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Betcha didn't even know I was gone

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Just got back yesterday from fabulous Las Vegas where the wife and I took a short vacation from the critter (who was staying with Shelly's sister) to enjoy eating, drinking, and gambling. We stayed at the Las Vegas Club, which has been one of our mainstays in Vegas. It ain't Caesar's Palace, but it's clean, has low-limit table games, and cost us about $35 a night.

We had plenty of good fun, despite our initial fright of waking up to four inches of snow on the ground that morning --in Fort Worth of all places. Our flight ended up leaving on-time, but spent three hours on the runway getting de-iced. We didn't have any pressing engagements on the other side, so we took the opportunity to catch up on our reading.

Once in Vegas, we had ourselves a good ole' gambling time. We played blackjack, craps, and three-card poker (a new table-game version of poker that's fun and dirt-simple to play). We played a couple of slot machines, which was basically a waste of time.

(Remind me never to play a slot machine again.)

The next night we did the Great Moments Room, which is a tiny dark little steakhouse in the hotel that happens to serve the best prime rib in town. Although next time I'll probably try their filet. The folks at the table next to us had one of those, and they were beautiful.

We also managed to check out a quite-nice art exhibit at the Venetian (much too high-class of a place for the likes of us). On the way out of the place, I managed to pick up a couple of 4-of-a-kinds on a video poker machine, which paid for admission to the art exhibit, bus fare to the hotel, and left me with a few bucks to spare.

Of course we also did the obligatory 99-cent shrimp cocktail at the Golden Gate, which is a Vegas tradition if there ever was one.

One thing that seems to have made a comeback in Vegas is the 1-cent slot machine. Of course, they're now quite a bit more sophisticated and are far more effective at draining your wallet than the old mechanical penny machines that you'll find at the biggest dives in town. The machine I played had up to fifteen paylines, and you could bet up to ten pennies per payline, which means that you can bet $1.50 per spin on a penny machine.

Of course, you don't have to bet that much on a spin, which brings me to. . .

How to get really drunk in Vegas really cheap

1. Go to one of those smaller, older downtown casinos (like the aforementioned Las Vegas Club or Golden Gate). The cocktail waitresses at those fancy new megaresorts are far too busy serving Gray Goose Cosmopolitans to $500 baccarat players to pay attention to the likes of you.

2. Stake out a penny machine in the main room of the casino. A lot of those old casinos have been expanded a half-dozen times, and they're a maze of side-rooms and hallways and such. Sitting near the bar is also a good idea.

3. Insert ten bucks (otherwise known as 1,000 pennies) into the machine. Play one penny per spin. You should be able to play for several hours without adding more cash. Resist the temptation to bet more.

4. When you hear the cocktail lady, flag her down, order your drink, and give her a healthy tip IN ADVANCE! Tipping in advance will ensure that your drink arrives posthaste. If you're worried about getting a watered-down drink, order a beer.

5. Repeat step 4 as many times as necessary, but without the tip. You're not really expected to tip more than once, especially if you're at a penny machine. If you're polite, she'll be by often. When Shelly and I played, our waitress was making the rounds faster than I could finish my drink.

6. Cash out once you've had enough to drink.

. . .Well, I guess there really is a purpose to those penny slots. They're good for getting pickled cheaply :)
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