selected the Palazzo because it’s newer and I prefer that casino. Further research confirmed I made the right choice as The Palazzo continuously receives better review ratings.

Sunday, January 10 just after noon we drove to valet to try to check-in early (normally check-in is at 3:00pm). As soon as we drove up we were treated like VIP’s, even though we were driving a rented bright blue Ford Focus. The valet personnel were very friendly as several of them greeted us even before we reached the doors. The registration desk was close by the entrance. The line was kind of long but there were plenty of registration staff on hand to move the line quickly. No surprise that the entire process was a breeze and everyone, and I mean everyone, greeted us like royalty. Elevators were across the casino but were directly off the casino floor. This is always a definite plus in my book. Security is located just before the elevators and they request to see your room key before allowing you to pass. This was a minor inconvenience but worth it I guess as there are some shady characters in Vegas.

Our room 47-727 was on the 47th floor overlooking the Northeast side of the valley and the Wynn golf course.

Check out this walk through VIDEO!!

Both my wife and I thought the room was outstanding. The decor and layout gave it a real “homey” feeling and not that of a hotel room. They did a great job dividing the room into sections without using walls. When you first walk in the spacious bathroom was on the left and included a nicely sized and conveniently located LED TV. As you enter the main room the king size bed was on the left and a 40 some inch LED on the right. Separating the bed area from a sitting area was a thigh high bench partition. The sitting area included a comfy wrap around couch with a good sized coffee table with another LED TV sitting on top of the snack station. In the same area was a small table with a couple of chairs and a desk for working which included an Ethernet cable for internet access, telephone, pen and paper, and a multi-function printer with USB hookup for continence.

Both the Palazzo and Venetian are upscale properties in a great area of the strip they are next store to the Wynn and across the street from TI (Treasure Island). Between the two properties are many dinning and shopping choices to choose from and browse.

The Palazzo and Venetian casinos are among my favorite places to gamble on the strip as they offer and wide variety of slot, VP, and table games. Their slot selection is a good mix of new and classic style machines. I always seem to be able to play here and consider it a good value for my dollar.

I rarely have problems with drink service here. Top shelf drinks are available and cocktail waitress ratio to patrons is good. Another plus is I find that their waitresses engaged and very friendly which is always a plus in my book.

Club Grazie is the name of the player’s card. Their comp program is competitive.

Tip: American Casino Guide – 2010 Edition, the annual guide to casinos across the United States, has many valuable coupons in the back of the book. One of the coupons is good for $25 in free slot play at either the Palazzo or Venetian for new club members. Even though I was already a Club Grazie member I inquired about the coupon and the hostess gave it to me AND my wife, that’s $50 just for the asking! Combined with the other coupons we used the cost of the guide was well worth the $13 we paid.

Tip: I am not a “High Roller” when it comes to gambling. But the Palazzo treated me like I was. It’s my understanding that if you cycle $50 through their machines you will start receiving 2-4 night complementary stays. I have received several, very tempting, postcards announcing this promotion since my trip.

In summary, our stay at the Palazzo was fantastic! We didn’t have a single complaint. Because of this we believe the Palazzo deserves 5 out of 5 Scotty Vegas Chips.

Review: Palace Station Hotel and Casino

Originally uploaded by scottyvegas2

Originally uploaded by scottyvegas2

Leading up to our January 7 – 12, 2010 trip we received a post card in the mail for a free hotel stay in a deluxe room (Standard) at select Station Casino’s. After looking up reviews and locations we decided to take Stations up on their offer and selected Palace Station. We thought, what the heck, we’ll save money and besides we like trying new properties.

We arrived in Las Vegas late Thursday night, 1.5 hours later than planned due to Snow and de-icing out of Detroit Metro. We headed straight for Palace Station, of course taking Las Vegas Blvd even though there was a quicker route. Anyway, the Check-in process went very smooth and quick as the registration host was extremely friendly. The elevators were conveniently close by as we headed up to our room on the 27th floor. I joked to my wife as I noticed the 27th floor was the top, Penthouse baby here we come. When we got out of the elevator we noticed immediately how nice the hallway was, it was much nicer than expected.

2411 West Sahara Avenue, Las Vegas, NV‎ 89102 – (702) 367-2411

Our room 27-727 was just down the hall from the elevator. We opened the door and again were surprised, as we entered the small hallway to the main room. The room was very Large with a King size bed, end tables, Full size couch, Large coffee table, Table and chairs, and a huge entertainment center with attaching bookshelves which housed books and various knick knacks. However, a large plasma TV was the center of attention. There was also a bar like counter with a sink for convenience.

Moving on to the bathroom, it was huge! Large jet tub, glass shower, double sinks with granite countertops and vanity, and large surrounding mirrors. There was a small flat panel TV for your viewing pleasure while getting ready. The toilet was behind a separate door for privacy.

The entire suite was about 35 by 30 feet long with 12-15 foot ceilings. A window made up the entire wall over looking downtown Las Vegas with Circus Circus and the Stratosphere in plain sight. It was an awesome view in the morning as the mountains surrounded the city.

See for yourself, youtube.com video walkthrough:

Well after we put down our bags and looked around the room we were ready for something to eat so we headed downstairs. There is a Starbucks, Bakery, a restaurant, Subway and Buffet on the premises, unfortunately they were all closed. So we decided to head out for a quick bite since we were practically starved. Across the street were several restaurants, most were closed but two, a McDonalds and an In-n-Out Burger. I hate McDonalds but have heard many positive things about In-n-Out so we headed for the drive thru. In-n-Out lives up to its motto “Quality you can taste”. Prices were reasonable and the food was good.

After eating we headed back to play around for awhile. The casino was your average “locals” style casino with a variety of new and old slots machines. Table games had better than strip odds and low minimums with seating available. As typical with locals casino’s their video poker machines had better payouts too. There is also a small sports book on the property.

Regarding Drinks, overall waitress service was good with drink quality average.

Along with the free night offer was a buy one, get one free buffet coupon. So the next morning we headed to the buffet. Breakfast is regularly $6.99 each so for a mere seven bucks and some change we both ate. The Buffet was clean and inviting with ample selections to choose from though nothing to rave about. It most certainly was adequate and met its purpose of supplying us nourishment for the day.

Though I wouldn’t want to stay here for an entire Las Vegas trip, mainly because of its distance from the strip, I would definitely consider it again if arriving very late or other like reason.

Overall the room was clean (with exception to minor hard to reach areas) and comfortable. We were pleasantly surprised by our suite upgrade. Our morning buffet was good and so was the Starbucks coffee. Palace Station offers many slot and table games to choose from. Casino vibe was that of a typical locals style casino indicated by a mix of both locals and tourists. Hotel/Casino staff was friendly and accommodating. Therefore, I am giving Palace Station a rating of 3 out of 5 chips.

What would you NEVER do again in Las Vegas?


Las Vegas Strip

Originally uploaded by scottyvegas2

Oh what a great question this is. I frequently peruse and participate in forum discussions at Trip Advisor. Someone posted this question and as you could imagine it received an overwhelming response with over 120 replies. I found the replies both entertaining and informative. They kind of answer many questions people ask or wonder about when planning a Vegas trip. The replies have confirmed mental notes I have made to myself, “NEVER eat at the Riviera Hotel Casino buffet again!” and so on…….

Since I enjoyed them so much I thought you might enjoy them as well so I went through them all and plucked out my favorite, cleaned them up and made a few comments. Regardless of how many times you’ve been to Vegas you should be able to take something away from these.

TipTrip Advisor is a great site for hotel reviews and everything else trip related regardless of where you’re headed. I use it to get hotel price ranges, see honest photos taken by reviewers, and to review area attractions. I highly recommend it, check it out.

 

Forum Replies:

NEVER go to Circus Circus or Slots a Funk (Fun) again!

I would NEVER do so much shopping without working out how to get my purchases home first – or leave shipping everything until the last day!

I’ll NEVER spend New years Eve in Vegas again

I will NEVER leave Vegas before 6:30am – You don’t know how bad this is until you’ve done it, avoid if at all possible

I will NEVER eat at the IP (Imperial Palace) buffet again

I will probably NEVER go to Las Vegas with family (parents, sister, brother, niece, ect.) again. I find it very hard to have an intimate family time in Vegas.

I will NEVER go when money is so tight I have to watch every penny.

I will NEVER take a red eye flight to Vegas without having a room ready when we arrived.

I will NEVER take money from an ATM from my credit card. Fees are ridiculous.

I will NEVER visit Las Vegas for only one or two nights.

NEVER ever keep playing the same slot machine, because I was stupid to think it’s going to hit.

I will NEVER stay at a dump like the Riviera again to save money

I will NEVER book a red eye flight home when checking out of my hotel at 11 am that day – Having a rent a car is priceless in this situation

I will NEVER put more than $20 in a non-paying slot thinking that “it is bound to start hitting!”

I will NEVER stay Off Strip again. I am a Strip person, through and through.

We will NEVER see the Blue Man Group again – This one surprised me, but there were several postings, I guess it’s not for everyone

We will NEVER go with family & friends who only have a $20 budget (per day)! – I can’t even imagine!

NEVER get lured into Casino Royale with “free money” from their Zoltar fortune-telling machine. First you had to sign up for their casino card and then learned that you will be playing certain “special” slots machines with the credit to win a chance at a pot. It took forever to lose all our “free money”. We should have just walked away. – Been there, done that, live and learn

I will NEVER go to another timeshare presentation – that was 3 hours wasted out of 4 days of precious Vegas time.

I will NEVER walk from New York New York to the stratosphere because it didn’t look that far. – Distances are deceiving on the strip
and the sidewalks aren’t straight

I will NEVER ever go with none gamblers again they stand behind you and say why do you think this is fun? What is the attraction? As my other friend said they just “sucked all the fun out of gambling”. – Once again, I can’t imagine

I will NEVER remember that the Tropicana casino is not worth walking across the bridge to visit it.

I will NEVER gamble more than the amount I plan for each day. Never chase comps!

I will NEVER again go see the Show in the Sky at the Rio. – Don’t get me started…

I will NEVER go to Las Vegas and think I will get by on my winnings.

I will NEVER go over my personal drink limit while gambling. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

I will NEVER book a flight somewhere else with an 8 hour layover in Vegas. Sounded fun at the time. I lost more on that layover than our regular vacation.

I will NEVER again stay in 5 hotels in 6 nights.

I will NEVER forget that I’m in Las Vegas on vacation, and given my limited time there, there are some things more important than saving $10 on something….

I will NEVER stay at a hotel with the idea that it’s just a place to sleep and clean up at. I discovered that a nice room DOES matter.

I will NEVER drink too much and spend the following day or two trying to recover- Vegas time is too precious – Amen

I will NEVER ever go with friends who bring their kid! – See Post: Children in Vegas

I’ll NEVER go to Bonanza (world’s largest gift shop) again

I will NEVER again worry about a strip view when I NEVER look out the window once after the day I arrive….I would prefer a better room that a better view.

I will NEVER again buy new shoes for a Vegas trip

I will NEVER stay at the same hotel for 6 years (MGM). Once I started checking out different hotels (off and on the strip) I was addicted. – I love trying new hotels

NEVER buy a wristband pass to a club from the street promoters even if they are legitimate, they will tell you anything to sell you the wristbands. – Never buy anything from a street vendor/person

I will NEVER again decide it is a great idea to do a round of golf midday when the temperature is 120.

I will NEVER again leave all my money in Vegas again!

Have your own “NEVER do again in Vegas” you would like to share? Well go ahead leave it in comments.

Table games? How do you play? You can learn!


Gaming Lessons

Originally uploaded by scottyvegas

Want to play table games such as blackjack or craps but don’t know how? Many casinos offer daily lessons on how to play these as well as others. Don’t worry if your hotel/casino doesn’t offer lessons as anyone can take lessons regardless where they’re staying.

After the lesson many casinos give you a coupon good for a free $5.00 bet or give you a matching bet coupon. Better yet learn to play before you arrive in Las Vegas. There are many casino software titles you can buy at your local software store that will teach you the ropes and allow you to play without losing your shirt.

I personally own many titles by Phantom EFX.

Bodog.com is a website that allows you to play for fun on a variety of casino games without installing any software or signing up. This site has a lot of useful information to offer. Game quality is very good but slow at times.

Wondering about casino games odds or want to spend a few hours getting lost in numbers? Check out Wizard of Odds, I highly recommend this site. It addresses many myths about gaming with proof.

What is a player’s card? What are comps?

Every casino has a Players Club where you can sign up for the casino’s Player’s Card. Signing up involves giving the club host your driver’s license and email address. Usually as a reward for signing up the casino with give you a gift such as a t-shirt, cards, coupon book, show tickets, or food. Many give you some form of free play. Free play is a dollar amount put on your card to play slot machines with. The dollar amount is usually $10 or less.

You use the card while playing table games or slots. By doing so you accumulate points and points turn into comps (compliments) such as point play (like free play), free food, free show tickets, free rooms and other things.

By signing up for the casino’s player’s card you can bet that you’ll be placed on the casino’s emailing list. Casino’s send email on various announcements and special hotel rate promotions (promo’s).  

Note: I have player cards from dozens of casinos from all over the country with each one having my email address. I have never had a problem with “junk mail” from any of them. I actually look forward to receiving casino email announcements.

Note: Casino companies share the same player’s card across all their properties. For example, if you have the MGM Mirage player’s card you will use the same card at MGM, New York New York, Bellagio, and so on.

Always use your card while playing and don’t listen to those people who say that the casino’s monitor you play and make the machine payoff is you are losing or slow down if it’s hitting too much.

Vegas Trip Report: November 14 – 17, 2008

Departed Detroit Metro airport at 6:05am Friday morning (Flew SpiritAir $44/person roundtrip taxes/fees included), we arrived in Las Vegas at 7:15am (Vegas time). On this trip I went with a couple of buddies and stayed at the Riviera. We stayed at the Riviera because we got a great deal though TripRes.com with an average rate of $38 per night (Thur, Fri, Sat). The Riv casino is a shithole but the room was newly remodeled with a flat panel TV and an awesome bed, pillow, and blanket. Seriously one of the best beds I’ve ever slept in, what a total surprise!

Tip: Currently the Riviera is offering a free Breakfast or Lunch buffet when you sign up for their players card and if you show them proof that you flew there. They also give free play of $1 – $500, I got $2.

Warning: The Riviera buffet is barely worth being free. Do NOT pay for this buffet!

Warning: During time of this trip the Riviera was surrounded by construction making it very difficult to walk to any other casino other than Circus Circus (Dump).  We had a car which made it easy to travel (Dollar Rent a Car $10/day).

We visited a lot of off strip casinos this trip. Here is a run down:

South Point: This casino is about 5 miles south of the strip right on Las Vegas Blvd. The Casino/Hotel is large and offers many perks. I would definitely think about staying here. Great Sports book, $5 minimum on table games, a large variety of new slot machines, and a very good and very reasonably priced buffet. Breakfast is $6.99, Lunch $9.99, Dinner about $14.99 check the website for details, prices slightly higher on the weekend.  Breakfast was GREAT! I highly recommend this casino.

Terribles: Just off the strip, cheap tables, very smokey, and horrible waitress service. My friends did not like Terribles one bit they thought it was a real dump and I have to agree.

Silverton Hotel and Casino: Wow! The Silverton is just west of Las Vegas Blvd, south of the strip. We saw it on the way to South Point and thought we would check it out and I am glad we did. The casino offers $5 table games, good variety of slot machines, but it does not have a good sports book. This casino is a “locals” casino. When you walk in you are greeted with a very large saltwater aquarium with sharks, stingrays, and schools of fish. There is also a Bass Pro Superstore attached to the casino.

Green Valley Ranch: Interesting casino about 10 or so miles from the strip in I think Henderson, Nevada. The Casino looks good, has average waitress service, decent selection of slot machines but something is just not right with this casino but I can’t put my finger on it. This casino has a food court right on the casino floor with a good variety of items to choose from. New club members get $5.00 in free play when they sign up. I probably wouldn’t go back here as it doesn’t offer anything unique.   

Tuscany: About two blocks east of Bally’s on Flamingo. Small casino that is only five years old but looks like it’s twenty. It kind of reminds me of someone’s basement with slot machines and table games in it. However, this little casino offers some unique perks like very good waitress service. New club members get between $5 and $500 in free play when you sign up for their players club. And now for the best part, $3 minimum blackjack tables with an option to surrender half of your bet on the first 2 cards. To surrender you actually have to draw a line on the table (sand) for the cameras. No thrills casino but good blackjack odds just off the strip.

Scam Alert: Beware of con men approaching offering free tickets to events because they have to get out of town and don’t want to waste tickets. They will have you call the Bellagio concierge office and reserve them in you name. This is all very convincing, don’t get taken, just say no thank you!

In my opinion the best drinks in Vegas is hands down The Wynn Hotel and Casino, followed by Palazzo and The Venetian.  The Bellagio has the best Strawberry daiquiris, try one, you won’t be disappointed I promise.

November is a great time to visit, tempatures were in the mid seventies during the day and high fifties during the night.

We sadly departed Vegas at 8:20am Monday morning and arrived in cold rainy Detroit at around 3:15pm. I am eagerly awaiting my next Vegas trip.