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How To Do Vegas Right

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I make my residence in Los Angeles. Now, this means I have to put up with a lot of bullshit. Between traffic, the occasional shootout, and a general lack of barbeque, it can get pretty frustrating. But one thing that’s great about it is that I’m always about four hours away from Vegas. Shitty week? Vegas trip. Just like that. Hell, since all of my friends are from out of state like me, and none of us are rich enough to afford to go home for both Thanksgiving and Christmas, we have a tradition of going to Vegas for Turkey Day. We pack six dudes into one room, spend our days at the sports book, and our nights at the craps tables. We even eat Thanksgiving themed sandwiches from Earl of Sandwich for lunch. It’s pretty awesome. Through my trips to Sin City, I’ve picked up on some pretty useful tips that I call “best practices.”

1. Pick a dead part of the year.

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Don’t worry, I’m not saying there’s gonna be no one there. You’ll still have the chance to run into your fair share of bachelorette parties, hilarious Australian bros, and recent divorcees who are escaping their kids for the weekend. But you don’t want to be trampled by the rabble. The summer months are actually a pretty decent time to go, crowd-wise, but Vegas in July is hotter than the metal part of Satan’s seat belt. That’s why it’s dead. No one else wants to deal with 110 degree heat any more than you do. So unless you’re planning on never setting foot outdoors, or you have one of those ridiculous air-conditioned jackets, I’d pass. We’ve actually found that Thanksgiving is a phenomenal time to go. Normal families are doing normal Thanksgiving things. The Aussies are there in droves, and the Land Down Under is my favorite country other than the US of A. Plus, you know that any girl who’s skipping Thanksgiving dinner to be in Vegas probably has the daddiest of daddy issues. I’d suggest early-September and mid-December as well.

2. Consider gambling a trip expense, not a money maker.

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You are not Dustin Hoffman. When you drop toothpicks on the ground, not only do you have no idea how many there are, you also probably kicked them under your fridge to avoid picking them up. Therefore, do not go to Vegas with the intent of making money. In fact, you should assume that you’ll even lose every level of Candy Crush you attempt while in Vegas. Your luck is that bad. Gambling costs are exactly that: a cost. You should be factoring in how much you can afford to throw down at the tables, based on your average income, your current savings, and how fucked you’ll be if you can’t make rent on time next month. Once you have that number, stick to it. And don’t throw it all down on the first night. Then you’ll have to stick around and watch your buddies win a little money, only to eventually lose it all in a flash, all while you sip on free drinks brought over by the cocktail waitress. Actually, that’s a lot of fun. This is why I love Vegas.

3. Stay in modest accommodations.

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I know I mentioned this in my cheap vacations column, but it bears repeating. Unless you’re making Dad-level salary, you do not need to be staying at Caesar’s. Or the Venetian. Or the MGM Grand. In fact, any hotel that’s ever been featured in a movie or TV show set in Vegas is off limits to you. We pretty much always stay in the Imperial Palace. By the way, if you haven’t been there, it is neither imperial, nor is it a palace. I feel like I can read the life story of dozens of failed salesmen just by staring at the faded carpet for too long. But, it’s cheap, and we’ve gotten to be friends with several of the craps dealers and pit bosses. Not that it helps us win ever, but it’s nice to know that Fabian in pit six genuinely wants you to win, even if he does end up with all your chips by the end of the night.

4. Skip the high-end clubs. Go to bars.

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I know, I know, it’s tempting to want to hit up Tao or Marquee. There are hundreds of gorgeous girls in heels taller than the fruity douchebag drink you’ve been sipping for the last hour. But guess what? You can’t get any of them. Those girls are there for two things: rubber bands and white powder. You know what I’m talking about. Do you have your cash in the form of a few crumpled bills shoved in your wallet, or do you walk around with what I believe the kids are calling “stacks on stacks on stacks?” Do you also have the best cocaine in the world? No, I’m not talking about the suspiciously off-white eight-ball you bought from the off-duty bouncer in the Imperial bathroom. These girls have noses like a goddamn Dyson, so they will politely touch your arm and whisper in your ear, and gladly drink all the twenty dollar cocktails you buy them, and then at the end of the night, you’ll see them walking out on the arm of the Armenian guy who looks suspiciously like Bogdan, the ball-busting carwash owner from Breaking Bad. Instead, go to a sports bar. They have really good beer specials, you can play beer pong in them, and there’s also gaming in those places too. Plus, that’s where all the lonely ex-housewives are anyway. They don’t like the DJ music at XS. It hurts their ears.

I hope some of you guys take this to heart. It breaks my soul a little bit every time I see someone around my age in Vegas running around like an idiot, blowing money on the stupidest stuff, and talking about “winning it all back.” You guys are making me look bad. I’ve finally earned the respect of a lot of Vegas veterans, and I’ll be damned if I let you idiots ruin my generation’s reputation. Get it together. For me, but more importantly, for yourself. Have some pride in your Vegas skills. Otherwise, you’re just another sucker, donating his money to the house.

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Randall J. Knox

Randall J. Knox (known colloquially to his friends as "Knox") left his native Texas a few years ago, and moved to Los Angeles in his '03 Buick Regal named LeRoi to write movies with his jackass college buddies. His favorite things in life include bourbon that's above his pay grade, mix CDs, and Kevin Costner films. He isn't sure what "dad jeans" are exactly, but he knows he wants a pair.

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