Lifestyle: The Gambler
Know when to fold 'em? When to walk away, when to run? The dealing is never done here in Vegas, where gambling is primo entertainment. And we've got a few tips for you.
Q: What casino events shouldn't be missed?
A: Well, for those folks serious about poker, the World Series of Poker tournament at the Rio is a must. Don't even think about this one if you're not a star-quality player, though. For all you regular Joes, you might want to try your hand on a one-armed bandit in a slot tournament. And you know, bingo isn't just for little old ladies anymore. Caught poker fever like the top celebrities who hit town? Many casinos offer poker rooms for guests who wish to indulge in this increasingly popular game.
Race and sports books always are a hotbed of activity, particularly during the Super Bowl and March Madness. Madness, that's a perfect word to describe it. All those numbers! You need a betting guide to figure it all out.
Q: I'm a newbie when it comes to gambling, any way I can pick up a few tips before I hit the casino?
A: You don't have to be a pro to gamble, but knowing the rules of playing and betting is a good place to start. First-time gamblers can take free gaming lessons and get some tips on betting on everything from auto races to baseball.
Q: Are there any other etiquette or casinos rules I should know about?
A: For starters, if you aren't 21, you aren't allowed to gamble. Although those younger than 21 may be seen walking through a casino on their way to a restaurant or movie theater, the legal gambling age is 21. Card counting may not be illegal, but it is frowned upon. Also, casinos are private property and reserve the right to refuse service to anyone they want. Those excluded from casinos because of mob connections or because they were caught cheating are listed in Nevada's Black Book. And don't count on chatting on your cell phone the next time you want to gamble. Aside from poor reception in many of the casinos, most sports books and casinos do not allow cell phone use.
Q: Where can I combine my two favorite activities -- gambling and eating?
A: Enjoy a hot dog while placing a bet on your favorite team at Mandalay Bay's eatery underneath those larger-than-life screens. Super Chef Emeril Lagasse brings his Creole flare to the sports book at Palazzo with Lagasse's Stadium--a restaurant and sports book so you don't have to miss a second of the big game. The Earl of Sandwich serves gourmet sandwiches right across from The Playing Field Race and Sports Book at Planet Hollywood. Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill, serving contemporary Southwestern food, sits right off the sports book at Caesars Palace. The enormous sports book at Red Rock Resort boasts the adjacent Turf Grill.
Q: What about smoking? Can I light up while I gamble?
A: Every casino allows smoking. If you are looking for a smoke-free place to play, most poker rooms including Caesars, Palace Station, Santa Fe Station, Texas Station, Bellagio and Golden Nugget are smoke-free, and non-smoking tables are available at the Mirage.
Q: Money is no object. Where can I go to bet in private?
A: For many years, there were no private gaming rooms in Las Vegas. But a few years ago, the Legislature changed the rules, and now high rollers can enjoy some privacy when they lay down those $500,000 bets. Start out at the Mansion Casino at MGM Grand for the ultimate in plush with suites five times larger than most houses. The Bellagio has a private VIP Baccarat Room. There also are private gaming rooms at Caesars Palace and Mandalay Bay.
Q: What are slot clubs and how do I sign up for them?
A: A slot club rewards players for gambling at a particular casino or group of casinos. Most have their own players club desks where you can sign up. Points accrue toward prizes such as free dining, entry to slot tournaments and more. The most popular, and some say the best, is Harrah's Total Rewards Club, which players can use in locations across the nation. Other good clubs: the Boarding Pass, which covers all Station Casinos.
Q: I hear all about different comps you can get by gambling. How do I earn them?
A: Getting complimentary perks, from dinner vouchers to a night's stay, are determined by a variety of things, mainly the amount of time you've played there and how much money you've bet. Slot club cards are used to allocate comps on the machines, and pit bosses keep a close eye on table players. If you are gambling for a while, you can ask the pit boss to be rated to see whether a comp is coming your way.
Q: Can I gamble by playing the state lottery?
A: No. Although you could gamble anywhere in Vegas, be it a local supermarket or casino, there is no state lottery.
Q: Is there any way to check jackpot totals before I come to Vegas?
A: With VEGAS.com helping you, there's no problem. Our jackpots page is just for you. You can check all the progressive totals before you even set foot in Vegas.