Sunday, December 28, 2008

Can anybody be decadent in this economy?

Query: Can anybody enjoy Las Vegas in this economy?
Answer: Yes, if you fit the critria.

The biggest event of my annual Las Vegas Trip occurred at 8 pm local time on Monday December 22.

It was not my play in the 7 pm poker tournament at The Wynn. (certainly not when you figure I finished 5th out of 20: two spots AWAY from the money). Nor was it the action on the Monday Night Football game between the Bears and the Packers. (I told anybody I liked that there was no way the Bears would win by more than four points, but also admitting that I refused to bet against them and will not lay any action on the contest)

The event that grabbed the headlines on the following morning's paper was the Grand Opening of Steve Wynn's newest Casino Resort. Aptly named "Encore," the new building mirrors its predecessor. The Wynn and Encore are connected to each other on the ground floor. It only takes a couple steps on the plush red carpet to get from one to the other.

Playing in that aforementioned poker tournament gave me a great view of the incoming throng of visitors (since the exit to the Self Park is down the hall from the Poker Room). And it was funny to see just as many of them walk back to their cars less than an hour later. Personally, I think it was just an excuse for people to see others and be seen.

Being about 50 degrees that night, I'll allow the locals to complain about it being cold. You were in your right to wear a jacket outside. But what happens is that when the temperature dips that low, it gives everybody the excuse to bust out the expensive furs. I never saw more beautiful people so happy to be cold.

By the time I busted out of that tournament, to some guy who proclaimed to have been a pro ("They call me Sammy the Clown on TV - i'm serious.") I went to walk over to the Encore, but the line was about 200 people deep. After a nice 6 hour detour that took me to the new Palazzo, Venitian and Mirage - I found myself back at the Encore without having to wait in a line.

And I decided that there are only 3 and a half types of people who can really enjoy Las Vegas.

1. People who love to gamble (of which I fall into)
2. People who love the "party life" as Jay-Z would say (i.e. Nightclubbing or pool bathing)
3. People who have loads upon loads of money
3b. People who are significantly attached to loads and loads of money

I'll note here that many people enjoy Vegas for "the shows," or golf. I'll also note that I believe to see the best shows, or play the best courses, you must fall into category 3 of being filthy rich.

Looking around the Encore, even at 4 am, brought this to the forefront of my mind. I saw people placing $1,000 minimum bets at a blackjack table out in the open (not in a closed off High Limit Lounge) and saw Craps tables too rich to even advertise the limits. (all I needed to see was "reserved" to know enough). And then there were the half clothed plastic Barbies with boobs over their drinks and asses into their sponsors just a dice throw away at the bar. I was unable to see what the clientele at the super expensive restaurants were like... One of them is called "Sinatra" in which Frank's Oscar and Emmy are on display. Supposedly Steve Wynn's family is tight with the Sinatra family - and this is the first restaurant to ever have the Sinatra name bestowed. One of the dealers told me that the Sinatra restaurant is the "cheaper" of the Encore restaurants. Supposedly there is one that features a crystal sculpture nearly 80 feet in diameter.

Although Encore makes me like the Wynn less, due to it's gaudy red chandeliers, I still like what the Wynn offers. I was able to find a $15 blackjack table and a $10 Craps game at Wynn. People can also play penny slots at that place! Most importantly, my fear of the smallest poker game being $2-$5 was unrealized. I was able to buy in modestly at the $1-$3 game. A game that would've been highly profitable for me if my set of Aces didn't get flushed out long after all our money was in the pot... But that's another sad story for another sadder time.

My flight home was delayed two hours trying to get out of Las Vegas, then an extra 90 minutes at O'Hare trying to find a gate after we landed. United has offered me $100 for my troubles. Money I will use for my next trip to Las Vegas.

Tentative Dates Monday November 23 - Wednesday November 25

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