Above panorama: Las Vegas Strip as seen from The Mirage's parking deck
From Los Angeles, it's a 4,5 hour drive to Las Vegas, just across the state border in Nevada. I went there for just 2 days to experience the bright lights, 24 hour action and play poker in one of the casinos myself.
On the way to Las Vegas, about half way and in the middle of the desert, there's the ghost town of Calico, what used to be a silver mining town and is now deserted. It would make a fine decor for any Western movie with a few original buildings left and some artifacts from the wild west days.
I arrived in Vegas at the Mirage hotel, where I had booked a room for 2 days. The Mirage, like almost all hotels, lies on "the Strip", a long wide boulevard lined with hotel/casinos, one bigger than the other. It's interesting to walk the Strip at night and marvel at all the light shows. A highlight is the water show at the Bellagio, which shows every 15 minutes (don't think 24 hours a day though, probably only in the evening). It draws significant crowds and is
great to watch.
To be honest, I'm not that interested in most casino games. I don't see the point of slot machines (big money makers for the casinos) or playing roulette where you exactly know your odds once you place your bets. Black Jack can be exciting sometimes, but the only game where you have significant influence on the outcome is poker. Of course it's a game of odds, too, but by playing the player, instead of the cards, you can beat the game. I'm not that great of a poker player, but me and my friends regularly have a poker/drinking evening at one of our homes and I occasionally play online, where I learned to play the game.
In the Mirage, there is a room dedicated with poker tables so I watched a little before sitting down at one of the tables. I was a bit nervous in the beginning, because I sat down with 8 or 9 complete strangers, and they might be good players seeing right through me. So at first, I just sat there watching the other players. As I felt more comfortable, I occasionally bluffed other players, which gives a great kick. At
other times, I just got great cards and won some decent pots. I did two poker sessions of about 3 hours and I actually won money both times! Not a staggering amount, but a total of $186 is not too bad either :-)
So with a smile on my face I left Vegas. I'll probably come back here one day :-D
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