Friday, January 25, 2013

New Years Resolutions, Las Vegas Style

I know that it's basically a month into 2013, but the first few weeks of a new year are all about shaking off the epic hangover from NYE, working off the many calories you consumed during the holidays, and coming to terms with the passing of time and your inevitable mortality. So that's why I've waited until now to write my New Years Resolutions, or that's the excuse I'm using to frame this blog post.

All of these resolutions have to do with how I plan on enjoying Las Vegas for the rest of the year, so let's be clear: none of these have to do with drinking less, eating better, exercising more, spending less money, working on my career goals, or any sort of general self improvement. Las Vegas is not a city where you go to become a better you... it's where you go to escape the version of you that you hate!

Sunny intro aside, here are my big resolutions for my Vegas trips in 2013:

Support Downtown Even More
While I write about Downtown on this blog a lot (A LOT), my M. Night Shyamala twist ending deep dark secret is that I spend the lion's share of my Vegas time on The Strip. When I'm there with a group, it's hard to convince a bunch of disperate people to head to the still developing neighborhood when the reliably shiny and corporate approved Strip is right there. But Downtown seriously keeps getting better, and the only way for it to continue developing is for people to get out there and support it with their dollars. It's also generally cheaper to drink and gamble there than on The Strip, where low-stakes gaming houses are starting to become an endangered species. With that said...

Spend More Time In The Classic Casinos
The last few years have seen the end of The Stardust and The Sahara, while The Tropicana's renovations have been nice but also removed all traces of old-school charm from the property (except for that crazy lit up paneled ceiling that they thankfully retained). While Bill's Gamblin' Hall and O'Shea's weren't exactly Sinatra-era classics, they retained a certain old-time spirit/ seediness that's starting to disappear from The Strip. That's why I resolve to spend as much time as possible this year enjoying The Riviera and The Flamingo, two of the last classic era places still standing in relatively intact forms on The Strip, because, like a sick grandparent, nobody knows how long we'll have with them and every moment spent with them is precious.

Know When To Quit It
Of course, when giving gambling advice to Vegas newbies, I always tell them that the best move is to cash out if you win a decent amount, even though the temptation to double down will be strong. Similarly, the best thing you can do when you lose is to cut your losses and walk, or else your losses can begin to compound on themselves as you attempt to win the cash you lost back (it's a vicious circle we've all fallen into, and it's basically the type of logic that has kept the city in business for decades). While this advice is solid and logical and smart, it's also advice that I often ignore in my own gambling adventures... sure, I missed all my numbers at Roulette, but if I play one more hand, then I might win it all back and more! Just... one... more... hand. This year, I plan to walk away at smarter times, even if I haven't gotten a free drink from the cocktail waitress yet.

Party Smart
Las Vegas is one of those cities where all of the rules you've learned in your years of partying go out the window... you're so excited to be in Sin City that you just start doing Jager bombs and tequilla shots while downing beers and Jack & Cokes, you forget to drink water or even eat an actual meal, you stay up much later than you should even if you have an 11:00 AM checkout time (and have to shower first, because you're a human being, not a disgusting monster). This year, I  resolve to live by the code of "beer before liquor, never been sicker," to stay properly hydrated (Vegas is in the desert, for goodness sake), to eat a hearty meal capable of soaking up most of the damage I've done to myself over the course of the night, and to actually get some sleep at some point... if there's nothing more awesome to do at 4:00 AM, that is.

Try Something New On Every Trip
One of the tough things about doing weekends trips in Las Vegas is that with just two days and two nights to see and do things, it's tough to get everything in. And it's hard to not go and do the stuff you loved the last time, or the last few times.... that Caesars Buffet REALLY is great, so why risk new restaurant instead? Because it's a vacation and there is a lot more to see, that's why! I resolve to see some of the local's favorite dive bars, distinctly-Vegasy restaurants, oddball museums, off-Strip hotels, strange just out of town attractions, weird drive-through wedding chapels, hidden memorials, and more... it's all about getting out of my comfort zone and discovering even more reasons why Vegas is an awesomely strange American vacation city.

Just Have Fun Out There, Kid. Do What Comes Natural
As any good Little League Coach, knowing most of his players don't have a career in sports beyond the next couple years, tells his team... it's all about having a good time. Focus on winning (at the gambling tables), and you'll feel nothing but regret and remorse and ruin your vacation when  you don't walk away richer. I resolve to shake off my worries (not an easy task for a naturally neurotic human such as myself) and just have a good ol' time in Sin City this year.

(This last resolution started as a jokey wrap up to this nebulously themed post, then became surprisingly earnest. I guess that how most of the stuff I write evolves, in the end.)

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