Las Vegas: Thoughts on Gambling, Smoking, and Cheap Stuff

Las Vegas Thoughts on Gambling, Smoking, and Cheap Stuff - picture of gambling table

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Hey, party people.  I’m back from Las Vegas and almost recovered from the jet lag and three-hour time difference.  It’s crazy what a difference the time change can make, isn’t it?  It’s 3:00 p.m. right now but it feels like noon.  Sigh.

Anyway, I’m happy to report that we had a total blast starting with Friday night on Freemont Street.  As you can see from the pic above, the weirdos were out in full force and the drinks were a flowin’. We gambled a little bit but we mostly just walked around and enjoyed the lights and sounds of old Las Vegas.  We also watched a Rod Stewart impersonator who was pretty dang impressive.  Unfortunately, his friend made sexy eyes at Greg and asked if I was in an open marriage.   (Ummmm…  We left about two seconds after that happened.holly tranny

The Travelodge Las Vegas Center Strip is Awesome

The view from our room at the Travelodge
The view from our room at the Travelodge

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, this trip was pretty low budget.  Our flights were basically free because of our Southwest Rapid Rewards points and we booked the cheapest hotel on the strip we could find.  And that, my friends, would be the Travelodge Las Vegas Center Strip.  Not only was it $87 per night, but it offered completely free wifi, free continental breakfast, and no resort fees.  It also had an awesome location right across from Aria and New York, New York.  For the price we paid, it was seriously awesome.

Thoughts on Gambling and Taking it Too Far

Let’s face it: Although sightseeing in Las Vegas is pretty popular, the reason most people visit Sin City is to gamble. I’m not about to go on an anti-gambling rant because that would make me a total hypocrite.  We’re all adults here, right?  I don’t see anything wrong with gambling, although I’m too cheap to do it more than once every few years.  The thing is, some people take it to such an extreme.  A few sad things I experienced in Las Vegas:

  • I was at the Cromwell playing a table game.  A few seats down sat a drunk guy named Bob who kept blurting out his deepest, darkest secrets.  It all started when he admitted that he was supposed to pick up his girlfriend at 2:00 p.m. that day and forgot (she kept calling his phone and he would occasionally answer then hang up on her).  He also admitted that he had lost $6,000 playing the same game the day before and was hoping to get comped a “free hotel room” to make up for it.  Other bad news: Since he owed his ex-wife $4,000 per month in alimony, he didn’t care if he gambled all of his money away.  Oh, and if he won big while I was at the table, he promised to buy me a fully-loaded Ford Focus.  Ahem.
  • I was waiting for Greg to come out of a bathroom and happened to be standing next to an ATM when a random guy came up to use it.  He was drunk and sweaty and asked me to help him figure out how to withdraw as much as possible.  “I’ve lost so much money,” he admitted.  “I’ve got to win it back.”
  • I was sitting at a $5 Texas Hold Em’ Bonus table when a guy sat down with $2,000 in chips.  The minimum to play this game works out to $15 per hand, but he was intent on betting at least $100 per hand, sometimes more.  Over the course of an hour, he lost almost all of his money.  I could tell by the look in his eyes that he was totally panicking.  He did start winning again but was only at around $400 by the time I left the table.

I don’t necessarily think that anything is wrong with gambling, but it makes me sad to see so many people lose.  People are quick to say that “Las Vegas wasn’t built by winners” and that’s 100% the truth.  For everyone who walks away a winner, there are hundreds of people who have blown through cash they sorely needed, or are wasting their productivity and potential sitting at a smoky casino table all day and night.  It’s sad to see people squander so much of their income and savings, when you know that a lot of them probably can’t afford to do it.  And you could often tell by the look on people’s faces.  There were plenty of cheers and screams when people were winning, but there was just as much gloom and despair when people were losing.  It was sad.

Thoughts on Smoking and Cheap Stuff

Well, that’s about all I have to say about gambling.  However, there were several other things I noticed about Las Vegas while I was there.  For example, one thing I usually hate about casinos is the fact that so many people smoke.  I absolutely hate sitting next to people who are smoking, and a casino with hundreds of smokers is basically my version of hell on earth.  The good news is, it seems like fewer people were lighting up then usual, and a lot of the people who were still smoking had switched to vapor cigarettes like Vapourlites.  Vapourlites are basically smoke-free devices that let people inhale nicotine and enjoy the physical aspect of smoking, but without the nasty carcinogens and smell or regular ol’ cigarettes.  And even though they still pose some health risks, the FDA says that electronic cigarettes are far less dangerous than regular ones.  More good news: They’re cheaper too.

Speaking of cheap stuff, we found plenty of cheap food options in old Las Vegas and on the Las Vegas Strip.  For example, we had Chipotle for dinner one night.  Mmmmmm…….  In some random casino in downtown Las Vegas, we had a giant batch of late night French fries for $1.35.  I can’t remember the last time I paid $1.35 for anything!  Those cheap meals, coupled with the four free buffets that we won on myVEGAS rewards meant that we spent very little money on food.  Winning!

Oh, and speaking of winning, I brought $300 to Las Vegas to pay for three days of food, drinks, entertainment, and gambling, and I came back with $334.  That means that I basically partied, ate, and gambled for free.  I’m not really surprised.  I’m typically pretty good at gambling because I absolutely hate losing money.  If I sit down and lose a few hands, I leave.  Period.

What do you think about gambling?  Have you ever seen anyone lose a ton of cash in a short amount of time?

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  1. Glad you had a great time in Vegas. It is on my list of places to visit sometime in my life!

    I’m not against gambling and sometimes do it myself but I am a very sensible. I always set a limit (a very low one) and once it’s gone, it’s gone and I don’t throw more money at it to try and win my money back. I think that’s the mistake people make and continue to gamble money to try and make up for their losses.

    1. I agree. When people “chase their money,” they almost always lose!

  2. Wow, I’m impressed! I’m a terrible gambler and usually lose, so the hubs and I set usually a $10 or $20 maximum per person. That way if we lose it’s not that much money! Sounds like some of the people you met were in pretty bad situations (and only making it worse for themselves). Did you get that Ford Focus though??? 🙂

    1. Ummm…..nope. I’m not sure why he kept yelling that!

  3. It’s nice to hear you had a great time at Vegas, Holly! I’m not a gambler myself but there are some people in my family who have lost a lot to gambling. And by ‘a lot’, I mean A LOT. I don’t think gambling is necessarily a bad thing but like in everything else, there needs to be moderation. People should not be allowed to blow all their money away on some small chance of winning big. 😉

    1. I agree, but some people just can’t stop once they start!

  4. Ouch, losing $6,000 from playing? Is Bob a millionaire or what? Gambling is not bad, but for me you need to set a limit on it. I don’t know how to gamble, I only play cards very seldom and it’s only for fun.

    1. I’m not sure if he was a millionaire but I’m sure he was well-off… least for now =)

  5. After our Australia trip, I have precisely 0 sympathy for your 3 hour jet lag. Okay, maybe a little.
    I really don’t get the adrenaline rush that others seem to get out of gambling… it’s just not fun for me at all.

    1. Ohhhh…..what is the time difference to Australia? How long was your flight?

  6. Sounds like you had a great time, though next time I hope you have enough time to plan ahead and get the free hotel stays through myVegas slots! I’ve seen people lose a lot of money, but I’ve also been to the WSOP where people buy in thousands each tournament. That means each time someone loses all their chips they in essence “lost” thousands of dollars. But poker is a whole different world since it’s a strategy game where you are playing against other players instead of the house.

    1. I hope to earn more myVEGAS points before we go next time. I started too late!

  7. I’ve never been particularly drawn to Vegas, it just doesn’t sound like my crowd, but I’ve read a lot of blog posts about people really enjoying it. I have the same views as you on gambling… a little fun is fine, but getting yourself into trouble for a possibility of a win? Not my thing!

  8. I despise smoking and I really hate that you can still do it indoors in certain places like casinos. I personally gamble at the penny poker machines so I can keep getting free drinks. It’s a blast!

    ps. I too stayed at that travel lodge on the strip and was pleasantly surprised.

  9. I always used to Vegas with my coworkers when l lived in L.A. It was always after our quarterly bonus. My limit was always $50-100 which l usually lost within the first few minutes and would just spend the rest of the time at the penny slots getting free drinks. My partner at work would lose thousands he didn’t have. His wife would get mad and spend an equal amount at the outlet mall on the way back from Vegas! It happened every time, every single time. I always said they should put billboards of people going to Vegas (smiley, excited etc) and put the same people’s faces on the billboards back (sad, crying,panicked). It might deter people. partner ended up moving to Vegas! I’m glad you had fun!!!

    1. We did have a lot of fun!

      I thought a lot of people looked depressed and panicked at the airport going home, but maybe they were just tired!

  10. My wife’s family came to visit us from Africa when we lived in Southern California. We borrowed a friend’s motor home and drove to Vegas. When we got to the state line, I stopped the RV, walked back and demanded everyone’s wallet. After some protesting, they handed them over. I took $20 from each wallet, handed it to its owner, and kept all the wallets. “You get them back when we cross here again.”

    The look on their faces was priceless. But when they got their wallets back, they all thanked be no end. You gotta know when to hold ’em…

    1. I don’t think that’s a bad idea. Setting limits is almost always a good thing =)

  11. Glad you had a good trip and bonus on coming back with more money. 🙂 I’ve seen a few of those same situations while in Vegas and it is always sad to see. I think part of it is the lure of believing you can win big and part of it is likely addiction. Smoking drives me nuts as well. I wear contacts and it always messes with my eyes.

    1. I don’t mind smoking from a distance but I don’t like to sit next to it. The fake electronic cigarettes don’t bother me though.

  12. My father in law works for MGM and the stories he tells of the money they spend on things is insane! He used to work in Dubai and Abu Dhabi and said people at the MGM group spend money on par with them.

    I have found that the strip casinos (mega resorts) tend to be less smokey since they are so open compared to freemont street. That being said I almost like the closed in nature of freemont street better.

    1. I like both parts of Las Vegas in different ways. Downtown is more intimate and easier to do with friends. The strip is kind’ve overwhelming.

  13. Glad you came back with more than you left with, that’s awesome! I also despise smoking. While I love my parents, they smoke, and I die a bit inside each time I’m around it. I’ve never been gambling as it doesn’t really appeal to me, but those stories are pretty depressing. I can’t imagine what it’s like to lose all your money through gambling.

  14. I hate gambling only because I’m the unluckiest person in the world and never win anything. I hate wasting my money so I don’t do it.

    1. I don’t think I’m particularly lucky either. That’s probably part of the reason I don’t gamble very often.

  15. Gambling is just like any other thing if you take it too far. I think it’s incredibly sad that people probably go cash their paycheck and head to the casino. I usually take about $100 and when it’s gone, it’s gone. It’s more fun to people watch.

  16. Bummer about the Ford Focus! haha
    I don’t really gamble, mostly because I don’t understand any of the games!

    1. Hey, that’s not a bad thing. They’re all set up for you to fail.

  17. Glad you had fun! Sad about those people willing to lose everything. wow! I don’t gamble because I hate losing money. I might throw $20 at slot machines to see what happens, but that’s about it.

  18. That line about buying you a fully loaded Ford Focus made my day. How random and awesome is that? Had he offered to buy you a Dodge Stratus though…

  19. That’s awesome that you brought home money! I didn’t spend a lot when I went to Vegas either. I wanted to gamble but we actually forgot to! There just wasn’t enough time 🙂

  20. Sounds like you had a great trip! I have no problem with gambling as long as you did it in moderation. I go to the racetrack maybe twice a year and it’s a lot of fun, but there are guys there every weekend and losing big money. And a friend of mine is seriously addicted to slot machines. A few of us went with him and we each brought a small amount of fun money, but he had a huge bankroll with him and we saw him hitting up the ATM while we were there so I don’t even know how much he lost. He goes there a lot too, I can’t imagine how much he has lost over the years.

  21. Gambling just doesn’t do it for me. When I was in Vegas, I think I spent about $25 total for several days on the slot machines. I hate to lose.

  22. Ugh! Those gambling stories just make me depressed. I am not a gambler (except on my phone) so I haven’t seen this, but I know it’s out there, you just have to look at the Vegas strip that has essentially be built and rebuilt all on people’s dreams or ex-wives alimony checks apparently. Congrats on coming out ahead and so psyched to hear the Travelodge stay was a win!

  23. I’m a hard hearted bitch and could not care less when people lose money gambling. When we went to Vegas some years ago, I allowed myself a whopping $20 to play the slots and when it was gone I was done. The failure of some people, usually those who can afford it the least, to exercise self-discipline is simply something I cannot wrap my brain around. And I certainly don’t blame the casinos. They don’t abduct people out of the parking lots and force them to gamble.

  24. I love the cheap food prices in Vegas. If you are smart about what you are doing, you can really do quite well financially there. I definitely want to check out that Travelodge. It sounds like its a great deal!

  25. I enjoy a bit of gambling, the thrill of the chance that I could win big, but only with an extremely limited amount that comes from my entertainment budget because that’s what it is, entertainment. I refuse to pay ATM fees so whatever cash I have is it. Congrats on leaving with more than you left with!

    Besides gambling I also enjoy Vegas just for the energy, the anything goes atmosphere, even if it does mean getting the occasional proposition.

  26. Love that you came back with more than you budgeted for! I enjoy Vegas but sometimes it’s hard when you run into the sad situations like you did. You always meet the most interesting people on your vacations, Holly. 🙂

  27. I came back ahead from my recent Vegas trip too.. I didn’t gamble a ton, but I did win about $100 at the $5 blackjack tables one night.

    The smoking in the city is gross. Some hotels do a better job than others at filtering out the smoke, but even some of the nicer ones are pretty gross to walk through (I am looking at you, Venetian).

    And you are dead-on about the sad stories that you see.. I love going to Vegas, but there is a weird sadness that hovers behind the scenes in that town.

  28. Yeah I wrote something recently on gambling, it’s tough or “sad” to see some of the people dropping the rent money at a table. People have different mind sets, so it’s great to see you recognize that it’s a game for fun that you played on vacation.

  29. I work so damn hard to save/invest the money I make that I cannot imagine risking it by gambling it. I just don’t get that rush or high that addicted gamblers must feel. I also wouldn’t want to be the person who is panicking because they are down $10K. I’ve been to a few casinos in my time and I have a rule that I play $20. Once that’s down the drain my gambling inclinations are done.

  30. Hey Holly, thanks for bringing us in on your trip. A fully loaded ford focus huh? Too bad he didn’t win big. I like to gamble, but I don’t do it often. The last time I did, I went to a casino in central Oregon with a $50 limit….I know, it’s laughable, but I sat at a $5 minimum table to see what I could do. My friend with the same limit was out in 10 minutes. I was up about $100 20 minutes in and the roller coaster ride began. At the end, I came out even, not because I didn’t lose all my money, but because I made a $50 bet with my buddy that I would last longer at the table….we play together all the time, I’m better…it was a no-brainer!

    Anyway, gambling is great, but in moderation. If you’re going to do it, set a limit and don’t throw your life savings down the drain. Other than that, it’s a great release of stress for some people and there’s nothing wrong with it!

  31. My aunt lives in Las Vegas but I don’t hear she or her family do gambling. But she told me a lot of people did that there because for them it was fun. Well, as I read your article, Bob loses $6,000? Gosh! That’s a very big amount.

  32. Sounds like you had a blast. The whole smoking thing is a turnoff for me too. My husband has asthma so he can’t be around it. I’m glad to hear less people are smoking or using the e cigarettes.

    I do a little gambling. I haven’t been to a casino in a couple years though but when i go I have my limits about $50. I can’t stand losing money either.

  33. I’ve never been to Vegas but I love to live vicariously through other people – looks like you had a good time! I am not a big gambling person but as I understand it, there are a lot of other things to do in Vegas too.

  34. Really sad some of those stories.

    You did so well on your spending for your food and gambling!

    My sis was in Vegas recently and tried the $20 sandwich. The hotel was totally booked for the convention she was attending so they got their 20 bucks back plus a free bottle of champagne!

  35. I am with you 100%. It’s all good to go and have a good time but draw the line. Hubby and I go to casino maybe once every 2 years and we usually take $20-$40 max to play with. It kills me to watch ppl throw like $1,000 into slot machines like they’re made of money (when they’re obviously not…) I really want to go to Vegas when kid is a little bit older and it’s a bit easier to leave her for a few nights. I also don’t understand the smoking. Gross. Just gross. Glad you had a great trip and whoo for coming home with more than you left with!

  36. I’ve never been a gambler so it’s hard for me to understand how people can spend their money that way. I think you did great to come home with more money then you left with.

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