A Little Less Conversation!

I been gambling hereabouts for ten good solid years, If I told you all that went down it would burn off both of your ears.

Robert Hunter


Over the course of the previous twenty years there have not been many weekends that I could just drop what I was doing and head out of town without clearing with someone first. But Columbus Day weekend 2012 was different. I was still broken up with my girlfriend and my coworker and friend Derek mentioned he was trying to go to Vegas with a friend of his to celebrate another friends 21st birthday. Ok, yes, I was 45 at the time, and what is 45 year old hanging with 21 year olds.  Well, my coworker is a few years younger than me and his friend a few years younger and so on. But that’s not the pint of the story. I had an excuse to go to Vegas and no significant other to seek approval.

This strip would be my first introduction to the benefits of gambling via comps. I was able to get room at the MGM Grand, the largest Hotel in Vegas, for a significant discount due to my last trip to Vegas and putting my playing and other purchases through my player’s cards. I started getting players cards at every new casino I visited. Not only were comps available through playing, there was usually a first time bonus of a few bucks in form of free play at tables or slots. I generally avoided slots as they had no draw for me. But if they were giving free money, who was I to argue.

How to play at a lot of casinos in a short period of time? Go somewhere where there are a lot of casinos.

Now I haven’t written much about rules of my hobby, and at this point in time I hadn’t many. The rules I did have (And they probably weren’t established, but I did follow them) is that in order to count a casino it had to have live table games where chips could be won. I had to play at the casino and procure the chip myself and that once I visited a Casino I couldn’t count it again. Sure, if they had new or updated chips I can grab them and add them to my collection. But it didn’t add to the underlying count of visiting a Casino, playing and taking a chip(s).  I have received Chips from friends and purchased chips online and those do get added to my collection (Which in a sense is a related but distinctly separate hobby)

On my previous trips to Vegas, I visited, and played, at most of the Casinos on the Strip. With the help of ChipGide.com, a pretty comprehensive website for chip collectors that listed all casinos in most areas, I did a little recon before my trip so I’d be relatively efficient in my expedition of off-strip Vegas.

We got to Vegas mid-afternoon and my first adventure, while everyone else was chilling and getting ready for the evening, was to explore, on foot, the area and casinos east of the strip. It wound up being a three mile walk to visit four casinos, including the Hard Rock Casino. I was off to an auspicious start.

First night, hobby off, party on and hung out with the guys having fun on the strip.

Now Derek and I had an arrangement. I’d help him get to LV using some miles I had and he’s split a rental car with me. Renting a car in Vegas doesn’t make a lot of sense if you’re hanging around the strip, but if you are a casino hopper, it makes perfect sense.

The advantages of not drinking in Vegas is getting up early while everyone else is sleeping off hangovers. So next morning I was up early and decided to go drive south. Based on Intel, there were four casinos on or just off Las Vegas Blvd south of Mandalay Bay ranging from six to twelve miles away. The furthest, the M Resort and Casino, wasn’t in Vegas, but in Henderson, yet for reasons unknown it had Las Vegas stamped on its chips. After playing at the M, South Point and Silverton Casino’s, I stopped at the smallest casino I had ever seen. It was the Alamo Casino on Dean Martin Drive. It had one Black Jack table, that’s it. It was actually a truck stop with a Black Jack table and a few slot machines. And I didn’t play nor collect a chip. At that point it was craps or roulette (that rule would change soon enough)

As predicted, I was done my southern traversal and back to the MGM Grand by the time the guys were ready for the day. And as also predicted, the day would be lounging around the pool and drinking (except me)

So after a few hours in and around the pool, the guys headed back to their rooms to prepare (nap) for the evening’s agenda, I, again, hit the road.

I was firmly in the compiling phase of my new hobby. Of course, there isn’t much to see between Casinos in LV so I wasn’t missing much in ways of sightseeing . And a good discipline in gambling at a single casino is to walk away form a cold table so as not to bite to deep into your bank roll if things aren’t going well. That technique fits in perfectly with Casino Crawling. Play a few rolls and/or spins, no luck, no problem move on. Win, great, bankroll grows.

After changing from the pool, I went off strip on the west side this time. Was able to hit five Casinos in a seven mile loop just a few blocks west of the southern portion of the strip, plus one last off-strip casino on the east side that I missed the previous day. I was in Las Vegas for a little over one full day and I already visited and played at thirteen casinos.

That night was back to partying Las Vegas style. I was with one old friend and a bunch of new ones. And I was 45 and don’t drink. Fun to watch though. I think we bounced a little from a few bars until we finished the night at a relatively expensive night club in Planet Hollywood. Now nightclubs are not my scene, and the drill with these places is they give paying customers (us) a booth and a certain amount of alcohol and they shuttle groups of girls towards your area all night in the hopes you buy more booze. My much younger friends and associates are dancing and drinking and making nice with the ladies. I’m standing there surrounded by girls in cocktail dresses who are all the same age or younger than my daughters. Fun, right?  It actually was fun, but what most drinkers don’t realize is that us nondrinkers don’t lose memories, we remember everything. He he, but what happens in Vegas, right?

Next day, day three, time to knock of the northern strip. Last trip I never got further north on the strip than the Palazzo. I got in my car and visited and played at the remaining six casinos that I hadn’t visited. Those Included the Stratosphere Casino, the tallest freestanding observation tower in the US and Circus Circus Casino, where the table games are actually under a tent, the largest permanent big top circus tent in the world. I also hit the LVH, which used to be Las Vegas Hilton and became the 50th Casino I’ve played at.

Freemont Street from Above

The last night was a trip to Downtown Las Vegas. Downtown Las Vegas, or more precisely Fremont Street, is an outdoor party. It lacks the enormity and grandeur of the Las Vegas strip, but makes up for it with rampant street performers, outdoor bars, live music and a giant LED canopy stretching over two blocks long that displays a light & music show on it every hour after dusk. And, anchoring Fremont Street on three sides, Casinos. These casinos, for the most part, are small and crowded with low table minimums and old worn out felts, many with showgirls as dealers. The chips seem old too. Casinos were dotted along Fremont Street well before the Las Vegas Strip became what it is today, and it feels as retro.

There were four of us and I was driving, so I couldn’t control the entire agenda as if I was hopping on my own. However, due to the proximity of all the downtown casinos, and the guys enjoying the party atmosphere, I was able to dive in and out, mostly with the crew, and still manage to visit eight casinos in and around Fremont Street.

It isn’t easy visiting and playing at 27 Casinos in a three day stretch. It takes desire, dedication, stamina, quite a bit of luck and good amount of solitude. I’ve met a lot of people who enjoy Vegas and going to casinos in general, but most of them tend to enjoy staying put once they find somewhere they like. I do enjoy hanging out at a fun casino with fun people, but I do enjoy changing the pace and collecting those chips, too    Up Next…   They Don’t Mention Casinos in Monopoly

Up Next… It’s A Jersey Thing

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