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VICE Guide to Las Vegas

Gambling

The most important rule of gambling in Vegas is: Stay the hell away from the Strip and go to the downtown casinos.
March 14, 2001, 3:52pm

Photo by thecobrasnake

The most important rule of gambling in Vegas is: Stay the hell away from the Strip and go to the downtown casinos. On the Strip you’ll be surrounded by steak-headed jocks from Omahiobraska playing dice games with dudes in diamond-encrusted Scarface tees with teensy-weensy stacks of chips. They will get extremely loud and rambunctious when they win a $5 pass-line bet (this isn’t impressive if you aren’t “in the know”). Never EVER gamble with these people, especially on the Strip. If you don’t believe us, just watch these guys at any table and see just how fast the dice change hands. Fast turnover is a bad, bad sign. Another thing to watch out for are the coolers: When an overweight man that looks about 300 years old sits down at your table with about 20 bucks in chips and a cigar, run the fuck away. They will sink the whole ship with themselves in it, which is what they’re paid to do by the casino. Luck is very real here and they will suck yours dry. 

CRAPS

Always look for the tiny Japanese men from Hawaii (especially if they are carrying around little ceramic frogs and rubbing on them) and the loud-as-all-fuck cowboys with gigantic hats and bolo ties. The big Texan-ish man will start with an insane amount of chips that will just keep growing and growing because the Japanese guy will be throwing the same two dice for hours at a time. (If you don’t believe us, check out the Golden Arm statue at the California Club (12 E Ogden Ave) and read the names on the plaque, Japs will roll for hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours.) Shit happens so fast at these tables, you may actually never see the number be set. This is downtown gambling at its best. 

SLOTS

Never play the slots, especially the video kind, unless you have no desire to win. They are only designed for one thing: To take as much of your money as they can. You’ll probably hit a little jackpot within the first ten minutes of playing, not very much, but enough to make you feel “lucky.” $75 later you will be drumming the machine with your fists and being asked to leave. The only thing the slots are good for is cheap booze. Follow a cocktail waitress into the nickel slot area, then throw one in and yell, “S’cuse me, miss?” When she arrives, order your free drink then wait until she comes back with it, drop another nickel in so you look like you’ve been at it the whole time she was gone, then tip her a dollar. A $1.10 Corona may be the best thing you can get out of this place.

ROULETTE

Roulette is sort of the same deal. We’d recommend the Russian version for starters. If your luck is working, then move it to the tables. You can only play this game when you’re on an amazing winning streak and have almost nothing to lose. A friend’s band was recently on tour and ended in Las Vegas. They were so “up” because of how their show went that they decided to put all of their tour earnings on black, and they fucking won. It was all because of their attitude. That’s basically all a gambler’s luck is: If you feel like you can’t lose, then you aren’t going to. We hate to get all pseudo-mystical on you, but it’s a proven fact. Grumpiness will destroy you in this town. 

BLACKJACK

No matter how much of a goon the dealer might seem to be, they are all very good at their jobs and can be brutally ruthless. The best advice is to go to any casino gift shop and buy the little blackjack strategy cards. For a mere $1.50 you’ll know every move you should make. They aren’t totally foolproof but they’re totally legal, so don’t worry if the dealer keeps cracking jokes about you using it. Chances are he’s just pissed because you’re happy and winning. Warning: Don’t try to pull this if you’ve already been drinking for a while—if it takes a long time to figure out what move to make the other players will get pissed at you. Always be friendly to the other players, they are your friends and allies in the battle for the Man’s money.

POKER

We’re not huge fans of poker unless you’re talking about fucking around at a friend’s place, and the casinos can be pretty scary when it comes to this one. So unless you’re already really good, do yourself a favor and just watch one of the 7,000 shows about poker that are constantly on TV.