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September 26th, 2018 at 9:13:49 AM permalink
SmoothGHR's blog post got me remembering my first trip to Vegas. So, I'm starting this thread for people to share their first time Vegas experiences.

Mine was New Years 1996. I was a senior at UF, and the Gators were playing in the Fiesta Bowl against Nebraska on Jan 2. I and some friends decided to take a road trip out to Tempe, making a few stops along the way. Our first was New Orleans.

After a few hours and more than a few beverages in the French Quarter, we decided to get something to eat at the Krystal's there on Bourbon St., where we ran into some of the Virginia Tech players (Tech was playing in the Sugar Bowl that year). There was one drunk guy in line (not in our group) that decided it was a good idea to antagonize them. Looking at the drunken idiot, and the VT players, I figured that guy was going to get his a$$ kicked. However, the players took the ribbing in stride, and the situation defused before anything got started. I'm guessing their coach warned them to be on their best behavior!

We then left New Orleans and drove straight through to the Grand Canyon -- a 26-ish hour drive only stopping for gas and food. There were 4 of us, so we could split the driving duties. I remember waking up in the middle of the night on I-40 in the Texas panhandle. It had rained overnight, and then it got cold. The roads ended up being frozen over. The first thing I saw when I awoke was an 18-wheeler in the next lane over spinning its tires and rolling backwards down the hill! Yikes! We ended up making it through ok, and by the time we stopped for breakfast somewhere in New Mexico, they had salted the roads.

We spent a few hours in Sedona, and then trekked up to the Grand Canyon. Interestingly, the federal government was shutdown at the time, which caused national parks to be closed. However, since it was such a massive tourist attraction for the State of Arizona, the federal government allowed the park to remain open, but be staffed by state personnel. The catch was that the state wasn't allowed to collect entrance fees, so we got in free!

The next day (which was New Year's Eve), we finally made it to Vegas. Our first stop was the Sahara for a few hands of blackjack and their buffet. Then we headed down to the Riviera for some craps.

As it grew later in the evening, the subject of where to spend the night came up. Now, when we were first planning this trip, I had called every hotel in the AAA tour book, but all of them were either booked full or asked astronomical prices for their last rooms. No availability in Vegas for New Years Eve -- who knew? ;) Later we found out that Vegas is the Pacific Time Zone Equivalent of Times Square back east.

So, we were resigned to the fact that we were not going to have a hotel room that night. My other friends figured they would sleep in the car. What? It's my first night in Vegas -- I am NOT sleeping in the car! Not being a stranger to pulling all-nighters, I figured I could make it till morning, no problem. We agreed that I would meet them at the LV Hilton (now the Westgate) Sportsbook in the morning.

I played BJ at the Barbary Coast the first part of the night. I remember everyone going outside about 11:58, and all rushing back in at 12:01! A couple of hours later, I decided to take a walk up the strip. I passed by the picket line outside the New Frontier, and wandered into the Westward Ho for a few hands of BJ. At some point, I went to the McDonalds on the north end of strip that had the big neon McDonald's sign. Eventually, I made it to Slots-A-Fun and played $1 BJ and $2 craps until the sun came up. After which, I moseyed over to the Hilton.

Seeing the LV Hilton sportsbook for the first time was a shock. It was HUGE. This turned out to be a problem finding my friends. We had a plan to meet at the sportsbook, but no plan as to where in the sportsbook. I looked everywhere for them, but could not find them. I figured they were probably looking for me, and we were missing each other. So, I decided to have a seat where I could see most of the book.

I determined the best spot was at the Sigma Derby, which was out in front of the Snack Bar at the time. The first time seeing a Sigma Derby machine, I was fascinated and decided to play a few races, keeping one eye out for my friends, and other on the mechanical ponies! Eventually, we did meet up. Although we didn't have a room for New Year's Eve, we did book a room at the Motel 6 on Tropicana for New Year's Day. Since we were all tired, we made it a short day and headed to the Motel 6 in the afternoon and crashed.

We left for Tempe the next morning, but not before placing a few bets on the game. I put a few bucks on the money line for the Gators, and then noticed one of the props bets was Florida O/U at 28. The Gators had not scored less than 28 Points in a game all year. I figured this one was easy money!

Of course, the Gators would go on to get trounced 62-24, costing me both of my bets. We left Tempe the next morning, and drove 30 hours straight back to Gainesville.
"Dealer has 'rock'... Pay 'paper!'"
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September 26th, 2018 at 10:36:40 AM permalink
Spring of 1963. Driving cross country to my Dads new duty station. We had gone by boat from Japan to Seattle where we drove someone's car to San Fransico where we picked up our car, a 1958 Opel Cadet hatchback. Ironically, back then, Opel was a German car. Later the brand became a Japanese brand but in the early 60s, German cars were pretty rare in Japan. Not very popular in the U.S. either.
It's my parents,my older sister,the family mutt , myself and three years worth of personal effects in a very tiny car.
My Dad has a friend in Oklahoma so that is where we are headed, before ending up in NYC where my father is assigned to 1st Army Headquarters, a post he was thrilled to get.
So we stop for the night, in a rickety old hotel called the Hitching Post, some five miles from Las Vegas.
My Dad goes into town that night and comes back after we have gone to sleep. We are supposed to go to the Grand Canyon the next day. My sister is very excited but I know nothing about it.
Morning comes and I find out that we are going nowhere. Some singer my Mom loves is performing in town that night,and they decide to go if they can find a sitter.
I'm in hog heaven. Instead of sitting for long hours in a car, we spend the day in an enormous swimming pool.
The next day, we leave early and after a very long day of driving, we reach the Canyon at dusk.
All I remember of the rest of the trip was a late season snow storm forced us to go very far south and we never got to Oklahoma.
Not your typical first time in Vegas story.

PS- to my amazement, one day while exploring North Vegas, I stumbled upon the Hitching Post. Not only is it still there, but it has an outstanding, but tiny, restaurant that serves a great $15 steak.
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September 26th, 2018 at 10:51:54 AM permalink
When I was about 12 we took a family camping trip to Zion National Park, from the Los Angeles area, where we lived. We drove right through Vegas on the way and I begged to stop, but my dad didn't want to waste the time.

The whole time on the camping trip I begged to stop in Vegas on the way home. This was a rare time he relented to being begged -- normally he was very big on principle and would be more inclined to do the opposite of what his kids wanted if they got on his nerves.

So, we stopped at the Circus Circus to take in the buffet, which was the only kid friendly attraction in Vegas at the time. Outside of a buffet called the Royal Fork in Seattle, this was the only buffet I had ever been to and was super excited. Today I would make jokes about that buffet, but at the time I was beside myself with glee.

In the process of walking to the buffet, my younger brother saw lots of other kids carrying stuffed animals won in the carnival games. So, he turned on the begging to be able to play. Even back then I knew a sucker bet when I saw one and wanted nothing to do with those carnival games. However, he is not the odds wizard I am and was practically crying to play some games. He actually had some loose change on him too to play. I think he liked to carry about what little money he had.

As you might expect, I openly laughed at him and told him what a sucker he was and that he would win nothing and lose all his money. To make a long story short -- that is exactly what happened. I teased him about it the entire long drive back to LA about it. He was so mad. I could tell he was just fuming at me rubbing salt in his wounds. He had no legitimate defense, so gave me the silent treatment.

As I look back, yes, I was a total jerk about it. However, we had a very adversarial relationship and he got on my nerves any way he could when he had the opportunity. This is just how brothers are, especially four years apart in age, which is an awful gap -- too far apart to be friends, but not far enough for there to be respect.

So, that is my first Vegas trip story.
It's not whether you win or lose; it's whether or not you had a good bet.
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September 26th, 2018 at 11:05:35 AM permalink
My first Vegas trip was when I was 11 with my family.

We stayed at Circus Circus.

Various things I remember:
-Eating at the Circus Circus buffet with my sister and her boyfriend while my parents gambled
-Going up to the top of the Stratosphere
-Riding the rides in the Adventuredome at Circus Circus
-Eating at the Sahara buffet and thinking it was NASTY
-Riding the roller coaster at NYNY
-I remember all the discarded porn ads blowing around on the street (that kind of thing sticks with an 11 year old)
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September 26th, 2018 at 11:22:39 AM permalink
First time in Vegas, that I legitimately remember -- I must've been 12 or so. Parents left me in the hotel/reception area of some casino so they could go play craps, I just remember there being the keno board there, so I watched it and tried to figure out a way to beat it...and also "played" fake numbers for fun. Thinking back on it, it was probably Main Street Station, since my parents liked to play Downtown, and in my memory it seems like it was MSS (not that I knew then).

Parents wanted us to all stay at a hotel with a kid-friendly pool, so my dad called different places ahead of time to figure out what kind of pool they all had. We settled on the Mirage, because they had a regular pool, jacuzzi, whirlpool, lazy river, waterfall, slides, etc. Dad wanted to make sure it was all in service before setting up reservation, because apparently he had gotten hornswoggled in the past. They said it's all operational, all good, blah blah blah.

Well, we get there, and it turns out the slides are out of commission for who knows why. The "whirlpool" was actually just a feature in the jacuzzi -- something about the jets shooting out water in a spiral-ish way, so it can simulate a whirlpool. The lazy river was also out of commission because who the hell knows. There was actually a waterfall, which was kinda cool, but I mean, it's cool for a few minutes then it's like okay -- just got water falling on me, this isn't that great.

We ate at the Bellagio buffet.

Rode the two rollercoasters on top of Stratosphere. There's one that goes around the circumference, IIRC, which was kinda cool but not super thrilling. Mostly just exciting because you're so high up. The other one, which I heard is no longer a thing, is the one that shoots you STRAIGHT UP. And holy hell that was probably the most scared I've ever been on a roller coaster. #NeverAgain

We also went to some candy factory that I think is (or was?) on the strip. That was cool. Also went to the arcade at Circus Circus -- although I've never been a huge fan of arcades TBH. Whenever my parents gave me money for an arcade, I usually just spent a little bit of it and saved the rest.

We also ate at the Wynn buffet.

Dad got my brother and I a $1 chip from a bunch of different casinos. I probably still have those $1 chips somewhere.
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September 26th, 2018 at 12:10:13 PM permalink
1986 while in college a buddy and I decided to fly to Las Vegas from Iowa City to learn to count cards. We were only 20 years old and neither of us had ever gambled in a casino. I programmed our calculators to drill us on basic bj strategy. By the time we landed in LV we were ready to go. I believe I brought $200 to gamble with. Stayed at the Continental (now Silver Sevens) and started our BJ and AP careers.
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September 26th, 2018 at 12:17:31 PM permalink
First time in Vegas....

Stayed at the Hacienda Casino. Saw Redd Foxx.

That was a LONG time ago
Beware, I work for the dark side.... We have cookies
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September 26th, 2018 at 12:33:52 PM permalink
Came out for a ConAg/ConExpo show in 1996. In town for 10 days with only 8 hours of work required. 4 hours first day. 4 hours last day. Had a company room aft the Hilton. Wound up going on 3x 36hour binge sessions. Ran super good everywhere. Came to town with $1500 and wound up with rooms at Stardust, Frontier, Hilton, and the Horseshoe downtown by the end. Left town with $2000 even after dropping a small fortune at the time on all kinds of nonsense.
Last edited by: MaxPen on Sep 26, 2018
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September 26th, 2018 at 12:41:12 PM permalink
My first Vegas trip as an adult was late September, 2001
I'd been scheduled to go September 16th but all flights were either still grounded or had just resumed. In any event, I couldn't have left NY any earlier.
Stayed at the El Cortez, in a vintage smoking room, and played $2/$3 blackjack, using KO and spreading from $2 to an occasional $10. Did really well, losing $35 in nearly sixty hours of play over the next week. Sadly, I lost my entire $300 slot budget but did get a number of meals comped.
Moved to Westward Ho for a night. The place was a small village onto itself. Only two stories high, it had about 3000 rooms, and 99 cent foot long hotdogs. Blackjack was mediocre, with doubling restricted to hard 9-11. It was right next door to Slots of Fun that had a great low roller game and an even better dealer that was a dead ringer for Chuck Berry.
Spent the last two days at The Venetian, in a suite that cost more for two nights than the previous nine nights.
Lesson learned. The V had decent BJ with $5 minimum in the day and they'd grandfather you in for a good bit.
At the end of ten days, I'd lost $60 playing BJ, lost $450 on slots, spent $700 of my $1500 spending money and decided I would move here. Fifteen years, and countless detours and derailments later, I did.
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September 27th, 2018 at 7:03:08 AM permalink
I grew up in NJ. I turned 21 right around the time that gambling in AC began, so I made plenty of AC trips.

My first trip to Vegas was for a wedding of a friend of my wife's family, around 2000.

I did a lot of internet research, even preparing a visitor's guide of stuff we should do while there. It had stuff like the Bellagio fountains and conservatory, and the Stratosphere observation deck and rides (just to watch the other people ride. I knew none of us had the balls to actually ride!)

My wife and I stayed at the Rio, for free, based on her play in AC. Her parents and brother and brother's wife stayed at Sahara.

I have no idea where the wedding took place. It was about a 20 ride, sort of north west of the strip if I recall correctly. The ceremony was in an open-air pavilion, with the reception indoors. I believe it took place on a Friday.

I only know it wasn't on Sunday because that particular Sunday was Mother's Day. It was also my birthday. I remember that specifically, because it was my wife's idea to use my birthday as a way to ditch her mother on Mothers Day!

The special thing we did for my birthday? We went to the Hilton and did the Star Trek Experience. While I'm not a hard-core Trekie, I'm enough of a fan that I wanted to do it even if I had to do it alone. My wife, on the other hand, while I watch any version of Start Trek, would bust my chops by asking about "the guy with the ears".

Fortunately, while at the Star Trek Experience, she was enjoying it enough to not needle me about it.

Me? I thought that the rides / experiences, were somewhat hokey and contrived. On the other hand, I REALLY liked the museum of the future type setup in the waiting / queue area.

We also had lunch at Quarks. Nothing special.

I have no idea how many days we were in Vegas. But there are only a few other things that stand out from that trip.

The 6 of us ate at the Sahara buffet. We all thought it sucked. In retrospect, we went at a prime dinner time, and the place was empty. That should have been a sign.

We also saw the Scintas. FANTASTIC show. I stood up for "Skeeter On My Peter"!

One evening at Rio, I was walking around, and at a table near where my wife was playing, were three Elvis impersonators. Two were in full regalia. The third had the hair and Mutton chops but was in street clothes, and would have been overlooked had he not been with the others. I went to the wife's table to tell her, and the dealer said, "Those guys are here all the time."

Lastly, I got introduced to 6:5 BJ. At the time, Rio had a nightclub called Bikini something. Outside was a 6 table BJ pit with dealers wearing, duh, bikinis. And it was $25. For whatever stupid reason (yeah, to look at the girls), I played. In a few hands I got a BJ, and got the 6:5 payment. When I complained, they promptly pointed out the sign. I got up and never played 6:5 again.

(On a side note: while I never played 6:5 again, I HAVE played even money BJ. On subsequent visits, I discovered that Sahara had $1 BJ that paid even money. If I was down, I played it. But I also did crazy stuff like splitting tens. For a buck, the reaction was great entertainment.)

Our next trip was with another couple. Friends of hers. It was either the following August, or 15 months later.

We stayed at the Flamingo and were shocked at how small and unappetizing the Diamond lounge was.

One morning, the wife & I went to the Stratosphere. We wanted to go to the top, but were put off by the cost. At the time, I didn't know the trick to get there for free. When we were done, I convinced her that we should walk to the next casino. Circus Circus. After all, it was only two inches on the map. I also said I wanted to do the 99¢ hot dogs there, so we didn't have lunch yet.

So, hungry, early in the afternoon, in August, we walked the strip from Strat to CC. About halfway there, she said that it seemed to be getting further away. I agreed, but didn't say so. Instead, I said that when we're done with CC, we'll cab it to the next one. I said this thinking about Slots-O-Fun. I had no idea they were so close that they shared a driveway!

It's less than one mile, but that dessert heat really got to us. (I've since made that walk, in October, in the evening. Piece of cake!)

Anyway, we finally made it, and I got my 99¢ hot dog. I think it was overpriced. Terrible does not adequately describe it.

That was the second time we were in Vegas, but the last time for my wife. I've been there dozens of times since, but solo. As I mentioned in the G2E thread, she's coming this year. I arrive on 10/7, she arrives on 10/10. We go to Laughlin on 10/12 then home on 10/14. Should be fun (I hope).
I invented a few casino games. Info: 覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧 Superstitions are silly, childish, irrational rituals, born out of fear of the unknown. But how much does it cost to knock on wood? 😁

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