When most of those 40 million annual visitors to Las Vegas arrive at their destination, their minds are understandably focused on money.
Between ever rising room rates, “resort fees” that add up in a hurry, and overpriced food and drinks on The Strip, spending a trip in Sin City can quickly become expensive. And that doesn’t even cover the money you’ll likely spend gambling down on the casino floor.
People come to Las Vegas hoping to win big and walk away with a jackpot, but over the long run, the odds ensure that the house always holds an inherent edge over its players. Short-term winners abound, don’t get me wrong there, as every single day produces a slew of scores that can legitimately be deemed life changing.
With that said, the outcome for most gamblers in Las Vegas winds up being a loss. It could be a few bucks on the penny slots, a few hundred at the poker table, or a few thousand trying to count cards while playing blackjack – but financial losses are inevitable when the long run taken into account.
That’s all well and good in my book too, because gambling in Las Vegas isn’t about profit margins and bottom lines – it’s all about having fun, baby!
After all, when you spend $300 taking the family to catch a ballgame, you don’t leave the stadium feeling disappointment that your wallet is a little lighter. That money was spent wisely, producing a few hours of diversion, a few exciting moments on the field, and memories to last a lifetime when the stars align.
The same ethos should hold true when gambling in Las Vegas, so I always advise my friends and family who visit my hometown to consider every wager lost as merely the price of admission. You’ve got to pay to play, as the saying goes, and even if the dealer winds up outdueling you in the race to 21, kicking back at a Las Vegas blackjack table is an experience you just can’t find anywhere else.
Indeed, money should never be something you miss dearly while you gamble here – as a rule of thumb, only play with disposable income you can afford to lose – visitors to Las Vegas often find themselves losing in other ways.
On that note, check out the list below to learn about five things nobody can afford to lose when visiting Las Vegas.
1 – Your Wallet or Purse (IDs and Credit Cards)
Trying to navigate the mazelike bureaucracy of Las Vegas’ highly corporatized modern environment with your wallet or purse in hand is already tough enough.
Your identification will be inspected when you check in to your room. You’ll need a credit card to make the security deposit required for entry into said room. Bank branches are few and far between, so better have that debit card at the ready when you need a quick cash infusion.
And without a player’s card from any top Las Vegas loyalty programs, you’ll miss out on valuable comps, discounts, and other perks.
So just try to imagine making your way in and out of Las Vegas lodgings without your wallet or purse…
That’s the gambler’s nightmare come true right there, and while you might imagine most people would guard these precious resources like their first-born child, dozens of people lose their wallet or purse in Sin City on a daily basis.
This can happen through basic absentmindedness, with all of the tourist attractions and bright lights causing just enough distraction to leave your valuables behind. Negligence also plays a significant role, as a steady stream of alcohol and other substances can cause blackouts and the like.
Then there’s the looming threat of theft, thanks to a network of skilled pickpockets who prowl The Strip in search of suckers to hustle.
All in all, the chances of losing one’s wallet or purse are actually quite a bit higher than most people might imagine. And that’s why you should take every effort to prevent this regrettable situation from ruining your time in Las Vegas.
Carry your wallet in your front pocket, and don’t put anything in your purse that you don’t mind losing, to dissuade the thieves. Start a mantra of constant reminders before and after you make any major movements, with everyone present asking aloud “do you still have your stuff?”
Whatever it takes to avoid the ignominious fate of endured by the poor fools who find themselves stuck in Sin City with no ID or credit cards to speak of.
2 – Your Phone
I’m old enough to remember long days spent strolling Fremont Street in Downtown Las Vegas without a cell phone to speak of.
Back then, we used the hotel’s in-room phone to make plans with one another, or maybe a pay phone when you were street side and needed to talk.
I’m not immune to the technological wonder of constant mobile communication by any means, so I always bring my phone and portable charger along when I’m touring the town. Fairly recently, however, I had an experience I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.
After smashing the slots at the newly rebranded Sahara casino (formerly the SLS), I was pleased as punch with my good fortune. While mentally counting my winnings, and planning how to spend them, I must have left my iPhone at the slot machine bank. It only took a few minutes to do an about face and commence the search, but in that short span somebody snatched the brand new device.
What followed was a steady stream of inconveniences and misery…
I had planned to meet up with my wife and her sister for a round of drinks at the Cosmopolitan Hotel & Casino. She usually goes shopping while I gamble before we play phone tag to coordinate where and when we’ll get together. Thus, it was no surprise when I couldn’t find her at our favorite Cosmo watering hole.
Normally, I’d just whip out my phone and fire off a quick text to find out where she happened to be. But this night was far from normal, so I suddenly found myself stranded in a technological “no man’s land.”
After wandering around in vain hoping to bump into them, I quickly realized that would be like finding a needle in a haystack. Shifting gears, I asked the friendly bartender to let me make a quick phone call to find my wife.
And that’s when panic set it…
As it turns out, years and years spent clicking a single button to place phone calls has wreaked havoc on my memorization skills. For the life of me, I just couldn’t cobble together the seven-digit code that stood between myself and a great night with my family. The bartender tried to help, even advising me to use the front desk’s paging service to do one of those “Mary, your party is waiting for you here” announcements you sometimes hear over the din of slots and chips.
That seemed like a bridge too far at the time, so I politely declined his offer, but I was still stuck between a rock and a hard place.
Eventually, I decided against striking out on a one-man search party, reasoning that she would show up at our bar at one point or another looking for me.
I’m a legit local too, so I know my way around and would’ve been fine getting back home safe and sound. But I can’t imagine what it would be like to lose my phone as a tourist in Las Vegas, as parting ways with the only lifeline truly capable of keeping us all connected would be a disaster.
Do everything you can to avoid this deceptively easy to fall into trap. You can wear one of those phone cases that attaches to your belt, or if you can stomach the dismissive smiles of strangers, deploy a Bluetooth device that slides in your ear.
Or better yet, just scan your surroundings and check your pockets whenever you leave one area and head to another.
3 – Your Way
Along similar lines, losing your phone in Las Vegas means suddenly finding yourself without Google Maps or Siri to guide your way.
Thankfully, the famous stretch of Las Vegas Boulevard known as The Strip doesn’t present a major challenge for folks who get lost. You can always see the next casino resort towering overhead, so getting from Point A to Point B is simply a matter of looking up and walking forward.
Same goes for my favorite haunts along Fremont Street, which is essentially just a few blocks of closely clustered classic casinos.
Of course, there’s much more to this town than the gambling districts. Miles and mile of crisscrossing streets cover the desert floor for as far as the eye can see, and unless you know the lay of the land like a local, getting lost in Las Vegas can be a harrowing experience for visitors.
I always tell my pals who are new around here to invest in a traditional map. Grab one of the foldable maps you find in convenience stores and stash it in your go-bag for emergency purposes.
Should you lose your phone, or lose service, or find your battery has died, the map will help you orient yourself the old-fashioned way.
4 – Your Cool
Losing money is never fun, especially when the dealer and the cards seem to be conspiring against you to deliver cruel bad beats.
But you know what hurts more than a lost bet? Losing your temper on the casino floor.
Resort operators tend to extend a long leash to players who put money into the casino’s coffers.
And when alcohol is involved, even the most well-mannered of guests can find themselves howling at the moon when Lady Luck turns their back.
Don’t be “that guy or gal” though, and do everything you can to keep your emotions in check. Sure, you can let it be known that your pissed off after losing, there’s no shame in that.
But when those justifiable emotions lead you into destructive behavior like yelling at casino staff or damaging equipment, you might just find yourself “86’d” from the premises courtesy of a property-wide ban.
5 – Your Dignity
Casinos in Las Vegas have a way of getting the better of gamblers who don’t know when to quit.
I would never make light of problem gambling and the scourge of addiction, so this entry is meant in all seriousness. If you have issues with maintaining discipline, and you’re gambling with money you can’t afford to lose, you owe it to yourself to take a long, hard look in the mirror.
When gambling becomes a means to an end, or a compulsion that you can’t seem to control, the best course of action is to explore programs like Gambler’s Anonymous (GA) that specialize in treating addictive behavior.
And as a last resort, casinos offer self-exclusion programs whereby problem gamblers who have hit rock bottom can ask to have their action refused.
However you choose to handle your personal situation, I hope this advice serves any reader in need well down the road.
Losing and Las Vegas go hand in hand, but only when you’re playing games of chance that favor the house. As far as your personal belongings and feelings go, you have every advantage at your disposal to prevent the sort of losses described here. On that note, good luck in your future endeavors gambling Las Vegas, and I hope you manage to avoid losing in any respect.