Las Vegas Part 2: Anna Learns to Gamble

Today Anna learned how to play Craps, Roulette, and Video Poker.

And we didn’t go broke.

After checking out of the Stratosphere in the morning, we headed over to In-N-Out Burger, because I’ll be damned if I don’t go to an In-N-Out every chance I get. After the burgers, we drove over to Golden Nugget in the Downtown Vegas / Fremont Street area. Though I’ve been to Vegas over a dozen times, I had never been to Downtown Vegas before.

Anna puts it as “It’s basically Vegas Lite”. Everything is a little bit less grand, though they’re trying hard. The casinos are smaller. The hotel themes are less interesting. The hotels have fewer amenities. The table minimums are lower (to get people who want to play but not be forced to lose as much).

So, I was happy to see $3 blackjack and craps (instead of $10-$15 as it is at the main Strip hotels). But Anna didn’t know how to play most of the table games, so walking through Golden Nugget we saw they were offering gambling lessons (this way you could feel more confident you knew what you were doing as you gave them all your money). We learned what and how to be in roulette. Anna liked this because it was straightforward. I grumbled, unhappy about the odds of winning roulette. We then took a craps lesson. I like craps because there’s a lot going on, it’s interactive and social, and everyone seems to have a lot of fun even as they hand the casinos their money.

The Fremont Street Experience is an interesting attraction. It’s a large 5-block pedestrian walkway with casinos on either side, street performers, outdoor bars, and a massive LED-powered awning overhead. At night the awning turns into a massive billboard / TV screen like you’ve never seen. Unfortunately, my pictures were from when the attraction wasn’t lit up.

Though the casinos had cheaper table games, there was a sadder vibe than the main Strip. Whereas the Strip was mostly happy vacationers and rich Asians, Fremont was mostly retirees and gambling addicts throwing their money away. The air was smokier. The waiters and waitresses were a bit more depressed.

After the lessons, we strolled around Fremont Street, taking in the sights. Since it was the middle of the day, the “Fremont Street Experience” wasn’t up and running. The large billboards were unlit. But the pedestrian mall was alive with some characters – from costumed characters to busking street musicians and magicians. Souvenir shops boasted “99 cent souvenirs” and $3 t-shirts. Unpopular casinos and hotels tried to lure us in.

We walked into an off-brand casino and sat at the video poker machines. I confess, I just really wanted a free drink. So, we put $5 each into our video poker machines and very slowly played several hands, trying to make each $1 play last. A waitress comes by and takes our drink order. We slowly keep playing, not wanting to run out of money before she returns. We somehow make the $5 last awhile. It takes Anna about 20 minutes but she ends up at 0. I somehow cash out at $20, netting us a few bucks for the day.

So that was a win.

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