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Best of Vin Narayanan

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Top-10 other things to do in Las Vegas during the WSOP

6 June 2011

By Aaron Todd, Vin Narayanan, and Dan Igo

With the World Series of Poker underway at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino, many poker players are making a pilgrimage to Las Vegas to take a shot in the world's most famous poker series.

Anyone who has been to the WSOP before knows that it can become an all-encompassing endeavor. Hours, days, even weeks can go by where players, media, and tournament staff see little more than the hundreds of poker tables at the Rio and their pillows at the end of the day.

If you're going to be in Vegas for the long haul — or even if you're only rolling into town for an event or two — take the opportunity to check out some of the Top-10 other things Las Vegas has to offer this summer.

10. Fireworks at Caesars
Las Vegas is a city known for its over the top celebrations. And when it comes to fireworks shows on July 4, Las Vegas doesn't disappoint. Last year's fireworks at Caesars Palace caused the Las Vegas strip to come to a stop. People crowded an open plaza in front of Caesars. The filled the pedestrian walkways that people use to cross Las Vegas Boulevard. They filled the rooftop bar at Pure -- which is easily the best view of the show. They clogged the sidewalks, rendering them useless. And they even spilled out (a little bit) onto the street to watch the show.

And what it a show it was. It looked like they reached into the big Crayola box to create some of the colors in the sky. The variety of fireworks and shapes exploding in the sky was impressive. Was it as good as the annual show in Washington D.C.? No. But it was close. And that's high praise coming from someone who lived in Washington for several years. – VN

9. Minor league baseball game
Nothing says summer like baseball, and while you can't go to a Major League game in Las Vegas, you can see top-tier minor league ball by catching a Las Vegas 51s game at Cashman Field. The Triple-A affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays affiliate, 51s games run from just $10 up to $20 per seat. And like most minor league baseball teams, the 51s have great promotions to get people in those seats. The team will host the Budweiser Clydesdales on June 16, and every Thursday home game is a Budweiser Dollar Beer Night. The park will also have a fireworks show as part of the post-game festivities on June 17 and July 3, and giveaways galore throughout the season. Check out the schedule and buy tickets at the 51s website. – AT

8. Chandelier Bar at The Cosmopolitan
The Cosmopolitan has drawn rave reviews since opening in December, and at the heart of the Cosmopolitan experience is the Chandelier Bar (And if you're disappointed I didn't say Cosmo Girl, so am I).

The Chandelier Bar is a three-story structure that looks like a giant chandelier in the middle of the casino thanks to giant beaded curtains of light. But it only looks like a chandelier from the outside. Inside the chandelier sits three different bar experiences. The first floor of the Chandelier Bar is The Cosmopolitan's take on the ubiquitous "center" bars. The second floor is a cocktail lounge. And the third floor is a more general lounge with great views.

The bar tends to attract the mid-20s to mid-30s crowd. And many migrate from the Chandelier Bar to a night club across the hall later in the night. - VN

7. See a show
Las Vegas attracts top musical talent from around the globe, and many of the high-end casinos on the Strip have arenas that host these musical acts. A wide range of concerts will be held in Las Vegas this summer, ranging from Britney Spears at the MGM Grand Arena to New Kids on the Block and the Backstreet Boys at Mandalay Bay. Kings of Leon are also playing at Mandalay Bay this summer, while Paul McCartney fans can check out the Beatles legend at the MGM Grand Arena on June 10. – DI

6. Venetian Deep Stack Extravaganza
So you want to play in a well-run poker tournament in Vegas, but don't have the cash to jump into a WSOP event? Well The Venetian Resort-Hotel-Casino has just the tournament series for you. With events running from May 27 through July 15, the Venetian Deep Stack has events with buy-ins ranging from $340 to the $5,000 Main Event. Fourteen of the events are $340 no-limit Hold'em tournaments, and all but three of the series' 50 events are no-limit Hold'em tournaments, with an Omaha hi-low event already complete, a H.O.R.S.E. event on June 8, and a pot-limit Omaha tournament on June 15. The tournament also features a $550 "Position Poker" event on June 15, where the winner of each pot gets to act after the player with the dealer button, regardless of where he or she is sitting. – AT

5. 2011 NHL Awards
Sports awards shows are hit or miss by nature. Some years the ESPYs and the Heisman shows are fun to watch. Other years, not so much. But the annual NHL Awards show somehow always manages to please. Part of it is they're not afraid to make fun of themselves. Comedians poke fun of players and the game, and the players laugh their hearts out. The show also produces some fun video clips. Sure, the humor is kind of geeky. But there's a place for geeky humor -- and this is it. Plus, as Casino City's Dan Igo noted, it's a good excuse to get out to The Palms Casino Resort. Yep, that's right, The Palms. This year's NHL Awards are on June 22. - VN



4. Hit the links
If gambling and drinking in a casino is becoming too mundane for you, why don't you move both activities outdoors? The Las Vegas area offers plenty of world-class golf resorts. The best of these resorts is Shadow Creek in North Las Vegas. It is considered one of the top 100 golf courses in the U.S., and one of the top 20 public courses. The Tom Fazio-designed layout was built by Steve Wynn in 1989. Be prepared to shell out some big bucks to play it, however. It is open to all MGM Resorts property guests, but the greens fee is $500, which includes round-trip limousine service. Other top courses around Las Vegas include Cascata in Boulder City, Wolf Creek Golf Club in Mesquite and Wynn Las Vegas. - DI

3. Make a bet on your smartphone
As most sports bettors know, the toughest part about placing a sports bet in Las Vegas is getting to the sportsbook. Leroy's Sportsbook has solved that problem with some ingenious smartphone apps for Android phones, Android tables, and the BlackBerry. (Don't worry iPhone people, they're working on an app for you too.) It's super easy to use. Go to a Leroy's Sportsbook in Las Vegas (there are nine locations in Las Vegas and North Las Vegas) including Hooter's Casino Hotel and the Silverton Casino Lodge Las Vegas. Then sign up for an account, deposit some money and start betting away. It's that simple. You can place a bet from anywhere in Nevada. Enjoy. - VN

2. Go to the Miss USA Pageant at Planet Hollywood
Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino will host the Miss USA Pageant on June 19 at its Theatre for the Performing Arts. The 7,000-seat venue will likely be packed for America's greatest beauty concert. Tickets for the live finals telecast aren't cheap, at $100-$150 (plus processing fees of $20-$25), but dress rehearsal tickets are just $20 plus fees, and tickets to preliminary competition run from $35-$50 plus fees. And while there's no word as to whether Vegas sportsbooks will be offering odds on the winner, they can now take prop bets on these types of events. (If you're looking for a tip, Texas holds the record for most wins, with nine, while California is second with five. And a possible sleeper long shot may be Massachusetts, which has two wins in the last 13 years.) - AT

1. Catch a fight
Boxing and ultimate fighting can be terrible sports to watch on television. But in person, they are easily the most exciting event in the sports universe. It's not even close. And yes, I've seen overtime playoff hockey. I've seen extra time in the World Cup. I've seen Triple Crown races and I've seen the last two minutes of an NBA finals game. Like I said, it's not even close.

When you're watching a fight live, you can see and feel the power of the blows being thrown. You can see sweat and water flying off of the face of fighter as he absorbs a vicious blow. You can appreciate the power of the punches being thrown -- and how much damage they can cause. And you're sitting on the edge of the seat wondering if some brutal punch or lightning quick sequence of strikes is just going to leave you in awe.

And you're not alone in feeling that way. The entire crowd feels it. They know they're watching and cheering like the Romans did in the Colosseum when gladiators did battle. There's blood lust in the air. It's a chilling experience. And if you watch a good fight, you'll leave with a high unequal to anything you've experienced at another sporting event. You'll go to the bar and talk about it. You'll talk about it with your taxi driver. You'll spend days rehashing it over Facebook, Twitter an e-mail. It is the ultimate sporting experience, and you can't pass up an opportunity to find this out for yourself.

Fortunately, Las Vegas has a pair of big fights coming up this summer. UFC 132, which features Dominick Cruz and Urijah Faber in a terrific bantamweight title fight, is scheduled for the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Cruz is the current bantamweight champ and sports a 17-1-0 record. Faber is 25-4-0. On the boxing front, there's going to be a title unification bout (I love those) at Mandalay Bay on July 23. Khan (25-1) is the up-and-coming 24-year old World Boxing Association (WBA) junior welterweight champ. He's a hero in England, where he lives, and is expected to be a boxing star for many years to come. Meanwhile Zab Judah (41-6) is the tough, highly season but slightly less talented pro that most fighters have to go through to be recognized as true champions. Juda, the International Boxing Federation (IBF) junior welterweight title holder has a tough chin, punches with power and won't be easy to hurt. This fight should fun to watch, and if you're in Vegas for it, don't miss it. - VN
Top-10 other things to do in Las Vegas during the WSOP is republished from CasinoVendors.com.
Vin Narayanan
Vin Narayanan is the managing editor at Casino City. When he's not writing or editing stories, he likes to play Chinese Poker, Badugi, Razz and any other "non-traditional" poker game. He also thinks blackjack is his best game and loves game theory.

Before joining Casino City, Vin covered (not all at the same time) sports, politics and elections, wars, technology, celebrities and the Census for USATODAY.com, USA WEEKEND and CNN.

A proud graduate of Michigan State University, Vin can be found on most nights and weekends trying to find a way to watch the Spartans play football or basketball.