My Las Vegas experience – Best games and places on the Strip

When my dad asked me what I wanted for my 21st birthday, I can assure you he wasn’t expecting me to say a trip to Las Vegas. But that was exactly what I said and after some serious campaigning, a calculation of what my siblings have gotten from my parents since they were born and even a game of sneaky poker at home between my dad and I – with the winner determining the result – I was rallying my friends to visit the Strip with me.

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Available to residents of United States
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Available to residents of United States

My boyfriend and two other friends signed up, and we were booking flights and accommodation like a player on a roulette table when ‘no more bets’ is about to be called. We were excited for the glitz and glamour of Vegas, but more excited to get in and win some money because winning in Vegas has a better ring to it than winning anywhere else.

We had booked into Caesars Palace, primarily due to my then obsession with The Hangover. Unfortunately we were dropped at the back entrance to Caesars, meaning we missed out on saying ‘did Caesar live here?” Once I got over my initial disappointment from the mishap of our planned grand entrance, I was amazed by the beauty of the Hotel. We stayed in the Octavius tower, which was amazing, but if I were to go again I’d get something a lot cheaper since we hardly spent any time in our room anyway.

We threw our luggage in our room and went to explore the casino floor, and even jump on over the the countless the line the Strip. Of course we armed ourselves with a foot long tequila slushy to get the ball rolling.

Table games in Las Vegas

We weren’t as experienced with gambling as we like to think we are now, so we weren’t really sure where to start. We did notice the baccarat tables were incredibly popular with the big spenders, but craps had our interest from the moment we laid our eyes on the array of tables lining the casino floor.

It might have been the boisterous crowd in conjunction with our buzz we had going on from our slushies, but we were keen to check out the action, and even have a few rolls ourselves.

Las Vegas craps
We entered the game when the dealer had just cleaned up and the crowd was a bit rowdy. My boyfriend, with liquid courage in tow, somehow managed to become the shooter straight away. He got in there and placed a bet on the Pass Line. While I didn’t really know what was going on, my boyfriend had some idea and when he scored an 11, all I knew was that we had won, but now know for a Pass line bet to win, a seven or 11 needs to appear on the dice. I didn’t want to be a shooter at all, I was much to shy at this point, and chose to make my bets but passed on shooter status the entire time, which you can indeed do. We had a few more bets but weren’t so lucky, and instead of staying we decided to leave before we lost all of our money.

Las Vegas baccarat
We didn’t have enough to join the packed high limit baccarat tables, but we all stood around and enjoyed watching the high stakes being played. It was here we figured out the best bet in baccarat is the bankers bet. We knew nothing of odds, or that the banker bet has the house edge of 1.06%, while the player bet has the house edge of 1.24%, but we did notice that all the baccarat winners were regularly betting on banker, and regularly winning. We found a lower limit table, with some younger people sitting around it, obviously on the same pay packet as we were, and tried our luck at the banker bet. We ended up winning around $300 between us and the voice of reason, also known as my good friend, advised us to walk away while we were up. So obviously we went to the next table game.

Blackjack
None of us had ever played blackjack at this point so we weren’t sure of the best game strategy, or even that there was a strategy. However, when we sat down at a table, which was empty, a dealer happened to teach us some strategic moves, which I know now as the basic strategy. He told us when to hit in accordance to his up card and when to stand, as well as the best times to split, since we wrongly assumed that all pairs should just be split. If you get a chance in Vegas, find an empty table and you might get lucky and taught a few things by your dealer.

Las Vegas electronic gaming machines

If you ever want to get lost in a sea of slot machines, go to Vegas. You can’t get anywhere, or to anything, without passing a row or two of slot machines. I had won a fair bit in the past on pokies but I found them to be the same no matter where you are in the world, in terms of land-based venues. Online they’re quite unique so I usually opt to play there. The Big Wheel on the other hand is one of my favourite games. We found both the electronic version and a human dealer version in Vegas and proceeded to try our luck by regularly putting our money on the joker to get a payout of 45:1. It rarely won, but watching the wheel tick over always seems to provide an exciting thrill. But after dwindling down our winnings it was time to explore the rest of Vegas.

Entertainment at Las Vegas casinos

Of course we mainly went to gamble but you can’t go past the entertainment offered in Las Vegas if you want to experience the entire Vegas package. Here is some of the entertaining things we got up to when we weren’t busy rolling dice or trying to get a hand of 21.

Las Vegas Ice Bar – When we were strolling around the Monte Carlo, a fair way down the Strip from Caesars, we noticed the Minus5 Ice Bar. It was a bit expensive for our budget, but since we were in Vegas we decided to take the plunge. We swapped our jackets for eskimo jackets and shoes for giant boots and in we went. We got a free drink first up and it was in a cup made completely out of ice. We were a bit bored after a while, and a bit cold, so if you prefer a thrill when in Vegas stick to the casino floor.

Las Vegas nightlife – You can spend all night gambling but the longer you gamble, the more likely you will be losing in an attempt to make up for any losses. Some have successful all-nighter streaks, but we didn’t want to risk it every night so we visited the nightclubs located conveniently in the casino building. We would have a few wagers and then head on up to the nightclubs. Planet Hollywood had a great deal at their nightclub with a $30 all you can drink bar tab. We tried to win $30 each on the pokies before going up, but we weren’t as successful as our previous bets had been. Every nightclub had a promoter trying to get you to go to their club and some had some good deals, so I recommend you take advantage. You’ll find them floating around out the front of the casino. Our favourite nightclub that we found however was Caesars nightclub, PURE, as it was glamorous, we received table service, and most of all it was fun.

Las Vegas shows – There are countless shows held at each of the casinos along the Strip, from musicals, to circuses, and everything in between. Basically, Vegas is the best place to see a show. We saw Circus du Soliel at the Bellagio, which meant we got to have a few throws of the dice at the craps table before we went in. You can get cheap tickets from various casinos if you have a look around.

Overall, head to Vegas if you are a serious gambler as every player should have Vegas on their resume, and it doesn’t hurt to enjoy some entertainment on the side.