April 2, 2019
The first trick in beating the odds of sin city, is to pick the days of the week of your stay. Sunday through to Thursday nights are a bargain, whilst Friday and Saturday nights require you to take out a second mortgage. Getting the days of the week right meant we paid just over NZD$60 per room per night for a three star hotel. (We could have paid around $190 a night for 5 star luxury - I seriously considered it!) I had chosen the "D Hotel", downtown Las Vegas specifically for the location. The doors of the "D" open directly onto Fremont street, and what is known as "The Fremont Experience" - and it is that and more! Fremont pedestrian street is one big party! Right outside our hotel doors, the "D" hosts a rock concert each night with some pretty talented cover bands. The whole 1500 foot long experience is covered by a the largest screen in the world that projects spectacular sound and light shows, in technicolour splendor. At intervals down the street is a different performance. Elvis is singing his balads, then further down it's an 80's hair rock band belting out Rock of Ages. Hundreds upon hundreds of people, Go-cup drink in hand, milling around enjoying the atmosphere. Street entertainers, and "photo-op" cosplayers were everywhere, and no shortage of scantily clad young ladies (or guys for the ladies) to pose with. Its a cacophony of sound and sights, and a hell of a lot of fun! Any trip to Vegas has to include a show. At any one time there are 9 or more Cirque du Soleil's on in Vegas, a number of headline acts (Celine Dion, Britney etc), a myriad of cover shows, and comedy acts galore. We chose the "Carrot Top" prop-comedy show - "Laugh til your hair turns orange". For US$99 each, our seats were three from the front and in the centre. Perfect! The show was a riot! The cynical curly topped red-head had a twisted sense of humor, with a show that was made up of one-line gags around multitudes of ridiculous props that he had devised himself. Think "baby carrier for rednecks", and he pulls out a baby doll strapped to a beer carton. It was original and hilarious! But the time comes, when you have had enough of the party and the one-liners, and you need to get down to the serious Vegas business of gambling! The best gambling is on "The Strip", 20 minutes by cab from Fremont. This is where the big casinos are, housed in the most audaciously lavish hotels that you can imagine. The Luxor - a behemouth black glass pyramid that cuts a striking shape on the Vegas cityscape. The Paris hotel with a replica Eiffel tower dominating the street view on the Strip. Then there is the Belagio, and its famous fountains. When they erupt and dance to music, the whole street stops and stands to watch! The Belagio felt good. A little quieter...a little classier - sleek italian style (or as much as this gaudy city will allow). We headed for the Black Jack tables - $15 minimum bet. We had devised a 5 point system to follow, and we were serious about winning back the cost of our stay. Black Jack has by far the best odds of any casino game, if you play the system by the numbers. 1. Don't get drunk, not even tipsy. It impairs your judgment and makes you think you are relying on lady luck instead of the system. 2. Determine your stake before you step foot inside. Be prepared to lose it, but no more. This will give you the courage you need to take those calculated risks. The rules of the game are of course to get as close to 21 as you can. Your 2 cards are delt face up, and you can opt to draw more. The dealer deals himself one card face up and one face down. Enter rules 3, 4, & 5 3. At any time, there is a 30% chance that a dealt card will be worth 10, so always assume the dealers face down card is worth 10. 4. The dealer has to draw cards up until 17, so if their face up card is anything less than a 7, their chance of busting over 21 is really high. 5. If the dealers top card is under 7 it doesn't matter how low your cards are - just sit on them and let the dealer win the hand for you. For two and a half hours, we followed our plan to the letter, with lady luck only throwing us a few curve balls. At the end of our evening (2am in fact) we had more than doubled our money! We had beaten the house at the Belagio! Our job here in Vegas was done!