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Top-10 tips for enjoying Vegas

7 April 2008

Las Vegas can be an intimidating town for first-time visitors and gamblers. Between the glitz, glamour and astonishingly astronomical number of choices of casinos, games and restaurants to choose from, sensory overload can set in quickly. So if you're headed to Vegas in the near future and want to make the most of the trip, take these tips to heart and you'll definitely have a good time.

10. Don't watch the news

Everything in Vegas is designed to ensure the "real world" doesn't intrude on your fun. The absence of clocks in casinos, the abundance of people-watching opportunities, the excitement of the tables and the spectacular entertainment create an environment that allows people to escape from the world. So embrace it. Don't watch the news. Don't check e-mail. Let all the pressure of the world escape your body and let the Vegas mojo wash over you. When your time in Vegas is over, you'll be in awe of just how far removed you were from reality, and feel truly refreshed by the experience.

9. Walk the streets

It's impossible to truly appreciate the scale of Las Vegas unless you walk the Strip. That's when the sheer enormity of how big these casinos are -- they take up city blocks -- kicks in. Combine that with the incredible amounts of eye candy roaming the streets and you get an experience that should not be missed.

8. Talk to your cabbies

Las Vegas taxi drivers are full information, and can be downright entertaining -- if you take the time to talk to them. Things you might learn in conversation with them include: they'll take you to strip clubs for free because they receive kickbacks from the clubs, the worst accident involving a speed bump happened at Caesar's Palace when a valet drove over the huge speed bump by the Forum shops too quickly and flipped the car (thus blocking all traffic in the parking garage), traffic is going to get worse when some new properties open up and flood about 10,000 more hotel rooms into the market and that Ethiopian women make good wives (and no, we're not making that conversation up).

7. Get a player's card

One of the universal goals for everyone in Vegas is to get "comped" a room or a meal. Well, you can't do that without a player's card. So when you start playing in a casino, make sure the first thing you do is get those critical pieces of plastic. Use them whenever you play. And pay attention to the rules when they give you the card. For new players, there are frequently quick ways to get a couple of free buffets.

6. Bring your ATM card, not cash

Relying on an ATM card for cash instead of bringing a wad is the best money management tool in the world. It ensures that no matter how bad your luck is, you can only lose as much as you daily withdrawal limit, which in most cases is $500.

5. Watch a BIG game in a sportsbook

Watching any big sporting event is exciting. Watching a big game where everyone in the room has money riding is an adrenaline-filled thrill ride that everyone has to experience once. Because you're watching the game in a sportsbook, almost everyone in the room has a financial stake in the outcome. And with the prevalence of prop bets, many have money riding on almost every play. The end result of all that money being wagered is people either lustily cheering or booing every play. All of that emotion creates an electric atmosphere that you have to experience at least once on your trip to Vegas.

4. Visit more than one casino

The character of every casino is different. Some have really low table minimums and dealers that love to interact with players. Others require more sizable bets and feature dealers that are more cool and detached. And the ambience at every casino is different. Some places are so comfortable you never want to leave. And others have so much going on that you never feel comfortable at the table. The only way to sort through all of this data is to play at a bunch of casinos, and see which one you enjoy the most.

3. Talk to fellow players

Gambling is supposed to be a social activity -- so talk to your fellow players. Find out where they're from, what they do for a living. Maybe they'll be the pilots who perform the flyovers at sporting events. More often than not, you'll find something in common and forge a bond that's more just trying to beat the dealer. And when that happens, the gambling becomes really fun. You stop worrying about how much you're winning and losing and start focusing on having a good time with the people at the table. And ironically enough, that when most people start winning money.

2. Talk to the dealers

This is actually one of the best ways to ensure that you have a good time at the table. Dealers want to be entertained and engaged as much as players. And if you take the time to talk to them and cultivate a relationship, they'll be pretty good about warning you when you're about to make a bad bet, and steering you to better options that you might not have considered. The more you talk to them, the better it is, because then the table starts talking and there's some friendly banter that keeps things light and fun. And if you luck out, you might find the dealer that decides to teach you the finer points of the game. And that's when you know you've hit the jackpot.

1. Spend more money on food than gambling

The great thing about Las Vegas is there are more quality dining options there than any other place in the world. So don't skimp on your food budget. Save the Subway sandwiches and pizza slices for home. Instead, sample the different buffets, which offer everything from crab legs and lobster to beef sirloin and unbelievably sumptuous desserts. Or try a steakhouse or a great sushi joint. Or if the fancy strikes, go for Indian or hit the great Asian noodle places. But take chance. The restaurants in Vegas are filled with great chefs who really know how to prepare food. So sit back and eat up a storm. You can always start that diet after you get back from your trip.

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Best of Vin Narayanan
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.

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.