Las Vegas Travel Blog› entry 5 of 7 › view all entries
Time to cave in and experience Vegas. The entire reason for this trip was to celebrate Ericâs turning 21, so we booked a night at the MGM GrandâŠaffording him the opportunity to bed down in one of the grandiose casinoâs and enjoy a night of gambling. My wife booked two rooms --- she and Spencer would hit the hay as usual and let the boys stay out late to squander their cash.
We began the day feeling like veterans, defiantly heading straight to the MGM Grand parking lotâŠand sure enough, free parking. It really is so cool to park for nothing in a multi-story garage in a major city! Brunched at a casino diner and then split up --- Eric & Kim wanted to head up the strip to visit the Guggenheim extension that is here, leaving me to occupy Spencer for the afternoon.
Vegas excels at free over-the-top entertainment, but we learned the travel lit for this place requires frequent updates. I escorted Spencer to the lion exhibit within MGM. Rather incredible that they have real lions living inside the hotelâŠand unlike most zoo exhibits, these beasts were constantly being enthused by attendantsâŠthey seemed to be having an MGM Grand time!
From here we ventured to the Tropicana, walking briskly to pin down a karaoke bar in time for the free ârare, exotic bird showâ that was supposed to start at 1:30. We finally located the stage in yet another labyrinth of a casino, but it was rather dead. I inquired of a barmaid when the bird show would begin and she replied that it had ceased about a year ago! Be preparedâŠthis is the first of many similar disappointments!
Unabashed, I escorted Spencer across
Spencer and I have enjoyed several of this worldâs premiere roller coastersâŠso stop #1 was the Express. It is a good rideâŠalthough a bit pricey since we are accustomed to paying a single entrance fee and riding whatever we want thereafter at no incremental charge. After this I bought $20 of quarters for Spence to squander in the arcade. Have to admit disappointmentâŠthe arcade did not offer anything more compelling than we could enjoy in our hometownâŠdespite having a broad array of basic video games, etc. Travel literature suggested this was a unique venue.
Kim & Eric eventually caught up with us (how did we ever survive before cell phones???), and we repaired back to the MGM Grand to check in. This place has more hotel rooms than any other venue on our planet, I think, and I was impressed that our rooms were tastefully appointed! Everybody freshened up and we headed downstairs for an upscale dinner at the Cob Hill restaurant inside the casino to officially celebrate Ericâs coming of age.
A splendid dinner spot! Even though Eric was miserably dressed (he had only packed t-shirts), we were treated fabulously and though the fare was over-priced, they had some excellent services which eased the pain. I wonât comment on just how high the entrĂ©e prices wereâŠbut they narrowed the gap, lol! We were all treated to a clam appetizer which was scrumptious, and they subsequently brought out a unique serving platter holding five varieties of mashed potatoes --- including garlic and jalapeno, which floated the boat for Kim and me!
After this repast, we returned to our rooms and the boys prepared for our night of gambling. Admit that I have played poker for years, and inculcated this passion in my stepsons (whenever we all get together itâs a night of cardsâŠthough I try to reinforce it isnât ârealâ because we arenât betting real money)âŠbut I was intimidated by not ever having gambled in a casino! Havenât mentioned this, but our resort is next door to a casino (South Coast) and Eric visited it Sunday nightâŠso he had more experience than me, lol!
Eric & I hit the floor and sat down at a Blackjack table with a $10 minimum bet. The dealer was hitting 21 left and rightâŠand it was not even a half hour later that we were both lost our $100. I had previously cautioned Eric that both Craps and Roulette were losing propositionsâŠthe pay-offs are minimally below the odds of achievement so long run you are a guaranteed loser. I like draw poker, where bluffing, betting skill and understanding mathematical odds determine what you should draw for introduce an element of skill --- but of course you canât play that here.
We parted ways after this and I hit one of the very frequent ATMâs for $400âŠrealizing that I would need to weather storms to recoup my lossesâŠand observed. Didnât find any regular poker, but eventually settled upon a bizarre variant where you were dealt five cards down and had to make a hand with four cards (keep in mind that this makes it much easier to reach a straight or a flush!). Obviously pure luckâŠbut after you see your cards you get to make another bet. I figured that by applying common sense, you had an edge by maxing out your supplemental bet whenever you had a good hand!
My gut feeling proved correctâŠthough perhaps I was just lucky. I can certainly attest to the allure of betting --- though my table mates hailed from